At the end of last season, the Mets fired their manager, Terry Collins. The Mets were disappointing in 2017 and reports said that some of the players were at odds with Collins; it is always easier to fire a manager than it is to change out a bunch of players so that is what the Mets did. In early April, the Mets’ braintrust looked like Nobel Laureates; the Mets started the 2018 season 11-1. No one thought that sort of performance would obtain for the rest of the season; similarly, no one thought at the time that how the Mets have performed since early April was going to happen.
As of this morning, the Mets’ record stands at 33-48; that puts them all of 1 game ahead of the Miami Marlins who have the worst record in the National League. Since their torrid start, the Mets are 22-47. Their new manager, Mickey Callaway, seems to be learning on the job; this is his first managerial assignment.
Just as it was incorrect for the Mets – and their fans – to blame Collins last year for the team’s disappointing result, it would be wrong to put all of this failure on Callaway. The problem is the roster itself. The Mets have two excellent starting pitchers and not a whole lot else. No one is batting over .280; only 2 of their 8 starting position players is younger than 31. As a team, the Mets are hitting .231 (second worst in the NL); they are also second worst in the NL in runs scored and they are dead last in the NL in Total Bases. The roster is a mess.
And I have not even gotten started on the contract that the Mets gave to Yoenis Cespedes in 2016. They signed him to a 4-year deal worth $110M even though Cespedes had shown very clearly that his play and his approach to the game was lackadaisical-at-best before he got that big fat contract. Lots of players have exhibited what I call “Fat Wallet Syndrome” after getting a huge contract; Cespedes was doing everything except posting billboards saying
- I Can’t Wait To Show You What Fat Wallet Syndrome REALLY Means!
The Mets have Cespedes through the 2020 season. He makes $29M this year; he will make $29M next year; he will make $29.5M in 2020. Who thought that was a good idea?
The Marlins are in a full-blown “tear down and rebuild” situation. To get there, they unloaded their best players and Giancarlo Stanton brought them a bunch of prospects. If the Mets were to try to take a similar course and to trade away Cespedes, I doubt that he would bring much in a trade. [Aside: It will be doubly difficult to trade Cespedes because in addition to the $110M in the contract, there is also a FULL no-trade clause in there too.] Oh, and just to put icing on the cake, Cespedes is hurt and has missed the last 40 games or so. Unsurprisingly, there is no timetable for his return…
Speaking obliquely about baseball managers and winning baseball games, I am already getting tired of the worshipping at the altar of Advanced Analytics by so many of the young managers today. I understand the concepts of probability theory and I am relatively facile with mathematics. Nonetheless, analytics – – even Advanced Analytics – – are not mandatory for guiding MLB teams to victory.
- There is no evidence to show that Connie Mack was a mathematical genius. He somehow found a way to win 3,731 games as a manger.
- John McGraw was never nominated for the Nobel Prize in Mathematics [Aside: I know that there is no such prize; this is hyperbole.] He was on the bench 2,763 times when his team won the game.
- Joe McCarthy was never spotted in a dugout wearing out a slide rule and yet he managed to win 2,125 games in MLB AND he is the only manager in baseball history to win 1,000 games or more and to have a winning percentage over .600.
In case you have not been keeping track, New Jersey has been taking bets on sporting events for the last month or so and the integrity of MLB, the NBA and the NFL has not come crashing down. Call this situation Doomsday Postponed.
In a similar vein, the NCAA shockingly came down on the correct side of what could have been a hugely hypocritical position for them. I am hard-pressed to recall the last time this institution did so, but I will refrain from calling this a “first”. Here is what happened:
- As professional leagues try to extort money from casinos by asking for “integrity fees” that nominally would cover the leagues’ costs to monitor the integrity of their games now that gambling on them can be done on a coast-to-coast basis, the NCAA announced that it would not do that.
- Take a deep breath here; the NCAA shut off the possibility of a revenue stream.
- Of course, the reality is that the NCAA does not do anything that is very effective when it comes to protecting the integrity of its games. Previous point-shaving scandals have come to light when casinos and law enforcement officials have gotten wind of something and then let the NCAA in on it ex post facto.
- Basically, the NCAA just got a lot more sportsbook people involved with their games meaning there are extra sets of eyes out there looking to see if anyone is trying to score a betting coup. And, mane no mistake, the sportsbook folks have a keen interest in preventing such occurrences.
It is not common in these parts to hand out kudos to the NCAA for much of anything other than their presentation of March Madness. However, the NCAA deserves credit for this decision. They did the right thing here.
Before I give then an unvarnished A+ on this matter however, I should note that the NCAA did leave the door ajar just a sliver here. While it will not seek any “integrity fees” from casinos, it did say that member schools may pursue such fees from casinos in their states if the schools choose to do so.
Finally, here is a reassuring note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“News flash: Barkley, 15 others to appear in ESPN the Magazine’s 10th annual Body Issue.
“Relax, folks — it’s Saquon, not Charles.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………