Mets Game 131 Recap: The Class of 2014 Comes Through

Maybe there was a plan after all.

Last night 2014’s top draft pick Michael Conforto combined with Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon, the Mets two 2014 Free Agent pickups to give the Mets a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night. With the win and the Washington National’s 8-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets begin September with a 6 and 1/2 game lead over the Nats for the Eastern Division crown.

Colon was brilliant again last night, with eight shutout innings over the seemingly hapless Phils, striking out nine. His fifth inning single in front of Granderson’s 23rd homer of the season gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. Earlier in the same inning, Conforto blasted his fourth homer into the left field stands. The early returns on Conforto have been encouraging to say the least. No less of an authority than Keith Hernandez gushes over each at bat; although it must be remembered that Keith was also a big fan of Matt den Dekker.

Perhaps a signal moment occurred in the 9th inning, as Jeurys Familia gave up hits to the first two batters of the inning. Up to the plate strode Ryan Howard, one of the last vestiges of the Phils’ glory days. With one swing of the bat, Howard could have easily turned the entire game and perhaps the Mets season, around. Instead, Familia, channelling his inner John Franco, walked Howard to load the bases. He then induced ex-Met Jeff Francoeur to hit into a double play, scoring a run. Familia then just barely avoided a game tying homer to Andres Blanco before whiffing him for the final out.

Deep breath, deep breath. As I shared earlier, I have a superstitious streak in me when it comes to baseball and I do believe in omens. If the Mets are going to blow this lead, last night would have resulted in either Howard, Francoeur or Blanco hitting a game tying homer, followed by several innings of pure torture before a Phils win. Instead, Familia (who is probably the Mets MVP this year) was able to slam the door shut. Speaking of omens, this win on the last day of August tied the team record for wins in that month, which was set in 2000, the last year the Mets went to the World Series.

So, now we run the gauntlet of “meaningful games in September.” The schedule maker has certainly been kind to the Mets, but it is still incumbent on them to get the job done.  I like the fact that they are adding Steven Matz and Addison Reed to their somewhat beleaguered pitching staff. While they still have those Washington games, although almost all of the pressure is in the other dugout at this point, as that team has almost no room for error.

See you tonight.

 

 

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Mets Game 130: Win Over Red Sox

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Mets 5, Red Sox 4

Looking at the Mets-o-Meter, the optimists seem to be the realists… which is damn rare for Mets’ fans. And if the Mets win 87 games I get to win my 86-88 spread bet AND not shell out money for tacky merchandise prizes. Lets Go 87.

Two months ago, who woulda thunk Brook and Andy would be favourites to get the correct win total? CF Punk, who seemed loopy and is still in training for his MMA career, might take it all. Punk, you’re a smart guy. Izzy, who is loopy and can still be seen shouting from a soapbox, is the first man down. Izzy, we still miss you.

Today’s win over the Red Sox was a good one. The Red Sox illustrate the strength of the AL. They look like an ok team and yet they’re still in last place. Wade Miley has essentially the same stuff as Jonathan Niese – in fact, his fastball has more bite – but Miley has more than a half-run higher ERA. Hey ho, he doesn’t usually face pitchers. But maybe he’s looking forward to that again, after Noah Syndergaard laced the first RBI.

Syndergaard pitched a nice game but ended up giving up 4 earned runs. Uncle Terry decided to stretch him out into the seventh inning and Syndergaard started to rely too much on his fastball. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a ground-rule double to knock out Syndergaard on his 111th pitch, and then Mookie Betts had a strange bloop triple to plate Bradley.

I have no idea where Michael Cuddyer was on the play. The camera focussed on the ball landing and no-one was in shot. That went on for a while as Betts hared around the bases. Was Cuddy having a cigarette somewhere else?

Hansel Robles gave up the triple and also did a terrible job of keeping an eye on the runner on base. Even with my balky calves, I could steal third base off him. The addition of Addison Reed is a great one, but I’m nonplussed that Logan Verrett was demoted instead of Robles. Verrett’s tight slow change (I still think it’s a “Fosh”) beats Robles’ straight fastball, and I know who I’d prefer on a postseason roster.

It seems that the bullpen is the last nuance that needs to be figured out before the Dodgers on October 9th. Tyler Clippard continued to look meticulous in relief, using a fastball up and away to strike out Sandoval with the inherited runner on third. Jeurys Familia made things interesting in the ninth by letting the first two runners reach base. But then he started throwing an unhittable 96mph splitter and, with the tying run on third, he struck out Betts with a high 100mph fastball.

The combination of Clippard and Familia is flat-out nasty, and Sean Gilmartin is a great foil. You may think this guy is here for just one season, but he’s better than that. The contrast of the slower, more measured Clippard and Gilmartin dovetail well with all of the Mets hard-throwers. That will be all the more important when Matz returns this week. Robles can only be successful after Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese, because the change in speed makes the hitter uneasy.

Offensively the Mets were unlucky all night, but they still scraped together enough runs to win. There were a hell of a lot of lineouts and the umpire with the Marty Feldman eyes had a crazily wide strikezone. Curtis Granderson got caught looking at a couple of pitches clearly outside the plate. Luckily Marty’s eyes couldn’t look up and down, and that let Cuddy get a walk on a curve slightly higher but clearly over the plate. That freebie led to one of his two runs.

I’ve called Cuddy “Cruddy” but he had a great game at the plate. And I do like the guy. He’s an amiable cross between a coypu and a human and he’s been hitting well since his return from injury. He knocked in Daniel Murphy, who had stolen second base after a high throw from the Soxs’ rookie catcher. Just be careful with all the double fist punches, Murph. You might pull something and you’ve got free agency to worry about.

Juan Uribe, who I think is a must-sign for next year to replace Murph, had a couple of hits including a long double over the fast-footed Betts to plate Murph and Cuddy in the sixth. His upper cut swing is fun to watch and its success is testament to his quick hands. He looked fine at second too, diving to keep one hard grounder from reaching the outfield. Some sort of job-share between Tejada (whose defense was superb) and Flores in the middle infield can only help this team in 2016.

So on the Mets roll. They next face a Phillies team so emasculated that the SNY graphic has cute pink glowing neon around their “P” logo. And the Nationals? Well, they’ve got the Cardinals. Good luck, Bryce!

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Mets Game 127: Worth Staying Up For

Boy,  it was a lot easier to write copy for this blog when there was something to complain about! How about this: the Mets are causing me to lose sleep. I rise at 4:30 AM most days, so these late night games are killing me. Since July 31, Mets games have become “must see TV” in my household, so we all walk around a bit bleary-eyed (but happy) these mornings.

There is an aura around this team right now, a swagger in the dugout and on the field that comes through the TV screen. Down by five runs on getaway day? Let’s play. Starting pitcher is struggling? Let’s play. Wanna go extras? Let’s play. Your knucklehead, old-school coach is trying to intimidate us? Let’s play.  All in all, a 13-inning 9-5 win over a team that just a few short years ago inflicted two humiliating comebacks on the Mets, relegating them (and us)  to also-ran status on the season’s final days; the aftershocks of which are still being felt today.

Fortunately, this is not the 2007 Mets on the field these days. For openers this Mets team is actually adding quality arms, not scrambling to find them. Steven Matz is only a few days away from joining the rotation and Logan Verrett may prove to be one of those kismet (no pun intended) tales frequently occurring  during That Championship Season: lost in the Rule V draft, he is then cut by two teams before returning home to play a key role down the stretch. Sean Gilmartin and Hansel Robles may never be heard from again, but they have shored up the bullpen, which was the major culprit in the 07-08 disasters, providing an important bridge between the starters and the two late innings guys.

But it’s the offensive turnaround that has been the most startling. Lost in Daniel Murphy’s heroics (more on him later) is the fact that Yoenis Cespedes hit yet another homerun, a two-run blast in the 5th that cut the Phils’ lead to one run. I know they don’t give out awards like this, but Cespedes is the Mets’ second half MVP so far. Since his arrival all he has done is slash 303/345/596 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in just 24 games. He has transformed the Mets’ lineup and his ABs are worth staying tuned in for. Curtis Granderson has consistently delivered since the season started and Jeurys Familia was easily the first half MVP, but the arrival of Cespedes added that fear factor the Mets offense. I fervently hope they can find some way to keep him around.

Another potential offseason loss is Murphy. Even more so than David Wright, Murphy epitomizes the sojourn this team has been on since 2008, which was his rookie year. Who ever would have thought that all of those efforts to shoehorn him into the lineup would be paying off the way they are now? (Just keep him out of leftfield). His collaboration with Carlos Torres on that grounder in the 10th inning last night will live on highlight films for years. Plus, Murph is really fired up, which is rarity for any Met player ever (the team has almost always played with a kind of quiet reservation, both in good times and bad) and his exuberance is fun to watch.

So, a sweep in Philadelphia and now a home stand against Boston and these same Phils. Just in case you haven’t noticed, these are not the 2007-08 Phillies anymore. And FWIW, I don’t think the 2015 Washington Nationals are the 2007-08 Phillies either. But, we’ll be finding that out soon enough!

LGM. And, sound off below.

 

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Mets Game 123: Win Over Rockies

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Mets 5, Rockies 1

Beating the Rockies is easy, huh?

The Mets have just swept them 7-0 in the season’s series, but here are a coupla fun facts about the Rockies. They went 3-3 against the Nationals. They’re also 7-5 against the Giants. It’s time to update our Christmas card list to include 25 folks in Colorado.

The Rockies are SO bad against that the Mets’ 33 runs in this series would be a great return in a normal week. (Between you and me, I sabotaged their humidor… I got Ant-Man to crawl into it)

The mood of the Rockies team is summed up by Jose Reyes having a dig at them in the media, along with Carlos Gonzalez dropping his bat with disdain after he hit his deep fly. Knowing you’ve only closed the game to a 5-1 deficit has got to take the sting out of hitting a 430 foot homer.

The Rockies have lousy pitching and make daft mistakes. Charlie Blackmon’s baserunning in the 6th was flat-out comedic as he did a Murphy by getting caught going from first to third with two outs and that 5-1 deficit. Michael Conforto made the play with ease. And you could too.

The curious thing is the Rockies do have very good players. Carlos Gonzalez is in full CarGo mode after the All Star Break. Nolan Arenado has 30 homers and robbed Juan Uribe of a double down the line with a slick play that he always makes look easy. DJ LeMahieu flashed his own Gold Glove when he dived to get Johnson’s hard grounder way to his right.

And yet, and yet, and yet… you don’t become 49-73 without being terrible at a lot of things. Jose must have fumed from the dugout, but at least he’s got next year’s $20m salary to cheer him up. The Rockies are bad… yet it’s still nice that the Mets are better.

Dustin Garneau – a catcher whose name rhymes with Travis d’Arnaud but is less of a starlet – conspired to let through 4 wild pitches from David Hale. I’ll defer to Joe on this as a catcher, but Garneau seemed leaden-footed to me.

I do know a little about pitching and it was fun to watch Logan Verrett for an almost complete game. Verrett’s fastball rides about 89-91 mph and doesn’t do much. It pops occasionally but it only showed some duck and dive when he got Paulsen in the seventh. It’s standard, slightly below average in the major leagues.

Verrett’s usual change is only about 5-6mph less than his fastball and looks lazy. It’s fine and got some pop-outs and fly balls, but it’ll get smacked in future. His even worse pitch is his slider that doesn’t really slide. It’s a nothing pitch… there isn’t enough difference from his other pitches to surprise hitters.

So how the heck did Logan Verrett get through 8 innings giving up 1 run in the high altitude hitting heaven of Corrs Field? Those sharp cheekbones and muscle twitches can only carry him so far.

I’ll say this loudly. Logan Verrett NEEDS to be strapped down and told – a la THE CLOCKWORK ORANGE – that he MUST throw his 79-80mph pitch WAY more. It’s flat-out nasty and dives straight down just in front of the plate. I lost count of the grounders and the strikeouts it caused.

I spent most of this game trying to watch his hand, but I needed a better angle to figure it out. Playing cricket, I had to figure out hand positions and constantly watched the bowler’s hand in the field and at bat. Also as a bowler and with one lousy seam to work with, you HAVE to know what the ball can do. People don’t shine one side of a cricket ball for kinky pleasure, alright?

I think – and I emphasise THINK – Verrett’s slower change is a “Fosh.” It COULD be a forkball but I couldn’t see him flicking his wrist. It MAY be a circle change but it didn’t move like it and I couldn’t see the trademark circle grip. Sound back in the comments if you’ve got a view on this.

Verrett’s slow change – and let’s say it’s a Fosh – is a plus-plus pitch. If he can keep throwing it this well he can get away with his average other repertoire. As Matt Harvey fill-ins go, I’ll sacrifice my precious Fantasy Baseball points for such an economical and fine outing from a Mets’ pitcher.

The Mets rumble onto to the Phillies next. Don’t let the Phillies’ post-All Star Break run deceive you. They’re still bad. The NL Least is a gift that keeps on giving, and it’ll be fun to see David Wright back.

Hit me back about Verrett’s pitch. That was a “Fosh” wasn’t it? It’s driving me crazy, but if he keeps throwing it he’ll be a valuable addition in October… Phew, October? I used to be able to get to bed before 4am then.

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Mets Game 118: Loss To Pirates

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Pirates 8 Mets 1

It was all going so well… and I include the first couple of games in the series against the Pirates as part of that. Yeah, the Mets had lost but they were tight extra-innings games against a superb team.

I think the majority of Mets Today fans love pitching and defense and it’s been a treat to watch high quality games. We had Yoenis Cespedes’ laser beam to catch a runner a third. Curtis Granderson running down a long fly in right-center. Jung-ho Kang showing everyone who whined about his glove that he knows what he’s doing with a smooth double play.

Before that, there was a four-game sweep and a Rally Parakeet who’d been lured by the nesting sites in the Colorado Rockies’ bushy beards. Today, with Jonathan Niese on the bench and Matt Harvey sporting his Jason Statham stubble, the Mets were doomed.

The Mets got swept, yeah. But it doesn’t hurt that Citi Field was packed and that the Nationals are imploding at a staggering rate. The NL East standings remain fine and I think the Pirates are the second best team in the NL.

Pedro Alvarez – more Yogi Bear than Yogi Berra – put the Pirates ahead after he smacked a long home run off Matt Harvey in the second. Harvey pitched around trouble through six innings but showed plenty of class. Most innings got to two outs with someone on third and he coaxed an out.

Harvey is pitching to contact and seldom misses way wide. It looks less showy than strikeouts but he’s doing his job. He’s missing up and down, and he’s rarely grooving pitches. His curve was loopy in this game but the slider was on… helped by a generous call (on a pitch off the plate) to get Marte in the fifth. With all the talk about innings count, I think a guy as smart as him knows what he’s doing. Matt Harvey is maturing. It’s easy to think ball-players are full adults but they’re still getting there, and that’s where a manager as strong as Clint Hurdle comes in. Uncle Terry has matured too, like a 1949 Bordeaux. But he used to be a 1949 Port and he can still confound a little.

Take Travis d’Arnaud. He hit a long homer to left in the bottom of the second to even things up. Tell me why d’Arnaud is batting seventh in the order? He’d been on a 0-5 stretch, I suppose, but Juan Uribe is hot with home runs and little else. The likeable Michael Cuddyer is succumbing to rigor mortis and the humanoid Daniel Murphy has a .568 OBP against lefties. Why bat them above d’Arnaud? d’Arnaud hit a double inside third base in the fourth too, so that might get Extra Terrestrial Collins to add another improved crimp to his line-up.

Sunday felt like a usual Mets game with the game tied at 1-1 and then the storm hit. Given how poor his stick as been recently, Cuddy wisely kicked a ball off his toe for a HBP. I thought the boom of thunder was a stunned response to him getting on base. Sadly, it was bigger than that. Clearly a bunch of Mets’ fans had gone against the advice in Cappy’s last article and had called down wrath.

Playoff teams aren’t flawless, and the rare goof by the Mets (Murph) was matched by the Pirates (Ramirez) in the first couple of games. But today’s seventh inning was an abject mess.

I take notes for games I report on and here’s what I got:
– Parnell throwing 97. Overthrowing up and spiking down. Nervous. Recent issues. Spraying walks.
– Botch at second. Extra outs. Murph thought Tejada was somewhere in center field. Passed ball.
– Cespedes flings throw way left past home plate. Walker tries to score and gets caught. Messy.
– O’Flaherty can’t pitch any more. Almost same surname as an ex-girlfriend. Curse him.
– Lousy inning all around in what had been a great series.

There are worries with the Mets. They limped out with six of the last eight batters striking out. The Mets continue to struggle against anything slow and away, so it’s lucky Greg Maddux has retired.

As Terry Collins stormed to the clubhouse after the final out, there must have been new holes being ripped. But, and I really will make this my last criticism about DM, will he rip into his adopted son?

Question: Was Daniel Murphy’s throw to third on Saturday and throw to second on Sunday:
a. Over-enthusiastic?
b. Misplayed by someone else?
c. Stupid?

Answer:
a. General thoughts on SNY’s commentary
b. Terry Collins
c. The truth

It’s no embarrassment to lose to the Pirates. The Orioles are solid but that series should be a 1-1 split and then the Mets will be back on Easy Street against the Rockies and the soon-to-be-Utley-less Phillies.

Getting over the hump of the games in July was key for the Mets. They made it but the Nationals aren’t. Put that in your tobacco and chew it, Bryce (sorry again, Cappy, I won’t do that again).

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Avoid The Jinx: How to Keep the Good Vibes Flowing

My life was much different back in 1988. I wouldn’t meet my wife-to-be for another year and while I dated, I had no serious relationships going on. I had an entry level job with the organization I eventually would spend another 20-plus years with, but their purchase by a Fortune 500 company and the first of my several promotions was years away. Even further in the future was the birth of my son. I was still adjusting to a personal upheaval that had required me to change most of the people and places in my life. Looking back, I was then in the middle of several transitions, all of which with the benefit of hindsight, turned out quite well.  In 1988 however, their outcome was very uncertain. I didn’t have much going on in my life, financially, socially or romantically.

But I had the Mets. And these where certainly heady times: the team had sprung, seemingly out of nowhere to win 90 games in 1984. They got even better the next year and then with me in attendance at Game 7, won the 1986 World Series. No team had repeated for nearly ten seasons, so I conceded 1987, but was very confident in 1988; especially when they romped to another division title and took two of the first three games in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.

I had tickets for Game Two of the 1988 World Series at Shea, which by the top of the 9th inning in Game Four of the National League Championship Series, seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Mets where about to go up three games to one on Los Angeles, setting up a 1973 World Series rematch with the mighty Oakland As. I couldn’t wait. I had vacation days put aside and cash saved up for the Series games and memorabilia that I was sure I would be seeing and buying.

Then the roof fell in.

No sooner had broadcaster Tim McCarver mentioned that he thought Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden was tiring, then did Doc walk John Shelby and give up a game-tying homer to Mike Bleeping Scioscia. The Dodgers went on to win the game in extras, tying the series. They eliminated the Mets three games later. I have seen this described as a kind of Continental Divide in the story of the 1980’s Mets—the night their expected baseball dynasty changed direction and headed into a permanent decline instead of another World Series berth. Looking back, you could feel the shift as soon as Scoscia’s shot cleared the right field wall. In less than two years that entire team was nearly completely dismantled and the  long losing streak of the 1990’s began. If only Davey Johnson had brought in Randy Myers to close in the 9th!

I have been through a lot of heartbreak with the Mets since and have experienced some gut-wrenching (and gut-turning) developments, but nothing, not the Generation K flop, not the Kenny Rogers walk, not the 2000 Subway Series humiliation, not the Adam Wainwright curve, not the 2007 collapse (or its 2008 echo), not the post-Madoff retrenchment era, nothing, hurt as bad as the 1988 NLCS loss. I was emotionally vulnerable back then and this unexpected loss to a clearly inferior team hit me as hard as if there had been a death in my immediate family. My work supervisor even pulled me aside after the carnage to make sure I was “alright.” My apparent maturity/cynicism since then has shielded me from taking further blows as hard as I took that one.

So let’s fast forward to this season, which to date has been the entire 1980’s in a microcosm. There’s been a fast start (Joe Torre had the 1980 Mets near first place in mid-July of that year), a period of despair and offensive ineptitude matching that of 1981-83, the rise of young pitchers, a promotion of a highly touted draft pick outfielder and a big trade for a major offensive piece, all crammed into an incredible four-months of baseball, with a potential crescendo looming in the final 50 or so games.

And that’s what has me nervous. These are the Mets we are talking about after all. While their history isn’t quite as bad as that of say the Jets, they have certainly have given their fanbase more than their fair share of angst. Re-read the paragraph just above the previous one in case you don’t believe me. Already, I am hearing some brash fan-boy bluster from talk show hosts, fellow bloggers, broadcasters and a few beat writers—the latter which may be doing it on purpose.

Now I get it, this is Mets Today, founded by a baseball instructor and coach (we miss you Joe) and we take a very analytical, straight talking approach to this game. But, superstition is just as big a part of baseball as batting practice. So I’m begging my fellow Mets fans: please don’t jinx this. We might be on the verge of something special, a season we’ll long cherish—with a lot of special moments that don’t come along too often, at least for us. Don’t offend the baseball gods with some loutish, moronic behavior, tempting them to deal us yet another blow to our collective solar plexus. All hail, oh venerated gods!  I suggest Mets fans might want to consider a quieter and subdued approach to the remaining schedule, going for the ride instead of trying to set the pace. I admit that some of this concern dates all the way back to that cold October night that Mike Scioscia killed off much of my innocence, but with my tongue somewhat planted in my cheek, here is how I advise taking in the rest of the regular season:

  • One Game at A Time: No looking ahead (or behind). Yes they will need a spot starter or two and those pitch counts might become an issue. GM Sandy Alderson’s inability to improve the team over the winter left them shorthanded for half the year, resulting in some frustrating losses, games they eventually may wish they had won. There are six games with Washington left on the schedule. Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Alderson and Terry Collins are still at their posts. But once the game starts there is magic  in between those white lines,  so…
  • Savor Every Moment: Get into the games, enjoy them with friends and family. We Met fans don’t get many opportunities like this one: a team on the rise, lots of charismatic personalities and a new hero almost every night. The last time this happened was 1984-85. A year ago, to be sitting so pretty like this seemed improbable. Unfortunately, as fast as they have risen, they can also fall. Be thankful for what is happening and enjoy it.
  • Respect The Nats (And the Yanks): This is a tough one. Washington is full of unlikeable characters, both on and off the field. They have made some very bold statements, several that they might be regretting. Some Yankees fans seem to think post-season games are their birthright. It’s easy to enjoy their suffering and even crow about it. Remember however that the Mets haven’t proven anything yet and both teams are in a position to do some real damage to our hopes. What good is talking trash if you later have to eat it? If Matt Harvey can stuff it, then so can we. And please, enough talk about “taking back the town.”
  • Don’t Count Magic Numbers (Yet): I have already seen them posted. Why? I can recall them all over the place in August of 2007, along with Gary Cohen’s gleeful ramblings about “sustained success.” Remember the outcome that year? Living in the middle of Phillies country, I sure do. Unless those final three games against the Nats are rendered meaningless, this practice needs to be avoided.
  • Save the Post-Season Roster Speculation: There was a thread started over on NYFS on this topic that included a lively discussion about whether or not Jerry Blevins should be included.  A day later Blevins “slipped” off a curb and re-injured himself (no word if he spilled his beverage). That was a warning. Take Alderson’s comments about the best 25 players at face value for now.

Now, I admit that I have indulged in some speculation myself. So, putting my more analytical Mets Today hat back on for a moment, I took a look at the 2007 Mets roster and compared it to today’s team. A comparison between the ’07 Phils and the current Nationals team was similarly enlightening. So here’s hoping the advanced stats don’t lie. Should the Mets make the playoffs, then  we can then kick out the jams and root loud and long.

But in the meantime, shhhhhhhh.

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Mets Game 111: Loss To Rays

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Rays 4 Mets 3

For me, the Rays are like the Nationals. I look at their records and then double-take. How did they end up this way? Just take Logan Forsythe. He looked very much an All-Star at second as he made a nice play up the middle on Daniel Murphy in the fourth. Kudos to the Rays scouts for picking this guy out after four nothing seasons. Kudos for pulling together a whole team on their budget.

The Rays and Nationals look very good to me but their records suggest otherwise. When you follow one team, you miss the details that help you figure out the rest. Who knew Forsythe has a 4+ WAR? For all our grousing about the Mets’ offense, other teams are facing injuries, screw-ups, hopes and dreams fading away. I thought the Pirates would turn it around. They did. But time is running out for these guys. The Rays are basically gone. And the Nats should repeatedly hit their heads against a wall if they lose this division. And yet they could… might… will… lose it? You throw away a 10 K outing from Max Scherzer and you sorta deserve it.

The Rays sent out their best pitcher for this game. Chris Archer looks about 12 but throws – mostly fastballs up and in – with teenage anger. He struck out 10 but also walked 4. If the Mets laid off the high fastballs, you could have flipped that number and the Mets would have won 10-4. Archer pulled a tantrum in the second when the umpire called yet another walk on him. Archer is a “Renaissance Man,” according to Ron and Keith. He reads a book about religion and then one about atheism. You have to be a contrarian to be a Mets fan so I like this guy straight away… but Murph took out some anger of his own by clunking this guy for a couple of RBIs in the second.

Daniel Murphy’s hot streak – he has three of these every year – hasn’t improved his temperament. Please watch his at-bat in the second. After the usual debate with the umpire on a first pitch strike, we then had the usual bunch of foul balls and Murph shouting at himself. Or was it the umpire? Or was it God? I have no clue. He clunked the next pitch between first and second for the RBIs. On first base, he then kept shouting at someone. Who? Someone in the crowd? The dugout? Maybe it’s some expression of joy? Or a warning sign that he needs therapy? Still dunno.

Archer’s own histrionics are even harder for me to judge. It’s the first time I’ve seen a full game from the kid. Ron and Keith said he’s usually quick to deliver his pitches, but he was slow and wild in this game. A bad day, I guess. He sprayed a wild fastball way above Duda’s head in the first. He kept spiking his breaking stuff and he flounced around. Look, if I had hair as good as his, I’d want to take my hat off and shake it around. But it felt like he was doing his best Daniel Murphy impersonation, griping about things to fire himself up. I thought the home plate umpire called a good game… his pitches WERE inside.

Archer ploughed through six LONG innings and ended up not losing the game. Bartolo Colon lasted longer but ended up with the loss. I guess life conspires against us older guys. I’ll spin Bartolo’s platelets myself if it means they’ll continue to be a pitcher in MLB who’s older than me.

The game lolloped along, with the funky stance of John Jaso getting attention and three RBIs. Another kid – he looked about 14 – ended up hitting a go-ahead home run off Colon in the seventh.

Colon’s problem is he’s leaving his pitches too high. Early in the season he was throwing 95% fastballs but could spot them low. In this game, he threw a few more sliders than usual and mixed up his fastball even more. He got an out from Evan Longoria on an 85mph fastball. Is Colon injured? You tell me. His matador routine means he could be missing an arm and still come across as strong. When Steven Matz returns, it seems the Mets will revert to a six man rotation. To save innings for the young guys and all that. But doesn’t the old man deserve a little rest in the bullpen?

After Curtis Granderson grounded into the second base shift in the ninth, the Mets lost. But then so did the Nats. Hmm… NL Least? I’d take it. I don’t care. You win against what it put against you. Put Bryce Harper in a playpen and tell him Murph is joining him. Watch the tears. You never win against crazy.

Over the next few days, I fancy the Mets against the Rockies more than the Nats against the Dodgers. Just make Carlos Gonzalez think that it’s still April or May. Why doesn’t Citi Field have temperature control? Never mind… chuck some spring blossom on the field and the Mets will win.

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Mets Game 105: Win Over Nationals

3-nwa

Mets 5, Nationals 2

Lemme ask you some questions before I scoot through the recap of the Mets (kinda) drawing level with the Nats. Answer back in the comments below. These enjoyable last few days need more discussion than I can cover in under 1000 words.

This is the first full post after the Yoenis Cespedes trade. So how do you feel about it?

I know Joe’s posted a few comments in response to the trades and I fully agree with Joe that the Mets haven’t given up too much. Not even close. I would have taken the Gomez deal too… well, before the (alleged) knowledge that his leg will (allegedly) fall off next year. I don’t do hindsight and I haven’t seen medical records. If he was ok, a healthy Gomez would have been great… and he was signed up for 2016 at a fair cost. But have the Mets fallen into something better? Inadvertently, this could be the one of the rare good things Mets’ doctors have achieved in a decade.

It boils down to what price you put on prospects. Is Michael Fulmer a ham sandwich? For his sake I hope he turns out to be a Michelin-Star BLT, but his chances are the same as any injury prone prospect. After some tears and a turn of fate, the Mets kept another injury prone potential star in Zack Wheeler, who has proved he can pitch in the majors when his arm isn’t falling off.

Yes, Cespedes is a rental. But his OPS will be .800 or so. In post-PED baseball, that’s a lot. He hasn’t done much so far, but I like how they’re already scared of his arm… did you see them freeze on a long fly from Zimmerman in the sixth? Tyler Clippard is another rental… but didn’t he look good in the ninth? That was some superb hitting by Werth just to scratch out a single.

Then there’s Juan Uribe. I’m making JU pom-poms for his defense. And Kelly Johnson, intent on playing for all 30 MLB teams. Does that matter? For me, this is a cheap way to push for a pennant in a weak NL. I liked it all pre-hindsight too. I hoped the Mets would be the 2014 Royals. Can they be?

86 wins should get the Mets into the Wild Card game. Some geniuses said that around Spring Training. But what do you think about the concept of the second wild card?

I know it’s a blatantly commercial idea. More teams in contention equals more bums on seats. Citi Field was rocking on both Saturday and Sunday. David Wright made a ceremonial appearance in the dugout and we were treated to professional wrestling chants of “this is awesome.” In the fourth, Kevin Plawecki even responded with a long single.

It was silly fun. Watching any sport is silly. Cespedes came out to stereotypical mariachi music he’d probably hate. And I could be saving hedgehogs instead of watching people chase balls. But this is genuinely fun. And when it comes to getting into the playoffs, baseball is still not as goofy as the NBA and the NFL.

The Mets have morphed into the Newish York Mets due to dumbass financial decisions. They are not a big team, as ridiculous as that sounds. But I don’t care if they take the Royals or Giants route from last year. Scramble in and let your pitching do the talking. Does it all cheapen the playoffs? Again, I don’t care. Do you?

Onto the game…

The Mets’ win revolved around the third. Curtis Granderson (I had my CG pom-poms ready) hit a lousy Jordan Zimmermann curve for a two run homer. Lucas Duda slammed a two run homer off a much nastier pitch up and in. I like this pod version of Duda (who Citi Field call “DOOOOOOOD”) and may his Wonderbat continue to homer. This latest HR creeped inside the right field pole as the wrestling crowd quietened. Were they all breathing in to help get it over the fence? It worked.

In between, Daniel Murphy hit a crazily long home run to right center. He had a terrible first at-bat, where he wafted at a 3-2 pitch so far in the dirt it could have rolled there. I wonder whether Murph hates ball four even more than strike three. But Murph caught the HR wave and he also got nicely behind Werth’s quick grounder when Syndergaard ran into some trouble in the sixth. I hope Uribe is giving Murph fielding lessons and also schooling Wilmer for the future. Godspeed Murph in 2016 and beyond. Enjoy your $5m a year on a slightly saner contract.

New-oah Syndergaard continues to be great, kinda defeating my argument that prospects are overrated. At least he was a number one prospect for the Blue Jays with the sometimes right KL stamp of approval. And like DOOOOOOOD he’s a fun guy to watch. It’s a buzz as he chucks a 99mph fastball to get a swinging K over the wunderkind Bryce Harper. But also watch those baby blue boss eyes as he sits in the dugout. He has that faraway stare. Who is he seeing and what are they saying to him? It certainly seems to be a vision of the 22-year-old Walter Johnson rather than Joe Shlabotnik.

Post-game, Terry Collins did his improving impersonation of a very happy E.T. His hollowed eyes have never lit up with such dewy glee. Don’t worry, T.C.: you phoned home and this time the accountants didn’t pick up. Let’s enjoy that too.

There it is: 1, 2, 3. In the spirit of Citi Field’s wrestling atmosphere let’s finish with a sign from the crowd: YOU GOT THE BROOMS… WE GOT THE HAMMER. Urgh. The Thor puns will persist through Noah’s career. If only Hammering Hank had taken out a copyright. Damn!

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Baseball Instruction from OnBaseball
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Seven Mechanical Flaws that Lead to Tommy John Surgery

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MLB can count all the pitches they want, and can blame youth league baseball till the cows come home -- ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) / elbow injuries that require Tommy John ...

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This Looks Like it Could Be a MetsToday Hat

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This hat is called Nike New York Mets Royal Blue Heritage 86 Cooperstown Vintage Relaxed Mesh Back Adjustable Hat I kind of like the logo, don't you? Not sure I'm ready to go back to the mesh back and adjustable snap-back style that I wore exclusively from age 6 to 18. Retro is cool, I guess, but, isn't it lame ...

My Nephew Says This Mets Hat is the Bomb

8.5 mets-nike-hat

I need a new baseball cap; my old Mets hats were worn out and gross and have been donated to charity. So I'm in the market for one. My nephew says the above Mets cap is "the bomb." It's called the New York Mets Nike Royal L91 Alpha Swoosh Relaxed Flex Hat. If you like it, click on the hat and it will take you to ...