NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: All We Are Saying Is Give Luis A Chance

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If I may paraphrase the great John Lennon, “All we are saying is give Luis a Chance.”

Luis Rojas did not have to “win the presser,” today, but the bottom line is that doesn’t matter. He was nervous during his first time meeting the local media in his new role and that’s understandable, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be the right hire.

After the Mets dismissed Carlos Beltran, many media members (including myself at first) felt the Mets needed to hire an experienced manager to navigate them through a predicament that was not of their own doing. When it appeared that the Mets were going to go the “first time manager” route once again, I felt Hensley Meulens would’ve been a good choice because, by all accounts, he was “ready to manage” and was already the bench coach for a few months. By this time, I’m sure he had learned what he needed to learn about the organization.

Rojas was also “ready to manage” and was being strongly considered the first time around when the Mets were looking to replace Mickey Calloway. Rojas had an edge on both Beltan and Meulens because he had managerial experience in the minors and the winter leagues, and was already a member of the organization, something that GM Brodie Van Wagenen touched on today.

During a 1-on-1 interview with SNY’s Steve Gelbs, Van Wagenen said, “Clearly familiarity. He had a long history with the organization,” when he was asked to go more in depth as to why Rojas was the best choice.

Earlier, Van Wagenen used a “double-edged sword” when he referred to Rojas’ ability to relate to players. “His communication not only to the players, but you’ll learn his communication with you will be genuine.” Touche’! Carlos Beltran, and here was the coup de grace. “And certainly from a management standpoint, the ability to know that when we speak to Luis, it’s gonna be the truth.” Whoa! That was a double-decker bus he threw him under.

I wonder if Beltran did come clean once his name surfaced in MLB’s report. Those comments from the GM sound like someone who feels like he got screwed.

The Mets had “egg on their face” but give them some credit here, because, as mentioned before, this was not of their own doing. They are the first of the three teams (that had openings) to fill their managerial vacancy. To me that showed they were decisive in the handling of this matter, something that has been lacking in the past. (Anyone seen Steve Cohen?)

Van Wagenen is betting on an unknown commodity, but he could be rolling the dice for a final time. There’s pressure on Rojas and it’s even more so on the GM, but maybe the Mets finally have some luck on their side and have stumbled onto something.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two marks to be checked in determining if this was the right move. The players like Rojas, but will that translate into playing for this manager. What will be the response when the young skipper has to make some tough decisions for the good of the team, decisions that may not sit well with some of the players.

The other thing is “in-game” decisions from the dugout. No matter how their role has diminished in the eyes of analytical decision makers, a manager will have to make crucial decisions “on the fly” that will ultimately determine his and his team’s fate. We’re not just talking about pitching changes and, by the way, he won’t have a computer to help him come to that crucial decision.

Rojas has the pedigree, the background and the initial respect of his players. That’s a good start. We’ll see if it all comes together, but all we are saying is give Luis a chance.

The BBWAA has had the privilege of voting for the players for enshrinement into Baseball’s Hall of Fame since the first elections were held in 1936. In that time, (including this year) 133 players have been voted in by the writers.

Over the years, the ballot has featured names like Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Jackie Robinson, among other all time greats. Players of that ilk, I like to refer to as “no-brainers.” You should not have to think twice about those players, yet not one of those names were unanimous selections.

34 players got more than 90% of the vote. 25 of those 34 came after, and not including, 1983. 15 of those players got 95% or more of the vote.

Only Vladimir Guerrero and Roberto Alomar got 90% after being on the ballot for a second time. It was disgraceful that Guerrero was not a first ballot Hall of Famer. Alomar had a “black mark” on his record after the infamous spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck in 1996, so it was fathomable that he would not get in on the first ballot, despite his otherwise stellar career.

No one can really know what a voter was thinking when they kept a player like Mays, Williams, Ruth or Aaron off of their ballot. We’d be ignorant not to consider society’s ignorance in those days when it came to voting for black players. Sometimes it was just a personal matter. If the player gave the writer a hard time, when the time came, the voter would reciprocate by leaving him off of his ballot. Some writers may have used a player’s personal habits and vices as a way to deny their vote, despite it having nothing to do with what the player did on the field.

Which brings us to a question that will rival, “Who Killed JR?” and “Who’s on First?” Who left Derek Jeter off of their Hall of Fame ballot? Jeter, who got 396 of 397 votes, indicated at his presser, “Trying to get that many people to agree on something, it is pretty difficult to do.”

Did this voter omit Jeter because he pissed off some people as the CEO of the Miami Marlins? Was it a New York bias where that voter didn’t want another former Yankee to be a second straight unanimous selection. Defensive Metrics? Was it a joke? Was it the lame use of a ballot where someone doesn’t vote for a player like Jeter, knowing he’ll get enough votes anyway? Instead they submit a vote for a player who had a nice career, but is not worthy of being called a Hall of Famer. (Is that why Adam Dunn and J.J. Putz got a Hall of Fame vote)

Whether Jeter was unanimous or not, bottom line is that he is deserving of being a first ballot Hall of Famer. I’m still befuddled, and have been for a long time. How can some of the all time greats not be unanimous selections for the Hall of Fame. I’m still trying to figure that out, he said with a wink-wink. (and a nudge, nudge in tribute to the late Terry Jones)

We may never get the answer to the 99.7 question? (It’s not Swanee River, for you Honeymooner fans)

Karpin’s Korner appears every Friday on nysportsday.com


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