NEW YORK, N.Y.- The sun shone bright on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon, the perfect setting for what was supposed to be a celebration of the start of the Major League Baseball season. Instead, the perfect day for baseball was more of a tease. A “what could have been” if the world wasn’t ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. There is hope, though, that a baseball season will be played in 2020, either as normal or as close to normal as possible given the circumstances. The big question from a baseball perspective is how will the season play out if and when play resumes?
There have already been some intriguing suggestions,
including holding the World Series during Christmas and seven-inning
doubleheaders. Those suggestions can’t be implemented before the most basic
question is answered: how many games will be played? 162? 125? 81? All of these
suggestions and questions circle around the sport, as a solution can only be
thought about once the world can return to some sort of normality. With that
said though, let’s have some fun and discuss the best way MLB and commissioner
Rob Manfred can go about scheduling their season that would be beneficial for
Major League Baseball is still hoping for the season to kick off in early June, as Manfred spoke with Scott Van Pelt earlier this week and hoped that spring training can resume again in early May, setting the stage for a June start. So, the start date I am going to use here is June 1st. The season would start as scheduled for that day, as every team’s current opponent for the first day of June would be their Opening Day opposition. By picking up the schedule from that point, many exciting matchups are still preserved, including: Red Sox-Cubs, Astros-Nationals, Yankees-White Sox at the Field of Dreams and Red Sox-Orioles in Williamsport.
I would institute doubleheaders every other Sunday, so extra
games are fit in while not draining the players. Many teams and players have
expressed the want to play as many games as possible, as Rockies manager Bud
Black supported the idea of doubleheaders every week and Blue Jays general
manager Ross Atkins is in favor of seven-inning doubleheaders to ease the toll
on the players while still squeezing in as many games as possible. Let’s not
forget, the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Despite the shortened
season days wise, trying to fit a grueling schedule into a shorter time period
will only wear down players and cause more injuries and sloppy play. The extra
game every other week helps to give players, and more importantly pitchers, a
chance to recover while still making up for lost time.
I would also extend the end of the season two extra weeks,
moving the end of the regular season from September 27th to October
11th. This will allow for the addition of roughly 13 games, so teams
can get as close to the 162-game schedule as possible. All-Star week would also
be pushed back from July to August, so Los Angeles will still get to host the event
and players will have enough time to prove their worthiness of an All-Star nod.
All of these conditions add up to the playing of 126 games from June 1st through early October. That equates to about 77% of the season being played, which is just behind the NBA’s rough estimate of 80% of their schedule being completed for some teams. With both the NBA and NHL considering going right to the playoffs if play resumes, my schedule proposal would put MLB in the same spot in terms of the percent of their regular season completed.
The playoffs are where it gets a little interesting. Pushing
the season back an extra two weeks should still allow teams in bad weather
cities to host playoff games in their home ballparks. There have been proposals
and discussions of neutral site playoff games, with agent Scott Boras wanting
the entire playoffs and World Series to be played at neutral sites. With so
much baseball already taken away from fans, my scheduling goal is to allow
teams that play in cold weather cities to still be able to host playoff games to
reward their fans. After all, playoff baseball’s allure is due in part to the
raucous environments that the fans provide, as anticipation is palpable on
every single pitch.
I would still keep the World Series format the same, as the
team with the better record will get home field advantage. I would try my
hardest to keep the World Series in the cities that are playing in them because
air travel might not return to normal by November and with so many companies laying
off employees, fans might not be able to afford to fly to a neutral site to
watch their team. A contingency plan would be put in place to have a few
different stadiums on call to host the World Series if the weather doesn’t
allow for playing in a certain city, but that would be the last resort. Currently,
there are options being floated around like expanding the postseason and moving
the World Series to a neutral site, options that make sense from a financial
perspective to make up for lost revenue but ideas that I would stay away from
because they take even more baseball away from the fans and dampen the playoff
This is obviously an unprecedented situation not just in
sports, but in the world. MLB has done a good job so far in recognizing this
and have entertained many different ways for how baseball could get their season
on track. Trying to play 162 games is unrealistic at this point, which is why 126
games is Major League Baseball’s best way to get the most out of a shortened
season while also keeping the schedule as normal as possible. That last phrase
is critical, because in these times of uncertainty, a sense of normality is the
biggest thing that fans need right now.
The New York Mets can be an odd franchise to figure out. Heading into 2019, the team had high hopes after having an offseason filled with new faces led by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Signing free agents such as catcher Wilson Ramos, relief pitchers Justin Wilson and Jeurys Familia, as well as bringing in J.D. Davis. Brodie’s most notable move was trading away Anthony Swarzak, Jay Bruce, Gerson Bautista, and highly touted prospects Justin Dunn and Jared Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Diaz was the prized acquisition of the two after he saved 109 games for Seattle in three years there, but things went to disaster in a hurry.
Diaz started off fine with the Mets through the first month of the season, showing why the Mets acquired him and displaying his talents to the Citi Field faithful by getting eight saves through his first twelve appearances. On April 29th however against the Cincinnati Reds, things went to a downward spiral for the former AL All-Star as he gave up a go-ahead home run in a tie game to Jesse Winker as the Reds won 5-4 at Citi Field. From there, Diaz could never replicate his early April success.
Diaz ended up going 2-7 out of the pen, with a 5.59 ERA in 66 games, blowing seven saves in the process. Diaz was a main factor in the Mets bullpen being one of the worst in baseball in 2019. New York’s bullpen had a team ERA of 4.95 for a Mets team that started off poorly and was certainly on pace for a massive rebuild after the season but finished strong and almost made the playoffs with 86 wins last year. Setting things up for high expectations in 2020.
Seth Lugo, coming off a couple of stellar years in the bullpen is back, Justin Wilson had a nice year, and the Mets were able to sign free agent Dellin Betances to help the bullpen. New York is also betting on Familia to have a bounce back year after he had a terrible 2019 of his own. All eyes though will be on the much-maligned Diaz as he looks to return to his 2017 and 2018 form from Seattle. Diaz is the key to the Mets this year.
Even with a great starting rotation and a good lineup, if Diaz struggles yet again, the Mets could be in trouble. Lugo has stepped up as a closer before, but Betances is just coming off missing an entire year due to injury, and as mentioned before Familia and guys like Robert Gsellman are looking for bounce back years to. The Mets bullpen derailed any chance the team had at a 2019 playoff appearance in the end. Many are worried the bullpen will cost them yet again, but Diaz can change any worry about the entire season if he returns to his old self. The Mets need it, but most importantly, Edwin Diaz needs it.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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”
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.