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Hot Stove Dollars

Alan VogelTuesday, November 28, 2006
By Alan Vogel

Editor's Note: This is Alan Vogel's first submission to this blog. He will be a frequent contributor. - M.S.

I imagine you were expecting Mike when you clicked on today's blog. Don't worry, Mike is still here, but you'll be hearing from me on the site as well. I'm not going to spend time on my Mets bona-fides, but I will say I happened to be home from school for the dedication of Shea Stadium in 1964. It was day one at spanking new blue Shea. Fans arrived on a shinning blue and silver subway while performing double duty as a train to the 1964 World's Fair, which was pretty much next door. If any of you remember subways back then, well, you know riding that line was like the first time you went to a game and saw green grass. Why we expected it to look like it did on black and white television I'll never know.

First off, I want to say I'm not a big numbers guy. Stats are important, a guide, but they're over-rated. A prime example of this: A-Rod. The guy wins AL MVP in 2005 with amazing numbers. Again in 2006 - great stats. But hitting a bases empty home run when your club is ahead or behind five runs creates misleading numbers: A home run, run scored, and an RBI. For what? People say Woodward had lousy numbers last year, but whenever I was watching he was productive. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I like to factor in the intangibles - what's the player like in the clubhouse and on the bench. During his last injury prone season, Cliff Floyd did more for Jose Reyes and David Wright than for himself, and that was good for the team. Does a player hit, run, and catch in the clutch? An important question. A strong accurate arm and terrific instincts can keep an opponent from scoring a run. Earl Weaver once said that a great fielder can save his team an RBI a game, which is the equivalent of creating a run a game for his own team. There's a lot of truth to that.

I have no problem that the Mets didn't pick up Soriano, but contracts are a funny thing. Beltran is definitely worth his contract now. Was he when the Mets signed him? Nope. Carlos hit the jackpot because of his amazing playoff run when he was with Houston. Aside from flashes of potential he wasn't comfortable in the spotlight in 2005, and only raised his game to justify the rarefied air of the hundred million dollar club when he was surrounded by Delgado, Wright, Reyes and DoLuca. Don't get me wrong, I love Carlos. He's a player and seems like a really nice, modest man. He's also a perfect fit for the team as it exists today. But $119,000,000 when he signed? I don't think so.

Apparently the Mets decided that a one year 7.5 million deal with Alou was a safer play. And they may be right - so long as Moises doesn't re-injure his aching ankle, or his ACL repaired left knee, or aggravate whatever injury put him out for the season when he fell off the bike he was riding while rehabbing the knee. Heck, he's beginning to sound like Cliff Floyd.

A few days ago Gary Mathews Jr. signed a 5 year 50 million dollar contract with the Angels. Thirty two years old, 500+ at bats in only one season, and bouncing from team to team like the proverbial red rubber ball makes the Soriano deal at $139,000,000 look more reasonable. What is it with these owners and general managers? Desperate as degenerate gamblers two paychecks in the hole who double up to get even. Short on brains and perspective.

Glavine. Given a world with Enron Field (oops, whatever they re-named it) and Citi Field and gun for hire free agency, I accept that Glavine's going to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to. Baseball, the courts, and the fans created and fueled the trend. Today, owners can dismantle teams at will, i.e. Florida Marlins twice. Charley Finley tried to dismantle the Oakland A's after a couple of championships in the early 1970's, but the Commissioner of Baseball, (remember that quaint office) Bowie Kuhn I believe, voided the trades. I don't want to give the wrong impression, the owners are making billions so why shouldn't the players get as much as they can? It just seems to have gotten way out of line and the losers are the fans. The human ones, not the corporate ones.

About Alan: I'm a long time Met fan, but not a Yankee hater. I practiced law in my own firm for 20 years in Fairfield County Ct, propagandized (or I should say inculcated) Met values to my daughters, twins, now serious Met fans at 24. My wife is a Yankee lover not a Met hater. Now you'll understand the importance of gathering the kiddies to my team- for majority voting as to which game the family would watch, and in order that they grow-up with a deep love and respect for the pathetically beautiful Shea stadium Apple. We moved to Northampton Ma four years ago, my greatest regret being that I only occasionally get WFAN, live in Red Sox Nation, and the trip to Shea has become a schlep.

In any event, these days I'm a writer. In order to watch the Mets I buy the Cable on-demand package that gets me about 80 % of the games.

I also do a radio show with a law professor called "Swimming With Sharks: law and policy by lawyers for humans." It's podcast, available at masstort.org, and broadcast on the net at www.valleyfreeradio.org. I guess that's what's they call BSP- blatant self promotion- but it's community minded, educational, and most of all, fun- so I think it's alright.

Comments (2)

Welcome Alan,thanks for a good read. I remember that dedication of Shea Stadium in 1964, I watched it on tv. Bill Shea was there and christened the field with water from the Harlem River and the East River as part of the N.Y.giants and Brooklyn Dodger's past and fans that were left behind to come together in Shea as one. Its funny that I have met many ex- Dodger fans who are now Met fans but I have never met a Giant fan who became a Met fan?

Well, Rev Al, I've only met one, my father. I think the Giants had a smaller fan base than the other two NY teams.

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