Beer and fried chicken? Amateurs! The late 90s Mets had a “porn room”

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This is just silly on top of silly now, which is what makes it so much fun.

Al Leiter was on the Dan Patrick Show today talking about the Red Sox and their beer, chicken and video games clubhouse.  The tone of the conversation was one with which I totally agree: they’re grownups and ballplayers and while everyone is making a big deal out of all of this now, let’s be realistic and admit that it’s much ado about nothing. Sure, you don’t want your athletes getting fat, but let’s not pretend that that there has been some moral or ethical breakdown in Boston, OK?  If the Red Sox pitchers were spending their time with salads, mineral water and canasta we probably wouldn’t make anything of this.

Or if it was porn for that matter.

Why porn?  Because Patrick asked Leiter if it was true that the Mets teams of the late-90s and early oughts had a “porn room.”  Which, while it sounds salacious, is really just a way of implying that boys have always been boys and it will forever be thus.  “Porn room?” Big deal. It’s not like every frat house, locker room and ship in the United States Navy isn’t lousy with such things.

Except the question kind of rattled Leiter. You can watch the video over at SportsGrid.  Anyone who has ever tried to first joke away and then sort of explain away a mildly embarrassing truth will recognize Leiter’s vamping toward an answer.  And Patrick’s smiling.  Whether the Mets really did have a porn room back then was an open question when Patrick asked it, but I think the matter was more or less settled by the time Leiter was done answering.

I don’t care a lick that a bunch of professional athletes had a “porn room.”  I’d probably be more worried about the state of young athletes in this nation if they didn’t have one.  But you can’t listen to Leiter try to talk his way out of having to answer that question without laughing.

Between that an all of the fried chicken stuff, this has been the best beginning to the offseason in a good five years.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.