My Opinion Is…

My Opinion Is…

Well, it’s that time of year where I can sit back, crack a beer, look at the local sports scene, look at the sports scene n general, and make snarky comments like Dennis Miller in the 1990’s- that’s when he was still funny. Now he’s boring horseshit, and has no idea why. Fuck him.

I’d like to start with the baseball lockout. Specifically the Cohen Tax. Folks, we are watching chess. Steve Cohen bought the Mets, and apparently is flush with cash, as every employee at SNY will fall over themselves to tell you. Teams responded to him and his vast resources by not letting him poach their talent. Check. So Cohen found the best of the unemployed talent in the game with experience to come in and manage a pre-lockout wide open wallet. Check. So the owners add a new tax in the new collective bargaining agreement specifically aimed at top spending teams where the lowest spending teams will get welfare AND no directive to spend the money in case Cohen or Los Angeles goes payroll crazy. Check. So Cohen announces that the tax doesn’t mean shit to him. Check.

Baseball took their swing for a rare few million in added taxes. Check. Cohen responded by making $750 million 5 days later. Check. Other owners went out and made moves that are more significant than the Mets adding the end of career Scherzer and the already hurt Marte. See what the Braves did? The Mariners? Phillies? Cubs? Many better players than the Mets acquired. How do I know? Because the Braves won the World Series, and the Oakland A’s – the team you got three players from – didn’t.

In short, since the Cohen tax became a thing? Cohen looks like it kneecapped him.

Plus, the Mets are counting on an AWFUL lot of bounceback years from players, including an outfield that averaged 120 games played per player. They need Nimmo, Cahna, McNeil, Scherzer (dead arm in playoffs, at the most important time?), DeGrom (July? SHUT IT DOWN!), Smith, Cano (juice free), Davis, McGann, Carasco, Walker, Peterson, and Lindor to bounce back. Did I miss anyone? You know, suddenly that roster looks really fucking horrible.

Also, a big fuck you to baseball owners. To punish a guy for trying to win? And using that tax to prop up teams that lose on purpose? While charging the fans premiums for everything? As a sport you’re upset with Steve Cohen but aren’t saying boo about what the Cincinnati Reds are doing? What the Oakland A’s are doing? FUCK YOU, WELFARE QUEEN THIEVES.

Now that I got that out of the way, lets take a look at whatever I feel like.

The New York Mets: the lockout has focused the team on acquiring an aging, expiring contract one time all star starting pitcher, a reliever at a discount coming off of two bad years, another reliever to a minor league contract, and a bunch of guys destined for Triple A. I guess that Cohen tax did work! On a positive note, The Phillies took Familia and Hand into their bullpen, so thanks for taking inconsistent relievers, divisional rivals.

The New York Mets: Hey Billy Eppler- the Oakland A’s just unloaded their all star first baseman. The A’s are the Wal Mart of baseball. You never want to go there, but when you do, you come home with something. The Oakland A’s need a starting first baseman. The Mets rotation needs a left handed starter. Dominic Smith for Sean Manaea? Then move Cookie Carasco or Taijuan Walker for bullpen help? Also, still a fan of the idea of trading Robinson Cano with the Seattle money and an additional ten million just to get him elsewhere. Any return is found money. Roughly $10 million worth. And after that press conference? Good riddance to a guy who will hit 260 without drugs, or roughly $100,000 per point of batting average.

The New York Yankees: How did you shank getting Freddie Friedman? Or Carlos Correa? George is vomiting in his grave and spinning through it.

The New York Rangers: Still amazed at the speed of the transition that losing a $10 million contract and having two top picks back to back in drafts can do. With the right coach.

The New York Islanders: Good job with a strong March. Unfortunately it follows a bad November, December, January, and February. Not the best way to run through a season. This is a great time to trade middling assets for premiums- See Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Zdeno Chara, Seymon Varlamov, and Scott Mayfield. Also, consider a reup on Parise at minimum wage. It’s still higher than major league baseball, and Minnesota still owes him cash. If the season ended, they would be drafting 10th. It may be a good time to improve those odds via selloff and tank and go for the first overall like the Rangers and Oilers get every losing season. Not that a fix is in for some teams.

Also, This whole Ilya Sorokin thing? He’s not special. I’m going to present some goalie stats without attaching names to them, and you pick out Sorokin. 2.51/920, 2.13/.930, 2.28/.923, 2.45/.919. These are the Islanders 4 starting goaltenders under Trotz. Which is Greiss? Lehner? Sorokin? Varlamov?

The New York Knicks: Tank already. You are not going to improve by stockpiling second round picks. Get a top pick and fucking find a decent player. Also, Julius Randle has to go. And it’s OK to trade Kemba Walker in the offseason. He had his homecoming. Now he gets a homegoing. Look across a borough for some ideas. Somehow the Nets acquired Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Ben Simmons. You acquire Evan Fournier and Taj Gibson, while sending out Kirstaps Prozingis and Tim Hardaway for a draft pick. How is competence so far off for a team run by…incompetents? You’d think you’d screw up into an accidental win. This is sports karma for the owner being a jerkoff.

The Brooklyn Nets: The height of your existence happened in Nassau Coliseum. That was in the 1970’s. Harden and Durant did not win in Oklahoma. Harden and Durant did not win in Brooklyn. Simmons hasn’t won shit. Irving only won when he had LeBron and all the refs and league helping his bring Cleveland an asterisk title. Long story short- you’re not going to win with this. Use your salary cap manipulation this offseason to retool.

New Jersey Giants: If anyone buys season tickets, it’s only for the tax write off. You stink. Aim for moving talent for draft picks, and get the first overall for next year. Your management sucks as well. Liars pay a price in the long run.

New Jersey Jets: The last time you were entertaining? You played at Shea Stadium. The last time you were winners? Your coach got a tattoo of his quarterback. Ownership needs to be forced to sell a flagship franchise, because they run it worse than a sprinter with no legs. Oh, one last thing: the Jets had a good start to free agency. They have a lot of draft capital. If they don’t win 8 to 10 games this year? Expect a fired GM.

California Angels: You blame Billy Eppler for how shitty your organization is? Well, he’s gone, but not before bringing in your arguably best player. My question- did he sign Albert Puols to that awful deal? Is he presently ruining Mike Trout’s career? Way to ruin two to three Hall of Famers careers simultaneously. Try to win a World Series maybe?

Los Angeles Lakers: Amazing how bad you are when having to play a full season and the refs can’t just hand LeBron everything. It must suck to know that the only time LeBron truly won a title it was in Miami. And Dwayne Wade won it for him. The only top ten all time NBA list that LeBron belongs to is heel.

Tom Brady: Of course you’re not retired. Of course. Your career will end when you stop drinking the blood of orphans or some shit. Although if your defense held up for 60 more seconds? Or could have guessed as to where the ball was going like all of America watching the game did? It’s probably be another Super Bowl ring. So, why not go for it and walk out on the highest note?

The city of Portland, Oregon: You are due for another sports team. I recommend relocating the Pittsburgh Pirates to an area with West Coast money, and not a dead industrial base.

Marijuana: I do not indulge in smoking anything, which is a personal choice. But if it’s legal in some places, then we should stop prescribing athletes opiates that are heroin derivatives, and just let guys flare up a spliff. There are places in America where alcohol is illegal- which is also draconian- but if it’s not illegal everywhere, why break balls? On some level, this is no different than breaking the color barrier, and its a way to normalize something more holistic than stomach lining eating, liver damaging painkillers.

Performance Enhancing Drugs: Tommy John surgery is performance enhancing surgery. Cortisone is a performance enhancing drug. No one seems to have issues with that. Personally, I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should have a cheater section where we honor Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, all the dudes that did cocaine in the 70’s and 80’s, and a section dedicate to players that use enemas to inject drugs. Oh, and betting. That’s totally bad for Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, but clearly not for Major League Baseball.

If you made it this far? The Islanders goaltender stat puzzle answers are exactly as they were listed. Looks like letting Lehner walk and signing Varlamov was a bad idea. Also, Igor Shesterkin has better career numbers than Sorokin, and has played for non playoff teams until now.

Well folks, that’s all for now. Feel free to add your hot takes in the comments below, and remember this- in the end, the athletes work for us. If they’re not entertaining you, stop giving them your money.

The Baseball Lockout Was Seventeen Levels Of Stupid

The Baseball Lockout Was Seventeen Levels Of Stupid

Major League Baseball had placed itself in a conundrum. A very, very stupid conundrum. It started with their last collective bargaining agreement, and it ended 99 days later, with a lot of dumb.

The last time that MLB and the players union sat and negotiated in 2016, the players ate a somewhat bitter pill. The sport had a 4 billion dollar revenue stream, and teams were running salaries up over $200 million dollars. If all 30 teams followed that practice? That’s be $6 billion dollars in player salaries. Baseball would go broke.

Then the landscape changed. On line revenues, advertising revenues, selling patches on players assholes, whatever makes a buck. The end result? Major league baseball had an $11 billion revenue pool. So giving players $6 billion would be close to a 50/50 revenue split. And give each team close to $200 million a year in profits.

Except the players do NOT make $200 million per team. Some teams spend as little as possible to field a team. The Pittsburgh Pirates payroll is $51 million dollars. For every New York Yankees spending $210 million, there’s a Kansas City Royals fielding an $89 million payroll. So….if you do an average of a Yankees and a Royals, you’re looking at 30 teams with $150 million payrolls. That’s a $4.5 billion dollar investment in a sport with $11 billion in revenues. That’s a 41% share of the money involved in the game.

But payrolls aren’t even that promising. 2021 MLB payrolls barely cracked $4bn in 2021 when the league combined to make $11 bn. During COVID. This was part of a trend when average player salaries have dropped for 4 years in a row.  Are there more $20 million players? Yes. Are there less $10 million players? Yes. Are there more players having their playing time manipulated AT THE EXPENSE OF A TEAM WINNING to keep payrolls low? Yup.

Owners are fucking the sport of baseball. During the lockout, a player making minimum baseball wage lost $2000 a day. An owner lost $667,000 a day.

Think I’m wrong? The average National Football League game is longer than the average MLB game. EVERYONE complains about the length of a baseball game. NO ONE complains (except me) about the time that goes into a football game. Most of a football game is needlessly watched, or unwatchable. Lots of games are ended by halftime. All Jets games are done after a coin toss. But a 1-0 pitchers duel taking 3 hours is bad? That’s because owners have dicked with rules, flows, and strategy. The universal designated hitter is another example of such. McDonalds Baseball will be part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The double switch is dead.

Anyway, back to the topic. The lockout was stupid because the owners NEVER had any intention of bargaining fairly. Most of these scumbags do not deal with unionized fields and just fire people at will because in their eyes, human beings are garbage. The inability to ruin lives legally aggravates them, so they act like petulant children and punish the players. The players were locked out in December of 2021. When was the first negotiating session? 2022. Shows how committed those owners really are.

What’s more, owners were like “we tried to compromise with the union, but they refused to listen. We offered to raise new player salaries $100,000. That’s enough. Also, we want every team to make the playoffs because we get millions in media money for that $1 million investment.”

A lack of competitive balance is fine by me. I’m fine with good teams being able to stay together and win as much as they can. But that should NOT come from owners throwing away seasons in advance because they can pocket revenue sharing profits, encouraging them to NOT spend on their team because they choose not to make the playoffs. At the expense of the fans hard earned dollars.

Losers.

“Well, if more teams make the playoffs, wouldn’t owners spend more?”

NO. By lowering the bar, owners are rewarded to not spend on their team, knowing that as long as .500 is attainable, so are playoffs. Why should I spend money when I get the same thing for free?

Yes, more playoffs is more fun for fans. For a week. But by making every team- ok, 14 of 30-  playoff team? The game isn’t better.

Well then, does paying players more make the game better? No. Individually, stars are stars. They deserve the money they get for bringing fans into the game. But the sport overall? Baseball should not look at 14 playoff spots for 30 teams. They should look at 10 playoff spots for 24 teams.

The union would not go for that. But if they want to fix what they see as low salaries- and they are relatively low, as the minimum wage in the NHL is higher than MLB and Aaron Rogers makes $50 million for 17 games- then make teams more scarce. Players would be in greater demand at that point. Proportionally there would be more stars. Owners may even like that better because less teams means each team gains value, as it is scarce. It would be like 1940 all over again, except minorities wouldn’t be denied tickets. Except in the South, of course.

But the league itself has no incentive to do such. More teams means more revenue. More markets. More coverage. And with more humans on earth, there should be more players available. And yet, it feels like that is not the case. Why is that?

Because baseball is a sport for the thinking athlete. Sure, football has 1000 plays, but all of those plays work out to “run over there.” Baseball has an isolated one on one duel, where the pitch you throw – and unlike football, basketball or hockey (the real sports) there is more than one pitch you can throw- has a batter reacting instantly to it, launching 8 other guys into action over such. A center fielder can not anticipate how a batter will hit a curveball nearly as well as a cornerback can anticipate which way a wide receiver goes, or a defenseman in hockey can guess what the forward is going to do. Because in every other sport, the opponent is headed towards a goal. In baseball? Things happen.

Also, there is no clock in baseball You have to play until it ends. There is no taking a knee. There is no dribbling out the clock. It’s meant to be deliberative. And sadly, that is its biggest weakness.

We live in an ADHD society. While I am sure there are fans that like noise pumped through speakers at every second of a down moment in a game, I am not one of them. I don’t need a crowd meter to enjoy a game by screaming randomly. If I want to scream, I want to scream at the $22 beers that can be bought at a bodega for $2, or $40 to park at a publicly funded sports arena. Fuck you, you class warfare causing, public land stealing murdering owner thieving scumbags.

Anyway, back to scumbag parking price gouging on public land and taxpayer funded arenas locking out owners. No one pays a dime to see an owner be a scumbag. But we do pay to see players. So when the next CBA happens? Here’s my ideas to advance baseball and this current CBA that would actually make baseball worthy of the title of “National Pastime.”

  1. Raise starting salaries for players to $1 million. You can’t do more than the NHL? A league where they do 50/50 raffles on a pro level? Yes, yes you can.
  2. Raise the luxury tax to $275 million dollars. Not every team will want to do that, and we know that because they already don’t. But why stop ambitious teams keep their championship squad together? The Atlanta Braves let World Series winning all star first baseman Freddie Freeman leave the team because they did not want t part with any of the $100 million profit they made after coming off of a World Series win. But the league wants to stick to their antiquated tax number, fine. That’s basically a salary cap. So to fix that…
  3. Have a cap floor of $120 million per team. If your team can not fund such? Here are three options- sell your team, move your team, or contract your team. Hey, they’re businessmen- they take risks, right? Yay capitalism! Players will get paid, either by winners or by losers. Fans may hate to see their team go, but that’s clearly on the owners who refused to compete and do not deserve to be professionals. And teams will have to field more competitive teams across the board.
  4. International draft? Bad idea. You think a team with a $40 million dollar payroll has a scouting staff that’s not Youtube? Stop. Let there be scouting, and let it do its job. And let kids in Latin America get $50,000 from an interested team instead of making teams with no intent on paying kids go through the motions of drafting them and not getting a competitive contract..
  5. Higher rookie salaries makes the player wanting arbitration pool negligent. Just saying.
  6. If you want more teams making playoffs more interesting? Have a round robin tournament of owners that fail to make the playoffs be forced to sell their team. Leagues have forced owners to sell teams for random shit. Shouldn’t perpetual losing and stealing from fans be first on that list?
  7. For the baseball draft, have the bottom 8 records pick 9th to 16th. Have the teams closer to making the playoffs have an 8 team lottery for the top 8 picks. It won’t change much in immediate results, but it will incentivize winning.
  8. You want to draft pick punish the teams that spend the most? OK. Then maybe we should punish the bums as well. The team with the lowest payroll loses their second round draft pick. I doubt you will see the same team have that happen twice. If it does? They lose their 1st round draft pick.
  9. Player salaries should be a 50/50% revenue split MINIMUM in every sport. Again, no one pays to see an owner. And if you’re telling me that owning a team ONLY nets you $100 million a year? Aside of the permanent growing investment that owning a team actually is? Cool. If that’s not good enough? Fuck you, sell the team.
  10. Teams that vote for lockouts lose draft status. So if 25 owners vote lockout and 5 do not? Those 5 are the top 5 draft picks in the first 4 rounds. Why? Because it shows a willingness to work and get things done. More cooperation, less oligarchs.
  11. The teams that vote for lockouts and screw over the fans? They have to give players automatic 10% raises. If they cut the player in response? They have to cut him a check for 100% of his salary. More cooperation, more better for fans.
  12. Owners that vote for lockouts have to pay season ticket holders back their pre charged costs, plus 50% interest as an apology. “Sorry for screwing our fans. Here is recompense.”
  13. If players vote to strike? 20% wage cuts in season one, 30%if it goes to a season two. More cooperation is better for fans. Also, players have to subsidize arena workers that are unemployed because of the strike.
  14. Any team with a payroll under $100 million at any time makes them relocation eligible.
  15. Why isn’t there a pro team in Mexico? We have one in Canada. We have two in Texas. Texas is very close to Mexico. Texas was Mexico at one point. And it’s not like it’s an added commute. Mexico City has arenas, no?
  16. You want advertising on the uniform? Place a patch on the groin area. The cup makes it pop. And it’s be great to say “the ball hit him in the Playstation!” You’re already whoring the player out. Let it be an evolution. Also, if you are a fan wearing team gear? Why aren’t YOU getting paid for advertising your team’s mostly losing product? Send them a bill for endorsing a shitty team in public, like they do to your dumb ass as you pay for tickets advertising a bad team.
  17. If you have taxes for spending beyond a budget number? Have penalties for spending below a budget number? You have a $50 million payroll? That’s $50 million eligible for taxation. Stop promoting failure.

Lastly, the fanboys of the owners that say “The players should be happy with whatever they get. they’re millionaires versus billionaires.” I’m sure your boss at work loves you because clearly you never ask for a raise. And what will the owners do? Run a scab league again? Like it’s the 1990’s? With so many entertainment options, who is watching subpar baseball at full prices? An $11 billion sport becomes the Arena Football League? You think in the era of branding everything under the sun that the owners would be smart enough to NOT lose billions of dollars over millions?

And what would the players have lost? Pete Alonso makes $700,000. That’s replaceable in Korea or Japan or spending 5 days a week giving clinics and signing autographs, at least for the first year. And how long could a scab lockout really last?

Yeah, the owners fucked up. And after hosing the players in the last CBA while seeing skyrocketing profits, it was time to give back. I know owners only see fans as moronic braying jackasses, and they are NOT 100% wrong, but they need those donkeys to pull their profits into the black. And since you’re paying $20 for a shitty beer? It’s not like they’re actually paying the players anyway. You and I are. Think about the percent of your annual income that you give to baseball, or any sport. What do you get back? Why do you keep this abusive relationship up?

Your cable bill, your MLB subscription, the commercials driving you to buy their horseshit, the shitty clothes made in communist nations that you buy, the advertising on every inch of everything, the bad blogs (not mine) that you read and the bad Youtubes and podcasts that you digest that just repeat what they all read on Twitter? Echo chambers. I defy you to go and find an article written ANYWHERE that looks as honest as this. And let me know when you do, because that would be awesome.

As fans? Demand better, folks. Because until then? All you will get is more of the same. Probably less. In the meantime, I am available to consult with the MLBPA for fresh ideas.

Thirteen Steps for the New York Mets

Thirteen Steps for the New York Mets

The New York Mets are pulling an offseason that’s impressive. The last time the Mets had a winter this impressive, it was 1992. Jeff Torborg was the genius manager, Bobby Bonilla was the sexy addition all star addition to the lineup, Eddie Murray was a veteran star reaching the end of his career, Bret Saberhagen was an ace Cy Young pitcher brought in to bolster a rotation with Mets stars form the 80’s lingering around….holy shit, this all sounds familiar. And suddenly, it sounds frightening! That 1992 Mets team ate mule ass. Murray was the highlight maneuver somehow driving in 93 runs while batting a poor .261 and with a meager 14 home runs.

How do the Mets avoid that same fate for the 2022 version of the team? By keeping the foot on the gas pedal. They made some very nice moves in Starling Marte and Max Scherzer. They made some good statistical moves in Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar. But they aren’t done, not by a longshot.

I’d love to add Eduardo Sanchez. And Big Red.

There are thirteen steps that can- barring injury- make the Mets a devastating ballclub to face, both now and in the future. And of course, I’ll share all ten of these concepts with you in no particular order.

Step one (and two?): Trade JD Davis

Why? Because he expects it. He almost sounds like he wants it. AS far as I can tell, the Mets lack of fascination with the .288 as a Mets hitter goes back to when Davis did not accept a contract offer and went to arbitration. The Mets won that case – which was over about $300,000- but in winning, I’m sure they felt that if the arbitrator thinks Davis isn’t good, then maybe he isn’t. What can a JD Davis get for you as a team? The first base, third base, left field designated hitter and two time pitcher that has hit .288 over the last three seasons should get you a decent haul from either a major league roster or in minor league prospects.

The Mets acquired Kahlil Lee for just about nothing, and Mets fans think he’s a star of the future. He’s not. However, if some minor league trash gets you something, imagine what a .288 hitter should get you? I’d think immediate high level bullpen help, or two of a teams better prospects. Too much, Mets fans say? Sure. Now do the trade the other way. What, as a Mets fan, would you think the Mets have to give up to acquire a supersub that hits close to .300? Most Mets fans would say Brooklyn, because most fans in general don’t get how trades work.  

Davis is good enough to think, maybe he can be moved to get the Mets another closer. Maybe it’s a package. Maybe that package is headed to Milwaukee and involves Davis and Edlose Diaz for Josh Hader. And that is not a crazy, impossible deal.

Step Three: Trade Dom Smith

Next up on the trade market is Dom Smith. Personally, I do not prefer to trade a guy on a down season (as you’ll see in my Jeff McNeil explanation later on), but here’s the thing: 2021 was a normal season for Smith. Dom Smith is a career .252 hitter. Smith hit .244 last season. His ONLY outliers as season were in season with less than 200 at bats. And his only season with heave work? He hit under his career average. And had a dip in power, as he hit just one more home run in 294 more at bats. Smith has never hit 12 home runs in a major league season.

Is Dom a good guy? Absolutely. Is he a linchpin to the World Series? Not at all. What could a Smith get you? Maybe a middle reliever. Maybe picks or prospects. I’m OK either way. You’ll see why shortly.

“Do steroids really make them shrink?”

Step Four: Trade Robinson Cano

When the Seattle Mariners gave Cano that absurd 10 year contract, they probably weren’t expecting all of the performance enhancing drug issues that followed. The first time Seattle saw a drug suspension? They saved almost $12 million dollars in forfeited salary. And what did they do? Immediately traded Cano to a baby GM and ate $16.25 million of the remaining contract Cano saved Seattle $12 million of that, so basically the Cano deal costs Seattle $1 million a year until the deal ends.

With his second drug bust, Cano saved the Mets $20 million. It’s about time to use that money just like Seattle did.

Trade Cano to whomever wants him. He will hit around .270 next year or two and play some second base and some DH, which will help preserve his body over the final two seasons of his no longer hall of fame career. A .270 hitter in the major leagues come in at around $15 million. So let the Mets use that $20 mil they saved last season and subsidize Cano over the next two years for $10 million per. Add Seattles $3.75 million, and any team taking Cano will have a final cost of $10.25 million. Cano is 29 doubles away from 600. Bad teams like to celebrate weird shit like that, and like a marquee name on the roster. See Mets with Gary Sheffield, Ricky Henderson, Bobby Bonilla part two, etc.

Cano will not bring you a massive haul because of all of the question marks after his second drug suspension. But he will save your $10 million by not being here, and will get your either a bullpen arm or some minor leaguers. The Mets can use either of those.

Step Five: Trade Carlos Carasco

Where? Back to American League, of course. Carasco has his entire career success in the AL. Send him back. Carasco had a nightmare year last year. He was trash. He was often injured. He threw batting practice to open games. And as previously noted, it’s bad to trade guys coming off of underaverage years. It’s worse to do so for career worst years.

But Carasco should be able to slot in as a starter for a team, which has some value. In the AL, he has a reputation. He has a contract in the last year of a deal, making not crazy money for a starting pitcher at $12 million. He does have an option after that at $14 million with a $3 million buyout, so if he’s good? It solves a two year issue for a team. And if he’s bad? Flush the turn for 20 percent of his contract.

Step Six: Sign Freddie Freeman

This makes Pete Alonso your backup first baseman and your DH. This improves the team in the lineup and in the field. Freeman is a former MVP. He’s a potential hall of fame player. Freeman is going to turn 32 next year, but put up numbers very similar to his career averages last season- he hit 300 with 31 home runs last season with a .393 on base and scored 120 runs.

As the Mets did with their interdivision rival Washington Nationals (and also on some level the Dodgers) with Max Scherzer, make Freeman an offer that is so massive that he can’t say no. 4 years, $140 million. The guy is a gold glover, silver slugger, all star, MVP, and world series champ. That kind of stuff will absolutely help change a culture. And when the deal is up? Pete Alonso will be 30, and not too worn down, so he can either go back to first or share in a position. Also, by sharing first with Alonso, Freeman will be better preserved as he ages.

And did I mention how this damages the Mets archrival, the Atlanta Braves? As a part owner of the Braves, I may not like this concept, but as a Mets fan? I love it!  

Step Seven: Sign Seiya Suzuki

This one is a total no brainer on so many levels. First off, have you ever been to Citi Field? It you come from the east, you pass a million Asians along the way. And no, that’s not a joke. There’s a Chinatown in Flushing. Look it up. Northern Boulevard has more signs in foreign languages than in English, and almost all of those signs are Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Why would the Mets from this day forward NOT have an Asian player on the team to draw a crowd? Did you see the reactions to Lindor and Baez among the many Puerto Rican Mets fans? It’s a great way to draw for a team that finished in the bottom third of attendance last year. Remember Linsanity? It’s time for Seiya Later!

Oh, by the way, in 2021 the 27 year old Suzuki hit .317 with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBI, and an on base percentage of .433 thanks to his 88 walks. While he did strike out 89 times, on the Mets? That’s the team low. The three “starters” on the Mets are NOT going to play a full season. Mark Canha played in 141 games last year. Starling Marte was in 120 lineup cards last year. Brandon Nimmo showed up for 92 games. That’s 133 games they would be missing in a full season. That’s enough to make Suzuki a starter and to reduce workloads on everyone else so maybe they last a little longer.

Besides, Nimmo just hired Scott Boras as his agent. If Boras asks for insane compensation and forces free agency, which he is famous for, the Mets already have a replacement with similar on base stats and more power. Suzuki is expected to be paid somewhere in the $12 million range. Boras doesn’t look at anything under $20 million for a player. Not that the Mets have to penny pinch anymore, but having a player that’s 2 years younger and with more offensive diversity that plays both outfield corners is a pretty good backup plan.

Oh, Kris Bryant? Fuck off. He’s entered the declining part of his career. He’ll have a good year in 2024 after a declising 2022 and 2023, then fall off the planet in 2025. You read it here first.    

Step Eight: Keep Jeff McNeil as Supersub

The Mets want to trade McNeil. This is a bad idea for a few reasons. One is that McNeil had a down year by his standards. It’s not the best idea to trade a guy in a down year. Also, I get the feeling that if he left the Mets, McNeil would pull a Danny Murphy and compete for a batting title. If you have an absolute hard on for trading McNeil because he has a scuffle with the forever contracted Francisco Lindor, maybe you wait to see if he turns it around and make him a deadline deal piece for something bigger. And if he still hits .250, you trade him for the same haul that you’d get now. Also, lets not forget that McNeil can play second, third, left field, right field, and DH. Because he’s done that in his career. He’s probably fly the team plane as well, if he could get his hands on it. Having a multipositional guy lets you use roster assets in areas like the bullpen, where the Mets need love.

Step 9: Promote Brett Baty or Ronny Mauricio

the Mets need to start promoting youth this season. Mauricio is younger, but looks to be a better hitter. Francisco Alvarez should be on this team in 2023 to back up James McCann, and to take over the starting job by the last year of McCann’s deal in 2024. Mets can use one of those guys to rotate into the DH role as well. Adding youth helps mitigate the monster contracts that the Mets currently need to pay to attract talent, and puts a brutal lineup around them to protect them.

Step Ten: Sign the 2 Best Relievers on the Market

That’s subjective as to what GM Billy Eppler is looking for, but I would start with Colin McHugh because that’s a feel good story to reunite with a former Met. I’d also look at Kenley Jansen, due to this postseason experience, performance, and availability.  

Step Eleven: Sign Clayton Kershaw

The Mets are absolutely in win now mode. It is what it is. So since that’s reality, the Mets need to sign the best available starter on the market. Right now that’s lefty Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Yes he is 33, which is…not ancient at all. Kershaw made $31 million last season. I think Cohen has shown the willingness to spend more than that on a player. You have to make the offer. $40 million dollars is the neighborhood you need to be in. If the Dodgers exceed it? Great. They aren’t willing to spend endlessly, so every extra dollar from their budget prevents them from making other power moves.  To be interesting, I may look into signing Zack Greinke because he’d be a blast playing in New York, as he is a weird dude. Adding both may be the best option, as suddenly you have a rotation of DeGrom, Scherzer, Kershaw, Walker, and Greinke. Kershaw as a 3. Yikes.

But what of the Mets pitchers from last year? Yamamoto, Peterson and McGill all have options to head to the minors, which isn’t the worst thing for any of them. To be honest, I’m not sure Yamamoto even has a contract, or if he deserves one. Joey Lucchesi is here until 2025, so that’s a keeper as a long man/ spot starter if and when he gets healthy. McGill has a lot of potential, and that potential would be best served in learning the league protected by multiple Hall of Fame pitchers. They may even teach him a thing or two about pitching, and he may come in and blow guys away for 2-3 innings to hand a game over to a closer.

At least they got a draft pick for this mess.

Step Twelve: Then what?

So, there’s the short term and long term plan for the Mets. Win now, unload players now to restock the minors, move some decent players for immediate decent bullpen help, and spend more money to make it so. Let us not forget, the Mets get rewarded for botching the 2021 draft by a compensatory first round pick. They will get extra picks for the Angels signing Noah Syndergaard and whomever signs Michael Coforto to hit .270. In short, the Mets will have 6 picks in the top 100 in this upcoming draft. That’s a good way to reload your system now, and also move some of those picks into the future so that your bonus pool is better spread out.

Step Thirteen: Be a Fan, Asshole

If the Mets payroll is $400 million, to quote the hilarious departed Otto and George, “Who gives a shit?” Mets fans already pay a ton of money to see the team. Adding $3 a ticket to see a 100 win All-Star team? That could possibly win a World Series? When is the last time the Mets could say they could possibly win the World Series? 1986, to be exact. So what fan says no to the extra bucks? For a winning team? Nobody, except negative, griping assholes that you can never make happy. At this point, all the Mets have to do is win. They have an owner that wants to win and can afford to spoil the team and the fanbase. So why not put them in the best position to do so, instead of more of the same half assing?  

There’s your plan, Billy Eppler. Make it so.   

My opinion is…

My opinion is…

It’s been about two months since I last had a thought. Wait, what? NO! It’s just been two months since I had time to write down a few thoughts about the local sports scene, and I guess anything in the sports scene that I’m thinking about.

Let’s start with the obvious: the New York Mets.

Last time I wrote about the Mets, I said that the organization was doing something wrong if they couldn’t acquire a team president. Steve Cohen changed my mind.

Steve Cohen is a very rich man, as every radio show host will repeatedly let you know. The other owners know this, and have been fucking with him in the only way that they can. “I don’t have your money, so you can’t have my stuff.” Agents fucked with him. Players fucked with him. Because he was playing nice and trying to fit in. He finally decided enough was enough.

Just like my home.

So what did Cohen do? Basically he said “The stuff I have? The players want.” And then he overpaid Starling Marte by roughly $20 million dollars. Then he offered a guy coming off of an injury tens of millions of dollars. And then the gut punch. The highest annually paid player was the New York Yankees Garret Cole. Was. The Mets offer to Max Scherzer – a future Hall of Fame pitcher who, while old, competed for a Cy Young last season- wasn’t just $5 more than the Cole deal. It wasn’t 1% more.

IT WAS 20% MORE THAN WHAT COLE GETS. TWENTY PERCENT.

Folks, that is called a fuck you. And a game changer.

EVERY agent will come to the Mets with their free agents as a final offer. A deal with Samsung will transform Citi Field into an entertainment destination. The manager is not only not a brand new inexperienced manager, but a widely respected, player friendly one in Buck Showalter. And the general manager he hired was both experienced and mentored by a baseball legend in Gene Michael- Billy Eppler. You know, the guy that brought Shohei Ohtani to the majors? The guy that hired former Yankee Showalter?

I get the sense that Eppler isn’t done contacting former Yankees. Brian Cashman will be a free agent executive in December of 2022. He’s presently making $25 million. I get the sense that Cohen can make a better offer.

And I want to give a pat on the back to Eppler for this overlooked gem- sure, losing Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto hurts if you’re rooting for a player instead of the team. But by losing both Confotro- who seems to be good every other year, and Syndergaard- who has pitched a handful of innings over the last two years and will maybe throw 125 innings next year if he doesn’t get injured? The Mets gained two second round picks in this upcoming MLB draft. And with the Kumar Rocker fiasco? The Mets gained a compensatory first round pick. So 5 of the top 80 and 6 of the top 100 picks will belong to the Mets. Anyone want to know how to restock a farm system? Let inconsistent and injured players bring you high level picks and save you wanted money.

Gone are the days where the Mets are auditioning rookie major league managers. By the way, former Mets manager Rojas is now an outfielders coach for the Yankees. Outfielders coach.

I’ll add this- in October I offered to be the Mets GM. At this point, I will accept an assistant GM position.

The New York Yankees: Your Dad wouldn’t put up with this Mets shit!

Major League Baseball: Give the players what they want. When it comes to Labor vs Management situations, there are two truisms: Management will always fuck labor because management itself is inherently backstabbing as people, and labor asks for fairness which usually falls against backstabbers.

The Chicago Cubs saw their team value increase 400% in the last decade because PLAYERS won them a World Series.  Shouldn’t the owners reward the players with that new found $3 billion dollars? That the players made them? Yes, yes they should. The Wilpons sold the Mets for almost 7 times what they paid for it in a mere 20 years.

Also, paying players more doesn’t mean fans pay more. In the last 5 years, the average salary of baseball players has decreased. Have ticket prices?

The New York Rangers: Again, a good coach with a solid system can create a winning culture when surrounded with talented athletes.

The New York Islanders: A coach that works hard to emphasize defense at the point to stifle the offense has faith in Josh Bailey, who magically neither plays offense or defense. Something I learned in research this week- the more time you play Josh Bailey in a game, the statistically more likely you are to miss the playoffs.

The NHL: Maybe it’s time to go back to the 2019-2020 COVID playoff schedule, where everyone makes the playoffs? You screwed up early outbreaks, which benefits present COVID teams. My position is that if you can’t field a team, you should forfeit. But reality says that teams will roll out AHL caliber players and charge you NHL prices. Since you’ll fuck the fans at every turn, collapse the season and give each team a playoff birth. There’s not going to be an NHL player Olympics anyway, so let it fly.

The NFL: Have you seen the state of football in New York? Pretty good, right? Sure, a playoff bubble, but very likely a 10 win team.

But those guys in New Jersey are absolutely terrible. You need to have two pro leagues. One for the good teams, and one for teams trying to get there. Like European soccer.

The NBA: you have the most complicated salary cap in sports. You have a $113 million salary cap. One team follows that. ONE. Five teams are 50% above the cap. Sure it’s a soft cap. But if you have 29 teams ignoring the cap? You need to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement into reality.

The New York Knicks: Last year was fun because you were hard nosed and tough. Then you added soft players in free agency, drafted strong players that you refuse to play, and wonder why you’re losing. You lost your way.

The Brooklyn Nets: You’re not winning a title. Too old, too much Kyrie. Thank you for signing those guys so that the Knicks didn’t look even more dysfunctional.

Your game is flat.

Alright folks. I’m switching from writing to reading: next up, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Hopefully Buck will hand it out to the players.   

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…

For the past two seasons, the New York Islanders fell short of competing in the Stanley Cup Finals, the ultimate goal of every kid playing hockey in the Western Hemisphere, and expanding eastward. For the past two seasons, the Islanders pushed the eventual Stanley Cup Champions to a game 6, and then a game seven. In the seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning? Game seven was decided by one goal. Lets talk about that season ending goal.

Long story short: Islanders power play. Bailey goes to puck instead of covering his assignment. Assignment gets puck and scores season ending goal against the Islanders.

It wasn’t an overtime, game ending goal. No, the Islanders kept slogging Bailey out there and very predictably, Bailey would not contribute to scoring a goal, absolutely refusing to put the puck past Tampa’s netminder, Andrei Vasilevsky. How do I know? He only took one shot all game. Which to be fair is an above average effort. Maybe Bailey knows about a two point line in hockey that no one else knows about? 

NO.

Was Bailey’s 7 game output of one goal the worst on the Islanders? No, not at all. Mostly because Leo Komarov was ruining line one’s offense singlehandedly. But when Cal Clutterbuck outscores you? Or Adam Pelech? When Scott Mayfield and Matt Martin have as many goals as Bailey? Woof.

When we talk about Bailey sucking for the start of the season, this isn’t a new topic. It’s as predictable as tides, Haley’s Comet, and New York Jets losses.

Ten percent of a season is obviously not a season. Around 16 games you can start to see trends with more clarity. But 30% of finished games is a sample of work you can compare against, oh, I don’t know, 13 other seasons. It’s not exactly hard to point out trends that have gone on for over a decade.

For instance, for his entire career, when the Islanders offense was rolling, Bailey had more points. When the Islanders offense was stagnant? Bailey had less points. On the surface, that seems obvious. But on a deeper dive?

Sometimes players contribute despite the record of the team. Sometimes a player has statistics where ‘they made others around themselves better. And then you get the Josh Bailey’s of the world.

It is not hard to see, when the Islanders score goals, Bailey gets points. And when the Islanders don’t score goals, Bailey doesn’t get points. Playmakers create points. I would think you would be hard pressed to say that Mat Barzal does not generate offense. I think you would be hard pressed to say that Islander era John Scumbag Tavares generated no offense.

In Bailey’s outlier year of 71 points- which can be broken into two seasons: the 3 months where he scored 50 points, and the 4 months where he scored 21 in the same season- Anders Lee scored 40 goals. Has Lee scored 40 again? No. What’s the difference?

The difference is that the center that Lee benefitted from that season almost scored 40 goals also, but now plays in Toronto. And the other wing on that line? He’s is often on a line with Lee. And when you combine those two? Lee rarely scores. 

The one thing Bailey is good at is the one thing you want him to fail doing

Lee specializes in stuffing in rebounds from guys that shoot. Bailey has what, 18 shots on the season? Not exactly helping Anders out there, are ya Josh?

21 games.7 games without a single shot on goal.  A plus for six games, even for seven, minus in eight, including spectacularly being a minus in a six goal game where the Islanders won by four. A game where only ONE of Montreals two goals could have counted as a minus. Guess who was on the ice?

To start the season, line two was not producing goals, and was a minus across the board for everyone. Coach Barry Trotz flipped wingers. Did he take the hot scoring Oliver Whalstrom and promote him to the second line? No, why would he do that? Trotz for some reason sees Whalstrom differently than the rest of the NHL and Islander fans see him. Passing over a healthy Whalstrom in the playoffs last season to play Leo Komarov was absolutely the wrong decision to make. Does Komarov prevent goals? Somewhat. Does Komarov produce goals? Absolutely not. So unless you want to win zero to negative one? You don’t play Komarov over Whalstrom on line one.

Trotz flipped Bailey for underachieving Palmieri on the first two lines? The result? Line two blossomed and everyone became a plus. And line one? Two goals in the first few weeks that Bailey joined the unit. As a positive, one was by Bailey, who is now on a pace for 4 goals on the season, instead of zero. On line one.

Lou made moves to clear cap space for a playoff run, if the team even can make one at this point. The Islanders have needs in their top 4 defense and in top 6 forwards. Assuming Lou addresses this as he has done in the recent past? There needs to be a move made to redefine the top six. Which is great, because for the past 13 season, no team with Josh Bailey in their top six has won a Stanley Cup. And no team with Josh Bailey in their top six will ever win a Stanley Cup.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the greatest move that the Islanders can pull to make the playoffs? Trade Josh Bailey.

What would a return on Bailey look like? Less than any other recent Isles trade. Bailey’s maybe getting you a 3rd round pick, even from a magician like Lou. But the REAL magic on a Bailey trade would be moving all $5 million off of the teams book over the next two seasons, and in making space in the present season as well.

The Islanders “Identity Line” was a vastly overpaid 4th line that used to play aggressive hockey. If you moved Bailey to a third line job? You’re looking at over $10 million to roll out the third line. That’s absurd.

Then there’s the time on ice that Bailey eats. Bailey is playing the second highest average time on ice in his career tied with his 201-18 season. Did the Islanders make the playoffs in 2017-18? No, no they did not.  BTW, the year Bailey averaged the highest time on ice for his career, which was 2016-17? Yeah, the Islanders missed the playoffs that year, too. Sometimes two things can happen independently- correlation. And sometimes one thing leads to another- causation. I’d argue that by giving Bailey more time on ice, you are asking to lose. Data backs that up.

The 4th highest average time on ice for Bailey? Isles missed the playoffs that year, too. So you keep these almost 18 minute nights up for Bailey, and you will miss the playoffs.

My point here? Trading away Bailey gives you a benefit in production. Keifer Bellows has twice as many goals as Bailey in half the games played and with 40% of Bailey’s time on ice in those games.

Am I advocating for giving Bellows more playing time? Yes, yes I am. And the best avenue to do that is to trade Bailey.  Same goes for the logic of finding playing time for the blossoming before your eyes Oliver Whalstrom. And for creating cap space. And for maybe getting some form of low level draft asset added to help grow your organization. These are all positives.

But keeping 17:53 a night of Josh Bailey? You’re going to miss the playoffs. Causation.