Saturday, June 13, 2009

Transition, Part 1

Forget about the whole "two hands" thing for a moment. Very few major leaguers do it anyway, so fundamental lapses of that nature are unsurprising.

The problem is that it's tolerated. On the Mets, everything is tolerated. There are no repercussions for anything.

Luis Castillo drops a pop-up to cost the team an exciting, emotionally-charged game? No repercussions.

Ryan Church runs away from the flight of the ball to begin celebrating instead of backing up Castillo? No repercussions.

Jerry Manuel manages a team that commits endless baserunning blunders and consistently fails to run balls out? No repercussions.

The Mets choke away two September leads and bow out on the final day of the season two years in a row? No repercussions.

Omar Minaya builds a team that chokes away two September leads and bows out on the final day of the season two years in a row? No repercussions.

Everything is tolerated because the Wilpons don't care. As long as Mets fans are posing for pictures in front of a plastic "42" and buying burgers at Shake Shack, everything is just fine with them. Money gets made - and that's all that matters.

In Fred and Jeff's mind, they run a model franchise. The team plays in a beautiful, taxpayer-built stadium that's more of an homage to Fred's favorite team than to the actual tenants. Profits are high, so the payroll is high, which in time makes profits even higher.

The general manager is a corporate lackey who understands two things above all - buying star power is good and getting the kind of players that Fred and Jeff likes are even better. That means no red-asses, nobody too outspoken or flamboyant, no one who might mouth off publicly about the sad state of affairs inside or outside the clubhouse. No more Wally Backmans, no more Keith Hernandezes. The Mets like their players' personalities homogenized, thank you very much.

The manager is a quiet, unassuming man who won't publicly question or contradict the general manager or ownership, and he won't punish his players no matter how many fundamental lapses they have.

It's all a con, and I'm sick of it.


LCee said...

Forgive me, Jack, but it is unfair to blame Church (or K-Rod, for that matter) for celebrating. Every single Met fan was celebrating A-Rod's pop-up, whether at home or in the ballpark. (I was singing "New York, New York" in the first deck in right field.)

Instead, how about expressing a modicum of concern that K-Rod could not get ahead of any of the hitters he faced?

Don't get me wrong: I don't disagree with your criticisms of the Wilpons for, among other things, keeping Minaya around, Minaya for his inability to spend $140M wisely, and Manuel for turning his back on statistics. And last night's debacle still hurts, as I nearly threw my orange juice at the TV watching game highlights this morning.

Still, let's not allow the loss, no matter how painful, to turn us into Jacobins.

Jack Flynn said...

I don't think we're going to agree on this one. You and I and the other Mets fans were celebrating because we weren't on the field of play. When you're actually on the ballfield, you have a job to do. Church's job was back up Castillo, and he didn't do it. He decided to run off and start celebrating prematurely.

Conversely, Mark Teixeira did his job properly by continuing to run hard the second the ball came off the bat. Same as every Mets fan was celebrating, every Yankee fan was most likely hanging his or her head in disappointment. Teixeira didn't sulk, though - he busted his butt to get around the bases, because that's his job.

K-Rod has been other-worldly this season. Last night he was asked to protect a one-run lead, in a very hostile environment, against one of the best lineups in baseball in a bandbox of a stadium. I'm not going to get on him for not overpowering Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. K-Rod did his job last night.

LCee said...

What would you have Manuel do, Jack? Bench Castillo, Church, Beltran (paging Steve Phillips), and K-Rod for this afternoon's game?

I am just as pissed that our team is being run by the Wilpons, Omar, and Jerry, but last night Castillo simply dropped the ball in the same "very hostile environment" that K-Rod pitched in.

And, for whatever it's worth, the previous night in Fenway, Damon, using two hands no less, dropped an Ortiz pop-up. Was that Girardi's fault or Damon's?

Jack Flynn said...

Part of the problem is that Manuel has had such a lackadaisical attitude toward fundamental baseball this season that to bench Castillo now will only make him look arbitrary. This is all part of a larger issue - poor, undisciplined baseball comes with no consequences on from the manager.

But yes, I would've benched Castillo today. I appreciate that he feels bad and that he faced the media, but at some point a line in the sand needs to be drawn. Players who want to play fundamental baseball should get on one side, and prepare to be punished (benched) when they do not. Everyone else needs to go. Period.

As for Damon, he was given the night off on Friday because of "eye issues." Sounds like a convenient excuse to save face, but maybe there really was a physical component to Damon's error. Either way, he didn't play last night - and Johnny Damon is more important to the Yankees than Luis Castillo is to the Mets.

LCee said...

I hear you, Jack. One more issue though: Teixeira indeed ran on A-Rod's pop fly but was not going all out until the third-base coach waved him home. You can check the replay but also read below.

"When Teixeira looked up, he saw third-base coach Rob Thomson "looking intently, like something was going on," Teixeira said. Suddenly, Thomson waved him home, and Teixeira put on the afterburners. Second gear, he called it."

Had Castillo not weakly tossed the ball to second base, I don't see both runs scoring. We can give Teixeira oodles of credit for not jogging while the ball was in the air, but it is an exaggeration to assert that he was sprinting.

JudgeStone said...

The fact that Castillo has zero range at 2nd base is a much greater problem than a lack of fundamental execution/concentration. As the gentleman said, Teixeira was not sprinting on contact because no major leaguer does, because that's an out >99.5% of the time.

Players tend to outgrow the little-league mindset and the fact that they do causes me little consternation. I don't think that someone not sprinting full blast on a pop-up on the <.05% chance that it's dropped detracts much if at all from the game.

There are some things that the Mets do in this vein that are more serious. It is not, however, something that I get too worked up about. I couldn't care less for instance, that one of the smartest baserunners in the history of baseball got a couple of ill-timed brain-locks and didn't slide, or that a nervous and frustrated rookie forgot to run out a pop-up, particularly when our manager is systematically doing things that cost the Mets runs every game.

TW said...

You are a traitor and a hypocrite and you cry like a little girl! All of this talk of how the Mets are celebrating a man who didn't even play for them and now you claim to be a fan of that very team.

You are weak and feckless and don't deserve to stand on the same ground as me. Furthermore, for a guy who wasn't even cognizant during the the late 70's and early 80's its hard to take your crying as anything more than a spoiled infant from a forgotten land! You think the 90s were bad, watch Pete Falcone pitch, Hubie Brooks or Ellis Valentine bat 3 and 4!

Save it, no count!

Jack Flynn said...

All that Jackie Robinson stuff in the rotunda finally pushed me over to the other side. Go Dodgers!