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Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Ball" Boy Booted to Brooklyn?

Okay, Queens, as the New York Mets acquired Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base for them, deciding that during their shopping spree (where they turned Major League Baseball into a mega-mall) they needed to forego the kitchen department and go to the home cleaning department, foresaking sieves for vacuums at first base. That's certainly one way to look at the story, that the Mets were acquiring a first baseman.

The other way is that the Red Sox were getting rid of someone whom the from office tired of rather quickly. You'll recall all of the talk in the blogosphere about the ball that was in play at the end of the 2004 World Series, how Mientkiewicz has it, how it's unclear as to who owns it, and how the Hall of Fame indicated that it only has one Series-ending ball, that from the 1903 Series. Click here and here to read my prior posts on the subject.

Right now, by the way, Mientkiewicz and the BoSox have struck a deal whereby the first baseman will lend the Sox the ball for a year so that Red Sox' fans can see it. The timing's interesting, and it shows how much the ball means to the BoSox. After all, they secured the deal on the ball right before they traded the first baseman. Otherwise, they'd have to deal with him from afar about the baseball, and that would have been more tricky.

The question still remains, by the way, whether the BoSox made a good deal for Mientkiewicz or they jettisoned him because he was bucking management. The good news for Mientkiewicz is that he goes to a Mets team that has spent a ton of money to improve, and one that will be able to give him a lot of playing time.

They say that he's their best fielding first baseman since John Olerud left in 2000, and that's good news for Met fans and Mets' pitchers. While the Mets' starting rotation has the potential to be outstanding, its bullpen is more reminiscent of what they had in New York in 1962. As a result, Mientkiewicz should take a page out of Olerud's book and wear a batting helmet (which Olerud needed for medical reasons) while playing first.

The whole episode also offers up an important lesson for current Red Sox players who want to remain in Boston -- it's okay to have your agent bug the living daylights out of management during contract negotiations, but mess with a principle (or ownership principal) about matters like the tools you need to play the game, and you'll be in for a world of hurt.

And out of town.

Red Sox management is very savvy, and these guys were the guys to break the curse. So, no doubt, they probably traded Mientkiewicz because they didn't need him anymore. They probably got the best deal from the Mets, but I'm sure if they could have they would have traded him to Tampa Bay or Kansas City, baseball's version of the gulag.

But not for the proverbial box of baseballs that those teams could only afford to offer.


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