Mets Game 87: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 5 Dodgers 3

The Mets are 4-0 without Jose Reyes and now 3 games over .500 for the first time since last July.

Mets Game Notes

Jonathon Niese did not have great stuff, but it was good enough against a weak Dodgers lineup as he pitched 7 strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk in a 97-pitch effort. He had a pretty good curve working, but his fastball didn’t have its usual zing — he was usually around 87-88 rather than his usual 91-92, though he did touch 92 on occasion. Unless he was using his cutter? Mildly concerning.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, first-base umpire Greg Gibson blew a call that thwarted a double play. Instead, Matt Kemp was safe at first, and moments later, a sacrifice fly — which would’ve been out #3 — scored the Dodgers’ 3rd run. Gary Cohen proceeded to go on and on and on about how the call at 1B “is the easiest an umpire can make”, with his “reasoning” being that the umpire “has the benefit of both sight and sound”.

First of all, I’d like to know when Gary Cohen ever stepped on a baseball diamond and umpired a game. Second, his logic is, well, illogical. The call at 1B can actually be one of the tougher calls, because it requires focus on two things happening in two different places: the catch by the first baseman, and the strike of the baserunner’s foot onto the bag. There are at least a dozen (probably more) easier calls to make because they require that the eyes focus on only one place. You want examples? How about a fly ball caught by an outfielder? How about a line drive snared by an infielder? I would argue that a tag play at a base can be an easier call than the one at 1B, because, very often, the eyes are focused on one spot — the tag.

Another thing about all the whining — by both Cohen and Jon Niese, who was visibly miffed by the bad call — that call may not have even happened had it not been for Niese walking the light-hitting Rafael Furcal to lead off the inning. Niese had just been handed a three-run lead, and the first thing he did was walk Furcal. Why in the world would you pitch carefully to Furcal in that situation, knowing that the only two MLB hitters in the Dodgers lineup — Andre Ethier and Kemp — are looming? Let Furcal hit the ball, for goodness sakes. It was terrible, terrible execution by Niese, and he should have been more angry at himself for that lack of focus than at the umpire for blowing a call.

Great baserunning by Carlos Beltran in the 6th. While on second base on a routine fly to left field, Beltran tagged up and made an aggressive move toward third to draw a throw. Exuberant left fielder Eugenio Velez air mailed the throw over the third baseman, so Beltran kept going and took third base. He eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Little things.

The last time the Mets were three games over .500 was July 23, 2010, after Johan Santana beat the Dodgers in L.A.

Francisco Rodriguez saved his 22nd game and picked up his 33rd finish. Only 22 more for the pot of gold.

Next Mets Game

The Mets go for the sweep on Thursday night as they send Dillon Gee to the mound against Clayton Kershaw. Game time is once again an eye-reddening 10:10 PM. This Left Coast swing can’t end soon enough.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Paul July 7, 2011 at 2:19 am
    Look, Joe, it’s a lot easier to call 1st base plays than it is to call balls and strikes.

    Tag plays are harder to call than calls at first base, also. Very easy to miss a tag.

    Sure, it’s easier to call things you don’t really need an umpire for. But in terms of actual judgement calls, the play at 1st is one of the easiest.

    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm
      Your assertions would be more valuable and enlightening if they were supported with argument.

      I could say, “baseball is easier than football” or, “losing weight is easier than gaining muscle”. But those statements aren’t true just because I say them.

  2. Tommy2cat July 7, 2011 at 6:16 am
    Hi Joe –

    I always enjoy reading your blog and ususally agree with your posts; however, not this time.

    I agree with Gary Cohen – who did drone a bit much – that the safe/out call at first base is one of the easier calls an umpire can make for the reasons he cited, sight and sound. The safe/out call at first is static, not dynamic, and the ump’s focal point is quite limited.

    I think Gibson blew the call because Duda oversold the putout by leavinjg the bag as he was catching it – sometimes that backfires and throws an ump’s judgement off. Gibson probably drew a negative inference by Duda’s actions and called a close play in the runner’s favor.

    Your criticism of Niese is subject to the same scrutiny under which you place Gary Cohen. Do you think Niese WANTED to walk Furcal? Sometimes, stuff like that happens when you pitch – as a former pitcher, I can tell you that Niese was kicking himself for walking Furcal, but events like that are no so much within the scope of a pitcher’s control as one might think. And no pitcher worth his salt is just going to “lay one over” to a major league hitter.

    Anyhow, I hope you have a really great day.


    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm
      I have no idea what you mean by static vs. dynamic calls. And again, it’s not a “benefit” to have sight and sound — you have sight and sound on every call. Or do the umps make other calls wearing ear plugs and blindfolds?

      Further, the “sound” part is what makes it tough — the umpire has to trust his ears because he might not be able to see the ball hitting the glove as the runner approaches the bag. With 40,000 people in the stands screaming, you think that’s easy? How about if a fielder nearby — like the second baseman — decides to smack his mitt a split second before the first baseman catches it? What happens if the catch doesn’t make a distinctive sound? It’s not like first baseman gloves have little whoopie cushions in them.

      Fly ball to outfield. Outfielder catches it. Keith calls it a “can of corn”. Was that a hard call to make? Wasn’t it easier than a call at 1B? Case closed.

      As for Niese walking the leadoff batter, why am I under the same scrutiny? The point is that Niese messed up his execution just as the umpire “blew” his call — but Gary chose to drone on about the umpire while barely mentioning the leadoff walk. Everyone on the field is human and they all make mistakes — but the umpire generally gets more heat than the players. Umpires probably miss calls less than 10% of the time, but they get criticized far more often and with much more emotion than hitters who fail 70% of the time and pitchers who miss the plate 40% of the time.

  3. Andy July 7, 2011 at 7:04 am
    My theory is that Collins is deliberately overusing Rodriguez in the hopes that his arm wears out and he ends up on the DL before the option vests.
    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm
      I think you have something there.
  4. Gary Cohen July 7, 2011 at 7:27 am
    You have it right, Joe – I’m HIGHLY annoying to listen to.
    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm
      Gary, please be quiet.
  5. Mic July 7, 2011 at 7:31 am
    Beltran. Has he ever hada bonehead moment on the bases…. Never
  6. Joe July 7, 2011 at 7:38 am
    Little things … the Dodgers repeatedly failed to do them. Harris was a bit sloppy on the base paths in the ninth (could have taken third), but the only reason he had a shot was because of sloppiness (again) by the Dodgers. OTOH, he again got on base.

    With Giants and Phillies pitching coming up, such gifts are appreciated.

  7. Steve S. July 7, 2011 at 8:30 am
    Personally, I find Gary Cohen’s banter (and high-pitched laughter) very distracting. Talk with Ron and Keith about the game more, Gary!

    As for the umpire’s call, it WAS a terrible one—Kemp was out by a lot.

    As for KRod, he will soon be traded, with Parnell closing effectively. I’m not sure why they would trade Izzy though, who can pitch the 7th or 8th with Beato, or deal Byrdak, who’s the only fairly efffective lefty in the pen. Plus these guys don’t have high salaries.

  8. David Howard's Nutsack July 7, 2011 at 8:45 am
    Any chance the delays and “secret discussions” about Reyes have something to do with his doctor copping to smuggling steroids/HGH into the country? Maybe Jose is being questioned by authorities?

    Just kidding. But not really.

  9. Steve S. July 7, 2011 at 8:48 am
    I also wonder why Willie Harris wasn’t watching the third-base coach when running out his double while the ball was being bobbled at the OF wall.
  10. gary s. July 7, 2011 at 8:54 am
    Please!!Just be glad that the ball hit Harris’s bat by accident and he got on base and scored an insurance run.
    • Joe July 7, 2011 at 11:22 am
      He is getting on base “accidentally” quite often.
      • Mike July 7, 2011 at 11:32 am
        Don’t feed the trolls
  11. Mike July 7, 2011 at 11:34 am
    Joe I think the best argument for 1st base calls being “easy” is that the ump has plenty and ample time to get in position to make the call. Essentially it is the same position and angle each time. On a bang-bang play at third base with umps possibly rotating with the play and getting into position the possibility of missing the play or an obstructed view is higher. To me, that is the only argument you can make for 1st base being a bit easier.
  12. Chris from Freehold July 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm
    “Oh, and he’s often a bit cranky.” I’ll say…

    1. “First of all, I’d like to know when Gary Cohen ever stepped on a baseball diamond and umpired a game.”
    2. “K-Rod, please do not screw up my game recap. It’s too damn late for a rewrite.”
    3. “Game time is once again an eye-reddening 10:10 PM. This Left Coast swing can’t end soon enough.”

    All this after their 4th win in a row – w/o Reyes! Someone needs a nappy poo…

  13. JoMama July 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm
    Come on Joe, that 1st base call IS the easiest. Terrible that you’d bash Gary like that – GKR are the best announcers in baseball!
    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm
      Yes I’m terrible — but that’s how I roll. Maybe I should apologize for criticizing Gary for his bashing an umpire with so much fan-boy unprofessionalism.
  14. Chris from Freehold July 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm
    To be fair, I got a little tired of the whining it too. But I think you have to cut those guys some slack – in the course of 162 games they’re not gonna be perfect. Look at the bright side, we could have John Sterling…”That’s a deep drive to left, way back, gone! An A-Bomb from A…Uhh, wait – he caught it.”
    • Joe July 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm
      That’s radio. The t.v. guy is annoying too.

      I like the cartoon version of these guys. I don’t know why they stopped doing that bit. Instead, they have that slightly racist sports shop duo.

  15. Lee July 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm
    So what’s the excuse for missing the tag play at the home plate tonight?
    • Joe Janish July 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm
      Poor vision?
  16. Mic July 8, 2011 at 5:42 am
    1. Why did we. Sign krod? How many saves has he blown?
    I dont want krod traded…i want him to extend.

    2. I have seen many closers in my 30+ yrs of mets fanning. I remember orosco/
    Mcdowell, randall kirk myers, the years of john franco…and the anthony young year. In no way shape or form do i feel like bp should close…not yet anyway. In ’99 prior to trading him i was really impressed with izzy in relief. But in that year izzy got traded to oakland for billy taylor. How many appearances did taylor make? Did he even make the playoff roster?