Reese Kaplan -- Remember When Winning Mattered?


One important aspect of how baseball has changed over the years is that we’re way too intimately familiar with the business side of things.  Granted, when we were kids developing our love for the game we had no concepts of long term financial security, insurance clauses for extended stays on the DL or the total payroll and a team’s profitability.  What we cared about were the players on our home team, winning and them doing all in their power to ensure that winning happened.

Hearken back to the days when you watched a Jerry Koosman or a Tommie Agee or a Tom Seaver.  You didn’t think about what they did off the field or what their families got from their talents on the field.  You only thought about the game, about winning and hanging on every strike and every AB.

That began to change for Mets fans in 1977 when M. Donald Grant and Tom Seaver butted heads over the issue of compensation.  Seaver had approached daughter of team found Joan Whitney Payson, Lorinda de Roulet, with the request to be paid as he should having won three Cy Young Awards already and established as the face of the franchise.  He sought the astronomical salary figure of $225,000 and said to de Roulet that the time had come to cross the $200,000 threshhold.   After all, journeyman pitcher Wayne Garland after a single good season had just inked a 10-year $2.3 million deal.

de Roulet’s exact quote at the time was, “Not over my dead body!”

Well, we all know what happened on that dark June 15th midnight massacre.  Tom Seaver was shipped to Cincinnati for reigning co-rookie of the year Pat Zachry, rookie phenom Steve Henderson, gloveman extraordinaire Doug Flynn and minor leaguer Dan Norman.  (Dave Kingman was sent packing for future manager limping along in his baseball career, Bobby Valentine, and Paul Seibert). 

Fast forward to the state of baseball fandom today and even the most casual observers are intimately familiar with the baseball Winter Meetings, the July trading deadline, the free agent bidding wars and the value now that prospects get over established (read expensive) veterans.  Long before it was fashionable to do so, teams like the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins perfected this model of developing players and then peddling them to replenish the farm system when they got to the high dollar periods of their careers.

Just like the days of David Wright, I once again feel I’m jousting at windmills suggesting that a team that refuses to spend like a big market team then ought to operate like a small market one and trade Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to replenish the farm system and address a multitude of problems in other areas while saving future money which, theoretically, could be used to address more problematic positions.

The problem with this approach, of course, is the front office who is categorically afraid to make trades and who has no eye for identifying talent.  One would think the return of Omar Minaya to a front office capacity could help with the latter but we’ve seen no evidence of it thus far. 

The other issue of concern also requires courage.  I’ve pointed out that the Braves (currently in 1st place, I might add), do not have an issue with ballplayers at age 20 or 21 getting the opportunity to play.  The Mets, by contrast, let hitters like Jeff McNeil (age 26), and pitchers like Tim Peterson (age 27) and others whither on the vine for fear they may not be able to conquer the next level.  That won’t change until the front office does.

How I wish I could simply go back to the days when players cared about winning and teams cared about putting a winning roster on the field.  Unfortunately we’re all too aware that baseball is a business and profitability while minimizing risk is, to some, preferable to championships. 


Thomas Brennan said...

Vaccaro in the Post torched Alderson and the Mets today. It is BRUTAL!

Gary Seagren said...

I guess the upside is were tanking whether they like it or not so why not go all the way?

Gary Seagren said...

And after 56 years of being a Met fan I now really envy the team across town instead of just hating them. I may need an intervention. Mack you and I aren't getting any younger so is there time left for us to see the post season again?

Gary Seagren said...

Thomas your just so right about Vaccaro's article being spot on and getting right to the point.

Mack Ade said...

Gary -

Good to see you on the site again (met Gary for coffee off of I95... nice guy).

Gary, this has all been reduced to a'job hobby'. I have two things to do left in my life. Take care of my bride and, two, play on the computer.

I always said that 'bad team makes for great writings'.

We have plenty of both here.

Erica Lay said...

Tom, I completely agree that we don't push prospects enough. The funny thing is, when Omar was here, I thought we were pushing them a little too quickly. Overall though, I'd rather them be pushed too fast, rather than not at all. Better to understand/expose weaknesses earlier on.

Thomas Brennan said...

Erica, I agree.

Reese, forget "mattering", I don't remember winning, period!

Reese Kaplan said...

Vacarro is finally catching up to us bloggers who have been calling for Alderson's head on a pike for years now.

It's never been more apparent that the "plan" has been to put a few name players on the field in the hopes of selling some jerseys and hovering around .500. Neither is working. Smart people try something else when what they're doing is failing spectacularly. What does that say about the owners and the front office?

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