The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Stupidity vs. Apathy
Many sports philosophers are now pondering whether the fate of the Mets fan is worse than that of the Nets fan. Fortunately, as a fan of both sorry franchises (not to mention that Jets and Rangers too), I need not consider which has the more miserable front office.
When the Nets dismantled their team, most notably by giving away Kenyon Martin for nothing, I wrote that being a fan of a team whose ownership had no interest in winning is worse than of a team that makes awful personnel decisions. I still think that's true.
However, I am close to being fed up with the Mets. The Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano trades were terrible enough, and I posted in detail my criticism of both moves immediately after the trades were made. What's worse is the arrogance of the franchise, literally from top to bottom, and the condescending attitude toward fans.
In trading Scott Kazmir last month, the Mets said that (1) he is 2 or 3 years away from reaching the majors and (2) he is bound to have arm problems because of his delivery. So the Mets traded him for a pitcher who already sustained major rotator cuff surgery, was suffering from elbow pain, and is now likely out for the season with an elbow injury. They claim they will work with Zambrano to fix his delivery, but don't explain why they wouldn't be able to do the same with Kazmir.
That's bad enough, but more infuriating is the fact that owner Fred Wilpon, GM Jim Duquette, manager Art Howe, pitching coach Rick Peterson, and pitcher Al Leiter all deny being responsible for the trade - despite strong evidence to the contrary - instead blaming others or nameless scouts for the move, as though scouts were the ultimate decision makers for the team.
Wilpon claims he had nothing to do with it, that it's up to his baseball people. Yet it was the same Fred Wilpon who promised Mets fans and Kazmir that Kazmir was going nowhere. He obviously gave the green light to break that promise.
Duquette idiotically got caught up in the silly idea that the Mets were contenders, and overpaid both for Benson (who could be signed as a free agent after the season without giving up any players) and Zambrano. As GM, he bears ultimate responsibility for the moves. While he seems like a less swarmy fellow than his predecessor, Steve Phillips, Duquette has done little to improve the sorry state of the Mets. The players he has acquired - including players who have been somewhat productive like Richard Hidalgo - are not the guys who are eventually going to lead the Mets back into contention.
Howe may not deserve blame for the trade itself, but he does deserve blame for saying yesterday that the media is turning the Kazmir/Zambrano fiasco into a story that fans would otherwise have no interest in. The truth is that Mets fans are not that stupid. The trades were wildly unpopular immediately, because it was clear that the Mets had mortgaged their future for two talented but mediocre pitchers. Howe shouldn't insult us by blaming the media. If anything, the media exaggerated Zambrano's one strong performance with the Mets, when he gave up a run in seven innings.
Peterson is a good pitching coach but his involvement in personnel moves is no secret, and for him to now blame scouts for getting rid of Kazmir is pathetic, given that immediately after the trade, he arrogantly boasted that critics did not know what they are talking about, and that he and others in the organization were definitely right to make the move. Peterson now insists that the trade needs to be assessed over the next three years. In other words, according to Peterson, if Zambrano (who will make much more money than Kazmir) slightly outpitches Kazmir through 2007, the trade would be a good one, even if Kazmir - who won't be eligible for free agency until at least 2011 - then wins the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 and ends up in the Hall of Fame.
Leiter apparently complained about Kazmir's attitude to Peterson and others. Now he complains that those discussions were meant to be confidential. For a few years, Leiter, John Franco, and more recently, Tom Glavine have had far too much power over the Wilpons. That's mainly the fault of the Wilpons, but Leiter and others can't escape criticism when their input is used and the ultimate result is a bad one for the organization.