Archive: February 28th, 2011

Another Lawsuit for Mets

As if the Mets needed another lawsuit, it appears that the lawyer for a kosher hot dog vendor is suing the Mets for banning the sale of franks on Friday nights.

Oy vey!

I’m not sure why the Mets would prevent a concessionaire from selling, particularly in this case, where a glatt kosher company — who one would think would be adhering to and properly translating the edicts from a higher authority — seems OK with selling on the sabbath.

But I’m not jewish and don’t know the rules all that well. That said, if someone out there can post some feedback on why Kosher Sports, Inc., is in the wrong — or in the right — please share your knowledge in the comments.

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Ian Desmond’s Errors No Big Deal

Since the Mets are playing the Nats today, I thought this article was appropriate: Dan Daly of the Washington Post did a boxscore-by-boxscore study of shortstop Ian Desmond’s errors, and found that they weren’t really that big of a deal.

Desmond has received a lot of flak for making 34 errors, but Daly discovered they only cost the Nats three games at most — and only one of those errors directly resulted in a loss.

In addition to this being apropos because of the Nats game, this information suggests that a poor defensive second baseman might not affect the Mets’ won-loss record this season. Maybe a hard-hitting second-sacker like Brad Emaus, Dan Murphy, or Justin Turner will win more games with the bat than they’ll lose with their iron gloves. Who knows? But this research on Desmond surely offers hope for the Dr. Strangegloves of the world.

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Ollie: A Year Ago

Oliver Perez’s spring training debut was far from inspiring. According to reports, he never broke 84 MPH, his command was terrible, and he allowed four earned runs in two innings of work.

I had the game on the radio while in the car with my wife and when Ollie’s name was mentioned, Amy said, “why is he still on the team? I can understand giving people a second chance, but not four or five.”

I explained that the Mets gave him a crapload of money, and they were still holding out hope that he could earn some of it in the last year of his contract. Her response: “But if he wasn’t on the team, they’d be better, and if they were better, they might sell more tickets — so how does the money matter?”

I couldn’t argue.

Anyway, when we returned home I was in a nostalgic mood and decided to check out some posts from last February. With Ollie making his first appearance, I thought it fitting to re-hash a post I came across that quoted Sandy Koufax. It was the annual “Koufax PR Day”, when the legendary hurler worked with Mets pitchers in front of the cameras, and the “hope springs eternal” articles ran out as a result. Koufax’s instruction, it was hoped, would somehow turn pitchers such as John Maine and Oliver Perez into capable MLBers. I disagreed with some of Sandy’s statements, and didn’t think Maine or Perez would learn much from him.

As long as we’re being nostalgic, there were two other posts from last spring about Perez: a scathing analysis of one of his appearances in early March, another scathing analysis a few weeks later, and yet another scathing analysis a few days after that. Check those out and compare them to what’s going on with Ollie right now. As they say, “what a non-difference a year makes” … er, or something.

By the way, according to Andy Martino, Dan Warthen is giving Ollie until March 10th to prove he can be a starter. That’s not much time for Mr. Hyde. I’m not sure what exactly that means … if he’s not considered for the rotation, does that mean he’ll be cut, or he’ll get a shot at the bullpen? I guess we’ll find out in about 10 days.

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Bryce To Bat For Nats

According to Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, phenom Bryce Harper will bat in this afternoon’s exhibition game against the Mets.

This is exciting, considering that Harper is the most-hyped teenage hitter since maybe Alex Rodriguez. All reports suggest that the kid has no chance of making the Nats’ opening day roster, but hey, you never know.

I remember reading about Bryce Harper being a “hired gun” or “ringer” for travel squads almost five years ago in a New York Times article; 13U and 14U amateur baseball teams going to major tournaments would pay his way to be their DH. At the time I thought, “huh, I wonder if this kid will still be this good by the time he can sign a pro contract? Will everyone else catch up? Will he burn out by then?”.

Clearly, he has not.

One thing that saddens me, of course, is that they’ve already moved Harper from behind the plate to the outfield. It’s amazing that whenever a young catcher shows the slightest bit of offensive potential, they move him to another position for fear that he’ll lose his right arm or break his neck from the demands of the position. Yet at the same time, there is constant shortage of catchers with offensive skills — and people can’t seem to figure out why. Duh!

There may never again be a time like the 1970s and early 80s, when MLB had a bunch of strong hitting catchers — like Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, Ted Simmons, Gary Carter, Darrell Porter, Butch Wynegar, Gene Tenace, Manny Sanguillen, Bill Freehan, Lance Parrish, and others. Sure, there were still the light-hitting Jim Sundbergs, Glenn Borgmanns, and Steve Yeagers, but it seemed as though catchers who could hit remained behind the dish. The first young catcher I remember being moved by the logic of “extending his career” was Todd Zeile. I’m sure there were others before him, but for whatever reason his case sticks out. Zeile did go on to have a fairly successful, 16-year career, so I guess the move made sense. But Fisk, Simmons, and Carter (for example) all played even longer, despite spending most of their time in MLB as catchers. Yes, I know that Fisk and Simmons were used in the DH role frequently as they aged but the point is, staying behind the plate for most of their career didn’t prevent them from enjoying many years of MLB service. And other than Ray Fosse, I can’t think of one offensively gifted catcher who had his career cut short or hitting severely affected by donning the tools of ignorance. Further, in today’s game, where most of players slide around the catcher like sissies rather than try to upend the backstop in a play at the plate, there is less chance than ever of a catchers sustaining a major, career-threatening injury.

OK I’m off my soapbox. Enjoy watching a Bryce Harper at-bat today. Let’s hope he doesn’t injure himself running into an outfield wall or by having a fly ball bounce off his head.

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