Saturday, November 19, 2005

Some Weekly Perspective

I got involved in an interesting debate this week with Imperial Vixen K-Bisch over some of Matsui's negotiating tactics. It pissed her off that Godzilla was letting the Imperial brass know that his first choice was to stay in the Bronx, but if push came to shove, he'd have no problem going elsewhere in the states.

I could see why she was upset. As a fan of the team, the thought of Matsui leaving annoyed me as well. But from a business standpoint, I could totally see why he played it this way.

It's important during negotiations to show an employer that you're loyal to the cause and that you want to stay with your company. But not so loyal that you're willing to allow them to lowball you into a figure that's insulting. And definitely not so loyal that you wouldn't be willing to leave if they're not willing to pay you what you know you're worth.

Sometimes, the threat of leaving is the only way to let an employer know that you're serious about your demands. Maybe negotiating through the media is a bit unseemly at times. But the squeaky wheel gets greased. He was asked the question by the media and he answered it. He didn't say "I want this amount or I'm walking." He was very cool and understated in how he handled it. Classy as he's always been.

Whether it be Joe D, Babe Ruth or Don Mattingly, the Yankees have always shown that the only thing that they respect in contract negotiations is power. The players who make it clear that they want their demands met or they'll walk...generally get what they want. The ones who allow the Yankees to lowball them (Gehrig) or ignore them all together (Pettite), either get the short end of the stick or leave all together like Andy did. Or you get a situation like Bernie Williams' in 1998. Where the Yankees have to sign him just to save face after the debacle of courting world-class asshole Albert Belle. When they realized that Belle had no intention of coming here and only used the Yankees to drive up the price for Baltimore, Cashman had to scramble and save face by preventing Bernie from signing with Boston.

In the end, Matsui and the Yanks came to an agreement and all's right in the Empire. But I wonder if Hideki and Arn Tellem didn't give Cashman and company some hard deadlines to meet, if everything would ended up as rosy as it turned out. I think he would have signed simply because the Yankees simply couldn't afford another shitstorm like the one that came after Pettite left and Clemens came out of retirement to sign with Houston. But I thought that it was pretty smart of him to nudge the process along a little bit.

This is a business. The teams never forget that with the way they buy, sell and release players like cattle. It's good to know that some players understand that and play that game as well as they play baseball.

I like Brian Giles as a player. I'm actually wearing a Giles Padres T-Shirt that I bought last year when I visted Petco Park. Offensively, he would be lethal in the two spot in our lineup. Any lineup where you're potentially batting Jorge Posada ninth would be downright scary.

But I'm not sold on the idea of him playing centerfield.

If I had my way, if he's the only option out there, I would put Matsui in centerfield and Giles in left. Odd as it sounds, Matsui seems to play a better centerfield than left at times. Neither of them would remind us Bernie in his prime or Andruw Jones, but I think that Godzilla would be serviceable in center and Giles would be fine in left.

Noone is going help the Yankees with their centerfield problems unless they're willing to give up one of their young players or prospects. I like Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand. But I'm not giving up any of my young players for either of them. Unless I could get someone who could potentially become another Bernie, Andruw or Beltran. As good as these guys are defensively, they are righthanded .270-.280 hitter with 20 plus homer power. Nice players, but hardly all-world. I think Cano can be a star of the first order in the future and Wang can be consistent 15-20 game winner in the majors. And I'm not willing to mortgage off the future off either by trading away Duncan or any of our other top prospects. I'm tired of seeing guys like Jake Westbrook or Zach Day pitch for other teams when we have to pay for free agent busts like Pavano and Wright.

Besides, out top priority for the off-season should be shoring up the bullpen. If you have good pitching, you'll win as long as your defense is serviceable. Sheff in Right, Matsui in Center and Giles in left gives us that.

Take a look at these stats and tell me if the AL MVP race was the travesty of justice that Infidel Nation is this making this out to be:



162 605 124 194 29 1 48 130 21 .321 .421 .610



159 601 119 180 40 1 47 148 1 .300 .397 .604

Everyone is talking about how Ortiz turned into Superman in the late innings this year and how Alex was just ordinary. Very true. David Ortiz was and is and an incredible performer in the clutch. But Alex was no sloutch either. Alex won quite a few games this year with his bat and his glove this year. People want to talk about how the Red Sox wouldn't have been in contention if Ortiz didn't have the year he had. With the pitching problems and injuries the Yankees had, you're going to tell that they would have won the division without A-Rod? Anyone who says that is either a delusional Yankee-hater who doesn't watch many Yankee games, a pathological liar or someone on John Henry's payroll.

And riddle me this: if you win a game in the fifth inning with a RBI double to win a 2-1 pitching duel in July or with a two-run homer in September to win 10-9, doesn't it still count as one win? Isn't each win important to the standings? Didn't we learn this year that every game counts with our putrid 8-11 performance against the D-Rays? And the Red Sox equally disgusting showing against the Blue Jays this year? If you win 20-11 and 19-8 like the Yanks did against Tampa last year, what difference does it make if you lose the next day like the Yanks did to Tampa? If you beat the Yankees 17-1 like the Red Sox did at Fenway in July, what difference does it make if you lose the next two games and the series?

One win is just that. One win. That's the great thing about baseball, you get your ass kicked on Monday. You have a chance to redeem yourself on Tuesday.

Drama is fine and Ortiz has a great feel for it. He's an incredible performer. But Alex is the better player. Theatrics are all well and good, but give me good old fashioned fundamental baseball. And day in day out, Alex helps your team win in more ways than David does. And that to me defines the Most Valuable Player.

I said earlier that the award should have been split, to be fair. Screw fair. Alex won the award fair and square. He deserves the award and I'm glad he won. Case closed.

You'd think that the Yankees hiring an entirely new coaching staff, A-Rod winning the MVP, playing KGB from Rounders and DJ winning another Gold Glove (when he's supposed to be the worst defensive shortstop in the league) would get me inspired to write something good for the Empire. Wrong.

What gets me off my duff to write something? Stupid Met fans and their hatred for all things in Navy Blue pinstripes.

The latest idiot to get on my shitlist is the blogger who calls himself "The Metmaster." Here's what he wrote in his inaugural post.

Have you noticed that we are different from the other baseball fans in our town? We are people who enjoy the simple things in life. We are good natured. We realize the fragility of life, and understand what life is all about, that you don't get to win all the time, that there is a whole lot more disappointment in life then there are victories, and when the victories come we savor and appreciate them. We have character. We're the kind of people you want to share a foxhole with. We cover each other's back. We're the working stiffs who built this country. We're Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. We're blue collar, or the sons and daughters of blue collars, and damn proud of it. We stand by our team and each other, regardless of the foibles and weaknesses. We are the true representatives of the greatest city in the world. We're the guys who raced up into the Twin Towers, and then would not leave until every friend was found. It was our team that honored the fallen with our baseball caps that season, it was our team that helped coordinate the relief with our stadium, it's our team that hosts a winter party every year for the families of 9/11. We don't have 26 World Chapionships to show off. We're not the most successful franchise in the history of sport, as the insufferables from uptown constantly bludgeon people with. We have something a whole lot more worthwhile. We have dignity and class. We're Americans.

That soliloquy was nice. But what the hell does that have to do with rooting for a baseball team??? Hating the Yankees is one thing. But what the hell does that have to do with rooting for your baseball team? Why do some fans who root for teams that don't win feel the need every now and then, to act as if it's a noble act to root for a team and not change allegiances because they stink? You'd think they were going off to war and dying for their country or something....

I've been a NY Giants fan since 1980 when I started watching football regularly. They were the New York team that I was first introduced to and I decided to root for them. Simple as that. In those 25 years, I've seen some great football. I've also seen some very pretty bad football. The point is, as a fan I don't deserve the Red Badge of Courage because I didn't jump ship and become a Cowboys fan.

And last I checked, there were quite a few Yankee fans who died in the Twin Towers during 9/11 and have served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the inference, that Mets fans are somehow more patriotic than Yankees fans is so stupid that it's insulting to stupid people everywhere.

This angst stems from one thing from one thing only; Our team is better than theirs and because of it more people are going to Yankee games than Mets games. In the 80's, this was their town. And yes, they drew over 3 million fans long before we did. But they're pissed that not only have we won more titles in 10 years than they've won 40...they're pissed that not even their own fans take their team seriously. How do you explain all the empty seats at Shea in July and August when the team was in contention? How do you explain the Yankees being only the third team in history to draw over four million fans? Something the Mets have never done and never will do?

So your problem isn't us. It's your fanbase. And maybe if you worried more about your team than the team across town, you wouldn't have to write soliloquys to justify your pitiful existence.

Here's another little diddy that he wrote to a recent post that I wrote...

Oh, the pomposity!
Why must Yankee fans be so arrogant? Don't you all know by now of the Yankees contributions to mankind? They invented baseball. Hell, they invented grass. Listen to John Sterling. (Lord, what a thought!) Everything is perfect in Yankeeland. "Susan is this just the perfect setting for a ball game"? "Susan, can they get any more people into this 'Cathedral of Baeeball'"? "Susan, I walked through Monument Park, as I often do to collect my thoughts, and it struck me how wonderful it is to be a blowhard" Blah, blah, blah.
Everything is perfect in that slice of heaven on River Avenue. The grass is greener, the beer is colder, the hot dogs are hotter, the dirt is dirtier. Don't you know it was the Yankees who saved the game? Don't you know it was the "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" that galvanized a nation? Don't you know it was the Yankees who kicked Hitler's ass?
Yankee fans are self-absorbed, self-important, arrogant elitists. They are the French of baseball.
If they have a history of such great fans, then why did the Mets draw 3-million long before the Yankees did? All those championships and they could not put three million fannies in "The Cathedral of Baseball? It wasn't until Steinbrenner threatened to move them to Jersey that people started showing up. Yeah Shea is a toilet, but the House That Ruth Built is no bargain either when it comes to fan comforts. Oh, I forgot. The "ghosts" are supposed to keep you in a perpetual state of awe that you forget about the crowded men's rooms, impassable concourses, obnoxious ushers, and lousy food. But both teams will soon be in new digs. I guarantee that when both are built the writers will critique them. The new Yankeeland will be all about "shock and awe". They are so infatuated by their past that the result will be a sterile monolith. The new place in Flushing will be described as "fun", a word that has never been associated with the Yankees. Isn't fun what it's all supposed to be about? The impossible pressure to win everything all the time has made Yankee fans into joyless jerks. I've been to games where the Yankees are beating some hapless souls like the Royals or Devil Rays by a couple of runs and all you hear are the complaints of the faithful that the Yankees should be winning by 6 runs. It's not enough to beat you. Yankee fans find it necessary to beat, batter, bludgeon and embarrass. Classless. They are like Donald Trump; constantly telling you that they have more than you have. Our day will come again. Soon. A day that terrifies Yankee fans.

"I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out."

The last paragraph was from Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities". Nice to know Mets fans own library cards.

I agree that there a lot of loud, obnoxious Yankees fans out there. Some of them are incredibly ignorant of the baseball world around them. But just because we worry more about our team than what's happening across town doesn't mean we care less about the game than other fans. It means that we were prefer to tend to our house and problems before we worry about everyone else's.

I'm sure you've all heard of the woman who tends to all of the kids in the neighborhood except her own. What happened? Her kids ends up either dead or in prison while the rest of the neighborhood's kids turn out fine.

The point? Worry about your own house instead of butting into what's going into mine.

Yeah, we're damn proud of past. Instead of trying to compete with it, create your own future and legacy.

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was once asked if Shaq could become the next Wilt or Russell. Kareem replied why can't he become the first Shaq? Stop worrying about trying to compare to us and start your own thing. That small town mentality is the reason why the Mets are considered second class in the first place.

I'll say one thing about the French. They know who they are and they don't apologize for it. They look after their own interests first and foremost and be damned to anyone who doesn't like it. Maybe the Mets brass and their fans can learn some lessons from DeGaulle, Chirac and Napoleon...


Blogger Uncle Buck said...

Papi had 180 triples!! that's amazing

11:50 AM  
Blogger The Metmaster said...

Admiration for the French!!!! Good God. Is your tutu pinstriped?
So Darth Marc, I've obviously hit a nerve to warrant such a response. The Death Star is at full power. We Met fans must resort to guerilla tactics to bring you pompous windbags down to Earth. Yeah, you had 4-million people enter "The Cathedral" this year. How many of them could explain the infield fly rule? How many of them even knew what it is? How many of them knew who Miller Huggins was? How many of them knew that Casey Stengel managed the Yankees BEFORE the Mets? The brainless peripheral fans see the Yankees as trendy. They have the biggest collection of stars so they have to be the best team they argue. In reality they are the biggest collection of underachievers. (see AL MVP) The Mets finished in the top 10 of baseball attendance. Not bad for a team that was picked by most writers to be nothing more than a .500 team. Not bad for a team that was supposed to finish in the cellar again. Hell, they averaged more per game than the White Sox. Those 2.8 million fans at Shea this year were baseball fans. Nothing trendy at Shea. No "beautiful people". Just baseball fans desiring to see the game played the way it was meant to be played in the Senior Circuit. "The People" are out there Darth Marc. The real people.

And in case you missed this today....Who's stupid now?

Jayson Stark

Since finals are approaching, it's time for a little baseball-economics quiz to help us make sure you're fully educated on a key development in the 2005-06 offseason:

If the Mets' payroll inflates to, say, $150 million next season, how much luxury tax would they have to pay -- if the 2006 tax threshold is $136.5 million?

A) $3.04 million (22.5 percent)?

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Mets GM Omar Minaya could go on a real spending-spree this offseason.B) $4.05 million (30 percent)?

C) $5.4 million (40 percent)?

D) Way more than that, just because they're making Bud Selig really nervous?

E) Zero dollars (nada percent), because of a little-known technicality in the Basic Agreement?

OK, kids. Pencils down. All those answering "E" pass this test.

And if you answered that correctly, either you've spent way too much time reading the Basic Agreement online (and feel free; it's here) ... or you cheated.

But it's true. No matter how much cash the Mets insert in the wallets of free agents, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Delgado or all those talented and charming players they already have added this winter, their luxury tax next year is guaranteed to be exactly ... zilch.

Same with the Angels, who were No. 4 (just behind the Mets) in the 2005 payroll standings. Or the Phillies, who were No. 5. Or any other team not known as the Yankees or Red Sox.

That's because -- as first noted by's Chris Isidore -- back in the crazed pre-agreement hours leading to the 2002 labor deal, the frenzied labor negotiators inserted a mysterious clause into the impending deal.

That clause says, essentially (in language way more complicated than this) that any team that didn't pay luxury tax in the 2005 season is 100 percent off the hook in 2006.

Doesn't matter by how much that team blows by the payroll threshold. Doesn't matter how many different tax rates are listed in the agreement for next season. Doesn't matter whether that team paid the luxury tax in any previous season. None of that matters.

So, unbeknownst to most of the sport, the only teams that face a potential tax bill next year are the Yankees (guaranteed to be taxed at 40 percent, as four-time offenders) and the Red Sox (who paid this year but probably won't pay next year unless their payroll goes up by $13 million). But that's it.

All righty then. We know what you're thinking: How the heck did a strange rule like this find its way into this labor agreement -- with just about nobody noticing?

Well, here's the story, as we've heard it:

You might remember that in the previous labor deal -- the first one to contain one of these payroll taxes -- the last year of the agreement was completely tax-free.

OK, even if you don't remember, trust us. It was.

Well, because of that wrinkle in the old deal, the union was pressing for the same free ride to be included in the current agreement. The idea was to give the market a year to adjust, in case the tax turned out to suppress player salaries more than anticipated.

Oh, and one more thing: That one-year gap was supposed to establish the principle that the two sides weren't necessarily committed to this tax forever and ever.

So naturally, as negotiations heated up, this issue remained a thorny little tug o' war. The owners didn't want any year to have no tax. The union was digging in. So in the end, they did what negotiators are supposed to do: They compromised.

And this was the compromise: No matter how much tax a team paid in 2003 or 2004, if it dipped under the threshold in 2005, it was safe from the tax man in 2006.

"I admit it's kind of quirky," says one baseball man who was involved in those talks. "But that's the compromise we came up with."

So now here we are, more than three years later. And here's that compromise, ready to take hold for this, the final year of the labor deal. But when we polled high-ranking officials of four teams last week, only one had ever even heard of this rule.

Why? Because MLB never mentioned it at the time the deal was done -- and hasn't advertised it since, even now that the time to apply that rule has arrived.

Matter of fact, MLB has never even advised the Mets (or the Angels or Phillies, either) that it could directly affect them -- and save them millions of bucks. Why? Because it obviously was hoping nobody would bother to read the fine print.

Oops. Somebody did. We didn't mean to blow anybody's cover. But someone needs to read this stuff -- and let the world know the rules. Sorry about that.

Meanwhile, there's one more reason this rule could be even more significant than it might appear:

We've been hearing murmuring beneath the surface that enough people in the sport are so happy with the current labor deal that they'd be interested in taking advantage of another clause in the agreement -- a clause that allows the two sides simply to extend the deal for 2007.

But if they just extend it, they would be extending another tax-free year along with it (a potentially monstrous advantage for the Red Sox in 2007 if they pay no tax in 2006). Or they could negotiate yet another compromise on that particular issue.

Now it isn't likely the Mets will actually add enough dollars to their payroll (which was about $101 million this year) to have this wrinkle kick in. But it's possible.

Which means that, with a new TV network ready to hit the air, Mets GM Omar Minaya and his good friends, the Wilpons, have been handed the right to go on their very own fun-filled free-agent supermarket sweep.

All thanks to the Wacky World of Labor Deals. Gotta love it.

1:56 PM  
Blogger FenwayParked said...

Hey I don't want to get into all the craziness here. I just want to ask a couple of questions. What was the name of the pitcher the Red Sox picked up? Is he any good?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Darth Marc said...

Very funny,Uncle Buck...yeah, Papi is Lou Brock reincarnated...

As for you Mookmaster...I never said that I admired the French. I merely stated that unlike the Mets and their fans..that they have a strong sense of self and national identity. Whether you like or dislike them (I'm're all evil white folks to me) at least you know who and what they are.

You can't say that about the Mets. You're the spawn of the Dodgers and Giants...but you still have no identity of your own. Those teams hated Yankees because of years of Subway Series wars. You hate them because you think it's cool. Your big brother says it's cool so you think it's cool.

As for you dig at our that the best you can do. Yankees fans are dumb? I'll match wits with you about the game anyday of the week. You wouldn't stand a chance...

Even when you win, you're the little brother. Always have. Always will be.

The Death Star is still in the garage. You don't want me to unleash my full wrath on you. That would make some therapist in the area very rich.

As for the Jayson Stark article...don't make out like the Mets were staying below the cap because of that provision. You've never been that smart. Is that how you explain the Mets not signing Vlad the Impaler a couple of years ago? Please. know who this kid I'm not even going dignify your question.

But you should also know that this kid has never pitched over 200 innings and has been on the DL seven times. Something to think about it a bit before you start just gave up two of your top prospects for a DL visit waiting to happen

6:14 AM  
Blogger The Metmaster said...

Yes, we are the decendents of two great franchises. Franchises of the working man. Not the high-tone dandys of Westchester and New Jersey, the lifeblood of the Highlanders/Yankees. We are The People. As for me, I do not hate the Yankees. I detest the Yankees. I detest them not because it's cool, but by birth. My father was a die-hard, life-long Giants fan. He listened on the radio when his boyhood idol struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Cronin and Simmons in the All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds. My middle name is Carl, named after "King" Carl Hubbell. The Giants and Dodgers didn't have the bucks of a beer baron like Jacob Ruppert. Those teams were family businesses.
Can't compare the Vlady thing to today's Mets. Different time, different attitude. Like your pre-Stick/Cashman days.

"Victory belongs to the most perservering"-Napoleon Bonaparte

(Napolean was cool. He was also a Corsican. Chirac and DeGaulle suck.)

8:42 AM  
Blogger Metstradamus said...

So here I am looking for Johnny Damon perspective, and nothing? Has Darth's head exploded at the thought of the biggest idiot coming to wear the Yankee prison stripes?

I guess Alex Rodriguez doesn't have to wash Derek Jeter's tunic anymore now that Damon's in town.

9:18 PM  

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