Before I jumped onto the sabermetric bandwagon, all I had was a general dissatisfaction with the way many people thought about sports. Commentators, ESPN anchors, and sports pundits in general infuriated me with their inability to understand chance and their propensity for blowing things out-of-proportion.
But there was another group that I lumped in with those: people lobbying for the manager and General Manager to be fired.
Now, "lobbying" is probably too gentle a word for this. I encountered them mostly on MLB comment sections and message boards. The posts would often be in all-caps, laced with obscenities, and exclusively insulting.
When I saw these things, my reaction was to ignore them completely. Not only that, but every time the subject of Omar or Willie/Jerry's job security came up I could only think of those abusive and inane comments. So I dismissed the idea entirely. If those are the arguments for firing the administration, I thought, then the administration should stay.
Eventually I came to join those people in wishing for new management. However, I was not convinced by anyone shouting insults. I began to familiarize myself with the sabermetric way of thinking, which meshed well with the way I already thought about sports. And I noticed that the decisions of the Mets administration didn't fit with this philosophy.
In other words: I was convinced by the logic, not the unfocused noise from the fan base.
One of the reasons I enjoy Amazin' Avenue so much is that there's very little unfocused noise here. The amount of intelligent and thought-provoking commentary is rarely matched on other blogs and message boards. But I think it's time to remind ourselves of the stakes here, not just for us, but for all Mets fans.
The dismissal of Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya is a strategy, a wish, and a hope. Most important of all, it's an idea. As the chief advocates of this idea, we are also its purveyors, guardians, and salespeople. We want the idea to flourish and take hold in new sectors. We want it to grow so big and powerful that it cannot be ignored.
The "big" part is pretty easy. A seemingly huge portion of the fan base already wants Omar and Jerry canned. Making it "powerful," though, is more difficult. An idea's power rests in people's ability to resist it. The more easily it can be resisted by the people who matter, the less powerful it is.
As I alluded to earlier, angry and insulting arguments are incredibly easy to resist. Statements containing a phrase like, "OMAR IS A FUCKING IDIOT!!!" are just begging to be ignored, to be dismissed as reactionary nonsense. Even if the initial idea is based in sensible logic, that kind talk suggests the opposite.
Here is a reasonable way to express an idea: Omar Minaya has a history of not accounting for critical components of a winning baseball team. Luis Castillo and Mike Jacobs are examples of this. Castillo, though he gets on base, has very below-average power. Also, his defensive skills have diminished so much that he's one of the worst fielders at second base in the game. His career .343 slugging percentage and -10.7 UZR in 2009 illustrate this point. In addition, Castillo was signed to a long 4-year deal, making it now very difficult to replace him. Jacobs is on the team because of his power, but Minaya fails to recognize that his career .313 OBP (well below the MLB average) is a far more important issue than his power.
Jerry Manuel also has a tendency toward bad decisions. He regularly places Alex Cora at the top of the lineup, even though his career OBP matches that of Jacobs at .313. He also placed the aforementioned Jacobs in between David Wright and Jason Bay, the team's best hitters, making him a likely rally-killer.
Here are some examples of unreasonable ways to express these ideas: Cora in the 2-hole? Jerry is a fucking moron. And Mike Jacobs is a piece of shit, why is he on this team?
I realize that when we say these things we're not considering the broader picture. We see something that doesn't make sense, and we react. We all do it. However, we need to be careful of how we represent The Cause (because that is what we're doing, whether we're aware of it or not).
Presenting it in the first way makes it difficult to ignore. It's calm, reasonable, and based in logic. It's likely to grow.
Presenting it in the second way does the opposite. It repulses those not already in agreement.
So let's be reasonable, Mets fans. Our ideas are good and The Cause is just. Let's not give anyone a reason to dismiss them.