Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
Browsing All Posts By Paul Festa

It’s Only a Game

I love sports. I watch a lot of sports, attend games, and write about sports. I take sports seriously. But I know that they are just games. They’re diversions and entertainment meant to make life a little more fun. But some people don’t see it that way. They become emotionally invested to the point where sports become destructive to them and those around them.

There have been several incidents recently involving people who took it too far. Today, a man was arrested for making threats on Twitter toward Mets players, management, and fans. If you have a Twitter account, you probably know who this is.

Brandon Jacobs, running back for the New York Giants, also received threats from a Twitter user. Not only is that rude and illegal, it’s pretty stupid. Jacobs is 6’4” and weights upwards of 270 pounds.

Four people were charged with assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a fight at the Jets game this weekend. They punched each other because they had a disagreement over whose football team was better – and in this day and age of trash talk, an argument like that can turn personal.

Down in Houston, Texans fans have been threatening their quarterback, Matt Schaub, burning his jersey in the stadium parking lot, and two people were even arrested outside his home.

A Dodgers fan was killed near AT&T Park in San Francisco, reportedly because he shouted “Giants suck” outside a nightclub. In 2011, a Giants fan was severely beaten in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.

I’d like to think these are all isolated incidents, and that 99% of people reading this would never engage in this kind of behavior. Maybe it’s been going on forever, and with the propagation of the new media and the too-much-information age, we’re simply hearing about it more, but I am increasingly disturbed by the severity of these events.

We’re passionate sports fans. We like to discuss, debate, and argue about what the GM, manager, and ownership should do. We like to roll our eyes at the latest baserunning mistake, or throw our hands up when our QB throws an interception. There’s nothing wrong with that.

When it gets to the point that you’re threatening players, trespassing on private property, engaging in violence, or even killing someone – just because you don’t agree with them or they’re in a slump or they’re wearing another team’s colors – then it’s time to take a good, hard look at your life.

Let’s just remember that these are games. They’re supposed to be fun. Let’s keep it that way.

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Mets Have New Radio Home

The Mets are moving a few notches down the radio dial. They reportedly reached an agreement with WOR (710 AM in New York City) to carry their games beginning in 2014.

The 50,000-watt station is nearing an agreement with the Mets on a multi-year deal, according to industry sources.

Howie Rose is expected to remain the primary voice of the Mets.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment also operates five FM stations in the market: Z100, KTU, Power 105.1, Lite FM 106.7 and Q104.

WFAN decided to part ways with the Mets following the 2013 season, citing disappointing advertising revenues. The all-sports station will now become the flagship station of the Yankees.

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Link Roundup: Playing Carnac

Carnac the Magnificent

The 2013-2014 offseason (for the Mets and other non-playoff teams, anyway) is almost two weeks old, and Mets fans are abuzz with speculation about what the Mets will do to improve their team.

Trying to predict the future can get kind of repetitive. The same names keep coming up – because those names will be available via free agency, or are widely believed to be trade candidates. But there’s only so much you can say or write about until deals actually start to happen.

That doesn’t stop us bloggers from trying, however.

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Harvey to Have Tommy John Surgery

A decision has been made:

Sounds like it must have been an obvious choice. The Mets originally said they’d give Harvey a chance to rehab until December, and even had plans to test his elbow out in the Arizona Fall League.

So now, the Mets will have a 2014 rotation of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, possibly Jenrry Mejia, and someone else – maybe a stopgap veteran like Aaron Harang or Daisuke Matsuzaka (or someone else). 2014 will also likely feature the debut of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, but it probably won’t happen until May or June, so the team can have an extra year of control.

More details will be coming out about Harvey as the day progresses.

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How to Improve at Home

With the final road trip in the books (as it were), the Mets 2013 road record finishes at 41-40. This is significantly better than their home record, which stands at 32-45 with 4 games to play.

One obvious reason for this disparity would be park factor. While the Mets decided to shrink the dimensions of Citi Field prior to the 2012 season, it’s still not a band box. In fact, you can fit almost the entire field at Citizen’s Bank Park inside the fences of Citi Field:

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Link Roundup: Playoffs. Playoffs?

Minor Leaguers

Three Mets minor league affiliates made the playoffs this year, but none are faring too well.

The Rookie league Kingsport Mets were swept by the Greenville Astros. The ‘Stros have been 100% focused on building their minor league system from the bottom-up over the past 2 years, and it appears to be paying off.

At the higher levels, the Double-A Binghamton Mets are down 2 games to none to the Trenton Thunder, and the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s trail the Salt Lake City Bees by the same margin.

Here’s a look at Rafael Montero’s less-than-stellar start last night.

Despite their performance in the post season, it’s encouraging to see the affiliates playing well. Win-Loss records are not the ultimate measure of the health of a farm system, but there’s no doubt the system is in better shape than it was a few years ago. Having a deep farm system not only produces some players who will stick around and play for the major league team, but it also gives the organization trade chips.

Tonight, the Mets open a series with the Cleveland Indians. Game 1 will be a matchup of former and current Mets prospects, Scott Kazmir vs. Zack Wheeler.

Kazmir has struggled lately, but overall, has had a solid bounce-back season, pitching to a 4.36 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He’s also struck out an average of 8.2 batters per 9 innings. Most importantly, he’s been healthy enough to make 24 starts. Wheeler has been outstanding after struggling during his first three starts. Overall, he’s 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

Finally, with Ike Davis done for the year, Lucas Duda will get a good, hard look at first base. One can’t always trust what one sees in September, but you probably have to break it down to a more granular level – what kind of competition they’re facing, is the opposing team in contention, etc. The Mets must figure out what to do with first base going into 2014.

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Matt Harvey Has Partially Torn UCL

Because being a Mets fan isn’t infuriating enough, the team announced today that Matt Harvey has a partially torn UCL in his pitching arm. His injury will be evaluated over the next couple of weeks to see if surgery is necessary. It really depends on how partial the tear is.

Harvey has swelling, but he had not been experiencing pain in the elbow prior to his last start, Alderson explained. He has been getting preventative treatment for his elbow since Spring Training, as well as recent treatment for his forearm. However, there was no indication of tenderness in the elbow until after his last start.

“There is plenty of time for us to see how he responds in the near term, but there will always be the open question of how long that ligament will hold up,” Sandy Alderson said. “This is not a career-ending injury under any stretch of the imagination. We’re fortunate we have a lot of pitching depth in our organization.”

There has to be a way to keep young pitchers healthy. 25 year-old Steven Strasburg, for example, has already had Tommy John surgery, recovered, and is now back to pitching full time.

It’s not just a matter of curmudgeonly lamenting, “Back in my day, pitchers used throw 30 complete games a year,” but rather that it seems that more and more pitchers can’t even finish a full season.

I’m sure Joe, as a coach and former player, will have a more informed opinion on this, but shouldn’t pitchers be A) taught better mechanics at every level (High School, College, Minors) B) stretched out at every level in preparation for (eventually) a full season in the major leagues?

As for the way the Mets handled Harvey, I can think of two or three occasions where I felt Terry Collins let him throw too many pitches (over 110, which is high by today’s standards). Otherwise, they’ve been trying to give him extra rest, and have made it clear that he was on an innings limit of about 210 for the season, which would have been about 40 more than he pitched last year. Most major league teams use similar guidelines for their young pitchers.

Harvey threw 170 innings between Triple-A and the majors last year, and 178 this year. A 24 year-old should be able to handle that kind of workload. I’m not blaming Harvey – not at all – I blame the culture in baseball that seems to leave young pitchers unprepared for the major leagues.

This is yet another frustrating development for a team, and a fan base, that can’t seem to catch a break. However, like every sports franchise, the Mets must adapt to their new Harveyless world (for however long that will be the case), and have a backup plan that doesn’t include him for the better part of 2014.

Since I’m always looking for a silver lining (lest I go crazy), this could mean the Mets come out of Spring Training 2014 with a rotation of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard joining Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee, which isn’t half bad. That is, if they stay healthy. Remember, Niese is pitching with a partially torn labrum, and who knows who the next victim of arm trauma will be.

On a day like this, even the silver linings look gray.

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