Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Is MLB becoming the NBA?

Catching prospect Luis Torrens has turned torrid for the San Diego Padres, his average up to .176 - three for 17 in his spring mayfly flight. 

In a world of reason, Torrens' ticket would already be punched to Lake Elsinore of the California League, the rightful place for a 20-year-old, who's never played above Class A. But this world has gone mad. Because the Padres grabbed Torrens in December's Rule 5 draft, they must either keep him on their 25-man roster all season, or he'll return to his former team, the Yankees.

Who sits a 20-year-old for an entire year, basically rotting him on the bench? Who subjects a team - and, for that matter, its fan base - to playing a full season down one man, with only 24 game-worthy players? The answer: San Diego, a city so pissy about losing the Chargers that apparently it's willing to jettison the 2017 Padres in the hope of someday becoming a power. The season hasn't begun, yet they're already channeling the NBA's 2015 Philadelphia 76ers - (18-64, in case you forgot) - generally believed to be the least competitive pro team our species ever produced. (Sorry, '62 Mets!) 

But to achieve pure mendacious mediocrity, the Padres must out-suck the White Sox. That won't be easy. Chicago spent the off-season ditching its best players, and it's now dangling Jose Quintana for whatever prospects the Yankees will give. Finish low, draft high, wait your turn, eventually win... it's the NBA way! (Unless you're the Knicks, but that's another story.)

Both teams eye the Yankees as their carnival rube. That's because we're stuck in Hal Steinbrenner's dream world, where his teams somehow simultaneously contend AND rebuild. (How, you ask? We're the Yankees, he says!) For four years, we have played in Hal's quicksand, chasing wild cards like ice cream trucks, ever-hovering around .500. Last July, when the owner finally authorized a sell-off and collapse, the fan base erupted with a joyfulness not seen since 2009, our last walk down the Canyon of Heroes.

And why not? Reaching meltdown mediocrity propelled the Cubs to the World Series and has made Boston the 2017 AL favorite. Just finish last. Eventually, you'll win. The key is to be really, REALLY bad - not just middling bad. Go down to the cellar, and start digging. If you can still see .500, you're going nowhere. 

For decades, small market fans blasted Yankee spending as the ruination of baseball. It didn't matter that many small market owners were as wealthy as anybody on this planet - they were just cheap bastards, milking their cities. Today, thanks to strict luxury taxes on payrolls, all teams are basically equal in financing, though some owners - billionaires all - remain skinflints. A cheap bastard is a cheap bastard. 

But now we have teams actually lying down before opening day - planning a 24-man roster or a mid-March salary dump. Welcome to the NBA, folks. What's next? A draft lottery? Another round of playoffs? And how 'bout them Knicks!


Leinstery said...

I wish the MLB would hurry up and become the WWE already. The number 1 rule is that if you're old/retired and an established star then you win. Imagine Betances giving up yet another home run to blow the game, but from out of nowhere 50 year old Bernie Williams shows up and climbs the wall to make the catch and save the day. Three days later Bernie is batting 4th and proceeds to hit over .800 for the rest of the year. From there he carries them to the final game of the World Series, where the Yankees are down to their final out when Jeter emerges from the dugout to save the day. And shit, even if the whole league hates the Yankees then that means they'll just play the villain and win a World Series every other year.

joe de pastry said...

To be fair to the Padres, who don't deserve it, as a back-up catcher the kid would probably start at about 30 games, and he probably won't be worse than Romine.

JM said...

I like Leinstery's idea. We need a really big, flashy, gaudy belt, too. Maybe we could borrow something from Trump.

Leinstery said...

The belt is a giant baseball made of diamonds with rubies as the stitching. And there are golden bats on the sides.