It is absolutely harder to write about a baseball team when they are winning, as so much coverage one gives a team is either about what has happened and cannot be changed or what needs to be done in order for things to change. When things are happening that you like - where it ain't broke so don't fix it - instead of writing – which comes from an impulse to create or RE-present reality as you wish it to be – I simply kick back and watch the team like everyone else.
The biggest disagreements on this blog are about the coming offseason and beyond. Heated discussions concern Frankie and Teixeira, New York budgets and perceived grudges divined by casual comments reported in the sports sections of the area’s desperate, dying print editions. There was quite a quibble with Izturis batting 2nd instead of Howie, but 19-5 since the All-Star break sort of stops people in their tracks and makes even the most impassioned lineup nitpickers shrug with delight.
There is always ESPN lack of respectful coverage, Physioc’s tortuous broadcasts and why we bother with Gary Matthews Junior, but what is a complaining, pessimistic Angels fan to do when the team has suddenly transformed into the universally-acknowledged best-run franchise in sports? Our starting pitching is nails, our lineup is deep and dangerous, our defense is alert and smart, our bullpen is as solid as it gets, our bench snuffs out any other in baseball, our manager is a meticulous genius, our general manager is the gutsiest gambler on casino Earth and our owner is a championship shy of becoming a universal folk hero.
The funniest part in all of this is that there is still a segment of fans who analyze the team with the budget in mind. This is a recent, yet deeply ingrained tradition, exploited by Michael Lewis in his Moneyball classic to amplify the genius of a general manager employed by a tight-ass penny pincher. Moneyball is ancient history. It’s methodology is laughably antiquated. It is simply from an era long passed and it also has not demonstrably accomplished shit, save for making a cult hero out of Billy Beane to like, what, 400 internet baseball geeks.
Clever propaganda to the end, Moneyball saw the demise of the valuation of the Oakland franchise from the top 3rd of baseball into the bottom quarter – why? Because fans were taught to bring the budget into their analysis of players, of trades, of signings - every discussion included Lew's dollars as sympathetic sacrficial lambs - the discussion of optimisitic hope was predicated with a downer fiscal discussion as the team allegedly just could not afford talent and insisted the mantra of crystal ball stat-projections would trump investing in the hopes and dreams of fans by paying star players what they are worth.
The players did not strike in August of 2002 (amidst the Moneyball narrative) and suddenly a new era was born. MLB-AM – the internet wing of baseball – poured every franchise flush with cash. Billy's Oakland Elephants, though, cling to the past. Lew Wolff regularly lies to his fanbase while pocketing the cash the franchise reaps, while Arte Moreno has built the best team in sports ... never once saying the dream was impossible due to the lack of green. Wolff’s partners are wealthier than Arte, the Bay area is drenched with silicon valley cash and the geniuses cry poverty to foment real estate deals in all of their shortsighted glory.
Don’t think about the budget, the salaries or the income. Like the rastaman sang, You can get it if you really want it ... and as Arte Moreno would add... but you must market, market... market your dreams.