Sandy Alderson Compares Wilmer Flores To Cal Ripken Jr.
Oh, I know, I know — Sandy Alderson wasn’t NECESSARILY comparing Wilmer Flores‘ skill set to that of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. But really, did you expect me to let go this most recent PR spin?
Hey, just like Alderson, I’m a public relations professional, so precise choice of words, imagery, and pseudo-comparison don’t fly by me unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not bashing Alderson’s PR skills, but rather, impressed with them. Believe me, I’m taking notes. Further, I bet Scott Boras is keeping an eye on Alderson’s slickery (a word I just made up), and equally impressed. Since he wasn’t named the new MLB commissioner, maybe Alderson can find a job in the publicity department of Boras’ camp.
“What was interesting about that and what may have led me to that joke was in looking at Cal Ripken’s career, you know he didn’t play shortstop until he got to the major leagues,” Alderson said during an appearance on MLB Network, noting that Ripken had played third base in the minor leagues. Flores, too, had not played much shortstop until last season.”
“There’s been a lot of conversation about Wilmer Flores and whether he can play the position, Cal Ripken didn’t play shortstop professionally until he got to Baltimore…Shortstops are often questioned as to their ability to play the position and even the greats like Cal Ripken, who’s not a prototypical shortstop – like say the Mark Belanger variety, who he replaced in Baltimore – but it happens with a lot of players so maybe that’s a good sign for somebody like Wilmer Flores.”
That’s what a
good publicity man GM says after an unsuccessful attempt to acquire a real MLB shortstop. It’s brilliant. Make a comparison so ridiculously flabbergasting that it gets picked up everywhere, and then two things result. First, the serious fans (i.e., those who read Mets blogs) argue fervently over whether Flores truly can be the next Ripken, Jr. (he can’t). Second, the casual fans (i.e., those who go to the Flushing-location Shake Shack a few times a year and otherwise follow the team through New York tabloid back pages and, sometimes, headlines) accept the direct connection between Flores and Ripken, and go to Mets.com to purchase a Wilmer Flores jersey.
Oh, and not to be a nitpicker — oh, whom am I kidding? of course I’m nitpicking — but Cal Ripken, Jr. played PLENTY of shortstop prior to reaching the big leagues. Over four minor-league seasons, Ripken appeared as a shortstop 174 times — though who’s counting? (And yeah, Ripken Junior also played shortstop in high school, if you were wondering.)
There’s no argument as to whether Wilmer Flores can play shortstop for the Mets in 2015. Of course he can, as all it takes is Terry Collins writing “ss” next to his name in the lineup, and Flores trotting out between second and third bases every inning. Heck, going by that standard, Daniel Murphy is a Major League second baseman. Whether Flores can play well enough at the position to help the Mets win 90 games, however, is something we’ll have to wait and see. No amount of opinion, scouts’ analysis, nor data from small sample sizes will tell us — we’ll know by September.
Meantime, enjoy the propaganda, and if you’re in public relations (or hope to be some day), take notes every time Sandy Alderson appears in public — he’s worth the study.