New York Yankees

Baseball Hell For This Fan

I freely admit to having some irrational hate towards some players.  As a wise man named Metstradamus once told me, though, YOU (the collective “you”) LOVE TO HATE.  Tis true I suppose.

Some of my irrational hate comes from my own team.  Like Nelson Figueroa and Joe McEwing?  Take a flying leap, both of yas.  Angel Pagan can kick rocks as far as I’m concerned.

For teams not my own, I do not like Cody Ross — though I had to root for him (blech) in 2010 when he singlehandedly kicked the Phillies asses.  I react to him much like Bluto reacts to seeing Kent Dorfman’s face on the screen in the Delta House.

Oh and don’t get me started on the Phils.  I hope Cliff Lee’s wife got to see the “best” of what Philly has to offer once they started losing this year.

But the ALCS and NLCS in 2012.  This is unique because none of these teams have any redeeming qualities to me.  None that I can get behind and root for.  Not that I like to have an active rooting interest.  I guess without my team in these games, it’s tough to get emotionally invested.  So while I can have a benign interest, I typically like to look at these games at I would any regular season game that I happen to be watching on TV or in person when my team is not playing.  Like being able to acknowledge a good play.  Seeing a monster home run.  Protesting a bad call (trust me – on the sides of a bad call, the opposing team agrees, the team in question disagrees).

This year is tough.  I don’t like any of the teams.  Possibly irrationally, possibly good.  But if irrational hate is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

The Cardinals.  It’s funny why I don’t particularly care for them this year.  You’d think I might like them more since Tony LaRasshat isn’t around.  But no.  It’s more than that.  I could say that it was 2006 that did it for me, but I’m not gonna go there.  Fact is, the Mets beat themselves more in that series than the Cards did.  But no.  It’s what @Mezzanine76 said, and it’s what I’m thinking about Carlos Beltran.

 

I want Carlos Beltran to win a ring…I do NOT want him to win one with the Cardinals.  I mean, that’s almost too easy.  The team he has absolutely owned in postseasons, that he always kills…hell, he’s just a monster in the postseason.

Is that selfish of me?  Well, of course it is.  I hope Beltran hits like .900 in this series.  I don’t want his team to win.

Plus I guess I still have some sore bones about last year’s World Series.  Fuck the Texas Rangers for making that happen, and fuck the Cardinals.

(And I’m still upset that the Nats had to lose that way in Game Five.  For more on that, read Dave Nichols’ post at District Sports Page – you will not be disappointed).

That would probably make you say, then you’d be rooting for the San Francisco Giants. Well, no.  Not exactly.  The cruelest joke is that I love their stadium, love the city (only other place I’d live besides New York City), but their fans do NOT deserve this team at all.  I was there in 2010, prior to them winning.  I never met more of a douchelord fan base in my life (up there with Yankees and Dodgers).

I realized something though.  They were antsy.  If we thought that the lack of Mets history in CitiField was bad at first when it opened, it had NOTHING on AT&T Park, where they celebrated pretty much everything from the New York era.  Prior to 2010, no San Francisco Giant team had ever won a World Series…the New York Giants had.

I pitied them. Then they won.  One of my favorite pitchers is Tim Lincecum.  I had his bobblehead.  They have a great mascot.  Yay, Lou Seal!  So I was okay with it.

Since then, every single Giants fan comes to CitiField and now travels well.  I do not like their fans.  Probably more of a hipster-esque Phillies fan base, if you can believe it.  Maybe they’re better now these days, but I have yet to come in contact with a more angry fan base.

Angel Pagan.  Never cared for him as a Met.  Now a postseason hero.  I *heart* contract years.

Which is probably the ultimate in Mets hell, really.  Cardinals have Beltran, Giants have Pagan.   Mets have Andres Torres.

If there is a baseball god, he’s not a very nice one.  And (s)he certainly does not like the Mets.

Then there’s the ALCS.  I was excited about the possibility of the Baltimore Orioles advancing, and I really liked the Oakland A’s story this year.  Neither team advanced.  Therefore, the other teams can go fuck themselves.

Okay, maybe Detroit has something good.  I like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Prince Fielder.  But I still have some irrational hate towards Miguel Cabrera for Roger Dorn’ing a ball during the All-Star Game in 2006.  Also because he was a Marlin.  Oh and Jose Valverde can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I’m concerned (and this was before the blow up last night).

I have no choice but to get behind them because of who they are playing in the Series.

That’s the Yankees.  After Raul Ibanez hit a game tying home run in the 9th inning against the Tigers last night, @DyHrdMet had this to say.

And it’s true.  The sense of entitlement is astounding.  Not to say that there aren’t some really true fans…but their justification of lack of sellouts during the postseason, moving the riff raff from the top levels to the seats behind home plate that clearly weren’t full, pricing their own fans out during a prime time game on a weekend…quite possibly the bandwagon is falling apart.  Honestly, though, I was ripped apart for suggesting that there are only Yankee fans who come out during October.  Why?  THERE ARE AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM.  I say I don’t get emotionally involved during playoffs…they have fans who ONLY get emotionally involved during the playoffs.  They are not fans.  They suck.

Oh and the booing.  The friends I have who actually ARE lifelong Yankees fans were calling out the fans who actively booed (in no particular order) A-Rod, Curtis Granderson (really???), Nick Swisher (okay, maybe he deserves it).  Say what you will about A-Rod and Swisher (and I have plenty to say about that dickhead), Granderson, folks??? Really???

Of course there are things I’m not going to gloat about.  As much as I don’t like the team or particularly care for him, you wouldn’t want to wish Derek Jeter’s injury on anyone.

But can I find a more completely unrootable team?  Probably not.

A-Rod – BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Okay, look.  I defend a guy like Jason Bay because you can tell his downturn bothers him, and he still cares.  But is there more of an unlikable character than A-Rod in sports?  No, not really.  And say what you want about Bay – he’s only getting paid an average of $16.5 mm per year AND has only one more year left on his contract.  A-Rod gets $27.5mm.  No question who the bigger bust is…especially since A-Rod has FIVE MORE YEARS left.

Raul Ibanez.  Is there a more cruel joke than to see a former 2009 champion Philadelphia Phillies and seeing him absolutely turn the heat on in the playoffs?

Nick Swisher is just in general a dislikable douchebag.   Robinson Cano is a big baby.  WAH!  And if the term “run support” wasn’t invented for a guy like Philip Hughes, then I don’t know why it was ever coined.

Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano…all of ’em.  Can’t stand a one.  Maybe it has to do with some irrational Yankees hatred.  But I’ve liked some players on the Yankees over the year.  At least, I think I have.  Hell, I’ve even admitted to liking Chase Utley on the Phillies.  I have had to have liked somebody on the Yankees…right?  Right?

Maybe Mo Rivera.  He seems like a decent human being.

Lastly, watching the last few games they’ve played, it amazes me just how far the Yankees have gone this year.  With all that power (on paper) in their lineup, you’d think they wouldn’t leave RISP after RISP all the time.  If the Tigers don’t take them down in four games, they’re nothing but a fraud.

But you see, there I go again.  Caring about the outcome of games that my team isn’t even playing.

So ya happy now???

No, not really.  The playoffs suck when your team isn’t in it.

But they really suck when you can find no redeeming qualities about any of the teams playing.

Right now, I’m rooting for a flood.

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Holier Than Thou

I’m a pretty fortunate chick that I can travel around to visit ballparks around the country. At current count, I’ve seen Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, CitiField, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Tropicana Field, Wrigley Field, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, Ballpark at Arlington, Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park, Petco Park, Angel Stadium and Rogers “I’m Calling it SkyDome” Centre. (I’ve also seen three stadiums no longer with us: Shea, the “first” Yankee and The Vet in Philly).

I’ve met some shitty fans (San Francisco was by far one of the worst fan bases I’ve ever come in contact with), fans who couldn’t care less and probably have a better reputation than they should (like Toronto), and some fanbases that get a bad rap that actually I didn’t get to see (like Dodger fans). I’ve seen what bad finances can do to a fan base (like mine), and I can see what happens when ownership gets in its own way (like Miami or Baltimore).  I’ve seen what happens when a team gets good and all of a sudden “lifelong fans” come out of the woodwork.

I’m all too familiar with that last part. I’ve seen it happen with my own fan base, especially in 2006. EVERYONE wanted to be in on the fun. Then again, I’ve always said that the best times to be a Mets fan would be during the down years anyway.

I digress.

The playoffs brings out the worst in every fan base, I believe. The worst of the bandwagoners.

But the whole “he who is without sin” and “casting the first stone” has come out in full force, probably more than ever, during these baseball playoff series.

And mostly, I find that Yankee fans in my feed are casting those stones.

This is not meant to be an attack on Yankee Nation or their fans. I have a great amount of people in my Twitter feed and in my real life whom I consider good friends who are Yankee fans. These are FANS not in quotation marks, but people who live and die by the team. I get that there is a lot of history and passion related to the topic. These aren’t the people I have a problem with. In fact, they’re the people who I feel are the most level-headed.

I find the whole topic of “fairweather fans” in the playoffs kind of funny.  I mean, Yankee fans should speak from experience.  I should know: I am a Mets fan who has rooted for the blue and orange, lived and died with them since I was seven years old.  Yet, over the years, with the peaks and valleys with how poor the team has been run, I’ve seen my share of people who show up only when they are good.

Yet there is a population of people who just stop going to games.  Why spend money on a product that is faulty?  I can certainly see the validity to that statement.  What I hated though was going from 2004, where the real fans were still showing up, drinking beer and talking about trades that would never happen, to 2006, when people said, “Oh I like this Mets team better than the Yankees, so I’m gonna root for them.”  No.  Seriously.  SOMEONE SAID THIS TO ME.  I don’t remember if I said anything back because, well, I just couldn’t believe someone would admit it to me.

I have family members who claim to be lifelong Yankee fans, but I can put an asterisk *since 1996 next to their fandom, since we sat in front of the TV and rooted for the Mets in the ’80s.  I wish I could have it that easy.  Just start rooting for another team without a conscience.

Like I said, this isn’t meant to be a rant against Yankee fans.  I just find it mildly ironic (okay – HELLA ironic) that their fans would call out Orioles fans for “just showing up” now.

Here are some things I’ve taken into consideration about this year’s playoffs.

One is, I go to probably more Orioles games than any others outside of my own team’s.  It’s mostly a geographic necessity.  I’m certainly not going to go to a game in Philadelphia for the hell of it.  Same for the Bronx.  I hate Boston, and DC and I don’t mix.  But I like Baltimore.  It’s a quick bus ride for me.  I can find cheap accommodations, and food is really really good there.  And if there is a game going on when I happen to be there, you better be certain I’m going to attend.  (There’s also this little obsession I have with a guy named Cal Ripken). I may be a little biased for their fans but that’s because I interact with many of them in a given time frame.

Two is, take into consideration economic factors.  Typically, if a region is hurting or there is less discretionary income going somewhere, chances are baseball games will get hit.  I have a family member who admitted he stopped going to games because it wasn’t economically feasible this year.  I can understand that. For what it’s worth too, the Mets have taken note of this phenomenon and at least have tried to make it more appealing for families to come to the ballpark.  My husband and I don’t have children.  We like baseball.  We make it a priority to attend.  Therefore, we make it a factor for us.  That and road trips.

But that’s just the thing.  I feel like the road trips I go on make me maybe a little conscious of what’s going on in outside markets.  True, New York is expensive, but so is the cost of living and generally prices and incomes are in line with that.  Take into consideration Los Angeles, when I went to a game when the Dodgers were actually good, and I could get a seat in the Loge level for TWELVE DOLLARS on Stubhub.  I could go to the Cell in Chicago’s South Side and spend less than $30 for two tickets for a team that gets a good draw in the upper deck in the secondary market (lots of fees went into that $30, I think it was like $13 per ticket).

Mostly, when I go to Baltimore and there is a game going on, I can walk up that day and buy tickets, get good seats, cheap.  Is it indicative of the fan base?  Maybe.  But I definitely think that local economic factors in “smaller markets” account for this too.

The third is, again the irony calling out the Baltimore Orioles fan base in general.  The AL East, save the Yankees and MAYBE the Red Sox, never sell out their games.  And even those two teams don’t come close to it most nights (maybe the Sox do because their stadium is so small, therefore fewer seats to fill).

I was in Toronto in May, and there were tons of fans dressed as empty seats.  In fact, Rogers Centre was a barn.  You could not fill it up, and they actually closed off some sections.  I believe though, that they might have raised prices on tickets there to account for the lack of seats that were there.  I don’t think they can do that…but I feel like my upper deck ticket was really high.

Look at the Tampa Bay Rays, who have actually been a good team for the past four years, couldn’t sell out a game to save their lives, then they became good.  THEY COULD NOT GET PEOPLE TO COME TO THEIR GAMES OR THE PLAYOFFS.

You know what I saw last night at Camden Yards?  I saw passion.  I saw excitement.  I saw people who now had a reason to go to the games.  Not complaining that Peter Angelos was running the team into the ground, and they’d never compete again.  I remember reading an article a few weeks ago about how the fans were not coming to the games, but viewership was at an all-time high for MASN (the local sports network in that region).  I don’t think that’s bandwagon-ism, it’s more of a “Hey, I can justify putting my discretionary income into these games now.”

The first game was a clusterfuck for sure.  I heard that Orioles fans were leaving when the game was still close.  In a close game, in the playoffs, that’s a total party foul.  I can’t say that I blame them though.  I’m not one to leave a game early unless I’m ill or something, but you know, it was cold Sunday night.  Some people had to work the next day.

What got me though is that Orioles fans are not the only folks to do such a thing.  I remember in 2010 fans leaving the Yankees/Rangers series at Yankee Stadium.  I talked to a coworker then who admitted he left early.  When I gave him “the look,” he said, “Look, judge me all you want, but I have kids.  I need to be in the office at 8 A.M.  It was close to midnight.  They were losing.  I had to pick up my car in Jersey City.  I wanted to go home.”  I guess, you know, he wasn’t banking on a comeback, but hey, he had a point.

What I’m saying is….these things happen.

In the past year and change, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great fans from other fan bases, something I can say would have never happened without the advent of social media.  And mostly, I find it intriguing to watch because I am a Mets fan and they sucked all year.  Then there’s my friends from the Washington Nationals fan base that I’m really happy for, because they’re so much fun to watch getting excited over their team.  Prior to this year, it was an easy ticket to get (do I need to bring up how the Nationals ticket people openly recruited Phillies fans to come to their games?).  Do I think these people are bandwagoners?  Absolutely not.

Last year, I went to a “meaningless” game in September at Camden Yards, and met the two fans pictured above.  The woman, “Stretch Lady,” made it a point to go to all 81 home games last year.  Let that one sink in.  The gentleman, who writes for 2131 and Beyond, follows the Orioles around like I follow the Mets around.  Are they exceptions to the rule?  Hardly.

I watched with glee as the Orioles took out the Red Sox in Game 162.  Nothing against the Red Sox.  I know a lot of their fans too.  But because my misconceptions about Orioles were cleared up, I found that this team had scrap.  And it carried over into this season, surprising many.

I could point out that Phillies fans had nothing to cheer for prior to 2008, and were merely distracted from their Eagles watching with a decent few years from the baseball team.  Now those fans are not showing up to games.   Then again, that’s a bad example because save maybe Flyers fans, Philadelphia sports fans are probably the most fickle in all of sports.

I make it a point to not actively root for teams during the playoffs.  Honestly, I don’t like the stress that goes along with it.   But I do like watching from an objective point of view.  And my objectivity makes it clear that those who are pointing the amount of bandwagon jumpers in these particular playoffs have no fucking room to make that judgment.

To prove my point, The 7 Line found this shirt today, made by Majestic. 

A shirt that is an official shirt maker for MLB.

His response was, “The bandwagon will love that.”

I got some defensive responses from some of the Yankee fan base the other night, when I commented about those who come out to roost during the playoffs.  “That’s not true!” they say.  “They’re just as passionate as other fan bases,” they say.  But…what about those people I see who never wear a stitch of Yankee clothing during the regular season, never make a comment about going to a game, watching a game, never make a peep about a good pitching performance from CC Sabathia, or make a comment about how they don’t like A-Rod (trust me: real Yankee fans DO NOT like A-Rod).

Guess when they show up and won’t shut the fuck up?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s a month that begins with “O.”

I’m not saying that none of these fans aren’t bandwagoners.  Clearly, every fan base has them.  I’ve seen plenty infiltrate my team.

But to say the experience is somehow “less than” or that your team’s fans are better because they’ve been to the playoffs 100 years in a row and can’t get rid of these lunatic fringe element that goes and starts shit, well congratulations.

You’re a Holier-than-Thou fan.

Autumn In New York

Like many business people in New York City, I work for myself and I’m able to make my own hours.  In that vain I’m able to attend to real life issues such as declaring whether the Whole Foods Market salad bar is better than Westside Market’s, or to make my Trader Joe’s shopping list (which being able to go in the afternoon rather than after traditional working hours is a godsend, since everyone and their uncle goes after work).

And like many people in New York, I’m often running errands boasting my team colors.  Today, I was bumming around in my New York Rangers shirsey, bearing the number and name of one Bradley Glenn Richards.

So it’s autumn in New York.  It’s not just a one sport town, but a multiple sport town.  There is not one but several phenomena occurring this time of year. Typically, you can count on Yankee fans getting ready for the postseason, and Mets fans get ready to root for whomever plays against them.

Football season is a few weeks old.  Jets fans typically change their mind on the team more than the weather.

Yet there’s a gaping hole this fall, and it’s not the fact that I left the Giants out of the equation (come on, no one fucking talks about them until the playoffs)…and that’s hockey.

I’m a Mets and Jets fan, yet when I wear their attire, not much gets said to me when I’m walking down the street (unless I’m with my husband, and we get the “Hey, going to the game today?” comments).  I would gather that Yankee and/or Giants fans might feel the same when they sport their team colors.

Today, as I’m walking in Trader Joe’s, not one, not two, but THREE people (each from different walks of life — one an employee, one guy who looked like he just came in from the gym and someone who was probably working in an office setting still in their business casual clothes) made a comment about the team.  Whether it was, “Man, what do you think about the lockout?”  Or “We got Nash, and now we’re not playing?”  Or “Brad Richards, huh?”  (I get that a lot, but sue me, I was excited to have him on the team last year).

Come to now with the threat of no hockey this seasons I would be willing to argue that the true heart of a New York sports fan lies in their hockey allegiance.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are super passionate Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, hell even Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans.  They certainly exist.  Hockey fans are from a different cloth.  There’s a deep rooted passion, and it’s almost as if being in a room with 18,000 like minded people, indoors mostly, makes it seem like we’ve survived a war.  Perhaps we’ve survived several different battles, each game a mini battle in and of itself.

The battles these days aren’t being drawn out in the ice, but rather in board rooms, with Gary Butthead, the owners and players.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s probably not the best sign that players are going back to their homeland (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic) to play in those leagues.  It dictates that they expect this to be drawn out for a long time.

Do I need to break out the world’s smallest violin, again, for the millionaires who are arguing over pennies while the diamonds are being passed over.  Diamonds in the form of long-term relationships with the fans who support and buy into the product.

What’s most nauseating being here in New York is that I know it’s not James Dolan’s fault.  He’s a money guy, sure, but he knows that the only way he’s gonna MAKE money is if his team gets out there and plays and his fans are happy.  Fans are not happy.

But what’s more.  I am a Mets, Jets and Rangers fans.  These three teams have brought me more sorrow than joy, but there are glimpses of hope as to why I stick around long term even though they are destined to break my heart more often than not.  Two years ago, and two years in a row, the Jets made the conference championships.  The Mets…well…let’s not go there.  But let’s just say that I do remember ’86 and think that sometimes those feelings are what keep me around.

The Rangers though.  For a fan with the teams I have, this is the closest I’ve had to a championship for a long time and a team I looked forward to the last few months to watch.  A team that could take me away from the drama of Rex Ryan land and the Wilpon Follies.  As someone else pointed out to me, we get Rick Nash, and pieces are falling into place, and now these people are just agreeing to disagree and getting absolutely nowhere.

Today would have marked the first preseason game for 2012-13 season.  Yet the only thing we are marking is time.

It’s autumn in New York.  And before we know it, it will be winter in New York.

As the seasons change, one constant may not be there.  And that’s not a pleasant thought.

On Paper

I’m not a person who blogs to “report” on shit.  Seems self-defeating right?  But not to me.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to write about something that you can get information on from like 500 different sites at the time it happens.  And they all tell you the same thing.

Plus, I’m an observer.  I like to think and mull things over before making an opinion or even an informed decision.  So when crazy contracts were being doled out back in December like free ice creams cone day at Ben & Jerry’s, I wasn’t going to weigh in right away.

But I can now.

Being a Mets fan, I’ve had my share of winning in the offseason versus the actual winning games on the field happen.  More often than I care to admit.  The Mets were also in the thick of things during the winter meetings and hot stove happenings, but mostly on the “wrong” side of them, simply by not dishing out a six-year contract to Jose Reyes.  My friend Sully from Sully Baseball even said that he didn’t think it was the end of the world for the Mets and I agreed with him.  I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge.

Besides, what are the odds that the Miami Marlins will actually hold onto Reyes for the duration of his contract?  Slim and none, and slim’s out of town, right?

There were many more moves besides Reyes.  There was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the I’m-Calling-Them-California Angels, Prince Fielder to Detroit Tigers and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to the Marlins as well.

Until this little nugget of turd came out from the Sporting News, and I really had to analyze where they were going.  Basically, the gist of it is, if your team signed overpriced and payroll-choking talent that has had its hey-day (as Sully put it, paying for John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever years when you might get at least one year of Pulp Fiction if you’re lucky), you got an A.

The rest of your teams, though.  You’re all fucked.

Seriously, how fucking hard is it to definitively identify where a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Let me throw out the Mets for a second.  I’m not expecting much here.  Yet, Sandy Alderson has to make do with what he has, which is basically a bucket of shit.  There’s no mention in this piece about the trades he had to make, like Angel Pagan and then signing bullpen help to short-term deals with little risk and very high rewards.  He has very little wiggle room.  Do I expect much from this team this year?  No, but at least there’s some flexibility now.  It’s like this piece didn’t even address what the Mets had to work with.

What I love most though is the emphasis on the free agent signings.  Marlins and Angels get A+++++++ because they dished out more money than a sailor on leave in Amsterdam’s red light district.  What it doesn’t tell me, though, is what these deals are going to do to these teams long term.  You know, like prohibit them from making other moves and then being underwater with these contracts in two-three years.  Because trust me, this is going to happen.

Then there’s the obligatory Yankee ballwashing.  They made a good trade though and if they can trade AJ Burnett for a breathing human, I’d say it was a coup.  Yet, here’s what gets me: the Yankees always make these under the radar moves (like Curtis Granderson a few years back) to make them loss-proof in the playoffs.  Has that happened yet?  No.

The next best teams in the offseason were Detroit and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox gets brownie points for getting a good manager.  Now, they neglect to address one very small item: their team hasn’t changed all that dramatically except for the managerial spot, which was the least of their problems last season.  Terry Francona essentially stepped down for trying to do a good job.  He walked away because of unrealistic expectations put on a team that WON ON PAPER last offseason.  Remember how that panned out?  Oh yeah, they lost Game 162 to a team with absolutely nothing to play for since like MAY of that year.

As for Detroit, I have no idea how Prince Fielder makes them a 162-0 team, but hey, more power to them I guess.

I could go on and on, but I’ll address one more team on this list: the Washington Nationals.  The Nats are an intriguing team to me for a few reasons, but they also added the tutelage of Davey Johnson (whom you all should know I love), but they added former Oakland A’s-fan fave Gio Gonzalez via trade.  Now here’s the thing: when this trade went down, there were two factions.  One which thought Billy Beane was fleecing the Nationals for the four prospects he obtained in the trade, the other which went crazy when Gio left the Bay Area.  Neither one of those sides I’ve mentioned seems to think to the extent that this deal might actually work out in the Nationals benefit.  Sure, they might actually finish over .500 this year.  And I agree that maybe the deal does give them a “B” offseason.  Is this the type of deal that might hinder them long-term?  Perhaps.  I mean, it’s not like they’re making a bunch of moves that’s going to put them on a sustained path to a championship.

In fact, that’s not something I’m reading about ANY of these deals.  I see these deals working out like most long-term/high-dollar deals or trading the future for maybe one-to-two good years of a talent before they themselves become a free agent, like, never.

So that brings me back to my position as a Mets fan.  Could the offseason been any better?  Oh, absolutely, it could have.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like the idea of not having Jose Reyes on our side, and feel that as a big market team they could have, under better circumstances, kept him around and it wouldn’t have been such a huge commitment, even six years.  The deal is what it is, and I’ve already let it go.

Then again, look at the deals that the team that did land him made.  Heath Bell: 3yr/$27mm.  Mark Buehrle: 4yr/$58mm.  The piece de resistance was the Carlos Zambrano trade.  I know from my fan base that Mets fans thought it might have been a good deal to swing, especially with the amount of money that the Chicago Cubs paid to essentially have him play for another team.  The Cubs didn’t make out too badly.  Theo Epstein, fresh off his revamping and rebranding the Boston Red Sox image over the past several years, got a once highly-touted prospect.  They might have eaten a lot of a bad contract but the idea is that this prospect could be a low-risk/high-reward type.

Yet, Zambrano is a known head-case.  I mean, this should go down as some must-see TV between Zambrano, new manager Ozzie Guillen and Marlins sandwich-short-of-a-picnic owner Jeffrey Loria.  Meanwhile, if someone like Alderson pulled off a deal like that, he would have been vilified by the fan base for trading away any prospect for Carlos Z with his known issues.  Damned is he does, etc etc.

This leads me to my conclusion.  As a Mets fan, I’m not unaware that their issues are more deeply rooted than not making the moves they should make to make the team better.  On the same point though I feel like they could be an exciting team to watch since I do believe that if we’re gonna lose, might as well do it with the young guys.

I suppose this rant is about my expectation level for a publication called “The Sporting News” to provide maybe a bit of detailed sporting analysis as to WHY these deals should work for these teams instead of just saying, “This team spent a lot of money this offseason, therefore they are going to rule.”  Maybe this year, but no one is addressing the pink elephant in the room, and how after year one, the majority of these deals simply won’t work in the team’s favor, just the players’.

Clearly, The Worst Team Money Could Buy was not required reading in their Sports Journalism 101 class.

Take Those Rings And Shove ‘Em

There’s a curious thing happening here in New York City.

The Rangers are playing some stellar hockey, to the extent that it’s time to think about playoffs, and I mean *deep* into the playoffs.

Then there’s the Jeremy Lin phenomenon on the Knicks, where it’s all anyone is talking about.  Even lay people who aren’t into basketball (like yours truly) have been jumping on the #LINning tweet hash tags and wondering what this kid can’t seem to do.

The Rangers are getting their due respect.  Henrik Lundqvist is finally coming into his own as an elite goaltender, Ryan Callahan is proving to everyone why he was named Captain of the team and these guys would take a bullet for one of their own teammates.  The Knicks are making their fans believers again, to the extent that people who had given up on them a long time ago are coming around again.

That’s not to say everyone is thrilled with these happenings.  I’m sure Devils, Isles and Flyers fans don’t care much about how the Rangers are performing (or Bruins fans, for that matter).  Is anyone outside of New York following Jeremy Lin-sanity?

So then when anyone brings up the fact that Henrik Lundqvist is a frontrunner for the Hart, Vezina and any trophy that can be anointed to any hockey player not a defenseman, or that anyone is a great player in New York…those who don’t care?  Those who like New York sports?

“How many rings does Henrik have again?”

“Has Jeremy Lin won any championships?”

Yes, folks, there are those people who want to piss all over the success of individual players by pointing out their shortcomings in the championship arena.

I could go the shorthand route and say, “Well it’s a team sport and any rings earned is based on team performance.”

But it’s something that any fan goes straight to, regardless of sport.  I mean, has everyone turned in Yankees fans to use their team’s overall success to diminish the greatness of a few individual players?

Look at the Devils’ Martin Brodeur.  Uncle Daddy Fatso has won three Cups under my watch and he was the star goaltender of those teams.  Yet, those teams won as a UNIT with the likes of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko leading the way.  Without those players, I doubt you get to fully appreciate how good Brodeur was for those teams.  And yet, when we all point and laugh at Marty, any of their Devils fans are all, “Well, how many Cups has Henrik won?”

Are you FUCKING SERIOUS?

Then there’s the whole Eli Manning ballwashing that has occurred.  Not to diminish any of his accomplishments because I’ll even admit that he has shown the capacity to really come through for his team when they need him most.  Yet, a few months ago, weren’t his fanbase and the local media throwing him under the bus for…well…whatever reason?  Look, mad respect for him…but does he win those rings with any other team?  Maybe not.

But then, does that mean he’s one of the best?  That remains to be seen.  But then we can look at the careers of Jim Kelly or Dan Marino and see that sometimes, life isn’t fair in sports.  Some of the best QBs haven’t won ONE ring, let alone two. Then Tom Brady is known for his failures to lead his team to two Super Bowl title when he already has earned THREE with the New England Patriots.

Football is strange though, because there are smaller margins of error in a season, and most games are more critical because there are fewer to play.

Basketball also has those great players who never won a championship.  I was a fan back in the day when John Stockton and Karl Malone were the core unit of the Utah Jazz.  They’re both Hall of Fame players, and don’t have a ring to their accomplishments.  Does this mean they were horrible players?  True, they’re not Michael Jordans, but even Dirk Nowitzki won a championship last year with the Dallas Mavericks, when the Miami Heat were all but anointed champions before a game was even played.

And don’t get me started on baseball.  I live in New York City, where I have to bear witness to the Yankee ballwashing that goes on a daily basis, 162 games a year, and 365 days a year when it’s all anyone harps on.  Forget the “Miracle” 1969 Mets.  Forget the Amazin’ 1986 Mets that we still haven’t gotten over.  It’s Derek Jeter – BEST SHORTSTOP EVAH according to their fans and local media.  How about Mariano Rivera?  All-time saves leader and has five rings.  But look at the teams they played on.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that those teams won because of the TEAMS and not because of one or two players?  Look at the Jazz again.  If it were up to one or two players, championships would be easier to come by.  Even the 1980s Mets were faltered because of the game of chance.

Which is all some championship seasons are.  Chance.

But then, look at the Rangers.  If they win the Stanley Cup this year, IF Henrik Lundqvist wins the Vezina or Hart (or that may be one of his teammates, Marian Gaborik), IF IF IF IF…

When someone talks about how great of a season and improbable run as Henrik Lundqvist has had, they’ll say, “Yeah…but he doesn’t THREE CUPS.”

To that, I only have one response.

TAKE THOSE RINGS AND SHOVE ‘EM STRAIGHT UP YOUR ASS KID!!!

To take a team accomplishment and make it into an individual accomplishment defeats the purpose of sports.  But hey, it’s a game of one-upmanship for fans to participate in.  But it’s a flawed argument and I hope that “real” fans understand the difference.

Phrontrunners

Every sport has them.  I couldn’t help but think of them today when I thinking about my last post on the New England Patriots, and how much I dislike them.  No one ever talks about how they could barely give tickets away in previous years, when no one really gave a shit about them as a team, especially in their own region, especially before they became Brady’s bunch.  Well, maybe that’s a little harsh.  But I suppose three Super Bowl championships in the last decade, and also in a span of five seasons can get some national recognition, especially with a pretty boy quarterback.

A fine recipe for frontrunning.

It’s tough to see what came first: the frontrunner or the fan.  I couldn’t help but think of that during the baseball playoffs this year, especially with two teams, the Yankees and the Phillies.  Of course, I have a direct hatred of both these teams.  The Yankees pretty much for what they represent.  The Mets could literally pitch their first no-hitter in history, and the local papers would say, “Mets Lose Perfect Game in Third, Get First No-Hitter.”  This has to do with the Yankee-bias in the local media for sure.

Fuck GMJ and His Old Man!

But homerism abounds in the Yankee world as well as in Philadelphia.  See, Philly cries (like Sarge said the Mets do) each year whether they win or lose, claiming they are in New York’s shadow, but they bring a lot of that on themselves.  When Jimmy Rollins stands up at the parade in 2008, and calls out Jose Reyes…and player he didn’t even FACE let alone who didn’t even make the friggin playoffs that year…it says to me there’s a little bit of a bias in their own eyes, and it didn’t even fuckin matter then.

I guess my point of this ramble is that I’ve seen a lot of frontrunning on either side of that spectrum, and it’s a question I’ve raised with myself: are these people “fans” before the team starts to win, or after?  It seems simplistic, and I’m sure it’s an open-ended questions.  Yet, I feel in the case of the Phillies and Yankees, it’s worse more-so in the case of the Phillies simply because they rarely win anything.

Prior to 2007, no one went to Mets/Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park.  NO ONE. I could go to Mets/Phils there and it would easily be 65/35 in favor of Mets fans.  Then 2008 rolled around, and there was probably close to 50/50.  Today, you’d be hard-pressed to see someone in blue and orange, and even if they do root for the Mets, they might not be wont to wear their colors.  Funny what “winning” will do to a franchise.

Here’s my thing: everyone will point and say no one cared about the Phillies prior to 2007, and they’d be right.  Hell, I think even Philly sports fans agree with that.  I’ve often said five World Series rings mean nothing, as they’d trade it all in for one Super Bowl.  Even when the Flyers made their improbable Cup run, I theorized the same thing (a few Philly fans shot me down, but I know them, and I know they are real fans…like, two out of the five I know).  Anyway, my point is, booing Ryan Howard as he collapsed from an Achilles injury, as he made the last out the second year in a row to end the Phillies’ postseason run, means that Philly fans have met our expectations loud and clear, literally.

Winning can also bring the worst in storied franchises.  Look at the Yankees.  I know they are deep-rooted in baseball history, they are the winningest franchise, etc etc etc.  If you’ll excuse me, barf.  Anyway, I get it.  But prior to 1996, no one was a Yankees fan.  None, at least, were out and proud about it.  And I will venture to say many “lifelong Yankees fans*” (*Since 1996) were turncoat Mets fans.  I know this, because I know at least five people in my family who qualify for that title (after we openly rooted for the Mets together in 1986…wearing Mets stuff…that had nothing to do with an East Coast bias, trust me). Meanwhile, the Yankees main concern is whether their overweight overpaid “ace” CC Sabathia will opt out.  As Tyler Kepner said, the Yankees after an unsuccessful postseason is akin to a banker running to Tiffany’s to fix a damaged relationship.

A team with a $200mm payroll has to spend more in order to gather goodwill with its fans?  No wonder they are all spoiled brats: winning the World Series each year is an unrealistic goal.  Period.

Sports teams all over have frontrunners.  But I couldn’t help but wonder when the Mets start winning, will all those annoying fans be ours?  I know that I’m not going anywhere, I know I’ll have my season ticket package, will still follow them on the road, will still write about them.  I feel like because I am super connected with all these folks that I’ll be rejoicing with several close friends whom I also consider family.  Yet, there will be a shit ton more people who are going simply because the Mets are winning.  I know they are hard to watch at times now, but I still manage to watch, even live, even on the road (even chronicled here, as a devoted female fan in the area!).  Am I somehow better than the people who won’t go?  Can’t say I am.

All you hear is silence in CitiField now.  But the Yankees and Phillies fans have shown they can be spoiled brats because of a taste of winning they have.  Which is frontrunneritis.  Their players better get used to it, especially Ryan Howard, whose 5/$125mm contract goes into effect next year…which he’s already projected to be out.  This should be entertaining (also, for other Phillies schadenfraude, read Studious Metsimus‘ post on Phorecasting the Phuture).

I know sports are not immune to frontrunneritis.  It’s just something to keep us entertained when teams win, then their ultimate downfall when they lose.

The Greatest Game(s) Ever Played

I usually get all warm and mushy for the last game of the season.  This year was weird.  Typically, the baseball season ends on a Sunday, and I get all weepy and nostalgic the last weekend.  Since the Mets’ season ended on a Wednesday, the last weekend didn’t hold the same feelings of sadness and longing as in previous years.

The Mets finished their season around 3:30 pm on Wednesday.  Little did I know, that the last day of baseball had yet to begin.

The greatest thing about baseball are the different subthemes in each game.  Every game has a story.  This year, we had four stories to watch.  The starring roles were to be played by: the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees; the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox; the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros; and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

To say that this Mets fan had a vested interest in these games was an understatement.  I have a thing for the Red Sox, as in the “enemy of the enemy is my friend,” etc etc.  Although I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded them not making the playoffs; after all, they were pretty much anointed the World Series Champs with the signing of Carl Crawford in the offseason and trading for Adrian Gonzalez.  I like the Orioles too; I had just spent a day at Camden Yards with a Yankee fan that we called the “Bird Bowl” (as the Blue Jays were their opponent), and she even chronicled that trip in this column (follow Amanda on Twitter @amandarykoff…she is a good Yankee fan and super cool).

 

I also happened to fall in love with Robert Andino that day…they have this great mid-inning entertainment clip called “Andino at the Movies,” where he regales us with movie reviews.  Trust me, it’s comedy in its highest form.

Did I like the way the Yankees just laid down for the Rays?  No.  But I did like the Rays’ team (although they were eliminated from their amazing late-season run earlier today).  I certainly would have liked them to make the Wild Card over the Red Sox, but I guess that’s because the Sox have become a more “moneyball” version of the Yanks (which I guess makes no sense, but I guess if you follow baseball, you get it).

I certainly wanted to see the Cardinals make the postseason over the Braves.  Which meant a win by the Cards and a loss by the Braves.

There was something else eating at me too here.  The fact that if the Sox and the Braves both lost their playoff bids, this would mean I wouldn’t have to hear about the Mets “choking” in September anymore.  I mean, talk about losing their playoff bid on the last day of the season.

Yet, I couldn’t even script how Game 162 would end for these teams.  I thought for sure we’d see some Game 163s going on.  No, these teams decided to take care of business the traditional way: backs against the wall and no shortage of drama.

At the beginning of the day, I’d thought the only dramatic thing I’d be watching was whether Ryan Braun would go 3-for-4 and Jose Reyes’ bunt single in his only at-bat on Wednesday would be for naught.  For Mets fans who wanted something cheer, we got it, and Braun was a non-entity. But hey, his team had already been decided to go to the playoffs, plus he’s almost as close to a lock for MVP if there ever was one.

On a night like this, I can thank goodness for MLB Network.  This gave us the opportunity to keep tabs on all the results.  Since it was technically the last game of the season, I didn’t realize just how glued to my TV I would be.

I was.

I guess the easiest game of the night was the Cardinals.  They won, fair and square, and the only thing they had to do was wait for the Braves to win or lose.  Braves win, they’d play the next day.  Braves lose, Cards were going to play the Phillies in the NLDS.

The real drama occurred over the AL East though.  It looked like the Yankees forgot they were trying to do their part in trying to eliminate their Boston rivals.  Pretty soon though, Rays’ late inning heroics shined through, and they scored seven runs to tie the game up.  I thought for sure the Yankees were throwing meatballs to the Rays to will them to win.  Think what you want, but it was suspect they didn’t bring in their lights-out arms in the bullpen at this juncture.  Then again, the Yankees really didn’t have anything to play for except make Boston suffer.  I’d say they succeeded.

Then the unthinkable happened.  It might not have been that outlandish, but seeing Jonathan Papelbon blow another late inning save wasn’t that story.  It was the fact that Robert Andino is going to haunt Red Sox fans’ dreams (or nightmares).  My friend @2131 and Beyond (an Orioles focused blogger) calls this night “The Curse of the Andino.”  I hope he knows, I do plan to use that one.

I felt bad for friends like Sully, who is as die hard for Boston as they come.  I also know how much they irk Yankees fans.  But to me, the collapse was redemption for me, as a Mets fan, who has been the butt of so many jokes since 2007.  Kranepool Society said “It gets better” to Red Sox fans, but I disagree.  Things have gotten progressively worse for us Mets fans, but I can hope that since other teams have taken the pressure off, perhaps we can all move on.

Same for the Braves.  I think most Mets fans dislike Chipper Jones, but respect the hell out of him.  I know I do.  Some folks were upset that they wouldn’t play in another postseason.  Why, so they won’t make it out of the first round?  I think the Cardinals are certainly more worthy, they worked very hard to get there.

The best part was watching the Rays game unfold.  I said on Twitter that I was going to call it, that the Rays would win it right after the Red Sox lost.

And they did.  Evan Longoria continued to build up his rep with a walk-off home run.  I’d like to think they won that game on pure guts, but I’m pretty sure they were gifted that win.

But who cares?  You might have been able to script these games the way we wanted to, or you might not have.  The thing is, each team kept us guessing to the very end.  Some people might argue that there is nothing more dramatic than a Game 163 or a Game 7 situation.  I’d disagree.  Game 162 2011 version was potentially one of the best nights of baseball I have ever witnessed in my many decades as a fan.  I may recognize October heartbreak, I may not have seen my team win anything in recent years and be humiliated.  That does not mean I have not seen the best that this game can give me.

This is my song for the 2011 season.  The Mets may have not finished where I wanted them to…but I wouldn’t have wanted the season to finish any other way.