I recently got an email query from Bryan O'Connor of the Replacement Level Baseball Blog. Bryan was asking members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) to answer the following question about the 2013 MLB season:
"What five baseball teams would you most like to see succeed in 2013, and which five teams would you most like to see fail?"
Providing commentary rather than simply a list of teams in each category makes this a fascinating question. Baseball bloggers tend to be fans of specific teams and detached analysis about their favorite team, or the rest of Major League Baseball, is often not a priority.
Maybe that's why they routinely get thousands more hits than I do.
Anyway, here is my response to Bryan O'Connor's query (and check his website to read all the responses when they're posted):
Five MLB teams I would like to see succeed in 2013:
1. Tampa Bay Rays
Maybe the smartest and best organized franchise top to bottom in the game. Manager Joe Maddon has old school crustiness but may be the most innovative manager in baseball– the Rays actually have different defensive set-ups for every batter their pitchers face. Tampa also has a continual array of super talented minor league players coming up through the ranks, the front office is expert at knowing who to trade and when, and this is a team that actually utilizes sabermetric research on a day-to-day basis.
2. San Francisco Giants
Historic chance to win 3 of the last 4 World Series. San Francisco's dedication to a pitching+defense attack runs counter to modern baseball's increasing (and tedious) reliance on home runs to win games. For decades a poorly managed franchise, the Giants have been reborn and are thriving in the Peter Magowan/Larry Baer era.
3. San Diego Padres
An organization without focus for years, winning just two NL pennants in 45 years. In the past two years the Padres have assembled a fascinating group of talented home-grown players and failed phenoms discarded by other teams. They could be poised to take the next big step.
4. Oakland A's
GMs are rarely innovative, brilliant, and chance-takers. A's GM Billy Beane is all that and more. The team has a legendary history of success, and is a low payroll team of hard-nosed players who routinely dominate high-priced high-profile teams. And this organization succeeds and makes money despite being ignored and mishandled by Oakland's clueless elected officials.
5. Washington Nationals
A franchise that failed for decades in Montreal is reborn in DC and now poised to be a dominant National League team. The Nats have two of the most exciting young players in the game, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. This is a story that deserves a successful ending.
Special Mention: Is there anyone who isn't rooting for the Boston Red Sox to have a great 2013 season after the terrible events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing? Ease their pain… .
Five MLB teams I would like to see fail in 2013:
[Note: I don't spend time hoping for failure for anyone or any entity. For the sake of this survey I will list five teams that either annoy me or for which I don't have a high level of respect.]
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Just because. And now that the new Dodgers' ownership has been tossing millions of dollars into various shredders (doing their best imitation of the 1999 New York Yankees) there are even more reasons to dislike the entire organization from top to bottom.
2. New York Yankees
Decades of arrogance, money to burn, and incredible success have made millions of MLB fans both envious and resentful of the New York Yankees. And now that the Yankees are stumbling in their own poo, there is smug contentment across the land. The MLB revenues distributed to all 30 teams have permanently eliminated the old "big market/small market" models; in the future the Yankees will have to use their heads instead of their wallets to build championship teams.
3. New York Mets
Rarely has a high revenue, high profile MLB organization been so ineptly run. In the decade before the brilliant Sandy Alderson finally took over in 2011, virtually every aspect of the Mets' franchise was mismanaged at levels that would take your breath away. All of which deserves several more years of desultory bottom-feeding in the NL East.
4. Miami Marlins
Marlins ownership has routinely and arrogantly mistreated its fans over the years. There is a trust factor involved in the partnership between sport teams and their fan base. The Florida franchise has trampled on that trust by repeatedly building championship teams then selling off the players for profit the following year. This is not a business model taught in MBA graduate schools, but it's normal (and profitable) operating procedure in Miami.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
In my lifetime I would like to see an MLB team post 25 consecutive losing seasons. A quarter of a century. And the Pirates only have 5 seasons to go.