THE NEW POPEYE
Joel Sherman doesn’t trust the Love-In that is taking place in Mets camp this spring. After taking his shots at the Bronx Zoo for the past few weeks, Sherman takes aim at “Art Howe’s House of Boredom:”
Maybe Howe really is the second coming of Joe Torre. Maybe those Mets who embarrassed themselves last year really are on a mission this season. Maybe the introduction of champions Tom Glavine and Mike Stanton really will bring a missing seriousness to the proceedings.
It’s just, this is the time of year for delusions, for best-case scenarios. And I have been in Mets camp before and bought the hype, heard this same – is it propaganda or promotion?
This time I am going to have to see it from April on to believe any of it.
To counter Sherman’s skepticism, here is a bright and cheery article by John Harper on Al Leiter, the Mouth of the Mets.
If the Howe-Torre comparison makes sense, does that make Don Baylor the new Don Zimmer? They both have dubious mangerial track records, and they are both chubby baseball “lifers.” Zim has a steel plate in his head; Baylor holds the all-time record for being hit by a pitch. Last summer Rob Neyer made a convincing arguement that Baylor was a poor manager, and surmised:
Don Baylor is a fine “baseball man,” but time has passed him by, leaving too many things that don’t work in the 21st century. Let’s not feel too sorry for him, though. He’s made a good living in the game for three decades, and he’ll have a job in baseball for as long as he wants one. “Manager” just shouldn’t be that job any more.
Mets GM Steve Phillips, is happy to have Baylor as Art Howe’s right-hand man:
“Obviously, having managed a lot of games, when it comes to being Art’s righthand man with the game decisions, he’s been through just about everything before,” Phillips said. “Having been in the National League, and having a knowledge of the players and personnel in the league, will help with Art’s learning curve on the bench.
“He also brings just instant credibility with players. One of the things we thought was the connection with Mo (Vaughn) … and that Don could be an asset trying to help us get the most out of Mo this year – communication, knowing his approach at the plate – obviously working everything through (hitting coach) Denny (Walling). They’re similar, big guys. They were similar types of threats at the plate.”
Said Howe: “I want to be surrounded by the best people I can be surrounded by. He’s certainly one of the best in the game.”
Baylor’s sagacity can be traced back to his days as a player. In the spring of 1985, he told David Falkner:
You have to learn to forget the bad in this game. The sonner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to continue playing. In ’73, I made the last out in the playoffs. I saw Billy North jumping straight up in the air. They were going to the World Series, and I was going home to watch. We lost that game in our park, it was a day game in Baltimore. I thought that was the end of the world. I had made the last out and let Oakland go to the World Series. I stayed up most of the night with that, and then the next day, the sun was out and everything was going on a usual; I was still alive and I had my heatlh and I could let myself think for the first time that it was a game and not life and death that I had just been through.