Coppola: Cool Teams Become Elite Teams

By William Coppola

Why are some baseball teams almost always at the top of the scale and others just swimming around the pond? Just slowly backstroking to the top once in a while to feed on the good stuff. We try to make sense of all the could haves, should haves and what if’s every season. We then spin it slightly different from year to year and are still left scratching our heads at what did or didn’t happen.
I’ve looked at so many things that may give a clue as to what went wrong and what went right for teams and found that there is never a clear cut answer. Let’s take injuries. According to ‘Roster Resource’  the Mets had the second most players in the major leagues on the disabled list this year. Therefore, some think that they had a legitimate excuse for having a disappointing year.
Guess who was number three? The Dodgers. The Red Sox, Cleveland, Yankees and Oakland were in the top 11 and the Brewers were just a few behind. If I am not mistaken, they all played above .500 and made the playoffs.
The difference to me with all of that is the fact that those winning teams either had great depth in their farm systems or made very good trades to solve their problems. In the case of the Mets, they have no depth nor did they try to trade to fill those spots of players on the DL. In all fairness to them, the timing was off for them to act on all those injuries.
The trading deadline and availability of the right replacements just didn’t come at the right time for them. Plus the competition for players available was big and like other teams in their situation they just threw in the towel. I understand that. Lots of teams do that.
The one thing that still puzzles me is that it seems to always be the same group of teams that quit and the same group that work to fix things in season. We can talk about ownership being the culprit here and there when they tie a GM’s hands up and keep him from spending money. Guess that could be one reason. Can’t always pin it on a GM as they come and go and owners seem to stay forever.
Though not having as much money to spend to compete with the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers hasn’t kept the Oakland A’s (Perennial bottom 4 in attendance every year) from being competitive most of the time.
Tinkering with the way teams play the game always affects how it will do on the field whether it is the heavy use of analytics. or getting back to basics like stealing bases and not swinging for the fences all the time with runners in scoring position.
The latter being what has served the Red Sox well this season. Obviously there is no tried and true formula for winning because the game keeps changing.
Changes in the way of rules, players, ballparks, scheduling and free agency all have a hand in what can turn a team around, one way or the other. But it still doesn’t give us a clue as to why some teams most of the time are competitive year after year while others are always huffing and puffing through the season looking for excuses.
I’m not trying to pick on the Mets here, they just happen to be the the team many in New York are most frustrated with. Will they ever become one of these elite franchises? They have had some very good teams from time to time and that is ok but is is only very good.
Their fans want them to be one of those elite organizations. Very good is fine, elite is better. Maybe we will see that one day. For now they are still doing backstrokes in the pond.
William Coppola is a contributing writer for the Bronx Chronicle. His career as a player, coach,  and umpire continues as a talent scout.
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