Posts Filed Under Baseball

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What a turn of events…

May 28, 2010 by

On this date last year, the Mets were in first place.  That’s right, first place.  It seems like ages ago when we, as Mets fans, knew that we were not only the best team in the NL East, but the whole damn league.

Fast forward 365 days later, 9,539,329 games on the DL, 36 different starting pitchers, 9 different middle infielders and a partridge in a pear tree….you get the picture.  This club has seen its fair share of punishment in every way possible.  But if there is one thing that you can call them, it’s resilient.

They came into the season picked by some baseball “experts” to possibly finish behind the Nationals in the NL East.  Granted, most baseball writers like to kick a team when they are down, but no one thought that the Mets would play the type of ball that they have played over the last 6 games.

This resurgence started Friday night against the “Evil Empire”.  The Amazin’s were trailing 2-0 going into the 9th inning of the opening game of the Subway Series.  After only mustering a measly 2 hits off of Javy Vazquez and Joba the Hut, Mo came in to slam the door shut on the Mets.  Two quick outs later, Jason bay and Ike Davis smoked back to back doubles off the untouchable Rivera and all of a sudden, Citi Field had a charge go though it.  It was like everyone was waiting for Matt Franco to happen all over again.  Although David Wright (first pitch swinging of course.  Do you guys ever notice that EVERY SINGLE TIME the Mets either start a big comeback or are in the middle of a rally, David needs to flail at the first pitch?  It drives me nuts!) smoked a one hopper to Cano and the game was over,  it almost seems like they fed off that energy of getting to Mo.

With Mike Pelfrey’s corpse rising out of its 2009 casket, we can now say that we have found our #2 starter.  But he’s not our #2.  He’s really our #1a.  He started this 5 game winning streak with another great 6 innings for the win and had his double play ball working last night to extend it to 5.  No one in their right mind would have though that with all the licking and brow wiping from last year, that Mike would have any skin left on his right hand and forehead, let alone a 7-1 record and a 2.54 ERA.

But for alllllll the criticism Omar and his staff got for not getting any starting pitching help (because we all knew that Ollie would either be on the DL or designated for assignment), we’ve called upon a Japanese reliever who was really a starter, but we made him a reliever because we don’t really have a plan in place, and now he’s a starter again.  Plus…now this gets good, we didn’t call up Dillon Gee or Pat Misch, but knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.  Sure, everyone was calling up WFAN going crazy about these guys starting.  But WOW!  Takahashi and Dickey have come out and just dominated in each of their two starts.  (Side note: Did anyone else giggle a little bit when Dickey was pitching to Rod the other night?  I know I did.)

This run that the Mets have put together, including the incredible 3 game sweep that the Mets pitchers didn’t allow a single Philly cross home plate, has been simply amazing.  Fundamentally sound baseball at it’s finest.  Early runs, hitting with RISP, crisp defense.  We didn’t see any of this in the previous 359 days prior to this one.

The Metsies travel to Milwaukee tonight to start a 3 game series.  The Brewers will run out their only good pitcher tonight in Yovani Gallardo, who will oppose Johan Santana.    How about some more solid pitching and crisp defense this weekend?  Now we’re only 2 games out of first place. So how about we come home next week in 1st?  The swagger seems to be coming back.  We’re playing like the best team in the league.  Now they just have to believe it.   LET’S GO METS!

NY Mets owner Fred Wilpon has had discussions about buying the NY Islanders

So much for that rumor of not having any money.  There have been stories about how the Wilpons had hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out from underneath them by wall street scumbag Bernie Madoff.  During the offseason all you read about in the papers and on the net was that the Mets didn’t go out and get John Lackey or Joel Pinero or whoever because they took such a big hit with the Ponzi scheme.  Well, I think this latest development has put that story on “ice”

Ever since 1986 (when I was 6 years old) I have bled the orange and blue, and somewhere in the late 90’s the black of the New York Mets.  As I became a little older, I realized that on Sports Channel (one of the two regional sports networks in the NY/NJ area in the  80’s and 90’s), there was another team that I could bleed blue and orange for as well…the New York Islanders.  Both franchises have the most die-hard of die-hard fans.  I was immediately hooked.  I have lived and died with every win and loss of both franchises for essentially the last quarter century.  Since I have become fans of these teams, I have experienced some of the most incredible moments in sports history, but I have also seen some of the absolute worst.

The Mets and the Islanders have essentially played second fiddle to the Yankees and Rangers for most of my life.  There’s always an inferiority complex that both franchises and fan bases have to deal with.  This has come about even though the 1986 Mets may be one of the greatest baseball teams of all time and the Islanders are the last true dynasty (4 straight Stanley Cup wins 1980-81 to 1983-84 and an NHL record 19 straight playoff series wins) in professional sports.  Of course in a city where the Yankees have a great team every year and have won 27 World Series, the Mets are going to be the red-headed step child.  Then there are the Rangers who attempt to sign the big name to skate down broadway but always seem to come up short.  Meanwhile the Islanders are Long Island’s only professional sports team, and during the glory years, there was no louder place to see a game than at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Well, the time has come and gone for the Coliseum to be torn down and dynamited.  It is the oldest building in the NHL and is falling apart at the seams.  Have no fear Islander fans, because if the town of Hempstead won’t approve a new stadium for your team, Mayor Bloomberg will.  In an interview yesterday, Mets owner Fred Wilpon said that he has spoken to Islanders owner Charles Wang about building a hockey arena as part of a sports complex at Citi Field.  What may be even better news is that Wilpon also expressed interest in possibly buying the Islanders from Wang.  Now as an Isles fan, that might have been the best news I have heard other than “With the first pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, the New York Islanders select Jonathan Tavares” .  If Fred Wilpon was to buy the Isles (for what I would imagine would be a real good price since Wang wants to get rid of the team like a bad cold sore), this franchise would be reborn.  The Wilpons (Son Jeff is the Mets president) have never been cheap, and are always looking for a good investment.  They would probably get the team for around $125-$150 million.  The Isles currently have the lowest payroll in the league and are the youngest team.  The minor league system has been replenished and is full of talent.  If there was ever a time for this deal to get done, it’s now.

For someone who is just like the other hundreds of thousands of  Long Island natives who bleed orange and blue, this is a match made in heaven.  So what if the new arena would be in Queens?  Mass transit would be extremely simple. One proposed area for the arena would be the Willets Point site.  This site already has subway tack access and could easily have LIRR rails attached as well.  Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, would be ecstatic to have such a powerful ownership group in place for the biggest market in professional sports.  If the Wilpons have ever done anything right, it was buying the low on the Mets.  Here is that golden opportunity with the Islanders.  As a fan of both teams, please make this happen.

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The Mendoza Line

April 19, 2010 by

When you are a baseball player, you never want your batting average to be around the “Mendoza Line”.   Coined after Mario Mendoza, a batting average of .200 is said to be the cutoff point for futility by a regular position player.  Mendoza was a highly skilled defensive shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers back in the late 1970’s.   Although Mendoza’s batting average was .215 lifetime, he was known as a sub-.200 hitter whose average frequently fell into the .170 to .180 range during any particular year.

Fast forward to mid-April, 2010… Players are bigger, faster, stronger and MUCH richer.  Every move is under the microscope.  Nowdays it doesn’t matter if you are the 5th starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the center fielder for the New York Yankees.  Everyone is watching.

So here I am, flipping thru the MLB Package and I come across the Yankee game.  Mark Teixeria is up, so I figure I’ll catch a glimpse of the Gold Glove Winning, home run mashing, $180 million man.  The guy is everything you want in a 1B.  He’s got reflexes at first base that make his glove almost seem like he’s got a hockey goalie’s catching glove on.  The raw power that he has is incredible.  When he’s in the batter’s box, he’s huge.  Batting left-handed or right-handed, he strikes fear pitchers.  But something just isn’t right.  His batting average says .083.  WOW.  .083 is a pitchers batting average.  So I keep the game on and watch him when he’s at the plate.  Nothing looks right.  I can’t believe what I’m watching.   Lindsay Lohan coming out of the Roxy at 4am has better balance right now than “Big Tex” has at the plate.  It’s almost as if he’s guessing at what pitch is coming instead of recognizing what pitch is coming his way.

To Tex’s credit, he’s not taking his at-bats out to the field with him.  Every night he makes difficult plays at first base look routine.  Year after year, he gets off to a slow start at the plate.  But before you know it, he’s been on a fire for 3 months and is manning 1st base for the All-Star team.  With the lineup that the Yanks put out every night, he’s sure to get his share of fastballs to deposit in the seats.  I’m not saying that it’s time to panic, but the Mendoza Line might actually be a good thing in this case.

…do it Jerry.  Please.  Just pull the damn trigger.  No one is looking at this 2-6 start as “only 8 games”.  It’s more like the last 250 games.  As Mets fans call up local radio stations and write on their blogs, Jerry keeps finding ways to justify every loss. Take this gem from Jerry after last night’s loss…

“I think if we keep ourselves in games, we have a shot, because of the fight that’s in the club”

What fight Jerry?  There is no fight.  When your team is hitting something close to .100 so far this season with runners in scoring position, you don’t have fight.

Jerry not only is hallucinating, he might just be taking drugs.  This guy is so aloof to what’s going on, that he decides that in the 10th inning, with a 2 and 2 count, that he’ll send in a pinch runner for Mike Jacobs.  That’s right.  Jacobs in on 2nd base, and the count is  2 and 2.  HELLO JERRY!  What the hell were you thinking about?  Did it just dawn on you that Jacobs might get on base?  (I know, I was just waiting for a patented pop-up to the infield or a strikeout)

I’ve wanted to give Jerry some slack.  I really haven’t been thinking he should be let go.  But this season so far is just a conformation that he has zero control over this team.  I really don’t think he has a clue or a plan.  He wants Reyes batting 3rd. Why? He wants Mejia in the bullpen.  Why? He wants Ike Davis in the minors.  Why?  He plays Garry Matthews Jr in CF instead of Angel Pagan.  Why? He’s a total disaster.  When Carlos Beltran went down last year, Pagan hit .300 and batted leadoff for a little over 2 months.  The guy was a catalyst.  Now…lets bat him 8th IF he plays.  C’MON MAN.

Omar Minaya hasn’t given Jerry any help this off-season other than Jason Bay, but Bay was only one of 10 holes the Mets had to fill.  Everyone in baseball knew that the Mets season and Jerry’s job was riding on the trio of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Ollie Perez.  Well Jerry, it was nice knowing ya.  Make sure to thank your 3 headcase pitchers and Omar on your way out.

Keep it “Gangsta” Jerry.

Prevention and Recovery.  That was the slogan posted in the Mets locker room in Port St. Lucie this spring.  After a rash of injuries that crippled the team, they needed to come up with a positive outlook on the 2010 season.

After game #1 of 162, Johan Santana prevented the Marlins from scoring and David Wright recovered from last year’s power outage.  Santana upped his opening day mark to 3-0 with the Mets, who interestingly ran their all-time opening day record to a MLB best 32-17.  That’s pretty amazing considering that they had lost their first 8 season openers.

In 2008 David Wright was Superman.  He had the best year of his career,  batting .302 with 33 HR and 124 RBI.  In 2009, Superman met his Kryptonite.  Citi Field.  From it’s opening in 1964 to it’s morbid closing in 2008,  Shea Stadium was by no means a home run hitters park.  It was known as a pitcher’s park, due to its deep power alleys.  But Citi Field zapped Superman of all his powers.  He only hit 10 HR last year.  It just seemed like every ball that Wright hit into the gaps were swallowed up by the Grand Canyon that has become known as Citi Field’s outfield.  But this is a new year.  2009 is in the rear view mirror and a thing of the past.  In the bottom of the 1st inning, Wright smashed an opposite field 2-run HR to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.  Wright didn’t get into a home run trot, he ran around the bases as if to tell his teammates  “Let’s go, get on my back.”  When arriving at the dugout he was dishing out high-fives like a Hulk Hogan double-axe handle off the top rope.

As important as David Wright is to the Mets offense, Johan Santana IS the Mets Pitching staff.  He was acquired by the Amazin’s 2 years ago and didn’t disappoint in his first campaign.  He went 16-7 with a stellar 2.54 ERA.  Last year, he was cruising along in his usual fashion, when he started losing velocity and later had his season cut short do to an elbow injury.  Fast forward to opening day and he was as good as ever.  Johan went 6 innings, while only giving up 1 run.  His change-up was devastating.  Hitters were constantly off-balance and hit many weak fly balls.  He used the change-up so effectively in his first two at bats with Hanley Ramirez, that in the third, he blew 3 straight fastballs right by him on the inside corner.  That’s a master a work.

The Mets aren’t going 162-0 this year, but with a few breaks here and there, a .500 record is not out of the realm of possibility.  The key will be the 4 starters behind Santana.  Pelfrey, Maine, Perez and Niese must have good years for the Mets to contend for a wild card birth.