Thursday, June 7, 2012

Phil Rogers gets the FJM treatment

One of my favorite blogs of all time was the Fire Joe Morgan blog, written in part by The Office/Parks and Recreation writer Michael Schur. FJM is one of the sites that got me reading blogs in the first place, and that inspired me to start one of my own. The FJM formula was simple: find bad sports journalism, tear said journalism apart line by line.

Today, I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune (h/t Red Cowboy) that was simply screaming out for the FJM treatment. Since the true American heroes at FJM are no longer in operation, I'll have to take over for them. Let's see what you've got, Phil Rogers...

Lots of people out there are just waiting to see Theo Epstein fail.

They are? What are their names? Larry Lucchino? Ben Cherington? Paul Sullivan? Not-Theo Epstein? This guy? Please provide examples. It should be easy, given that there's lots of them.

They think he gets too much attention, that his deal with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is too sweet. They think he should have received more criticism for a run of failed free-agent signings in Boston that contributed to the Red Sox's 2011 collapse. Heck, maybe they just don't like a baseball man who plays guitar.

Those are reasons, not examples. Actually, you seem to know quite a lot about what these "people" think. Suspiciously so. As though you have some kind of personal, inside information into what these "people" think. Either way, these people must hate Peter Gammons, too. And Bronson Arroyo. And Bernie Williams.

Who knows why people think what they think?

Awesome point! "People" are crazy, right? I'm always telling people that, and people totally agree with me, too. People are weird.

But all of those people have to love Albert Almora, don't they?


The high school senior from Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., verbally stuck it to Epstein and the Cubs after they grabbed him with the sixth pick of the draft Monday.


While the Cubs paid as much due diligence to Almora as anyone else in the 2012 draft — Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and senior vice president Jason McLeod visited him and his family in his home — they apparently missed one or two factors.

The color of the drapes? Whether he wore boxers or briefs? This week's episode of Fear Factor? Waldo?

Either Almora doesn't want to play for the Cubs or he doesn't care how he comes across to Cubs fans, and neither is a good thing.

Weird. Seems like that would've come up in conversation. I wonder what they talked about instead. Probably the European debt crisis.

Asked on a Tuesday conference call with Chicago reporters if he felt any particular significance about being Epstein's first Cubs pick, he shrugged and said he was "just happy to be picked by a major league club.''

If it was a conference call, how could you see him shrug? Was it a video conference call? Either way, shame on this kid for not caring as much about Theo Epstein's legacy as he does about himself. This kid sounds like a real jerk.

And he insists he's strongly considering his scholarship to the University of Miami.

"My main priority now is college,'' Almora said. "I just graduated high school, and I have a full scholarship to the University of Miami. That's all I'm looking forward to right now.''

I'd be looking forward to that, too. Sounds pretty cool. So does playing for the Cubs, but the Cubs haven't offered him a contract yet. So I guess that's really all he can be looking forward to, for now. Until the Cubs offer him a contract. Which they will. Are we done yet?

His agent? Scott Boras. Of course.

Ohhhh, I've heard of him. He's the guy who used to be a pharmacist or something, right? I bet Theo didn't know that Almora's agent was Scott Boras. What an idiot that Theo Epstein is. "People" are right about him.

Playing the Miami card is straight from the textbook for the class "Boras 101, the Art of Negotiating the Best Deal You Can Get.''

Awesome class. I think they teach that at Miami. It's right between recess and lunch. Too bad Almora hasn't gotten there yet to take it. He'd be able to learn a lot about himself.

I don't think anyone should overreact, because Almora almost certainly is going to sign with the Cubs before the July 13 deadline.

Oh. So then why are you writing this article? Is your editor even paying attention?

That's what I think, anyway.

But what do "people" think?

But it's always smart to listen when Boras — or, in this case, a Boras client — is talking. Almora has taken the first step into the territory of J.D. Drew/Philadelphia Phillies, circa 1998, and nobody wants to go there.

Oh, J.D. Drew, yeah I remember him. I'm pretty sure he signed a big contract with the Red Sox once, with that jerk Scott Boras as his agent. I can't remember who the Red Sox GM was then, but man he sure did get fleeced by that wily Boras... I'm sure that GM (whoever he was) will think twice before dealing with him again. Glad you brought that up, awesome point.

Except... that J.D. Drew was drafted out of college, not out of high school, and so he and Almora really aren't comparable at all, because Boras potentially stands to lose a ton if Almora goes to college, because then he can't be drafted again for another 3 years, and there's no guarantee that Almora will still want Boras as his agent then (or that the world will still be standing), so really this is a lot more like the Daisuke Matsuzaka negotiation, which was negotiated between Boras and that guy who used to be the GM of the Red Sox whose name I can't remember, and oh screw it let's just see what other nonsense you feel like writing.

The thing to keep in mind here is that Almora has taken only baby steps so far, and somewhat predictable baby steps at that. Let's see how this plays out before declaring that Epstein fell into a huge trap in passing up one Boras client, Stanford ace Mark Appel, and then staking his first Chicago draft on another one.

Okay, I'll see how things play out. I guess that must be the end of this article then, right?

While I never would question the sincerity of a Boras client engaged in a contract negotiation — well, actually I would do that just about every time

Weird, you're still writing. Wait, why did you say that you wouldn't do something, and then say you'd do exactly that? You didn't need to write either of those things. They canceled each other out. We ended up in the same place that we started. Your editor must still be asleep. This article is retarded.

— the reality is that Almora has spent his childhood training to be a pro baseball player, not unlike Alex Rodriguez.

Also not unlike these guys, who were all drafted in the 4 millionth round of the draft. In fact, it seems hard to believe that anyone could ever get drafted by a Major League Baseball team without spending their childhood training to do so. Except maybe this guy. Wait, what are we talking about again?

And while A-Rod would become such a financial supporter of the Hurricanes that the baseball stadium is named for him, he didn't say no to the Mariners so he could bang the ball around some more with aluminum bats.

I read that sentence 15 times and I still don't get what you're trying to say. Or why it's relevant to this kid or to Theo. Wake your editor up so that he can make some sense of it.

I don't think Almora will say no to the Cubs.

You already said that. I was pretty sure it ended the article, but somehow it didn't.

Not unless …

A: Crane Kenney involves himself in negotiations and the Cubs do something stupid, allowing the talks to become personal.

B: Or Almora's parents get sucked into allowing Boras to use their son as part of a holy war against the draft spending limits contained in baseball's new collective bargaining agreement.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I officially don't blame your editor for sleeping. This column is terrible. I thought this was about Theo not doing his homework on Almora. Or playing the guitar too much. But now it's about a holy war? I'm confused. Is this kid al-Qaeda?

It's the last point that bears the most consideration.

THEN WHY DIDN'T WE START THE ARTICLE THERE? Why did we have to waste all that time talking about what "people" think and Alex Rodriguez and J.D. Drew and Crane Kenney?

So, you think that Boras might use this kid as a pawn in a fight between himself and Major League Baseball, and that therefore the Cubs should be careful. Nevermind the fact that if Boras is looking for a pawn, the more likely candidate is Appel, who you JUST MENTIONED A COUPLE PARAGRAPHS EARLIER, and who is a college kid who Boras could more easily control, like he threatened to do with Stephen Strasburg three years ago.

You see, there are two Scott Boras clients here, one of whom is straight out of high school and one of whom is not. That matters a great deal, and it just might help explain why Theo would be wary of drafting one, but not wary of drafting the other. Theo has dealt with Boras more than just about any GM in the league by now, including in some very high-profile cases like the Matsuzaka case. He knows how Boras thinks, and he recognizes that his interests and Boras' interests are mostly aligned in the case of Almora, but not in the case of Appel. Theo is not a moron. There is a method to his madness. THESE MEN KNOW EACH OTHER VERY WELL.

Your article is useless. It's just a thin facade for your obvious Theo hatred (I'm sorry, "for people's obvious Theo hatred"), written in the most passive-aggressive, non-accountable way possible.

Boras was beside himself after the draft spending limits were announced in November. He said they would ruin baseball. So how far will he go to challenge the changes the players union, long under the influence of the most powerful agents, signed off on?

I don't know, but I bet that uncertainty explains why Appel fell from the first pick to the eighth pick. Remember, a lot of GMs have negotiated with Boras before. Theo isn't the only one.

Will Boras engage the Pirates in a serious effort to sign Appel, who fell all the way from a chance that his hometown Astros would take him first overall to the eighth pick, or will he see if Appel is outraged sufficiently to challenge the CBA?

Oh hey, you noticed that too! Maybe you really are paying attention.

If it's the latter, dragging Almora into the battle would seem to be a possibility.

Opposite of true. Only an idiot would engage both of his high-profile clients in the same "holy war" in the same year. Boras is no idiot.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Way, way ahead.

Yes. You mentioned that when you said that we should "see how this plays out" before jumping to any conclusions. But then you kept writing for some reason. And jumping to conclusions.

What we can say after Major League Baseball wrapped up its first draft with spending limits is that the CBA seems to have worked almost exactly as Commissioner Bud Selig and some in ownership (including White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf) hoped it would.

Talent was spread around more evenly, as evidenced by the White Sox diving back into the deep end by taking high school players with their first two picks — something they hadn't done since 1984, in large part because they feared Boras or another agent would try to play a shot at college into super-sized bonus demands.


Now we will see how all the parts fit together. And if Almora was just taking his agent's advice to sound like he never had daydreamed about being one of Epstein's curse-busters.

Almora really, really, really doesn't care about Theo Epstein or his legacy. I promise. He just wants to play baseball, and presumably to get paid to do so. You're the only one who cares about these things, and your analysis is colored by your obvious anti-Theo bias. Please go away.

[Chicago Tribune]

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