Holy lord, did you guys see the trailer for that new Omar Minaya biopic? It looks decent, or at least better than one with Ashton Kutcher as Minaya and Jon Cryer as David Wright. I thought this exchange was particularly telling:
Rogan-as-Hill-as-Brand-as-DePodesta-as-John-Ricco: What do you do? You're not a statistician. You're not a scout. You can't put a hammer to a nail. I negotiated the contracts! The Wilpons' money was stolen! So how come, ten times a day, I read, #OmarsTeam?
Fassbender-as-Jobs-as-Minaya: Musicians play their instruments. I...I had to kind of tell myself, "Wow, these things are coming out." And I say this because coming from Adam Rubin, okay, and Adam, you gotta understand this, Adam, for the past couple of years, has lobby for a player development position.
I don't read Apple message boards [anymore] because I'm not a freaking nerd [in this one respect], but I imagine their conversations mirror those of Mets fans in my Twitter feed. In spite of their favorite company being atop the corporate standings, Apple fans look up and down the roster and see MacBook Pro (signed by Jobs), iPhone (drafted by Jobs), Mac Mini (lured as a teenager by Jobs out the Dominican Republic). How much credit does Tim Cook deserve for winning with someone else's horses? Remind you of a certain wise-cracking lawyer featured prominently on page 142 of Moneyball?
Another similarity between Jobs and Minaya: Their genius went unrecognized until they left. (No, that's not a morbid reference to the the former Apple CEO's death from cancer.) Putting aside the oft-mentioned franchise players Minaya left behind—Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Lucas Duda—Sandy Alderson's inability to build creatively from other teams' scraps underscored his predecessor's talents. When the Mets suddenly became a small-market team, they could have used the guy who pulled three-fifths of a good rotation—Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Orlando Hernandez—out of thin air.
Okay, fine, he's the same guy who gave that same Oliver Perez a small fortune to continue his pursuit of the single-season unintentional walk record. Sure, Minaya missed some lay-ups as Mets GM, and took plenty of crap for it from certain corners of the blogosphere. But isn't it strange that he could be both justly criticized by teenagers cribbing other people's calculations and the architect of near-great teams?
By 2008, Mets fan arguments often boiled down to "If you're so smart why aren't you GM?" Haughty statheads claimed not only could the Mets' problems be easily fixed, they could be fixed with pen and paper. Here's the twist: They were right! But their tone and frustrations obscured the fact that Minaya, for all his spectacular failings at getting across the goal line, had driven the ball 99 yards down the field (In retrospect, playing the wrong sport probably didn't help).
Sandy Alderson is a smart, careful general manager in a league of smart and careful GMs. Boring! We're meant to be more impressed by the executive with the skill set of a player agent than the one who made a living out of bringing obscure Montreal Expos out of retirement and into shocking success? In no other field of endeavor is the person who does the rare things well and the easy things poorly derided. The American biography-industrial complex exists solely to excuse failure to do the simple as symptomatic of a larger genius.
Of course, losers rarely get biographies, and Omar Minaya did not win as Mets GM. Had the wind blown harder from the southeast at a few different moments in September 2007 or September 2008, things would be different, but they're not. And that's why the #OmarsTeam meme is great. For all the boners he pulled, Minaya and his legacy survive as victims of profoundly bad luck.
The evangelical sabermetric narrative framed this misfortune as just desserts. Minaya did things the wrong way, and the Mets couldn't win until they did them the right way instead. But the universe is not that ordered, nor does it mete out punishment so neatly—the Wilpons' existence is a massive monument to this truth.
Both regimes contributed to this current iteration of the team. The division of credit is neither interesting nor a referendum on the efficacy of sabermetrics vs. scouting—what is this, 2004? So next time you find yourself arguing who to praise for the Mets' success—Alderson or Minaya—consider the advice of the man himself:
"Choose both! Listen to what the church and the Commies say! Know what I'm sayin'?"