Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Lightning 8.8.2010

  • Propriety:

Is it appropriate for team beat writers to provide running commentary on the teams they're assigned to cover during games? And then for them to go into the clubhouse, interview the players and manager they've been ridiculing non-stop and put up an objective front while repeating the process over again the next night?

Can this be compartmentalized to that degree?

Awhile ago, I said the beauty of Twitter is that it shatters the wall between fans and reporters; the reporters, long accused by most athletes of being glorified fans who are jealous of those they cover and are only writing about sports because they couldn't play sports themselves (a familiar lament), are being shown to be right in that assessment.

Because I don't follow any reporters other than the Mets beat writers for Newsday (David Lennon) and for The Bergen Record (Steve Popper), I don't know much about what the other writers say; although I've seen fans of other teams like the Yankees complain about the utterances of those covering their team as well. Extrapolating, I can only assume that it's the same everywhere.

Is this fair?

How is it possible for a writer----presumably there to report on what happened in the game and not provide analysis----to go on and on about what they perceive to be poor managerial decisions and bad play, then walk into the clubhouse and report?

It's not.

If you look at some of the Tweets from Lennon and Popper, what I'm saying is obvious. During last night's game alone, there were the following:

Popper (AKA StevePopper on Twitter):

And Fernando Martinez will platoon for now with Francoeur - until there is no more Francoeur.

I miss Cora already after Mets go 1-2-3 in the 1st. Well, he wouldn't have made a difference but no one would be laughing.

How low have the Mets sunk? I haven't seen one Mets fan beaten up by Phillies fans.

I don't know about this no-hitter stuff, but it's a good thing Jerry has Luis Castillo on the bench to pinch-hit for Johan in the 9th right?

Hey, at least K-Rod got the save. Wait, what? There's another inning? Thank goodness Ollie is in the pen.

And Lennon (AKA Lenno212 on Twitter):

I've asked about it frequently. I don't tell manager what to do.

Got out of bed, saw that sun's up. We all know what that means.

Nice. Another key sacrifice bunt by Pagan. Can't get enough of 'em.

The Lennon Tweets were in regards to Mets manager Jerry Manuel having Angel Pagan sacrifice bunt; Mets owner Fred Wilpon saying GM Omar Minaya's return was as guaranteed as the sun coming up; and Pagan bunting last night in the eighth inning.

I'm not even discussing those that I don't follow like Adam Rubin, whose brilliance pops up on my screen occasionally, despises Minaya and writes for ESPNNewYork with an underlying criticism for the club no matter what they do.

Columnists have something of a greater domain to make in-game analysis, but for the most part they do it in a snide way like Jon Heyman (AKA SI_JonHeyman) who makes clever and hilarious comments like: "well, mets offensive shakeup appears to have helped their pitching, anyway" and blocks anyone who he's threatened by (and I don't mean physically) on the site. (Joel Sherman AKA JoelSherman1) blocked me too.

1? 1 what, Joel?

I have to give credit to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (KenDavidoff) because at the very least, he goes back and forth with me and hasn't blocked me. Yet anyway.

I understand that the readership of Newsday is slightly more (or slightly less) than the membership tally of the Oliver Perez Fan Club; that Twitter is an outlet to vent frustration for an admittedly aggravating team, but this isn't about the Mets; nor is it about disagreement with their analysis. Sometimes they're right; but it's a question of propriety.

In reading the running dialogue of Mets beat writer from newspapers, I wonder if the line between reporter and analyst is so blurred that it's become impossible to take them seriously as they do their jobs. Can a writer rip the manager of the club he's covering and walk into the man's office and ask him questions----even if the questions are of the "when did you stop beating your wife?" variety tacitly implying the reporter's true feelings on the managerial decisions----after spending the whole game openly teeing off on him?


It's becoming clear that the reporters who in theory, should be authorities on or at least understand, that which they're covering, don't; clear that they're fans. Fans who have access to players, follow the teams all year long, but are as ignorant as the most reactionary talk show caller; in fact, it's worse because they're supposed to know better.

They have clear designs on being columnists and if no one's reading their writing, it doesn't remove the fact that they're betraying their defined job with in-game reactions hoping no one notices or complains about it. Personally, I don't care one way or the other because save for a precious few, I take most everyone else's analysis with a grain (or truckload) of salt; but it is inappropriate to those who do take them seriously and I don't think they should be allowed to do it.

The Mets veterans were stunned by the release of Alex Cora and concerned over the decision to recall Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez with the intention of the two 20-year-olds to play frequently for the rest of the season at the expense of Luis Castillo and Jeff Francoeur----NY Times Story.

The quotes are disturbing and could lead to factional issues in the Mets clubhouse similar to the ones that occurred with the Dodgers several years ago and led to the ouster of manager Grady Little because he couldn't control and put out the fires.

Here are the relevant parts of the article:

Citing the team’s inability to score runs and the need to regain the youthful energy that propelled the team two months ago, General Manager Omar Minaya shook up the fringes of the Mets’ lineup Saturday by calling up two minor league prospects at the expense of three veterans.

They released Alex Cora and sent Jesus Feliciano back to Buffalo, but several veteran players, concerned that no trades were made at the deadline, were left wondering if the moves were designed to improve their chances in the current playoff race, or if the front office was conceding.

“Of course you wonder,” David Wright said. “I assume there is a plan. It obviously doesn’t look all that good when all of a sudden, after a tough loss, you hear that they want to start playing the young guys. So you kind of get mixed signals about that. You want to make sure that there is a plan and that if this is the case, then so be it and we go out there and do the best you can. But, obviously, it sends mixed signals when something like this happens.”

After the game, Francoeur said he and other veteran players were dismayed and confused earlier in the day to learn that Cora, the popular veteran whom he considered his friend and a mentor, had been released. (Cora was let go needing to play in only 18 more games to vest a $2 million option for next season.)

“Guys were upset,” Francoeur said. “He was a big presence here, and he understands, and we understand, it’s a business and that stuff happens; people come, people go. But he told me to hit a rocket, and it was nice to be able to do that.”

Is this a veteran core of title-winning players like that of the Yankees in the late 90s or the current Phillies that has the right to stand up and complain about the front office dumping a popular but expensive and unproductive player like Alex Cora? Do they have any viable position to whine about Castillo being benched? Should Francoeur, who has enough of his own problems, be wondering about what's going on with the team on the whole and opining about steps taken to fix problems?

I couldn't care less if the players were upset about the release of Cora; nor was his "veteran presence" doing the team any good. If he's such a veteran presence, then why wasn't the team winning with him around? If he's so important, then they should make him a coach and not clog up a roster spot on him when they have better and cheaper options. The Mets, in good conscience, could not let Cora reach the games-played incentive that would've kicked his contract into guaranteed status for next year.


Guys were upset? Good. Let them get upset. This team blew playoff chances in 2007 and 2008; collapsed under the weight of ridiculous injuries in 2009; and has been maddeningly inconsistent in 2010. They have not earned the right to say one word about necessary moves to inject some life into a team that, as constituted yesterday morning, was going nowhere this year; and if they want to go somewhere in 2011-2012, it won't be with Castillo, Cora and Francoeur; it will be with Martinez and Tejada.

They don't like it? Fine. Ask for a trade and the club will do its best to accommodate them.

It's enough.

The Rays set the example years ago when they stopped coddling misbehaving bonus babies like Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes. They dumped them and brought in players of good character like Carlos Pena, Dan Wheeler and Eric Hinske. Look at them now despite having a weak manager and short money.

There has to be a code of conduct and someone making the decisions based on what's best for the club and not what makes the failing veterans happy. If they're angry and "dismayed" about it, they should've played better and more passionately; maybe Francoeur, who I like, should decide to listen and implement advice rather than reverting back to his free-swinging and failing days with the Braves of the past and the Mets this year, game-winning homers aside.

As for Wright, it's time for him to become the real leader of this team. If any retribution is going on against the young players aside from normal initiation practices, it's up to him to put a stop to it and tell his teammates that they need the young players to compete and feel welcome; and if anyone starts in with them and gets out of line in anything other than a light-hearted way, they'll have to go through him to do it.

That's not the manager's job; that responsibility falls on the leader of the clubhouse; that leader is supposedly Wright.

Do they want to win and be a better team? Or do they want to protect cliques and have someone to relate to and go out to dinner with?

Their actions moving forward will tell the story and will have to be handled one way or the other.

  • Pirates 8-Rockies 7:

Is there a closer in baseball who scares the life out of his fans and teammates more than Huston Street?

Don't ask me why I was watching the Rockies-Pirates extra-inning affair, but I was and saw Pedro Alvarez's 2-out, 3-run, game-winning homer off of Street in the bottom of the tenth inning.

It's not simply that Street allowed the homer to Alvarez, but that he walked Garrett Jones to put the tying run on base in front of Alvarez. Jones battled Street through an eight pitch at bat and worked the walk, but he's not the most patient hitter in the world and, despite having power, there was no excuse for Street falling behind 3-1 to begin with. Throw a strike and hope he pops it up. Anything is better than walking him in front of Alvarez and having what happened happen.

The Rockies are now in a position where they cannot be losing games they should win against bad teams; and they're definitely not in a situation where they can blow 2-run leads with their supposed "closer" on the mound.

If any team has the right to decide they're going with match-up based closer, it's the Rockies. If Street were reliable, then they'd have reason to stick with the role-based strategy, but he's not. It'd be stunning to see them "demote" him, but maybe they should.

On another note, I'd never seen Alvarez and he's got a quick bat and ridiculous power. He's a first round draft pick who'll live up to the billing.

  • Viewer Mail 8.8.2010:

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the Mets:

The report came out this morning...Tejada and F-Mart will join the team in Philly. Bout time! I can only guess they finally decided to eat the remaining money on Castillo's contract. Supposedly the Mets are in discussion with Seattle about a possible deal, and maybe that's where Francoeur fits in. If this is indeed the case and the Mets aren't doing anything shortsighted...then I applaud the proactiveness (however late). See Paul? Jeff needs us...because we know he's reading/listening. Wink wink Jeff!

Mike is referring, of course, to my posting from last Monday in which I said it was time for the Mets to recall Fernando Martinez and that if they're going to replace the manager, they might as well do it sooner rather than later----8.2.2010, A Week From F-Mart.

They've brought up F-Mart and Tejada; we'll see what happens from here on in.

Castillo's going to be a part-timer at best so the club can look at Tejada; Francoeur is going to be a platoon player so F-Mart can play against the righties. I wouldn't release Castillo because he's in the last year of his contract in 2011 and, at $6 million, presumably, they'll be able to move him and not pay the full amount.

The Mets are doing smart things now in not dumping the youngsters (and letting them play) for non-difference-making veterans and should be applauded for it.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Moneyball movie:

Maybe Michael Cera should play Billy Beane. Then I'd be excited about seeing this flick.

With Paul DePodesta making the wise decision of removing his image from the movie, I wouldn't be surprised to see Beane make a similar call as the movie spirals into an even greater fantasy than the book----and that's saying something.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Moneyball:

The Moneyball movie will bear little resemblance to the book, which was just a jumping off point to tell a Bad News Bears kind of story, or a narrative along the lines of the Jamaican bobsledders. You'll see.

If anyone knows about this stuff, it's Jane. With the movie options she's had on her books and living not far from Hollywood, she's been right all along at the machinations of the Moneyball movie. The thing will get made and will be vilified from stat zombies and old-school thinkers alike. Rightfully.

The power brokers are missing a golden opportunity by not dragging me into their world. Do they not realize the fertile ground for hilarity of me running around Hollywood? It'd be a combination Prince of New York, Chuck Palahniuk, Charles Bukowski and Philip Roth.

It'd sell and sell big.

Joe writes RE post-season aces:

I would choose Lester over Beckett.

It's a debate that has no answer.

Do you take a regular season horse like Roy Halladay who's never been in a post-season or even a big game? Do you take someone like Josh Beckett or Jon Lester (who's also been excellent in the post-season) or go for Halladay or Tim Lincecum?

Orel Hershiser was a shell of the shutout machine he was in 1988 when he pitched for the Indians in 1995 and Mets in 1999, but you knew he'd raise his game for a playoff start or relief appearance and it worked.

I'd still go with the historically brilliant post-season pitcher if he's available and that means Beckett.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz last Tuesday talking about the trade deadline, Ozzie Guillen and the pennant races. Click the link above or go to the site to download it on I-Tunes. Or you can get it directly here.

Also, the Red State Blue State podcast appearance is up as well if you literally cannot get enough of me. Click here for the RSBS blog and here to hear it directly. You'll hear a few instances of me laughing like a psychopath.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


Gabriel said...

I dare to say that Kevin Gregg scares me the most. And I'd choose Pettite, even with my Yankee hatred. All time, Maddux, no doubt.

She-Fan said...

The beat writers on Twitter thing is interesting. There was a dust up yesterday during the Yankee game involving a couple of beat writers who made snide remarks about A-Rod, and the fans got mad and unfollowed them. So the question is, do these guys just "report?" Or is it OK for them to have "opinions?" Personally, while I may disagree with what they say, I kind of enjoy reading what they really think.

Jeff said...

You know the old cliche "bad actors still get work"? Well, Huston Street is a bad closer who still gets work.

I don't know how.

But he does. Makes me wanna throw on the cleats again and give it a try.