2018 MLB Goals

 

Oofta.

Who knew having a full-time job working in the financial world of New York City could cramp a girl’s writing time so much? Sheesh! If I would have known working 9-5 was more than just a catchy song and would impede my energy to write sports opinion pieces, I would’ve never taken the job! Just kidding. I need money and as it turns out, working in finance in NYC is a pretty good gig.

With my new job came a lot less time to veg out watching sports. I can no longer stream Spring Training games during work, so my baseball consumption is limited to getting the scores on my fancy new Apple Watch that I could buy because I work in finance. JK, I could buy it before, but at least I don’t have to save up for, like, a month. ANYWAY. Before my tangent, my point was that I haven’t actually been able to watch a lot of baseball this spring, so my forthcoming column is going to be based on last season and the moves teams made over the winter. I’ll give you guys my goals for all of the teams and a quick analysis of how I think they will do in 2018.

So. Let’s get started shall we?

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Well, they still have Manny Machado! But he could be gone (will be gone) by the trade deadline and I just don’t think they can compete with Boston and New York in the division. 2018 Goal: Finish above .500 and don’t botch the soon-to-be completed Machado trade.

Boston Red Sox: They may have lost Big Papi to retirement, but they reloaded with JD Martinez! I mean, it’s not the same and he isn’t as good as Papi, but he still brings a big bat to their line-up. They brought in a new manager to help clean up the clubhouse atmosphere, so that should help immensely. They finished first in the division last year, but are hoping to avoid the quick postseason flame out. 2018 Goal: Get to the ALCS and try not to get whooped by the Indians or the Yankees or the Astros or the….

New York Yankees: No one had a better off-season than New York and no one is expecting anything less than a World Series appearance. The Evil Empire is OFFICIALLY back! GM Brian Cashman was able to acquire super slugger Giancarlo Stanton for basically a New York bagel and tub of schmear and now the middle of the line-up could look like this: Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Bird (when he is not injured, if that’s even possible). HOLY HECK. I feel bad for the opposing pitchers. 2018 Goals: Win the World Series, give me a pass to get on a float in the parade, and come up with a great nickname for the Stanton/Judge tandem.

Tampa Bay Rays: This team isn’t saying they are tanking, but they kind of are. With plans for a new stadium underway and a fan base who doesn’t actually show up to games, the poor Rays don’t have a heck of a lot to play for this season. The rotation will still be formidable, with Chris Archer as the anchor, but otherwise, I just can’t get excited about this team. 2018 Goal: Don’t accidentally kill a stingray with a homerun ball. Please.

Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto better hope it’s offense shows up this season, because it sure as heck didn’t show up last year. I feel like Toronto is a team that could really play spoiler for the Red Sox or the Yankees, but I don’t see them pulling a maple syrup-covered miracle out of their butts to win the division. 2018 Goals: Provide Josh Donaldson with enough do-dads for his hair and provide Troy Tulowitzcki with enough bubble wrap so he can’t injury himself.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Sadly, I think White Sox fans are going to have to wait yet another year for their team to be any good. The ChiSox have one of the best farm systems in the game, but that won’t mean much to the fans watching the major league games. Maybe this would be a good year for White Sox fans to go for hikes or swim in your dyed green river or eat deep dish pizza. I dunno, whatever Chicago people do for fun. 2018 Goal: Buy a deep dish pizza for every White Sox fan – they deserve it, even though deep dish pizza is basically just pizza casserole.

Cleveland Indians: Cleveland will be good at baseball again this year, not that anyone in Cleveland will care until after basketball season is over and LeBron either resigns with the Cavs or leaves (plz go to Philly Bron Bron). The rest of us, however, should watch the Indians because they should be a darn fun team to watch (again). The AL Central isn’t great, so my guess is Cleveland will be able to rack up a large amount of wins without much difficulty. Will that translate into a trip to the World Series? Who knows. 2018 Goals: Go to the World Series and DON’T BLOW A 3-1 LEAD.

Detroit Tigers: You lost Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, JD Martinez, and have an aging Miguel Cabrera. Oofta. Yeah, Miggy can still mash baseballs, but he can’t save the Tigers all by himself. As long as they are in the same division as the Indians, these next few years could be a doozy. Focus on the rebuild and hope for the best. 2018 Goal: Let Miggy hit all the baseballs!!

Minnesota Twins: Okay, so most of my family lives in Minnesota, so I have every want and desire for the Twins to have a good season again. 2017 showed that they are a capable team, but I’m not so sure they can have repeated success. Byron Buxton is a joy to watch and all Twins fans should be excited by him. For the 2018 Twins, I say hope for the best, but don’t hope too hard. 2018 Goal: Get to the Wild Card game. That, my fine Northern friends, would be a good goal for this group of guys.

Kansas City Royals: Man, can you believe the Royals won the World Series in 2015? It seems like so long ago! Those poor Royals have taken such a nosedive in the last few years that it is hard for me to remember when they were the darlings of MLB. They were able to resign Mike Moustakas (at quite the bargain, might I add), but the rest of their core group of guys have signed elsewhere. It could be a long season in KC. 2018 Goal: Give The Moose some extra BBQ – y’all gave him a lame contract. The LEAST you could do is give him some good eats.

AL West

Houston Astros: Your 2017 World Series champs have one goal and one goal only: repeat. It’s pretty straightforward and they should have a pretty good shot. 2018 Goal: Lather (your glove), Rinse (the champagne out of your hair), Repeat (as World Series champions).

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels shocked everyone when they landed prized free agent Shohei Ohtani, a unicorn by baseball any baseball standards. Ohtani has been playing in Japan as not only a pitcher, but as a fairly good hitter as well. He’s been dubbed the “Japanese Babe Ruth” – that’s a lofty title to live up to! He hasn’t dazzled in Spring Training, and I personally found it odd that he signed with an American League team. With no regular at-bats, will he focus more on pitching? Who knows, but I do know that he is the most intriguing story line for the Angels. And that’s saying an awful lot considering they have the best baseball player on the planet in Mike Trout. 2018 Goal: Give away Trout-shaped hats to every kid at every game. The fish, not the man.

Oakland Athletics: For like, the third year in a row I have forgotten the A’s were even a team. Are they still in Oakland or are they moving to Las Vegas like the Raiders? They are a young team and will probably be better than last year, but I don’t really think they will be relevant. Sorry A’s fans. 2018 Goal: Don’t move to Las Vegas. Just don’t. Actually, no, I change my mind. PLEASE move to Las Vegas. It would put the gambling-hating MLB in the craziest position and I’d LOVE to see it.

Seattle Mariners: YOU GOT ICHIRO BACK! And you traded your whole roster away! Besides Ichiro and Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez, who actually still plays in Seattle? Do you know? I don’t. 2018 Goal: Send everyone in the country an updated roster sheet after every trade you make, because honestly, the American people just can’t keep up.

Texas Rangers: Welp, y’all still have Joey Gallo who is a rockstar and Adrian Beltre who is just a delight to watch (even after all these years!). What else do you need? Oh yeah, pitching and hitting. Huh. Funny how that works. 2018 Goal: Stay above .500. Just try. You can do it! I have faith in you!

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Atlanta is a team that will really benefit from a rather weak NL East. With the Nats being the only really good team in the division, the Braves have a chance to potentially rack up some wins. Are they in play for the Wild Card? Probably not this year, but they have some AMAZING young talent that is on the verge of making some serious noise. 2018 Goal: Try for the Wild Card! Why not? It’s good to dream big.

Miami Marlins: There is literally nothing good to say about this team this year, other than the fact that you guys have side-arm pitcher Brad Ziegler as your closer, who is super fun to watch. Plus, you have Martin Prado and I friggin’ love him. Miami, you guys deserve better than Derek Jeter making a mockery of your team and making insulting baseball decisions. 2018 Goals: Sell at least 100 tickets a game and given anyone under 15 years old a free ticket.

New York Mets: Oh woe is the Met fan. Now that I live in New York, it’s amazing how quickly the Mets have become an after-thought again. Once Aaron Judge came onto the scene, and ESPECIALLY once that Yanks traded for Giancarlo Stanton, NYC is doing nothing but buzz about the Yankees. I’ve heard nary a word about the Queens-based baseball team, but maybe that’s how they want things this year. 2018 Goal: Try to win the Subway Series. LOL JK.

Philadelphia Phillies: The City of Brotherly Love is still riding VERY high off the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory. Honestly, it probably doesn’t matter if the Phillies are good or not thing year. But here’s the thing: they will probably be ok-to-good this season. They signed Jake Arrieta to anchor a promising, young rotation and their offense should be more productive this year. They are still not in the mix for the postseason or even the Wild Card, but I’d be willing to bet this is the best team they’ve had in years. 2018 Goal: Try to only be like, 20 games under .500. That’s a solid, probably attainable goal.

Washington Nationals: Let’s be honest: the Nats are going to blow through this division like the wind blows through the gaps in my apartment’s windows. As always, the Nats will be in prime position to jockey for a spot in the NLCS, but do I think they will be able to make it past the Dodgers? Nope, I do not. I love Max Scherzer and I love Bryce Harper, but I don’t think the Nats will make it beyond the NLCS. 2018 Goal: MAKE IT PAST THE NLCS.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are a very good baseball team. This is a fact. The Cubs will probably win 90+ games this year and still have a potential to build a dynasty before the younger players start getting bigger contract offers from other teams. The core of players is still great and there is no reason the Cubbies shouldn’t be in World Series contention. 2018 Goals: Win the NL Central and beat the tar out of the Dodgers to advance to the World Series.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds actually had a pretty good offense last year, but you wouldn’t know it because their pitching staff was among the worst in the majors. Since they know they won’t be competing for a post-season slot this year, the Reds would be wise to auction off some players for baller prospects and find some good, young pitching they can build around. This season will suck for Cincy fans, but I think it’ll be a good step for a bright future. 2018 Goal: Just play meaningful games. That’s it. Just do that and you’ll be peachy keen.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers were the team that surprised me the most last year, and I’d love for them to surprise me again this year. They’ve already made a killer remake of The Sandlot, so they already won Spring Training. Will they make a serious post-season run? Possibly! I’d say they could be a great Wild-Card contender, but I doubt they will run past the Cubs for the division title. 2018 Goal: Make it to the NDLS.

Pittsburg Pirates: After doing the unthinkable and trading Andrew McCutchen, a lot of fans will be disheartened and angry. I get that. And this team doesn’t look amazing on paper. However, they could surprise people. In my mind, they could be like the Diamondbacks were last year – they were only supposed to win 70-some games, but ended up exceeding expectations and making it to the NLDS. It may not be a stellar season, but it won’t be a disaster. Probably. 2018 Goal: Find another awesome dude to be the face of your franchise.

St. Louis Cardinals: Pretty much my entire life there have been a few constants: death, taxes, and the Cards winning the NL Central. However, with the Cubs ascension, the Cards have been descending. They have missed the playoffs the last two years and I am personally wondering if the Cards Devil Magic is finally running out. Who knows, it might not be, but anything beyond a Wild Card birth is wishful thinking in my mind. 2018 Goal: Just make the post-season. Doesn’t matter how you do it, be it with resurgent performances or Devil Magic, just make the post-season.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: My sweet, wonderful Diamondbacks surprised everyone in baseball last year and made it into the post-season! And I hope they do it again this year! Will they beat the Dodgers for the division title? No! Sadly! Can they be the top Wild Card team again? Yes! Will Paul Goldschmidt FINALLY win NL MVP? HE BETTER! Am I going to keep asking questions, then answering them with exclamation points? HECK YES I AM! WOOO!!! 2018 Goal: Make the post-season again!

Colorado Rockies: Like the Brewers, the Rockies really surprised me last year when they were able to make it to the Wild Card game. The Rockies still have this awesome upwards trajectory and it’s going to be fun to watch them get better and grow over the next few years. But who knows what’s going to happen? They could go back to being a .500 team and it wouldn’t surprise anyone. 2018 Goal: Don’t become a .500 team.

Los Angeles Dodgers: For the last, er, four years probably, all of the pundits have been saying that anything else less than a World Series title would be a failure. Welp, we are doing it again this year! For these Los Angeles Dodgers, with their wealth of young talent, surplus of money, and Clayton Kershaw, anything less than a World Series title will be a failure. 2018 Goal: Do I really need to say it?

San Diego Padres: The Padres are actually not in the world’s worst position this year because absolutely no one will be paying attention to them. They are a young team with nothing but potential and they can play/struggle without anyone watching. Any mistakes that will be made will go unnoticed and any successes will actually be talked about. It’s not a bad spot to be in, actually. 2018 Goals: Don’t fire the manager mid-season, don’t make a flurry of stupid trades, and enjoy living in the perfect weather climate.

San Francisco Giants: How’s about the 2017 season? Yeesh. Every Giants fan is going to wipe last year from their memory and pretend it never happened. Will the 2018 Giants be any better? Honestly, it’s hard to say. They were one of the oldest teams in baseball and they got even older this offseason. That may not be a bad thing, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing. This team is what it looks like at the end of a dynasty – it ain’t pretty and we know if they don’t perform well this year, it may well be a looooooong time before we see them have decent success again. All dynasties must end and the end is usually painful. 2018 Goal: Do better than last year.

There you have it! I hope you all are as stoked for baseball as I am!

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MLB Mid-Season Grades!

I know, I know – I haven’t written anything in a looooooong time. I’m sorry! Life sometimes gets in the way of the things we love, including sports blogging. Even though the last month has been a bit chaotic for me, I am still finding time to watch lots and lots of baseball, because what good is life if you cannot find the time to watch baseball?

Anyway, we are nearly at the All-Star break, which means instead of me getting to go see the game in Miami (and live out my fantasies of being Jane Villanueva from Jane the Virgin), I will be sitting here in New Jersey grading each MLB team. We are halfway through the season, which means we have a pretty good idea of who these teams are and what they are capable of. There have been plenty of surprises this season, so let’s not waste anymore time!

Here we gooooooooo…

AL East

Baltimore Orioles – C+. Injuries and poor pitching seem to be doing the Orioles in this  year. As a team built around power-hitting and a good bullpen, the O’s need to figure out how the keep their good players healthy. Might I suggest bubble wrap? They have a terrible rotation and a terrible farm system and a lot of key players heading into free agency. This means it could be a tough stretch for O’s fans the next few years…

Boston Red Sox – B. Boston gets a “B”, and not just because their city starts with a B. This team was supposed to have a cake-walk to the top of the AL East this year, but with only a few games left until the All-Star break, they are sitting 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees. The AL East may have every team within 5 games of being .500, but shoot dang they are mediocre right now! It seems like every team has been bad this past month, and as much talent as Boston has, they should be doing more to take advantage of this opportunity. They will still probably win the division, but who knows if they will make a deep post-season run.

New York Yankees – B+. The Yanks, by everyone’s standards, have over-achieved this year by a lot. Which, of course, means that things can go from great to awful in a New York minute. They were flying high in April and May, only to crash back down to earth in June. With Dellin Betances looking *gasp* human, and the issue of having an average rotation (at best), the Yankees could end up flopping the rest of the season. But fear not, becasue Aaron Judge will come save us all and perhaps win the Triple Crown, Rookie of the Year, AND MVP. The Baby Bombers look like the real deal, so the next few years should be super fun.

Tampa Bay Rays – B-. Here’s the thing – the Rays have actually not been bad this year. Their slugging percentage is 8th in the majors, which is very good, but all other stats put them solidly in the middle-of-the-pack. My dad inadvertently summed up the Rays season very well last night by saying “I kind of forget about the Rays”. They never seem to make any noise because they are neither good enough to be talked about or bad enough the be excoriated.

Toronto Blue Jays – C-. Toronto is in a tricky spot because they are not a great team, yet they are still within five or so games of a Wild Card berth. This team has been disappointing all year and I see no silver lining for our Canadian friends up north. Many of the stars on this team are set to hit free agency within the next year or two, and a lot of their crew is older. Perhaps the Jays will be sellers at the deadline. After all, they killed their farm system in 2015 so they could contend. Some retooling is needed for this team, but gosh they were a lot of fun to watch the last few years.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox – D+. The Sox are officially in rebuilding mode – they made that perfectly clear when they traded Chris Sale to the Red Sox, and as of today, they traded Jose Quintana to their cross-town rivals. No one was expecting much from the White Sox this year. However, they got a lot of great prospects from the Quintana trade and they are putting themselves in a position to be very good in a few years. But, until then, it’s not gonna be pretty.

Cleveland Indians – B. By last year’s standards, Cleveland has not been very good. But by the baseball standards, they are doing fairly well. They are still a good team and they have benefited from being in a weak division. You know it’s bad when the 45-43 Twins are your toughest competition…Is Cleveland just tired from their World Series run last year? Maybe. Or are they just an average team this year? Possibly. Cleveland is a mystery, but they should be better in the second half of the season. Plus, their twitter is still the most entertaining of all the team accounts and that goes a long way.

Detroit Tigers – D+. Besides Justin Verlander’s upcoming wedding to Kate Upton, do the Tigers really have anything to look forward to? Nope. Nada. This is a team that should be sellers at the trade deadline, but they are silly so they probably will convince themselves somehow that they can compete. They can’t. They are old and cannot even compete with the mediocrity in their division. Hey Tigers – SELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

Kansas City Royals – C. The longer they are removed from their World Series title, the more that 2015 squad looks like a flash in the pan. But! The Royals were rolling right before the All-Star break, so who knows! Maybe they will pull something out of their butts and get themselves into contention for the post-season, but I will believe it when I see it.

Minnesota Twins – B. We got treated to a show courtesy of Miguel Sano during the Home Run Derby, going toe-to-toe with resident baseball wunderkind Aaron Judge for the crown. But as awesome as Sano is, it is not rational to think the Twins can compete with Cleveland in the latter half of the season. They need pitching help, but I think it would be silly to give up great prospects for a win-now kind of move. They are ahead of the rebuilding curve, so they should not give up those good prospects for pitching they won’t need when they are sitting on the couch in October.

AL West

Houston Astros – A+. The Astros have been the darlings of the MLB this year and rightfully so. This is what they have been aiming for during their rebuilding and all of their patience is paying off. They have the best record in the AL and look like serious contenders for a World Series title. I know, it sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them and the Dodgers duking it out in the fall classic.

Los Angeles Angels – C-. Aside from the Astros, the AL West really stinks. Currently, the Angels are the best of the stinkiest teams, which is not a great complement for an injury-riddled team lingering a few games below .500. Their superstar, Mike Trout, has been injured for much of the first half and will return after the All-Star break. Their rotation is questionable at best and it’s a team that seems unwilling to improve and salvage their years with baseball’s best player. It’s a shame that Mike Trout is on a team that sucks.

Oakland A’s – F. Oh, Brad Pitt where art thou? The A’s have been awful and should hopefully be selling their butts off at the trade deadline. Maybe they would be better if they had a new stadium…

Seattle Mariners – C-. Every year I keep thinking to myself “maybe this will be Seattle’s year” but then it never is. Their new GM is making moves like crazy to make them better, but the team still seems just on the outskirts of the post-season. And soon enough, Robinson Cano’s massive contract is going to become a problem (don’t believe me? Look at every other massive contract ever). Will it ever be the Mariners’ year? I have no idea.

Texas Rangers – C. The Rangers are realistically not going to make the post-season this year. So, should they listen to offers on their best players? Honestly, yeah maybe they should. I think Rangers would like to think they are buyers at the deadline, but they can’t compete this year. The AL East is probably going to produce the at least one of the two Wild Cards and the Rangers are just not as good.

NL East

Atlanta Braves – C+. The Braves have been in full-on rebuild mode and gosh darn it they are loaded with phenomenal prospects. They have also out-performed my expectations for this year, not that those expectations were terribly high to begin with. However! The first half of the season has shown that the Braves dark days are probably behind them and that brighter days are ahead.

Miami Marlins – C. No one expected it to be easy for the Marlins this year. Not even a year removed from the death of their biggest star, Jose Fernandez, the team has been able to play average baseball. The turmoil of his death has been hard enough to deal with, but the distraction of having their team being bid on by who knows how many parties is not helping anyone. The future of the team seems to be in limbo and the product on the field has reflected that. But I gotta give the Marlins and the city of Miami some credit: they put on a fantastic All-Star game and were phenomenal hosts for the All-Star break activities.

New York Mets – C-. Woe is the long-suffering Mets fan! In the most Mets-style move possible, they teased their fans with a few good seasons, then took a downturn in 2017. Injuries are largely to blame – their rock-star rotation hasn’t been able to pitch together once this year because someone has been injured (or suspended – I’m looking at you, Matt Harvey). The Mets have a dearth of problems that could have probably been avoided – the staff seems to not do what they can to prevent injuries, the players are making dumb choices on and off the field, and the front office won’t hire a very smart, qualified, lovely human being (me).

Philadelphia Phillies – F. Poor Philly fans. This year’s team is even worse than most people expected and there is no sugarcoating the fact that they have been the worst team in baseball. They will be sellers at the deadline, hopefully getting a few good prospects for the few good players teams would want. This team is several years away from being good, but slowly and surely they will get there. It’s just going to be painful.

Washington Nationals – A-. Were it not for the Dodgers and Astros, the Nats would be the talk of the town. Once again, they have proven themselves to be a very good team, but also once again, they have proven that their bullpen sucks donkey butt. But they have an excellent rotation, anchored by the ever dominant Max Scherzer, and when their middle line-up is healthy, they are unstoppable.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – C-. Oofta. That’s really all I have to say about the Cubbies. Oofta. Their offense isn’t hitting and their pitching has been off all season. They did get a boost with the trade for Jose Quintana, but their bats better step it up. They are below the MLB average in runs and since their pitching has not be great, that’s a huge problem. Is it a World Series hangover? Perhaps. The Cubs are talented enough to turn it around, but let’s be honest – we have been waiting for them to turn it around all year.

Cincinnati Reds – D. Anyone else forget the Reds were a team this year? Yeah, same. Look, the Reds are bad, and they best be thanking their lucky stars that Philly is worse than them. Their rotation is basically a flaming can of garbage, save for Scott Feldman, which means he is probably gonna be traded. Good times in Cincy…

Milwaukee Brewers – B+. The Brewers may not be a super good team, but they have played well enough to be first in the NL Central. Yes, their competition this year is not good, but they have been able to take advantage of the sub-par quality of their division. They are a few good pitchers away from making a strong post-season push, so it will be interesting to see what they do at the trade deadline.

Pittsburg Pirates – C-. Sadly, the Pirates are probably not going to be making the post-season. And they probably won’t be making it to the post-season in the next few seasons. So what’s a team to do? If they don’t start playing better, they would be wise to trade Andrew McCutchen and/or Garrit Cole for some very good prospects. If they do start playing better, they will probably hang on to them and try to make a run their surprisingly weak division.

St. Louis Cardinals – C. The Cardinals have been very…un-Cardinal-ish. This team has been nothing but stunningly average all year, and frankly, that’s weird for me to say. As long as I can remember, they have been – for the most part – a stronghold on the NL Central. No team has been as consistently good as them over the last 10-15 years or longer. But alas, this year the Cards just don’t look as good. “The Cardinal Way” is not getting them where they need to be. With the Cubs not doing so hot, the Cards could make a push for a division title, but it will be tough.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks – A. THE DIAMONDBACKS ARE GOOD THIS YEAR! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! But…the farm system is still a mess and there is not a lot of depth in the minors. So basically, there can’t be any major injuries. BUT! This team is so good and so much fun to watch. Paul Goldschmidt is the obvious first-half MVP and the rotation is FINALLY not sucking eggs. Maybe this year is a fluke, but I am going to enjoy every bit of it.

Colorado Rockies – A. If I told you at the beginning of the season the NL West would be best division in baseball, would you believe me? No, probably not. I am not surprised the Rockies are hitting so well, but I am very surprised that their pitching has been solid, too. The Rockies, for the first time in years, are a lot of fun to watch. I haven’t enjoyed watching this much since the Todd Helton days! This whole division (sans Padres) has been so fun to watch.

Los Angeles Dodgers – A+. The Dodgers are the best team in the National League and it’s not even close. Yes, the Nationals could give them a run for their money, but the Dodgers are just flat-out playing dominate baseball this year. They have the likely NL Rookie of the Year in Cody Bellinger and the always dominate Clayton Kershaw. Their rotation is stellar and their position players are hitting so well. This team will be hard to beat.

San Diego Padres – D-. Yeah the Padres suck again. The sky is blue. Grass is green. All of these are facts, my friends. But the good news is that the Padres have acquired a lot of really good prospects through a bevy of trades, so their future is looking pretty good. This year though, it’s gonna be tough. But hey, at least the fans in San Diego have the best weather, right?

San Francisco Giants – F. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA THE GIANTS SUCK THIS YEAR AND IT MAKES ME SOOOOO HAPPY. Sorry sorry, I got carried away there. As a life-long D-Backs fan, it warms my cold heart to see the Giants doing so horribly. They are last in the division and at this point, should just sell and sell fast. Get rid of as much as you can and acquire as many prospects are you can. The Giants will figure it out in the 2020s, but the dynasty is over, folks.

It Ain’t Fair to Compare

I bet you $100 that if LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers make the 2018 NBA Finals, every sports outlet will, once again, start comparing him to Michael Jordan.

Would you take that bet?

No, of course you wouldn’t! That would be preposterously stupid and I would end up $100 bucks richer. I would actually bet the remainder of my student loan payments that the LeBron/MJ comparisons will continue every time LeBron makes it to the NBA Playoffs, not just the Finals.

It seems to be a popular narrative that literally all sports shows enjoy pushing. I can hardly watch any of my favorite sports programing on ESPN and Fox Sports 1 because during every show there will be a segment about LBJ vs MJ, whether it be people telling them not to compare the two or coming up with some stale argument about why one is better than the other. It’s not just exhausting, but it’s pointless because no one is making any new points or giving any new perspective.

Just for fun, let’s line up some of their regular season stats:

Games played: LBJ: 1061, MJ:1072

FG %: LBJ: .501, MJ: .497

3-point %: LBJ: .342, MJ: .327

Rebounds per game: LBJ: 7.3, MJ: 6.2

Assists per game: LBJ: 7.0, MJ: 5.3

Points per game: LBJ: 27.1, MJ: 30.1

Career points scored: LBJ: 28,787, MJ: 32,292

So, where does that leave us? On paper, LeBron is barely a better player than MJ. In fact, they are almost identical except when it comes to rebounds and assists. And Bron Bron’s numbers, keep in mind, will continue to improve because he is still playing. So, why do people say LeBron is not as good as MJ?

Oh yeah. Rings.

LeBron has won 3 NBA Finals. MJ has won 6.

I hate to break it to you, but LeBron will probably never win 6 rings. The NBA is a different place and the parity is much better. I mean, I still know who will go to the Finals every year, but you can’t count on one team winning it all. Besides, I don’t think championships are always indicative of player greatness. Look at all the supporting cast members on the Bulls or the Cavs or the Heat who have the same number of rings as each of these dudes. There are guys who have far more rings than MJ, yet no one will say they are greater than him. Like, Brock Osweiler has more NFL rings than Dan Marino, but no one in their right minds will say that Brock is a better QB than Marino.

Sports pundits and networks LOVE to compare past and present players. For example, I’ve heard them ask who was a better Yankee: Ruth or Jeter? I’ve heard them push the narrative of is “Brady a better QB than Montana” (the answer is “yes” BTW). You can’t compare Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter because they played at two completely different times in baseball. Tom Brady and Joe Montana didn’t face the same kind of competition or have the same kind of coaching. The supporting cast around these players also makes a HUGE difference. LeBron would probably have at least one more ring if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving weren’t injured in 2015. Jeter wouldn’t have five rings if he didn’t play for the Yankees. Brady also wouldn’t have five rings if it weren’t for Bill Belichick and some outstanding plays by his defense during the last two Super Bowls they won. There are too many factors that go into making a player great for us to objectively say one is better than the other.

The point I want to make here is that we should all stop comparing athletes to those of a previous generation. The NBA was a different place when MJ was playing than right now. It was a different place when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was playing. All three are great players who will likely sit on the basketball version of Mount Rushmore. However, it isn’t fair or conducive to compare them to each other. We can look at stats and rings to see who is the better player, but we can’t arbitrarily compare one to the other.

Eras of play change. LeBron might have been better than MJ if they played at the same time, and MJ might be better than LeBron if he played now. We have no way of knowing because you have to look beyond the stats and try to compare what the NBA was like before and what it is like now. The game has even evolved during LeBron’s career. If it can evolve that much since Bron Bron made his debut, we have to realize how much it’s changed between the LeBron era and the Jordan era.

Both players are monumentally important to the game of basketball. Both have been two of the most marketed athletes in history. Both have illustrious Playoff resumes and both of them have carried teams on their backs to Championship titles. But that’s where the Greatest Of All Time debate needs to stop. We can have multiple GOATs. That sounds blasphemous, I know, but we need to stop comparing the two. Or, wait until LeBron retires at the very least. Don’t compare someone who is in the middle of their career to someone who has been retired for a long time.

Let’s just enjoy the greatness of LeBron James and remember the greatness of Michael Jordan. Appreciate both, don’t compare both.

The Tragedy of Aaron Hernandez

I don’t feel compelled to write about Aaron Hernandez because I feel obligated to. I don’t want to write about his suicide that occurred this morning. I don’t have the desire to debate whether him killing himself was right or wrong.

I want to write about the tragedy that was his life that could’ve turned out so differently.

I believe that everyone is a child of a just, loving God. But I also believe that people are product of the choices they make when thing are not easy. It’s one thing to be a good person and make good choices when life is easy, but it’s another to be a good person when life gives you more than you can handle. It’s another thing entirely to make horrific choices when life is easy.

It’s almost forgivable when people make bad choices when things are hard – you steal food to feed your family because, after paying the bills, working three jobs still isn’t enough. Your kids can’t go to college because they have to drop out of high school to get a full-time job to help pay rent. It makes more sense to make easy money on the streets to make ends meet when you feel as though you have no other choices.

Aaron Hernandez had other choices.

Aaron Hernandez was a thug when he didn’t need to be. He was a wannabe gangster when he had no reason to be. Hernandez had enough to talent to make him one of the better tight ends in football. Hernandez was so good, in fact, that he earned a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. He didn’t need to run around with bad dudes. He didn’t need to make poor choices throughout college and the pros. Yes, he grew up in a bad environment. Yes, he had a rough start in life. But he could have made better choices.

Make no mistake, he should be commended for making it out of the streets and making something of himself. But how could he have been so stupid? When he made it to Florida in college, he was gifted a QB named Tim Tebow. He had a fast-track to the NFL. Yet he still had gang affiliations in college and was a rabble rouser. In the NFL, he was gifted a QB named Tom Brady. Yet he still made the choices to mess everything up.

What gets lost in all of this is the fact that an innocent man died at the hands of Aaron Hernandez. When Aaron Hernandez made the choice to murder Odin Lloyd in cold blood, he vacated any good will he had stored up. When he killed Odin Lloyd in a cold blood, he became a coward. In fact, two other men besides Odin Lloyd could have been killed in cold blood by Hernandez.

Aaron Hernandez demonstrated time and again that he was not a good person, and he constantly demonstrated that he couldn’t make good decisions under the easiest of circumstances. I don’t think Hernandez is a victim of anything other than his own hubris. That’s what makes his story all the more tragic.

But perhaps most tragic of all, he left behind a four year old girl who is in for one hell of ride. This little girl got denied a father the moment Hernandez pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Odin Lloyd. She got denied any potential relationship with her father the moment he slipped a homemade noose around his neck. This little will grow up without knowing her father as anything other than a monster. She might not remember him blowing kisses to her in the courtroom. She might not believe the nice stories her mother will tell her about him. Anytime this little girl comes up in conversation, every person will have her father’s crimes in the back of their mind. This little girl joins a legion of children who’s fathers killed innocent human beings – one of the worst clubs a person could be a part of, only to be made worse because her father’s killings were so publicized. Thankfully, it seems like this girl will be raised by people who will love her, care for her, and remind her everyday that she is not her father or his crimes. She will be raised to make choices that don’t lead to that moment of desperation when a gun sits heavy in her hand.

Hernandez left behind a family who loved him. He left behind a fiancee who was standing by his side through all of this. But he did not leave them behind when he took his own life – he left them behind when he put six bullets in the body of Odin Lloyd. Aaron Hernandez forfeited his chance to live the life he was gifted by God – a life that would consist of catching footballs thrown by Tom Brady, a life that would let him love his daughter and fiancee, a life that could lead to financial security for everyone in his family.

Many sports pundits this morning expressed not feeling bad for Aaron Hernandez. I do feel bad for him. I feel bad for his family. I feel bad that his life was a series of bad choices that led to his death. I feel bad that when he talk about Aaron Hernandez, we won’t talk about the football star he could have been. I feel bad that he became a cautionary tale to other young football players. I feel bad that he felt so desperate about his situation that the only rational option he felt he had was suicide. I feel bad that his 30 For 30 will be closer to a Shakespearian tragedy instead of a celebration.

Aaron Hernandez was the product of his choices and it’s all just so sad. That’s all it is – just sad.

Kap and the NFL’s Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is funny thing.

We are all guilty of it. We’ve all said something, then done the opposite. We’ve all given advice and not taken it ourselves. Sometimes, hypocrisy is excusable, like when I tell my dieting  friend they should opt for carrot sticks over that tasty-looking doughnut, yet I find myself at Dunkin later in the day. Even though they may not be good for me, sometimes a girl just really needs a doughnut!

However, sometimes there are less innocent and very much so more inexcusable forms of hypocrisy.

The NFL is currently dealing in the latter.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is currently a free agent looking for a job on any football team’s roster. The former starting QB is likely not looking at a starting position, but he would make for a very solid #2 option. When you are looking at the stats for 2016, Kap had a completion percentage of 59.2% – not bad, all things considered. He also had a QBR (QB rating) of 55. That stat is not very good, but considering the dearth of marginally good starting QBs in the NFL, it isn’t disqualifying. The one thing that sets Kap apart from a lot of QBs is that he runs. His game is mobile, which is why he thrived under Jim Harbaugh, who built his team around a mobile QB. In 2016, he rushed for 468 yards on 69 attempts, which averages out to 6.8 yards per carry. Most running backs do not have stats like that.

In other words, Kap’s stats are not great, but they are not that bad. In a world where people keep signing the Josh McGowns and the RGIIIs of the world, there is no good reason why Kap should not be on an NFL roster. He may not warrant a starting position, but he should be on a roster as a back-up. So why isn’t he?

His knee.

No, it’s not injured.

Him taking a knee during the national anthem is why he is not welcome on a NFL team.

Prior to the 2016 season, Kap, saddened and disheartened by the police violence against minorities, decided to peacefully protest by not standing for the national anthem. It was his way of showing solidarity to the victims of police brutality without causing a riot or violence. Kneeling was his way of showing the world this was a cause that meant a lot to him.

I’m going to level with you guys: prior to the 2016 season, I couldn’t stand Colin Kaepernick. I’m an Arizona Cardinals fan, so I have a natural dislike of the QBs in my division. Sure, Russell Wilson is a good man, but I hate his guts when he’s playing the Cards. And whatever QB is starting for the Rams is never someone I want to see playing well (of course they rarely do). But for me, Kap represented a different kind of QB: the entitled, athletic, and successful QB. The kind of player that generally rubs me the wrong way.

However, once Kap started taking more of an interest in politics and social issues, I began to see a different side to the divisive QB. I was completely in support of his protest because I too was saddened by the unjust deaths caused by police officers. I’m all about protesting! I love it as long as people don’t get hurt and property doesn’t get destroyed. He never pleaded for other players to join him and he promised to donate money to several charities throughout the season. And Kap’s protest was meant to be quiet and peaceful, so what’s wrong with that?

I forgot that in the NFL, nothing can be quiet or peaceful.

As soon as media outlets discovered Kap wasn’t standing for the anthem, chaos ensued. And because it’s the NFL, the chaos was even more ridiculous than usual. Some fans were praising Kap and others were demanding he be suspended. Nightly show comedians were doing segments about him. Conservative pundits were destroying him and calling him un-American and liberal pundits were praising his efforts. Even veterans were on Twitter saying they supported his right to protest, even if not everyone supported the protest. It seemed as if every person had an opinion on his peaceful protest.

The 2016 football season has come and gone, but Kap still remains a much-talked about man. People are wondering where he will land or if he will even play in the NFL ever again. This week, as free agency continues, the conversation seems to be getting louder. Reporters are asking General Managers across the league why they won’t even give Kap a workout. Most are saying that his stats are miserable. Okay, yeah, they aren’t great, but they are no worse than many other currently employed QBs. Only a few have been honest and say that they don’t want to deal with the media frenzy that will surely ensue. One even said they don’t want President Trump to tweet at them.

Oy.

I’m not surprised by what the honest owners are saying. It’s hard to sign a statistically average player when you know a media circus will ensue.

Wait.

Hold on.

Let me rephrase: It’s hard to sign a statistically average player when he has not beat a woman, killed a guy, hurt some dogs, or committed some other felony, but rather committed a peaceful protest in the NFL, where they pay for patriotism.

Yes, I went there.

Isn’t it pretty messed up that you see coaches and GMs and owners coming to the defense of basic human garbage? Yet none of them will admit that Kap has made an impact in the community and forced a nation to have a conversation about racial injustice and police brutality? How many times during press conferences do you see a GM or coach try to defend a wife beater? A felon? It’s all about second chances, they say. It’s all about the guy being a changed man, they say.

My understanding is that teams would rather bring in guys who are felons than a guy who took a knee during the anthem. Don’t you find that terrifically hypocritical? The NFL tries to celebrate their players doing charitable work, yet no higher ups will even acknowledge the work Kap has been doing off-the-field. Just in the last few days, Kap was one of the people who helped raise funds for famine-ravaged Somalia (one of the countries on Trump’s travel ban list FYI). Not only did he help raise funds, he secured a plane and a pilot to deliver the supplies.

So far, Kap has put his money and time where is mouth (and knee) is, which is more than many others can say. He is working tirelessly to better communities in the USA and around the world. Yet somehow, his “offense” is more egregious than others. Human trash like Greg Hardy can beat the living tar out of a woman and still get a team like the Cowboys to sign him. You can argue that players like Greg Hardy are good enough that their off-the-field discretions mean nothing because they can produce on the field. Except guess what? After Greg Hardy’s suspension, he played averagely. He was an average player, but he still got onto an NFL roster. Kap is an average QB in a league that is starved for average QBs.

The NFL can take their hypocrisy and shove it up their ass. That’s harsh, but I am so tired of seeing the NFL bend the rules for some players and pick and choose what players are doing noble work. I am so tired of seeing mediocre players who do horrific things get second chances while a guy who has literally done nothing wrong is getting black-balled. It’s repugnant. It’s disgusting. It’s unacceptable.

Funnily enough, Donald Trump did reference Colin Kaepernick at a rally in Kentucky a few days ago. He insulted the QB and said that people in Kentucky obviously “like people who actually stand for the American flag”. Instead of talking about how he wanted to defund programs like Meals on Wheels, PBS, and adding billions to the military budget, he talked about the QB and made fun of the team offices who would were afraid the president might tweet them.

Shortly after the comments were made, Colin Kaepernick donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels.

Yeah. Kap sure seems like a bad dude, right? Except bad dudes are given a second a chance in the NFL. Good dudes who don’t stand for the anthem apparently don’t get a second chance.

Take your hypocrisy and shove it, NFL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals for Every MLB Team in 2017

Ahhhh Spring Training: the time of year when hope springs eternal for every MLB team. The Florida heat and the Desert sunshine bring the warmth and promise of a summer filled with homers, double plays, and a sense of purpose for baseball lovers everywhere. My goal for every MLB season is the same: watch as many games as possible and try to see as many games in person as I can. Usually, I accomplish both goals. But, like me, every MLB team also has goals coming into Spring Training.

I will tell you all what the main goal for every MLB team should be. Sure, they might disagree, but I know what’s right. I am all-knowing. I am basically the MLB mind reader. The strike out swami. The foul-ball fortune-teller.

You get the point.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Actually use one of the best pitchers in baseball in a critical moment. Woe is the team who does not use Zach Britton in a crucial moment. You can rest assured the Orioles won’t make that mistake again. There is no reason why Britton, who several baseball writers argued should be a Cy Young nominee in 2016, should have been warming the bench in the Wild Card game against Toronto. Nope nope nope.

Boston Red Sox: Get to the World Series. Seriously, as a Yankee fan, I hate how good the Red Sox will be this year. They should be able to run the table in the AL East fairly uncontested and if their offense matches up to what should be a stellar rotation, watch out.

New York Yankees: Let the youngsters play! In what the Yankees won’t be calling a “rebuild”, older players are almost through with their contracts and the farm system is stocked but not quite ready. It will be a rough year in the Bronx (or, at least, rough by Yankee terms), so the biggest glimmer of hope will be seeing the Baby Bombers get some quality playing time. With one of the best farm systems in baseball, there are plenty of young prospects who should see playing time on the big stage.

Tampa Bay Rays: Fill your stadium past 1/4 capacity. I mean, it’s not like the fans will have much to cheer for, but can we at least do our best to fill the seats when Chris Archer is pitching? The Rays won’t be as bad as last year (here’s hoping), but they probably won’t be the AL East’s marquee attraction.

Toronto Blue Jays: Don’t let the fans hurt visiting players. Like, for real. You were scrappy and cute a few years ago, but c’mon: you can’t throw bottles of beer onto the field and expect people to like you. You’re Canadians! Don’t be like Americans. Americans would throw beer bottles. I mean, if your going to throw anything, at least throw food. Athletes always need food.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Let some kiddos into the clubhouse during Spring Training. Okay, I don’t know if this is a problem or not this year, but better safe than sorry. #IStandWithDrakeLaRouche

Cleveland Indians: Get to the World Series and DON’T blow a 3-1 lead. This one seems pretty self-explanatory.

Detroit Tigers: Get invited to the Verlander/Upton wedding. 1) You know it’s gonna be a big-ass party and you don’t want to miss that, and 2) you really have nothing better going on this year. The Tiger’s window of winning seems to have closed as the rest of the AL Central has surpassed them. It’s a shame that the only exciting thing for the Tigers this year will be the wedding of their star pitcher and his swimsuit model fiancée.

Kansas City Royals: Honor Yordano Ventura. Play the game in memory of the young pitcher lost too soon. Play as hard as he did, scrap as much as he scrapped, and emote as much as he emoted. Love the game as much as he did.

Minnesota Twins: Don’t be a dumpster fire. Please? Give my cousins something to root for! I have a lot of family in Minnesota and I want them to have a team that doesn’t suck.

AL West

Anaheim Angels: Don’t waste Mike Trout. YOU HAVE THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL AND YOU HAVE SURROUNDED HIM WITH AN “OKAY-ISH” TEAM. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.

Houston Astros: Make the Postseason. The Astros are a talented team, yet they cannot seem to make it into the postseason! I hope that changes this year because I want to see Jose Altuve breakout onto the big stage and show the world that a lil’ guy can be a force to be reckoned with.

Oakland A’s: I dunno. Be relevant? Who else forgot they were a team last year? *slowly raises hand*

Seattle Mariners: Make the postseason. Y’all have been so close the last few years! The Mariners have one of their better teams this year and this might be the year they get into the postseason. Will they make it past the divisional round? Probably not. Make no mistake, they are a good team, but I need them to prove to me that they are a GREAT team.

Texas Rangers: Have every player play just like Adrian Beltre. Who says no?

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Make Bartolo Colon pitch every single game. Please please please for the love of things holy, make Bartolo play every day. The world needs more Bartolo gifs!

Miami Marlins: Play for Jose. I can’t remember a more impactful sports moment than when Dee Gordon smashed a homerun in his first at-bat after the death of his teammate Jose Fernandez. God and Jose helped that ball rocket from Gordon’s bat deep into the bleachers and everyone on planet earth wept. Or, at least, I wept. It was a brilliant and beautiful reminder that sports are a magical entity. This year, the Marlins should continue to play hard, have fun, and remind the sports world how great sports are.

New York Mets: Wrap every pitcher in bubble wrap. For the Mets, it’s simple: keep your rotation healthy and the rest will take of itself. So the Mets need to wrap every member of their five-man rotation in bubble wrap during every second they are not pitching. I’m not even kidding.

Philadelphia Phillies: Give me free Chickie and Pete’s fries at every game I go to. I live close to Philly, so I go to several games over the course of the season. I think it would be grand if the Phillies gave me free crab fries. Those things are basically deep-fried crack. Let’s face it: the Phillies will still not be great this year, but they have a good thing going. They have some outstanding young talent that needs to mature, but I don’t think they will quite get there this year.

Washington Nationals: Give Max Scherzer as much chocolate syrup as he wants. I would say something about Bryce Harper, but it’s Mad Max who is the no-hit threat nearly every start. After his incredible past few seasons, I have no doubt that he will continue to dominate and if he wants to celebrate by getting chocolate syrup squirted all over him, Dusty Baker should let that happen.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: Make it back to the World Series without becoming hated. Winning a lot means you’re gonna be hated by a lot of people. At this point, the Cubbies are still lovable and their players are still people you want to hug. They are an easy team to root for, but gosh those scales tip quickly.

Cincinnati Reds: Don’t lose 100 games. You can do it! I kind of believe in you! Let Joey Votto live his best life!

Milwaukee Brewers: Don’t eff it up. That gem is courtesy of the Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio. But really, that about sums it up for the Brewers – they have a lot of young talent and some grizzled veteran players who could really seize on some opportunities as the team continues to rebuild.

St. Louis Cardinals: Get the Wild Card. Sorry red birds, but the Cubs are gonna win the division. They are a better team, have better players, and they have momentum on their side. You have “The Cardinal Way”, which will get you far, but I think you ought to really stay realistic here.

Pittsburg Pirates: Don’t let my ex, who lives in the ‘Burg, into the games. Like, I’m not being vindictive or anything, but I am being a lil’ petty. Okay, but really, the Pirates once again will have a formidable squad but I have a sneaky feeling they will come up just shy of the postseason. Or, they will trade Andrew McCutchen, which might cause the entire population of Pittsburg to march in protest.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: Get a witch doctor, voodoo woman, and any other magic worker to sprinkle some pixie dust on the pitcher’s mound. The only silver lining for D-Backs fans is that there is no possible way Shelby Miller and Zack Greinke will be as bad in 2017 as they were in 2016. But, you know, a little pixie dust on the mound might not be a bad idea. Also, can you mail some churro dogs to New Jersey? Asking for a friend…

Colorado Rockies: HIT. ALL. THE. BASEBALLS!!!! The Rockies, believe it or not, have probably the most offensively-talented team in baseball this year. And they are talented even without the benefit of playing at a higher elevation. I’m not saying the Rockies will live to see October, but they could make things verrrrrry interesting.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Win the World Series. For a team this talented, it won’t be enough to just make it to the World Series. If they can’t win the whole shebang this year, they will be considered a multi-billion dollar failure. It’s that simple.

San Diego Padres: Tank and tank hard. Get those draft picks, baby!

San Francisco Giants: Suck. Okay, so this one is not a goal they should have, but as someone who grew up in AZ, I’ve come to loathe most California teams. There is no team I loathe more than the Giants and I would be more than happy to see them lose every game. I mean, they won’t, but I’d gleefully watch it happen.

Pinstripe Problems

I wanted so badly for my first baseball-related post of the 2017 season to be about the outlook of every team as Spring Training commenced. After all, optimism springs eternal for every team this time of year, and wouldn’t it be great to write a commentary on that for each team?

Yeah, it would have been, but Yankees President Randy Levine made sure that post wouldn’t happen. Yet.

Ugh. I’m so mad. As a Yankees fan, this whole episode with Levine makes my blood boil. For those of you reading who have no idea what is going on, let me fill you in: Yankees reliever Dellin Betances and the New York Yankees just finished an arbitration hearing to negotiate Betances’ salary for the 2017 season. Betances filed for $5mil, the Yanks filed at $3mil – that’s quite a difference. Dellin and his agents’ rationale was that he has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball over the last few seasons and should be paid what teammate Aroldis Chapman was paid after his first arbitration hearing (since 2014, Dellin has been a 3x All-Star, has a 8.5 fWAR, 392 strikeouts through 247 innings pitched, and a 14.28 strikeouts per 9 innings).

Arbitration hearings are always messy and not fun. The players have to listen to their team explain all of their shortcomings and why they are not worthy of a higher salary. But these hearings are part of the game and no matter what side wins, the loser still pushes on and the two sides tend to be amicable towards each other regardless. The Yankees won the arbitration hearing and all signs were pointing toward Dellin taking his salary and moving on, like a normal person.

Then team president Randy Levine opened his mouth.

Levine stated that Betances was not a closer, so even though he could be one, he was not worthy of more money. He said Betances was used by his agents to upset “the system”, referring to the idea that relief pitchers not given the “closer” title are not worth more money.

The idea that Betances was “used” by his agents is absurd – Betances did have a valid argument for wanting more money. Though he may not be a closer, he’s not exactly your typical set-up man. The fact is that even though the Yanks’ closer is Aroldis Chapman, Betances could easily fill that role.

Understandably, Betances and his agents were not going to take Levine’s comments lying down. Betnaces, when asked about the comments, said “I was planning on putting everything behind me until I was aware of Randy Levine’s comments saying I was the victim in this whole process and saying how much they love me, but then they take me in a room, trash me for about an hour-and-a-half.” He then added, “You look at it a little differently now. I think (free agency) will be a little easier when the time comes.”

RANDY LEVINE YOU BUTTHOLE.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal then wrote an article with the response from Rick Shapiro, the senior union executive who was tapped to represent Betances. Shapiro gave details about Levine’s manor in the courtroom, which makes the whole story even more infuriating. Levine was said to bully the panel and didn’t even contribute to the majority of the hearing. When he did contribute, he called Dellin by the incorrect name repeatedly and began to blame him for declining ticket sales and for the Yanks lack of postseason appearances. ARE YOU SERIOUS.

Okay. Deep breath.

Let’s unpack this bit-by-bit:

First, Dellin Betances hails from the Big Apple and grew up a Yankees fan. He’s one of the fans’ favorite players and the fact that he is a home-grown player is even better. It makes my heart hurt that Levine unnecessarily damaged the relationship between a home-grown player who grew up a fan and the front office.

Second, it’s normal for players to feel ill-will towards the front office after arbitration hearings. Feelings get hurt, but players move on. Dellin wanted to move on, but Levine made his thoughts heard in a press conference (which is totally unprecedented, BTW). You don’t air out your thoughts and dirty laundry with a presser.

Third, HIS NAME IS DELLIN.

Fourth, Dellin is not responsible for declining ticket sales. MAYBE THE FACT THAT YOUR TICKETS ARE UNREASONABLY PRICED IS WHY YOU ARE NOT SELLING TICKETS. Like, I can hardly afford crappy seats at Yankee Stadium! It’s such a nice ballpark and the views are incredible, but dear Lord it’s crazy! After paying for my NJ Transit ticket, subway fare, crappy tickets to the game, and for food and beer, I’m out well over $150. That may not seem like a lot to someone like Randy Levine, but to a girl who is trying to pay off student loans, car payments, etc, $150 is huge. If anything, watching Dellin and some of the other young, homegrown players are INCENTIVE for me to come to the ballpark. I don’t get to watch #BaeRod anymore, so I want to see these young kids play, even if we don’t win.

Fifth, the reason the Yanks haven’t made the postseason in a few years is because they are old, decrepit, injured, and frankly, not that of a great of a team. Let’s be real: it’s amazing they have still managed to have winning seasons the last few years.

Look, arbitration hearings are tough, but it did not have to get to this point. Levine could have shut his face and moved on, just like Dellin was trying to do. Dellin was upset with what he heard during the hearings, but he was more than happy to move on and contribute to the team. He is under contract until 2020, so I hope that the Yanks are able to mend fences with the fans’ favorite reliever. The Yanks front office and upper management have made several gaffes over the last few years (the whole Ticketmaster debacle, no digital tickets, the comments that basically said the casual fan doesn’t deserve nice seats – really, I could keep going), and they are all disheartening. But it is especially hard for me to see them trash one of their best players publicly.

Dellin Betances is a fan favorite and he is one of the best relievers in the game today. He deserves better.