Not long ago, I was forced to back-handedly apologize to Newsday‘s Wallace Matthews, my most hated sportswriter. For years, I insisted he was one of the worst writers ever. Then I ran into Howie Carr, and even I had to concede there are worse humans than Wally.
I find myself humbled again. Last week, I penned a post on the execrable play-by-play work of ESPN’s Chris Berman and Rick Sutcliffe. I even said they were worse than the unholy trinity of Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, and Steve Phillips.
Trust me, after last night, I will never write such words again.
Miller, Morgan, and Phillips decided to forego the piddling baseball game between the Mets and the Giants. Instead, they regaled the audience with a master class on Gut and Grit and Edge. To wit: The Mets don’t have it. They proceeded to discuss which member of the ‘core’ should be traded.
If you don’t listen to sports talk radio, you might not know what this refers to. Over the winter, Mike Francesa made quite a bit of hay positing the following theory: The Mets have a core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran. Since they haven’t won in the last three years with this core, then one or more of them must be dealt away.
Francesa has no stated opinion on which of the three should go. Or rather, he has no coherent strategy. In the offseason, he advocated trading David Wright. After Wright started to hit and Reyes made some baserunning blunders, he spent an entire week begging the Mets to trade Reyes. Way to stick to your guns, Fatso.
He also has no idea how you’d replace the production that would be lost if any one of these players were traded. That hasn’t stopped him from hammering this point over and over again, when not shoving buttered Suzy Q’s into his snack-hole. Other NY media types followed suit, because everyone bows down to The Sports Pope. And now the national sports media has picked up the narrative–particularly lazy, unimaginative types like Miller, Morgan, and Phillips.
Keep in mind, the Mets had won 11 of their last 13 going into Sunday. Keep in mind that the Mets are in first place right now (though if this team has proven anything, it’s that first place in May means nothing). Keep in mind that they had come from behind to win the first two games of the series, including one game in which they trailed 5-1 to reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.
But if you just watched this broadcast, you woulda thought the Mets were 12 games out with no relief in sight. Kafka couldn’t have written a more hopeless script than the one delivered by the ESPN crew.
Do I think the Mets are perfect? Of course not. There’s a lot of things about this team that bother me and make me fear for its long-term success. And I’m perfectly willing to hear bad things about my favorite team. But I think the announcers might want mention at least one positive sign from the last two weeks, at least in passing, before shitting all over the team for three hours.
There was no room for this in ESPN’s telecast. Obviously, before the game, the hateful trio had decided they were gonna talk about Grit. And talk about it they did. For three goddamn innings.
Joe Morgan’s idiocy is well documented. His tortured ex-player logic is the epitome of low-hanging fruit. Although I actually laughed out loud when he said, despite the Mets winning 11 of 13, they hadn’t been playing well. They just took “advantage of other team’s mistakes.” I guess so, but only because you could technically define any good outcome for one team as a mistake made by the other. One team’s three-run homer is another team’s hanging slider.
Jon Miller is a homer and a clown. He didn’t contribute much to the Grit Argument. But he didn’t try and stop it either. How can you stand by and watch such atrocities take place in front of your own eyes?
Then there’s Steve Phillips. Look at this man. Just look at him.
Even if you have no idea who this is, isn’t that a face just begging to be slapped?
Who did Phillips want to trade? Carlos Beltran. You know, one of the best centerfielders in baseball. The guy putting up MVP numbers. That guy.
Of course, as Metsradamus points out, Phillips tried to trade both David Wright and Jose Reyes while he was the Mets’ GM. So by default, he’d have to pick Beltran, since the other two options wouldn’t be here now if it were up to him.
Beltran is hated for not being A Leader, but I’ve never seen a better centerfielder in my life. The man gets to balls that should not be caught and makes the plays look easy (as opposed to someone like Jim Edmonds, who got to balls that shouldn’t be caught and made them look hard so he could get on Web Gems).
And if you wanna talk Grit, how about breaking your face open trying to catch a ball, then coming back only a few weeks later? How about running up a fucking hill that shouldn’t be in the outfield in the first place to make a total Willie Mays catch and save a game? Is that enough Grit for you? No. Beltran is just a little too Brown to be gritty.
Just in case everyone forgot, Steve Phillips ruined the Mets. He took a team built on slick fielding and a solid bullpen and turned it into a fat, slow sieve with the likes of Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Alomar. And he got Bobby Valentine–the best manager the Mets ever had–fired because he couldn’t do anything with the blobulent mess he gave him.
To me, hearing Steve Phillips complain about the Mets is like hearing Dick Cheney complain about the Obama administration. You had your chance, you fucked up royal, and yet you still won’t go away and leave us alone. You keep flaring up like the festering little boil you are to insist that you could do it better than the current guy–even though there’s an enormous body of evidence proving your thorough incompetence (although in Cheney’s case, it was something more sinister than incompetence).
It doesn’t take Freud to figure out that Phillips is projecting his failures onto other still-employed baseball executives. When he blasts the Mets for assembling the team the way they have, what he’s really saying is Fuck, I traded Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick? I really am a douchebag, aren’t I?
Boomer and Sutcliffe, all is forgiven. I will take one of your information-free broadcasts any day of the week over Miller, Morgan, and The Hair Helmet.