Hardly a shining example of starting pitching depth, are the financially-hamstrung New York Mets overly focused on delaying Zack Wheeler’s eligibility for free agency? While Newsday’s David Lennon would like to give the Amazins the benefit of the doubt regarding the RHP (“Sandy Alderson has a staff to help him make that call, and given how important Wheeler is to the Mets’ future, it makes no sense to gamble with him as long as a call-up is not in his best interests”), he’s also quick to stress, “if a pitcher of his caliber can be a difference-maker now and help the Mets win immediately and give the impression that Sandy Alderson is not mailing it in this season, there is a compelling argument to start him in Flushing.” Particularly with Johan Santana lost for the season and the newly acquired Shawn Marcum questionable for his 2nd turn in the rotation.
The part of the conversation where the lines get blurry is the matter of service time and preserving an extra year of Wheeler’s free agency. The financial benefit to that is obvious. Keeping control of a player is crucial to building a winning organization, and for the Mets, a team with its share of recent money problems, that’s doubly true.
Even so, deliberately leaving a player in Triple-A, if only for a month or two, just for the sole purpose of delaying his free agency or eligibility for arbitration is not a smart practice.
But for any team to purposely hurt its chances to win right away — from the first week of the regular season — because of what it might cost them a few seasons later sends a mixed message to everyone, including the fans supposedly paying to watch what they believe is the most competitive product that can be put on the field.
Lennon’s careful to work both sides of the issue, and while I’d usually support any assertion the Mets are duplicitous towards the paying customer, I’m not sure anyone over the age of seven actually believes Alderson’s primary goal this season is winning baseball games. Lennon alludes to Dwight Gooden, but even in the wildest best-case scenario, Wheeler’s not joining a team with Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez (sorry, David Wright). Alderson and his bosses are ultimately don’t give a shit about the difference between 65 and 75 wins this season, and perhaps they shouldn’t.
(above : Clemons, clearly not a fan of attracting attention to one’s self)
Inspired by CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman‘s claims that “ a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months”, Seattle’s Chris Clemons took to Twitter to opine, “I just think something’s should be left at home”, followed by “I think it’s a selfish act…they just trying to make themselves bigger than the team.”) While there’s no “I” in “team”, “team” remains an anagram for “meat”…and there’s no shortage of meatheads who will continue to argue that taking issue with Clemons’ intolerance is in itself, an act of intolerance. One meathead in particular, took to the airwaves of Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio earlier this week to channel John Smoltz in comparing support for what he calls “the homosexual agenda” to condoning “dog fucking”.
If Clemons seriously believes that merely being the person you’re born as (a right afforded to every heterosexual in professional sports, if not every other walk of life) is tantamount to a form of egomania, he’s certainly entitled to his screwy opinion, but there’s something unsettling about the notion the quest to earn a ring for Pete Carroll should take a backseat to social progress. While far from endorsing Clemons’ POV, The Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil asks, “what if ‘the selfish act’ is coming out as gay in a very public, very political way while on an NFL roster…what defines being gay in a political way? Is it holding a press conference or is it holding hands in public?” Mike Piazza, unavailable for comment.
If a member of a team felt that having someone openly gay as a teammate put the topic of gay rights ahead of the team’s interest, would he be wrong? Not wrong in a moral sense, mind you, but incorrect because the reality is that the first openly gay athlete in an American male team sport is going to become a lightning rod not only for himself but for his teammates. Do the other men in the locker room oppose him, tolerate him or support him? There will be no neutral. There will be no shortage of questions.
But that reality underscores the difficulty facing a gay athlete, not the gay athlete’s teammate.
The first openly gay, active NFL player is not political by choice. Rather, his sexual preference and expressions of affection will be unavoidably political because he is openly gay. Clemons’ Tweets actually recognize this fact. He did not object to any issues of sexual orientation so much as the attention it is accorded. The reality of an openly gay player would become a singularly overwhelming issue for that team.
But whose fault is that? Is it the gay athlete for revealing his sexual orientation or is it society in general and the industry in particular that makes it such an overwhelming issue?
UCLA named Steve Alford their new head coach this morning, replacing the recently fired Ben Howland. Presumably, the former’s record at New Mexico made him an attractive enough Plan C after Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens rejected the Bruins’ overtures. Alford’s success at The Pit will obviously receive scrutiny over the coming days and weeks, but perhaps his tenure in Iowa City is worthy of consideration?
Alford took advantage of every available opportunity to praise the character and pronounce the innocence of his player. Despite the fact he is a university employee and, as such, has an equal responsibility to support the victim, Alford also used the occasion of a violent crime to espouse every cliched virtue of team sports known to man.
You know the ones–overcoming adversity, us-against-the-world, blah, blah, yech. In an interview with WSCR-AM 670 last week, Alford, when he wasn’t pulling out the “That’s old news” routine, lumped his player’s admitted sexual assault into “our share of distractions” and made both Pierce and the victim sound like equally injured parties in their attempt to “move on.”
Sources close to the victim say that hearing Alford go out of his way to defend the moral fiber of Pierce these past few months, and turning it into another one of his all-for-one sermons was, in fact, the most painful aspect of trying to move on.
But hey, what better way to show potential recruits and their parents how fiercely loyal and supportive you are to your players?
Collins is 61 years old and in the penultimate year of his contract. For the coach, the return on these meaningless regular season victories may actually exceed the value of additional ping pong balls. (Rumor has it, Team USA evaluates assistant coaching candidates by looking at their regular season records.) Rational or not, Collins is focused on the now.
It’s understandable – if not necessarily defensible – that Collins would blanch at the notion of coaching to lose. He’s a deeply competitive man. But the real problem with the Sixers isn’t the coach’s philosophical opposition to tanking. It’s that there’s nobody questioning the coach’s philosophical opposition to tanking. Not team president Rod Thorn. Not general manager Tony DiLeo. Not CEO Adam Aron. In the Sixers organization, Collins is Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge. He is both coach and executive director of basketball operations. Not by name, but it’s widely believed that Collins has the final say on personnel decisions. He has the final say on the tanking decision, too. Perhaps it’s time to take that away.
There’s no denying that Cowboys QB Tony Romo is very lucky to have been negotiating an extension during the same off-season Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers’ respective teams were working on new pacts. And it would be somewhat hysterical to claim that McNabb’s own history of postseason underachievement should preclude him from having an opinion. Though given the 140 character limit of Twitter, McNabb failed to mention that Romo’s sole career playoff victory came against a team quarterbacked by….Donovan McNabb.
Santana played long toss with Pedro Feliciano. In this game, Santana stood on the left field foul line and Feliciano slowly backed up. It was 45 feet, then 60, then 90, until he was 180 feet away. Then he slowly reeled back in to 120, 90 and then maybe 15 or 20 for a short lob back and forth.
However, for his last throw, Santana did not lob the short distance to Feliciano. Instead, he wound up and fired a ball off the orange homer demarcation above the wall just to the left of the 410 sign in center. The throw had to be at least 225-250 feet and it was done in fury, like a child acting out.
I thought it was bizarre. I included it in my column the next day. But I didn’t think much more of it because Santana then went and threw that 15-pitch pen. I figured if he had hurt himself, then why go to the mound.
But now in retrospect, I wonder. I wonder if an organization behaving badly — by calling Santana out — and Santana acting badly — by throwing a temper-tantrum and a ball 250 feet in anger — is why this sad news about the lefty’s career came yesterday.
While Faith & Fear In Flushing’s Greg Prince is quick to credit Santana for his heroics-when-healthy (“Johan carried us when he could, which became an increasingly infrequent circumstance until it reached a point where his carrying a baseball and firing it to a catcher posed a clear and present danger to himself”), he also finds this all too typical of the franchise.
You become a Mets fan, you learn about all kinds of anatomy you hadn’t heard of before. You join the Mets, something’s bound to go wrong with parts of you that seemed just fine in Minnesota or wherever. You subject yourself to repair, you rehabilitate as hard as you can, you make your way back and eventually something else doesn’t work to factory specifications. The people who pay you — and pay you very well — estimate you’ll return again any day or week or month now…or perhaps your career is over.
The Mets can never get their story straight when that happens. “You’ll see him when you see him” would be as good a status report as any to issue. “We don’t know — do we look like we know?” would be reasonably accurate, too. And if you’re contemplating the time frame the Mets suggest regarding any given player’s availability after injury, just multiply it by infinity so it will be a nice surprise should he return at all.
I’m not quite sure how I missed the following news item on Wednesday — you take one little break from googling Rob Dibble’s name 20 times a day, and this is what happens. I’ll make no further excuses for my own negligence, but I do have to wonder what kind of school administrator would hire a baseball coach whose most recent brush with fame included calling Stephen Strasburgh a pussy for not pitching thru pain. From the LA Times’ Eric Sondheimer :
Former major leaguer Rob Dibble, in his first season as coach at Calabasas, said in a text he has been removed as coach. He was ejected from Tuesday’s 8-1 loss to Agoura in the sixth inning.
“They said I wasn’t a good fit,” Dibble said in a text message Tuesday night. “I just got a job calling Angels Games for Compass Media. In giving some early notice I couldn’t continue as head coach after the season I was asked to step down immediately. I’m shocked, very sad and will miss the kids because the only reason I took the job was to help them play at the next level.”