The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Sandy Alderson the Opaque

Following every utterance that emerges from the mind of Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is somewhat like waking up disoriented after a night of drinking heavily at a party in a stranger’s house.  Whose cat is that sitting on my chest?  If this is the living room couch, then why is there a toilet in here?  Are those my feet, or someone else’s?  And on and on until you locate your pants and jacket, finally find the exit (I’m on the third floor?) and make my way back downstairs.  My car nowhere in sight, I simply start walking in the general direction where I believe I left home several hours (days?) earlier.

“This is something that happens once every 30 years, … It’s an unusual situation. Would it be better if we were one of the other four teams in the division at the end of the year? I don’t think so. I’d rather be a footnote to history than not in history at all.”

The context really doesn’t matter.  Alderson-speak is sort of like that word-game you may have tried back when you were in the 4th grade where you scatter a bunch of words on the floor, then try to rearrange them into a coherent sentence.  “The angry dog sharpened the sponge.”  Or “The boy flew the hot soap home.”

A couple of days ago, the Mets were supposedly very interested in pitcher Bronson Arroyo.  I, for one, think it would be a decent move for the Mets to make.  They could use a durable veteran arm and an unflappable personality like Arroyo on their team.  Then we learned that the Mets “May or may not meet the pitcher.”  Well, that about covers all the possibilities, doesn’t it?  Granted, it was a Mets “high-ranking official” who made that opaque proclamation, but Alderson-speak is ubiquitous in Mets-Land these days.

“What I mean by that is setting up a situation where we could be aggressive every year.  We want to be in the market every year.  Will we be in the market aggressively this year?  Unlikely.”

I was a hall monitor for one awful semester at a high school in a small town in rural Maine.  One morning, a teenage girl came waltzing down the hall without a pass.  I asked her where she was supposed to be.  She responded, “My jacket is all wet.”  To which I, in turn, responded, “But where are you supposed to be right now?”  She looked at me for a second or two, clearly perturbed that I was deigning to question her right to wander the halls at will (I hated doing this job, mind you.)  She blurted out, “God, why do adults have to be so annoying?”  A rhetorical question, to be sure, but one that ended up earning her an after-school detention.

“If the world ended when it was supposed to on Saturday, we wouldn’t have to worry about all these issues.”

When I was a young boy, my dad would take me for walks in Mountain Grove Cemetery, where P.T. Barnum is buried.  There were two ponds in the cemetery.  I liked walking all the way to the back where the second pond was because it always had large frogs in it sitting on lily pads.  As we walked by the head stones over the graves, and past the musty mausoleums which contained the remains of Bridgeport’s once more prominent citizens, my dad would say to me, “Billy, this is where it all ends.  Life is cheap.  Man is just another species of insect.”

“It may not yet be manifest to the average fan, the average person, but I think we are more active than we were last year.”

I’ve lost 20 pounds since last year.  Or, I’ve been working on doing so.  You may not have noticed how much I’ve been working out, especially during those times when we’ve been together.  You can’t always tell just by looking, but it’s been a lot of work, the effort of trying.

“I do think there will be a combination of more proactivity internally as well as a willingness in some instances to wait and see not whether the market changes, but what’s available to us later.”

  • Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. – Donald Rumsfeld, 12 February 2002

“Beyond alarming.  We have a crisis.”

Sandy, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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14 thoughts on “Sandy Alderson the Opaque

  1. I don’t follow Alderson or the Mets, but back when he joined the team, I thought he’d done so well turning around the A’s in the ’80s, it was likely he’d do it again for the Mets. Maybe time dulled the edge he had in Oakland.

    I think Sandy was a Marine, and you’d expect firmer language from an ex-Marine.

    • Arne, You may be right. As he’s gotten older, he seems to have less energy for the task at hand. That, and being a performing monkey for the Wilpon’s doesn’t help, either. Sandy was a marine, but now he sounds like a spokesman for the Pentagon.
      Thanks, man,

  2. Rummy also had that delightful quote about going to war with the army you have, not the army you’d like (and in wars of defense, that’s sometimes a reality; in a war of aggression, it’s just silly).

    I didn’t know very much about the Mets’ GM situation other than Alderson’s name, but he sounds like a newspeak-spewing tool.

    The “waking up after a party” metaphor made me laugh.

    • Yes, because there’s nothing like launching a war of choice when you’re not prepared. If Alderson signs Granderson and makes one or two other significant moves, he’ll have bought an extra year or two in Queens. If not, I’d say he’s gone by the end of next season. If the Wilpon’s don’t fire him, Mets fans will run him out of town on a rail. As for partying, I haven’t had an incident like that since the Clinton presidency.
      Thanks, man

  3. The whole Met front office situation is….odd, really. Certainly, when Alderson, Ricciardi et al were brought aboard, this was supposed to be a new, dynamic period for the Met front office. Frankly, I’m not sure what they’re doing and they don’t seem to want to let anyone know what they’re doing, either. Ricciardi has all but gone into hiding, it seems, and when Sandy is trotted out before the media, he spouts the Werner Oland-esque kind of inscrutablilities that you cite here. Are the Mets committed to rebuilding? Well, his first big trade–the Beltran deal–seemed to signal that was the direction he was heading, but David Wright is still in Queens, and now they’re talking to Curtis Granderson. So are they in win-now mode? They seem to be kind of sort of drifing in a direction which says “Well, we’re not on a level to play with the Nats and Braves, so we’ll see how things look in 2015 or so”, but with Sandy it’s hard to tell, and no one can say for sure he hasn’t bought into the Dave Littlefield school of “Let’s just try to play around .500 ball long enough to keep me employed and maybe I’ll think of something.” Come to think of it, some of Alderson’s vapidities sound very much like Dave Littlefield, so God help you.

    • I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head. They never really made a commitment to rebuilding from the ground up, but they can’t seem to figure out what else, exactly, they want to do. I think they could be happy with an 84-win club. A 94-win club seems to be too rich for their taste, and another couple of 74-win seasons would have to mean their eventual exit, stage left. They really are a puzzling bunch, but I suppose this can’t last forever, can it?
      Thanks again,

  4. Never trust anybody who uses the word “proactivity”.
    Nice one, Bill.

  5. That was a funny one Bill. It must be frustrating to be stuck with a GM that speaks this way and takes the same kind of action or no action. I’ve been spoiled as a Brewer’s fan with Harry Dalton as GM and now Doug Melvin. In between the two of them there were some dolts and neither Dalton or Melvin were perfect, but they made moves and Melvin continues to make them at the right time and with Melvin, we know he says one thing and does the other, but it’s never confusing. It’s almost predictable so when he says no way we won’t trade Braun to the Mets, I kinda get excited.

    I’d like to see a town hall public GM in the longhouse Iroquois tradition, in the Bill Veeck fans be the manager tradition. Fans would jointly decide on what trades to make and all suggestions would be considered and then all winter, there would be around the clock debate and discussion until everyone agreed. It sounds inefficient but that’s how the Longhouse was run. I would definitely want to see you there on behalf of the Mets. I find your reasoning and vision to be very solid Bill. I continue to learn a lot here.

    • Couldn’t be any worse than the current situation. Still, look what happened to the Iroquois! 🙂 Actually, I’d settle for a benevolent dictator with deep pockets and the will to win, a la George Steinbrenner.
      Thanks for the kind words,

    • glenrussellslater on said:

      This photo that the below link is connected to is the reference to Bill Veeck that Steve is talking about. Late September, 1951, Sportsmans Park in St. Louis. Veeck owns the Browns, and the other hapless team in the league, the A’s, are in town. Veeck has a promotion called “Grandstand Manager.” Bill Veeck was one of a kind. Unfortunately. What a great imagination he had. He made Charlie Finley seem dull, in comparison. I wish that I had met Veeck.

      Now, going back to your article. Very well-written. Man, you are a good writer! Anyway, I was thinking about the Mets’ tradition of incoherence, between Casey Stengel and catcher Choo Choo Coleman——–

      Ralph Kiner (interviewing Coleman on TV in 1962): “What’s your wife’s name and what is she like?”

      Choo Choo Coleman: “Her name is Mrs. Coleman, and she likes ME, Bub.”

      ….not to mention Yogi Berra, and now Sandy Alderson. The Mets ought to have their own “Mets Hall Of Incoherence.”

      The only problem is that the Mets PR department has no sense of humor or imagination (they USED to, by the way, in the first couple of years that the Wilpons owned the Mets, and it was a lot of fun to be at Shea), so it is not going to happen.


      • Yes, the Mets have had a long line of representatives of the verbally-challenged. And you’re correct, they no longer have a sense of humor. The early appeal of the Mets was that they were not the corporate, straight-laced Yankees. Now, they’re all corporate and bloodless. The showmanship that at least a few people involved in the game once demonstrated has been wiped out. So it goes….
        Thanks for reading, and also thanks for the kind words,

  6. Sandy works awful hard to say nothing.

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