On Feb. 7, I was fortunate to be able to attend the third annual speech by The Record’s sports writer, Bob Klapisch, at Cong. Beth Aaron in Teaneck . My loyal follower(s) will immediately note that I attended the same speech last year and blogged about it as well. Klapisch, a former Teaneck resident of 13 years, spent some time reflecting on his previous year’s predictions while devoting much of the time to discussing the future. Most of the discussion, of course, was centered around the Yankees and the Mets.
Klapisch began with what he perceived to be a franchise-wide ineptitude of the New York Mets. The Mets were predicted by many sportscasters at the beginning of the 2009 season to be a definite playoff-bound team, with a strong chance of winning the World Series. Ninety-two losses later, the Mets finished in an abysmal fourth place, with the future looking even dimmer after having been financially bankrupted by the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The Yankees, on the other hand, did a complete 180, transforming an aging and overpaid team into revitalized world champions, shocking all factions of New York.
Beginning with their inception into Major League Baseball, the New York Mets have had a cult-like following. Klapisch compared rooting for the Yankees similar to at times “rooting for Microsoft.” The Mets, he reasoned, represent an “alternative to this corporate style.” Thus, when the Mets made “mistake, after mistake, after mistake” during the 2009 season – which was thought by so many to be the year – it was especially painful for the team’s faithful following. Klapisch spent a good amount of time ripping Mets owner Jeff Wilpon for deceiving fans with the current financial state of the team, leading many to believe that the Mets were pursuing players they truly had no intention or ability to sign. After a dreadful season, Wilpon cut payroll for the upcoming season and only through sheer reluctance, signed outfielder Jason Bay. Klapisch concluded by semi-jokingly stating, “If the Mets win more than 85 games, I will eat my hat.”
In addition, Klapisch predicted that Mets manager Jerry Manuel will be fired by May. He believes that the Mets will find someone within the system to replace Manuel, as Klapisch implied the Mets were too cheap to go out and spend on a qualified manager. Then, Klapisch announced exactly what I have claimed for nearly five years: The solution to all of the Mets’ problems is Bobby Valentine! Valentine was run out of New York by then-Mets General Manager Steve Phillips in 2002. Since then, Valentine has managed the Chiba Lotte Marines, a Japanese baseball team, to win the Japan Series. He has, according to Klapisch and I, the perfect personality to turn the Mets franchise around.
Klapisch spent much time praising the Yankees franchise for its recent success. As opposed to 10 years ago, Klapisch said, the current Yankees franchise is “more economical” and “much more intelligent.” Instead of writing “check after check,” the Yankees are determined to keep payroll under $200 million (ha!) and take a more cost-effective approach to bidding for free agents.
All in all, Klapisch predicts that the Philadelphia Phillies will dominate the National League and that they will have a rematch with the Yankees in the 2010 World Series. My personal prediction: Colorado vs. Boston.