Jason Bay

Let It Yo, Let It Yo, Let it YO

I’ll admit: I didn’t think it would happen.

I’ll go a step further:  I wasn’t sure if I wanted it *to* happen.

The “it” I am referring to is, of course, the Mets bringing back Yoenis Cespedes.

I was totally against the “7/$150mm” years and dollars being bandied about.  I don’t care who the player is, I’m just not a fan of “throwing money” at a problem or just placate a bunch of loudmouth idiots (media and fans alike).  It seemed as though other teams were not only happy about that prospect, but teams that had experience with Cespedes had that thought process too…

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Mets fans were able to celebrate Christmas in July at the trading deadline last year, with the acquisition of Cespedes (in addition to Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, which were pretty decent acquisitions for us).  But what’s lost in the mix is what we *didn’t* get.  One and a half seasons of (injury prone) Carlos Gomez for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, or Jay Bruce.  I think that’s pretty fuckin awesome.

Late Friday night, as the eastern seaboard prepared for a “snow day,” what we didn’t expect was to become “YO-ed” in, as right before bed time, we got news that the Mets reacquired Yoenis Cespedes.  Sometimes stupid baseball makes me miss sleep.

You can’t always get what you want?  Sometimes, though, you get what you need.

I will admit…I could have taken or left Yoenis Cespedes, as I said to JB on Twitter.  Despite what the general public may think, the success the 2015 Mets had post-trade deadline is often over-correlated to acquiring Cespedes (read Mets Daddy‘s great piece on that for more info…I don’t believe the title is accurate…but the content is on the money for being impartial).  People don’t want to hear this either, despite whether or not he was playing “hurt” (he never confirmed or denied it), he didn’t come through when the team needed him in the postseason.  Yes, I realize it wasn’t just on him.  But Mets Daddy’s post does bring into the spotlight what his numbers truly brought out.  But I won’t get into all that, you will simply have to read his post to figure that out.  Besides his take on the pitching, (I won’t nitpick an otherwise great post) I couldn’t agree more that Cespedes wasn’t the be-all end-all.

I don’t know if the last few years have just left me jaded, or the fact that players I’ve legitimately wanted have faltered (see: Bay, Jason or Santana, Johan) in the limelight here.  At the end of the day, I don’t think that I truly believed he would take a win-win scenario as a contract, and would go for the “sure thing” (e.g. Money and Years).

People who know me know that I am a fan of Terry Collins and the Sandy Alderson-led “dream team” of front office professionals.  What I really love is that we are in a position where we can actually trust their judgment.  Because I have to believe that even if they are being financially prudent for the sake of the owners who don’t know shit about running a baseball (but like the perks that come along with it), Alderson really believes in what’s best for the team.  And thank goodness, he doesn’t engage with #MetsTwitter.

Here’s the thing about Cespedes though…with one fell swoop, everyone was happy.  He gets a nice dollar amount and can test the waters again next season, so he actually has incentive to play well so that he can potentially get a bigger pay day and years for the 2017 season.  We didn’t break the bank nor do we find ourselves with a backloaded contract if he does indeed wish to stay.  Those of us who strongly criticize (rightfully so) ownership sees they actually did reinvest fan spending to bring that goodwill feeling back.

But push all that other shit aside.

Let’s look at how the players actually WANT to be here.

Let’s also take a look at Mets history…

41KVDFGDN3LIn the 1986 Mets video An Amazin’ Era, Tug McGraw saw the decline of fan interest and the franchise as a visitor in the late 1970s.  When his teammates would say, “We have to go to New York and play…”  He would scream, “Don’t you people know how great of a town this is to play in???”

In 1983, St. Louis Cardinal Keith Hernandez cried in the shower as he found out he was traded to the lowly Mets.  A team, by the way, that won a World Championship three years after that, and an NL East pennant in five years later.

In the hot stove season going into 1985, Jesse Orosco said he jumped around in his living room once he found out all-star catcher Gary Carter was traded to the Mets in a blockbuster deal with the Montreal Expos.  In a loose paraphrase from an interview I saw him in around 2006, he said at the time, “We’re really putting this thing together.”

David Wright blasted reports that Cespedes was a “bad teammate,” and made an impassioned plea to bring him back just before the deal was finalized.

Wilmer Flores cried on the field as he thought he was traded from the only team he’s ever known.

Zack Wheeler is itching to return to pitching after his Tommy John surgery, saying he wants to be a part of this.

And Bartolo Colon is so happy, he’s doing head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in response to it…

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New Met Alejandro de Aza had this to say on his Facebook account:

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Players want to be here. It’s not about a 24 + 1 mentality or 25 players taking 25 different cars to get home.  Hell, even Noah Syndergaard offered to be Cespedes’ roomie…AFTER the Thor family wore “Big Sexy” shirts for Christmas Eve.  For the first time in a long time, the players are there for the names on the front, not the names on the back.

As I noted on the Rising Apple report podcast on the snow day, my favorite Yoenis Cespedes moment almost had nothing to do with his individual performance.  The 2015 trade deadline also happened to kick off the heated divisional rivalry series versus the Washington Nationals.  The Friday night game was the Wilmer Flores walk off.  By Sunday’s game, though Cespedes didn’t do anything so totally dramatic himself, there was a buzz not heard in Flushing since Shea Stadium was around.  It had to do with Thor and beating the rivals and basically going on a tear and wouldn’t look back.

As a Yankee fan friend of mine said to me after that weekend, “Who the FUCK is this guy Syndergaard?  Holy shit, that kid’s for real.”  And how could any Mets fan not get the feels when Flores pumped up his Mets jersey in his walk off?

Despite my initial reservations about Cespedes, I say, why not us?  This is a team, despite what we may think of ownership, the front office, the manager, the “franchise” third baseman…we’ve got a team of supremely confident men who give zero fucks and what to finish what they started.

That’s something we can all get behind.  Including me.  Opening Day can’t get here fast enough.

And I’m not just saying that because there’s a shitload of snow on the ground.

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Fine Line Between Pessimism and Low Expectations

I have unusually low expectations for the Mets in 2012.

Usually, I look forward to Opening Day with such giddy anticipation as a child would look forward to waking up on Christmas morning, going out of their bedroom and seeing their prized bicycle under a tree.

This year it’s weird.  There are things I am looking forward to, such as seeing the friends I haven’t seen since the last game of 2011, seeing friends I see all year round, eating lots of bad food (not “bad” food, but “bad-for-you” food), and drinking alcohol.  It’s mostly the camaraderie I am looking forward to.  The blogger summit on Shea Bridge that we’ve taken to most games.

And yes, to an extent I am looking forward to seeing baseball played again.

Yet, I don’t want to sound pessimistic.  I think Mets fans have been put through the wringer with this team in the past few years.  Okay, maybe me.  I’ll never stop loving them, but DAMN BABY!  Make it stop!

I’m not pessimistic.  I have optimism for certain parts of the team.  Like Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, seeing Daniel Murphy play a full season (or at least attempt to), see how Jason Bay reacts to the new walls, see Johan Santana return, and see our young stars develop.  Whether I think that will be moxie enough to keep me interested all season remains to be seen.

I can be excited and love the team and love baseball games, but until they start showing me some changes, I’m not expecting much.  And I guess that’s a good thing because it seems like each year when we have high expectations they just temper them to the extent that we just get angry.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…it can only get better from here.

I hope.

PLAY BALL!!!

Proceed With Caution

The Rangers are proceeding “with caution” in regards to Marc Staal’s concussion symptoms.  What surprises me is that post-concussion syndrome stuff is being addressed from a hit he took on the ice in February (by his brother, ironically), and he sat all summer with this.  I mean, nothing against Staal, I hope he takes care of himself and is back on the ice before we know it.  My problem, though, is with the treatment, not just of hockey players but of players who are prone to concussions, specifically due to big hits and subsequent brain injuries.

I know I discussed this the other day in my post on hockey’s dark side.  But it’s not just hockey, football players get concussions as a matter of course almost and now even baseball players (notably, Jason Bay in 2010 ran into a wall and missed the entire season, and it took him a good half-season to get back into things, and even Ryan Church who was on the Mets in 2008 flew cross-country with a brain injury before experiencing post-concussion symptoms) are joining in on the non-fun.

I guess because of Eric Lindros, and two of my favorite players of all-time Pat LaFontaine and ’94 Ranger great Mike Richter had to retire prematurely due to post-concussion syndrome, I am a little gunshy about hearing things like “proceeding with caution” (which is a good thing) to “flying with the team to Stockholm” (bad thing), which is what they are talking about doing with Staal.  Look, I know Staal’s health is critical to the team’s health.  But if they are truly to proceed with caution, wouldn’t flying to Stockholm be in effect a bad idea? I would hate, you know, to see the Rangers put money over the health of one of their best players.

Maybe I’m just being overly cautious myself or feeling that way anyway, since a blogger-with-shitty-opinions’ opinions don’t weigh much on the organizational health of my favorite hockey team.  I guess in a summer where several hockey players died tragically indirectly or perhaps more directly to head injuries sustained on the ice, and former NFL player Dave Duerson took his own life with a suicide note attached saying to donate his brain to the NFL Bank…causing other NFL alums and writers to speak out on behalf of players who become depressed because of diminished capacity after suffering long-term concussion effects, and causing non-pro levels to listen with care about potential backlash due to concussive symptoms…I mean, these are “tough guys” who are supposed to take it “like a man” and not complain, but the truth is, these guys are hurting.  It’s in their nature to not speak up, or therefore look like a pansy.  The fact of the matter is, it is a problem, and someone needs to think about it.

Perhaps it is I,though, who is thinking overly cautious, or putting a value on the effects of this stuff.  I guess when I’ve seen so much of this in all the sports I watch, and then cringe each time Jason Bay has to get too close to a wall, or Mike Richter has to retire before his time…I guess I can think that flying Staal across the ocean to play in two games when he’s been sitting on this injury for SEVEN MONTHS is a bit excessive and he can sit out the first few games of the season.