Steve Blass Syndrome
In this installment of Doug’s Dugout we discuss, the Steve Blass Syndrome, rethinking Jose Reyes, and other demented thoughts:
Steve Blass won 19 games in 1972 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton. Lefty accounted for 27 of the 59 Phillies’ wins that year, but Blass was solid, and also averaged 14 wins a year for his career.
Then the unexplained happened: he could not throw a strike in 1973 and slipped to a hideous 3-9 and a 9.85 ERA in 88 innings. His precipitous fall from grace was precluded by countless trips to the optometrist, shrink, and even the minors. By 1974 he was toast. He pitched five innings and was shown the door. The moving plate mystery also afflicted outfielder Rick Ankiel when he once was an up and coming pitcher for the Cardinals.
Blass had the good sense to retire. Why do I bring up a pitcher from a bygone era? Because his tale of woe reminds me of the ineptitude of Jason Bay.
As Blass soldiered on in ’73 it became painful to watch. I get the same empty and sorrowful feeling watching Bay flail away hopelessly nightly. At least in Blass’ era there was not as much video. Today, after every Bay misadventure at the plate we are treated to a close-up of his contorted visage as he lips into the hallway for the R-rated dress down.
Enough! The fans have maxed out the sympathy quota for Bay. What about the players’ feelings? Well, he can go buy a litter of puppies with the $66 million he is heisting from the team (and fans who pay the freight) to sooth his feelings. I frankly cannot watch anymore. Even a train wreck becomes boring after the smoldering fire peters out.
Bay might be the first player I make a point NOT to watch. Forget about his loss of power, the man can’t hit the baseball period. He’s 0-23 (6 games) has no extra base hits since May 19th and SIX on the season. He has TWELVE runs batted in. Sorry, he did hit one well to center field last night that was caught. He also struck out with two runners on in the 8th, but was picked up by Ronny Paulino’s ensuing three-run homer.
When he returned to the lineup after missing the first two weeks of the season there was too much rejoicing in the fact he was getting some base hits. I remember noting that all of the balls he hit were to the right side of second base and he was hardly driving the ball. Now, a HBP constitutes a streak for Bay.
The the solution, of course, is to keep running him out there but it’s becoming futile. And ugly. At home the boos keep raining down as the volume increases with every feeble at-bat. Perhaps a trip to the minors might the perfect panacea for Bay (will never happen). Or maybe check his vision. Has the medical staff done their due diligence with Bay’s lamps (don’t answer that)?
Steve Blass explored every avenue before hanging his spikes up. The Mets can only dream that Bay will become so flummoxed that he packs up and heads home to Canada. Not with all that cash remaining on the ledger-bank on it.
At first I was in favor of trading Jose Reyes for a small bounty but now it’s impossible to think of him with another club. He really is sticking it to the man, as they said in the 1960′s. But his trade value goes down as the trading deadline nears. Who will pay that much for a rental? Unless they are given a window to negotiate with Reyes’ people, then the Mets can recoup more talent. However, at this point they ought to offer him five years in the $100 million range and see where that leads.
Believe it or not, there are currently 26 major leaguers who have garnered a $100 million dollar contract or more (the Mets have two-Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran). If Reyes wants “Carl Crawford” money the Mets are short by $40 mill, or so. However, a good faith offer of eight figures should show hard working New Yorkers that is more dough for ten lifetimes and leaves the ball in Reyes court. If he flees then I hope both his hamstrings pop.
If Sandy Alderson lets him go for some draft picks (the baseball draft in not the NFL) then the fans should revolt and pull up their bricks up from around Citi Field. Reyes is the most entertaining player in the game right now and NYC should be his stage. If the Wilpons can’t afford him maybe Mr. Einhorn can.
If ever there was a free-agent that would make cavernous Citi Field look small it’s Prince Fielder. But, with Ike Davis here you can forget about him relocating to Queens (you could move Ike to right). Nevertheless, it’s a pipe dream and besides, Fielder would probably morph into Mo Vaughn the second he arrived.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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