Dubsism

What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

The Guy at Athletics Nation is the Funniest Guy on the Web

Honestly, this is hard to type…there are tears rolling down my cheeks from laughter. Somebody just used the phrase “culture of winning” in the same sentence with the Oakland A’s.  I know, right?

Rico, otherwise known as the the guy at Athletics Nation…well, I’m sure he means well, and to be honest, I feel what he’s saying. For reasons I will divulge another time, I have split loyalties in baseball; I’ve been a fan of the Twins and Angels since my earliest days of sports fandom. That’s is relevant here for the fact that I know what loving a losing team is like. But I would hope my cheese never slipped this far off my cracker.

There are at least 3 people who I gather believe in the value of creating a “culture of winning,” and they are me, Billy Beane, and Bob Melvin. However, just because these three highly qualified and esteemed baseball people — ok fine, these two highly qualified and esteemed baseball people and some guy on the internet — believe in a principle does not make it a principle worth valuing.

There is an oft-argued question of whether a team like the A’s would be better off crashing and burning to 95-100 losses in order to grab a truly high draft pick, and perhaps the next Evan Longoria, or whether it’s better to remain as competitive as possible during the rebuilding process.

Wow…I barely know where to start with this. Let’s take the Brad Pitt-fueled legend of Billy Beane. I know the A’s went to the playoffs in four straight years from 2003 to 2006, but their pinnacle of achievement was losing to the Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Since then, the A’s have not made the playoffs again, in fact they’ve never finished above .500 since then.  That doesn’t look to change this season.

Then there’s Bob Melvin.  This guy defines “Jekyll or Hyde” as a manager. Here’s a guy who won 93 games with Seattle, and lost 95 with the same team the next season. Then he won 90 games with the Diamondbacks, and got fired less than two seasons later. He’s got a .481 winning percentage as a manager. The Mets hired Terry Collins as manager over Bob Melvin. Let that sink in for a moment…Terry Fucking Collins.

Culture of winning, huh? BWAHHHHHAHHAAAAH (deep, lung-reloading gasp) BWAHHHHHAHHAAAAH!!!! I’m sorry, but any place that has even a hope of building a culture of winning doesn’t have “oft-argued positions” about “crashing and burning” for draft picks. Herm Edwards covered this the best: “HELLO??? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!”

One thing you have to like, right off the top, about a signing like Yoenis Cespedes is that the A’s have improved now without sacrificing the future in order to do so. This is in sharp contrast to the Matt Holliday trade, where the A’s either miscalculated how wide open the AL West would be in 2009, miscalculated how solid a player Carlos Gonzalez would develop to be, or quite possibly both.

That “get better now” deal set back the rebuild because it sacrificed a young player with potential; the only “downside” to the Cespedes signing is money, but in a way what the A’s did is to grab a #1 draft pick without having to lose 90+ games in order to do so. So now if they were to win 75-80 games and get a lower draft pick, they would essentially be getting that lower pick plus a really high pick on top of that: Cespedes.

Not bad, but what’s the point of winning 75-80 games when that won’t compete for anything while you’re waiting for your most talented young guys (Michael Choice, AJ Cole, Derek Norris, Sonny Gray) to move up through your minor league system, and for your most talented “major league ready” guys (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Josh Reddick) to get their feet wet in the big leagues?

As far as Cespedes is concerned, the guy may very well be the real deal. But if you are a team crying about money (I think we all saw “Moneyball,” right?), it seems to me $36 million is an awfully big bet on a guy whose never seen a major-league pitch. If it works, Beane regains some of his “genius” status> Bu if not, this goes down as yet another Beane miscalculation.

“Miscalculation” is a key word here, as Rico uses it in his description of the Matt Holliday trade. Either of the “miscalculations” he mentions are perfectly valid. But so is the one he doesn’t mention; that Beane miscalculated when he acquired Holliday from the Colorado Rockies; switching leagues to a group of pitchers he’d never really seen and trading a very hitter-friendly Coors Field for that mausoleum for offense in Oakland.

Then there’s that pesky question of “what’s the point of winning 75-80- games?” Cue Coach Edwards again…”HELLO??? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!”

Hold on, Rico will take us deeper into his thinking.

One point, arguably, is that if you’re an 80-win team you are only 10 wins away from being a 90-win team, so much of the foundation is there and you can more easily identify targets for bridging the gap to add those “just 10 more wins”. Few 65-win teams can make the jump to add 25 wins and call themselves contenders — Tampa Bay recently being one very notable, but rare, exception — and so you may be drafting very high but you’re also needing an awful lot of chips to fall into place in order to climb the mountain from 65 wins all the way to 90. And we all know, all too well, how frequently something goes awry in the world of “talented but unproven young prospects”.

Another point is that winning may require sufficiently talented players, but it is also a mindset within a team and within an organization. Students, employees, athletes — basically, people — have a natural tendency to rise or fall to the level of expectation, and one thing I really respect about Beane and Melvin is that I see them as being highly competitive, with the expectation that “if we’re not winning a lot, then we’re winning as much as we can and we’re building towards winning more.”

I believe that for whatever reason, Bob Geren brought a “mediocre is good enough” ethos to the team that was reflected in the team’s practice habits, and subsequently its on field play. The A’s didn’t have the talent to win a whole lot after Melvin took over the 2010 team and perhaps more importantly the bad habits, and “culture of mediocrity,” had been too entrenched in spring training, and then the first half of the season, for Melvin to reverse it significantly in June-September.

To be honest, this is the part where I said to myself “Holy shit! Maybe I miscalculated what this guy is really talking about!” I understand completely what he means about Bob Geren; if that guy managed my team, I’d probably wake up every morning wanting to drink a gallon of gasoline, then fire a flare gun up my own ass. This honestly was the part where I really felt Rico’s pain; watching the Twins in the mid-90’s was as exasperating an experience as one can get watching baseball. Going from the era of two World Series championships in four years to 95 losses; going from Puckett, Hrbek, and Gaetti to Scott Stahoviak, Rich Becker, and Pedro Munoz was as painful as I care baseball to be.  Perhaps Rico has a point; maybe Beane and Melvin are the guys to right the A’s ship.

Then I read his closing.

However, even though the A’s most competitive years still loom in the distance, I see the Cespedes signing, even the interest in Manny Ramirez (whether you like that particular gamble or not), as efforts to keep sending an important message to the young players as they begin their A’s major or minor league careers: We aren’t going to sacrifice the future, like we did with the Holliday trade, but while preserving the future to be as great as possible we are going to be as good — heck if need be, as “not bad” — as we possibly can be, every day, every game, every season, until we’re ready to go “all in” and reclaim the AL West.

I like the message this sends to the players who will have to win down the line, and I think it’s the right mentality for an organization to have.

I’ve already said I see the Cespedes signing as a gamble, but it was the Manny Ramirez comment that tipped me as to what Rico is really up to. This isn’t about the pain of loving a lousy team, this is barely about baseball. This is an early “April Fool’s” joke; a gigantic dick-pull in green and yellow and I fell for it. Face it, anybody who can say with a straight face that signing Manny Ramirez “sends a positive message” is a master of satire. Forget the steroids and the 50-game suspension hanging over his head. Forget the drama and the clubhouse cancer he brings. Look at the fact that at this point in his career he is largely a non-factor and the Rays got better last year once they quit wasting at-bats on him.

Rico, I tip my cap to you. You are a master of satire. I’ve never been so taken in by a gag in my entire life. My sides will hurt for weeks from the convulsive laughter I went through.

I mean, you are kidding me, right?

-Dubsism is a proud member of Sports Blog Movement

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

18 comments on “The Guy at Athletics Nation is the Funniest Guy on the Web

  1. J.B. Knox
    February 27, 2012

    The Cespedes signing was more about the A’s not being able to sign a free agent hitter in that mausoleum and needing a draw so they can maybe attract more fans and excitement for the possible move to San Jose than anything I think. That stadium is huge and hitters want no part of going there and Cespedes was apparently not bright enough to figure this out. They bring Manny in because despite the fact that he is a disaster he does have a history of working well with Dominican and Cuban players. Just ask David Ortiz about the wealth of information he gained while playing with Manny.

    I think its clear that Yoenis will have little trouble with the baserunning and fielding adjustments, but the hitting is another story. The one thing about Manny that nobody can discount is his ability to study pitcher tendencies. This is a guy that actually baits pitchers into throwing him the pitch he wants. Manny would purposely look awful on a fastball and get blown away as if he guessed wrong early in the count and dare you to throw it again. When you did, it was lift-off time and he would go Bridge.

    The only other scenario I can foresee Beane having here is wondering how Macanudo’s taste when they are rolled with medical grade herbs into blunts. Spliffity spliff spliffin in Oakland

    Like

    • J-Dub
      February 27, 2012

      That’s a good point on Manny baiting pitchers. Willie Mays used to do the same thing.

      Like

  2. sportsattitudes
    February 27, 2012

    As an A’s fan growing up during their dynasty years of the early 70’s, I can tell you all about a winning culture in Oakland. No one is winning in Oakland these days, except Rico if he’s getting compensated for spinning anything positive about that franchise – satire or not. The Oakland Athletics have made a calculated business decision to tank this and all future seasons necessary until they get their way and get a new location (with the Giants’ blessing) for their franchise. Any “movement” to sign young players is simply to prepare for the potential one day their wish will actually be granted and they actually might stop sending stars away…for awhile at least. The Manny signing was an attempt to get members of the Ramirez family to buy at least partial season ticket plans. In the interim, their “culture” is to win as many games as they can with a bargain-basement ball club.

    Like

    • J-Dub
      February 27, 2012

      I was always amazed that the A’s had their glory years under owner Charlie Finley, who was more a cheap asshole than anything else. A guy who made his money selling insurance, Finley brought the miserly ways of the insurance business to baseball. For example, players were issued a certain number of bats. If a player broke a bat, they wouldn’t get any replacements. Finley also rarely ordered new uniforms at the start of a season, instead recycling old ones. Trainers were told to use every bit of a roll of medical tape, with usually heavy reprimand if they didn’t. He also never offered season tickets.

      At one point during their championship years, the A’s radio flagship broadcaster was KALX, a 10-watt radio station owned by the University of California-Berkeley. Being such a low-power station meant KALX couldn’t be heard more than 10 miles from the Oakland Coliseum. At other times during Finley’s tenure, the A’s had no radio or television contracts, which made them practically unknown outside of Oakland. This helps to explain why the A’s couldn’t draw fans, even when they were winning three straight World Series titles in the 1970’s.

      After all, there’s a reason why he has a Dubsy award named after him.

      Like

      • sportsattitudes
        February 28, 2012

        Indeed it was Finley’s miserly ways that helped fuel the passion among the players. “I’ll show him…” That being said, the 70’s aren’t the 10’s…or whatever we call them. You can make the case what is going on there now exceeds “Charlie’s way.” The A’s still have issues with their broadcast contracts. And you don’t think Beane has been told to recycle medical tape? They did leave that part out of the movie…

        Like

      • J-Dub
        February 28, 2012

        Well, there’s a lot of stuff they left out of Moneyball (my favortie scene is when Beane explains to David Justice excatly who is paying his salary and why)…

        Like

      • sportsattitudes
        February 28, 2012

        One of my favorite scenes also. They also kinda left out the KILLER pitching staff they had that year…ah, Hollywood…

        Like

  3. Bobby Charts
    February 27, 2012

    Easy now JW, as a Mets fan…..understand we have Terry “F” Collins, lol.

    I don’t understand the Manny signing at all, makes no sense what’s so ever.

    I understand a little being a due hard Kings fan, I talk like this a lot, lol.

    All positive and to others it might seem like I’m drunk, lol.

    Like

    • J-Dub
      February 27, 2012

      Don’t forget, Angels fans lived through a T.F. Collins era as well.

      Like

  4. chappy81
    February 27, 2012

    Well, his name is actually Nico not Rico, but maybe you were making fun of that too. I read AN a lot, and he’s a flip flopper and you can tell he’s just a fan, because after they start off slow and don’t score runs he’ll be back to ripping them.

    The reason they went after cespedes is because they NEVER can convince free agents to come to Oakland, so their new train of thought is to spend on young unproven talent over proven talent that just uses Oakland’s offer as a way to bump up their contract offer from another team…

    I actually don’t mind the Manny signing. If by the time he’s eligible to play and someone else is playing well in the DH role, then they can just cut him… Plus, I know Manny will get a few people in the seats if he does play, which is an important thing for a team trying for third place…

    Like

    • J-Dub
      February 27, 2012

      You’d think if I were going to bust the poor guy’s balls, I’d at least get his name right. Sorry, Nico…

      I’m not so sure Manny has box-office appeal anymore…

      Like

      • chappy81
        February 27, 2012

        He might not have box office appeal on most teams, but with a team that struggles to get 7K through the door nightly, a Manny type signing could boost that gate total by a 1,000 for a week or two,and sell some of those dread hats to make it worth his $333K salary… It’s 100 times better than watching Cust strike out!

        Like

      • J-Dub
        February 27, 2012

        “It’s 100 times better than watching Cust strike out!”

        As Metallica would say, Sad but True…

        Like

  5. David Casarez
    February 27, 2012

    Tito? ugh!

    Like

  6. Of course Manny sends a positive message. Wrapped in a little estrogen bow.

    Like

  7. Delicious Irony
    August 9, 2012

    So um…

    How about them A’s, huh?

    Turns out he was right all along.

    Like

    • J-Dub
      August 9, 2012

      If you are still singing that tune in six weeks, then I will buy it.

      Like

  8. Pingback: In Honor Of The Oakland A’s, I’m Eating A Major Dose of My Own Words « Dubsism

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