Usually, Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci gets me pig-biting mad for his blind love for all things Yankee that clouds his judgment.
He slips it into his copy in odd little ways. In a story praising Angels prospect Howie Kendrick, Verducci slipped in that Kendrick “could be battling Robinson Cano of the Yankees for All-Star Game starting assignments and batting titles for years to come.” That’s despite the inconvenient fact that Cano has as many batting titles and All-Star Game starts as I do.
And in case you were wondering, I have none.
Then we have his partner in crime, Bob Klapisch. It’s not that Klapisch is necessarily and Yankee lover. It’s that he’s a Mets hater.
Klapisch, it seems, can’t write a grocery list without taking a cheap shot at the Metsies, much less a column or a book.
Bob’s written a bunch of tomes, all of them either ripping the Mets – like “The Worst Team Money Can Buy” – or detailing the on and off-field troubles of former Mets stars Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.
And for a change of pace, he also writes history books about famous Mets killers, the Atlanta Braves. Then there’s “’98 Champs: The Greatest Season, a Chronicle of the Yankees’ Amazing Journey to the World Championship.”
So now that I’m aware of such things, it’s fun to read their copy to find either the over-the-top Yankee praise or the unnecessary Mets bashing.
It’s like playing a Kiss CD and waiting for them the rhyme “knees” and “please.” You know it’s going to happen. And like Kiss, Klap and the ‘Ducc never disappoint.
Klapisch got loose this week with an article that’s part of an ESPN.com series of hot people and things to look for in 2007. His task was to identify the hot division, and he chose the National League West.
Now I don’t accept his basic premise, and his main reason seems to be that a bunch of over-the-hill pitchers – some of whom are ex-Yankees – have settled there. Whatever.
But you know the Mets slams are going to be there. It’s just a matter of how far Klap will stretch to get it in. And Klap can stretch further than John Olerud snagging an errant throw from short.
Amazingly, we had to wait all the way until the fourth paragraph.
“It's enough to make you think the lure of the East is finally on the decline; (Barry) Zito turned his back on what should've been an layup courtship for the Mets…
While it's true the Giants essentially were bidding against themselves -- one AL general manager called it "madness in a market that'd already gone mad" -- Zito opted for San Francisco's familiarity over, say, New York's energy.
The implication is that the Mets blew it, as they may have done by pulling out of the ARod bidding early and trying to get Vlad Guerrero in the cheap several years ago.
But it should be noted that the Giants blew everyone out of the water with a seven-year, $126 million contract that made him the richest pitcher in history. Some have said the Giants were fools to offer that deal, and Zito would have been a bigger fool to turn it down.
Then, somehow, Klapisch shows restraint by waiting seven whole paragraphs before his next cheap swipe and comes up with this gem:
“The Phillies' acquisition of Freddy Garcia means that no one, meaning the Mets, is likely to run away with the division by June, as was the case in 2006.”
Freddy Garcia? He of the 4.53 ERA last year and the 4.01 ERA for a career? There are many reasons why the Mets might not run away with the division – again – but a middling Phillies pitcher coming over from the American League is not one of them, and certainly not the only one.
So the key is to not get all worked up when you read these guys. Like an Adam Sandler movie, you know what you’re getting into before you start. Sit back and wait for the one laugh.