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I'm really trying not to piss you all off

Mike SteffanosWednesday, February 22, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I really struggled to find something to write about this morning. Usually my topic suggests itself after I read all of the morning's stories and something sparks inside of me. The two storylines that everyone seemed to cover today were Beltran and Brett Boone. They both concern players that are trying to come back from extremely disappointing years, so there is a nice redemption theme going here. The problem is that I've already talked about Beltran enough lately, annoying a segment of my readers with my assertion that Beltran batting third isn't part of a plot hatched by the antichrist. I don't feel like bothering them again today. As for Brett Boone, I don't really feel anything for him. He has no history with the Mets.

So I move on. Bob Klapisch has an interesting column on Victor Zambrano. I feel more optimistic than most about Victor, and think he is going to become a creditable pitcher for the Mets in 2006, although he will never be close to what Scott Kazmir will become. Since I'm pretty sure that Victor had no voice in this deal, I'm not holding that against him. I'll be happy if he holds his ERA around 4 and wins a few more games than he loses. If he does that, that will be a good sign for a rotation that has a lot of question marks. Still, if I write too much about Victor, it's only going to piss off another segment of my readership.

Again I move on. Kevin Kernan wants to see the Mets go after Manny Ramirez again. He believes that Manny reporting late to camp is a sign that Manny is still pressuring the Red Sox to trade him. Kernan feels that adding Manny to the lineup would make the Mets a "monster team." I feel that way, too -- in a Dr. Frankenstein, "oh dang, I think I created a monster" sense of the word. But I've already spent thousands of words on why I think Manny is a bad idea for the Mets. If I go down that path again, I run the risk of alienating not only those who are pro-Manny, but even the rest of you that feel as if you've already heard enough on the subject. So no, I won't go there again.

But at last I have an idea. Instead of writing about Manny, I'd like to say something about sports writers and columnists. Many of them, like Kernan, think it would be a great idea if the Mets get Manny. Although a lot of Mets fans aren't in favor of dealing for Manny, but most of the columnists and beat writers seem to be. Why is that?

If you talk to these guys, you will be hard-pressed to find any that are really a fan on the team they cover. If they start out that way, it eventually wears off. Covering a baseball team is a job, and a writer's interest is in the story, not whether the team does well or not. As a matter of fact, dysfunctional teams are probably much easier to write about. Manny would bring a ton of storylines along with the rest of his baggage. If he does well, there will be plenty of craziness on the periphery to write about -- good ol' "Manny being Manny."

If he starts deteriorating, however, and becomes the second coming of George Foster -- so much the better, there will be even more juicy story lines. Sports writers and columnists aren't paid based on how the team does, they're paid for the stories they produce. A Mets team that crashed and burned in 2006 would be an endless source of interesting things to right about -- much more interesting than what Julio Franco eats to maintain his girlish figure.

Don't take what I've said here as anti-sportswriter. I wouldn't be able to do what I enjoy doing without their work as a starting point. Even just as a fan, where would I be without what they contribute? When I point to a story, I always mention the author, even AP stories when I can find out the name. I respect what they do. But I also understand that they have their own agenda, and it's not the same as a fan like myself. Anyway, I'm not too worried about pissing off sportswriters, as I doubt that any read what I have to say. That would be like a farmer tending a small garden as a hobby -- I'm sure they have better things to do in their downtime.

Mets.com: On Beltran
Marty Noble has a story on the respect Beltran earned for his professionalism and perseverance in the face of an awful first year in New York. Noble offers some quotes:

Cliff Floyd: You know New York is watching, even down here. Carlos came through all that last year with his head up. You have to be impressed. I know he didn't want to go through it, but in the long run, it might help him, make him stronger -- you know, 'cause it didn't kill him."

Omar Minaya: You respect him because he never changed the way he did things. It wasn't easy. He could have sat down when he hurt his leg or when they told him he probably should have surgery on his face after that collision. But he played.

Bergen Record: Putting it behind him
Steve Popper has a great quote from Beltran on whether he can put last year's struggles behind him:

It's already behind me. I'm talking right now because you guys are asking me about it. We've got new players, a new team, a better team than last year. It's very exciting. Maybe last year was the year of injuries and things. Maybe from now on nothing will happen. That's the way I look at it. When things negative happen, you can't look at the negative. You've got to look at the positive.

Mets.com: Brett Boone
Marty Noble also profiles former all-star Brett Boone, trying to win the Mets second base job and leave baseball on his own terms after being unceremonially run out of two towns in 2005. Boone makes it clear that it's the starting job he's after, and he's not interested in a bench role:

Being a role player just isn't me. I can't do that. I don't want to. Some guys can. They're comfortable. Shawon Dunston had a great career as an everyday player, and when he couldn't play everyday anymore, he was a role player, and a good one. Nothing wrong with that. It's just not for me. I like to go Spring Training, planning to have a good year and trying to make the All-Star team.

Sounds like he's pretty juiced up for this last chance.

Daily News: More Brett Boone
Adam Rubin also reports on Brett Boone, quoting Boone on what he hopes to accomplish this season:

I want to go out on my terms and not the game forcing you out. I didn't want to end my career the way last year ended. So I just figured I'd work as hard as I could this winter, and give myself the best opportunity to be successful, and what happens, happens. But whatever happens at the end of this, I'm going to be able to look in the mirror and say I laid it on the line. Who knows? Maybe I have a tremendous season. And maybe I don't. But I know whatever happens is not going to be for lack of preparation.

NY Post: You gotta be kidding me
Kevin Kernan writes that "it's time to make Manny a Met." He thinks that Manny reporting late to camp is a sign that Manny and the Red Sox aren't getting along, and the Mets should go after him again so that Ramirez can disrupt their clubhouse.

Bergen Record: Victor Zambrano
While others concentrate on Beltran and Boone, Bob Klapisch produces a very good column on Victor Zambrano, who is feeling a little more comfortable with the team heading into his second full season. Now if only some fans could stop blaming him for the Kazmir deal.

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