Friday, March 10, 2006

Schuerholz's Lurid Tell-All!

If this article is part of a campaign to drum up interest in John Schuerholz's memoirs, then congrats to John, because it's mission accomplished. Some really interesting material in there. A few observations:

1. It worries me that Schuerholz declined to write the book initially because he only wanted to do it when his career was over. Uh, those rumors that Mazzone left because he knew that Cox and Schuerholz would be retiring soon just got a bit more likely. Let's enjoy this season, as it might be the last for the brain trust for 14 straight divisional titles.

2. Barry Bonds as a Brave? You think we might have won a few more World Series with the best hitter in decades perched in the three-spot in the order, with Chipper following him? The jolt to the Braves' offense, combined with a stellar pitching staff would have been unbeatable, even in a short series lottery. (Of course, we need to remember that with Bonds on the payroll, the team probably wouldn't have had the money for Greg Maddux, so we need to knock that pitching staff down a peg.) Yankees' dynasty? It would have been a bad dream that never came true with Bonds in the fold.

The other, less appealing question would be how we would feel now about Bonds if he would have hit 600 home runs in a Braves uniform. Could we be rational about the fact that our star was teeing off for years with the help of various illegal steroids, hormones, drugs, and fish paralyzers? And how would we have felt about rooting for a guy who is such a prick to the media and his teammates? I've wondered how Giants fans feel about Bonds, a tremendous player who is so unrootable and now turns out to be a cheater. Fans will generally root for anyone who plays well for their team, but Bonds really puts that to the test. I'd feel very conflicted if I was writing the San Francisco Sports Blog, my loyalty tested against my objectivity. (I guess that's the dilemma for sports fans all the time.)

A few other notes: if Bonds would have been a Brave in '92, then the epic '92 NLCS would have been totally different, as it's very unlikely that the Pirates would have made it that far. And was it divine retribution that the Bucs were beaten in such dramatic fashion after they reneged on a deal to send Bonds to Atlanta? And if Leyland doesn't veto that deal and Bonds is still a Brave in '97, does Leyland ever win his World Series with the Marlins?

3. Tom Glavine didn't really want to go to New York, but was pressured to do so by his agent and the union. Well, there's a shock. What'll be amusing about this is the horrified reaction in New York, which will be akin to a hooker being taken aback that her John was lying when he said that he loved her. The Mets have money to offer and nothing else. What rational person wants to play in Flushing in the shadow of LaGuardia? What rational player wants to play for the most underachieving franchise in recent baseball history? What player wants to play in a town where scores of newspaper reporters vie with one another to get and print the juiciest rumors about you? The only possible reason to play for the Mets is the fact that they can offer more money than anyone else, so why are you surprised that a player would find that the only reason to play there? (I guess Pedro's presence makes the Mets a cooler destination now for Dominican players.)

By the way, seeing Glavine come back here to go for 300 wins would make me very happy. After this season, he'll almost certainly be willing to come back to Atlanta on the cheap.

4. Deion, Lofton, and Rocker were all schmucks? Again, not the biggest surprise in the world. Come to think of it, how would Bonds have fit in in the Braves' clubhouse, given that most selfish players find it hard to co-exist with Cox and the Braves' veterans? Or would the current atmosphere that gives the Braves a leg up never have emerged with Bonds wearing the Tomahawk for a decade?


peacedog said...

Other guys with previous clubhouse histories (bad ones) did ok here. I mean, Sheffield wasn't a problem and he was at times known as too whiney and "cater to me!" and such. I suspect that Barry, at least the entity that was Barry Bonds in 92, would have gotten along well here. I think it takes the Deions and the Albert Belles of the world to not fit in at the Ted.

The Braves would have accorded him every respect, and generally not imposed a bunch of things on him. That seems to be his style. Now, the latter day Bonds - I don't know.

LD said...

Before we get ahead of ourselves on Bonds as a Brave, let's remember that he only would've been under contract for the '92 and '93 seasons (the '93 season was the reason Leyland didn't want to do the trade). Who is to say that Bonds doesn't sign with the Giants regardless? And considering that the allegations of steroid use only begin after 1998, it's possible that Barry's years in Atlanta could only be about 70-80 home runs. If he were to have re-signed, well, then it's a different story.

Even for those two years Bonds would've been signed, I think that Toronto probably doesn't beat the Braves in '92, and I'd feel a lot better about the Braves beating the Phillies in '93, but Maddux probably would never have been a Brave - and since he's my favorite player of all time, I wouldn't much like that. The history of the franchise would be completely different. A true butterfly flapping its wings.

As for Bonds' personality and clubhouse chemistry, I think you left out one big personality as to how Bonds would fit in: David Justice. Bonds, Justice and Deion/Lofton is a recipe for pure disaster.

Anonymous said...

Hey Punk, first of all if you knew anything about baseball you wouldnt' call the Mets underachievers. Underachieving means you have talent and didn't produce with it. The Mets have been a talent hole for most of the decade. Second, Glavine is mighty pissed off at your GM and has already talked to the Mets about returning. Third it takes some nerve for a Braves fan to trash NY and NY fans considering it takes almost divine intervention for the Braves to even sell out a playoff game. Atlanta fans are the worst fans in the league, they barely show up and they are as knowledgeable as a can of paint. But you guys shouldn't have to worry about choking once again in the playoffs anymore because this year you'll be home watching the Mets actually do the NL East proud by not getting blown out in round one. The Buffalo Bills of baseball, the Atlanta Braves are finished. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, clown.

Michael said...

Peace, good point on Sheffield, although all the Braves said and continue to say that he was a great teammate, so his rep doesn't merit the same rarified air as Bonds'.

LD, Bonds was a free agent after the '92 season, so the Braves would have had him under contract for only one year. It was his move to San Francisco for the '93 season that triggered the best pennant race in recent memory. (Another historical fact that would have been different if the Braves would have signed and retained Bonds.) I'm working on the assumption that the Braves would have re-signed Bonds after the '92 season, as they have had an almost perfect record of resigning players whom they go all-out to keep and back then, the Braves would have been able to offer as much or more than anyone else in baseball. The Braves almost signed Bonds after the '92 season anyway, but finished second to SF and then landed Maddux. (IIRC, Maddux was offered more to go to the Yankees, but hated New York. I love that guy.)

The variable in this counter-factual is where Maddux ends up of the Braves sign Bonds instead and how does that affect baseball? What if Maddux would have ended up as a Yankee? I'm a fan of counter-factual history essays (Virtual History by Niall Ferguson is a good one) that ask questions like "What if the Germans would have taken Moscow in 1941?" There would be a market for similar essays in the sports world. This sounds like an excellent topic for the blogosphere. You have any interest?

Michael said...

And now we have a reasoned response from a Mets fan. Outstanding. Where to begin?

1. The Mets have had the highest or one of the highest payrolls in each of the past five years and have no playoff berths to show for it. They've been in the upper tier of payrolls for the last 15 years and yet they haven't won a divisional title since 1988. I'd call that underachieving as a franchise; they have the resources to win and yet they do so infrequently.

2. Glavine may be angry, but that doesn't mean that what Schuerholz said isn't 100% true: he went to the Mets because his agent and the union didn't want him to give the Braves a hometown discount. The Mets have more money to offer and nothing else. You never dispute that point. Oh, and they also provide the joy of playing in LaGuardia's landing pattern in a crappy stadium in Queens.

3. Worst fans in the league? Why, because Braves fans don't throw batteries? Because APD has never had to deploy 700 officers and snipers for a game the way the Mets did when Rocker made his first appearance there in 2000? What makes Braves fans unknowledgeable? I'm really interested in your answer, especially since the Braves fans come from the same population base that has stocked the team with prospects like Boyer, Davies, Francoeur, McBride, and McCann. See, the Braves actually have players from the area, which indicates that people here know baseball. The Mets have a fine collection of players from the Dominican. How many natives are on your team? How many of your fans are producing future major league prospects?

5. You're talking shit about winning a division that you haven't won in 16 years. Hell, that's like a Falcons fan talking shit about winning the Super Bowl. And speaking of which, the Bills never won the Super Bowl. The Braves, in case you forgot, won the World Series during their run. So try another analogy.

Anonymous said...

14 Division titles = 1 World Series. That is sad.

Michael said...

You're right. 14 divisional titles (unequalled in baseball history, although certainly aided by the Mets' ineptitude) and one World Series title isn't as good as zero divisional titles and zero World Series titles over the same time period. If the Braves are sad, the Mets ought to be suicidal.

peacedog said...

Cthulhu bless our school system, for producing people like this.

chg said...

I'd be willing to bet the Braves have sold out a lot more playoff games than the Mets over the last 14 years.

I also imagine the Braves do better at selling regular season tickets if you adjust for the population difference in each teams' metropolitan area.

It would be somewhat of a problem to differentiate the Mets' and Yankees' fan base.

Given the troubles each team has selling out when they're losing games, a cynic might suggest to look at the standings and figure the majority will claim whichever team is having the better year. Ultimately, that provides absolutely no help, as the Yankees always have a better year.

I also considered the obvious cultural division, but I'm not exactly sure where the Big Hair Line lies in the NY/NJ area.

I suppose we must settle for drawing a circle with a radius of 75 miles and the home ballparks at the center. Divide the Shea number by half to account for the city's "shared" loyalties. Now calculate the ratio of tickets sold to population. That requires more math than I care to perform.

If Anonymous wants to do it*, I'm sure he would find the Braves faithful are flocking to the ballpark relative to Mets fans. This is going around the world to prove a point obvious to anyone that doesn't live in the shadow of Laguardia/Shea Stadium: Mets fans are shiiite.

* Given your problems recognizing the size of 0 relative to 1 and 14, you might want to ask a Yankees fan for help. They will continue to be easy to find for another couple years or so.

Michael said...

That could be the best comment ever.