Elster's World

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day Blues

Woeful weather outside, woeful sports weekend for Elster. Mother’s Day weekend was not kind to the Mets and was even less kind to the New York Knicks, a team hurtling towards their designation as the worst franchise in sports.

Injuries to the back end of the Mets pitching rotation are proving very costly. Jose Lima and his blond dreadlocks can’t get through the fifth inning, John Maine can’t grip a baseball and Willie Randolph isn’t giving Aaron Heilman the keys to the car. And then there was Duaner Sanchez following up giving up his first run of the season by letting the floodgates open in his next two appearances as well.

This has many repercussions. The bullpen is getting taxed because of more work, there is more pressure on Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine to be great every time out and Steve Trachsel isn’t getting the job done (that’s not a repercussion, just another fact). There is more pressure on the offense to produce runs (and, for the most part, they are living up to that challenge; jumping out to early leads and finding ways to get runs off relievers in big spots). Add to the mix the Phillies recent run and all of a sudden the Mets lead in the East is down to a game (unless the Phils won last night, in which case it’s a half game).

Pardon me for being optimistic (Joe!!!), but every season has bumps in the road. Brian Bannister will be back shortly and the Mets can make a minor move to add a fourth or fifth starter. It’s only May. There really is no need to panic. Carlos Beltran looks great so far this year and it’s only a matter of time until Cliff Floyd and his dead bat wake up.

One interesting side note in all this is Randolph’s steadfast refusal to start Heilman. The rationale is that it will weaken the bullpen and it doesn’t seem like the Mets have anyone in the minor leagues who can come in and shut the door in the seventh or eight like Heilman can (see Heath Bell and his ghastly ERA). I get that. But Heilman really wants to start and to me it looks like he is taking his dissatisfaction onto the field. He always seems pissed off when he goes out there and isn’t bearing doen like he did at the end of last season. And he is a restricted free agent of some sort at the end of the year. He is going to take his 93 mph moving fastball and his deadly changeup somewhere where he will get a chance to start. Just seems like giving him a chance to start is the right answer. Of course, the bullpen is starting to look pretty shaky too so who knows?

As for the Knicks. Ah, the Knicks. Reports began surfacing this Sunday that the Knicks were attempting to buy out the remaining four years and approximately $40 million remaining on Larry Brown’s contract. It seems that they are fed up with the way he alienated his players (especially “star” Stephon Marbury) and took endless jabs at general manager Isaiah Thomas for the team that Thomas had put together. Reports say that Thomas will come in and coach the team this season.

Let’s not play the blame game. I will leave it to the talking heads to apportion percentages of blame. Instead focus on the bigger issues. The Knicks ownership (i.e. James Dolan) and management are so clueless that the finished product on the court will of course be awful. And make no mistake, this Knicks team is such a jumble of misplaced and expensive parts, that I wonder if I could have done a better job myself. But the braintrust wants big names. Big names fill seats. Thus you have three shooting guards on the roster and no one to distribute them the ball. You have a center who cost the Knicks a lottery pick, plus a potential lottery pick again next year (don’t ask, long story) and he only plays hard for the first 5 minutes of the game. Oh and he has a heart condition that was serious enough that his old team wouldn’t sign him to a contract extension. (So there’s a decent chance he might drop dead on the court at any given time. Actually makes for riveting television.) You have a backup center who underachieved his entire career, played hard for one playoff series, and was rewarded with a $48 million contract. Huh? The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.

Thomas is the master of the terrible trade, giving away the expiring contracts that will someday lead the Knicks out of salary cap hell inexchange for past their prime all stars with tons of unpaid money to go (Stevie Francis, Jalen Rose). There is almost no doubt that the Knicks will make a serious run at Kenyon Martin and his bad knees (and $70 million contract this summer).

Keep in mind, Thomas was never a particularly good coach and he was even a worse executive. He ran the CBA into the ground and is in the process of destroying one of the great franchises in sports. And Mr. Dolan is letting it happen. His faith in Thomas is puzzling at best and ludicrous at worst. If I owned a team I would never let a guy like Thomas keep adding to my already bloated payroll like this. It’s just bad business. But again, these guys have no plan.


  • Heilman " And he is a restricted free agent of some sort at the end of the year. He is going to take his 93 mph moving fastball and his deadly changeup somewhere where he will get a chance to start."

    What the heck are you talking about? Did you hear that in the mikvah?

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:00 PM  

  • Are you saying he is not a resatricted frewe agent at the end of the year?

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:32 PM  

  • I'm saying that there is no such thing as a restricted free agent in MLB.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:51 PM  

  • Ah - See, that's what I get for listening to someone who thinks he knows everything but in reality knows nothing. I did not check on this, but took someone's word on Heilman's staus for next year.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:57 PM  

  • Um.

    Many Spic names, have you noticed?

    [does the female act since baseball is so not her field]

    By Blogger Tomboy, at 4:11 PM  

  • I'm just touched that you respond tommy

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:24 PM  

  • I read very carefully, keeping my ignorant thoughts to myself.
    But I was struck with all those nationalities. I keep thinking of baseball as an All-American icon, but here you got all those names indicating otherwise, although I'm sure they're just as American as I truly am.
    I mean, USAan. Which I am not.
    Anyway, I was wondering. That's all.

    By Blogger Tomboy, at 6:57 PM  

  • Elster,

    Please don't allow racial epithets on your blog. I know you want to be polite, but words like "spic" are not tolerable.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 9:55 PM  

  • great post. i agree with you on your observations and criticisms. the race in the nl east is becoming much to close...the only hope is that the mets can go on a winning streak after their current stretch of bad games while the phillies cool down after their great play. and more trouble for the mets when they play the formidable st louis.

    as for the knicks, as an outsider, sometimes we see things more clearly, although you are right on target. thomas is clearly the one at fault. in addition to your reasons he does not have a good track record while brown is a hall of fame coach with an awesome career. if anyone can help a team win it would be him so it is just that this bunch of losers can't win with anyone. thomas is responsible for getting these bunch of itiots here. he chose guys who are surly and way too arrogant. they don't understand what teamwork means unless it's trying as a team to lose. they are getting paid millions to play and if they don't listen to their boss/coach they should be fined and have part of their salary taken away as could happen in other businesses.

    By Blogger bellanny, at 10:34 PM  

  • TB - Base ball has become an extremely international game with many, many latin americam and Japanese imports.

    Joe - Tomboy is actually from South America - her use of the term "spic" is akin to you using the word Hymie or an African American using the "N" word (not inserted because I don't want it picked up on a google search). While perhaps not palatable to you, it is socially accepted to use a gerogatory word of your own kind. Did not Watley convert to judaism to get new material?

    Bell - Amen - Down wit Isaiah!!!

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:27 PM  

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