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Mets Trade 2008 Bullpen for Half-Eaten Plate of Pasta, Striped Sock, and Blurry Photo of What Looks Like Tina Youthers

December 17, 2008
Why yes, I'll happily trade you Duaner Sanchez for this old sneaker.

Why yes, I'll happily trade you Duaner Sanchez for this old sneaker.

Well, this is what I imagine would’ve been fair value for them, had you asked any average Met fan over the last three months. But somehow, Omar Minaya has actually gotten return on – so far – Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoenweis. Duaner Sanchez and Luis Ayala better be next in this Shea Putsch.

 Let me now quote famous men:

 “Athletes, like surgeons and concert violinists, know the dry mouth of pressure. It costs them sleep and shapes their dreams…Pressure can stunt an athlete, but evidence argues powerfully that a major league ball player is fully grown. To make the majors at all, a man first survives other pennant races, other play-offs. As he rises, pressures rise with him. A Little Leaguer feels the eyes of his parents and his neighbors and his teammates when he comes to bat. If he wriggles helplessly, he has found something out. High-pressure competitive baseball is not for him. A minor leaguer, driving toward the majors, has coaches and scouts studying him every day. The man who collapses into tremors with men on base dies, as the saying is, in Peoria.”

-Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer

 This is in the passage preceding Clem Labine’s concession that he didn’t want to face Bobby Thomson at the Polo Grounds on October 3rd, 1951. Labine was a very successful reliever that year, and had struck out Thomson the day before, but he was nervous about pitching to him with two runners on base. When Labine used a sore arm excuse to beg out of warming up, Ralph Branca’s entrance became history. The thesis here is that ballplayers can handle pressurized situations, but for the love of God, they’re still human.

So guess who else wasn’t real happy about pitching with men on base? Scott Schoenweis, who allowed batters to reach 4 out of 10 times he pitched with guys on. Ok, look, he was overall a successful LOOGY this past year. When we rely on our memory to make judgment calls, we tend to pick and choose. Like, oh, “Jim Rice was such a feared hitter that teams would intentionally walk him all the time.” Much like Rice was only intentionally walked 77 times in his career (and finished in the top five in that category just one season and led his team in it just twice), Schoenweis actually did have very successful appearances as a LOOGY.

But this isn’t really about stats – even though the Phillies signed left-handed demigod Raul Ibanez! Oh no! Tear out your hair! Wail in the streets! Mothers, start teaching your sons to be southpaws! – it’s about catharsis. There’s something to be said for a general manager who understands the needs of his fan base. (Bill Simmons might call on the VP of Common Sense.) And I’d imagine when Minaya was in Vegas for the winter meetings, there were about 1,283 fat guys with mustaches and faded Lee Mazzilli jerseys from Queens parked outside the Bellagio waiting to beg him to trade the entire bullpen for a bottle of the $1.99 cologne Roger McDowell used to wear.

The reason I started with that Roger Kahn quote is because, for that bullpen, dividing themselves from the human emotional aspect of being a professional athlete wouldn’t get any easier in 2009 if they were all still around. Sure, the Show will get mercilessly booed the first (and probably only) time he appears in a D-Backs uniform at Shea. But the hailstorm of vitriol, seething rage, and vinegar that would pour down the first 50 times he appeared in Shea were he still in the blue and orange come April would make a grown man cry himself to sleep even if he were curled up next to Mark Kotsay’s wife.

I’m not saying Heilman and Schoenweis, whether they deserved it or not, would necessarily have let the sturm und drang get to them, but why not just make a clean break for the sake of Met fans and these beleaguered major leaguers who just want to make four million dollars and go home to their McMansions and Humvees? Will Connor Robertson be marginally better than Schoenweis in these high-pressure situations? Who the crap cares? Fresh slate, and a new way for the Mets to embark on Collapse V3.0 come September.

(Speaking of McDowell and Rubber Arm Orosco, here’s hoping Jerry Manuel employs the Putz-Francisco Jose Rodriguez tandem in the same way Davey used those guys. Pow-pow, none of this designated Sandman bullshit.)

Oh, here are two things that are annoying me today:

1. These omnipresent banner ads that lead with “(Celebrity)’s IQ is 117! Are you smarter than (Said Celebrity)?” Obviously, all banner ads deserve a special place in hell, right above regicidists and people who stand on the left side of the escalator, but these latest banner ads got all omnipresent in a hurry. Maybe I hate them because they’re tailored to the genre of website you’re visiting. When I’m at, say, CNN, I’m sized up against Sarah Palin. And on ESPN, they compare me to Chase Utley or Donovan McNabb. How do these guys know Donovan McNabb’s IQ? And is he okay with this info being spread? And what if it turns out that Dan Uggla’s IQ is 86 (which I guess is possible)? How embarrassing for everyone involved.

Granted, these ads still pale in comparison to the most detestable, horrible, loathsome, ungood banners ever, courtesy of LowerMyBills, that scourge of humanity. Apparently, those ads sadly worked.

For what it’s worth, both the company’s founder, Matt Coffin, and the graphic artist Jennifer Uhll, who spearheaded the campaign, deserve a tremendous pie in the face. Here’s what the article says about Uhll’s, uh, inspiration:

So Ms. Uhll combined the two concepts, animating her silhouetted, pony-tailed woman with a swaying modern dance. Ms. Uhll said she is a dancer and took a variety of dancing classes for more than a decade. She is also a fan of the pet sequences in “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which relates to the animal ads. “I usually put into my creative work what I love and what makes me happy and gets my attention,” she said.

(Me, cringing in full knowledge that this woman draws a paycheck.)

 2. That time in movies when the big confrontation between the idealist protagonist who finally thinks he’s unraveling the mystery and the slightly evil, unethical businessman/politician/astronaut. The latter rebuffs the protagonist by saying, “You just don’t get it, do you?” What the crap? What does that mean? Who says that? Nobody says that. “You just don’t get it, do you?” That’s ridiculous. Seriously, count the number of movies this appears in. It’s mindboggling.

This all said, I would much rather have Jennifer Uhll and the physical embodiment of that particular screenplay line in the Mets bullpen instead of the trainwreck we threw out there last year.


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  1. Somebodys got to pay permalink

    The banner ads you loathe pay for the salaries, web servers, and other costs of the websites you visit for free.

    Somebody has to pay for the yahoo developer’s prius. Somebody has to pay emc and dell for the servers.

    The banner advertisers are paying, for that, not you. They’re donating your free lunch. You’re not paying, they are.

    So realistically, when you surf the web for free, you are essentially living in the digital verison of your parents house. The person who pays calls the shots

    Broadcast tv – advertisers call the shots, HBO – you call the shots

    Complaining about banner ads is like complaining about your mom’s cooking when you are getting it for free.

  2. smitty permalink

    A) Duh.
    B) Doesn’t mean we can’t complain about shitty ads.

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