This notion -- that the New York teams should make moves that land them on the tabloids' back pages instead of at the top of the NL East standings-- is a common one among New York baseball writers. "Please provide us column fodder and circulation increases," guys like O'Connor are demanding, "winning should not be your primary objective." If you think I'm being unfair about this, just look at O'Connor's own words:
On arrival, [Minaya's] can-do personality transformed the sad sack Mets into believers. Minaya was the first executive to convince Fred Wilpon he had to have the stomach to go big-game hunting if he ever wanted to take the market from the Yanks . . .The GM had the nerve to chase the ace of the 2004 world champions. . . Now Minaya looks hopelessly boxed in. It appears he can't get Santana without seriously compromising his team, and again he's left to rely on the decomposing bodies of Martinez and El Duque Hernandez.
It's not about the wins, see, it's about "taking the market from the Yanks." It's about doing things like signing "the ace of the 2004 world champions" even though he turned into a "decomposing body" a little over a year into the deal. Just make a move, O'Connor counsels, it doesn't have to be a good move, it need merely be big!
This is what people are talking about when they talk about how hard it is to play in New York. The GMs can't simply build solid teams, they must do it with panache. The stars can't simply smack the cover off the ball, they must fill some vaguely defined role as "hero" as well. If the stars manage to do that at some point, they can never be judged on their performance going forward, for to speak ill of the hero is blasphemy. This, in turn, makes it very difficult to be that star's manager or teammate. The whole scene presents an entirely different competing set of demands than that which players and execs are used to having, and the only consistent thing that seems to be driving it is a competitive media market.
This isn't news to most people, I imagine, but it's helpful to remember once in a while that the genesis of this dynamic isn't some complicated genetic deformity on the part of tri-state baseball fans which makes them impossible to satisfy. It simply springs from the typewriter of columnists in places like Bergen, New Jersey who need to find something else to say besides "the Mets need a couple of starting pitchers" because, hey, the dude at the Gazette said that on Wednesday.