I’m way too excited about this post, because it combines four of my favorite things: Baseball, podcasts, Chelsea Peretti, and snooping for information about people on the internet.
Chelsea Peretti is a great stand-up comedian, writer, and tweeter who just started her own podcast in which she takes calls from the audience. I was listening to the second episode this afternoon when about 12 minutes in a caller named “John” started talking about how he’s 24 years old and “blew a small fortune” of $210,000 after being drafted by the Mets as an 18-year-old.
Peretti asked: “And then what happened, you started sucking at baseball?”
“They thought I was a good baseball player,” our mystery man explained, adding that he was a pitcher before his “elbow blew out” and he spent most of the signing bonus on a truck and “buying sushi every night.”
That was more than enough information to discover our mystery man’s identity via the magic of the internet: John Holdzkom, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was the Mets’ fourth-round pick in 2006 and signed for $210,000. He underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2009 and has yet to make it past high Single-A, throwing a total of 135 innings in seven seasons. He spent this season in the Reds’ farm system, but appeared in just six games and walked 13 batters in nine innings.
Holdzkom shared some interesting details about his arm problems and various off-field issues, showing a really good sense of humor about the whole thing. And he’s apparently headed to Australia to continue his career. You should definitely listen to their whole chat, if only so I feel less silly about spending time researching the identity of an anonymous podcast caller.
To experience my internet detective work unfolding in real time you can follow me on Twitter.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.