It’s always a tricky thing to try and guess what will happen down the line. The best anyone can do to predict the future is a best hypothesis, based on what’s happened in the past. Track record, you might call it. It isn’t the most reliable way plan out the next few months/years/decades, yet, we all try to gauge the time ahead. This is especially true if you follow – or work inside of, or write about – major league baseball.
This exercise in trying to get a handle on what’s gonna happen next is almost baseball’s stock-in-trade. It permeates just about every facet of the game, from the action on the field to the entire raison d’etre of scouts and GMs and it’s what’s mainly responsible for the rise of advanced statistics – sabermetrics, if you will. It’s what every off-season is built upon – and what makes it fun most of the time. The seasoned baseball watcher often finds himself or herself navigating a thicket of “if/then” statements: “IF the pitcher throws a curveball here, THEN the hitter will swing and miss more times than not.” “IF this kid fills out a little more physically, THEN he might have a decent career.” “IF we hand out this mega-contract, THEN we may be hamstrung financially.”
When it comes to the Mets, that last one is the rub.
While watching the team’s ownership fall all over itself — “The Wilpon Follies” – from this vantage point since January, your intrepid columnist sees only a spaghetti tangle of “if/thens” between now – elimination day, yet again – and next April. I can only look ahead with a pair of foggy spectacles to try and piece together a game plan for the off-season. The reason for this is quite possibly the biggest “if/then” of all: IF the Wilpons are out of money, THEN they’ll have to sell the team. The “if” half of the statement is something we’ll never know for sure until the situation reaches its denoument, and until that happens, we won’t know if Sandy Alderson has the wherewithal to retain the services of Jose Reyes, hand out mega-dollars to Prince Fielder, acquire Matt Kemp or bring in a stud starting pitcher. When trying to make any kind of prediction, one must start with a rundown of the facts at hand: resources, liabilities, etc. When it comes to the Wilpons, we on the outside may never get even to that point. We’ve been overwhelmed by a torrent of double-talk – and not the charming, Casey Stengel kind, either – public blundering and obfuscation. They have succeeded in throwing fans and pundits alike off their scent.
That seems to be the only thing they’ve been successful at lately.