Mets to announce Brodie Van Wagenen as new GM

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Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that the Mets will introduce Brodie Van Wagenen as the new general manager at a press conference some time tomorrow.

News that the Mets had decided on Van Wagenen and were just finalizing the details of his hiring had already circulated widely. In reality the Mets, per MLB’s preferences, were likely waiting for the World Series to end before announcing major offseason news.

Van Wagenen, 44, is leaving the CAA agency to take the Mets GM job. He was reported over the weekend to have been a favored candidate as early as the summer, ever since Sandy Alderson stepped away from his role due to health concerns. Rays senior VP of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, and Brewers senior advisor and two-time GM Doug Melvin, were brought in as potential candidates as well, only to be rejected in favor of Van Wagenen.

As I wrote on Friday, there are potential conflicts of interest with Van Wagenen’s hiring, primarily due to his representing several current Mets players, including presumptive Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom. Back in July, Van Wagenen said publicly that deGrom was worthy of receiving a long-term contract extension from the Mets and if they wouldn’t do it, they should trade him. One wonders if he’ll feel the same way now that he answers to the Fred and Jeff Wilpon, who will be cutting deGrom his checks. For what it’s worth, I’m not the only one wondering it.

Beyond those sorts of concerns, others around baseball are perplexed that the Mets would go with someone who, whatever his overall baseball expertise and business acumen, has no experience whatsoever with working in, let alone managing, a baseball front office. Then again, based on what we know about how the Mets front office works, it’s not at all clear that experience with other clubs would be applicable to running the Mets.

Will it work? Who knows. But leave it to the Mets to do something . . . unconventional.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.