Thursday, June 03, 2004

The sad state of Blog affairs

Screw the Red Sox, and screw Pedro "Why is that big number in front of the decimal point of my ERA?" Martinez. I got another bone to pick today. Remember when blogging used to be a simple, innocent affair? It wasn't about the money or groupies or prestige, it was about the BLOG, man. When Mike first IMed me to say "d00d we should write a blog it'd be funny!!! A/S/L? lol" I didn't expect internet superstardom at all (although Mike obviously did, with how obsessively he checks the counter at the bottom).

So what happened to the good ol' days? The first thing I see when I check Gleeman's page for the first time in a few days is that his computer broke down. Sorry buddy, it happens. But it was not a problem for long, as he simply demanded his readers give him money for a new one, and lo and behold THEY BUY HIM A NEW COMPUTER. What if my keyboard finally breaks from me slamming it into the wall every time Pedro starts? Are you, my loyal reader(s), going to buy me a new one? No! And as well you shouldn't, I'm a pitiful wreck of a man who should not be blogging if his life depended on it. But I can't complain too much about Gleeman's commercial windfall from his site, it'd be in bad form considering I recently declared a truce in our one sided holy war.

Cosette and I have no such agreement. This guy blows. If he's not blogging about singing to trees or having in-depth conversations about Schilling's new arm angle with his pet goldfish, he's usually ranting about some incredibly obscure fact about the Red Sox that hasn't been covered before, not because he found an interesting new angle but more because no one honestly gives a crap about how similar the 1986 World Series is to Pickett's charge from the civil war. Apparently I'm very much in the minority in my hatred of Ed, because Fox Sports New England has decided to pick up his Blog and begin carrying it on their site. This means Ed is going to get paid ACTUAL MONEY to write his inane postings about how Wally seems to have gained weight this year, or his feelings on the spread of Red Sox Nation
While those of us from New England consider it a birthright to be a Red Sox fan, we can't forget the legions of loyal fans the world over who are our brethren. I'm reminded of bumper stickers/t-shirt logo that's popular in Texas: "I'm not from Texas, but I got here as fast I could."
What? What the hell are you talking about? How are those two related at all? This is exactly what I'm talking about. Texas sucks and so do you, Cosette.

While not really a blog, Boston Dirt Dogs is another terrible site being bought by a large journalistic publication, this time You might remember this guy if you were following the A-Rod trade rumors last winter, where BDD confidently proclaimed "It's a done deal" and that A-Rod was already signed over. Of course, A-Rod did NOT come to Boston and Silva (the writer) declared that as both a protest and contrition for being wrong, he was shutting down the site. The site shutdown lasted for precisely one day, and he was back complaining about how much he hated Gene Orza. Apparently clever lead-ins like "Lowe Blows" and "What the Foulke?" are good enough for the, the same website that actually publishes the Globe online. I would have to assume that Silva was compensated with something other than repeated kicks in the nuts for this website, and that depresses me.

But there IS hope, friends and neighbors! There are plenty of new blogs out there with interesting and fresh content that haven't sold their electronic souls to the Almighty Dollar, and I'm here to inform you all of their existance. So without further ado, here's several blogs that you really should be reading instead of this one.

El Guapo's Ghost: There's probably an element of nostalgia just for the name, as Rich Garces was easily my favorite player in 2000 and 2001, but this site has a lot of other stuff going for it. He gets to the point quickly when writing about something and gives plenty of evidence to back up any claims he makes, making him sort of the anti-ECA. Give him a look.

Misery Loves Company: Another Red Sox/Mets site. Think of our site, but if it were actually done well. Rob is my hero due to his profuse use of the F-Bomb when the team does badly, and I even like Whitney because unlike Mike, he doesn't cry like a little girl when Rob does that. Also you can see great quotes regarding the Mets like "The Wheel has come off the unicycle" and "Tom Glavine, pitching like a man who has brought a knife to a gunfight".

Rally Cuff: Another girl has thrown her hat into the blogging ring, and done a very nice job at it. The site is witty and nicely laid out, and she has that slightly rage-y element to her work that I really dig. She also swears a lot.

Surviving Grady: Clever name aside, this site is very fun to read. For an example, look at the description he has of the current Sox pitching situation
First, if the pitching situation hasn't already reached critical mass, it's getting pretty fucking close. Pedro had absolutely nothing last night, Lowe is this close to talking to squirrels and getting "secret messages" in his waffles and Arroyo is scuffling. This does not bode well for the rest of the season. At least not now.
Good stuff. Please give him a perusal.

Sox Fan in the Wrong Area: A poor guy who lives in southwestern CT, the most despicably Yankee-infested area of New England known to man (and it doesn't even get NESN), this guy just hates the Yankees so much you can't help but like him. I used to think I pretty much had a monopoly over death threats to players I don't like, but this Sox fan has no problem cheerfully advocating the horrible death of several highly overpaid Pinstripers.

Firebrand: Sure, this guy's a little crazy (the "firebrand" name apparently comes from an incident in which he was horribly burned and the scar began to resemble the Sox symbol), but he hates Derek Lowe almost as much as I do and unlike me, has some pretty compelling reasons for it other than "Derek Lowe sux0rs!!!!!1" He also makes an intriguing case for getting Al Leiter next year.

So there you have it, some of the "new" crop of Sox blogs. Please give them all a look, you won't regret it.

Something else I thought was vaguely amusing. I usually can't stand Eric Neel in the slightest, but anyone who hates the 1986 Mets as much as this guy apparently does has to be a little cool. He gives quite a few reasons to hate them, too, instead of just "they beat us". It's nice to see a rebuttal to stupid Jeff Pearlman's blatant Mets suck up, anyways.

Real entry coming as soon as I can watch a Sox game without vomitting profusely for an hour afterwards. Helloooooo KC!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

A Couple Steps in the Right Direction: Kaz at 2B, Beltran in RF

A few thoughts on the 2005 Mets culled from the clutches of the ever-expanding behemoth that is internet baseball writing:

Peter Gammons notes the possibility of an impending position swap between Reyes and Matsui for next season, due to Matsui's disappointing defense (if you polled the blogosphere, I'm sure you'd find that the eyes have it):

Don't be surprised if the Mets ask Kaz Matsui to switch places with Jose Reyes next year. But first they think they can address Matsui's vision problems; part of his problem defensively is that he hasn't been able to pick up the catchers' signs and set himself.
That Kaz has some flavor of a vision problem should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the Mets play this year and seen footage of him looking on from the dugout. While tracking the play on the field, Kaz periodically bugs his eyes out, granting him a shocked expression as if he were watching the opposing team's manager remove their best hitter with two entire innings left to play. I assumed this was some sort of repetitive exercise to keep his eyes sharp or to thoroughly creep out viewers, because it did not occur to me that a major league baseball team would employ a player with less than optimal vision and leave that condition uncorrected.

I'm hoping that it's merely a vision problem and that Kaz' glove and the ball will make more contact after he's wearing some (and if contacts aren't his thing, I certainly hope that Jason Mastaitis will sacrifice a pair of his Rally Goggles for the cause). Still, the rest of Gammons' statement is curious. I can understand Kaz missing the signs and thus not knowing where to play for each unfamiliar hitter on different pitches. What I find absurd is the notion that he is so focused on trying to read the sign - peering at the plate with eyes terrifyingly wide, bounding ineffectually between two set positions, then shaking his head - that he cannot track the pitcher's delivery and ascertain exactly when he should be prepared to field the ball. The more likely possibility is that he's just not a very good Major League shortstop. Are we absolutely certain the Japenese "Gold Glove" award means the same thing as our own? Perhaps it was only mistakenly translated as such by the Mets designated Asian baseball operative - probably Jeff Wilpon - who picked up a "smattering of Chinese (sic) on a yacht tour I launched to experience subalternity", ie. explore profitable ventures like the slave trade and resigning Rey Ordonez. Perhaps it merely signifies the player with the most visits to the organization's designated optometrist. Who can say? All I know is Kaz will make a superb second baseman.

In the same article, Gammons mentions the imminent trade of Carlos Beltran, a rather talented young ballplayer I'd like to see the Mets sign in the offseason. I don't particularly care who rents him now, though, but as it seems the teams looking to borrow Beltran for the balance of the season are probably among the few who can sign him in the offseason, the article got me thinking about our chances of landing him.

That's when I decided to become a Red Sox fan.

Let me back up a little. Looking at Dugout Dollars' summary of team payrolls going forward, you can see that there are plenty of teams that will potentially have big contracts coming off the books:

1) The Angels finally stop paying Kevin Appier ($12M) and can jettison injury-riddled 3B Troy Glaus ($9M) so he can open up a restaurant with Mo Vaughn or whatever his physical therapy permits. Their owner isn't afraid to spend, and their regular CF has come down with some oddball arthritic condition, so it would seem a safe bet that they'd be interested in Beltran's services. I'm not sold, though, and here's why. First, they already have a great lineup, including an excellent defensive CF being misused at first base and a marquee RF in Guerrero, which would make Beltran's addition redundant. Their pitching is shaky thus far, with staff ace Bartolo Colon throwing fastballs fatter than he is, so that's where they need to make an improvement. Second, Garret Anderson may have developed into a medical mystery, but he's also owed an absurd $11.25M for each year from 2005-2008. If there's any chance that he heals up and can play baseball, he will be doing so for the Angels. Also, it's worth noting that while Angels owner Moreno has shown himself willing to spend (and overspend) to make his team a contender, perhaps the money he threw Colon's way will provide him with a little Wilpon-style caution.

Mets fans should root for: the continued success of the Angel's offense, the continued shakiness of their starting pitching, and the health of Garret Anderson

2) The Phillies lose Kevin Millwood ($11M) and Eric Milton ($9M), but have a steady outfield of Burrell (signed through 2008), Abreu (through 2007), and the young, cheap Marlon Byrd. If they make it to the playoffs and Millwood was a big part of the run, I expect they'll offer him the longterm deal he's been seeking, and replace Milton more economically. I don't see them as contenders in the sweepstakes; they've done most of their bigtime building in the last couple of years.

Mets fans should root for: The Phillies having a little taste of success, their GM thinking they already have the parts in place, Marlon Byrd continuing to impress

3) The Cubs save some cash when Alex Gonzalez' $5M come off the books, but the only other notable contract that wraps up this season is Matt Clement's $6M, and you'd expect with the way he's pitching this year, and with the questionable health of Prior and Wood, and the questionable ability of Maddux (which was awesome to type, by the way), they'll give him a deal he deserves. Sosa, Patterson, and Alou have the outfield pretty much locked up, and with Edgar Renteria and Nomar on the market, it might make sense for the Cubs to grab a decent-hitting shortstop.

Mets fans should root for: the Cubs to lose the division by a game, convincing them that injuries to their young stars were the cause, and not Corey Patterson

4) The Cardinals are somewhat strapped for cash and need pitching. They'd be stupid to add offense instead of addressing that problem.

5) Speaking of stupid, the Mariners are run by Bill Bavasi.

Mets fans should root for: the continued health and employment of Bill Bavasi

6) The Dodgers have nearly no one signed for 2005 (or at least, no one productive! I feel you, Shawn Green, Darren Dreifort!), and there are questions about how much fiscal weight their ownership can throw around. As a Mets fan, I have absolutely no idea what that is like. Their GM is bright, and if he's working with a decent amount of money, I expect him to take a shot at Beltran. That said, he will have an awful lot of holes to fill; it'll be an interesting team to watch, at least in the coming offseason.

Mets fans should root for: LA ownership's meager wallet, DePodesta to play Moneyball, also a few more times for LA ownership's meager wallet

The Giants won't have to deal with Neifi Perez' $2.75M, or cushion the tragic fall of Rob Nenn ($9M). They also cut a bunch of comparatively tiny contracts, and should have enough money to land a superstar. Of course, there's a reason they're cutting payroll (because they have to), and they'll have more holes than a single star can fill; perhaps Bonds will teach them that this year.

Mets fans should root for: The Giants to stay in contention in their unwatchable division, so they don't sell off Alfonzo ($7.5M) or Ray Durham ($6.5M) and decide to build around a Beltran/Bonds tandem

8) and 9) The Yankees' payroll is irrelevant, so don't bother clicking that link. They will have the money, but the issue as I see it is whether or not they'll have the pull of their winning ways and honorable tradition. The Yankees are overpaid, underperforming, and boring. They are a team full of superstars who haven't won anything in a while, and there's a chance (however slim) that they won't even make the playoffs this year. If that happens, I can't imagine they'd look attractive if good money is available elsewhere.

Now, the Red Sox don't have to worry about money either, and this year they were able to lure some quality players with cash and their ridiculous sob story, which will be published in a three-volume set this Fall co-authored by Dan Shaughnessy and Kyle Lyons, titled "The Curse is Worse" and subtitled "*&@* You, My Head is NOT Shaped Like an Onion!!?!". If they win the World Series this year, all of that 1918 bunk will go right out the window, and everyone will be able to see them for what they are: a bunch of extraordinarily ugly men with a penchant for come from behind victories, embarrassing catchphrases, and poor decisions with regards to barbering, who are by the very act of their victory destroying the only compelling argument for their existence.

Mets fans should mutter to themselves: Why would Mr. Beltran wish to join a team whose only draw is a history of losing that has just been eradicated? Why would he want to become the next great, futile Yankee mercenary?

The correct response, let us intone together but without sarcasm, is why indeed, when he can join the Mets? Cue the awful old-time swing or big band or whatever version of "Meet the Mets" that provides a stabilizing undercurrent to every Fran Healy pronouncement.

We've got the money (The Wilpons won't let this happen again, as the only reason they turned down Guerrero was to get Beltran the following year). We're cultivating the charismatic, tightly knit underdog spirit that clever marketing execs would tout as hearkening back to the teams of the Eighties. In Flushing, Beltran would be the centerpiece of the revival of an exciting franchise that, hopefully this season will show, is on the rise. I'll reiterate, in case Jeff Wilpon stumbles upon this site while Googling for some more SE Asian fun, we've got the money. We can pay for this guy. We can sell this place to him like we did to Matsui, Cameron. There's just no excuse for passing on yet another young superstar. None.