We linked that Mets “fan letter” or “loyalty oath” or whatever that thing was yesterday. And, as we said yesterday, it may be a bit weird as far as these things go — teams don’t often pen open letters to their fans like that — but it’s really no different than any other sort of fan outreach, marketing or what have you. The Red Sox have convinced their fans they’re part of a Great Nation. The Yankees have crafted this grand fiction of a “Yankees Universe” in which class and history and nobility exist in the Bronx unlike they exist anyplace else. If you examine the stuff that led to those now-accepted tropes, they’d look kinda silly too.
But the Mets’ effort has sparked a pretty big backlash. The biggest I’ve seen comes from Mike Vaccaro in the Post who calls it “clueless” and “insulting” and calls the Mets “dense” for even bothering. He says it’s an “affront” to real fans. It’s quite a screed.
It just feels like a Mets pile-on to me. For years the Mets have done dumb things and that has led to a lot of “Dumb Mets!” or, in the parlance of Twitter “LOLMETS!” commentary. But it’s gotten to the point where people autopilot to that without, I think, actually trying to figure out if the thing they’re mocking is really all that mockworthy.
I don’t think this letter is. I don’t think it’s some masterstroke in public relations, but it’s no worse than what a lot of other teams do. Why it is creating such a furor among some I have no idea.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.