Every team has a nemesis. Every city has an arch enemy, its own personal Lex Luthor. Part of what makes sports so appealing and intriguing isn’t just winning, it’s winning against THEM. It’s not enough that “we” succeed, others must fail.
In Pittsburgh, in terms of football, our Green Goblin is the Baltimore Ravens. If the Pittsburgh Penguins were Batman, the Philadelphia Flyers would be The Joker.
New York vs. Boston. Detroit vs. Chicago. Jordan vs. Bird. Mario vs. Gretzky. Montana vs. Marino.
Every fan base has a rival. Every fan base needs a rival.
The problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates is that they have sucked for so long we don’t have a nemesis anymore. When you are the whipping boy for the entire league, it’s hard to grow a rivalry. The only thing the rest of the league feels towards Pittsburgh is pity. They don’t even rate high enough to get mocked on ESPN anymore, and those idiots just love taking shots at the ‘Burgh. The Pirates=Washington Generals in a league full of Globetrotters.
We need an enemy, an object of mutual hatred. Commonly this enemy has been what is known around Pittsburgh as BMTIB (Best Management Team in Baseball, a moniker for the Pirates front office staff. Named after a few comically ridiculous statements by members of the BMTIB). Even the owner takes his turn as the whipping boy every so often, but these never last much longer than a few weeks. Bonutt made his money in the media business owning several newspapers, so he is as PR savvy as they come. He knows how to manipulate the local media and portray himself as simply a victim of bad luck. The BMTIB gets free passes from local fan base for no other reason than they suck slightly less than previous versions. Which is of course idiotic, but after twenty years of eating shit sandwiches (See: Matt Morris and Aramis Ramirez trades) some people would actually be grateful if someone gave them one that had ketchup on it. It’s like some really screwed up Stockholm syndrome.
No, what Pirates fans need is a real enemy. An exterior nemesis. Something we can all rally around and loathe with the same unbridled hatred we feel for those purple idiots form Baltimore. But who in MLB fits that role? It can’t be the player/team that has been using the Pirates as a chew toy the most, because everyone has been kicking their ass for 20 years.
So, for your consideration I submit that we all agree to loathe Billy Beane.
That’s right. The GM of the Oakland Athletics. That guy.
I effin’ HATE that guy.
Not because he had a book and a movie made about him. Not because he has a sweet job that pays him millions. This isn’t about some petty jealousy about a man that gets to have a multimillion dollar job in baseball or get his life portrayed by Brad Pitt. It’s because as long as he is making a mockery of every other GM in the league the real problem (and perhaps real target of our frustration) will never go away.
The economics of baseball are a joke. That’s not even debatable. When one team makes more in TV revenue per year than another team has for their entire payroll, then the entire league is shit. It’s beyond broken and borders on outright cheating. But no one in MLB seems particularly upset about it, at least not publicly. They certainly don’t seem to be in a rush to fix it.
And that’s Billy’s fault. He has less money than any other team, including the Pirates, Royals and Indians. Yet this wildly intelligent man constantly defies logic and wins more games than teams with payrolls two to three times larger than his own.
He’s that insufferable clown in freshman Calculus that destroys the grading curve just because he can. The kind of man that reminds that the teacher they forgot to collect homework. Last year he pulled former Pirates Brandon Moss off of the scrap heap and somehow managed to squeeze out of him the potential the Pirates never could. In 84 games Moss hit as many homeruns (21) as he did in 255 games as a Pirate. His .596 SLUG and .954 OPS were impressive considering the piece of shit stadium that is Oakland County Coliseum, and dwarfed the .387/.695 he managed in Pittsburgh. He actually had a negative WAR every season in Pittsburgh, but a very respectable 1.9 in his first year in Oakland. Every time I watched Sportscenter and saw Moss bombing one into the left field bleachers all I could imagine was Billy Beane standing somewhere inside the bowels of the stadium doing his best Nelson Muntz.
This is the kind of shit Beane does, and I swear he does it just to be a dick. Part of me thinks the man hates baseball. As long as he continues to make being a GM look so easy, so ridiculously easy, the economics of baseball will never get fixed. As long as he is around to prove that winning with a budget of less than 60 million is not only possible, but consistently achievable, no one is going to demand that anything changes. The fact that he uses other people’s leftovers to do it only adds to the insult.
There is no guarantee that if Billy Beane were to quit and do something more commensurate with his abilities, like disproving String Theory or Event Horizon physics, that the league would finally look at their own economic paradigm and realize “Wow…this is really effed up!” They will certainly never do it as long as that fun-killing assclown is around making a mockery of every other GM in the league. As long as he is winning division titles with players deemed not even good enough to play left field for the Pirates, there isn’t a single GM that can play the “Small Market” card.
His success is not an indication of what is possible, but that mutants are among us. He doesn’t belong in MLB, he belongs in Professor Xavier’s School for the Gifted, refining his mutant ability of turning valet parking attendants into major league ball players. The man is quite simply ruining baseball by making it look like far, FAR too easy. He needs to go away so a “normal” human can take his place in Oakland, fail miserably, and allow the possibility of economic reform in MLB to exist.