After a nice little break for the Holidays, Jobu is back with a round of shots!
Hello fans. Please accept our most sincere apologies for not having a post up yet this week, but even Jobu needs a refill every once in a while (right, Harris?). But enough cleverly inserted Major League quotes, let’s get to it. In this week’s shots we’re going to learn a little bit more about the living joke I like to call the New York Mets, a Japanese import causing a great stir, the tragic story of Brian Cashman’s apparent kidnapping, the latest idiocy from Fat Rex from Jersey and a problem plaguing Europe, as we cover some baseball, football and even it’s European cousin, fútbol. Drink up, bitches… it’s the holidays!
Please Welcome to the Stage…
If the New York Mets were a comedy troop, they would long ago have gotten a movie deal. The plot would revolve around a hapless owner trying to get a bunch of awful players to come together to win the championship. The lovable losers would eventually rise from the depths, rallied by the desire to stop the city from laughing at them again and again. Unfortunately for Mets fans, this comedy will not have a happy ending. This offseason has been terrible for the Mets, although they haven’t really tried to do anything, so I guess it has been a relative success. They haven’t been in on any big trade rumors or free agent discussions, and they have only managed to add a few relievers (Frank Francisco, John Rauch and Ramon Ramirez) and swap their center fielder, Angel Pagan for a lesser player named Andres Torres. Being that the Marlins have signed three top free agents (including Jose Reyes, formerly the Mets’ best player) and the Nationals traded for Gio Gonzalez and improved their bench, I’m pretty much ready to declare the Mets the favorites to finish dead last in the NL East.
The fact of the matter is that the Mets may not recover from the Bernie Madoff scheme… ever. At least not while they’re owned by the Wilpons. The franchise lost $70MM last season, and might get sued for hundreds of millions more by former Madoff investors. They are desperate for money, which has led to Fred Wilpon’s latest comedy routine, trying to sell $20MM stakes in the team to ten different people. While the $200MM would certainly help to bail this struggling franchise out of their misery, what the Wilpons are offering these “lucky” investors is an absolute joke. It all starts with a business card that says “owner” on it, and a single parking spot reserved for you. You also get discounted goods at all official team merchandise shops! Wait… discounted? I’m paying $20MM and I don’t even get free shit? Is this like a 25% discount…. 50%? Is any number not going to make this “perk” sound like a joke? In another generous move from Fred, investors also get access to one of the luxury boxes the Mets will never be able to sell to a paying customer anyway. Oh wait, did I mention owners get the services of Mr. Met? That’s right, you can have Mr. Met at your son or daughter’s birthday party! It is unknown if this is a free perk or not but, considering you can’t even get a free t-shirt out of the deal, something tells me Mr. Met ain’t coming along for free either. If I were rich, why wouldn’t I just use my own money to buy a luxury box and some t-shirts and a parking spot? Is there any perk here that you can’t get on your own for a total of a few hundred thousand bucks? Why the hell would I ever pay $20MM for it?? Fred Wilpon, you’re a joke. I am begging you… for the sake of my friends Matt and Marc… sell the Mets. This franchise had enough trouble being taken seriously in this city before it went broke. Just walk away. Save baseball in Queens, and save yourself from being strung up by angry Mets fans.
Racism in European Fútbol
Last week, Liverpool striker Luis Suárez, the man I have called the best fútbol player from South America (sorry Messi), was suspended for eight games by the British Premier League for allegedly shouting the N-word at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra relentlessly during a match a couple of weeks ago. Despite Suárez’s categorical denial of the accusations, his appeal was denied, and a max penalty was levied upon him. I have some problems with these accusations themselves, let alone the actual suspension. Number one, and this might sound silly, but why would Suárez yell the insults in English? While I am sure he has learned a lot of English playing in Europe the last six years, doesn’t it strike you as odd that, in the heat of battle he’d yell out racial slurs in English? Wouldn’t he know it’s easier to get away with stuff if you yell it in spanish and throw in a “carajo” and “hijo de puta” in there to hide the slur? Secondly, and this is slightly more damning, but no one else on the entire pitch heard the alleged insults and slurs. Obviously Suárez’s Liverpool teammates are going to come to his defense, but no one else on Manchester United was even able to corroborate the story, or lie about it to support Evra’s claims. If it was so blatantly obvious, how did no one hear about it, and why did Evra wait until after the match to report what was said? Shouldn’t he have told the referee right away? Suárez even denied hearing the insults that Evra was hurling his way before he allegedly went all Dog the Bounty Hunter on the Manchester player (Suárez is no snitch). Everyone who has played with Suárez says that he is an intense competitor (he was once suspended for 7 games for biting an opponent) and a brute on the field, but not a racist. Finally, Suárez is from a racially diverse background, and his grandfather was black! I’m not saying having a black grandfather means you can’t hate black people, but come on now. All the evidence pointed to the fact that maybe Suárez didn’t use the slur, and Evra either lied about it or misheard something that was said in the heat of battle. More damning is the fact that there is zero evidence that Suárez said these things, aside from Evra’s testimony. How can you apply an eight game ban and a $62,000 fine based upon the word of one man against another? O.J. Simpson got off on murder, and he had his shoe prints and bloody gloves all over the place! I understand that racism is a huge problem in European fútbol. It’s a terrible thing that needs to be erraticated, but making an example out of Suárez like this without true evidence (I can’t stress that enough) is irresponsible. This could set an ugly precedent. All of a sudden a lot of Britain’s best players might get heard yelling racial taunts… if you know what I mean. Could Suárez have said these horrible things? Of course. I’m from Uruguay, and I know the racism that exists down there. A racist Uruguayan would not be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of, but aren’t we supposed to be proven guilty before we are punished?
Yu Darvish, Y’all
So last week the Rangers bid $51.7MM just so that they could have permission to talk to a pitcher that has never face a major league hitter. Pretty crazy, right? The bid, which netted them the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish, was the largest ever placed in the posting system that Japanese teams use to expose their players to the MLB before they are actually eligible to be free agents. The much criticized system has come under fire lately (rightfully so), but it is apparently the best way anyone has come up with so far. The way it works is this: When you’re a top tier talent in Japan, you’re most likely going to want to eventually test your mettle against the best in the world, who are indisputably housed in the major leagues. Japanese teams know this, and they don’t want to let their players walk away for free. A Major league team would simply put their best player on the trade market and see if they could get a boat load of prospects in return. Japanese teams can’t do this if their player is leaving for another country, so someone came up with the posting system. A player is made available to the highest bidder, but not in the traditional sense. Teams bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the player. Once the winning bid is announced, the MLB team with the highest bid has thirty days to sign the player, or he goes back to Japan for another year. If the two sides can’t come to a contract agreement, the MLB team also gets all their money back.
The system is great for the Japanese team that is losing a top talent because they get back a ton of money with which to improve their team at home. The system is pretty good for MLB teams because, they have exclusive negotiating rights (and all the leverage) for thirty days, and a guaranteed full refund if the Japanese player balks at playing for them. For the player being posted, things kind of suck. They want to come to the U.S. to face the best, which is really all any top tier athlete wants to do. When they get posted, they can negotiate with one team, or go back to Japan. While most teams that bid for these players usually offer a good contract for the player, the contract is not nearly as lucrative as they would get in true free agency. When acquiring posted players, teams spend all their money on the bid. If you have $80MM available to spend on a player, and $52MM goes to the bidding (money that the player never sees), that leaves you with only $28MM to offer the player over the life of the contract, and there’s nothing a player can do other than go back to Japan for another year. The leverage is all in the hands of the team, and the player ends up basically being forced to make less money pitching for a team that he maybe didn’t really want to play for.
As far as Yu Darvish goes, I suspect he’ll eventually come to an agreement with the Rangers. They clearly want him on the squad, and I’m sure they will make a fair offer. As incredible as Darvish was in Japan, there’s no guarantee he’ll be as good at the major league level. Most Japanese players tend to be very good at first and then fade away after a couple of seasons. Nobody really has Darvish’s resume though (his worst season far exceeds Daisuke Matzusaka’s best season), so I’m interested to see what he does, and insanely jealous that I don’t get to experience it first hand (the Yankees apparently bid under $20MM). I hope Texas is ready for the Whirling Darvish, y’all.
Has Brian Cashman Been Kidnapped??
I’m seriously ready to call the Darien Police Department. The Yankees have done nothing this off-season. In the months leading up to the off-season, and the first few days of it, Cashman stressed that the goal for heading into the 2012 season was pitching, pitching pitching. So far, he’s signed Freddy Garcia… Don’t get me wrong, Freddy went beyond expectations last season. He (and ‘Tolo) picked up a rotation that was in dire need of some five hour energy, if you know what I mean. That being said, the Yankees overachieved last season. Their rotation had a rookie, an aging veteran and a guy who hadn’t pitched in two years, and they won 97 games. In the post-season, they fell short, and I felt that the pitching was what let them down. It was to be expected. The bandaid holding the rotation together finally gave way against the big Tigers offense. I was disappointed, but not shocked. I am shocked at the lack of any life being shown by the Yankees this off-season. They barely bid on Darvish and watched other top talent get traded around the league (Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill) like hot cakes. Look… I don’t want the Yankees to trade their top pitching prospects like Manny Banuelos and Delin Betances, or their top hitting prospects like Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez. The problem is that, once again, the Yankees are heading into spring training with CC Sabathia and little else they know they can lean on for a fact. They’re relying on Phil Hughes getting back to form (in fat camp), Freddy Garcia doing the same thing he did last year, Ivan Nova avoiding the sophomore slump, AJ Burnett not blowing up again and, apparently, on rookie Hector Noesi pitching like a veteran. I’m not saying some of these things won’t happen, but it’s pretty bold to assume they all will as well, no? I’m not asking for much here. My wishes were for the Yankees to sign a guy like Roy Oswalt or Hiroki Kuroda to a very short term contract so that the kids would have another year of development under their belts (Banuelos and Betances barely reached AAA last year, and Noesi was used mostly in a mop-up relief role). Instead, I’ve seen Cashman do literally nothing, unless you count when he repelled down the Stamford Town Center building for the second year in a row. Can he come out and make a statement just so we know he’s safe? S.O.S. Brian… Are you there?!?
Jobu’s Note: Shortly after writing this, I got wind that the Yankees have signed former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract… Cashman lives!…sort of.
Shut Up Rex Ryan
Remember when Rex Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl victory in the preseason and I called him out on running his fat mouth? Well the Jets were virtually eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Giants last Saturday. You’d think that would stop Rex Ryan from being a fat loudmouth. Not so fast, fans. Apparently, Fat Rex approached Brandon Jacobs at the end of the game and fired off some kind of expletive in the RB’s direction. Granted, this story came from the mouth of Brandon Jacobs, a known loudmouth, so it’s hard to say who really started it, or if the words actually came from Rex’s mouth and not his overgrown belly (he’s hiding Kuato from Total Recall under there, right?). After the incident, Jacobs expressed his displeasure towards Ryan in the post game TV interview. He basically echoed my sentiments, calling Fat Rex a “disrespectful bastard” and a fat loudmouth. Is there anything in Rex’s career as the coach of the Jets that makes you think he didn’t approach Jacobs after the game to start this beef? This is a guy who lives for media attention and has an almost compulsive desire to talk nonsense before and after games. He spent the entire week telling the world his Jets were better than the Giants, and that the Jets would win the game. It’s one thing to be confident, it’s another thing to give other teams the motivation to pound your players on the field. Throughout his stint as coach he has shown off his brazen personality with the best of them. That’s fine when winning coaches do it, but when you’re not even going to make the playoffs, just shut your fat mouth and coach.
Here’s video of Brandon Jacobs:
Wilpon image courtesy of: http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/matthewfuntime
Suarez image courtesy of: http://img4.allvoices.com/
Darvish image courtesy of: http://blog.eastbay.com/
Cashman image courtesy of: AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill
Ryan image courtesy of: http://www.sportsgrid.com/
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