Thursday, March 17, 2011

Joey's Soapbox: Derek Jeter, Six Years Ago & If At Second You Don't Succeed

Greetings, fellow Mets fans! Winter will be officially over in a few days, which means two things.

First, I'll finally be able to finally put away my annoying poofball hat after a long, cold winter. But more importantly, it'll be time to hear the sweet sounds of Mets baseball at Citi Field, after what seemed like an interminable off-season.

Although my thoughts have turned to baseball bats, alternate caps and Shake Shack, there are still some things happening in the baseball world that I have to get off my hoodie.

I'm Joey Beartran and it's time for me to get on my soapbox.

Derek Jeter

Earlier this week, a recent poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute named Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter the greatest New York athlete of all-time. Let me repeat that. In a town that seen Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Joe Namath and several outstanding thoroughbred race horses, Derek Jeter was the one who was named best New York athlete.

Who were the people voting in this poll, 14-year-old girls? I guess the same people who cast their votes in this poor excuse for a poll also voted for Kurt Rambis as the best Los Angeles athlete, Cliff Clavin as Boston's finest athletic star and Lazy Smurf as the top athlete of Smurf Village? Give me a break, people!

Six Years Ago

On this date in 2005, 'roids were all the rage in Washington, as Congress called for a special hearing featuring past and present baseball players to discuss the presence of steroids in baseball. It was during these hearings that Mark McGwire realized that he didn't want to dwell on the past, Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English and Rafael Palmeiro gave the finger to Congress.

Six years later, all of these players are out of baseball and none of them has reached the Hall of Fame, as McGwire received less than 25% of the vote in each of his five eligible years for enshrinement, Palmeiro garnered the support of 11% of the voters in 2011 and Sammy Sosa has to wait until 2013 to see if he'll be able to pop the cork (no pun intended) on his Cooperstown Champagne.

So where are these players now?

Mark McGwire is now the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. That means a man who never hit 30 doubles in a single season and only finished with 265 more career hits than Ed Kranepool is now coaching Albert Pujols on how to hit. To have McGwire impart his hitting "wisdom" on Pujols is like having Kate Moss teach me how to eat chicken nachos. That's all I have to say about that.

After playing his last game as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2007, Sammy Sosa has done his best to stay out of the spotlight, disappearing from the public eye. The last time he was spotted in public, he was overheard humming Michael Jackson's "Black or White" as he was shopping for, as he called it, one of the most important works in American literature (see photo, right). His interpreter then corrected him by saying that a CD-ROM isn't technically a piece of literature.

When not complaining about his low Hall of Fame vote, Rafael Palmeiro has quietly become one of the country's premier hand models. The former Mets' eighth round draft pick's work can now be seen wherever hand sanitizers are sold.

If At Second You Don't Succeed

We've been getting conflicting reports from the Mets on who the starting second baseman will be in 2011. Terry Collins wants Luis Hernandez. Sandy Alderson wants an offensive-minded second baseman. That would probably eliminate Hernandez, who has eight extra-base hits in 265 major league at-bats, to go with a .286 OBP in the majors and a .302 OBP in the minors.

Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy are still candidates for the position, but their defensive "skills" make former Marlins' second baseman Dan Uggla look like a Gold Glover at the position.

There is no truth to the rumor that Uggla traded in his old No. 6 uniform number with the Marlins for a No. E-4 jersey with the Braves.

Here's what I think. Wally Backman was promoted from Brooklyn to AA-Binghamton. Tim Teufel made the jump from Binghamton to AAA-Buffalo. I think they're just going to manage their respective minor league ballclubs until Labor Day weekend (the traditional end of the minor league season). Once their managerial duties are done, they will be promoted to the Mets, where they will compete for the second baseman's job. Terry Collins will be happy with the feisty Backman, while Sandy Alderson will take comfort that he has the bat of Tim Teufel. Is it a bad thing that I think a Backman/Teufel platoon would still be better than anything the Mets could throw out there right now?

I think I've worn out my welcome on the soapbox. It's time to get into mid-season form, which means I'll be sitting in front of the TV with a bunch of chicken nachos. Who knows what will happen before Opening Day? Will Carlos Beltran start the season on the disabled list? Will Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo be on the unemployment line? Will I get a tryout to play second base? Hey, if no else wants it, I'll take it (see photo below). Enjoy the last two weeks of Spring Training!

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