For the fan in enemy territory

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jose Reyes is the next Lebron James

The New York Mets have a tremendous talent who is playing in what may be his final home stand as a Mets player. His name is Jose Reyes. Every baseball fan is beginning to salivate over the potential of a healthy Reyes being added to their team. And why shouldn't they?

Jose Reyes is the most dynamic single player in the game today. He is the prototype of a leadoff hitter. He has speed. He has power to hit in the gap. He creates runs where there is nothing to create. He changes the game when he is base. The opposing pitcher is distracted by his speed and hurries his pitches. Reyes is a different breed of player in the league.

When he hits the open market, teams will begin fighting over him. He is easily the most coveted free agent coming into the market.There will be several major names available, but few teams will be able to afford them. Reyes is the one player every team is willing to take a chance on. He is the most obvious choice for any team to want to add.

This sounds oddly familiar. The NBA had a similar scenario just a year ago. Lebron James decided to leave the team that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he had great success in turning a franchise around in order to test free agency. Sound familiar now?

The Mets signed Reyes as a teenager. They brought him up when they were struggling. He, along with a few others, led them to the NLCS just a few years ago. He has had success here. Now he is curious about his worth on the free agent market. Lebron James turned his experience into a mockery and a nationally televised event for advertisers and ESPN to benefit from.

While I doubt that will happen with Reyes, still, there are a lot of similarities between the two. Both have had several teams trying to court them. Lebron James had President Obama trying to convince him to consider the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks, the Nets, the Bulls, the Lakers, the Celtics, and the Cavs were all rumored to have interest and players courting James.

Jose Reyes has had former teammate Carlos Beltran speaking up for him to come to San Francisco, Ryan Braun has suggested he'd love to have Reyes in Milwaukee. Red Sox players have spoken up for him. Alex Rodriguez stated that Reyes is the best player in baseball this past summer. They are all lining up to make their pitch for their respective teams.

Both James and Reyes were and are considered the single game-changing free agent at the time of them entering free agency. Both were home grown talents looking for greener grass somewhere else. Just like the Cavs were in the final running for Lebron, the Mets will be in the final running for Reyes.

After all, it's hard to let go of what you already know. Change is hard. Reyes is settled in and happy in New York. The trouble is when all the other teams get involved in offering him a deal, his free agency will explode into a media storm.

Imagine this: the Phillies (who will be thinking of parting with Rollins), the Yankees (who may be thinking of Reyes more to hurt the Red Sox), the Red Sox (who have platooned short stops for years to no avail), the Angels (who need speed since they lost Chone Figgins), the Brewers, the Dodgers, the Nationals, the Rays, etc all get involved in the sweepstakes for Jose Reyes.

Then Reyes has to choose not just location, but money. Let's say the Mets offer him $50 million and two years less than the Phillies or Yankees, don't blame him for taking it. No one in their right mind would turn that difference down. Who would turn down that much money to take a hometown discount? No one.

The Mets will need to make a longer and more expensive offer than they want to if they decide they need him. Otherwise, get used to seeing him somewhere they don't want him to be. That's what the Cleveland fans had to face when Lebron James landed in Miami with two other All Stars (Wade and Bosch). A team that stood in their way when James was with Cleveland, now James is with the enemy.

Mets fans will not be happy with the end result. The buildup of bidding in the market will push Reyes out of the Mets' reach. This is not a scenario fans or the Mets really want, but it may be a reality. The Mets claim they need a closer next year. They will need to sign at least one starting pitcher and two others for the bullpen. They will need an outfielder too.

There are too many holes to fill to spend that much on Reyes. They already have a fortune locked in to Johan Santana, Jason Bay and David Wright. If they add more to it for Reyes, they will be way over their self-imposed cap maximum of $120 million after signing everyone else.

Logically speaking, Reyes will have to accept a much more disappointing offer from them than he expects if he wants to stay. Like Lebron, the temptation may be too great for him not to leave.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NFL Media train needs to slow down

The NFL is into its' second week today. They have had a very successful week one and the league is looking forward to an even bigger sequel. Not everything is peaches and cream in the league however. The media has spent the entire week building up games that have no reason being hyped so much. There are three cases in point.

First, the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons. In and of itself, this is a decent matchup between two playoff hopefuls. This week, though, every media outlet under the sun has deemed it the "game of the week".

Why? Because Michael Vick is going back to Atlanta where he started his career? Because one player is returning to his former team's home? You'd think Vick was the first player to return to his old stomping grounds.

I recall Joe Montana coming back to San Francisco after multiple Super Bowl wins that included MVP performances. He was so successful in the NFL that Vick doesn't deserve to tie Montana's shoes let alone be named in the same sentence.

Reggie White (perhaps the greatest defensive lineman to play the game) returned to Philly after his success there and his move to Green Bay. The fans booed him. Seriously? That's Philadelphia fans. White didn't win the big game as an Eagle, but he did as a Packer. Perhaps that was a case of familiarity breeds contempt.

How about when Keyshawn Johnson returned to Tampa Bay for the first time after winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers and then leaving them? You don't think that stirred some feathers. The point is, Michael Vick is returning to his former home, I get that. But does that make it the top game of the week? No.

Is that a historical moment in the long standing prominence of the NFL? Not really. Vick has never won a championship. Let me repeat that. Vick HAS NEVER WON a Championship. The media is making it out to be the return of the prodigal son. It is in a way, but it's not as if he had a Emmitt Smith type of career and is returning to his home of former glory.

He was dynamic in Atlanta, but he screwed his own life up. He messed up the good thing he had there. It's not like the team traded him or cut him after he was a league MVP and he got his rings. He is not on the level of half of the greats that returned home to their former residence.

Next, there is a phrase that used to mean something in the past several decades, however, due to over-usage and improper usage, it has become all but irrelevant. That phrase is "must win". How many teams started 0-1 after last week? How many times has a playoff team started their season 0-1 0r 0-2.

I know for a fact that my Giants started their Super Bowl season 0-2 and everyone counted them out from that point on. They squeaked into the playoffs and got hot. Why can't a team go 0-2 today and end up doing that? There is no reason that feat can't be equaled. Therefore, calling the Giants, the Colts, the Falcons, the Steelers, etc as teams that "must win" in their given game scenarios this week is ludicrous.

It makes no sense. It's only week two folks. It's not week 15. I can understand it if the playoffs were on the line in December. Then the talking heads can yap away about must wins all they want. For heaven's sake, it only the second week of the season! Give the hype a break.

The talk is not only extended to 0-1 teams, it goes beyond that to mention 1-0 teams in a must win scenario. Ridiculous, right? ESPN (who lately I have deemed Entertainment and Sports Philly Network due to their extended Phillies and Eagles coverage) had the nerve to call the Jets game today a must win against Jacksonville on ESPN NY.

Jets QB Mark Sanchez stated it was, but the writer of the story on the site takes it even further. He feeds off of the QB's comments and unravels a diatribe of cliches that would make Vince Lombardi turn over in his grave.

A winning team given to a "can't afford to lose this game" scenario. A team that has a track record of recent success against a team that has struggled mightily to be a contender in their own division, let alone the league. The comparison is unbelievable.

That brings me to my final point. I read an article yesterday that made me physically ill. A Giants fan imagines a scenario where the Giants end up going 0-3 if they lose tomorrow to the Rams (which would make them 0-2) then an automatic loss to the Eagles. Then he thinks the season unravels from that point on and Tom Coughlin gets fired as a direct result.

The hype extends to those who don't get paid for being talking heads. This from a proclaimed fan, too. I was floored. I can imagine if it came from an Eagles fan. They do a lot of bragging for fans of a team that never won a Super Bowl or a ring.

But this from a fan of a team with a storied history. A team that had a pivotal hand in building what we know as the NFL these days. That's a fan? Shameful. Thank God we live in a country where someone can claim to be a fan of his team and sell them out just as quickly. The same country that allows me, as a writer, to defend said team.

This country allows for the media storm to brew and spill over into an all-consuming fire, leveling everything in its' wake. As fans, we have a responsibility, nay, an obligation to control that storm beforehand so that it doesn't build into a blaze. We have to remain objective.

If we, as fans, give into our passions for our respective teams and believe everything we're told by the hot-air spewing pundits, than we are not being true to our team. That type of fandom allows for excessive disapproval that leads to stupid actions like flipping over cars in the parking lot at games and getting into fights and being arrested in the stands.

Using our heads more than our hearts allows for a fan to be logical and realize that it's only week two. It's not the end of the season. Even if our teams lose all 16 games, it's not the end of the world. Ask a Lions fan. They'll tell you. Their team was dreadful and literally unwatchable for years, yet, the sun still rose and life went on.

It's football folks. It's a game. It's not our mortgage (unless your dumb enough to bet your house on a game). It's not a sick family member. It's not a job loss. It's a game. Let's keep things in perspective.

Let's force the media to keep things in perspective and not listen to them every Sunday like they are the answer to life's consistent questions. They know as much about predicting the future of the season as a spin of the roulette wheel. So hop onto the train of thought while it's still boarding at the station. You'll thank me for it later.