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Who Is Chaim Bloom Arguing With?

Because it’s not us.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Boston Red Sox
Flashy or talented?
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It’s probably a bad idea to analyze a single quote, out of context, but the internet is full of people acting on bad ideas, and we’re on the internet, so I’m about to do it anyway. I would specifically like to address this comment, from Chaim Bloom’s 35-minute press availability on Wednesday, because I think it does not make sense:

There are many layers to this weird statement, so let me unpack them here as I think of them.

First off, talent is flashy, almost by definition. Maybe a poor choice of words on his part, but it’s not a great start.

Second off, who is telling him to get flashy players instead of talented ones? Is it the front office? Is it us? Is it some abstract character he has invented to have someone to argue against?

Third off, what flashy players are we referring to? Because the only thing I’m sure we’ve been pestering him about recently are the Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers contract situations, and they’re both flashy and good.

Finally: Why the lecture? Actually, I know the answer to that one.

The lecture is so that Bloom can tell himself he’s doing the job properly, and that we just don’t understand team-building, whoever “we” is. It’s condescending and untrue but ultimately harmless unless it grows into a full-blown pathology, which it hasn’t... yet. But I worry about it. If Trevor Story is the big acquisition in a league that sees Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman and [hacking, awful cough] Mookie Betts on the move, how are we supposed to be excited about it?

Chris Thompson had a great story on Patrick Corbin today at Defector, which was really a story about Soto, which was really a story about a trend the Sox started before the 2020 season was set to begin, with the Betts trade. I’m going to block quote the first paragraph because it sums up my feelings on the [points at everything] incredibly well:

There is no conceivable version of a Juan Soto trade that should not make you feel worse about Major League Baseball. Soto is good and fun and promising beyond the wildest dreams of any team for any prospect; dealing him at this stage of his career for future prospects, in order to avoid paying him what the market determines is his worth, is declaring to your fans and to those future prospects and to the rest of the baseball world that there is a level of excellence that a baseball player can attain that is simply too much for the people in charge of the Washington Nationals to tolerate on their roster. That yet another baseball team is prepared to make this declaration—joining approximately 25 other teams that have now made this declaration in one form or another—sucks mondo ass and affirms all of the worst and direst concerns about the health of the sport.

IMHO, the only things that suck more mondo ass than teams punting on all-time great players are the fans and executives who think that it is inexorably The Way in a league where the Dodgers and Astros, two teams who plainly don’t follow that model, basically make the World Series every year. It’s not an accident! Those teams are flashy and talented and everything seems to work out great for them. So what’s the problem?