Blue and Orange is the New Eh?

Blue and Orange is the New Eh?

By Dan Radzicki

If you are a Mets fan, you got an early Christmas present this week. As I wrote merely a week ago:

“The Mets presently have enough parts to just need a few more pieces to be short term solid. What pieces? A competent front office, an experienced manager, experienced coaches with winning records, a few key free agents, a few solid drafts, and an owner willing to spend.”

The most important part of my prediction as to how to reinvigorate this team became a treat for New York Mets fans. This week the Mets made an agreement to be purchased by local resident, Mets fan and current Mets part owner Andrew Cohen. Cohen is a filthy rich multibillionaire. Rumor is, he is willing to spend.

The announcement caused dizziness to Mets fans. Visions of free agents danced in their heads. Experienced managers and general managers suddenly seemed possible, instead of having a rookie GM and two rookie managers hired at the lowest total cost within the last 24 months.

To me, it seemed all too recently familiar. In the last 20 years, one New York team that wears orange and blue were sold two times to billionaires, and once in agreement to maybe the next John Spano, and saw changes immediately in each purchase.

No, I’m not talking about the Knicks who have sucked for 20 years and just fired an NBA coach with a 20% winning percentage. I’m talking about Long Island’s only team, the New York Islanders.

The Islanders ownership changes came in three waves. Charles Wang, Andrew Barroway, and the team of Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky.

Each time the Islanders announced a new owner, the roster made significant short term improvements. For instance, the Charles Wang era brought in Roman Hamirlik, Alexi Yashin, Adrian Aucoin, and Michael Peca.

The Andrew Barroway era got the Islanders Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin. And as an aside, it looks like the Barroway era would have ended with the Islanders similarly to the John Spano era like it is in Arizona. The Maldecky team got Nick Leddy with his alleged huge penis that he doesn’t know how to use as per Beth Brock and Johnny Boychuk.

He looks stressed. Wonder why?

But most importantly, the Maldecky era had the new owners replacing a pile of shit.

Maldecky saw how Wang ran the team and realized just as Wang did upon their taking over the team that the only way to make money with a small market team was with an arena tied to mass transit and with multiple entertainment options and lodging. Oh, and spend money and win. Wang missed that part. And so in trying to get an arena built- and seeing how the last owner screwed up in trying to get an arena built- they brought in hall of fame GM that’s past his prime but still knows how to build an org chart, and cozied up to politicians instead of taking their ball and going home. To Brooklyn.

Like Garth, another Wang fuck up

All of the Islanders prospective owners made immediate impacts to the roster when they acquired the team. All stars were added. Depth players were added. Stanley Cup Champions were added. For each new Islanders owner there was significant roster movement.

The most significant move of any of those acquisitions? Hiring Barry Trotz. Which came from hiring a Hall of Fame and old ass GM, Lou Lamoreillo. Not to be mistaken with GM Garth Snow, where GM stands for grotesque manatee.

Why bring that up? Because now we get to the Mets.

The Wilpon Mets announced this week that they have a deal done in premise with minority owner Andrew Cohen to sell his majority ownership of the team. Combined with what Cohen already owns, he stands to own 80% of the organization.

With a net value of $13 billion, Cohen would by far be the wealthiest owner in baseball.

And there are similarities between the last few sets of owners of the Islanders with Mr. Cohen.

To start with, Charles Wang was a billionaire that was also an alleged felon that avoided prosecution. Mr. Cohen is a billionaire that was an alleged felon that avoided prosecution.

Felons of a feather flock together…

The current Islander owners took over an 80% stake in the team. Mr. Cohen will ultimately have an 80% stake in the team.

But then there are differences.

In the dawn of the Cohen era? As the Braves acquired star pitching, the Phillies picked the Mets pocket, and the World Series champs prepare an offer for their star pitcher that anyone can exceed. And the Mets traded assets for a guy that hits .233 and is a bench player. Because you can’t sign those for just cash.

Oh, and the management? A rookie manager and a second year GM. In an offseason where there were two World Series Managers available as free agents, and at least 30 assistant GM’s were looking for a promotion.

If you’re buying a team? Here’s an idea- make a splash.

Look at Steve Balmer when he bought the shitty Los Angeles Clippers after a golddigger mistress claimed that the guy she milked for tons of money was racist. They now have Paul George and NBA finals MVP Kawai Leonard on the team. Thomas Dundon made the Carolina Hurricanes acquire Dougie Hamilton and swat away an offer sheet for Sebastian Aho- the good Aho. Terry Pegula in Buffalo overpaid for Kyle Okposo, but also acquired Ryan O’Reilly and Jeff Skinner and tried multiple AFC finalist coach Rex Ryan for the Bills. Mark Cuban turned a second rate NBA team into champions in Dallas. Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz looked at the way his dad ran a team, realized how bad an idea it was, and promptly replaced the GM and head coach and won 3 championships. Hal Steinbrenner won a championship in his second year of team ownership.

Three Cups in six years. One less than the Rangers have in their existence.

Immediate splashes. And the Mets? Christmas shopping at WalMart. Picking up players who are still being paid by their last team, and given options to not pay them. Trading prospects for .200 hitters. Mets gotta Met.

Here’s what Cohen doesn’t have to worry about- a new arena. Citi Field is beautiful. And is subsidized by taxpayers, so he won’t have to pay for it. And that lacking sports network channel, SNY? Since the Islanders and Mets have ties, maybe the Islanders becomes their winter tenants like the Yankees have with the Nets? Who have become a ratings draw for a moribund winter network? And make even more money for Cohen, as they would be the only winners on the network?

Looks like Pac Man ate its death

Cohen allegedly paid the Wilpons $2.6 billion for their stake in the Mets. That is a sweet payout for a team that hasn’t won a title since 1986. But the bigger question is this – Did the Belmont deal provide enough cash flow for the Wilpons that they were willing to take a buyout on the Mets to pursue their own interests? If so, every Mets fans should thank Islander fans for getting Maldecky to remove the shitbag owners that were willing and allegedly successful participants of a Ponzi scheme at the cost of a decade of austerity at the expense of the fans.

It’s time for the Mets to amp up the payroll by $60 million dollars. Amp up the front office. Prepare to get rid of a GM that has tried to acquire the worst of his prior clients. Add 400 scouts. If that doesn’t happen over 14 months, get ready for the next shit show.

Things will not change overnight for the Mets. But to win some public opinion, they do need to make some significant moves this present winter. As in today. Two all stars would suffice as an introduction. They added a manager that looking back may have been a premature move if the team was in discussion to be sold. But there is time to fix everything. Money lets you do that. So spend the fucking money, or else Mets fans can piss away 2020 as more of the same.   

The author is a motherfucker. Follow him a@JoshBailey on Twitter

Lets GO, Mets

Lets GO, Mets

By Dan Radzicki

We have a saying in this house- Knicks gonna Knick. It means that the Knicks will always find a way to lose. They’re losing is so powerful that they turned ten time champion Phil Jackson into a pathetic unemployed loser in a matter of weeks.

Good calls.

You can easily make the connection with the New York Mets. It’s totally fair to say that the Mets are gonna Met. Because the Mets find a way to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

Look at the last three times the Mets were worth a shit.

In 2000 the Mets were handily defeated by a New York Yankees team full of future Hall of Famers, all stars, and a steroid fueled fuckface. The best player in the game at that time, Alex Rodriguez, expressed his desire to come play for the Mets. That move would have given the Mets two Hall of Fame monster hitters in the heart of their lineup. So what did they do?

Mets gonna Met. They did nothing.

A few years later the Mets retooled under General Manager Omar Minaya and added a distinct Latin flavor to their roster. Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Pedro Martinez made Queens a well paid home. They also added 100 year old Orlando Hernandez and 117 year old Julio Franco to the team, along with any player with a Spanish surname (Looking at you, American born Xavier Nady). And that team’s major highlight? A caught looking strike three to end their season.

Must have been a tough play.

And the next season? The epic September collapse where Tom Glavine showed that he was truly an Atlanta Brave with that final start. Also? That game began the era of wasting David Wright’s career.

The Mets languished from that 2007 season all the way to a miracle post season run in 2015 where some rare in season trades bolstered a lineup and a bench. A fine, young pitching staff with tons of promise and some timely hitting from playoff hero Daniel Murphy propelled the Mets to the World Series. Where they promptly lost the series in five games.

In the process they lost Murphy to a division rival and never replaced his bat, then watched as their star pitcher blew his arm out. So there’s that. They did return to the playoffs the next year…for one game.

It’s not like the Mets don’t spend money. They have a TV network and a beautiful stadium that see millions of fans arrive or watch at home annually. And it’s not like the Mets have the lowest payroll in baseball. They don’t. They were 9th in baseball last year, and were almost 10% higher than the next tier of team salaries.

No, it seems where the Mets make bad decisions stems from one place, which affects a few others. Their owners- the Wilpon’s- are fuck ups.

Fuck ups.

Not financially. There, they’ve done great. They avoided being held accountable throughout the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, where they made fantastic returns on their investments as other people went broke in the scam, then allegedly did not suffer any financial losses after. They sold a chunk of team ownership to raise personal capital, and watched the team gain value in the process. They have a TV network that is part of a cable package, so they get monthly revenues from commercials and subscribers, although Frontier Communications did end their broadcast relationship with SNY this fall due to their “excessive carriage rates.” And unlike every other New York area sports channel, they have no other New York based sports tenant to pay to air.

And with those resources? The Wipons make horrible decisions.

Mets fans can list off the failed free agents and veteran trades the team has made like it’s a Dishonor Roll. Some of those were surprises. Who saw Roberto Alomar falling apart so quickly? Who thought Mike Piazza was going to resign with the Mets? But there’s a whole lot of Mo Vaughns, Bobby Bonillas, Jason Bays, Jeremy Burnitzes and Mel Rojases going on. A Mets trade for a major contributor is rare- consider the trade of Cy Young award winner knuchleballer R.A. Dickey for a catching prospect that they expected to be a star- Travis DeArnold. If the Blue Jays didn’t throw in level A ball pitcher Noah Syndergaard, that trade would have been awful as well. 

What a chunk…er, chump.

Why are the Mets so bad at assessing talent? Here’s an idea: Look at the amount of scouts the Mets reportedly use (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Major_League_Baseball_scouts_by_team). The Mets have 78 scouts. That’s way more than a lot of teams. Teams like the Colorado Rockies or the Seattle Mariners or the famously cheap Oakland A’s.

Some teams have just about the same amount of scouts- the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The shitty Pirates have a similar org chart. That can’t be good. But the Giants have been successful for decades, so we have to call into account the quality of Mets scouts.

But look at the teams with more scouts than the Mets. The Atlanta Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies. The St. Louis Cardinals. The Boston Red Sox. The Los Angeles Dodgers. The Houston Astros. The Cleveland Indians. The Chicago Cubs. The Chicago White Sox. The Detroit Tigers. The Baltimore Orioles. All of these teams have had greater levels of success than the Mets in the Wilpon Era. They all have had faster rebuilds, have had more sustained successes, and almost all of them have won a World Series since 2000.

You may notice a team that didn’t make the list. The New York Yankees. Why? Because their scouting staff is DOUBLE what their same market peers have. Well, not exactly double. Two scouts short of double. 154 versus 78.  

So we know the Mets are short of amateur and professional scouts as compared to more successful organizations. But surely they hire managers and coaches with winning pedigrees, right?

Wrong. The Mets seem to be a landing pad for reclamation projects and first time managers. They’ve had two decent managers over the last 30 years. Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine. The Mets have had chances to hire managers with pedigrees, as recently as a few days ago when they’ve watched World Series winning Joe Maddon go to the Angels and World Series winning manager Joe Girardi go to the divisional rivals Phillies.

And the Mets? They replaced first time manager Mickey Calloway with first time manager Carlos Beltran. And who hired him? First time general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

Which in fairness was a turn around from the prior administration or longtime reclamation project and career loser Terry Collins, with retread GM Sandy Alderson. These two teamed up to luck into a postseason based on young pitchers who never had a lineup to supplement their work, and always, ALWAYS a sketchy bullpen.

But look at that stellar, inspiring list of recent Mets managers. You can marvel at:

Mike Cubbage

Art Howe

Dallas Green

Jeff Torborg

Jerry Manual

And you wonder why they lose?

Wally Backman came through the Mets system as a player, then became a manager in various levels before returning as manager in the Mets system. He had a winning record in A ball, AA, and AAA, even managing to win some championships. He had a winning record! But hey, Terry Collins was running a sub 500 team for years, so why change things up?

Even as recently as 2019, a player developed by the Mets and who starred for the Mets- Edgardo Alfonso-  took the A level Brooklyn Cyclones to a league championship. And was fired for it. You read that right. What the actual fuck is this organization doing? Alfonso was a Met in the last era in which the team was consistently good, and past of what some called the greatest infield ever. Fired for winning. This is the GM Mets fans get.

W
What shit.

And this is the GM Mets fans deserve. Why? Because Mets fans are stupid. They line up each year to put 2,000,000 asses (literally and figuratively) in the seats of an admittedly beautiful ballpark. And then they take off their shirts and have the Mets organization shit on their collective chests like a high octane German shizer film. They pay their monthly cable bills and don’t ask the providers to remove the stain from their drawers. They buy t-shirts and jerseys and pay $40 to park under a train track or on the side of a highway because…they’re fucking stupid. Why? Because they don’t ask for better.

You know thaty the divisional rival Atlanta Braves have already begun signing free agents? They took former Giants closer lefthanded All Star Will Smith off of the market well before the Mets made reservations for the Winter Meetings. Mets fans will say Smith isn’t good. If he was in the Mets bullpen last year? They make the playoffs.

Let me be the first person the make this point and argument. If the Islanders arena progresses at Belmont, the Mets should move there as well. Not the indoor arena. That’d be silly. No, instead of ANOTHER shopping mall, build a baseball stadium. And maybe….shhhh….a small casino in the proposed and yet unbuilt hotel. Imagine a horse track, an indoor sports arena, an outdoor sports arena, a hotel, a casino, and two train stations- one coming from Long Island and one from Queens – all within walking distance of each other? And near their fanbase? That’d sound…smart. So that’s fucked.

Instead the fans have accepted the existence of chop shops and grey mud puddles for generations.

So to Mets fans- stop it. What you’re doing is the equivalent of Magic Johnson buying billboards in support of spreading AIDS. Cancel your TV packages. You don’t need them. Just buy channels you want and stream Mets games. Stop paying for failure.

Business as usual.

Stop with season tickets. Stop with t shirts. Stop paying to watch games. I can tell you what will happen.

The team will lose money. Then they will lose value. Then someone with money will come in recognizing the bargain to own a mass market team at a bargain price and do what new owners always do- use the savings to reinvest in their product. That way if they sell it’s a quick flip. And if they stay it’s a fortune down the road. And will the present owners reinvest in this team to make it a winner?

No. The Mets presently have enough parts to just need a few more pieces to be short term solid. What pieces? A competent front office, an experienced manager, experienced coaches with winning records, a few key free agents, a few solid drafts, and an owner willing to spend. Just look at their take on analytics, which is growing in all sports.

Are you at all shocked?

This plan doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worked for the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox, Astros, Marlins, Giants, and Tigers. Clearly it didn’t work for the teams that never invested.

Like the Mets.

So, which side of the fence do you want to be on? Perpetual pissing your own money away to a rich guy with a losing team for more of the same? Or maybe a sense of satisfaction from not the usual “almost successful” season?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Or smash your head into the wall as you order your Mets Christmas gifts. Unlike what the team owners do at this time of year.