One of the dangers of writing about sports is that it’s easy to conflate “impossible” with “improbable.” It’s a necessary risk to take in many cases: On May 4, the Blue Jays were 10-21, 10½ games out of first place, with a run differential closer to the almost purposely impotent Astros than to any other team in the American League. Coolstandings.com gave them a 1.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. A rational observer looks at that and says: “Well, that team’s unlikely to make the playoffs.” But you have to write about it in stronger terms than that, because a Blue Jays fan would look at that and refuse to give up hope. Most people typically recognize that a man who bets on something that has a 1.4 percent chance of happening is a good man to gamble against. But when team sympathies come into play, those same people will throw out rationality and talk themselves into believing in those same chances.
They need to be crushed. Belief is a bad thing. Hope is a bad thing. Hope in the improbable only sets you up for a lifetime of disappointment, so when your buddy’s team has a 1.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, you don’t indulge the optimist. You have to level with him, pull the Band-Aid off quickly, run a cold shower. Because if you don’t, he’ll go on acting like the sports-fan equivalent of the teenager who asks a girl to prom, gets shot down, and takes that as an indication that he just needs to try harder to get the girl. This isn’t a knock on Blue Jays fans — everyone does it. But that’s why you have to write “impossible” rather than “improbable.” If you leave any room for hope, that hope can drive people to say and do hilariously naive things.
Hope drives people to say things like: “Hey, one 11-game winning streak, one stagnation of the other four good teams in the division, and one return of Jose Reyes and we’re right back in it.”
In December of 2011, emboldened by a colorful, exciting rebranding and a colorful, exciting, publicly funded stadium, the Miami Marlins signed the jewel of the 2011-12 free-agent class, shortstop Jose Reyes. Miami made room for Reyes by moving franchise shortstop Hanley Ramirez over to third base.
Had Reyes not signed, the Marlins could have used strong-armed, sure-handed former first-round draft pick Matt Dominguez at third base in 2012. Dominguez was already one of the top defensive prospects at his position. But with Ramirez holding down the position, Dominguez spent most of 2012 in AAA. Then, on July 4, the Marlins, for some reason, traded him and pitcher Rob Rasmussen to Houston for Carlos Lee.
Even granting that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is reputed to be one of the brighter guys in the game, and that the long-term rebuilding project he’s undertaken in Houston affords him the ability to take some risks, it looked like a good deal for Houston. After all, Dominguez, who twice appeared on the Baseball America Top 100, was about to turn 23, and the Astros got him for the last couple squirts from the ketchup bottle of Lee’s career.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins pulled off a 12-player trade, one that's being hailed as a gigantic upgrade for the Jays and the latest fire sale for a Marlins team with a long history of them. All of which overlooks one critical takeaway from this blockbuster for the ages: Jeffrey Loria is a genius.
In dealing Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, and $4 million to the Jays for Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jeff Mathis, the Marlins shed nearly $160 million in payroll. They're now committed to only eight players for next season — Ricky Nolasco, Greg Dobbs, Mathis, and Escobar, major league contracts for recently arrived prospects Jacob Turner, Zack Cox, and Hechavarria, and $4 million for Heath Bell to play in Arizona. For 2014, they owe money to only two players, Mathis and Bell.
No matter how hard you study, no matter how hard you try to manage risk, there's a good chance you're going to badly overdraft at least one player. Even the best of us end up with first-rounders who perform like 15th-rounders. What's important is figuring out what to do once you've made that kind of mistake, then learning a lesson for the future.
So you can call this a venting session, and a teachable moment. Here are 10 of this year's biggest Fantasy Murderers.
Question: What do you do when there's too much NFL stuff to discuss in one podcast?
Answer: You split it up into two podcasts!
In Part 1, Cousin Sal came on to lament the latest improbable Cowboys collapse, bitch about Tebowners, figure out the playoff picture, guess the Week 14 lines, say goodbye to Jose Reyes and make another joke that we had to bleep. Here are the links for Part 1 on the ESPN.com PodCenter and iTunes.
In Part 2, my buddy Gus Ramsey (the only lifelong Broncos fan I know) came on to discuss the Tebow era, what it's been like from the perspective of a Denver fan who never saw this coming, and whether this has the potential to be a magical Cinderella season that makes no sense whatsoever (along the lines of the '88 Dodgers or '01 Patriots). Here are the links for Part 2 on the ESPN.com PodCenter and iTunes.
Let's start with this: The Marlins signing Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million contract is a welcome sight, if only because it means they're finally spending money, after years of claiming losses that didn't exist.
Those allegedly phony loss claims, coupled with hoodwinking local government into building a new stadium in a deal so shady that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating, had become the public image of the organization. With one big deal, all that's been set aside, leaving us to talk about the actual baseball team and its chances for success.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
After attempting to save his job with a unilateral retirement announcement, Joe Paterno has been fired as head coach at Penn State. Student demonstrations and riots in support of Paterno ensued at the university, where the kids admired him so much that once he disgraced himself, they decided to follow suit.