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Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Rodriguez’

The last couple weeks have added a new wrinkle to a 2009 Mets season that most fans are already trying to forget.  Forget injuries to Reyes, Delgado and Beltran, or six home runs from David Wright, how about a member of the front office trying to throw down with two players on separate occasions, and the ensuing battle between GM Omar Minaya and New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin.

About ten days before the All-Star Break, Bernazard took off his shirt and challenged the AA affiliate Binghampton Mets to a fight, specifically Jose Coronado.  While news of the event did not really surface until last week, it blew up in the tabloids and the Mets launched an investigation.  While this investigation was ongoing, Bernazard also got into a confrontation with star closer Francisco Rodriguez.  While Rodriguez did admit to it happening, he refused to elaborate on the event.  I do not know about you, but if I am already under investigation for inappropriate behaviour, the last thing I want to do is get into a fight with the star free agent pitcher. 

Barnazard has been under intense scrutiny for the Mets failures this year, and it appears the pressure finally got to him.  The team has been unable to replace key injuries from within, resulting in a disappointing 47-51 record, ahead of only the lowly Nationals in the NL East.  The AAA Buffalo Bisons are in last place in the International League at 37-61, while the AA Mets are also last in the Eastern League with a 39-61 record.

After the entire saga with Bernazard was wrapped up, Minaya proceeded to get in a war of words with Daily News reporter Adam Rubin, accusing him of trying to wiggle his way into a front office job by discrediting the current members of the staff.  Rubin was the man who reported the Bernazard stories, and denies Minaya’s accusations.    

While I have all of the respect in the world for Minaya, it appears he has lost control of the franchise, and despite a roster that includes stars like Beltran, Reyes, Delgado, Wright, Rodriguez and Johan Santana, has only made one playoff appearance since their Subway Series loss to the Yankees in 2000.  The secondary talent is simply not there to support the star players.  I think it is time for the Mets to make some changes at the top of the organization as well as on the field, and Bernazard’s head may be just the first to role.

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I think the general consensus was that the All-Star game last night was fairly entertaining with a close 4-3 victory by the American League.  However, I thought it was terrible because it was not real baseball.  Here are my biggest issues.

Closer Domination

Fans of teams like the Yankees with dominant closers like Mariano Rivera love it when they hear their closers theme song come on and watch them trot out to slam the door on an opponent in the ninth inning.  Let’s just say Jonothan Papelbon loses some of his aura when he enters the game in the seventh inning.  It was also pretty boring to watch a game you know was over after six innings.  Sure it was still a tie game but the AL essentially had 9 automatic outs to play with thanks to Papelbon, Joe Nathan, and Rivera, the three best closers in the game.  It is not very fun to watch a game where each team has multiple pitchers in the bullpen who are essentially guaranteed to throw a scoreless frame.  Part of the beauty of baseball is that anyone can beat anyone on any giving day, and the lead can change each and every inning.    

Hack Away

This was easily the thing I enjoyed least about the game.  Players were not working the count like they would in a real game, but instead swinging at the first pitch they saw.  This happened for two reasons.  First of all, the pitchers are so dominant that if you fell behind in the count, you were pretty much toast.  The second is that especially for the reserves, you may only get one at-bat.  If you are going up there knowing you might only have one shot at glory, are you going to try and draw a walk?  I do not think so.   

This led to some ridiculous pitch counts.  All of the following pitchers threw one inning:

Mark Buehrle – Nine pitches

Zack Greinke – Ten Pitches

Edwin Jackson – FOUR pitches

Felix Hernandez – Eight pitches

Jonothan Papelbon – Ten pitches

Trevor Hoffman – Five pitches

Francisco Cordero – Nine pitches

Ryan Franklin – Nine pitches

Francisco Rodriguez – Six pitches

That is half of the game in seventy pitches.  Absolutely ridiculous.

The Bengie Molina Effect

This may be an obscure reference, but some of you may know that Molina is dead last in the majors with a BB% of 1%.  He would have fit right in; there was only one unintentional base on balls in the entire game!  I could not find any proof, but I doubt there was a single game in the majors this year that featured one walk.  Once again, this is not real baseball.

The Baserunning

When I watch a baseball game I want to see Ty Cobb going into second with his spikes up and Pete Rose trucking Ray Fosse at the plate.  In the All-Star game you’re lucky to see a guy hustle out a ground ball, let alone try to take an extra base.  Carl Crawford had an opportunity to stretch for a double but settled for a single.  Ichiro tried to “break-up” a double play with about the same gusto as my grandma would have.  In the regular season you see Adam Wainwright taking a throw off his pitching hand to break up a double play.  In the All-Star game, not so much.

Roster Size

I do not think I have to go into much detail here.  Thirty-three players and a billion dominant pitchers; not real baseball.

Fan Voting And The Every Team Must Be Represented Rule

Fan voting has been discussed at length before, but guys like Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia did not deserve to be voted in as starters, and how did 33rd man Shane Victorino get to start?

The representation rule also led to “All-Stars” like Andrew Bailey and Zach Duke.  Barry Petchesky from Deadspin ran a simulation, and the NL All-Stars lost to the New York Yankees.  The All-Stars also had a lower average salary than this collection All-Stars. 

All-Star!

All-Star!

The Player’s Do Not Take It Seriously, At First.

The players could care less about the outcome for the first half of the game.  If you look at the dugout there are hardly any guys up on the railing watching the game intently.  The game only gets serious if it is close in the finals innings.  In a real baseball game you have to be committed from the beginning or it will be chalked up as a loss every time. 

I am sure if I thought for longer I could come up with some more reasons but there are seven for your consideration.

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The current economic recession has proven that professional sports are not immune to swings in the economy.  Every team has their own personal attendance pattern based on the success of the team, success of other professional sports team in the city, new ballparks, and a myriad of other factors.  However, it has been a long time since we have seen essentially every team suffer a simultaneous drop in attendance.  So far this year, MLB games are averaging 29,082 fans per game, which is about 66% of capacity.  This is down from the past two seasons, which averaged 32,516 (72% capacity) and 32,770 (72% capacity) respectively.  Not only is this a 12% drop in the number of bodies in the ballpark, but an even greater decrease in revenues.  It is the premium seats and corporate boxes that are going unsold, which are a main source of revenue for major league teams. 

Two of the main offenders are the Yankees and Mets, which is especially curious considering teams that build new ballparks generally realize an increase in attendance, known as the Honeymoon period.  However, these teams gravely overestimated how much fans would be willing to pay to watch a ball game, which has led to entire empty sections.  The Yankees are down 8,500 per game, while the Mets have suffered a 4,500 decrease per game. 

While this decrease in attendance probably will not deter the free-spending New Yorkers, there is another team that is in much bigger trouble.  The Detroit Tigers have seen their attendance plummet to 28,126 from 39,538 only a year ago.  The demise of the auto manufacturer’s has hit the Detroit area very hard, and even the best team in hockey, the Red Wings, are not immune to attendance problems.  With one of the highest payrolls in baseball, I would not be surprised to see owner Mike Ilitch shed some salary this summer.  This is very unfortunate as the Tigers have come out strong this season, and are leading the AL Central by 1.5 games.

Oops

Oops

Some other teams of note:

Washington Nationals: Down 8,300

Atlanta Braves: Down 6,800

Houston Astros: Down 5,700

Colorado Rockies: Down 5,500

However, I am not all about doom and gloom here at MLB Insights.  The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies are up 1,200 for obvious reasons.  The bandwagon is filling up in Kansas City with the Royals averaging an extra 2,400 per game, although this should regress amidst the teams eight game losing streak.  Strong performances in the Lonestar state have led to a 2,800 per game increase for the Rangers.  It would be great to see that franchise finally win a playoff series and shed the stench of the A-Rod contract.

We can only hope that the economy is on the road to recovery and fans are able to once again afford tickets to the sport they love.  If we can take one positive from this, it is that other than the Yankees, the recession helped bring free agent contracts back under control.  Only in 2008 would the guy who broke the single season saves record get $12 million per year, not a whole lot more than BJ Ryan got two years prior.

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