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.
Will Atlanta and Houston enact sweet postseason revenge and meet in the World Series?
As the calendar turns toward winter, the remaining days of autumn are highlighted by the culmination of the MLB postseason.
In the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers spirited Game 3 comeback victory is the only thing saving their season. Heading into Game 5 at Dodger Stadium tonight, Dave Roberts’ depleted bullpen needs a heroic performance from midseason acquisition Max Scherzer.
The 3-time Cy Young Award winner’s impact on the Dodgers season is undeniable. The 36-year old currently in his 14th MLB season went undefeated (7-0) in his 11 starts with the defending champs, posting a career-best 0.86 WHIP and 2.46 ERA (0.82/1.98 with LAD). Scherzer provided relief for the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS, recording his first postseason save two days after suffering a hard-luck 1-0 loss in Game 3 (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 10 K).
In the American League, the Red Sox power seems to have dissipated. In losing Games 4 and 5, the Sox offense has hit a wall after connecting for 18 HR, hitting .338, and averaging just under nine runs PG in their previous six games. The vaunted Red Sox offense combined for three runs while hitting .157 overall and going 0-13 with RISP.
Meanwhile, Dusty Baker’s unit finds themselves one win away from reaching the World Series for the third time in five seasons. If his team eliminates Boston, Baker receives another chance to win his first championship as a manager (currently owns the record for most games managed without winning a World Series).
Finally, in recognition of Max Scherzer’s start tonight, here are a few examples of pitchers providing super-human efforts facing elimination along with salvaging their team’s bullpen.
Josh Becket (Marlins) – Game 5, 2003 NLCS
Facing elimination, Beckett threw a 2-hit shutout, striking out 11 Cubs while inspiring Florida to rally and win the series.
Curt Schilling (Phillies) – Game 5, 1993 World Series
Without the former ESPN announcer efforts, one of the most memorable postseason moments in MLB would cease to exist.
Schilling’s 147-pitch, five-hit shutout came after Philadelphia used six pitchers, unable to hold a 14-9 lead in Game 4. Joe Carter would be just another Joe without Schilling’s spectacular performance.
Danny Jackson (Royals) – Game 5, 1985 ALCS; Game 5, 1985 World Series.
Jackson sent the ALCS back to Toronto with a brilliant, 8-hit shutout of the Blue Jays. Jackson’s performance came at the perfect moment, provided how poorly the Royals bullpen performed in Games 1-4. The left-hander delivered a repeat of his ALCS performance in Game 5 of the World Series. Jackson’s complete Game, five-hitter at St. Louis, sent the series back to Kansas City, where the Royals completed another series comeback.
Mickey Lolich (Tigers) – Game 5, 1968 World Series
The Tigers watched 30-game winner Denny McClain, and five relievers allowed ten runs on 13 hits in the Cardinals 10-1 win in Game 4.
Needing to save an extended bullpen, Lolich allowed nine hits and three runs but went the distance in the Tigers 5-3 victory.
When Steve Cohen dropped a mere bag of shells to buy the New York Mets, everyone knew that the team he was inheriting was being mismanaged on just about every level possible. The prospect pool was hardly that, the pro talent was inconsistent, he was saddled with a trade where the Mets top prospect was moved for an average closer and a $25 million contract with 2 years left on it. The manager was hired because he was sitting around after the guy that was really hired was just a dirty cheater who somehow twice disappointed the Mets organization.
And Cohen stepped in to the organization and…continued to make bad decisions. Cohen wanted a head of the organization. Somehow, he fell flat in hiring anyone for that gig. Instead, Sandy Alderson was brought back to right the ship. That’s understandable, as Cohen knew Sandy from his time as a partial owner of the Mets and needed someone he trusted. Sandy immediately hired Jared Porter. The Jared Porter decision was a good move, until it was discovered that years ago Porter sent too many text messages to someone. Man they should hang that guy, because girls never do shit like that ever. Clearly this guy that’s good at his job should never work again because he sent a girl a text and she wasn’t happy.
The Mets promoted Zack Scott to interim GM, a spot that he’s held on to for an awful long time as an interim. Scott’s biggest contributions as interim GM so far was the firing of the hitting coach, only to watch Mets bats seemingly get WORSE after Chili Davis was let go, and for drafting Kumar Rocker – a potential first overall pitcher – then selecting undervalued picks after that, then to ultimately NOT sign Kumar, thus ruining the entire 2021 MLB draft. What an amazing asshole!
Then there was the whole Francisco Lindor trade. The new owner wanted to make a splash and show how serious he is in creating a winner. So what does he do? Go out and take advantage of a small market team that did not want to pay their big player big money. And the cost? Two basic players. While Amed Rosario is playing well for Cleveland, Andres Giminez isn’t hitting his weight. Which really makes it a steal for the Mets as former All Star Lindor is hitting…224 as I write this? WHAT? And making $21 million dollars a year? And was a $13 million raise for next year? And signed for 9 more years after that at $34 million a season? After coming off a career worst year? HOLY SHIT. I get Cohen is into investments, but he’s also into risk management. That’s a gigantic risk, and so far? No reward at all.
You’d think that’s enough fucking up for one season, right? Nah, it gets worse. The Chicago Cubs have a fire sale and send off their 2016 World Series Champion team heroes. The make Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo available. The Mets were flirting with a Bryant deal all off season, so of course at the deadline the Mets get….Baez.
Bryant ended up with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants sent a top pitching prospect and a below average hitting prospect to the Cubs. Rizzo ended up with the Yankees for a not good pitching prospect and a average hitting prospect that’s not even in A ball.
And Baez? The Mets traded Pete Crow Armstrong. Armstrong was hitting over .400 in A ball, and is considered by anyone that watches baseball a future gold glove center fielder.
As of this writing, Baz is hittieng .220 with the Mets, while flashing the lack of power one would expect to happen when a player leaves Wrigley Field and their high school distanced walls. Oh, I also fully expect the Mets to offer him $20+ million a year to retain such services, as Baez is buddies with Lindor.
Mets fans are screaming that Jacob DeGrom is underpaid and deserves a new contract. This would be yet ANOTHER mistake that the team can avoid making. While it is without a doubt that DeGrom is among the best pitchers in baseball, let me share some 2021 math:
Gerrit Cole: $1.57 million per start, 12 wins. The cost per start will go down and the wins will go up as the season goes on.
Jacob DeGrom: $2.33 million per start, 7 wins, season over.
Based on statistical analysis, which would you prefer? Especially considering DeGrom is 2 years older, was ALREADY given a $10 million raise over last season, and his arm seems to have fallen off in 2021. And has $100 million left on his deal if he doesn’t opt out, which he will not because said arm is falling off.
Am I out of mistakes? Of course not. The Mets will try to bring Noah Syndergaard back to pitch this season. But why? Will THAT be the push that gets them to the playoffs? I get why Noah would want to be back, he’s in a contract year. And he pissed it up. If he had guts, he would do the same as Marcus Stroman and take a one year deal.
More mistakes? Sure. Signing Michael Conforto is a mistake waiting to happen. Remember Bret Saberhagen? He had that shitty batting cage in West Babylon before his wife divorced him and stole his money. Point is, Saberhagen was good every other year. Sound familiar?
Conforto has that lack of consistency, AND he has Scott Boras as his agent. Boras will cherry pick stats and try to make Conforto a $20 million a year player. For reference purposes? His best full season slash line is 33/92/279. The problem is those numbers are from different seasons. What’s not from different seasons is his averaging a strike out a game. His 162 game average is 28/83/254/154 strike outs. Sounds more like Jay Bruce than Mike Trout. Hmm…. There is an upcoming Met UFA whose 162 slashline is 28/87/262. So if Mets fans think Conforto is worth $20 million a year, then so is Javier Baez, who also plays gold glove defense. And Baez is a year younger than Conforto.
What about signing a same aged as Conforto player whose career slash line is 31/91/279? Looking at you, Kris Bryant.
And as if they knew I was in the middle of writing how awful the Mets have been this season, the franchise star decided that Sunday was a good day to piss on the fans, bringing other first year Mets along for the ride. I don’t think people even realize that the ten year deal Lindor signed starts NEXT season. What a horrible, thoughtless introduction. This will end like an ARod trade, except ARod was actually hitting when Texas sent him to New York.
Well, the Mets must have done SOMETHING right, right?
Sure. They resisted calls from other teams to trade Francisco Alvarez, Bret Batty, and Matt Allen. I’d add Rony Mauricio to this list, but the guy they signed to a decade long contract at $34 million a season blocks his path to the majors at short, because a $34 million contract is untradeable for at least 5 more years. Alvarez is looking like he may be a special player. Batty is looking like a solid 3B with power. Allen looks like he’ll be in the rotation in 2023. And Mauricio needs to be traded before he starts looking like shit.
But even the successes have a moose shit lining. The Mets A, AA and AAA teams all have losing records despite whomever their prospects are. And that’s with the Mets signing a lot of former major league players to add to triple A. Triple A prospects are beating the shit out of MLB retreads. That’s not a good sign for the future, but it’s also an indicator of how to proceed. More on that soon.
What else have the Mets done well? Fortify their bench. Historically with the Wilpons, any single injury ruined a season. The Mets suffered 300000 injuries by August 1, and were still in first place. Largely because for the first time in recent memory, the Mets were staffed with a bench that were starters for other teams very recently. Jonathan Villar has more home runs than most Mets regulars. Kevin Pillar is putting up all time power numbers per at bat at this stage in his career. Brandon Drury may have found a career as a pinch hitter by accident at a young age, like a slim Rusty Staub. The rest of the bench? Wilponish.
What else? The Cohen Mets addressed the bullpen. In a horrible way. After this season they will have a chance to rebuild it, as they ride out the Dylan Betances and Jeryus Familia deals. That is key, and a door opener.
Why? Because now we get to the part about how to fix this. This is absolutely fixable, and quickly. But for fans, it will be painful. Which Mets fans should be used to at this point. The Mets need a fast rebuild.
But who to rebuild? Zack Scott? I’m ok with him doing math somewhere in the organization. But not as GM. So who? Honestly, I’d chose me as the new GM. While my lack of experience would seem a negative, the last 3 Mets GM’s have zero experience as well. But I have played baseball before, yet I would not instruct a catcher on how to catch unlike the last owners. And I’m not sure how many have my background in economics. A cost benefit analysis of players would be useful, as would comps to other players to make decisions on other investments in time, money, and strikeouts. Plus, bargain shopping can actually be smart.
But only a Wilpon would hire a GM for New York that has no experience in order to save a few bucks. No, if Cohen is smart, he will start with a known commodity. He will offer a boatload of cash to former Boston and Chicago older wunderkind Theo Epstein. Epstein says he wants part ownership of whatever team he works with. That’s a bad call. You can’t truly fire an owner. But you can pay a guy enough to buy ownership into a different team when he abandons the team he’s presently with- see Theo in Boston, Chicago.
Epstein can hire me, which would be smart. Or he can be smarter and hire Brian Cashman. Cashman is in the last year of a $25 million deal, and is totally used to the New York environment. If anyone thinks that is not a factor, you are not from New York. If you are looking to find ways to avoid the salary cap tax, you can spend on everything that isn’t salary cap. A GM buyout with the Yankees is a start. Then a Cashman contract at $30 million a year is another start. Jeff Luhnow looks like a good add to the staff as well. He did his time. Isn’t forgiveness a thing anymore?
What next? Scouts. Triple the current amount. The Wilpons failed at a prime opportunity to steal the Braves scouting staff. I think it’s a fair assessment to say that the Braves scouts have run circles around the Mets scouts for the last 30 years. The Wilpons should have brought every one of them in. Fail.
Next up? Coaches. In the age of consultants. I’d allow every player to hire a personal batting or pitching coach as a consultant. What is a batting coach? Or a pitching coach? A guy that is supposed to fix EVERY pitcher or hitter? That’s an impossible task. Why not have each payer have a personal coach, supervised by a pitching manager and a hitting manager that reports to the team manager?
Oh, that guy? Luis Rojas needs to go back to the minors for seasoning. In the meantime, the Mets need a legitimate manager. See how Tony LaRussa has made the White Sox winners? No, I’m not saying bring Terry Collins back as a manager. Bad call. But maybe Mets legend Davey Johnson? What’s old is new again, or at least until its proven ancient. Speaking of, how is Tony LaRussa doing with the White Sox today? Johnson’s winning record speaks for itself, unlike Luis Rojas, who may be the manager of the future, but in fairness, his decision making sucks rhino assholes right now.
I’m not saying that Davey Johnson is the perfect candidate. I’m just saying, name a better one. And yes, I would accept Wally Backman.
Also, the Mets needs to make some trades. For next season, the Mets need a real outfield. Bryant in right, Brandon Nimmo in left, and whomever Dominic Smith can bring in return to staff center field would be a good start. Nimmo gets on base. That matters. Bryant has 5 years left in his career. Probably 4, but you give that last year as a draw, and you can play him at 3 positions. But center field? George Springer was the draw last year. What a welcome pass. Peter Crow Armstrong would have been an interesting experiment. However, trades can always fill a hole.
More deals? Starting pitching. Syndergaard should be back as a Met on a very team friendly deal. Honestly $10 million on a one year deal should be enough to say welcome back, but agents will assuage him to find more money. If that money is $20 million? See you later. The Mets still have Carlos Carasco and Taijuan Walker under contract, as well as DeGrom. Stroman seems to be doing OK in NY and may want to stay here. He’s been the best pitcher on the Mets this season, and thats saying something. He’s also a guy that you don’t overpay for. Clearly there needs to be a move to be like the Dodgers and add 3 1A pitchers. So outside of DeGrom, everyone is tradable for upgrades or tradable to fill holes like bullpen and free up money for unrestricted free agents. Shit, ever restricted free agents. What are we giving up? Draft picks that will likely get fucked up?
Also, the Mets need more scouts. I know I already said it, but that’s how much they need quality scouts.
Honestly, as presently managed and performing, I expect the 2022 Mets to be an 80 win team. That’s not the worst thing ever. Unless you want to win now. And now is today. They can’t win today. However, the Mets are fixable. They can be a 90 win team easily. Why? Because money can fix a lot, especially when it’s spent in smart ways. It can happen overnight, because with will and with smarts, lots can happen overnight.
But you need clarity in a process and a culture, and right now, the Mets have none of that shit. Nightly, Rojas looks like he’s overwhelmed. There’s a saying that someone plays chess while you play checkers. Rojas? He’s licking the checkers. But in the next 13 months, Cohen can change much of this. He can have process and culture. I would help bring both, but ideally someone more experienced than myself will bring New York some deserving winning experience. Lovable losers are indeed lovable, but at the end of the day, it skews fans expectations to always think that losing is acceptable. It’s not. You want to piss away your money for 100 years before the next World Series title? Fuck you. Grow up. Until that happens, the Mets can get away with a lot that looks like right now. Demand better fans. Demand better, Owner. Until then? It’s just more of the same.
While baseball fans prepare to celebrate the 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier on April 15, 1947, few people know of another rumored to beat Robinson to it 42 years earlier.
Almost 90 years before Martin Luther King Jr. made his five-day, 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, William Clarence Matthews made his.
Born in Selma on January 7, 1877, Matthews lived with his two siblings, Fannie, the oldest, and Walter (or Buddy), the second oldest. His father died in the 1890s, and his family moved to Montgomery, Alabama.
Where did this rumor start?
In his seminal “Only the Ball was White” in 1970 on the Negro Leagues, Robert Peterson described Matthews as a great college player at Harvard in the first decade of the century and cites his rumored entry into the National League.
Sol White’s book “History of Colored Baseball” – published in 1907 – referenced this note on Matthews
“It is said on good authority that one of the leading players and a manager of the National League is advocating the entrance of colored players in the National League with a view to signing ‘Matthews,’ the colored man, late of Harvard.”
Most thought that manager was Giants legendary manager John McGraw, an enormous believer in the talent residing in anyone who could help his team win. McGraw, in 1901, tried to sneak Charlie Grant, second baseman of the Columbia Giants of Chicago, a black team, onto his roster as Tokohama, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. McGraw also employed two black stars, Rube Foster and Jose Mendez, to coach his pitchers.
Article in “The Boston Traveller“
On July 15, 1905, local paper “The Boston Traveller” (some sources reference the spelling with one L and others with two) – one of nine local Boston papers and known to stretch the truth sometimes for sales said this.
“It is very probable that [Matthews] will become a member of the Boston Nationals very soon.
It has been hinted at for the past few days. Now it is rumored that it will transpire.
A person ‘on the inside,’ one who generally knows whereof he speaks, has this to say: ‘Captain Tenney has long been hunting for a lively second baseman to strengthen his infield. On hearing of Matthews’ remarkable ability, and after following the career of the young negro collegian-professional while at Harvard and Burlington, (he) decided that William C. was just the laddy buck he needed.’
The source “on the inside” then offers a rationale for Matthews’ acceptance where others would fail:
“As Matthews is a Harvard man, he should prove a great attraction… Matthews is a well-educated, gentlemanly fellow, as well as a clever ballplayer.
If Harvard men do not object to associating with and idolizing the negro, certainly none of the National IJeague players will object to breaking bread with him.”
The article refers to player/manager of the Boston Beaneaters (became the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves) Fred Tenney (fellow Ivy Leaguer from Brown and off-season teacher at Tufts University).
Boston was awful – middle infielders Ed Abbaticchio and Fred Raymer had combined to commit 80 errors by mid-July on a team that finished 51-103. Would Boston’s futility open the door for talented players like Matthews?
He enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute from 1893 until 1897, where he graduated second in his class Tuskegee (was first football coach). Booker T Washington arranged for him to continue his study in the north, first at the Phillips Andover Academy, where he was the only African-American in his class of 97 students. Then, in the fall of 1901, at Harvard University.
Aaron Molineaux Hewlett & William Henry Lewis
While few schools provided opportunities for African-Americans, Harvard broke ground in many categories. Aaron Molineaux Hewlett, hired in 1859, became the first physical culture teacher in the nation. Hewlett also taught physical education, sparring lessons and coached baseball and rowing from 1859-71.
One of the foremost football minds of any generation, William Henry Lewis earned All-American honors at Harvard (the first African-American to do so), then coached the Crimson from 1895-1906. Harvard won over 85 percent of their games under Lewis (114-15-5).
Standing at 5’8″ 145 pounds, Matthews gained popularity with his classmates after arriving on campus in the fall of 1901. Under Coach Lewis’ guidance, his “wonderful quickness and pertinacity” helped him succeed playing QB.
Baseball Career and Racism from Opponents
During his Freshman season, Matthew’s hitting coach was Wee Willie Keeler, while Cy Young coached the pitchers (both HOF).
While Harvard initially sat Matthews when opponents like the University of Virginia refused to play if he was in the lineup, they eventually stood behind him. Georgetown and West Point considered forfeiting but relented after Harvard declined to accommodate their threats.
Despite playing with future MLB players Eddie Grant and Walter Clarkson (combined to play 15 MLB seasons), Matthews was Harvard’s best player (2B-SS).
He led the team in hitting his final three years (he hit .400 and stole 25 bases during his senior year). During his four years at Harvard, the Crimson won 81 percent of their games (76-18).
Breaks Northern League Color Barrier
On July 4, 1905, Matthews became the starting second baseman for the Burlington, Vermont team in the Northern League. Matthews became the only African-American playing in white professional baseball leagues at the time. He got three hits in his first game and fielded excellently. He played well for the whole season, with the Burlington team taking second place and narrowly missing first place.
Matthews was one of only four players who played the entire season for Burlington. 1905 was his only year in professional baseball as he entered Boston University School of Law to work on his law degree in Fall 1905.
Matthews other accomplishments
married wife married Pamela Belle Lloyd from Hayneville, Alabama, in 1908.
Replaced his mentor at Harvard, William Henry Lewis, as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Boston area.
Named chief legal counsel for the Marcus Garvey founded Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
named the Head of the Colored Division of the Republican National Committee in 1924. (Matthews’ position was the first time a major U.S. political party put an African-American in charge of organizing the African-American vote).
Following the 1924 election, Matthews delivered a list of seventeen demands to improve African-Americans’ position in the Coolidge administration.
Under Coolidge, Matthews became U.S. Assistant Attorney General.
Matthews died on April 9, 1928 (51 years old) of a perforated ulcer.
Obituaries for Matthews ran in most of the major newspapers in the country. The New York Times called him “one of the most prominent Negro members of the bar in America.”
Over 1,500 people attended his funeral in Boston, with William Henry Lewis serving as an honorary pallbearer.
He’s buried in the Cambridge Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Negro Leagues historian Larry Lester
We have to look at this in the context of history; America during that period was under the separate but equal doctrine, upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision [in Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed state-sponsored segregation]. The most visible Black athletes at that time were jockeys. The Black athlete was not acceptable in mainstream society and especially not in the most popular sport in America. That tells me that William Clarence Matthews must have been one hell of a shortstop.”
Boston Globe (1905 quote concerning Matthew’s ethics)
“For seven years, Matthews could have earned much money by playing for semi-professional teams, but this he has refused to do … Here is a man who, to maintain his amateur standing, has repeatedly refused offers of $40 a week and board to play semi-pro baseball in the summer. He had the example of many contemporaneous college ballplayers who were accepting ‘indirect’ compensation in an underhanded way, but he has kept his record clean, and his, it is sad to say, is an exceptional case.”
William Clarence Matthews
“I think it is an outrage that colored men are discriminated against in the big leagues. What a shame it is that black men are barred forever from participating in the national game. I should think that Americans should rise up in revolt against such a condition. Many negroes are brilliant players and should not be shut out because their skin is black. As a Harvard man, I shall devote my life to bettering the condition of the black man, and especially to secure his admittance into organized baseball”.
A way back in July I had written an article called “Wrong on Brodie,” where I said it was too soon to judge the job BVW has done building the New York Mets in his image, and asked fans to have patience by waiting to see what Brodie Van Waganen will do with his year two before determining if he’s a failure as a GM.
Well, I waited. And it only took a mere three more months to see that as a GM? He’s a failure.
What made me change my mind in a mere three months?
It probably started with the roughly one week span where Yoenis Cespedes decided to quit baseball rather than be paid a paltry few million dollars for two months of work. This was predictable based on the renegotiation of the contract Cespedes signed and never lived up to, up to the end.
The Cespedes situation was a debacle, from the Mets announcing during a game against the Atlanta Braves that Cespedes was missing, as they knew entirely where he was. It was a weird way to throw a player under the bus, and will probably affect how free agents see the Mets organization.
A few days later Marcus Stroman had earned enough service time to be a free agent, and was suddenly afraid of COVID 19 and left the Mets for free agency. Which made me think of Anthony Kay, who is 3-0 in the majors for the Tornoto Blue Jays, and Simeon Woods Richardson, who is working towards the Toronto rotation for 2023. Specifically I was thinking about who Stroman would be pitching for that aren’t the Mets while those two guys were playing for other teams that also aren’t the Mets in the majors.
Edwin Diaz was inconsistent, untradable at the deadline, and is eligible for arbitration next year, and free agency two years after that. Yes he showed improvements over the course of the short season, so I guess we wait another year to see what the Mets have on their hands. And the Seattle Mariners are waiting to see what they have in their hands with 21 year old Jared Kelenic. They already see what Justin Dunn can do as he’s already on their roster.
The Mets moved young pitcher Jordan Humphries for base stealer Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hit an amazing .054 before the Mets waived him. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, where he promptly hit .300.
The Jed Lowrie contract wasted tens of millions of dollars for what, 7 at bats? Who the fuck was his agent?
The mishandling of the Zach Wheeler contract situation ended up really biting the Mets on the ass. Man, wouldn’t Wheeler have looked good instead of the Wacha/Porcello experiment? And who didn’t even give him the respect of giving him a call to discuss the Philadelphia Phillies offer?
There’s also the situation where he threw the Commissioner of Baseball under the bus for suggesting the Mets and Miami Marlins play a game despite the players wanting to join the growing “Black Lives Matter” protests in all of sports. BVW later found out that it was the owners’ idea to take the field, walk off, then take the field and play, when the owners put out their own statements, including misspelling the name of the GM.
The Atlanta Braves released many of their scouts. It would seem that if Brodie was doing his job, they would be working for the Mets already, as the Braves player development is light years ahead of the Mets, and having weapons from a rival organization would be a smart move. Smart move and Brodie? Pfft.
The significant regressions of JD Davis and the often futile at bats of Pete Alonso makes me wonder if going with Carlos Beltran or Luis Rojas as a rookie manager was the best move a team looking to contend for playoffs could have made.
But I guess the coup de grace, at least for me, are results. This roster was constructed by BVW over two years. In a shortened sprint of a season, half of the entire sport made the playoffs. Then there’s Brodie’s Mets. Come get us? More like come on us.
Clearly Brodie needed seasoning somewhere else before he took the reins in a major market like New York. I know the new Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has deep pockets, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste millions of dollars by just letting an asset go to waste.
So how can the Mets be creative on the two years left on Brodie’s deal? The organization can demote him, maybe to an assistant to the general manager. Kind of like a secretary. Treat him like Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello treated Generally Useless Garth Snow? BVW’s draft philosophes aren’t exactly crazy despite no results so far, but is it a case of a guy who thinks he’s the smartest in the room always taking high school kids and injured college arms? Can he be a subordinate with an ego that attacks the Commissioner of Baseball? Would he be content with negotiating contracts against other agents in the second half of his Mets career?
The Mets have experienced in house candidates. They can easily promote Omar Minaya as GM for a year or two. Minaya has a proven record with attracting free agents, of which there are some quality ones coming up for 2021, such as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, and Alex Colome. Minaya has had success in the past with free agents, especially ones with Latin surnames, so that’s something to seriously consider.
The Mets have already begun reshaping their front office. Sandy Alderson is already slated to come in as team president. And time may be on the Mets side as far as potential culture changes? Why? Because BVW’s remaining two years match up with two extremely interesting replacement candidates.
Rumors are Theo Epstein may be done in Chicago. Epstein is in the last year of his contract as Team President and at $10 million for the year, the Cubs may be willing to let him go, as it’s rumored that current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is ready to step in as his replacement. Even if they let his deal ride, it’s over by October 2021. The question here would be if Epstein would take a GM job, or would he want organizational power that Alderson already has, unless Alderson is a placeholder and a move to get owners approval, as some have suggested. That would mean that roughly by this time next year. Theo needs a job. He sure has one hell of a pedigree in ending title droughts.
Across town, Brian Cashman has 2 years left on his deal at $5 million per year. I assume Cashman will want to complete the deal which would make him the longest tenured Yankee General Manager in the teams’ history. This would also make him a free agent around October 2022, and due for a huge raise above that $5m he makes. Cashman as Mets GM would create a more accountable culture than the Mets presently have, and is a very hands on GM, almost making the coach an unthinking position.
Maybe the Mets go for both? Neither? Only time will tell. Whatever their plans were, I’d strongly recommend that those plans involve removing Brodie Van Waganen from his current job as general manager. He has shows us who he is, and what he does. It’s unimpressive. It’s not what New York deserves. It’s certainly not the results that a guy who just dropped two and a half billion dollars on a team should want. And even if his draft picks hit? It’ll be 2024 before that happens. You want to wait around for that?
And more importantly, do you want to wait around for success? The Wilpons were able to deliver 3 successful teams in the last 18 years. Do you trust their judgement in who they hired that got the Mets and their fans to that point? I was OK saying I was wrong on Brodie after last season. And I’m OK saying that I was wrong at being wrong now. Brodie Van Waganen needs to be removed as General Manager of the New York Mets.
It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?
To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”
We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.
But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.
SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?
Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
3 pm to 6 pm- A Mets game.
6 to 6:30- Game recap
6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.
This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.
3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.
17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.
And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.
Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.
The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?
Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.
The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.
Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.
In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.
The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.
You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.
Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.
But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”
A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner. The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.
And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.
Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.
And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.
This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.