Prince Fielder

Refuse To Get Up In Arms, Literally

If I could muster up some faux outrage for the slight of R.A. Dickey, who is by far and away the well-deserved candidate to start the All-Star Game, I would.  But I won’t.  For several reasons.

I’ve made no bones that I think the All-Star Game is just one ginormous shit show.  The game “counts,” yet I would venture to say that about 80% of the starters, let alone those who have made the roster simply because there needs to be a team representative, won’t even sniff the playoffs.  Besides personal gain (like All-Star bonuses, etc), what incentive is there for say, a Miguel Cabrera who played for the Marlins in 2006 to not Roger Dorn an easily playable ball, leading to Trevor Hoffman’s meltdown which essentially turned me off for the All-Star Game for good? And yes, I brought that up the other night on the Happy Recap’s podcast, because unlike 1986, I won’t get over it.  Dammit.

But there’s more.  Tony LaRussa pulled a Mr. 3000 and retired right after his team, dark horse candidates for the World Championship, won the World Series last year.  Besides San Francisco Giants fans stuffing the ballot box so less deserving players can start (Pablo Sandoval, really people?), is there a point to this whole thing?

Not really.  Except once again, personal accolades for the individual and home field advantage determination for the winner.

Makes sense to me.

(Editor’s Note: No, not really)

There are so many inconsistencies with it this year though.  Okay, so Mets fans all know and love R.A. Dickey, he’s awesome, hard-working, published author, a cool dude.  In essence, he’s one of us.  He’s had a monster break out year.  Well, I was on ANOTHER podcast earlier this season when someone asked if I thought he was a Cy Young candidate.  I said I’d need to see more consistent work after the second half (and his last two games didn’t look too hot, so take that with a grain of salt), but that even if he did coast it out and was awesomely awesome, chances are, the knuckleball, seen as an eccentric pitch, would be voted against him.  Turns out I was half right, as it worked against him for the All-Star Game start.

My favorite explanation was that LaRussa was not sure that Buster Posey, a dude who probably shouldn’t have even been starting anyway, might not be able to catch a knuckle ball.  Well, if Josh Thole is the only catcher, name him to the roster…or does Jason Varitek need to be called out of retirement…I guess Dickey is going to be throwing a lot of passed balls because NO ONE knows how to catch a knuckleball.

Seriously?  THAT’S YOUR REASON?

Now that I got that circular logic out of the way, I refuse to be upset about this.  It goes against everything that I stand for, really, regarding this exhibition.  This is what I find hilarious – an “exhibition” game, that “matters.”  Isn’t that the very definition of something that’s, I don’t know, a total paradox?  Sounds like it. But I was only an English lit major, what the hell do I know?

So my friend Sully writes a column today about how Matt Cain starting is a good thing.  Since I respect his opinion, and even when he bashes the Mets, I tend to agree with him from time to time, I wanted to address it here.  Like usual, I agree with some, disagree with other points.  Like one is Matt Cain paid his dues.  So, R.A. Dickey, who had an incredible journey to the majors, learned to knuckleball, published a book, wants to lecture on Faulkner and English lit masters when he’s retired…that’s bupkis?

R.A. Dickey has only been a star for a few months, consistently he argues.  Well, while I’d agree with one part (see my paragraph above about how I felt that he needed more of a body of work for me to consider a Cy Young, let alone a NL All-Star start, which by the way was totally deserved), but I have to ask…if not the All-Star Game…and let’s say for argument sake that he bowls over the competition, leads the Mets to the NL East title and the World Series…would that preclude him from getting a Cy Young…BECAUSE he *may* be in fact a one-hit wonder?

Does that make sense?  I mean, chances are, Dickey may come down to earth, and be more level in the second half…so that might not be Cy worthy.  But an All-Star start…that’s ever a time to have a so-called maybe one-hit wonder start.

I did agree, however, that Dickey coming into the game will give Mets fans a reason to stay tuned in middle innings.

But the All-Star Game is supposed to be based on merit, the cream of the crop, the top of the class.

Yet there’s the other side that it’s an exhibition game that “counts,” and the fans are voting their favorite players in.

Forgive me if I can’t muster up enough of an attempt to give a shit.

Yes, I did write about it, I did acknowledge it when I promised myself I wouldn’t.  The fact is, I could get upset about R.A. Dickey not starting the game, I could get upset that David Wright wasn’t voted as a starter because a fanbase 3000 miles away managed to game the system.

But that would actually make me admit that I care about the All-Star Game.  And I don’t.  In fact, I found out that Prince Fielder won the HR Derby once again on Twitter.  I didn’t watch.  I may watch tonight just to see my players play.  But that’s about it.

If the players and manager refuse to care about it, why should I?

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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.

Dog and Pony Show

I know that I am flogging a dead horse, but may I ask what the hell does the All-Star Game in July have to do with the World Series?

Apparently, a lot, since home field advantage for the World Series, is decided by a game that has nothing to do with the outcome of the season or who goes to the game or what.  I’ve been on my soapbox on that quite a bit, so I won’t go into my “Bud Selig is a fucking moron” rant.

Yet as I am watching the opening game of a potential seven game series between a Wild Card winner and the AL West divisional champ…well I guess if you want to wax poetic about it, the fact that a Wild Card team is in the World Series is a testament to the Wild Card age.  I get that.

But am I crazy to think that there’s no way in hell that a Wild Card team should have home field advantage in the World Series UNLESS they have a better record than the other team?

If you think about it, Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose team was beat by the National League Champion, St. Louis Cardinals) gave the NL home field advantage by hitting a rocket of a home run off CJ Wilson, the starting pitcher for the AL champion Texas Rangers tonight…and ultimately for what?  So that the team who beat Fielder’s team that didn’t have a better record in the regular season can have home field advantage.

I just want to state that I have no problem with how the teams got there…in fact, the Cardinals have had a pretty improbable run, a longshot for the Wild Card, and “backing in” on Game 162 day by the Atlanta Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies: the team the Cards beat to get to the NLCS.  Baseball is an amazing sport, one of great stories and dramatic themes.  The Cardinals are no exception to that.

Yet, when I think back to “great stories” or “dramatic themes,” I don’t go back to the All-Star Game and say, wow, wasn’t it great the NL won home field advantage for the World Series then?  No, I mean, even though Prince Fielder’s team had a chance to go to the big show and directly profit off that win, if Carlos Beltran had hit the home run to get the NL the win, it would make even LESS sense.

The All-Star Game is a dog and pony show, and I don’t even really care to watch it each year (I mostly do so because my husband likes it still…whatevs).  It’s hard to say that there wasn’t an “earning” of home field advantage because that would diminish the Cardinals’ run to the big show, that’s not what I’m saying.

But I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s ridick that a team with a worse record gets home field because of a game that means absolutely nothing three months earlier over a team that has a better record and may be used to their “advantage.”

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.