The Password Is “Narrative”

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics

… and it’s ridiculous.

So the Mets aimed high … made a list of the big three executives they wanted to be President of Baseball Operations for the Mets. In a metaphor that is apt for the state of the game today along with the state of the Mets over the last five years, they swung for the fences and missed.

As usual, the sharks circled:

I never thought that any of the three on the big list would take the job. But the above two tweets are slanting this as another case of “LOL Mets”, and it’s just not that way. Consider:

  • The Brewers denied the Mets the opportunity to speak to David Stearns for a lateral move, which is understandable.
  • Theo Epstein wanted an ownership stake to run a baseball team again. Now I’m not a guy with sources as I’m no hard hitting reporter. I’m a dumb blogger who does this because it keeps me happy and connected to baseball. But I talk to people that have a true pulse on what’s going on in Chicago. Theo has already taken the Red Sox and the Cubs to the pinnacle. He’s been there, done that. He wants more, which is why he asked for the ownership stake. Why risk a similar job with a less storied franchise where anything less than a title would be considered a failure in comparison? He wants the next challenge, not the same challenge again. There’s a reason that he’s a consultant to the commissioner’s office.
  • In the case of Billy Beane, not only has he worked for the A’s since 1990 (31 years!) and has been their GM/VP of baseball ops for the last 24, and not only does he have a minority ownership stake in the A’s, he has twin daughters that are entering high school. Why uproot and divest ownership stakes at this point? Do you remember Moneyball? Do you remember how much money Brad Pitt got offered to go to Boston? No you don’t, because in the movie, the slip of paper was slid to Brad Pitt and the amount was never spoken of. That’s movie for “that’s a lot of freakin’ money.” If Brad Pitt didn’t take that gig at that point in his life, then the real life Billy Beane isn’t doing that at this point in his life.

Now, all this is to illustrate that there are other factors involved other than “these guys are turning down the Mets’ money.” I used to tell Yankee fans all the time that money isn’t everything, and I’m more than willing to have that conversation with some of my own. But that’s okay. Money doesn’t have to be everything. Other factors are involved with all three that have nothing to do with “LOL Mets”. So that’s why it drives me crazy that the “LOL Mets” narrative seems to be creeping in.

The Password Is
Mar 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager David Stearns addresses the media before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

But it’s not hard to understand why. Guys like Olney depend on clicks and page hits. He’s far from the worst example of it (rhymes with “Scartino”), but beat guys aren’t stupid. All it takes to engage with a triggered fan base is to play upon narratives that don’t necessarily exists. Bang: page hits, retweets, and engagements. It’s easy to fall for in this 24 hour news cycle where the culture of information dissemination revolves around “YOOOOOOOOO!” and Baby Yoda memes. But you can escape this particular auroboros of social media.

Now I’m not going to pretend to know which executive is the best fit for the Mets. I watch baseball players play baseball on television. I don’t watch live streams of executives in meetings (although I fear if MLB ever live streamed that, it would sell more than it should.) But I do know the basic tenets of what I want a President of Baseball Ops to be: which is to advance the analytical thinking to match the best that baseball has to offer, while putting the collaboration back into the collaboration, allowing a manager to actually manage when deemed necessary in October, and not throwing a fit about it like the one that most likely caused John Mozeliak to fire Mike Shildt. That’s it. The name doesn’t matter. The recognizability of the name doesn’t matter. The strategy that the name employs is everything.

(But if Bobby Heck can divulge some of the secret sauce that makes Tampa so good year in and year out with a $60 million payroll, then yes. Give him the keys.)

And note to Steve Cohen: Take all the time you need. We’re not even at the end of the championship series yet. The Cubs hired Theo Epstein on October 25th. We’re not there yet. The Red Sox hired the 28-year-old Epstein to be their GM on November 25th. It worked out fine. Don’t fall victim to the narrative. Not from Olney, and not from a guy that was the first elimination on Survivor. That advice can also help a few of you out there too. The Mets have, and unfortunately probably will, provide us plenty of opportunity to legitimately mock them.

This ain’t it.

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