Before Game 1 of the 2021 World Series, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about the Atlanta Braves’ Tomahawk Chop and chant. Yes, it is the Braves, and not just the fans considering the Braves actively promote it. Believe it or not, Manfred answered that question in the absolute worst way possible.
More Manfred on the Braves name: "We don’t market our game on a nationwide basis. Ours is an everyday game. You’ve gotta sell tickets every single day to the fans in that market. And there are all sorts of differences between the regions in terms of how the teams are marketed.”
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) October 26, 2021
Where to begin on this one. Digging deeper, Manfred essentially said in his expanded remarks the chop wasn’t racist (it undoubtedly is) and the Braves name (honestly debatable). Despite that, Manfred relies up on the notion that literally every Native American in the Atlanta area supports the chop, which is an incredulous point, and it does beg us to dig deeper into blackout restrictions.
Keep in mind, the Braves purported region extends well beyond the Atlanta, GA area. If you live in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, the Braves are your designated team. As such, it would require MLB to consult with all of the Native American groups in that blackout region to assert whether they also deem the chant racist. Only then could MLB make such a claim, and as we all know, they can’t.
However, it is more than that. The Braves host every National League city and some American League cities in a season. When they host those teams, they knowingly subject those rival fanbases to the chant by and through the television. Right then and there, Manfred’s explanation fails because the actions in Atlanta have a definitive impact on fans in other cities. As such, he has an obligation to make sure this is not a wider societal issue.
That’s when we should fast forward to the postseason. Networks like TBS have shown the chop on their broadcast, and they have done nothing to mute that chant. The Braves have again taken the chop to the national stage, which again, requires, at a minimum, examination of the chop and its racist overtones. It also demands a deeper look into how this impacts Native Americans around the country.
This part is where Manfred admitted he’s the absolute worst person for the job. In trying to defend himself and the Braves, he admitted MLB is not a nationally marketed game. Yes, as we see, it is nationally televised, but Manfred is actually correct here that MLB is not truly marketed nationally. Go outside MLB Network, and you’re not going to find a single national daily television show. That used to be Baseball Tonight, but MLB conspired with ESPN to drop that show.
Manfred has been put in charge of the greatest game this world has to offer. It is pure magic, and it is made up of a diverse group of players from varying backgrounds and different beliefs. This game is America, and it just needs the right steward to usher the game to greater popularity. Instead, we get a commissioner who has no interest in growing the game and pointing out all the things he sees wrong with the game.
That’s right. With respect to Manfred, when we hear him speak it’s about what’s wrong with the game or that racist chants are alright because Atlanta is a racist city. This is hyperbole for sure, but this also doesn’t miss the mark on how his tenure as commissioner is defined. Overall, what MLB has in Manfred is a coward afraid to do what’s right for the game or its fans. That’s beyond incompetent, and baseball needs better.
If you’re a New York Mets fan, the one team you don’t want to see in the World Series is the Atlanta Braves. This is as intense a rival as there is in this franchise. Chipper Jones calling Mets fans closet Yankees fans. John Rocker insulting the city. There was 1998, 1999, and most recently 2021. Under no circumstance should a Mets fan even contemplate rooting for the Braves.
For some, the Houston Astros are the exception. After all, they were caught cheating in what has been claimed to be the biggest cheating scandal since the Black Sox. Some Mets fans make that claim despite the adoration of J.D. Davis, but I digress.
When you look at the Astros, what they did was absolutely wrong, and one of the biggest issues was MLB never punished the players. They did penalize the organization but not the players. Taking a look at the Astros organization, there is nothing to like there. They’ve gotten where they were by cheating and some horrendous behavior even if many of those people are now gone from the organization.
Understandably, many people could not bring themselves to root for that. Here’s the thing – the Braves organization is far worse.
At the time the Astros were ramping up and creating their own organization and cheating, the Braves were cheating in international free agency. The organization was circumventing bonus pool rules, and they were under reporting the monies paid to signees permitting them to sign more for more money.
During that time period, the Braves organization signed players like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. There were others, and you see the current core of this Braves pennant winning team was built at least in part by this cheating. For some reason, this is something not actively covered. For that matter, neither is the team’s perhaps questionable tactics getting these two players to sign way under market extensions.
On the matter of international free agency, the Braves were also subject to an FBI human trafficking investigation. Obviously, the Braves then GM, who was banned from baseball, has been replaced, and he was replaced by Alex Anthopoulos.
For his part, Anthopolous was caught on tape making statements akin to collusion. This came at a time when many quality free agents were struggling to receive offers commensurate with their value, or really, offers period.
Once we get through the questionable practices of how these teams were built, we then arrive at the chop. The assuredly racist chop is actively promoted by the Braves. This has been an issue dating back to at least 1991, but the Braves pretend it isn’t blaring the chant through the ballpark encouraging fans to do it.
Overall, it absolutely does not get worse than the Braves organization. While it may be difficult to stomach rooting for the Astros (even if Dusty Baker and Zack Greinke deserve a ring), it is far worse to root for the Braves. If after all of this, you still can’t root for the Astros, it’s understandable . . . just don’t root for anyone because rooting for an organization like the Braves isn’t an option for decent and respectable people.
As we tick through the days of October, we have different Mets postseason highlights. Perhaps because they’re more recent in time, and because those postseasons ran later than previous years, we see focus on 2006 and 2015 highlights.
However, no World Series victory. No, Mets fans haven’t seen that since 1986. That’s 35 years ago and counting. There should’ve been at least one other title to celebrate in the ensuing years.
It’s not just the lack of titles; it’s the lack of good baseball. In that unprecedented stretch in franchise history from 1984 – 1990, the Mets won 90+ games six times in seven years including two 100+ win seasons.
In the 35 ensuing years, the Mets have won 90+ games four times. Just four.
That Mets team who finished second or better in seven straight years gave way to a franchise who has finished second or better 10 times. Notably, two of those times the Mets were under .500.
This is a large reason why we’re still celebrating the 2006 and 2015 Mets. This was a very poorly run franchise wasting great player’s primes and World Series windows with gross mismanagement.
Things are better now just because the Wilpons are gone. That said, we just can’t be sure yet just how much better. That’s why the Mets absolutely need to land the right president of baseball operations.
That hire will very well determine if we’re still celebrating 2006 and 2015 because it’s all we got, or if we can now just admire the milestones for what they are. Honestly, we need something because it’s absolutely ridiculous Mets fans have been reduced to celebrating losing postseason series.
An entire game, inning, and series swung when Home Plate Umpire Bill Miller failed to call a strike on a pitch clearly over the plate. Instead of Nathan Eovaldi getting out of the inning, Jason Castro was alive at the plate and would hit a go-ahead single.
Before the go-ahead base hit, this was the 1-2 pitch to Castro. pic.twitter.com/3PVLW8FFnt
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 20, 2021
That blown call had a profound impact on the game. Aside from the Houston Astros going up 3-2, the Boston Red Sox would then melt down. We’d see a seven run rally from that point.
Now, many will say the game didn’t hinge on that call, but they’re wrong. Eovaldi had Castro out and was out of the inning. Instead, he had to throw another pitch, and it led to the Red Sox losing. It was all due to a blown call.
This was far from the only blown call. In fact, this game was littered with them. Worse yet, Miller is one of the worst home plate umpires in the game.
— Umpire Scorecards (@UmpScorecards) October 19, 2021
This isn’t an isolated instance. Miller did this last postseason as well. All-in-all, he misses a lot of pitches. He seemingly just can’t handle breaking pitches around the corners.
World Series Game 3 Umpire Review
Name: Bill Miller
Bad calls: 10
Correct call percentage: 93.0%
Largest miss: 1.55 inches
Calls helping Dodgers: 7
Calls helping Rays: 3
This pitch to Mookie Betts should've ended the inning. Instead, the Dodgers went on to score another run. pic.twitter.com/GmrcP9tdCD
— Umpire Auditor (@UmpireAuditor) October 24, 2020
Seeing him, you have to wonder how he keeps getting behind the plate in the postseasons. He has no business there, and he’s far from the only one. Laz Diaz and Angel Hernandez also come to mind.
Meanwhile, there are umpires who are terrific behind the plate. What’s astonishing is the five best did not receive a postseason assignment.
Are umps that had high Overall Accuracy per @UmpScorecards during the regular season getting postseason assignments? Based on games thru 10/10, of the 12 home plate umps, 3 were in the top third, 4 were in the middle third and 5 were in the bottom third. pic.twitter.com/rzIPoE5sZn
— Umpire Scorecards Analysis (@UmpAnalysis) October 11, 2021
Playing devil’s advocate, it’s possible these umpires are good behind the plate but poor elsewhere. That should beg the question why are we rotating umpires throughout a postseason series?
MLB should not have floating strike zones game to game in a postseason series. Moreover, it’s the postseason. We should see the best of the best. That should include umpires.
There really is no justifiable reason not to have the best home plate umpire behind the plate. The best first base umpire should be at first, and so on and so on.
In the postseason, there’s an increased need to get the calls correct. There is just too much on the line. Instead, we saw the NLDS end on a horrific call, and we saw the ALCS wildly swing on an inexcusably bad missed call.
Based on the reactions, you’d think we were all on the verge of Spring Training, and the New York Mets still didn’t have a president of baseball operations. Seriously, people are already moving towards the LOLMets takes.
The Mets have known for months that they would need someone at the head of baseball ops, and for at least six weeks or so that they would need a manager. Now it's the third week of October and they apparently still aren't close to filling those spots.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 18, 2021
— David P. Samson (@DavidPSamson) October 18, 2021
Believe it or not, it is only October 19. The Boston Red Sox lead 2-1 in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The Atlanta Braves lead 2-0 in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is still a lot of postseason baseball to be played.
That’s partially why the delay. Out of protocols, they needed the Milwaukee Brewers to lose the NLDS before asking about David Stearns. They were predictably denied.
In the time preceding the Tampa Bay Rays losing the ALDS, their organization promoted Erik Neander. That made him unavailable to be interviewed.
They had the perfunctory conversation with Theo Epstein, and it took time to work through the channels to speak with Billy Beane. As expected, both turned down the job.
Rather than accept defeat, the Mets organization at least took a shot. Suddenly, that’s supposed to be a bad thing. It’s inane.
If you’re an organization with the revenue and resources should be trying to get the absolute best people they can. It only makes sense to wait for those people to be available and to work through the process.
It’s not even the start of the postseason, and for various reasons, the Mets couldn’t get the purported top targets. While this has been happening, the Mets have been compiling a short list of people they want to interview for the job.
That’s the important aspect which needs highlighting. The Mets didn’t whiff on the top targets and give up. No, they were prepared for this and are working through the process.
Now, if they want people from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, they have to wait. Regardless of the takes you’ll see, that’s the process, and teams need to do things the right way.
Fortunately, the Mets have Sandy Alderson to keep the offseason moving and to insure things proceed as needed until the new POBO is hired. Alderson’s presence does permit the Mets to not have to rush this process, which is a good thing.
That said, there’s much to do this offseason requiring someone in place sooner rather than later. Seeing how this is all unfolding, we can trust that will happen.
Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS are being played in Atlanta. Of course, that means the Tomahawk Chop chants. It’s an exceedingly racist chant which has been done at Braves games for over 20 years.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a new issue. It’s been a big issue since the Braves initial rise to prominence in the early 1990s.
THIRTY years ago.
Stop the chop. pic.twitter.com/G1F2k1M5OG
— The Twins Almanac (@TwinsAlmanac) October 17, 2021
It’s been an issue for that long, and it continues to be an issue. There are MLB players who have spoken out, and yet the practice continues. The Braves organization loves it and wants it to continue.
What’s baffling is knowing how Native Americans find it racist, TBS doesn’t attempt to drown that crowd noise. We also saw them come out of a break cameras focused on the neon lit tomahawk chopping up and down to lead the fans in the chant.
TBS wanted that on TV, and it’s a shame. They’re complicit in the racist acts, and you wonder where the line is. Would fans screaming racial epithets be on TV if it looks good visually? Sadly, the answer is yes
All-in-all, an embarrassing job by TBS. Shame on them.
It’s bad enough we were forced to root for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The cacophony of racism disguised as chants rings through our ears.
In the bottom of the inning, Ozzie Albies bloops one and steals second. He’d score easily on an Austin Riley walk-off. With that, the Braves take a 1-0 series lead, and Mets fans are left wondering why their front office punted the trade deadline thereby costing them of this opportunity.
Like 2015, Wilmer Flores was the last man standing between elimination and celebration. Once again, an umpire made a horrendous call.
Back in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, Home Plate Umpire Alfonso Marquez called Flores out looking despite the Wade Davis pitch being well off the plate. Truth be told that call didn’t impact the series as the Mets trailed 7-2.
That’s not the case in Game 5 of the 2021 NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers leading 2-1 in the winner-take-all game. Kris Bryant represented the tying run at first, and Flores, the Mets all-time leader in walk-off RBI was at the plate.
Max Scherzer was up 0-2 in the count, and Flores entered the at-bat 0-for-17 against Scherzer. And yet, there was still a chance. That was until first base umpire Gabe Morales made a call which had even Don Dekinger shaking his head:
— Umpire Auditor (@UmpireAuditor) October 15, 2021
It wasn’t the only completely blown check swing call by Morales in this series. Going back to the Bryant fourth inning strikeout with five of six pitches out of the zone, it wasn’t even the only series changing blown call.
Put another way. MLB Umpires blew a call they can’t blow. It wasn’t close. It was an embarrassment to the sport. It needs to be fixed and corrected, but Rob Manfred and the Umpire’s Union has zero interest in that. Simply put, they don’t care AT ALL, and that’s why this garbage will continue to happen.
Look at the postseason landscape. On the American League side, you have the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. So far, you have the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, and they are going to face one of the San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers. While the series may be good, it’s not exactly an awe inspiring list of teams to root for to win the World Series.
Plain and simple, we know the Astros have cheated, and they have been unpunished and unapologetic about it. They are facing off against the Red Sox who have their own issues on that front, and they are led by Alex Cora, who was purportedly the ring leader of the entire operation. As we saw, Cora was fired for one year just for show.
When it comes to the National League, the Braves are the epitome of evil. Putting aside the history with Chipper Jones calling Mets fans closet Yankees fans, everything John Rocker, and really, every soul crushing loss, this is a racist fan base eagerly doing the racist Tomahawk Chop chant every game. Rooting for them is like rooting for the hunter in Bambi.
We know all about the Dodgers. There was the 1988 NLCS, and there was Chase Utley. They’re the team who signed Trevor Bauer. We should also mention they’re the favorite team of the Wilpons. No self respecting Mets fan should ever root for the Dodgers.
Understandably, Mets fans probably aren’t too eager to root for the Giants. After all, behind Madison Bumgarner and Conor Gillaspie, they beat the Mets in the 2016 Wild Card Game. There is also all things Barry Bonds. There is also Gabe Kapler, and the heinous things he has been alleged to do.
That should leave a Mets fan wondering what is left in this soulless landscape. Who is the hero who can emerge from all of this dredge? The answer is old friend Wilmer Flores.
Wilmer is the same player who cried at the very idea of leading the Mets only to win a walk-off homer his next chance. In fact, Wilmer has more walk-off hits than any Mets player. That’s a list which includes players like Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright. Really, Wilmer has brought us much more joy than we ever could’ve imagined.
Now, he’s the only player really worth Mets fans rooting for this postseason. While we understandably don’t have much reason to root for any of the remaining teams, that goes double for the Braves, there is every reason to root for Wilmer. Hopefully, he and the Giants outlast the Dodgers and the Braves en route to Wilmer winning a World Series ring. After all, if anyone deserves it, it’s him.
You’d be hard pressed to argue Aaron Loup wasn’t the best reliever in baseball in 2021. Over 65 appearances, he was 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. Looking at advanced stats, he had a 422 ERA+, 2.45 FIP, and a 2.8 WAR.
His ERA was the best among all relievers, and that was backed up by his FIP being the eighth best. Perhaps more importantly, Loup backed up an impressive 2020 campaign which saw him finally learn how to handle right-handed batters effectively.
In 2020, Loup had what was then a career best year. Part of that was limiting right-handed batters to a .192/.246/.423 batting line. There was reason for skepticism with right-handed batters hitting .264/.332/.424 off of him in his career up to that point. Well, in 2021, Loup proved the improvement was real limiting right-handed batters to a .211/.290/.257 batting line.
This is a huge development. This means Loup is no longer just a LOOGY. No, Loup is an effective late inning reliever. That puts his value off the charts in an era where pitchers face a three batter minimum. Unless you get the opportunity to bring in a left-handed reliever with two outs, you need a reliever who can at least hold their own against right-handed batters. That’s easier said that done, and it’s all the more complicated when you’re trying to get innings from a pitching staff over a 162 game season.
The Mets were quite lucky getting Loup for just $3 million in 2021. Obviously, even with Loup turning 34 at the end of the year, he is going to get a raise and a multi-year deal. Obviously, he has more than earned it. It should also be obvious the Mets who are still short in the bullpen need him, and it may also behoove Loup to stick with Jeremy Hefner, who helped him continue his progress as a two way reliever. On that front, Loup has said he wants to return to the Mets.
In many ways, that just puts the ball in the Mets court. The season has been over for over a week, and Loup’s comments were well over a month ago. Still, there has been no reports of any news on a Loup deal. The longer this goes on, the more there is the risk Loup actually hits free agency at the end of the month and has a team blow him out of the water with a deal the Mets would not be willing to match.
Yes, there are a lot of pressing matters with the Mets. They are searching for a new president of baseball operations. They need to make determinations on making qualifying offers for Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. They are apparently trying to keep Luis Rojas in the organization. There is that and so much more.
However, as we have seen with Rojas and much of the coaching staff being dismissed, there are some things which absolutely need to be done now. Considering the state of the bullpen, his performance, and his desire to return, re-signing Loup is one of those things. Keeping him in the fold makes the job of the new president of baseball operations, whoever that will be, much easier when that hiring is official. It is long past time this deal gets done to allow the Mets to focus on other issues.
Mets need to re-sign Aaron Loup now.