Across the nation, groups of individuals look to celebrate our nation’s return to “normalcy” (or whatever normalcy looks like). While football fans enjoy week eight of the NFL season, melancholy baseball fans prepare for Game 5 of the World Series.
The last time Atlanta hosted Game 5 of a World Series (October 24, 1996), John Smoltz and Andy Pettitte treated everyone to one of the greatest games in baseball history. The Hall of Fame pitcher refers to his performance (8 IP, 4 H, one unearned run, 3 BB, 10 K – 135 pitches) as “the greatest game I ever pitched because I had nothing that day.” The winning run reached base when Gold Glove OF (Marquis Grissom & Jermaine Dye) miscommunicated on a routine fly ball by Charlie Hayes.
During the 1990s, the city of Atlanta grew comfortable hosting major league baseball’s premier event. The 1996 World Series represented the fourth time in five seasons Atlanta hosted three World Series games. Unfortunately for the Braves, only once did they have the opportunity to finish off an opponent and win the most coveted title in baseball.
Tom Glavine took the mound for the Braves on October 28, 1995, at Fulton-County Stadium against the foremost offensive juggernaut of that era, the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland’s lineup featured three Hall of Famers, 22 combined All-Star appearances (not including the three HOF), and 19 Gold Glove Awards (not including HOF). Glavine’s eight shutout innings gave way to Mark Wohlers, and their 1-0 victory remains the cities only World Series title.
This season is the 17th postseason appearance for Atlanta since defeating Cleveland in 1995, extending their record for most postseason appearances without a championship, previously set by the Chicago Cubs from 1910-2015 (14 appearances).
The Braves’ most tenured starter, Charlie Morton, saw his season end in Game 1 with a broken fibula. Tucker Davidson, an elite pitching prospect who replaced Morton on the roster, gets the chance to make history in Game 5.
Clinching the series in Atlanta would be especially sweet for the city, as MLB moved the 2021 All-Star Game to Colorado after bowing to political pressure.
Houston returns to Game 1 starter Framber Valdez. Atlanta roughed up the left-hander from the Dominican, collecting eight hits and five runs in his two innings of work.
As we sit in the rarified time of year where all four major North American sports are rolling, now is as good a time as any to do some quick hits on the New York sports scene, as well as anything else I can fit into a paragraph of a take.
New York Mets: A second year in a row of failing to find a president tells me something: you’re doing it wrong. Yes, a team president can change a culture. But the St. Louis Cardinals have had back to back losing seasons once since 1960, and I’m almost positive that they’ve had more than one team president in that time. Maybe culture starts at the top?
Also, I am available for the GM position. And unlike other GM’s I won’t trade any of the top 5 prospects unless I think they stink.
New York Yankees: Need a shortstop? Wait until a week into free agency, and see what the Mets would take for Francisco Lindor. I get the feeling that you could move a bad contract or two and get a bargain price based on the savings. Maybe move Gerrit Cole’s deal, because without super glue in the glove that deal seems like it’s about to blow up.
New York Rangers: See what happens when you get a good coach? Amazing. Hopefully the Mets take note.
New York Islanders: While you’ve been the most successful team in New York for the last two seasons, realize that’s always a tenuous position. On that theme, Zdeno Chara needs a rest. Time to make that guy a 7th defenseman and give Robin Salo or Samuel Bolduc a chance.
New York Knicks: You need an all star. Watching Julius Randle shoot in the clutch is like watching…Kirstaps Porzingis shoot in the clutch. You need the guy that ends opponent’s rallies. You need the guy that looks forward to getting the ball with 8 seconds left on the clock and the team down by one. You have 4000 draft picks over the next few years. Seems easy to look to move picks and pieces starting with Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robrokenson.
How many times do we need to watch a Knicks 10 point lead evaporate in the last 3 minutes of a game before you address this?
Brooklyn Nets: Trade Kyrie Irving. I get he is wholly overpaid and few teams can afford him. But he is a me first player. Always has been, always will be. No one wins with him unless they have 3 other all stars, and then they don’t even win. A swap with the Sixers for Ben Simmons would help with the salary differential, and Simmons doesn’t need to shoot with James Harden and Kevin Durant willing to throw even more shots up. Plus, Philly hates winning, so Irving will fit in nicely.
New York Giants: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. You wasted a 2nd overall pick on a running back when you had so many more issues. That’s like a homeless guy buying a Ferrari. You can’t even sleep in that, which makes it a total waste.
New York Jets: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. And a new owner. You have a head coach who was a defensive guru, and your defense is absolutely horseshit. You have the second best quarterback in the draft playing like he was chosen in round 5. You’re a dysfunctional franchise.
Jet and Giants: If you merged these two teams into one? They would win 4 games all season. Think about that. Also, call yourself New Jersey, for fucks sake. You’ve been there for 40 years.
All Major Sports: Stop firing people today over things that happened years or decades ago. It’s a stupid practice to use modern standards to not only evaluate the past, but to punish it. Or in many cases, punish it a second time. It’s even dumber to have the people who originally made those initial decisions making new ones that are even worse. Unless you can dig up Hitler’s bones – who actually did bad stuff- and make him apologize? Shut the fuck up, be glad the world is a little better now than it used to be which isn’t much, and then learn what forgiveness is so that we continue progress instead of falling into retroactive justice for none of your concern that makes society even worse than it used to be. Let he or she who is without sin case the first stone, but everyone else? SHUT THE FUCK UP. We’re not chasing Nazi’s hiding from Holocaust crimes. Most of these sins are from emails and tweets that hurt your feelies. Remember that sticks and stones rhyme? Time to grow up.
Besides, why should behavior occurring outside of work affect your job? If your lawn looks bad you should lose your job? If your wife is ugly you should lose your job? How about losing your job when you’re bad at your job, and dealing with personal matters personally?
Sports Teams Across the Nation: It costs $2 to make a t-shirt. Here’s an idea: start selling them to fans at $5. Not all of them- you can have some kind of fancy t-shirt, maybe with frills or flip flop paint or something. But a basic, made in China t-shirt? You give that shit away to fans at games in rocket launchers. Offer fans some free advertising for your awful franchise at low prices as a thank you for putting up with our milking you for every dollar you have while we have a 300 winning percentage offering. You know, actual decency? Instead of firing a guy that said “Ching Chong” 20 years ago? Speaking of, Shaq is still on the air, so get cracking, social justice warriors!
After beating the San Francisco 49ers 17-10 and the Huston Texans 31-5, the Arizona Cardinalsare still undefeated with a 7-0 record. Question is how long will they stay undefeated?
Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports
During the game against the 49ers, with both tight end and center Rodney Hudson and Maxx Williams leaving the game, this offense is slowly starting to become crippled at the line as per usual. However with the sudden addition of tight end Zach Ertz the Cards can hopefully remain dominant offensively as they continue their undefeated streak. Hudson’s absence is huge for the Cardinals because arguably the best lineman on that team. Although the line allowed 2 sacks against the niners, this doesn’t excuse the fact that Murray was not only pressured but also now hurt because of the pressure. Not to mention his ability to extend plays bailed this line out a lot.
To add more salt in the wound, this team also didn’t have their best performance in the rushing game either rushing for 94 yards. The Cardinals however made up for it in the passing game because they threw up an outstanding 210 passing yards with a 71% passing percentage.
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) celebrates a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Straying away from the negative, the Cardinals have been playing the best football across the league and honestly is the best team in the NFC conference. They made a mockery of the Los Angeles Rams who have a top 5 defense in the league. Before that, in week 1 they blew out the Tennessee Titans 38-13, and the Titans are supposed to be dangerous this year with the addition of Julio Jones.
Team stats cannot speak for this team, They’re 6th in the league for passing yards and 8th for rushing. Yet they’re 2nd in the NFL for rushing touchdowns and on the downside, 10th for receiving touchdowns. Stats alone cannot speak for them because at the end of the day, the Arizona Cardinals are the only undefeated team in the NFL.
After a special but short-lived playoff run last season, the New York Knicks would be looking to go further with some key acquisitions made in the offseason. The team from Madison Square Garden finished last season with 41 wins, the most over the last five (5) seasons, before losing out to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. Now with the beginning of the 2021/22 season, the Thibodeau-led Knicks must be looking to go even further.
The Knicks acquired all-star guard Kemba Walker to their young and improving roster in a trade with the Mavericks and the Celtics. Walker, the all-time scoring leader for the Charlotte Hornets joins after an injury-stricken season with the Celtics and is hungry and looking for redemption. Adding his creativity and class to this Knicks roster already with Most Improved Player Julius Randle, star guard Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, you have a real threat if they are all firing.
Another offseason acquisition that can bolster the team is French star, Evan Fournier. The 29-year-old averaged 19 points and 4 assists, obtaining a 39% rating from 3-point-range. This deadly behind the arc shooting could be critical in a playoff push with the new rules and the style of the NBA, deep shots rule.
The returning members of the roster from last season are vastly improving and with a coach as good as Thibodeau, they are a dark horse for the NBA Finals and let me tell you why. With teams such as Brooklyn having issues with Kyrie and playing awful, Boston unable to get into full gear and foolishly trying to replace Walker with Laker reject Dennis Schroder, Milwaukee is the only rampant team and if you can somehow stop the Greek freak, then you have an amazing chance to make the finals. Hell, they may even win the NBA.
The Los Angeles retirement home, I mean Lakers, are dealing with internal issues which could damage their chances, the Clippers who are underwhelming, Dallas who are finding their feet, and the Suns who even though were in the finals last year and looking sharp, could lose their big if they don’t agree on a deal with Deandre Ayton. If the Knocks manage to stay fit with Rose playing like he’s at the Bulls, 2020 Randle, 2019 Kemba, and the other youngsters click, Spike Lee’s ticket may finally be a championship one.
Steve Cohen is a wealthy guy. Crazy wealthy. And yet he’s finding that unless it’s Francisco Lindor, he can’t give his money away.
When Cohen first bought the Mets, he sent out a bat signal for anyone that wanted to be a President of Baseball Operations. He ended up with nobody. Maybe it was his aggressive sounding demand of winning a World Series within 5 years. Whomever was scared away by that probably knows that the extent of the damage done to the franchise by the Wilpons could not be totally painted over in just 60 months.
Fast forward a year. Cohen still has the same wants, but probably has a better idea of how his organization is seen around the league. Having a GM scandal and then a GM scandal probably brought some humility. And while I’m sure that I’m in the minority that firing Jared Porter for something he did while working somewhere else years ago is overreacting and overreaching in a supposedly Christian and forgiving nation, it is what it is.
This offseason, with the same charge as last one, the Mets have so far come up looking foolish. First off, Theo Epstein interviewed for the job, and there was a mutual disinterest. Not that I was there, but I’m sure the conversation was like this:
Epstein: “I expect that if I take this job I’ll be a co-owner.”
Cohen: “You got a $250 million buy in? Because I paid a power of ten more than that for this team.”
Next up was Billy Beane. The former Met player would seem like a wonderful coming home story. Except Beane is a partial owner of the Oakland A’s. Owning a team is basically owning an ever increasing bank account. You can borrow off of it, you never HAVE to sell it, and when you die the value is stepped up so your family pays no taxes on the inherited millions. It’s called “Buy, Borrow, Die.” Look it up if you’re interested in how you get fucked by rich people while blaming poor people for eating government food.
To work for the Mets, Beane would have to sell his A’s ownership. NOT HAPPENING.
Then there was David Stearns. The New York native Harvard grad and former Mets employee has a same position in Milwaukee, so the move would be lateral, which generally teams are not fond of allowing. Plus he’s also still under contract in Milwaukee, so the Brewers rightfully told the Mets to beat it.
After these three strikes, the Mets were talking about all sorts of young guys, like assistant GM’s leapfrogging GM roles and assistant president roles to become a team President. That’s a bad idea. Not because people can’t rise to an occasion, but because this is New York. It’s a huge market. It doesn’t need untested guys cutting teeth in major power positions. We saw how that went with Luis Rojas as manager- which was a flop on any winning standard. How any times do you have to watch guys hit into a shift before you say “Ever think of hitting fly balls and line drives instead of, you know, GROUNDING BALLS RIGHT INTO THE SHIFT?”
But suddenly, there came a beacon of hope. The San Francisco Giants former team vice president, Brian Sabean, had been put to pasture by the Giants. When his contract ran out as Executive Vice President, he was retained as a sort of nebulous Senior Advisor and Scout. Not only did Sabean not want this position, he wanted more.
Who is Brian Sabean? He personally scouted and signed Derek Jeter. He also inked Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. So yeah, he built the backbone of 4 World Series winners. Then he went to San Francisco, where he won 5 division titles, 4 pennants, 3 World Series, 2 wild cards, a wild card playoff, and had an over .534 record in 18 years as the GM, which is the 10th highest GM winning percentage since the end of World War Two. That’s an amazing feat considering that the Giants had losing seasons in 5 of the 6 years prior to hiring Sabean despite having MVP’s Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent on the team.
He also drafted two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum, former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP Buster Posey, 4 time all-star and 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, 3 time all-star and pitcher with a 3-0 record and ZERO ERA in the 2010 World Series winning postseason Matt Cain, and 3 time all-star and 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.
And the 2016 Giants ended the last set of playoff hopes for the New York Mets.
Now, Do I want Sabean determining my roster? Probably not. He seems a little quick in trading youth for veterans. Conversely, he also acquires all stars in trades, which is something the Mets last did with…Mike Piazza?
But would I be ok with him hiring a GM? Assistant GM’s? And a manager? Absolutely. In fact, he probably comes with a manager.
Bruce Bochy was Sabean’s guy with the Giants. When the Giants won 3 World Series? It wasn’t with 2 time manager of the year as a Giant Dusty Baker. It was with Bruce Bochy, who was also a strong manager with the San Diego Padres, where he won three division titles, one pennant, and was a manager of the year. Bochy has 2003 career wins as a manger, making him 11th all-time among managers. All of the top 10 winningest managers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Expect the same for Bochy.
So are a probable Hall of Fame manager and a potential Hall of Fame GM with n eye for young talent willing to come to New York? Based on recent Mets events, if they do? We’ll find out that Bochy eats puppies for breakfast every day, and that Sabean has a plantation full of slaves in Uruguay.
But what if they come here without baggage? Well, they’re old, people would say. Probably millennials, who think that you shouldn’t criticize anyone. Except old people. You can skewer the fuck out of old people. But is that smart? And are millennials?
Dusty Baker is ancient, and he’s playing for the World Series. Somehow being old isn’t exactly an occupational hazard in baseball. In fact, history see it as a plus. Having seen and reflected on everything? You’re not so likely to make basic mistakes. Like letting your hitters ground into a shift instead of telling them to uppercut a baseball, Kris Bryant style.
Oh, that’s the other thing. Sabean was not afraid to acquire players via trade as a Giants GM. But with the Mets? He has an unlimited checkbook to go free agent shopping. Or to let the GM he hires do such.
So, if that GM was me? Buhbye, Michael Conforto. Welcome, Kris Bryant! Carlos Correa? Welcome to third base. Bret Baty? Get used to left field- that’s your job in 2023. Welcome back, Javier Baez. You can’t give up your top outfield prospect for a few weeks of a guy that hit .300 for you. And you can’t let him go to the Yankees and own the back pages of newspapers for the next 8 years. Plus it’s always good to add World Series winners to your organization.
I’d also ask Minnesota about super oft injured Byron Buxton. He would be an easy trade target, and he would be an absolute upgrade as backup over Kevin Pillar. Also, bringing back Jonathan Villar is a lay up.
I’d be looking to trade some players. Dominic Smith is one of them. Robinson Cano is another. And Jeff McNeil or J.D. Davis rounds that out, despite both of them being “super subs.” One super sub can work. Cano probably needs to be traded with salary retention. No biggie. But a super sub and Smith should get you assets. Maybe prospects are needed? Or pitching?
Then go out and get the most dangerous hitter you can for the upcoming DH position. I’d recommend a guy that hit 300, while also showing 30 home runs. Nick Castellanos comes to mind.
I can get into pitching here as well, like the obvious bring back Marcus Stroman and Aaron Loup, and trade Carlos Carasco back to the American League. I haven’t sent in my resume for GM yet, and don’t want scrubs stealing my roster moves, but philosophically, I want as many guys throwing 100 miles per hour as possible, like the 2015 Mets.
Steve Cohen may have been handed a golden opportunity to save face and hire a battery that has a winning pedigree, while still being able to add youth to the organization in the assistant GM and GM positions. There is a chance for culture change to come to the Mets. That would be winning, if you’re a Mets fan and unfamiliar with the concept. So my question for everyone is, how will the Mets pull a Mets and screw this up?
This is all about money. You’re looking at a free agent Hall of Fame executive that you won’t need to give a piece of the team to. You’re looking at a Hall of Fame manager that wants to work with his buddy. You’re looking at spending money on a free agent market without damaging your present prospect system. You’re looking at making up for a wholly failed 2021 draft with a guy that has skill at identifying prospects and has worked with frankly a better set of scouts in two different, more successful organizations. All you need to do as owner is shut the fuck up and write checks. And there comes the guarantee. If you fail to do all of this? The 2022 New York Mets will be more of the same.