Five signs that your team has jumped the shark
“How did you go bankrupt?” one character asks of another in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.* “Two ways,” his companion replies. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
That’s how it goes in baseball sometimes, too: Slow decline gives way to outright collapse; creeping pessimism flips over to total despair. Sometimes, there’s a moment when you know it isn’t going to get any better, when you know that the excitement of spring training is only going to spiral into the futility of another quiet October, and another, and probably another.
So how can you tell? Here are a few possible clues:
#5: Your hometown newspaper columnist isn’t sure he can bring himself to lay eyes on you
It’s bad enough that millionaires are fighting over the right not to own the Padres. It’s even more humiliating that one of the few guys in town who’s paid to watch them is publicly airing doubts about his capacity and desire to do so. Nick, dude, with columns like this, you’re about as likely to win that MLB Fan Cave contest as the Padres are to win the World Series.
#4: You are actually trying to sign Manny Ramirez
No one’s really sure what the A’s are up to this winter. First they unloaded most of the recognizable names on their roster, then they surprised us all by signing Yoenis Cespedes, and now they’re conducting straight-faced negotiations with the most malignant (but not, uh, drug-resistant) clubhouse cancer of the last decade. I can only conclude that Hollywood has gone to Billy Beane’s head and rendered him insane. Anyone got a better guess?
#3: Your goal for the season is to look better while losing
Ouch. The Pirates, after stirring from their Van-Winkle-esque 19-year slumber for the first half of 2011, promptly dozed off again, so it’s hard to fault anyone for insulting them with low expectations. If Jeff Passan’s right, it sounds like their best hope is to be Project Runway…..without the All-Stars.
#2: You’ve been banned from an entire Asian country
In the era of globalization, it only makes sense that the Orioles, no longer content with simply enraging the greater Baltimore area, should send their scouts abroad to enrage the whole nation of South Korea. Way to go, guys! Pro tip: You’ll probably want to pass on any hot North Korean prospects, too.
#1: You are the Miami Marlins
Jose Reyes! Mark Buehrle! Ozzie Guillen! New uniforms! New stadium! New name! New Showtime series! God. Stop it already. You’re the reality-show famewhores of the big leagues—a cast of mostly unstable, attention-hungry prima donnas, dressed in fancy clothes and moved into a fancy house to create drama and intrigue for an audience with an attention span shorter than Carlos Zambrano’s temper. You’re embarrassing. Knock it off.