Buster Olney tells Mets fans not to worry about the Phillies

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From this morning’s Buster Olney column:

I’ve been trying to convince some friends who are Mets fans that the Cliff Lee signing is good for New York, in the big picture. Here’s the logic: The Mets are probably not going to be very good in 2011, and maybe even 2012. So, by 2013, when the Mets theoretically have rebuilt themselves into a contender, Lee will be 35 years old and the Phillies could have a roster top-heavy with older and more expensive players.

Actually, most Mets fans I talk to think along those lines. They’re a pretty clear-eyed bunch for the most part. Not that “don’t worry, you’re going to suck for two years” makes anyone feel great about their team, but I don’t think anyone really refutes it.

From a competitive standpoint, the Cliff Lee signing is the worst for the Braves, who are contenders now, and for the NL playoff teams from the Central and West who will have to get past the Phillies in the playoffs.  It’s a drag for Mets fans, sure, but I don’t think it really changes the competitive equation for them all that much.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.