Brian Wilson, the bearded, All-Star closer for the San Francisco Giants’ pitching prowess is to be admired. In 2010 (his last full season) he lead the league in saves, finished 7th in Cy Young Award voting, and 13th in the MVP race. He also lead his team to a World Series victory.
In 2011 his season was cut short due to an elbow injury. 2012 seemed promising as he participated in Spring Training, but after only two games he was forced to have Tommy John surgery.
While fans mourned the loss of Wilson, another bearded reliever took the lead- Sergio Romo. While the Giants maintained a quasi-closer by committee role at first, Romo eventually seemed to best Casilla and the other contenders for the position. Now, with Romo at the back of the bullpen, and Wilson arbitration eligible, the question becomes where will Wilson end up.
To my mind, the answer is simple. The Giants should keep Wilson, allow him to recover, and keep him in the bullpen. Wilson’s leadership qualities and quirkiness have helped define the 2010 and 2012 World Series Champions San Francisco Giants.
But, more important than his pitching statistics or his leadership ability, is Brian Wilson’s ability to market himself, and his franchise.
Wilson is outlandish, his off the field antics often overwhelm his on field performance, and yet it is somehow not distracting from the Giants’ organization. Over the past few years Wilson has pulled the following stunts- The Machine on Chris Rose’s The Cheap Seats, the speedo tuxedo at the 2011 ESPYs, the Sasquatch at the 2012 ESPYS, driving around San Francisco on a motorized scooter, Uncaged with Sasquatch, his Nike shoes, and countless others. Wilson has also stared in a number of commercials- Taco Bell, MLB2K11, NBA2K12, SportsCenter, and that isn’t all of them. Wilson also does advertising for Nike. In short, wherever Wilson is, San Francisco fans, and MLB fans alike are watching- he is a marketing machine.
Why, then, would you propose sending Wilson to the ONE PLACE in the league where these antics will be frowned upon and entirely shut down- the Yankees? Yes, the Yakees who made Johnny Damon shave his beard. The Yankees have a storied history of not allowing facial hair on the team. And their manager, Joe Girardi doesn’t like it either.
Can you really trade a player affectionately nicknamed, The Beard, to a team that doesn’t allow beards? Isn’t this the opposite of every basic marketing principle? Wilson, and his antics, are incongruent with the Yankees brand- so don’t try to mesh the two.
So Giants, if you do decide to trade Wilson, please do yourself a favor and market him for what he is, and excellent closer, coming back from Tommy John surgery who is a risk, but focus on the additional upside of his marketing value. Wilson will fill seats- if he is playing or not.
There are 28 clubs outside of the Giants and the Yankees. So send him somewhere we can keep the beard.
This World Series appearance for the Red Sox seems… cheap. Not cheap in that they didn’t deserve it, but cheap in that after not winning for eighty-six years they are back in the World Series after after three. There doesn’t seem to be the same passion surrounding a team that, honestly, is known for passion.
But regardless of this it is befitting that they are in the Series, as I am currently reading "The Long Ball" which chronicles the 1975 season- all the way from Catfish to Cinci- and surely everyone remembers the Gold Dust Twins, and the infamous Fisk homerun.
Tom Adelman states that "for most of the twentieth century, Casey Stengel embodied our national pastime. The sport was never the same after he passed away: it was as if all the uniforms that Casey ever wore came unraveled upon his death" (Adelman insert).
So maybe it isn’t just this years Red Sox (surely the best to ever take the field, I jest). Maybe it isn’t that I was born on the wrong coast. Maybe it isn’t that I was born in the wrong decade. Maybe it is simply that we do not have Stengel.
I have never been a fan of Stengel, odd as that may seem. Though he was Billy Martin’s favorite, I find him to be overrated. Historically he won with the great 1950’s teams he inherited from McCarthy- teams with DiMaggio and Henrich. He may have seen the potential in Martin, but he didn’t have the courage to tell him hisself that Billy was being shipped off by Charlie Weiss. And while he may have brought Mantle up, he also made him play in the same outfield as DiMaggio during the 1951 World Series, which caused yet another injury to his already weak knees.
However, for all the flaws that Stengel had, and for all of the scenes he may have caused, and for all of the distractions he was a part of, he did embody an intangible that is baseball. Stengel, who spoke in Stengelese, was mysterious, cryptic, at least to those who didn’t spend the time learning and analyzing what he did. Similarly baseball can be misunderstood (and therein) boring to those who do not dedicate their time to understanding the ideosyncracies that make the game great.
Adelman also points out that during 1975 "baseball" seemed "a luxury while football require[d] less of an investment," which remains true today (Adelman 59). Max McGee (SuperBowl 1 MVP) passed away this past week, but for all the great stories that came from his outings the previous night, he was no Stengel. Lombardi may have a trophy named after him, but not a "language." Nor does Peyton, Montana, or even Broadway Joe. Football does not require the same "investment" as baseball does, because instead of being played once a week it is played six or seven times.
While I love football I live for baseball, but I do recognize the distinction in how much of a commitment I am making to either team. Baseball is three hours a day, 162 days a year. Football is three hours a day 16 days a year, less than one tenth of the time. It is unreasonable for someone to expect me to train home for every game the Angels play, however it is not unreasonable for them to expect me home for Colts games. This makes football more sociable, it is less of a dedication. One day a week makes it easier to keep track of stats, and easier to meet up for breakfast, lunch or dinner to catch up on the week that was. In baseball these statistics change everyday instead of every week.
Additionally football’s reletivaly brief history makes it easier to make accurate comparisons from players past than baseball. Most football fans can place Max McGee or Lynn Swan. Many baseball fans would be hard pressed to give you a short biography of Cap Anson.
But maybe it is not the changing of the game, or the changing of its relevance in comparison to football that makes this series cheap. Maybe it is the unbelievably poor play of the Colorado Rockies that does so.
While this book may pertain to 1975, there has not been a worse play at first base in a game involving the Red Sox since 1986 and Bill Buckner than tonight with Matt Holliday. Perhaps what is most irritating about this situation is that it provided Papelbon with his first pick. Forever he will remember how he "got his first pick during World Series play." In all reality he should not get so much credit as this overhyped Red Sox team will give him (they may have been the best team in the Majors this year, but that is not saying much). Simply put it was not a good play by Papelbon, but an AWFUL play by Holliday.
Papelbon must have more quirks than Nomar, which didn’t seem possible. And if he played for any city other than Boston he would be made fun of relentlessy by the Fenway Faithful for doing his dances. Instead because he is one of their own he is harrolded as a God amonst mere men for it.
Papelbon is a good closer, but some of his ideocyncracies are distracting from the game, and he is no Casey Stengel. At least not yet.
Also known as the 2007 National League Champoin Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies proved tonight that the NL’s "best" can not compete with the best of the American League. To be honest, they looked as though they couldn’t even compete with the Royals tonight.
This is not due to some "momentum shift" caused by the long lay off. The Rockies were simply outclassed. They made the playoffs because they play in a weak division, playing the Dodgers or the Giants time and time again is much easier than playing the Mets or the Braves or the Phillies.
These Rockies have shown anyone, who ever doubted it, that short series are ridiculous. I used to believe that a five game series was to long for the Division Series, that it made more sense for the playoffs to start with a three game series. But here the Rockies have shown that momentum can take over in a short series, and that a Steinbrenner-esque football mentality is not conducive to baseball, especially in the playoffs.
The Red Sox proved tonight why Josh Beckett is the "best" pitcher in the American League. His fastball doesn’t move, he throws straight strikes. And his offense scores him 13 runs in a single game. That should make him the best pitcher in the American League, no the best pitcher ever. Simply put, he is overrated. If the John Lackey got the kind of run support that Beckett gets, or had relievers that didn’t consistantly blow games for him he would have had easily tied Beckett with 20 games. But Lackey did have a better Earned Run Average than Beckett.
I digress, Josh Beckett is a good pitcher, but are the 2003 and 2007 postseasons alone enough to make him out to be the best postseason pitcher of all time? It seems that the Rockies were more intimidated (how many first pitch strikes did they watch?) by who Josh Beckett is than what he is throwing.
Overall this game will go down as "The **** Hear ‘Round The World," or at least the Rockies portion will. They are probably wondering if they can just concede the next three games…
Only six months til Spring Training.