What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League.
Hey, sports fans. It’s been a while since I’ve graced these pages. But when I got the word that J-Dub was going on the shelf for a bit, I was glad to pitch in and help keep some of this blog’s usual features going. Frankly, I’ve never really understood this comparison, but to be honest, I’ve never really understood J-Dub. That guy’s brain doesn’t work like anybody else, and I’m not sure which makes it even goofier…the cheap-shit bourbon he used to bathe in or the crap the white coats have him pumped full of now.
Anyway, I drew the “Shark Week” straw, so here it goes. Thankfully, J-Dub scribbled some notes for me, but I really think he got it confused with his grocery list. I mean, do they even sell canned shark packed in water, not oil?
If you’re not familiar, the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has become a phenomenon. Give or take, it usually coincides with Major League Baseball’s trading deadline. Just like sharks comes in all shapes and sizes, so do the “winners” and “losers”/”buyers” and “sellers” in the carnage that is the baseball trading season.
Even though Major League Baseball threw us curve-ball by moving the trade deadline and getting rid of the “waiver wire” deals in August, we’ve been doing this too long to change anything now. In other words, not even baseball’s chicanery or J-Dub’s trying to drop dead will keep us from our annual comparison between giant predatory fish and those teams who fed and who bled during the feeding frenzy known as baseball’s trading season.
Kansas City Royals
There’s “Alanis Morrissette”-style irony in the fact the largest fish in the sea feeds on it’s tiniest creatures. Like the whale shark, the Royals quietly floated along with the baseball world blissfully unaware of the staggering tonnage they actually consumed. They essentially acquired an entire pitching staff. If for no other reason, the law of averages says Kansas City should see at least a few major league fish spring from a plankton haul of this size.
San Diego Padres
Carcharodon carcharias, a.k.a the Great White Shark, is the “star” of Shark Week, and this distinction goes to the team which gave us the “razor-teeth-sawing-through-the-seal” style carnage we expect. There’s no other team more befitting of that distinction than the San Diego Padres. There’s really no denying they just landed the best leftie bat and the best closer in the game, and two proven big-league run producers to go with them.
Tiger sharks are known to eat just about anything, including each other. Cannibalism is an odd concept, just like giving up pitching to get pitching. but that’s pretty much what the Braves did. Even though they also added two solid every-day players and then some, the main course for Atlanta consists of Jake Odorizzi and Raisel Iglesisas.
New York Mets
Bull sharks are underappreciated for the fact they actually account for the most attacks on humans. While what the Mets did during this trading season may lack the “seal carnage” of the moves made by some other teams, this team escalated themselves up the “dangerous” scale.
Here’s the caveat in all this. There’s no question the Mets helped themselves in these deals, but I can’t help but wonder why they parted with four players (Davis, Zwack, Seymour, and Szapucki) for a platoon slugger (Ruf) whose never seen 300 at-bats in 10 MLB seasons with a best-case scenario of .250/20 HR/60 RBI.
Look at that fucking thing. If you saw that on your hook, you’d pre-shit your pants the first time you saw it breach the surface. Then once you got it into the boat, you would finish the job. The Mako is the fastest shark in the sea, and it’s speed makes it super-dangerous. The best team in baseball just got even scarier, and the Astros are going to make some teams shit their pants come October.
Oddly enough, they are being chased by another team that started this season not really scaring anybody, and now they might be the last team you want to see on your schedule. Forget about the fact they’ve been a .500 team since the All-Star break because that’s a function of playing the Astros and Yankees. Look at the team that couldn’t get out of it’s own way in April, then went 20-3 in the run-up to the break. The Mariners added two battle-hardened (if not ancient) bats, arguably the best available starting pitcher, and some promising young talent. Seattle’s play-off drought likely ends this year, but the Astros (and the Yankees for that matter) certainly need to watch their tails in 2023.
San Francisco Giants
Speaking of teams building for the future beyond this pennant race, the Giants realized at the deadline they aren’t one of the big sharks this time around. But they are certainly gearing themselves to be a very formidable fish very soon. The hammerhead scans the bottom feeding on crabs and other creatures found on the sea floor, which is exactly what the Giants did in this trade season. They gobbled up plenty of tasty morsels for the future by dealing with this year’s bigger fish who feel the need to win now.
But on that crab and mollusk diet, hammerheads can reach 15 feet in length and can become seriously fearsome. That’s why there is no better description for the Giants, who clearly gave up some established talent to net a feast of sea-floor crabs, mollusks, and other delights certain to make San Francisco yet another giant in the National League West very soon.
Not to mention, keep an eye on the Giants come free-agent time in the off-season.
Don’t look now, but the city famous for it’s crab cakes has finally figured the secret of the crab diet. Don’t look now, but for the first time since the Obama administration, the Orioles a) don’t suck and b) have a future brighter than guessing how many more 100-loss seasons they can rack up. They have lots of young talent and for the first time in recent memory, they seem like they understand how to build around that core.
Like the whale shark, the manta ray is another big filter feeder which floats along taking in it’s haul of plankton. The Pirates were the whale shark for the past two years, but they have remained true to their approach, dealing established talent for a haul for the future. The problem is I don’t think anybody in Pittsburgh actually knows a target date for the future’s arrival..
Blacktip Reef Shark:
St. Louis Cardinals
Reef sharks don’t get a lot of time during Shark Week, but they serve a necessary purpose. In other words, the deals the Phillies made may not get them to swim with the big fish in the National League, namely the Mets, Dodgers, or now the Padres. But the fact is we are heading into the second week of August and Philadelphia is still in picture. The only question for the Phillies: did they do enough to swim into October?
When it comes to the Red Birds, the same question exists. As of this writing, the Cards and the Phils are neck-in-neck for a Wild Card spot with 59 wins apiece. The advantage St. Louis has is they can win their division. The odds of Philadelphia closing a 10-game gap with the Mets with about 50 to play are the defintion of “long,” so to see October, the Phils have to ensure they rack up more wins than the Cardinals and/or the Brewers, the Padres, and the Giants.
This could be the “looks can be deceiving” category. Nurse sharks are huge and have a fearsome array of teeth. But they are largely sedentary and are happy to stick to feeding on rays and small fish. At first glance, the moves made by both the Rays and the Twins look impressive. But then you realize at some point, both of these teams need to deal with the Yankees, and I don’t think either Minnesota or Tampa did what they needed to do.
Both the Rays and the Twins seem content to feed on the small fish in the sea rather than go full-on “great white.” While it may be too late for the Rays to have made any move to close the gap between them and the Bronx Bombers, they still could have done more to prepare for a possible October showdown in the Bronx with the Pinstripes.
That’s something the Twins should know all too well. Here’s the question for you Twins’ fans…how many time in the last twenty years has a Minnesota October died in New York? I’m not saying either team should have plunged into the “Juan Soto” sweepstakes, but does anybody out there really think “Yankee Kryptonite” comes in the form of the Tyler Mahles and David Peraltas of the world?
Los Angeles Dodgers
Toronto Blue Jays
In short, nobody really knows much about Greenland sharks because they live in deep water near the Arctic Circle; two places people really don’t want to be. But that lack of knowledge makes them the perfect representative for teams whose moves we can’t really figure out. This year, we have two teams which meet such criteria.
There weren’t many people who in April didn’t see either the Dodgers or the Blue Jays being contenders. The Dodgers have proved to be just as advertised, while the Jays stumbled through the first half of the season before seemingly rounding into form.
Raise your hand if you don’t really know what the Dodgers were trying to do at the deadline…other than believing they really didn’t need to do anything. Raise your hand if you completely don’t understand why the Blue Jays weren’t far more aggressive in bagging a legitimate “front of the rotation” guy given the injury to Hyung-Jin Ryu and the ups-and-downs of Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman among others.
This fish gets it name from the Latin term “remora” meaning “delay, hindrance, passive resistance.” The naming stems from the fact these fish attach themselves to larger sharks and live off the remnants of the larger fish’s feedings…for example when you deal the best every-day player in the game and/or of of the the best available starting pitchers to get a boat-load of prospects. That’s a clear indicator that for purposes of this discussion, our remoras for 2022 are teams clearly in “re-building” mode. The question for all three…how long is the rebuilding going to take?
Los Angeles Angels
For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Angels represent the bathtub squeaky toy. By that, I mean they made deals which didn’t help them, but didn’t really hurt either. Realistically, squeezing the squeaky rubber shark toy is the only noise the Angels will make in 2022…other than the rattling of coins from counting the money they save by getting out from under the contracts of Syndegaard and Iglesias.
Boston Red Sox
If you’ve followed this feature over that last few seasons, you may have noticed certain categories regularly containing certain franchises. This was becoming one of them. For the first time in many years, this distinction does not belong to the Baltimore Orioles.
The key to this category is simple. The only way to be more insignificant than a bathtub toy shark is to be one that completely disintegrates the minute it touches water. This year, that title belongs to Boston. Sadly for them, the Red Sox simply don’t matter. They’re mired in the AL East cellar, and they didn’t have anything to give that would have netted them a “filter feeder”-level haul. Had the Red Sox tried to move Rafael Devers, the “wicked pissah” Boston faithful would have heaved up their Fenway Franks.
Speaking of “filter feeders,” the Tigers are racing to the bottom with the Kansas City Whale Sharks; the difference is the Motor City Kitties really don’t have anything to give. They also don’t have anything to build around. There hasn’t been a bleaker future in Detroit since the Chrysler K-Car.
Indians Guardians Guardians of the Galaxy
If you aren’t familiar, CPO Sharkey was a short-lived 1970’s sit-com featuring one of J-Dub’s comedic heroes, Don Rickles. How could you have a show featuring the king of “insult” comedy surrounded by a cast of perfectly insult-able characters and it doesn’t work? That’s the distinction for this category; teams which could have done so much more with what they had, and putted completely short of the cup.
In 2022, this is all about the Chicago Cubs, namely their failure to move Wilson Contreras, Ian Happ, and Kyle Hendricks. The North Siders made a lot of moves, but not the ones everybody thought were coming, because those were the ones which would have netted them the aforementioned “filter-feeder” haul. I get that the Cubs have Happ and Hendricks under control through 2023, but this was Contreras’ “walk year,” there was never a real attempt to extend/re-sign him, and a catcher with 20+ homer potential would be a tasty morsel of a contender to snag..and at a premium.
So, they hang on to those guys in an attempt (probably futile) to avoid their first last-place finish since 2014? What else to they have to play for? Why else would they risk losing Contreras and get jack squat for him? Because they’re the Cubs…
Cleveland had the “red pill/blue bill” problem. Buying at the deadline likely meant a 50/50 shot at the play-offs and a more than likely loss to (every other AL play-off team who would still be better than the
Indians Guardians Guardians of the Galaxy). Selling means finally admitting the false mediocrity of this team and heading in the dreaded “rebuilding mode.” So they did the next best thing to nothing.
J-Dub is a huge Rush fan, and he says this is all summed up in Freewill, a cut from 1980’s Permanent Waves
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice~ Freewill, Lyrics by Neil Peart
This lack of action dooms Cleveland to “baseball limbo.” They don’t suck, but they can’t win. If your the Baltimore Orioles, that’s a step up. But you’re a team that took a World Series to Game Seven six years ago, and has been in the post-season four those past six seasons…well, like the song says…that’s a choice.
The Chum Bucket:
This is a tale of teams who really didn’t do anything, positive or negative. They just baited the waters for the real action. They make the radar strictly from their existence; their impact likely won’t even be that measurable.
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
As mentioned when this category was introduced la few years back, the “Sharknado” is a “wild-card” category. The strength of those movies is in the cameo appearances; you never really know who is going to show up. When it comes to baseball, teams end up here because we really have no idea how their deals are going to work.
To be fair, in 2022 the Brewers and the Yankees both seemed to understand the concept here. They are both contenders trying to shore up their run for October. Then the Brewers did something inexplicable. They sent the best closer in the game on his way in exchange for the proverbial “bag of magic beans.” Serioulsy, they’ve already relaeased one the guys they got in that trade. I mean…what the hell?
Then the Yankees took a page from the Brewers playbook. Everybody knew the Pinstripes needed rotation help, and while they did add Frankie Montas, they failed to acquire Luis Castillo. But the move I really don’t understand was moving Jordan Montgomery…a mediocre but serviceable leftie…and not replacing him when there were plenty of good options still available (don’t tell me the Giants wouldn’t have entertained offers for Carlos Rodon or possibly even Alex Wood).
But, both of these teams are still contenders. The Yankess are probably the best team in the American League not named the not named the Astros. The Brewers are likely to take the race for the NL Central right down to the wire. Either way, I can’t help but beleive both of these teams mixed some success witha fundamental misundertstanding of what the trade deadline is all about.
But on the other hand, it might just work. That’s why we don’t know.
Those unknowns are why we call it the “Sharknado,” sports fans.
*Future considerations includes, but is not limited to cash and/or the proverbial “player to be named later.”
All transaction details from Sportrac.com
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Great summary and post. I think the Phillies may just take advantage of that extra wild card slot after all. Good deadline activity in both picking up a couple of pieces, as well as dumping others. It’s a good thing my wife is downstairs right now, because if she came into this room and saw any visuals here she’d leave the room like she was…well…being chased by a shark. The woman is afraid of absolutely nothing…except sharks. As for me, I wouldn’t keep one as a pet but as long as they leave me alone I’m good. Remora – count this as my learn something new each day thing. I agree the A’s fit that swimmer. I’m praying they don’t swim outta Oakland.
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