Mets Merized Online » Joe Spector http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 02 Jun 2015 05:13:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.8 MMO Flashback: What It Means To Be A Mets Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-flashback-what-it-means-to-be-a-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-flashback-what-it-means-to-be-a-mets-fan.html/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 12:20:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=178160 michael cuddyer

It’s like clockwork you know, hell I could even set my watch to it. Every year and almost exactly around this time, nostalgia rushes over me in a wave of mixed emotions. I feel the cold rattle my aching bones yet I know somewhere warm and far away, my team is getting ready for a new beginning. Unless you’re a fan of this team, it’s hard to describe the passion we share for it, at least not without sounding as if we’re completely insane.

mmo feature original footerAs much as it is a time of rebirth it’s a time where my memories pull me in equally powerful yet opposite directions. It’s hard to let go of those I’ve lost, my father and grandfather especially. I long for the days when we would travel to Kissimmee to see the Mets play the Astros during Spring Training. It was the closest we could get to opening day at Shea, listening to Ralph Kiner – now also a part of our collective memories – and soaking it all in. Full of hope; high on expectations and yet cognizant of reality, that’s the life of a Mets fan.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the combative and sometimes negative banter, especially when you’re a part of such a diverse and passionate fan base. Most of the time it’s exhilarating, as defending your opinion should be. On rare occasions it brings out the worst in us, but like I said, that’s rare. But there should be no doubt that hope, really does spring eternal every year around this time.

harvey degrom niese

It’s going to be exciting to see how the future is going to play out with regards to the Mets pitching. It’s difficult to not compare the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to the icons of the past whether they be, Seaver, Koosman and Ryan or Gooden, Darling and Cone. We’ve been teased before with Generation K, so we’re battle tested and always prepared to be disappointed. But perhaps that pendulum has finally begun to swing our way.

Questions remain, as they always do. Who’s playing first? What about shortstop? Does Alderson have money to spend? If he does, do you believe him? Do you believe the Wilpons? Does that matter? We always seem to be skeptical no matter who’s running the show, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. We have to admit that progress has been made. Granted in a perfect world, it would have happened sooner then again in a perfect world Carlos Beltran would have swung at that curveball and Bernie Madoff would have never existed.

“Baseball breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, you rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it the most, it stops.”  ~  A. Bartlett Giamatti

Even though a part of me would give anything to relive the past, I’m beginning to realize the true gift of what the past has given me. What good is it to wish for days long gone with those we cared for sharing our love of this game and this team if it simply ends there? Every thread of this game becomes a tapestry when passed down to those we love. The whole point is to continue our tradition.

Just recently the mother of a good friend and co-worker of mine passed away. As true a fan of this team as I’ve ever known. Adrienne would call to speak to her daughter and I knew when they were done speaking – it was time for us to talk shop. She was 80 years old and sharp as a tack and she knew everything that was going on with this team from who was playing to who was hurt, down to her “boyfriend” Keith Hernandez’ personal life. She made it a point to mention that he was “available” now and that he lived not too far from her. I think Mex would’ve met his match though.

This is what matters most about our love for this team. I may not write with the aplomb of a Greg Prince or with the uncanny wit of Metstradamus or with the statistical dexterity of Eric Simon. But like Forrest Gump, I too know what love is and my greatest hope for anyone who reads this is to find that someone in your life and pass this love down. I know, you might think it’s a curse but deep down, beyond the issues, beyond the controversies, we’re all one big family and I’ve been lucky to know and learn from a few of them.

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Deal or No Deal? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/deal-or-no-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/deal-or-no-deal.html/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:24:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163451 There’s an old saying in baseball, “Pitching wins championships”. As far as I can remember, that quote always rang true even if it was often overused. If you looked at the history of the game, you’d be hard pressed to find championship winning teams that were lacking in the pitching department. You don’t even have to look back that far.

David-PriceJust take the Detroit Tigers this year. They have a pitching staff already fortified with two Cy Young winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Most teams would be happy with that and call it a day but what did the Tigers do? They traded for another Cy Young winner in David Price by working out a three team trade involving the Rays and the Mariners, with the Tigers giving up centerfielder Austin Jackson and pitcher Drew Smyly.

Now granted, getting a Cy Young winner for outfielder Austin Jackson and pitcher Drew Smyly, is easily the coup of the year if you ask me but it does beg the question, does losing your best defensive outfielder and leadoff hitter really matter if you’re making your rotation the finest in the league? Apparently losing offense matters little to Dave Dombrowski, and dare I say rightfully so.

But Dombrowski’s not the only GM in baseball willing to sacrifice some offense for top notch pitching. Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for stud ace Jon Lester and backup outfielder Jonny Gomes. Am I the only one who see’s the pattern here?

All of this is leading me back home, to the New York Mets fan base, eager and rightfully wanting their team to be relevant again, who began demanding that Sandy Alderson trade their top prospect, pitcher Noah Syndergaard and just about every other significant farmhand for Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

First off let me be clear, Tulo is a stud and the best offensive shortstop in the game today and arguably ever. Unfortunately, he’s also made of Balsa wood and the Mets already have had a lot of experience with expensive, fragile yet immensely talented shortstops. Even Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie Unbreakable cringes when Tulo slides into second on a double as does Rockies owner Dick Monfort.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado RockiesNow here we are post trade deadline and the Mets are still under .500 and lo and behold guess what we find out, Troy Tulowitzki will have season ending surgery on a torn labrum in his hip. Somehow all the voices wanting Tulo soo bad have been quieted as if their Alderaan was just destroyed by the dreaded Death Star known as the Disabled List. Now if you didn’t know any better you’d think that Tulo actually had the (mis?)fortune of becoming a Met since this injury would be the typical initiation into the orange and blue, but no.

You see Tulo has a history of leg issues dating back to 2008 when he tore his left quadriceps tendon. That along with the fact that he’s on the wrong side of 30, has a mammoth contract which pays him guaranteed money (157 million) until 2020, and you could say that those factors pretty much made Alderson’s decision for him. Oh yeah and Alderson would have had to mortgage the farm for him too.

So here’s the quandary (for SOME Mets fans). Do we trade a potential future Cy Young winner, because you know they grow on trees, or do you bite the bullet and build around the promise of an amazing pitching staff, supplanting your offense by developing players from within (Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Dominic Smith) and perhaps a free agent on a short term basis? Sure, Sandy could package Syndergaard and Montero and a few others and make a run at a bat but then again, so did Fred Claire.

You see Fred traded Pedro Martinez when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, an organization well known for their pitching excellence, for – wait for it – Delino DeShields. Yeah, the Dodgers needed a second baseman and a leadoff hitter and they got three incredibly unproductive years from DeShields whereas Pedro went on to be, well, Pedro. You think Claire wishes he had a do-over with that one?

Not all deals involving trading pitchers turn out that dramatically lopsided but can you seriously imagine Noah Syndergaard ending up in Colorado or Miami or wherever and becoming the next “Pedro”? That would be quite the legacy for Sandy to leave wouldn’t it? I guess Mets fans shouldn’t worry it’s not like this team has ever done anything like that before. I mean it’s not like they traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Ok, that was a low blow.

Sometimes you just have to go with the hand you have and right now, the Mets are holding potential aces. You don’t find arms like the Mets have that easily. Great offensive players, especially outfielders, are scarce in MLB right now (PED testing anyone?) so it’s not just the Mets who are looking for offense. But to have the potential pitching studs and to just trade them for a “name” is just dumb. Especially if the player everyone wants – while great when healthy – makes peanut brittle look like Kevlar.

Sorry, no deal.

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Righting The Wrongs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/righting-the-wrongs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/righting-the-wrongs.html/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 12:21:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=154984 USATSI jenrry mejia Credit Brad Bar

Usually I’m not the type to tell someone “I told you so”. It’s annoying at best and at its worst it can make you want to slug the person who says it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when facts are so evident that they hit you in the face leaving you feeling like Delino DeShields Jr. after a close encounter with a 90 mph fastball. When it comes to the future of Jenrry Mejia, unfortunately all I can say is – I told you so.

You see it was about 4 years ago right here on Metsmerized when I wrote an article about what – get this – Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel should do about Jenrry Mejia. Should he be groomed as the heir apparent to Frankie Rodriguez or “stretched” out and turned into a starting pitcher? Of course as it is with many young players who make their way through this organization, their climb up the rungs is far from dull and uneventful. For Mejia it was a birth by fire.

Get ready, I’m about to quote myself because that’s how I roll.

“Earlier this year Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel fawned over minor league phenom pitcher, Jenrry Mejia. Somehow through that love affair, the kid surprisingly made the major league team right out of Spring. It was a desperate move then and looking back, it remains the same.

Especially considering one, the kid had barely over 200 innings of work in the minors and two, unbeknownst to him, he was anointed by Jerry Manuel and few other prominent figures around the team, a future Mariano Rivera armed with a Godly cutter and all.

No pressure there Jenrry. Here’s the ball, have fun. Nobody ever accused the Mets of being masters of public relations but this situation took the cake for me. Instead of dealing with the reality of not having a bonafide set-up man, Minaya and Manuel decided to thrust Jenrry Mejia into the spotlight.”

So instead of sending Mejia to AAA to pitch and either succeed or fail all on his own, they set the kid up. In the minors we would’ve learned probably what we know now, that Mejia is lights out for about 3 innings – roughly one time through a lineup as the .160 average against him is right now. But of course in the minds of Minaya and Manuel it was all about winning and winning NOW.

When I look back it disgusts me how this organization handled Mejia. This was supposed to be their crown jewel and they treated him like a cheap Lucas Duda knock-off watch right off of Canal Street. But before we sharpen our knives on Omar and Jerry let’s not forget that while Mejia has had to deal with injuries and multiple surgeries, he’s still a pretty damn good pitcher but the writing is on the wall. Collins and Alderson need to put Mejia in the bullpen despite his desire to start. The more they wait, the more Mejia is going to believe he should be a starter.

I want to bat third in the Mets lineup but it’s not going to happen either, get over it Jenrry. Alderson and his acolytes in Sabermetrics tend to believe that relievers are simply failed starters. Don’t get me wrong, many are but every once in a while you get a diamond that can only go an inning or two.

Alderson found one in Dennis Eckersley and the other just retired last season as the greatest reliever ever. This team needs to right the wrongs that they’ve placed on Jenrry Mejia and prepare him for his proper role as closer for the New York Mets. Hey it’s not like I didn’t say I told you so.

Presented By Diehards

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What Being A Mets Fan Really Means http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/what-being-a-mets-fan-really-means.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/what-being-a-mets-fan-really-means.html/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:00:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=152210 Brad Barr USA TODAY Sports mets bench dugout

It’s like clockwork you know, hell I could even set my watch to it. Every year and almost exactly around this time, nostalgia rushes over me in a wave of mixed emotions. I feel the cold rattle my aching bones yet I know somewhere warm and far away, my team is getting ready for a new beginning. Unless you’re a fan of this team, it’s hard to describe the passion we share for it, at least not without sounding as if we’re completely insane.

As much as it is a time of rebirth it’s a time where my memories pull me in equally powerful yet opposite directions. It’s hard to let go of those I’ve lost, my father and grandfather especially. I long for the days when we would travel to Kissimmee to see the Mets play the Astros during Spring Training. It was the closest we could get to opening day at Shea, listening to Ralph Kiner – now also a part of our collective memories – and soaking it all in. Full of hope; high on expectations and yet cognizant of reality, that’s the life of a Mets fan.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the combative and sometimes negative banter, especially when you’re a part of such a diverse and passionate fan base. Most of the time it’s exhilarating, as defending your opinion should be. On rare occasions it brings out the worst in us, but like I said, that’s rare. But there should be no doubt that hope, really does spring eternal every year around this time.

It’s going to be exciting to see how the future is going to play out with regards to the Mets pitching. It’s difficult to not compare the arms of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard to the icons of the past whether they be, Seaver, Koosman and Ryan or Gooden, Darling and Cone. We’ve been teased before with Generation K, so we’re battle tested and always prepared to be disappointed. But perhaps that pendulum has finally begun to swing our way.

Questions remain, as they always do. Who’s playing first? What about shortstop? Does Alderson have money to spend? If he does, do you believe him? Do you believe the Wilpons? Does that matter? We always seem to be skeptical no matter who’s running the show, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. We have to admit that progress has been made. Granted in a perfect world, it would have happened sooner then again in a perfect world Carlos Beltran would have swung at that curveball and Bernie Madoff would have never existed.

“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, you rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it the most, it stops.”

~ A. Bartlett Giamatti, Take Time For Paradise: Americans And Their Games

Even though a part of me would give anything to relive the past, I’m beginning to realize the true gift of what the past has given me. What good is it to wish for days long gone with those we cared for sharing our love of this game and this team if it simply ends there? Every thread of this game becomes a tapestry when passed down to those we love. The whole point is to continue our tradition.

Just recently the mother of a good friend and co-worker of mine passed away. As true a fan of this team I have ever known. Adrienne would call to speak to her daughter and I knew when they were done speaking – it was time for us to talk shop. She was 80 years old and sharp as a tack and she knew everything that was going on with this team from who was playing to who was hurt, down to her “boyfriend” Keith Hernandez’ personal life. She made it a point to mention that he was “available” now and that he lived not too far from her. I think the Mex would’ve met his match though.

This is what matters most about our love for this team. I may not write with the aplomb of a Greg Prince or with the uncanny wit of Metstradamus or with the statistical dexterity of Eric Simon. But like Forrest Gump, I too know what love is and my greatest hope for anyone who reads this is to find that someone in your life and pass this love down. I know, you might think it’s a curse but deep down, beyond the issues, beyond the controversies, we’re all one big family and I’ve been lucky to know and learn from a few of them.

R.I.P. Adrienne Djaha        1933 - 2014

R.I.P. Adrienne Djaha
1933 – 2014

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The Curious Case Of PED’s http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/the-curious-case-of-peds.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/the-curious-case-of-peds.html/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 21:29:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=126753 gary keith ron sny

With the revelations of the Biogenesis investigation by MLB coming to the forefront this week, just about every sportswriter has put in his or her two cents regarding this story and how performance enhancing drugs plays into professional sports in general.  Even broadcasters are getting into the mix now.  The other night during the Mets/Rockies game, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez touched on the issue in a way that really hasn’t been by most sportswriters.  It doesn’t come as a shock to me since SNY’s Emmy winning team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are arguably one of the finer broadcasting teams in professional sports today.

Gary, playing devil’s advocate, described how both sides see the issue of PED’s.  One side taking the majority stance that there’s no place for PED’s in Major League Baseball. The prevalent idea is that if players are found to have used them, heavy consequences should follow, with the ultimate penalty being banishment.  The other side, which I found interesting in how Gary described it, was how some take a more “Libertarian” approach regarding PED’s, stating that if a player is willing to risk his health then it’s on the player.  There was a brief pause when Keith Hernandez, in a rare moment seemed totally engaged in the conversation, chimed in and said as I paraphrase, “You can’t say it’s a matter of being Libertarian if what you’re doing affects others negatively”.

After listening to Hernandez huff and haw all season long when the team would head into extra innings or deal with an unfortunate rain delay, it was nice to see Keith the curmudgeon not chomping on the bit to tell everyone to get off his lawn.  It was a brief moment but one that made me smile and I’m a Libertarian.  The funny thing about Libertarians is that we usually get attacked from all ends of the political spectrum for being what others claim to think we all are.

I’m not saying Gary Cohen was attacking Libertarians so much as he was simply trying to state a point, albeit a bit awkwardly. Not all Libertarians are cut from the same cloth.  Most teeter on the political spectrum depending on the issue – but in the end we all share the same edicts of individual liberty and freedom but, with respect to the law. Libertarians are not Anarchists.  Therein lays the difference between those who say PED’s should be allowed in professional sports and those who disagree, and no it’s not because of arbitrary drug laws.  It’s about fairness.  It’s about the law.  Sometimes laws are in place that we all don’t agree with but, that’s life in a democracy.

steroids peds

The idea of simply taking a drug that could, with the emphasis on could, make you better at what you do for a living is a tempting idea in spite of being morally suspect not to mention with the potential of being physically damaging.  In professional sports, especially Major League Baseball, it’s a misnomer to think that sticking a needle in one’s ass will turn a Felix Millan into a Ted Williams. With stringent drug testing now in place, including testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Major League Baseball is now one of the better examples of a professional sport trying to keep itself as clean and legitimate as possible.  How can the quest for legitimacy be a bad thing is beyond me?

When it comes to the use of PED’s in professional sports, many Libertarians, some of which I have a great deal of respect for, have said that PED’s, like other illegal drugs, shouldn’t be banned from professional sports no more than cocaine should be illegal for you or I. Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine and Reason.com, seems to think most sports writers are hyper moralistic on the issue of PED’s as he stated in a recent article regarding Ryan Braun.  I have a feeling that he’s not much of a sports fan especially based on how he views the majority of sports writers. Not well if you read his article.

But with all due respect to Nick Gillespie or even the great Greg Gutfeld, whom I’m told was very disappointed to find out that purple unicorn’s weren’t allowed at Churchill Downs; PED’s affect not just the players that take them.  They also take away jobs from those trying to do it clean.  Take this which was tweeted by former major league pitcher Dan Meyer:

Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx alot. #ahole

So, does this mean Dan Meyer should just shut the hell up, have a Coke and a smile? Should he just tip his cap to Bastardo (yes, that’s really his last name) shake hands and let bygones be bygones?  I’d be just as pissed as Meyer if I were in his shoes. I understand, but not totally agree with the logic that if PED’s and drugs in general weren’t illegal, the stigma which draws people to them in the first place would decline.

Sure in an academic hypothetical arena that may be possible but do I really want my daughter to be able to one day to walk into a 7-11 to buy a Slurpee and have an HGH power bar sitting next to the Twizzlers?  While we’re at it, put the cocaine pixy sticks next to the Sweet Tarts.  Sorry but the old curmudgeon in me says no to such a grand experiment.  I guess I’m not a real Libertarian huh?

The blasé attitude some have regarding allowing PED’s into professional sports stems from the idea that they believe that fans don’t really care how the players do the sometimes incredible feats that they do.  I disagree.  In a perfect world, I don’t even want to have this discussion with my daughter but when and if I do, I want to tell her that her favorite player(s) did it clean.  Let there be a level playing field and then let individual talent take over.  I look at it this way, would you be fine with allowing kids to take their iPads with them while taking their SAT exams?  Fair or unfair; you decide.

People often forget during this whole controversy with these players being caught taking PED’s, that PED’s are illegal unless prescribed by a physician for an actual medical condition, you know like dwarfism.  The last time I checked Eddie Gaedel hasn’t suited up in a few years and if he did I have a feeling Brian Cashman would’ve tendered him a contract by now.

Now get off my lawn!

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What Nobody Wants To Know About Ike Davis http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/what-nobody-wants-to-know-about-ike-davis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/what-nobody-wants-to-know-about-ike-davis.html/#comments Thu, 13 Jun 2013 14:41:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121799 Yes. This was a year too late. While most Met fans were jumping for joy when Ike Davis re-discovered his swing in the second half of last year, I was one of the few who preferred demoting him to AAA to rework his swing and more importantly his mindset. I’m not saying I was right, but who are we kidding? I was right and I stood by it then and now.

Ike  Davis

It’s a shame because there really isn’t anything positive to write about this team these days. Even during our most downtrodden times we’ve been able to find that silver lining that offers us a bit of hope. That silver lining has faded into the ether for most of us. It definitely has for me.

I give the bloggers here and on other sites so much credit for trying to find that fresh, inventive angle when writing about the Mets. I still don’t know how we haven’t stuck our collective heads in our electric ovens is beyond me. Yet, we carry on.

I do feel bad for Ike, who wouldn’t? I’m sure he’s had everyone give him their two-cents about fixing him going on two years now. At some point, unless there’s a physical problem, you can only walk away with two possible reasons for Ike’s downfall. Either he’s not focusing enough and taking direction well or and I hate to say it, maybe he’s just not that good.

Sure the guy can hit a ball 500 feet but, so could Rob Deer. So could Steve Balboni. So could Butch Huskey. Remember his illustrious Met career? I think we’ve allowed our own hopes and aspirations of Ike to cloud the reality of his situation. We’ve replaced the actual, unfortunate and ugly truth with our hopes and dreams of the player Ike should be.

Some have said that if Ike could just hit .220 with 30 to 40 homeruns and 100 RBI with 100 walks then so what if he strikes out 200 times. He’d be a clone of Adam Dunn and at this point, I’d take it now and twice on Sunday. But unfortunately he’s not even a bad Adam Dunn; he’s a bad version of the bad Adam Dunn. But at least Ike can field. Yeah I wanted to inject something positive about him but I couldn’t do it with an honest key stroke.

So here we are, two years into this and it now falls on Wally Backman’s shoulders to fix Ike and to return him (or with him?) to his proper self, hopefully later this year in Flushing. It’s sort of fitting that it all comes down to Backman.

While Alderson has publicly said that Terry Collins and his staff are safe, he didn’t go so far as to offer any of them contract extensions – not that any of them have been all that deserving. You can bet Wally is keenly aware of it all.

Backman has gone on record saying he knows what Ike’s doing wrong and that it’s just a few but apparently simple fixes. I’m not sure what he sees’s that Collins and his staff haven’t but at this point, do I care? Do you? I just want Ike back on track.

Hopefully all he needs is to get his mechanics and his mind right but unfortunately for Ike, history and plain and simple odds are against him. Here’s hoping the anachronistic Ike Davis can do what so many have tried and failed in Las Vegas and beat the house.

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Stopping by CitiField on a Snowy Evening http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/stopping-by-citifield-on-a-snowy-evening.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/stopping-by-citifield-on-a-snowy-evening.html/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2013 00:32:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=108724 casey stengel metsEvery now and again something occurs in my life that makes me either shake my head or want to shake someone else’s head — often violently — with the fleeting hope that doing so would magically scramble and reset their questionable thought process without causing any long term damage. Sometimes I even resort to utilizing Mr. Tyzik’s tactic, gleefully taking out my frustration on those “flatheads”.  Using forced perspective to pinch the heads off of your adversaries may get you some odd looks my friends but don’t knock it ‘till you try it. Its inherent cathartic qualities can do wonders. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really ready for anger management classes, yet. I’m lucky enough to say that just being with my 2 ½ year old daughter has done more to put my life into perspective than anything The Kids in the Hall ever had to offer. She has the light switch to my heart this little kid.

Now that she’s getting older and more aware of the world around her, I’m able to share more of what I enjoy with her and see how she reacts to understanding it. This is her second season watching, rooting and generally hanging out with me as I go through the emotional roller coaster that is being a Met fan. Of course this is something I always imagined doing ever since I could remember watching the Mets with my father as a child. It’s more than just a rite of passage or bonding.  To me, I’m imprinting memories of our time together that I hope she’ll keep with her for all the days of her life. I guess the older I become, the more cognizant I am that this gift that is life isn’t guaranteed by age. My father wasn’t even 50 when he passed. There’s just so much that I want to show her, teach her, and experience with my daughter that sometimes I have to be mindful not to overcompensate, she is just a 2 ½ year old and I do plan on sticking around for a while, God willing.

One of the characteristics she seems to share with me is a love of reading. Granted she goes from Elmo to Mickey to Dora the Explorer in a matter of minutes – her attention span is fickle — then again so is mine and I’m old so who am I to complain. I’m trying to get into the habit of reading to her. In fact I’ve already lined up the books that I want to read to her as she gets older. Of course there will have to be the classics but I wouldn’t be a proper parent to a young and becoming Met fan if I didn’t find a way to sneak in Faith and Fear in Flushing or Total Mets in there, maybe even The Bad Guys Won just to keep it fresh and edgy.  Don’t worry I’d censor anything that came out of Dykstra’s mouth — including the chaw. But there’s one genre of literature that I’m going to introduce to her not because it was one of my favorites. In fact it was my least favorite form of writing because I found it so difficult to interpret – the world of poetry was never kind to me. But there were always exceptions.

I was never really attracted to poetry growing up. It wasn’t until I was in college and was lucky enough to have a professor, Mr. Chauncey G. Parker, who taught English Literature. Mr. Parker was quite the interesting cat. For one, he worked in the Lyndon Johnson administration and if I recall, he did some work for the United Nations as well. We would get into some really interesting arguments regarding policy and politics in general. We really didn’t agree on a lot but he was an amazing professor; never trying to indoctrinate as so many do in academia these days.  He was a bona fide Renaissance Man. He wrote a novel, The Visitor, a crazy psychological horror about a man who becomes obsessed with a rodent that has overrun his upscale New York brownstone. His novel was later turned into a film starring Peter Weller, Robocop himself. Hey don’t laugh; I’m pretty sure there aren’t many of us that can boast that on our resumes. But Mr. Parker in his best Northeastern, Hyannis Port, Bostonian voice, explained to me the amazing talent that was Robert Frost.

Robert Frost is one of America’s most popular and storied poets of the 20th century. His works have been studied over by students and scholars alike. Some of his classic works include The Pasture (1913), Mountain Interval (1916) and the beginnings of New Hampshire: A poem with Notes and Grace Notes (1923), which contained “Fire and Ice”, and my favorite, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, his masterwork. It was that poem which reminded me of why I’m a Met fan. I know what you’re thinking, how in God’s name does a Frost poem translate into something relatable to a Met fan? Well first off here’s the poem:

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

 Frost wrote this poem supposedly in an evening sitting and during a time of great personal frustration—something Met fans can easily sympathize with. Practically our entire history has been wrought with frustration on some level. Like all poetry, it’s subject to one’s own interpretation; Frost’s Snowy Evening is no exception. The woods, to some, describe the edge of civilization. To me the Met fan it describes the team. They are equally irrational and yet garner consistent support. It’s those qualities that attract us as fans and what attracts readers to the woods. They are restful, seductive, lovely and dark…like oblivion. Also like our team, at times. The woods can represent madness, the looming irrational and of course also beauty.

The owner of the woods (us and not Wilpon) –lives in this village – and travels there on the darkest day of the year. Perhaps this an alliteration of how we’ve stuck by this team even during their most dire and desperate times? It’s the basic conflict in the poem, which is resolved in the last stanza. What attracts us to the woods and what force (responsibility, frustration, and exacerbation?) pushes us away from the woods occasionally? This is the division between the village (the fans) and the woods (the Mets). It’s not as if the woods are particularly frightening or wicked, yet they still posses the seeds of the irrational, just waiting to prey on our emotions.

The woods, as much as it draws us in, consistently finds ways to repel us, drawing us away. “Society” in baseball terms could be translated into “the experts” –always pointing out the negative and condemning us from staying here in the dark, in the snow—why would we care for such a flawed team? With the last two lines, “And miles to go before I sleep” being repeated. Is it a forewarning? Are we masochists for this team of ours; do we have some sort of death wish? Or do we take it as Frost did that he had many good years of poetry still left in him and that we still have many more years of torture…I mean love for our team? Damn, poetry can be annoying.

Unlike the majority who see the darkness in this poem, I take the positive from it. I don’t try to dwell on the flaws this team of ours have. We know it as well as a geneticist knows what composes DNA. The Mets are in our DNA, it’s who we are, for better or worse and as long as there’s a hope for the future –and there almost always is even in our team’s darkest days—we stand true. We argue we root, we hem and haw. We sometimes take it too far and retract, remembering our roots. But we come. Every Spring, we come.

Somewhere, I hope Chauncey G. Parker III Is smiling. Smiling that I’m willingly passing down to a new generation – a new set of tortures—and enjoying every bit of it.

boy fence baseball

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Where There’s Black Smoke…There’s Nothing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/where-theres-black-smoke-theres-nothing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/where-theres-black-smoke-theres-nothing.html/#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 04:01:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=107782 It seems like for the past, I dunno, five eon’s, we’ve been discussing whether or not the New York Mets were going to sign free agent outfielder, former Atlanta Brave, Michael Bourn. Some of us thought it was all a ruse to begin with, that the Mets were playing with our fragile hopes and dreams just to keep the team relevant and to keep selling tickets. Some of us thought it would be a great signing considering the outfield was as bleak as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post Governorship acting career. While some of us saw an aging player whose career relied on speed and who struck out more times than your average 15 year old high school nerd.

So of course we find out that Bourn was signed by the Cleveland Indians to a 4 year deal at $48 million with a vesting 5th year if he gets 550 at-bats, totaling the deal to 5 years and $60 million. Somewhere Jason Bay was gritting his teeth and giving himself a self-induced concussion upon hearing the news. I was never on the lets sign Bourn boat to start with and the least of which had to do with losing the draft pick. First off, why sign a player whose game is all about speed, to a long term contract and roll the dice that he stays healthy. No I’m not talking about Jose Reyes because Reyes was and is about 100 times more talented a player than Bourn.

Sure both are leadoff hitters, but Michael Bourn is a leadoff hitter by default – only for his speed. He struck out 155 times last year. Reyes did just about that over a three season span. Both of their on-base-percentages are relatively similar – something that should wake Reyes up I would think, but Reyes is just a better all-around player than Bourn ever has been. So what was so incredibly desirable about Bourn to Mets fans?

Yes, I know we’re probably going to see more faces in the outfield than Lindsay Lohan has DUI’s so a little certainty would be nice but at what risk? Are we ready to bring in yet ANOTHER player closer to the back end of their career to plug a hole only to lament the decision in year 3 when we’re paying a guy 12 million “who tries hard” and that’s about it?

I get it. It would be nice to have a warm body out there with some pedigree that didn’t require a background check with the Department of Homeland Security. Guess what –been there, done that and I’m sick of the Mets being burned in the process. Michael Bourn wasn’t the key player to take us to the next level. He’s just a name and Mets fans need to stop this love affair with names. The “next” star, if that comes from any of the young talent the Mets currently have, will not be a household name or a name the rest of us baseball wonks know of easily. It will be another Edgardo Alfonso. It will be another Todd Hundley. It will be another Jon Niese. It won’t be a Michael Bourn.

Sorry Mets fans…no white smoke this time.

130211103036_white-smoke

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Reign Delay? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/reign-delay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/reign-delay.html/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 19:59:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=104859 As I was driving home the other night, I was listening to Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on the MLB Network Radio channel on XM. They were discussing with Jill Painter, the L.A. Daily News sports columnist, the Baseball Hall of Fame vote which took place Wednesday. This is the same Jill Painter, member of the Baseball Writers Association of America who thought it made perfect sense to cast one of her Hall of Fame votes for the former Blue Jay, Dodger, Diamondback and Met, Shawn Green. As she was engaging in verbal kabuki, explaining her vote, I could almost feel the indignation boiling over from the two hosts. Big kudos goes out to both Bowden and Stern for having the combined patience of a saint. That interview alone should earn them a few Marconi votes in my view.

It’s a good thing I don’t do radio; I wouldn’t have been nearly as diplomatic as they were. As if there wasn’t enough preordained controversy with this year’s crop of candidates, we get this nonsense and I’m not even going to enrage you with her supposed rationale. I have too much respect for you to even try. It’s almost as bad as the one vote that someone gave Aaron Sele. Again, not going to enrage you with the facts, you can look up Sele’s pathetic career statistics here if you wish. Then you have my permission to curse uncontrollably – - and yes you can practice reading that line in your best Bane voice. Or Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery as I believe they’re one in the same.

Call me naïve but I was always under the impression that those having been afforded the privilege of a Hall of Fame vote would show just a modicum of respect towards it. I’m not the only one who thinks this way as does the great Metstradamus. But this is unfortunately the year that common sense, fairness and respect for the game clearly went over the edge of the train tracks faster than a New York City subway commuter. Ouch.

Now I’ve been very sympathetic to the plight the writers have when it comes to wading through the waters that PED’s have polluted in Major League Baseball. But like Metstradamus, when voters use their privilege to make some grand statement (i.e. voting no one in), peppered with some who find it – I don’t know – comical, to vote for the likes of Sele and Green, it simply demonstrates to me that stupidity isn’t determined by who you write for or what and if you get paid for writing it.

When the likes of Marty Noble, someone I’ve always had tremendous respect for, thinks that because Mike Piazza had an abundance of—wait for it—back hair, during his time as a Dodger and decides to connect the follicles and assume that it meant Piazza used. It shows me just how far we’ve fallen as a people more than anything. We’ll believe the very worst of each other just to protect our own vanity because God forbid a player is later found to have juiced.

We can’t have writers dealing with pangs of remorse now can we? To top it off, Noble then ironically said that as a Met, Piazza had a hairless back, which is ALSO a symptom of steroid use. So if Piazza essentially played with Robin William’s back he’s using yet if he’s smoother than an Abercrombie model he’s also using? Absolutely pathetic, especially that never, not once, has Piazza been accused or named in any report or tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs.

I always believed that MLB needs to be far more proactive of a guide for the BBWAA when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and steroids. I wrote a piece for Metsmerized in early 2011 calling for Bud Selig to commission a panel exploring the effects that PED’s have on actual playing performance. Of course Selig and MLB want absolutely nothing further to do with this issue—at least not what happened in the past. One bright spot happened a few days ago when the MLB Players Association and MLB agreed to year round drug testing for Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone.

The BBWAA and their writers refused to vote for some players and based it on innuendo and unproven allegations; and that is shameful itself. In part I can understand their fear of enshrining someone who later is proven to have used PED’s as players elected cannot be removed from the Hall of Fame. My question is why is that? Hypothetically if a Hall of Famer does something illegal, whether during or after their playing career, why are they not immediately open to removal? That, in my opinion, would allow the writers to choose players based on their careers and not on speculation.

George Orwell was quoted as saying:

“Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.”

Now the real question remains, who was Orwell talking about; the players or the writers?

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Generally Out-Managed…er http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/12/generally-out-manged-er.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/12/generally-out-manged-er.html/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 03:19:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=102849 How many pitcher receive a standing ovation after they've just thrown a complete-game one hitter against the home team?

Have you ever wondered what does the term “fair market value” really mean? It’s often bantered about in the sports world when an athlete vying for a new contract, tries to sell his talents to the highest bidder. I hear it all the time. To me, it means getting paid for the service you’re providing balanced against what others in your specific field are being paid for doing the same. Sounds fairly simple right? You get paid according to what your peers are being paid and how well they perform. That’s how it works for everyone- everyone with the exception of one Robert Allan Dickey.

You see, Mr. Dickey, he’s just weird. First off, what’s with the name? Dickey. Really? He play’s professional Baseball for a living but that’s a loose term since he happens to play for the New York Mets. Don’t get me started on that – talk about having regrets. He’s a pitcher but I’ll be damned, he’s a weird one at that too. He’s a knuckleball pitcher. The knuckleball happens to be a last resort pitch used by those trying desperately to hold onto their career.

It’s kind of like when Lindsey Lohan play’s Elizabeth Taylor in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. He’s also missing a ligament or a nerve or something in his elbow; weird and damaged goods I tell you. Oh and here’s the cherry on the top of this sundae, he’s 38 years old! He’s weird, old, damaged goods – and he wants to get paid “fair market value”. I got his nerve- right here.

I admit he did ok last year. He led the Mets in practically every pitching category including usage of the word “enigmatic” 247 times. He was the first Mets pitcher ever to quote Faulkner in a post game interview that left the dreamy Kevin Burkhardt mesmerized in the moment. Oh yeah, and he won the Cy Young award. It’s not that I’m minimizing what he means to the Mets but he’s replaceable especially that he thinks he should get both “fair market value” and long term security. Sure I know he’s just looking for a 3 year extension but he’s 38 years old for crying out loud. And you know I don’t like long term relationships plus we all know I’ve had to put a ring on one player this winter so far – two is pushing it! Damn that Beyonce.

Word on the street is that Anibal Sanchez just inked a 5 year, $80 million dollar deal to return to the Detroit Tigers. That’s a lot of coin for a guy who’s career record is under five hundred. Then you have that kid with the mental issues in Anaheim, Grienke. He just signed a 6 year deal with the Dodgers worth almost $160 million. I guess I have to agree that Dickey is worth somewhere in between those guys, right? Damn market. Here I was hoping it would bottom out and come to me (that’s code word for I was hoping Dickey would finally exibit oxygen deprivation from his Kilimanjaro ascent and sign for pennies on the dollar).

Well needless to say, he’s feeling fine, a little peeved but otherwise ok. I would be peeved too if my boss asked me to dress like an Elf at the company Christmas party. Maybe asking him to park the cars took it too far. Oh well, you live and learn. I have to get going now, I’m currently texting Alex Anthopoulos but don’t worry, I’m multitasking here. My box of chocolates order from Swiss Colony just got approved – on company credit no less. Now that’s winning!

 

All my best and happy holidays,

Sandy

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What Can Be Learned From The Yankees Collapse http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/what-can-be-learned-from-the-yankees-collapse.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/what-can-be-learned-from-the-yankees-collapse.html/#comments Sun, 21 Oct 2012 00:56:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98968

Ok, I admit, I did my best Quagmire impersonation the other night, in spite of my better angels trying desperately to keep me in check. Not even Charlie’s Angels could keep me from succumbing to the dark side when I saw the best team money could buy get brutally swept by the best thing to come out of Detroit that wasn’t bailed out by the government. It’s one thing to get to the American League Championship Series and lose but for the New York Yankees to lose 4 in a row and lose them by barely showing up was hard to watch, even for a Mets fan.

To think that the Yankees actually made President Obama look thoroughly engaged in his first debate in comparison to their performance against the Tigers. But I digress, who are we kidding; it wasn’t that hard for me to watch. I may have revelled in the poetic justice of it all yet I ironically realized in the end that I don’t despise the New York Yankees as some people do, and I’m very ok with that. Now, as to some of their fans – well that’s a whole different ballgame altogether.

Look I get it. Who am I to criticize the Yankees for being swept in the Playoffs? My team hasn’t even had a whiff of a whiff of playoff baseball since Carlos Beltran stood like a deer in headlights taking Adam Wainwright’s curveball for strike three in 2006.

You can make a good argument that stemming from that moment the Mets began their spiral into the mediocre mess that they have become today. And make no mistake about it; it’s rare to find a Yankee fan that doesn’t like to remind us of that among other things. Because you know, it’s always endearing to be an obnoxious bully.

What other things you ask? How about their 27 World Championships? Sure I’d be proud of my team if they racked up that many Championships, who wouldn’t? But I’m pretty sure, no I’m very sure I wouldn’t rub it into everyone’s faces or use it as my main retaliatory weapon anytime someone criticizes my team. It reeks of elitism – and that is why no one is shedding a tear that Detroit handed the Yankees a beatdown of the ages.

I particularly enjoy the brand of Yankee fan who just about takes personal credit for those 27 championships. As if it weren’t for their bloviating ad nauseum about their greatness, those teams never would have existed. Over-compensating much pre tell? We get it, your team is great.

I know I’m not breaking any new ground here saying this. We all know where the Mets are financially as an organization or at least we think we do and it’s no secret that times have been better. There’s that certain percentage of Yankee fans that love to say how the Mets are cheap and don’t care about their fans. Hell at times even I’ve felt the same malaise from this organization but when you look at the facts you realize that to say the Mets have always been cheap is more like a cheap shot than fact.

It doesn’t take much to Google the numbers and see where the Mets have ranked in payroll over the years. We all know they spend (spent). They’re just very good at doing it very bad. Athlon Sports ranks the Mets the worst of all MLB teams from 2001 to 2010 when it comes to spending in relation to wins. But don’t try and get intellectual when arguing with these particular Yankee fans.

To them it’s all about the bling and boy do they have the bling in the Bronx enough so that even their mistakes (Carl Pavano, Jose Contreras, Brien Taylor, A-Roid) can be easily swept under the rug. However even the mighty have their limits as Hank and Hal Steinbrenner have made it clear that they want to get their payroll under the luxury tax threshold.

Of course there’s that “aura” that playing for the Yankees brings. Even I fell for it when Raul Ibanez seemed to channel every Yankee great in this postseason with his homerun fest. Not bad for a 39 year old. Yet if you ask anyone impartial, which team regardless their finances, has a better crop of young talent making its way up, one would be hard pressed to say it’s the Yankees.

It’s not like I’m drinking the Kool-Aid here. I know the Mets aren’t exactly overflowing with minor league talent – as a Mets fan I know that’s hardly the case – but tell me what version of Zach Wheeler or Matt Harvey or even Wilmer Flores do the Yankees have? If they did, don’t you think one or two would have been promoted this year and don’t try to pull Ivan Nova out of your pinstriped posterior.

If he’s really one of their top prospects Brian Cashman has a lot more to worry about than how he’s going to try to convince a team to take Alex Rodriguez off his hands. It seems Cashman could care less that his team has become the professional sports poster children for AARP as they have the oldest team on average in MLB. This is what Cashman said about his geriatric lineup:

“I don’t care if it’s old. I care about if it’s good.”

Well Socrates has spoken I suppose. Talk about short sighted and the epitome of elitist. The only reason Brian Cashman can say that is solely because of his owner’s pockets.

The Mets and we as fans can learn a great deal from the debacle that is unraveling in the Bronx. Sure if you’re one of those superficial, seasonal Yankee fans that only come out of the woodwork in October then you probably should ignore the warning signs. Yes having almost unlimited funds can buy great players – eventual Hall-of-Famer players even. But if history has shown, it doesn’t buy championships.

It’s signing the right players to augment your team, when you’ve developed it enough from within. Sure the Yankees can sign whoever they want and I’m pretty sure they’ll make a push for Texas’ Josh Hamilton this winter. Talk about lighting a fuse on a Molotov cocktail. The moment he steps out of his taxi cab onto 42nd street, expect an epic implosion worthy of wall-to-wall TMZ coverage.

Some of those Yankee fans might think I sound like just another jaded Met fan. Sure it’s been rough the last few years but what they call being jaded I call appreciation. Mets fans appreciate their team. Darren Meenan over at the 7Line rounded up hundreds of his troops on the final game of the year at Citifield with his mantra: loyal to the last out. They came in droves fully knowing there was nothing at stake. Loyalty personified.

Now compare that to the empty seats in Yankee stadium during the playoffs. It was shameful that Yankee officials asked fans to move to the lower decks to keep the empty seats out of the TBS camera view. Elitist, entitled, arrogant and now you can add indifferent. There is no other way to define it.

If the Wilpons can ever get their financial house in order, hopefully with the proper gameplan which includes taking advantage of the amateur draft, including signing and developing the players they draft, and spending wisely in the free agent market, perhaps the Mets can right this ship. If the finances continue to tighten just enough to keep the Wilpon’s treading water and whatever funds made available are spent poorly, then nothing changes.

The greatest success the Yankees had happened when their core players were supplemented with talent around them. The opposite of that is what never seems to truly work at least not long term. All that’s going to do is make you laugh under your breath at your TV when that house of cards comes falling down.

Giggity. Giggity

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MAKING HI57ORY http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/06/making-hi57ory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/06/making-hi57ory.html/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2012 12:00:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=83482

First off, hat tip to the 7Line.com for the title of this article, it was just too fitting not to use. Usually I watch the Mets play upstairs, in the bedroom.  I don’t mind it to be honest; it allots me some relaxation from my day. Even though my wife isn’t much of a baseball fan, she does tolerate my screaming at the television for reasons she has the slightest clue about.  Last night there was a strange yet calm silence directed towards my bedroom television and as a Met fan accustomed to the twisted ire of the Baseball Gods, I increasingly became concerned; can this really be finally happening?

The sixth inning came and went and something inside me said Joe, you need to take this downstairs to the big screen and get the baby.  This is different.  Trust me this is different.  So I go downstairs and my wife is sitting there watching Jerseylicious.  Now you know why I was upstairs.  My wife is addicted to reality television the way I’m addicted to watching the Amazins’, so I really can’t complain but she saw on my face that this was very different.  I literally said to her,  “History is going to be made tonight.”  I got a quick glance a, whatever you say dear.  She smiled and flipped me the remote.  It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t her first rodeo with the Amazins’ and me.

My nerves a wrecking havoc on my body as my mouth is so dry I’m tempted to grab my daughter’s sippy cup.  I pop open a can of Sprite Zero and gulp it as if I just traveled across the Sahara.  My wife noticing my pacing begins to see on Facebook what the whole commotion is about.  One of her girlfriends whose husband, also a die-hard, tells her he’s “about to pop a blood vessel”.  I totally relate.  As a child I can remember my dad introducing me to the legend of Jimmy Qualls and how he became as important a figure in Mets history as anyone.  I remember the exacerbated look on his face as he described every close call, every what if and could have been the Mets had over the years.  My dad’s explanations of the Mets failure to accomplish a no-hitter, instilled in me a true appreciation of what success really is.  And damn it made me wish for it even more so.

I had the extraordinary luck to have attended Tom Glavine’s one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies at Shea on May 23rd 2004.  I also attended Jon Niese’s one-hitter against the San Diego Padres at Citi on June 10th 2010.  While I may not get to many games it seems I’m fortunate to see the special ones.  And even though I wasn’t physically at last night’s game, I can say as most fans probably can today, that I felt I was there in spirit.  I remember the electricity in the air at the Glavine and Niese games; it was absolutely palpable.  I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like being there last night.  As fans we tend to put the game into a different perspective than those who play the game.  We live and die with each pitch.  Yet with every cut to the dugout, the SNY camera’s showed the emotion on the player’s faces.  This was no ordinary game. Last night was so very different even for them.

Yes Beltran’s line drive in the 6th should have been a double.  Not tonight though.  Tonight was our night and Yul Brenner himself could have been heard saying from the grave, “So it was written, so it shall be done.”  Mike Baxter, the local boy who made good, the Whitestone Kid, cemented his name in the annals of Mets history alongside Johan Santana when in the 7th inning he sacrificed his body, slamming into the left field wall robbing Yadier Molina with what would have been another notch in his Met killer belt.  Not tonight Yadier Molina.  Not tonight.  The 8th inning comes and goes.  It’s as real as it’s ever been.  I’m in uncharted territory, a stranger in a strange land.  The tension is unlike anything I’ve ever felt with this team.

Finally the 9th inning arrives and I’m sweating as if I just ran wind sprints in the 90 degree August weather of Port St. Lucie.  My hands are pressed to my face, praying.  I know it’s silly, why would God care about such things.  However to me, he did last night and I wasn’t taking any chances if he didn’t.  The first out, a liner to Torres in center and I’m thinking, “This can’t really be happening, is it?” My daughter starts to hop on and off the couch and is reminding me that she wants to watch Bubble Guppies.  Not tonight my baby.  Not tonight.

The second out, a sinking liner to left.  Shortstop Omar Quintanilla and left fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis nearly collide.  Did the Baseball Gods have one last goof left for us after all?  Even my daughter stopped jumping up and down.  It was as surreal a moment as I ever experienced.   Nieuwenhuis dodges disaster and makes the catch.  We exhale slowly and I looked down and saw my daughter, smiled and reveled in the possibility that one day I’ll tell her about the history we experienced together.

Santana was approaching 130 pitches, well above the 110 range Terry Collin’s had originally planned.  Considering the road he has been down the past two years it makes what’s happening even more unexplainable and amazing.  Having fully recovered from shoulder capsule surgery, I admit I was one of a few who thought the days of Johan Santana pitching for any team were over.  I’m thrilled to feast on this massive slice of humble pie.  If there was anyone who could make a comeback from such a devastating injury for a pitcher, it’s Johan Santana. Silly me.

David Freese, last year’s World Series Most Valuable Player and a St. Louis native, steps to the plate.  I can’t believe the Mets are one out away from a date with history.  Santana falls behind in the count immediately.  We’re exhausted.  I mean he’s exhausted.  I can’t imagine what must be going through his mind at this point.  I’m pacing, mumbling, totally in a zone of my own making at this point.  The count is now full.  He can’t go on much longer and Molina is coming up.  I yell at the screen, “YOU get him out now dammit!” Santana musters his very last ounce of guile.  My eyes are so welled with tears I can barely make out the picture in front of me.  I can hear Gary Cohen’s voice and barely make out the pitch.  Changeup.  Low.  Freese swings and misses!

Time comes to a standstill as I was standing, hands clutching my face praying and at that moment, sobbing with tears pouring down my face.  There were so many images of my father and I talking about the Mets overwhelming me even as I write this.  It was as if a video montage of my life were playing before my mind’s eye.  I so wish he were here to see this finally happen.  Perhaps he was.  Is this how it’s supposed to feel?  For one brief moment, all the pain all the trials, both literally and figuratively that we as Mets fans have endured the last few years, were exorcised by the performance of Johan Santana.  Whatever happens from this point on, whatever road we take as fans with this team of ours, Johan Santana will forever hold a special if not the most special place in all Mets fans hearts.  Today I feel so, young.

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Taryn Cooper Joins Team McGraw In The 2012 ING New York City Marathon Honoring Gary Carter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/05/taryn-cooper-joins-team-mcgraw-in-the-2012-ing-new-york-city-marathon-honoring-gary-carter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/05/taryn-cooper-joins-team-mcgraw-in-the-2012-ing-new-york-city-marathon-honoring-gary-carter.html/#comments Thu, 24 May 2012 14:00:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=82469 Sometimes it can be incredibly insidious; a stalking relentless beast that methodically operates on a timetable of its own choosing. It has no regard to your wishes, desires or your plans. You’re a number to it at best. You go about your life indifferent to your own mortality – at least if you’re under 30 you do. Ultimately, you have no real control over it. Sure you can try to do the obvious. Eat well. Exercise. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. But really that’s advice for just about anyone who’s trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it’s a far cry from being a panacea. Hell it’s a far cry from being a foolproof model for prevention. For this predator, in spite of all of our 21st century medical advances, still has an unmovable vice grip on humanity. James Rodgers, if he were here would agree. Who’s James Rodgers? He is and was my wife’s Uncle and last week Uncle Jimmy was laid to rest after battling cancer for two years until it finally metastasized to his brain. He was 60 years old, still married to his high school sweetheart with whom he had three daughters.

It’s not the first time Cancer has taken a member of my family. My Grandfather battled with bladder Cancer and fought almost two years on hospice until he could fight no longer. It ravaged a man who in his prime could walk entire New York boroughs barely breaking a sweat. It took my wife’s mother, Arlene Rodgers, just a few years ago, she was only 54. It’s taken the young, the elderly, the poor and the wealthy affording zero prejudice along the way. Of all the medical advances we’ve made as a species, it kills me to think that we’re able to re-grow hair for balding men, lengthen women’s eyelashes with a cream, reverse the signs of aging using Botulism shots in the face and let’s not forget what that little blue pill can do for men.

However when it comes to Cancer, we’ve barely scratched the surface on discovering a cure. Hasn’t it’s time come, no? And only through research – painstaking and ultimately expensive research, will that day come when we can stop blindly shooting arrows at this cagy beast. That’s one of the reasons when my fellow blogger at Metsmerizedonline, Taryn Cooper, also the driving force behind A Gal For All Seasons, approached me with writing this, I couldn’t help but feel both honored and proud of what she’s doing.

This coming November, as it has since it’s humble beginning in 1970 when a mere 127 runners paid a $1 entry fee, Taryn will be running in the ING New York City Marathon as a member of Team McGraw which benefits the Tug McGraw Foundation. The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for children and adults affected by neurological conditions such as brain tumors, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. As a part of Team McGraw, Coop is raising funds to support in this effort. I’m not the only one to feel a sense of pride with what Taryn is doing. I think her husband, Ed Leyro, sums it up best:

Think of how proud Mets fans are of the 1969 and 1986 World Championship teams. That level of pride doesn’t even come close to what I feel for Taryn. I have difficulty running around the block without complaining. She’s going to run around the entire city of New York! And she’s doing it for a fantastic cause. It’s impossible not to gush with pride when I think about her selfless act.

Brimming with pride for what Taryn is undertaking, the Leyro family are no strangers to the harsh reality that Cancer is as Ed told me:

Cancer has hit very close to home in my family. My mother is a two-time cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979 and colon cancer in 1990. I’m happy to report that the year is now 2012, and my mother is still with us and cancer-free! Without all the money raised for cancer research over the years, I might not have been able to enjoy all these years with my mother.

It’s a sobering fact that according to the American Cancer Society one out of every two men will have some form of Cancer in their lifetime and one out of every three women will as well. Think of that next time you’re at work or with your friends and family. Cancer, if anything, is such a harsh reminder of our mortality. I asked Taryn what drove her to attempt this incredible mental and physical challenge:

The NYC Marathon has been on my “bucket list” of things to do since I was probably a teenager. I just thought the event was something larger than myself, and I wanted to be part of it. The interest has waned over the years simply because the magnitude of running 26.2 miles just seemed too unrealistic. Until a few things changed. I live a few blocks from the finish line of the marathon, and every year on marathon Sunday, I see all the finishers walking through my neighborhood. And every year, I wonder if I’ll do it myself.

My friend Sharon Chapman ran the marathon in 2010, and she was the one who suggested that instead of relying on the lottery to enter the marathon, that I run for charity. Her charity was the Tug McGraw Foundation, which raises funds to assist in quality of life issues for brain cancer survivors and those living with neurological disorders.

To a Mets fan, the very concept of “Ya Gotta Believe” hits home and this was something Tug McGraw believed in until his untimely death, due to brain cancer. It made perfect sense, especially since my hero, Gary Carter, died of the affliction early this year. My friend Kara is also running the marathon for Team McGraw in honor of some family members who had brain cancer, and her father who suffers from a seizure disorder. Team McGraw just made sense for me. If I can run 26.2 miles, and bring awareness to a charity that does great work, then my job is pretty easy!

Those of you who know me know that I rarely if ever ask you to do something. For example I would never tell you who to vote for or what to believe in, for I personally believe that those ideas have to come to you on your own. You have to do the legwork for that, especially if it’s ever going to have some greater meaning for you. This is one of those rare times when I ask all of you to imagine if every reader pledged a dollar to Taryn in the New York City Marathon – just a dollar. The hundreds of thousands of dollars would be mind blowing and the good works that the Tug McGraw Foundation provides would be greatly effected and enhanced. Taryn’s goal is to get to $3000 and so far she’s already raised more than half of that. I say why stop there. You Gotta Believe anything is possible.

Please support our own Taryn Cooper and the Tug McGraw Foundation in honor of the late Gary Carter by heading here to donate:

http://www.active.com/donate/teammcgrawnyc2012/NYCM12TCooper

The Tug McGraw Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization designated by the Internal Revenue Code. Their tax identification number is 20-0586256.

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The End of the Madoff Era – Finally http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/the-end-of-the-madoff-era-finally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/the-end-of-the-madoff-era-finally.html/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 01:00:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=75052 I remember when the whole Madoff fiasco started to carpet-bomb its way into the mainstream sports media. Well before it all started to make headlines and evolve into the sports blogs fodder du-jour, mercilessly mocking the team, its owners and even fans, I had a conversation with an old family friend with ties to the organization. During our chat the Madoff situation came up.

Basically he said that the Mets wouldn’t be spending money on free agents anytime soon and that the Madoff situation was partly the reason. Little did I expect that less than two years later the team would go into full out slash and burn mode cutting nearly $50 million in payroll, eliminating 10% of their workforce and eventually eliminating one of its minor league affiliates.

I wrestled with the idea of writing about what I was told. You have to understand my conversation was well before Bernie Madoff and his relationship with the Wilpons became news. I certainly didn’t have an ax to grind with anyone and in fact, truth be told, after having done research for an article about the Welcome Back Veterans program, I learned just how instrumental Fred Wilpon was in the creation of that honorable effort.  It gave me a new found respect for the man. But I had/have faith in my source and Joe D echoed that faith in both my source and myself and thus started the ball rolling regarding Madoff and the Mets, at least partly here on MMO.

I took some heat for it from fans and writers alike. I understood that. I’m not a credentialed journalist, who incidentally are far more protected legally for what they write than a blogger is but, to me, it was newsworthy insofar that it was going to effect the team, most likely for years to come.  Now with yesterday’s news that the Trustee, Irving Picard and the Wilpons, settled the claw back lawsuit, with the Wilpons agreeing to pay $162 million – spread out over the next 3 years – finally we can see some light at the end of this tunnel. As this saga unfolded over time, so much information and misinformation made it’s way into our thought processes it was difficult to discern what was true and what was opinion draped in the guise of fact. To some degree we will probably never know the entire truth about this situation.

Some of the best reporting on this has been by Richard Sandomir of the New York Times. When I reiterate Joe D’s praise of Sandomirs’ objective reporting it’s difficult for me not to mention Howard Megdal who in his book, Wilpon’s Folly, did lay out a great deal of information regarding the situation. Whether he formed biased conclusions or not based on what he discovered, I’d leave for his readers to discern.

In the end, as most civil litigations play out, this lawsuit never made it to trial even though the process of seating jurors was underway. So it does beg the question of who won this high profile showdown? It’s hard to say that either side is walking away unscathed. Picard was originally seeking a billion dollars from this only to have it pared down to $383 million and then finally to settle on $162 million. The Wilpons insisted that they were never “willfully blind” to Madoff’s treachery, as they were never accused of anything illegal in Federal criminal court; if they were we would have seen them in orange jumpsuits along with Madoff a long time ago.

However they recently had a setback in court when Judge Rakoff ruled that it was the Wilpons who had the burden to prove that they weren’t “willfully blind” to Madoff’s actions. Apparently in the end it came down to neither side not wanting to roll the dice on having a jury decide this.  The media tends to self-generate its own momentum on certain stories and this was no exception. I for one still have mixed feelings about the entire case. The Wilpons for years funded this team with as much fervor as a politician does with their favorite Government program. And just like some government programs, the results haven’t been much to brag about.  But, the Wilpons do spend when they have it as history has shown. Unlike many owners who simply choose not to which is their right. It’s the “how” and the “who” the Wilpons spend it on that needs to be recalculated – as it seems to have begun under Alderson’s tenure as General Manager.

None of us can predict the future as the team still has a mountain of debt to pay off along with the lawsuit but having this saga finally come to an end should please even the most jaded of Mets fans. Perhaps some day down the road we will look back on these times as the culminating moment when the Wilpons and the Mets evolved from desperately wanting to be relevant in a city that has been owned by the team in the Bronx since the mid-90’s, to actually setting the relevance in this town.  As a Met fan I want to see this team succeed and if this ownership can rise again, with a winning formula and team, I don’t think there’s one Met fan out there that would care less who’s cutting the player’s checks.

 

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The New York Mets – On The Fringe Of History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/the-new-york-mets-on-the-fringe-of-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/the-new-york-mets-on-the-fringe-of-history.html/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=72746 Thursday – October 19th – 2006

Top of the 9th and the score is 3 to 1 in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets are one loss away from post-season elimination. The St. Louis Cardinals are one win away from the World Series. Cliff Floyd has struck out with runners on first and second. Jose Reyes has just lined out to Jim Edmonds in center.  Hope is rapidly fading when Carlos Beltran makes his way to the plate to face Adam Wainwright in front of a standing room only crowd of 56,357 screaming Shea fans – yearning desperately for a return to the fall classic.

Wainwright scans the signs from Yadier Molina. Beltran, the 2006 Mets team leader in homeruns and RBI, focuses every ounce of the baseball knowledge he has on Wainwright. He’s prepared. This is the moment every child who’s ever taken a baseball field has dreamt of. The season, the city, everything is now in his hands. The intensity flowing from fan to players to concession stand operators becomes palpable.  The drumbeat of “Lets Go Mets”, reminiscent of glory days gone by, echo through Shea’s centerfield speakers. The stands begin to shake rhythmically in anticipation. Wainwright delivers his 1st pitch. Beltran swings…driving a Wainwright curveball high down the right field line.

Time grinds to standstill as the crowd instinctively and collectively holds their breath. Beltran however is far less concerned. He flips his bat with the same exuberance of a Little Leaguer – channeling every emotion into one fluid motion. He knows. Gary Cohen begins to scream “A LOOONG HIGH FLY TO DEEEP RIGHT WILL IT STAY FAIR…IT HIT THE FOUL POLE…IT”S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE…

Present Day – 2012

Of course that never happened, as we know all too well. No we never did get to hear Gary Cohen cement himself into Met history with THAT particular call. Instead we were subjected to Joe Buck’s monotone droning, “And the 0 and 2 pitch; strike 3. The Cardinals are going to the World Series.” Scintillating I know. But somewhere, in some universe, Carlos Beltran and Mets went to the World Series.

How do I know this happened? Simple, Walter Bishop said so. Who the hell is Walter Bishop right? Well to those of us who gather around the flat screens every Friday night at 9pm, you know that Walter Bishop is father to Peter Bishop on the FOX television series Fringe.  Walter Bishop is a scientist du-jour, capable of explaining Quantum Mechanics to a 6 year old to whipping up the perfect strawberry milk shake from his genetically engineered cow, Gene, who by the way in one episode, had transferred into him, the “soul” of his friend and fellow scientist William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy. Fascinating.

 

I know it sounds crazy but the show’s main premise is that there are “multiverses”; multiple universes that exist just as our very own universe exists with doubles of you and I and everyone in them, all going in there own different directions simultaneously. In the world opposite of Walter Bishop and our universe, many differences exist.  Everything from President Kennedy marking his 97th birthday – safe from our timeline’s morbid fate – to the Statue of Liberty representing the Department of Defense, stand out as obvious differences. There’s even the somber notion that in the alternate universe, the White House was the main target and destroyed on 9-11, sparing the World Trade Center.

This theory of multiple universes isn’t all that Hollywood-esque. In fact Albert Einstein while formulating his Theory of Relativity postulated the existence of parallel universes as has physicist Stephen Hawking. So if those guys say it’s possible, well hot damn somewhere someone in a parallel universe is celebrating Felix Millan’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

So it got me thinking; what if? What if in some topsy-turvy world, the woes we have felt as Mets fans never existed? Imagine it. Darryl and Doc went on to win another World Series, avoiding their personal demons. What if the Midnight Massacre never took place?  It’s such a tempting and seductive thought considering where the team and we as fans stand today. Hell, imagine no Bernie Madoff. Or perhaps imagine a Bernie Madoff that was perhaps legit?

Yes, it’s admittedly hyper-nostalgic if bordering on sad to have these “what if” type dreams. Considering that every so-called expert has the Mets barely outplaying the Chula Vista Little League champs this year, a little harmless indulgence never hurt anyone.  Every now and again, we need to realize that as fans, this is just a game and hardly life or death issues. The exception of course – the desire many have to see Bernie Madoff strung up by his soap on a rope in prison. Even the Almighty would probably turn a blind eye to that.

Let us dream shall we?

February 22nd 2007 – Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pedro Martinez arrived at Thomas J. White stadium slim, trim and poised to return to form. After the Mets lost the 2006 World Series to the Detroit Tigers in seven games, Martinez whose season was cut short due to a calf strain and a minor rotator cuff pull walked into manager Willie Randolph’s office with a clean bill of health. He was determined to reclaim his status as staff ace.  General Manager Omar Minaya, emboldened by his teams’ World Series appearance and his brand new 3 year $15 million dollar extension, making him the highest paid GM in all of baseball, was given more than just wider latitude by team owner Fred Wilpon. He was also given an additional $40 million in payroll, topping out at a league high $141 million.  Minaya spent $15 million of that on Alfonso Soriano who will take his potent bat, but suspect glove to second base at Shea. Also coming into the fold will be 6 time All-Star Kenny Lofton. The 40 year old will shift over to left field to accommodate Beltran and according to Minaya will provide speed at the top of the lineup along with Reyes.

Joining them would be former Houston Astro and Yankee Andy Pettite, who signed a 2-year contract with the Mets. Minaya was quoted by ESPN’s Peter Gammons saying, ‘We needed to add depth and protection to our rotation. Not having Pedro for us during the World Series was definitely a liability. Adding a player like Andy Pettite addresses our needs both during and post season. So with that said, signing Andy was necessary.”  The well-seasoned trio of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite proved father time wrong in 2007 as all three went on to pitch over 200 innings each and winning 46 games.

Another anachronism to the aging process was Shawn Green, who was acquired late last year from Arizona. Nary a fan in his right mind expected Shawn Green to revert to his borderline superstar self yet in 2007, Green did just that. Leading the team in RBI with 110, Green along with Wright, Beltran and Delgado, provided more than enough punch as the team scored an unprecedented 980 runs.

July 4th 2007 – 6 days until the All-Star game in San Francisco

As the 2007 season moved along the team announced that the naming rights negotiations to the new stadium being constructed directly across from Shea Stadium had been finalized. The final decision on naming rights came down to offers given by Citigroup and Apple Incorporated, with Apple winning the rights with an offer to pay the team $40 million per year for the next 20 years.  Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs along with New York Mets owner and CEO Fred Wilpon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to members of the press in front of the partially constructed stadium which is being dubbed “The Big Apple”. Construction should be completed by 2010.

By the All-Star break the Mets were comfortably 12 games ahead of the drifting Atlanta Braves. The Braves having lost 3rd baseman Chipper Jones for the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring found themselves the main topic of more than just Baseball news.  Braves team owner Ted Turner, along with thousands of others, were found to be victims of a vast Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who bilked hundreds of millions from his unsuspecting clients.

The misfortune of the Braves along with the success of the Mets, helped to bring about a 2 year extension for manager Willie Randolph, through to the 2010 season. And by seasons end, the Mets were sitting once again on top of the NL East, winning 99 games, 17 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

October 15th 2007 – The 2007 Postseason begins

Having run rough shot through the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, sweeping both teams in the Divisional and National League Championship series, the Mets were led by the starting pitching of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite. The three combined for 5 of the 7 wins with Martinez and Pettite winning 2 games each.

“What was even more impressive was their focus under pressure and their ability to give us strong innings. The fact that they (Martinez, Glavine and Pettite) all went deep into the games (each averaged 7 innings per start) was huge, absolutely huge. Well beyond what any of us expected or hoped especially from Pedro.” said a champagne soaked Mets pitching coach Ron Darling as he made room for Commissioner Selig who presented Martinez with the NLCS MVP. Martinez pitched 14 innings allowing only 1 run in his two winning starts.

Leading the team offensively came from two truly unlikely sources. 40 year old veteran Kenny Lofton hit .428 with 2 homeruns and 2 stolen bases, both coming in game 4 of the NLCS and Jose Reyes, who hit .447 with an NLCS record 10 stolen bases. On the downside, Reyes pulled his right hamstring in game 4 after recording his 10th stolen base and had to be carried off the field with the help of manager Willie Randolph and David Wright.  The Shea crowd, swelled in the energy of a World Series birth, sat stunned as their catalyst’s season and World Series was now in jeopardy. But would that include the 2007 Amazin’s?

To be continued…

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Brandon Nimmo’s Exclusive Interview With MMO – The Future Looks Bright http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/brandon-nimmos-exclusive-interview-with-mmo-the-future-looks-bright.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/brandon-nimmos-exclusive-interview-with-mmo-the-future-looks-bright.html/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 18:33:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=62362

As our Mets Minor League expert Petey Pete unveils Brandon Nimmo at No. 5 in our 2012 MMO Top 20 Prospects, here’s an interview Joe Spector did with Nimmo in October. Enjoy the read, Mets fans! – Joe D.

In his first year as General Manager of the New York Mets Sandy Alderson and his team of baseball executives led by Paul DePodesta, the Mets vice-president of player development and scouting entered the 2011 Draft with one purpose in mind – to draft the best player available.

They’ve abandoned the previous administration’s track record of drafting players a bit more prepared. Doing so would put them at risk of paying overslot for a draft pick. Instead they gravitated towards drafting players with a high ceiling and when the Mets decided on the 13th draft pick, they chose Wyoming native Brandon Nimmo.

A 6 foot 2 outfielder who bats left-handed and throws right handed, Nimmo was drafted right out of high school. Ironically his high school has never had a baseball team, as do all high schools in Wyoming. Considering the frigid winters in Wyoming it’s hard to imagine anyone bearing below zero temps while taking a hard cutter on the hands – with an aluminum bat no less. He did however play American Legion ball; 76 games where he hit a torrid .448 with 15 homeruns and stealing 34 bases without being caught. His raw talent is what caught the organization’s attention.

“We weren’t interested in making the safest pick,” DePodesta said moments after selecting Nimmo with the 13th overall pick. “We were interested in the pick that could have the most impact.”

Baseball America ranked Brandon the second best high school athlete in the 2011 draft and as the second best pure high school hitter. Some scouts have compared him to Paul O’Neill and Rocco Baldelli, but like most comparisons, they never do justice to the person being compared.

I had a chance to ask Brandon a few questions now that he’s officially a member of the New York Met organization. I wanted to keep it as lighthearted as I could and I think he appreciated it, or tolerated it? One never knows for sure. Either way I thank him for his time.

Joe Spector: Brandon, did you always believe that you’d be playing professional baseball someday?

Brandon Nimmo: No I didn’t. It started out as trying to get my college education paid for and it escalated into what it is now. I always wanted to play professional baseball though.

JS: Try to describe how you were feeling when you received the call that the New York Mets drafted you.

BN: Well, I found out like everyone else did…on TV and I was just as surprised as everyone else. When I heard my name get called everyone in the room went ecstatic – they were jumping, yelling and it felt like you just won the biggest game in your life. There is no feeling like it.

JS: How has the transition from aluminum bats to wood been for you? What are the biggest differences for you?

BN: The transition wasn’t too tough for me because I’ve been using wood much more through the years. I would take everything with wood until the start of the games then use the aluminum bats. Towards the end, the metal bats actually became foreign to me. The biggest difference is of course the pop of the bat as the balls obviously don’t go as far. The other challenge for me was to get used to how wood bats are balanced as compared to aluminum.

JS: Who are some of the players you’ve emulated or enjoyed watching as you’ve grown up? And what outfield position are you most comfortable with?

BN: I’m most comfortable in Centerfield. As to my favorite players, Troy Tulowitski was always a favorite of mine growing up along with Todd Helton, since I grew up near the Rockies. I always liked Ken Griffey Jr. as well and I have gotten to know David Wright better since I’ve been a part of the organization. He’s a great guy and an even better player.

JS: There’s a dream that any kid who’s played baseball has had and it’s the moment they see themselves on a baseball card. How exciting will it be to see yourself on a baseball card?

BN: Well fortunately enough I’ve already seen myself on a baseball card and I just finished signing some before this interview. All I can tell you is having your own baseball card is very surreal. It just solidifies that you actually are a professional and that all of this isn’t a dream.

JS: Major League Baseball teams today tend to have an overall team philosophy starting from Rookie ball on up. Can you describe how the Mets philosophy was explained to you?

BN: The Mets philosophy is to play fundamental baseball. Expect mistakes to be made by the other team (especially baserunning). Hone your strike zone recognition skills and do all of this at 100%. I’m still learning all the time but I’m giving it my best effort every time.

JS: Alright Brandon time to jump off subject here and get serious. If you could be a celebrity for one day who would you be and why?

BN: Oh holy cow…I have never thought about that! This is actually the question that took the longest for me to answer if you can believe that! I would have to go with Dierks Bentley. I would love to have a voice like that and be as musically talented as he is. Plus all the girls love him!

JS: Hey I can’t argue with that. Chicks dig a good voice and the longball. What are some of your favorite movies and I have to ask or I wouldn’t be doing due diligence…Jersey Shore…yay or nay?

BN: I’m a big comedy guy. Anything that makes me laugh I like. Some of my favorites are: The Emperor’s New Groove, Tommy Boy, Anchorman, Dumb and Dumber, The Rookie, Forrest Gump, The Harry Potter movies, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator and Troy. As to Jersey Shore would you believe I’ve never seen it! I know there’s actually a teen that hasn’t seen Jersey Shore, unreal but true!

I just want to thank Brandon again for taking the time to do this. It’s funny, as a fan we tend to put professional players on such a high pedestal that we tend to forget that they’re just like the rest of us in so many ways. Not to mention just how young some like Brandon are and what an amazing road he’s undertaking. I’m sure he’ll be inundated with advice along the way. I think as long as he stays focused and remembers that ultimately he’s still playing the same game that he began playing in Wyoming; he should be quite all right. Here’s to seeing Mr. Nimmo patrolling Citifield in a few years.

Graphics by Kelly Designs.

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The New York Petulance http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/the-new-york-petulance-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/the-new-york-petulance-2.html/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 14:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=65071 We tend to see the world and everything that encompasses it through our own shaded lenses. Our biases and preconceptions while defining us can often prevent us from understanding the whole truth. If the truth you’re seeking is to know if a candidate for President is a serial sexual harasser or whether perhaps a venerable college football coach for years turned a blind eye to his assistant’s deviant behavior or even if a certain baseball executive is merely a cost cutting puppet, hired at the behest of the league Commissioner, our instincts, often our greatest asset, can at times make decisions for us based on emotion alone – neglecting facts.

Some Met fans are beginning to foreshadow that we’re headed into “dark times” as a franchise. Now far be it from me to state without a shadow of a doubt what constitutes “dark times”. I’m all of 37 years old and never lived through the early days of the New York Mets, especially the inaugural record setting 120-loss season of 1962. Imagine an expansion team today, with all the costs incurred with attending a game, losing 75% of them. Imagine the outcry from the fanbase.

Never mind the fact that in their 50 years of existence, the Mets have won just two World Championships, the most recent 25 years ago. It’s been over a decade since this team even participated in the World Series. We were teased in 2006 but had our hopes dashed by the young Yadier Molina. Yet there’s this lingering notion that the “stuff” is about to hit the fan now. What I’d really like to know is when in its 50 years of existence, has this team really had all its “stuff” together?

Some of us feel like there’s no tangible plan coming from Sandy Alderson as to this team’s future. Again it’s what we want to see, or hear versus the facts. He’s said on many occasions that this team needs to develop from within and use free agency to enhance itself where need be. Not the other way around. The situation regarding Jose Reyes has many wondering what Alderson’s game plan is. Does the team pay an exorbidant amount of money over many years to a player who’s played in only 60% of his team’s games the past three seasons – regardless how talented he is?  Now I’m a Met fan and I love Jose Reyes. Then again I loved Mackey Sasser so I’m not sure what that tells you.  I hope Reyes does return to the Mets but think of it this way, you own a business and one of your best employees for the last three years, worked only 6 out of every ten days for you, and earned one of the highest salaries.  Ouch.

Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to signing Reyes and either choice comes with it’s own set of risks. All the advanced statistics in the world can’t predict a person’s health. With that said – to assume that anyone outside of the organization is entitled to have detailed knowledge of what is going on is both presumptuous and arrogant. I don’t know what Apple’s detailed plans are going forward now that Steve Jobs has passed. Do you? And that’s a publicly held company.

All we can do is take what Alderson has said often and publicly and go from there, and hold him to account. Assuming that Alderson would like to one day leave a legacy of success in New York, destroying the Mets incrementally during his watch most likely isn’t his goal. Also, assuming he has nefarious motives instructed to him by the hive mind of the Selig – to slash and burn payroll at all costs just to save the Wilpons money – is also stretch. The Wilpons aren’t going belly up because of the Mets. If anything the Wilpons, through Sterling Enterprises, is a real estate company. And we all know what’s happened to real estate and the housing market the past few years and it has nothing to do with how much money Johan Santana makes.

Putting the Mets on the road towards a firm cohesive business plan, modeled after most successful teams today, is what it is – an attempt to right the many years of neglect and wrongs which has resulted in just two World Championships. That’s the Alderson plan. Keep that in mind when we argue ad nauseum back and forth about what an acceptable payroll is for a team in this market. From 2004 to 2011 the Mets under the Wilpon ownership have averaged a $119.7 million dollar annual payroll which ranks third in MLB during that time. I wonder how many of us knew that while decriding Alderson for predicting a payroll next year between $100 to $120 million?

As bad as things have been for this team the last few years, from the consecutive end of the season collapses to numerous player injuries to the financial tumult of ownership, I could remember – albeit with some help from the family – how tough it was to be a Met fan in the 1970’s. One of our claims to fame, our “superstar”, was a young handsome Italian boy named Lee Mazzilli. Mazzilli’s “superstar” credentials were bolstered by a few fellow “superstars” such as John Milner who led the Mets in the decade of the 70’s with 94 homers and 338 RBI. No that’s not a typo those were actual team leading, decade leading statistics. Think of that next time we wish to parse whether David Wright is “un-clutch” or not.

Then you had the raw talent of Felix Millan, who if he choked up any further on the bat, would have looked like the baton twirler in a marching band. Third base was a revolving door of talent manned by Joe Foy, Bob Aspromonte, Jim Fregosi and Ed Charles. Finallly in 1973 the Mets solidfied the position naming the lengendary talent of Wayne Garrett the starting third baseman. Of course that only lasted until 1976 when Garrett lost the third base job to another legend, Roy Staiger.

Look don’t get me wrong the Mets weren’t devoid of talent. The team had a genuine Hall of Fame superstar in Tom Seaver. They also had Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Tug McGraw, a young and raw-talented Nolan Ryan – do we see a pattern? To say the Mets are known as a pitching heavy franchise is pretty obvious. Where the team lacked woefully in offense they were teeming with good and sometimes great pitching. But even with great pitching the team only won 763 games in the 1970’s. The point being – we weren’t exactly the big blue and orange machine – and we weren’t far removed from our World Championship year of 1969.

With the prospects of losing Jose Reyes to free agency, the decline of David Wright, the injury history of Johan Santana to the various uncertainties engulfing this team it’s understandable for fans to feel as if a black cloud is meandering its way over Flushing. If you study this team’s history you’ll see that although we love to wax poetic about our history and celebrate our small pockets of success, overall this team has been pretty rudderless since day one. Just existing in this market isn’t enough to be considered relevant. Sorry to all of the “we’re a New York team and should have unlimited resources” types.  Pretending that the answer to absorbing inflated player contracts is to simply increase the team credit limit is as silly as it is dangerous.  In the real, non-baseball world, that lesson is being learned the hard way globally.

Would the success the team had in the mid to late 80’s have been sustained if Strawberry and Gooden didn’t spiral into self-destruction? Possibly. Would we be having this discussion if Yadier Molina didn’t decide to channel his inner Carlton Fisk in 2006? Perhaps. If Carlos Beltran didn’t succumb to the jelly-leg syndrome and take Adam Wainwright’s third strike would we feel this disillusioned? Maybe not. But to say that we’re headed for “dark times” now, I ask you, did we ever truely get out from under that cloud in the first place? Don’t you think fans finally deserve to have a team with a long term formula for success, not just in small 3 to 5 year intervals? Time for us to stop being so petulant. This ain’t gonna be easy for any of us.

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Bring On The Hot Stove! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/bring-on-the-hot-stove.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/bring-on-the-hot-stove.html/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 01:43:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=61967 Not even a few days have passed since the last out was made in the New York Mets 2011 season and at least for Met fans – the Hot Stove is about to be stirred. I was annoyed at how Jose Reyes’ season came to an abrupt end – the blow thankfully softened by the fact that He is now the first player in Met history ever to win a batting title.

His bunt single didn’t bother me in the slightest as it did to some fans. In fact for a leadoff hitter, it’s almost fitting for Reyes to go for the drag bunt single. However I was one of the many fans, including the SNY broadcast booth, who sat stunned as Reyes left the game right after his bunt single.

I think it’s safe to say that every Met fan would have loved to have seen Reyes at least take the field the next inning. Terry Collins, calling time, could have sent Justin Turner in a slow deliberate jog out to relieve Reyes – providing the fans and Reyes a chance for some mutual appreciation.

Cue the theme music from the movie The Natural and the crowd would have eaten it up.

Ok I admit it’s a bit cheesy and maybe we’ve been conditioned by Hollywood to expect and believe in these melodramatic moments. Maybe it’s just because as a franchise we haven’t had a whole lot to cheer for the last few years. Maybe it’s just splitting hairs when unfortunately it’s all that we have left to do.

Either way and for whatever reason or whoever is at fault, I think like many situations involving this team, this too could have been handled a lot better. But what’s done is done and it’s time to once again move on.

 

Will Jose Reyes get his chance for that roaring standing ovation in 2012….as a Met? All season we’ve speculated what Reyes’ agent will demand for his now 2011 NL Batting Champ. Let’s assume that Reyes and the Mets cannot come to an agreement; where does that leave the organization? Alderson isn’t the type to allow negotiations to go on ad-naseum so if a deal isn’t likely to happen soon it probably won’t happen at all.

If the team simply isn’t willing to entertain the idea of signing a player to a multi-year, close to one-hundred million dollar contract, then this is moot. But if they are then it begs a question, what about the real 800 pound gorilla in room, Albert Pujols?

Here’s is my reasoning on this, and I know I’m assuming a lot but hey, that’s what the Hot Stove is all about. If the Cardinals cannot for whatever reason sign Pujols, and the Mets pass on Reyes, should the Mets throw their hat in the ring and try to land Pujols?

Pujols is a player that any GM would salivate over having. He absolutely fits Alderson’s criteria. He’s a power bat with the ability to drive in runs and get on base and yes, an absolute marquee name that will undoubtedly fill the seats. He’s not young but he’s not necessarily over the hill either at 30.

The last marquee 30 year old the Mets acquired will most likely enter the Hall with a Mets hat and the title of being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. And perhaps more importantly, unlike the uber-fragile Reyes, Pujols has been healthy the majority of his career and is clearly a Hall of Famer if he were to hang up his cleats today.

If the Mets are willing to give Reyes at least 18 million a year for 5 years would they be willing to go to 22 to 25 a year for Pujols, with the question being how long? Does it make sense signing Pujols who can alter this team in ways that Reyes can’t?

Would coming to New York entice Pujols or are both free agents more likely to simply return to their familiar settings in the end? Perhaps Reyes’ quick exit on the last game of the year shouldn’t be worried over as much as it has?

So many questions and so many possibilities it’s going to make for an exciting Hot Stove this Winter. One thing is sure at least from my perspective, if we do lose Reyes and not replace him with someone of substantial substance; it’s going to be a long road ahead. What say you?

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Just Another Fed-Up, Tired Met Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/just-another-fed-up-tired-met-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/just-another-fed-up-tired-met-fan.html/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2011 13:45:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=61070 It seems every year as of late the Mets find themselves embroiled in some kind of controversy, either of their own design or through some vast cosmic anti-Met conspiracy that has prodded this little multi-million dollar team that could. I’m going to try to avoid blaming the Mets troubles on anything ethereal since to do so would only make my head hurt even more than watching a typical Mike Pelfrey start.

Recently we were exposed to “Hatgate”. MLB issued a grand and mighty edict from the hands of the apparently unaware Executive VP of Baseball Operations, Joe Torre. It stated that under no circumstances may the Mets wear a hat on the field during a game, that is unauthorized for sale at MLB.com, oops I mean a hat that is unauthorized – which includes hats displaying FDNY or NYPD or anything of the like on September 11th.

To do so would cause MLB to strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, in the sum of mega fines and harsh legalistic language. Apparently. So of course the boys in orange and blue led by the sage veteran presence and player’s union rep, Josh Thole, who rumors say just celebrated his 18th birthday, decided not to test the mettle of the mighty Selig and went along with their business of losing.

Ok, so I’m jaded and tired of many things involving the Mets that part of me is actually glad, glad that the season is winding down. “Hatgate” really set me off and proved if anything that in the end, money rules and even a National tragedy, although ten years removed, has little to no effect on the bean counters as Keith Olbermann properly pointed out the other day. I don’t know what’s crazier, me paraphrasing Olbermann or MLB being partially tone deaf on the issue of 9-11.

For me it’s just one of a few issues with this team that has gnawed at me this year. I’m sorry if this offends people but I’m disappointed in the team for not bucking MLB and wearing the first repsonder hats as the team did in 2001. The team which also was threatened then by the powers that be in MLB not to wear the hats.

Yes in the grand scheme of things, wearing a hat to honor the heroes of 9-11, while proper, doesn’t really quell the sadness of what happened that day. But, I’m sure it would have given those men and women of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority, a bit more solace knowing that these players, bucked what was a public relations mess at best and a slap in the face of doing what was right, at worse.

A little gumption boys that’s all it took. If Bud Selig and MLB really had wanted their fine money that bad, make them pry it out of your hands. I’m sure all in the media would have loved to have seen that take place. But no, didn’t happen. So yeah, I blame everyone involved.

I’m tired of hearing how ownership is piss poor and readying the fans for the dreaded dark days ahead. Ready to sign the 68-year-old Felix Millan at the league minimum to replace the sure to bolt Reyes. I’m tired of hearing how ownership isn’t broke and doesn’t need an investor and now is willing to sell “shares” of the team to family members.

All of it just makes me want to spit like Lenny Dykstra with a bad wad of chaw in my mouth. Will this team owe Irving Picard a billion or 300 million? Does it matter? Money is money and 300 million last I checked isn’t something to sneeze at.

I’m tired of Mike Pelfrey. Tired of waiting for him to “get it”, to “figure it out”, to “take the next step”, whatever. He’s like the walking embodiment of mediocre. Giving him a guaranteed contract for 6 million next year should bring one to question Sandy Alderson’s judgment.

I’m happier giving a kid who wants to bust his ass a chance to play – risking that he’ll get shelled regularly – then dish out millions to Pelfrey. Let him win 20 somewhere else, as I’m sure will happen once he’s no longer in a Met uniform. I’m over him.

I’m done with turning Bobby Parnell into our next closer. Now the deal is Dan Warthan wants to bring in John Franco to mentor Parnell. I hope Franco knows how to turn water into wine. You can’t teach guts and if there is anything that ties every successful closer to each other – it’s guts. Franco, who barely could break a pane of glass in his prime, pitched with the guile of a man twice his size.

If anything I hope he can show Parnell that he doesn’t need to throw the ball through a piece of iron to be successful. Unfortunately I doubt Franco’s mentoring will help the 27 year old. At this point, like Pelfrey, he is what he is.

I’m done with hoping that Jose Reyes will be back next year. In spite of his consistent leg injuries, I have a feeling a team (The Nats?) will offer offer Reyes the sun the moon and the Lincoln Memorial. Keeping Reyes is important but at what cost? Is it acceptable to pay him 20 million a year for 5+ years and never get a completely healthy season out of him? Does having a 75% healthy Reyes, playing around a 120 games per year really help this team?

I want him to be here. I enjoy watching him immensely. He is the catalyst on this team. But he’s as fragile a player as I have ever seen and that has to be considered, unfortunately.

I’m done with having a stadium that people say is akin to death valley but the statistics prove wrong, or at least, not as dramatic. Bring in the fences; don’t bring in the fences, I’m sick of it. Just do it already and lets see just what effect it has. I have a feeling at the very least, bringing in the fences slightly will have nothing more than a psychological effect on a few players.

If that’s what it takes to shut this issue down, then please do it already. Shaving a few feet off the size of the outfield will do little to turn Ruben Tejada into Miguel Tejada. That kind of enhancement we don’t want.

I know part of me shouldn’t feel this way about the team. I’m not someone who expects or demands perfection the way fans of other teams have demanded – ever so smugly. Success and Championships are a privilege, not a given. I know that anything worthwhile is never easy but this team really has taken me to the mats lately. The sad (if you call it that) part is, come March; we’ll all be doing it all over again. Insanity? Yeah maybe.

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Enough Complaining…What Would You Do? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/enough-complaining-what-would-you-do.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/enough-complaining-what-would-you-do.html/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 19:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=59944 It’s rare for me to get so annoyed that I ever have an issue grasping for the right words but when you’ve been pushed to the edge of reason, anything can happen and all bets are off. I can honestly say that some of my fellow Met fans lately have had me wanting to grab them by the neck and squeeze. Oh if only that would only do the trick.

First, I’m going to lay down the basics. I’m not a member of the Omar Minaya is the anti-Christ camp or Sandy Alderson is a demi-God amongst us mere peons camp or any camp if at that. I want, as I hope most fans want, to once again be in the winning camp. I don’t necessarily subscribe to a particular ideology such as Sabermetrics, but that doesn’t mean I’m adverse to the organization using every tool it can to find and classify talent.

I’m not tied at the hip or obsessed with one or two particular statistics. I still believe in the power of a good, experienced scout with a discerning eye for talent. Those worlds must co-exist in order to remain competitive; regardless the size of the market the team is in.

Recently Sandy Alderson made some comments – which of course some regarded as controversial – regarding next year’s potential payroll saying essentially that it will be between $100 to $110 million dollars. This year’s payroll of $145 million includes the $18 million owed to the combined contracts of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez and the $18 million owed to Carlos Beltran.

On the face of it, hearing that probably leaves little wiggle room to re-sign Jose Reyes, fix the bullpen and any of the remaining issues with this team.

What I’d love to know is has anyone taken into account that Alderson doesn’t have to or better yet shouldn’t reveal what the team is or isn’t willing to spend next year, especially considering that Reyes is a free agent?

Saying the team is willing to spend for argument sake, $200 million, would only make Reyes and just about any agent salivate and rightfully so. There’s an art to negotiating. If you’ve bought any big ticket items such as a car or a home, you’d know what I’m saying.

Would you go into a dealership and tell the car dealer that you’re a millionaire with almost unlimited resources? Would you then expect the dealer to offer you the most affordable deal possible? Alderson has to balance keeping the fan base from losing faith along with keeping ownerships’ true maximum limits close to the hip.

It just annoys me that each time anyone in the organization speaks, talk radio and the blogosphere, cherry picks what they want to hear or what fits their pre-conceived ideas or agenda.

Other than hopefully resigning Jose Reyes to a competitive offer – somewhere between $14 to $18 million a year for 5 years with perhaps a mutual option – the crop of free agents next year is woefully bleak.

I find it laughable that fans who love to insinuate that Alderson’s supporters treat him like a god yet it’s his vehement detractors who are the one’s that apparently want to see him turn water into wine with the coming class of free agents.

Let’s break this down. You’re Sandy Alderson. You have to re-tool the Mets. You inherited a .500 team so obviously you’re one or two moves away from reaching the promised land. Sound foolish yet? No? Well here is where it gets real fun. Here is the talent pool you get to dive in. First let’s consider for argument sake that there are a few positions we can pass on that are set for 2012.

First and third base are set. Hopefully short. Thole will be back. Bay and Duda seem to be the two outfielders guaranteed to be back next year, if for strikingly different reasons. The rotation should consist of Santana, Dickey, Gee, Niese and as much as it kills me to say, Pelfrey, even though there’s a chance Pelfrey may be non-tendered.

The bullpen is a hot mess with Beato and Parnell the most obvious candidates set to return. I can only envision Justin Turner, Daniel Murphy, Scott Hairston and Ruben Tejada returning to the bench. Where does all of this lead us? Well, I just mentioned 16 players out of a 25 man roster. Now who would you fill the rest of the roster out with from this list?

CATCHER

Rod Barajas (36)

Josh Bard (34)

Henry Blanco (40)

Ramon Castro (36)

Ryan Doumit (31) – $7.25MM club option for 2012, $8.25MM club option for ’13 with a $500K buyout

Ramon Hernandez (36)

Jason Kendall (38)

Gerald Laird (32)

Jose Molina (36)

Yadier Molina (29) – $7MM club option with a $750K buyout

Dioner Navarro (28)

Ivan Rodriguez (40)

Brian Schneider (35)

Kelly Shoppach (29) – $3.2MM club option with a $300K buyout

Chris Snyder (31) – $6.75MM club option with a $750K buyout

Matt Treanor (36)

Jason Varitek (40)

SECOND BASE

Alfredo Amezaga (34)

Clint Barmes (33)

Willie Bloomquist (34) – $1.1MM mutual option with a $150K buyout

Orlando Cabrera (37)

Robinson Cano (29) – $14MM club option with a $2MM buyout

Jamey Carroll (37)

Alex Cora (36)

Craig Counsell (41)

Mark Ellis (35)

Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)

Bill Hall (32) – $4MM mutual option with a $250K buyout

Aaron Hill (30) – $8MM club option for 2012 and $8MM club option for ’13

Omar Infante (30)

Kelly Johnson (30)

Adam Kennedy (36)

Felipe Lopez (32)

Jose Lopez (28)

Aaron Miles (35)

Brandon Phillips (31) – $12MM club option with a $1MM buyout

CENTERFIELD

Rick Ankiel (32)

Carlos Beltran (35)

Willie Bloomquist (34) – $1.1MM mutual option with a $150K buyout

Mike Cameron (39)

Coco Crisp (32)

David DeJesus (32)

Scott Hairston (32)

Andruw Jones (35)

Nate McLouth (30) – $10.65MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout

Corey Patterson (32)

Cody Ross (31)

Grady Sizemore (29) – $8.5MM club option with a $500K buyout

STARTING PITCHERS

Erik Bedard (33)

Mark Buehrle (33)

Chris Capuano (33)

Chris Carpenter (37) – $15MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Bruce Chen (35)

Bartolo Colon (39)

Aaron Cook (33) – $11MM mutual option with a $500K buyout

Kyle Davies (28)

Doug Davis (36)

Ryan Dempster (35) – $14MM player option, no buyout

Zach Duke (29) – $5.5MM club option with a $750K buyout

Jeff Francis (30)

Freddy Garcia (36)

Jon Garland (32) – $8MM club option with a $500K buyout

Aaron Harang (34) – $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout

Rich Harden (30)

Livan Hernandez (37)

Hisashi Iwakuma (31)

Edwin Jackson (28)

Kenshin Kawakami (37)

Scott Kazmir (28) – $13.5MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout

Hiroki Kuroda (37)

Rodrigo Lopez (36)

Paul Maholm (30) – $9.75MM club option with a $750K buyout

Jason Marquis (33)

Kevin Millwood (37)

Sergio Mitre (31)

Roy Oswalt (34) – $16MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout

Brad Penny (34)

Oliver Perez (30)

Joel Pineiro (33)

C.C. Sabathia (31) – may opt out of remaining four years, $92MM

Javier Vazquez (35)

Adam Wainwright (30) – $10MM vesting option for ’12, $12MM for ’13

Tim Wakefield (45)

Chien-Ming Wang (32)

Brandon Webb (33)

Dontrelle Willis (30)

C.J. Wilson (31)

Chris Young (33)

CLOSERS

Heath Bell (34)

Jonathan Broxton (28)

Matt Capps (28)

Francisco Cordero (37) – $12MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Frank Francisco (32)

Brad Lidge (35) – $12.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout

Joe Nathan (37) – $12.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout

Jonathan Papelbon (31)

Jon Rauch (33) – $3.75MM club option with a $250K buyout

Francisco Rodriguez (30)

Rafael Soriano (32) – $11MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout

Jose Valverde (34) – $9MM club option, no buyout

RIGHT HANDED RELIEVERS

Luis Ayala (34)

Danys Baez (34)

Miguel Batista (41)

Shawn Camp (36)

Todd Coffey (31)

Juan Cruz (31)

Octavio Dotel (38) – $3.75MM club option with a $750K buyout

Chad Durbin (34)

Kyle Farnsworth (36) – $3.3MM club option with a $650K buyout

Jason Frasor (34) – $3.75MM club option

LaTroy Hawkins (37)

Aaron Heilman (33)

Ryota Igarashi (33)

Jason Isringhausen (39)

Scott Linebrink (35)

Mike MacDougal (35)

Ryan Madson (31)

Guillermo Mota (38)

Ramon Ortiz (39)

Micah Owings (29)

Vicente Padilla (34)

Joel Peralta (36)

Chad Qualls (33) – $6MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout

Jon Rauch (33) – $3.75MM club option with a $250K buyout

Fernando Rodney (35)

Takashi Saito (42)

Yoshinori Tateyama (36) – $1MM club option

Dan Wheeler (34) – $3MM club option with no buyout; vests with 65 appearances in 2011

Kerry Wood (35)

Jamey Wright (37)

Michael Wuertz (33) – $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout

Joel Zumaya (27)

LEFT HANDED RELIEVERS

Jeremy Affeldt (33) – $5MM club option with a $500K buyout

Tim Byrdak (38)

Mike Gonzalez (34)

John Grabow (33)

Javier Lopez (34)

Damaso Marte (37) – $4MM club option with a $250K buyout

Hideki Okajima (36) – can opt for free agency

Darren Oliver (41)

Arthur Rhodes (41) – $4MM club option with a $200K buyout; vests with 62 appearances

J.C. Romero (36)

George Sherrill (35)

Brian Tallet (34)

Now I know some of you out there think that the Mets can retool via the free agent pool alone. But seriously, look at the age and price of most of the players out there. You’re either going to have to pay a premium for older veterans and take a huge risk on them physically breaking down or scrape from the bottom of the barrel. At some point, whether you replace Rod Barajas with Ronny Paulino with a Ramon Hernandez, you’re simply shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

I’m not against Alderson spending the Wilpon’s money but on who, how long and for what reason are the three questions I would ask. Ask yourself as a logical Met fan. Put aside the conspiracy theories, the personalities, whatever pre-conceived view you have of the Wilpons and Alderson and think of what will help this team in the short and long term.

Don’t tell me how Alderson is the Anti-Christ or Omar was really a god. Tell me with that list of names, who in there will take the Mets to the next level and move this team from a .500 ballclub at its best, to an actual contender?

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