A Bitter Pill To Swallow (49-49)
Dear Ken Macha,
After another lackluster week, I think it might be time to have an intervention. Not for you, Ken, but for fans pinning their hopes for another playoff run on the acquisition of Roy Halliday. With an unofficial deadline of Tuesday imposed by the Blue Jays and the recent swoon by the Brewers, more and more people are assigning even greater urgency to the potential blockbuster trade. But like a gambler doubling their bet in order to win back the money they already lost, the likely outcome of acquiring Halliday will be the sacrifice of future seasons in order to retain the vanishing hope that success is possible this year.
I don’t mean to be a negative-nancy, Ken, but the writing is slowly appearing on the clubhouse wall — one decent month (May) does not constitute a winning season. And as easy as your upcoming schedule is, the team is springing leaks left and right. Your bullpen — surprisingly solid all year — has been overworked due to your struggling starting pitching, which has been reliant upon spot-starts from an extremely disappointing Mike Burns. Plug one hole with the return of Manny Parra and another leak springs forth in the form of Dave Bush’s lame arm. On offense, the continued strength of Fielder and Braun are balanced by the decrepit play of J.J. Hardy, Jason Kendall and, off the bench, Bill Hall. Throw in the all too routine 3-inning bomb of a game by Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper, and you’ve got all the ingredients for another late-season collapse.
Sure, the devil’s advocate might say that playing 20 of the next 32 games against last-place teams should be just the medicine for a down and out team. But assuming for the sake of argument that your team does the improbable and goes 20-12, what will that really signify, Ken? Beating up on weak teams might temporarily keep you in the playoff hunt, but what about the next 32 games after that? Unlike this month’s relative pushovers, the Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Rockies and Giants are all competitive teams with winning records. If anything, this next month might create a false sense of security for fans and management alike, leading all to believe we’re more than just contenders by default.
I’m solidly in your corner, Ken, but I think taking a myopic view of the team’s needs and ignoring the reality of the present situation — that the team isn’t as good as we all want them to be — only makes matters worse. Maybe fans should enjoy what will likely be another tight multi-team playoff race followed by the eventual late-season heartbreak. We’ve dealt with loss in seasons past so I think we’re well prepared if it were to happen once again. And maybe by being realistic about the present we can enjoy more success in the future. I think that’s an outcome we could all accpet.
P.S. — If this letter serves as a reverse-jinx… you’re very welcome.