Mets Merized Online » Derek Jeter Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:51:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Book Review: “The Closer” by Mariano Rivera Sat, 27 Feb 2016 03:54:42 +0000 mickey_mantle_JAY_62-846x974

I’m not sure if it occurs in the first, second or third trimester. But some time while we’re in the womb, all Mets fans—actually all New Yorkers who are fans of NL Baseball—receive the gene that makes us hate the Yankees.

However, maybe once every generation, a player dons the pinstripes who we hate…but who we also kinda love.

My grandfather grew up in The Bronx but bled Dodger blue. He hated the Bronx Bombers–Except when it came to Joe DiMaggio. Ya just had to love The Yankee Clipper.

My dad was born in The Bronx and like his father, grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Like his dad, he also bled Dodger blue.

I, too, spent the first several years of my life close to The House That Ruth Built. I fell in love with Baseball in the early 70’s. As I studied the game’s glorious history and read about the three great center fielders who all played in NY during the 1950’s, I asked my father one day, “Dad, was Mickey Mantle better than Duke Snider?” He smirked. “Oh, please. Mickey couldn’t carry the Duke’s jock strap.” (I then asked my dad what a jock strap was.) But I could tell my dad was embellishing. The Duke was his favorite player as a young boy but…Mickey? Well, he was The Mick.

In the late 70s’, I watched the Mets struggling to avoid 100 losses while Reggie Jackson’s legend grew to mythical proportions. I hated Mr. October…but yea, ya kinda had to love the guy.


DiMaggio, Mickey, Reggie. Then came guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Yes, they were Yankees. Yes, they were good. And yes, we hated them. But at the same time, we kinda loved ‘em. We respected their ability.

Anytime we read a biography or autobiography, we hope to learn something about the individual. Get a feel for them. Get a sense that we know them. I recently read “The Closer” by Mariano Rivera, co-authored by Wayne Coffey. Sadly, after 265 pages, I knew nothing more about Mo than when I started. The book was a major letdown.

The first 65 pages or so were powerful, moving, and touching. Extremely personal as Mariano opened his heart and went into great detail. Born in Panama City, Panama, he grew up in Puerto Caimito, a small fishing village. He, his parents and three siblings lived in a 2-room cement house at the end of a dirt road. No electricity. No running water. They used an outhouse.

It’s hard to imagine that Baseball’s All-Time Saves leader and the greatest closer in post-season history, the fella who was always calm, cool and collected on the mound, was a bad kid. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade. His father, an alcoholic, abused him physically and verbally. He was nearly killed twice, once out at sea on his father’s fishing boat and a second time when a classmate chased him with a machete. Mariano Rivera, the guy who recorded 1,173 strikeouts in 1,283 IP, posted a career ERA of 2.21, a 13 time All-Star who holds the post-season record for saves (42) and lowest post-season ERA (0.70) hated math and didn’t have a head for numbers.

He expressed his feelings about being a young prospect in the Yankees system and living in a country where he didn’t speak the native language. The scene in which he described his initial tryout was extremely stirring.

mariano-rivera - Copy

When he made the Yankees, his life changed. When he made the Yankees, the book changed, too.

Suddenly, by about page 65, the personal touch was gone. The book went from being an autobiography to a biography. It appeared written not by a guy who pitched for the Yankees for 19 years and won 5 championships but rather by an outsider, an observer.

Each chapter was a different season. However, it read not like a first-hand account, but rather like the Wikipedia page for the 1997 Yankees, 1998 Yankees, 1999 Yankees, and so on. Remote and detached.

Each chapter/season read like bullet-points without any emotion:

“We started the season 8-3, then slumped in late April. We had a good May and early June, then hit a rough spot in late June. At the All-Star Break, we were 48-39, 2 games behind Boston. I had 21 saves and a 1.97 ERA. After the break, we went to the west coast and won 5 out of 8. But then we lost 4 of our next 6 against Detroit and Chicago.”

That’s not exact but you get the gist. The post-seasons were written with the same isolated, disconnected style.


If you’re a Yankees or Mets fan, the 2000 World Series was special. It was the first subway series since 1956. It was the first time many of us experienced that. The city was spirted, energetic and alive. Yet, in “The Closer,” Mariano gave no more pages to defeating the crosstown Mets as he did to defeating the San Diego Padres.

Mariano spent his entire career in The Bronx. For many years he had the same teammates. However, he shares not one personal story, not one anecdote. I found that very peculiar. I wasn’t looking for a tell-all book, no juicy gossip. But he never allowed the reader an inside look at the Yankees on a personal level. He never shared a narrative about going to dinner with Derek Jeter. Maybe something funny Tino Martinez said during batting practice. Perhaps a story about shagging fly balls with Bernie Williams. Nope, nothing. Toward the end of the book, Mariano expresses his sadness when hearing his best friend, Jorge Posada, was retiring. Whoa, what? For 250 pages Mariano made no mention of having anything to do with Posada other than him being his catcher. The reader has no idea they are friends. Did they go to dinner often? Did their wives hang out? Did their kids play together? Who knows? We were never told anything about their friendship until they were going separate ways.

Joe Torre was manager for most of Mariano’s time in the Bronx. Yet, we’re told of only two conversations between them, both very short, both just one page. Longtime pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is mentioned only once. George Steinbrenner, love him or hate him, is arguably the most charismatic, most controversial owner of the last half century. Yet, by reading this book, it seems like the owner and his legendary closer were virtual strangers. We’re told of one brief conversation during the 2000 World Series that lasted three paragraphs. That’s it.

“The Closer” is also, in my opinion, over-the-top in political correctness. Mo pitched from 1995 through 2013, the height of the steroid era. Yet, he never really discussed his thoughts other than basically saying, “Cheating is bad.” He never allows us a sense of what he was feeling, what he was thinking. Mariano glosses over the infamous incident between Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. For the most part he never shares his insight about the time when Don Zimmer charged the mound and was brushed aside by Pedro Martinez.


What was it like when he passed Trevor Hoffman as All-Time Saves Leader? What did it feel like to walk through the bullpen gate to “Enter Sandman”? What goes through your head when you’re on the mound for the final out after winning a World Series? On the flip side, what did it feel like when Luis Gonzalez came through in Game 7? Perhaps strangest of all was that when Boston became the first team to come back from down 0-3 and shock the Yankees, this historic comeback was completely omitted from “The Closer.”

One final thing—and I’m going to tread lightly here—is the religious aspect of the book. I was unaware of the degree faith played in Mariano’s life. That was eye-opening to me. But, at times, it felt like I was, no pun intended, being preached to.

Approximately every 8-12 pages, the story comes to a halt so Mariano can explain what role his faith played in regards to a particular event: injuries, the cut-fastball, an altercation with an irate fan. Everything that happened in his life is part of a Master Plan. If something good happened to Mariano, he is blessed. If something bad happened, it was the Lord’s way of teaching him a lesson in humility. I applaud the man’s faith, but if you choose to read this, keep that in mind. I found “The Closer” not so much a book about a ballplayer who was very religious, but rather a very religious man who just happened to be a ballplayer.

I’ve read numerous books about Baseball and baseball players. This one, to me, was very weak and disappointing. If you want to read a good book about Baseball, I suggest any of the following:

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Out of my League by Dirk Hayhurst

Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden

Pedro by Pedro Martinez

The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman

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No ‘Home’ For the Man with 660 Home Runs Tue, 05 May 2015 01:46:55 +0000 alex rodriguez

Christmas 1980 was a few days away. As Americans anticipated the swearing in of President-Elect Ronald Reagan to end the malaise that had befallen the nation, and the entire world was still dealing with the assassination of John Lennon, my dad and I had our first father-and-son weekend getaway. Destination: Cooperstown.

Lake Otsego was completely frozen. Dead branches like skeletal arms veiled the road into town. When we entered the actual Hall itself I was awed by the sheer quietness of the grand room. For this was a shrine, a temple to the greatest men to ever walk onto a field. I’d finally get to see plaques of players I’d read about when I should have been doing homework. I sucked at math and was failing algebra. But I could tell you any guy’s batting average.

All generations were represented. Pitchers from The Dead Ball era like Walter Johnson and Cy Young were honored alongside sluggers from The Live Ball era such as Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig. My dad ambled around, spending extra time at the plaques of his childhood heroes like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and his favorite Brooklyn player, the recently enshrined Duke Snider. I chuckled when he only gave a passing glance to Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and other Yankees from the 1950’s.

“Dad, here’s Yogi,” I pointed out, referring to the Mets former manager.

“Yogi was good,” my dad conceded, “But he was no Campy.”

“You think the Mets will ever get any guys in here?” I whispered reverently.

Without hesitation, he answered. “Tom Seaver.”

“Cool.” I mulled that over, then asked, “You think Lee Mazzilli or Steve Henderson will make it?”

My dad arched a brow at me, probably wondering if I was really his child.

The players my father and grandfather saw as a boy were memorialized for all eternity. Eventually players I grew up watching would also be acknowledged. Guys like Willie Stargell, George Brett, Rod Carew—and yes, Tom Seaver.

Today there’s an entire generation of fans who will never get to experience that. Some of the best hitters they watched—Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez—may possibly never be enshrined.

And perhaps no player typifies the ugliness of The Steroids Era more than Alex Rodriguez. Ironically, by tying Willie Mays on the all-time HR list he has only cemented his standing as the poster boy for everything wrong with baseball for a generation.

Babe Ruth hit for power and average but didn’t have the speed. Rickey Henderson had the speed but not the power. Mel Ott had the power but didn’t have the glove. Roberto Clemente had the glove, the arm and the average but not the power. Ernie Banks had the power and the glove but was a career .274 hitter.

willie mays_b3_600

Willie Mays did it all.

The Say Hey Kid scored over 2,000 runs and retired with a BA above .300. When Willie said goodbye to America in 1973, he was 6th in RBI’s (1 903), 3rd in HR’s (660) and 7th in hits (3,283). As if these stats aren’t impressive enough, one must remember Mays played during a time when stadiums were massive enough to warrant their own zip code.

Mays also stole 338 bases, an impressive total considering he hit in the middle of the batting order. His success rate on the base paths was 76.6%. His 12 Gold Gloves ties him with Clemente for the most by any outfielder. Again, an amazing accomplishment considering Willie played the bulk of his career in the blustery winds of Candlestick Park, perhaps the worst location ever for a stadium.

He won Rookie of the Year, two MVP’s and his 24 All-Star games ties him with Stan Musial and Hank Aaron for most midsummer classics. Despite these numbers, SF Chronicle journalist Harry Jupiter once wrote, “As a player, Willie Mays could never be captured by mere statistics.”

Willie is one of those players, along with Aaron and Sandy Koufax, who even the casual fan knows what number they wore.

There have been probably billions of photos capturing many of the National Pastime’s greatest moments. However, no image is more iconic than that of number 24 with his back to home plate, snagging a deep fly off the bat of Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series. It’s an image so entrenched in our psyche that even today, more than 60 years later, whenever an outfielder makes an over-the-shoulder catch the announcer invokes the name Willie Mays.


In the 1950’s, Mays frequently played stickball with kids in the shadows of the Polo Grounds. To this day, in the Bay Area, Mays is treated like royalty, more so than Tony Bennett or Joe Montana. Willie is the only ballplayer in history to be equally loved on two coasts three thousand miles apart.

Alex Rodriguez, like Mays, also played on two coasts. And that’s where the similarity ends.

Despite the fact A-Rod has now tied Willie in HR’s as well as passing him in doubles, RBI’s and Slugging, the adoration Mays experienced from New York to San Francisco is not something A-Rod experienced from Seattle to New York.

Over the last two decades there’ve been numerous players who can be considered black marks on Baseball. But A-Rod is unique. Barry Bonds is still appreciated in the Bay Area. Sammy Sosa is idolized in Chicago. Mark McGwire is loved in both STL and Oakland. But A-Rod? He’s burned bridges everywhere he’s played.

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In Seattle, he was appreciated for being the quiet kid with great talent. After the 2000 season, however, he left behind an admiring public and went to Texas. Granted, who amongst us hasn’t taken a job for more money? But despite the fact his contract was the biggest in history, it was clear A-Rod’s decision was all about A-Rod. The Rangers were an awful team, losing 91 games and finishing more than 20 GB. However, Arlington is a hitter’s park. And while making more than a quarter billion dollars, he could also pad his stats. That’s exactly what he did.

In just 3 years with Texas, Rodriguez clobbered 156 HR’s, 24% of what Mays hit over his 22 year career. He racked up 395 RBI’s while compiling a .615 slugging percentage. Now that A-Rod had locked up the Hall of Fame, there was one thing missing from his resume. A ring.

The Rangers were looking to free themselves of A-Rod, and the man who wanted a Championship found himself playing for the most successful franchise in the history of American sports, a team that played in 6 of the previous 8 World Series. After his arrival, A-Rod’s Yankees would appear in the Fall Classic just once in the next 10 years

Early on we heard he needed to ‘earn his pinstripes.’ Despite being a Yankee for more than a decade, he never truly did. In 60 post-season games he’s averaged an insipid 238. Yankee fans are quick to cheer him when he does something good but equally quick to boo him when he doesn’t. He’s failed to win the hearts of fans the way Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams or even Aaron Boone did.

alex rodriguez a-rod

Despite his impressive career stats, through artificial means or not, you never heard him praised. I can’t recall anyone saying he was a good teammate. I don’t remember a rookie ever thanking A-Rod for helping with a flaw in his swing. No one has ever called him a ‘positive influence in the clubhouse.’ If anything, A-Rod’s behavior over the last several seasons, his smug denial of steroid use in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has caused tenseness in the clubhouse. His off-the-field antics have overshadowed what transpired between the lines.

A-Rod being A-Rod.

Rodriguez has burned bridges from Seattle to Arlington. Ironically, even though he hasn’t vacated New York, he’s already burned that bridge as well. A new low even for him. Ownership has tried to rid themselves of A-Rod and the baggage that comes with him. The organization that spends money like there’s no tomorrow is refusing to pay his $6 million dollar bonus for tying Mays’ mark of 660. It’s difficult to imagine an Alex Rodriguez statue outside a stadium where he played. It’s even more difficult to picture him being immortalized in Monument Park next to Yankees like Mantle and DiMaggio and Mattingly, Yankees who DID NOT disgrace their uniform or the game.

We are generally a forgiving society. Twenty five years ago who would’ve believed Pete Rose would be taking baby steps toward inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Maybe twenty five years from now players from the steroid era will be considered.

Perhaps in 2040, some will make the trip from San Francisco to Cooperstown to honor Barry Bonds induction. People may don Cubs hat and cheer when Sammy Sosa steps to the podium. Yankee and Red Sox fans may stand side-by-side, simultaneously cheering Roger Clemens. And what about A-Rod? If he is one day inducted, would anyone even bother showing up.

In closing, the words of Ty Cobb seem fitting. Cobb was an avid racist and one of the most despised players in his day. But even he had a home and a loyal following in Detroit. In the twilight of his life with his heath failing, the 74 year-old Georgia Peach looked back on his career and said, “I wish I would’ve done things differently. I wish I would’ve had more friends.”

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Derek Jeter Through The Eyes Of A Mets Fan Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:00:52 +0000 derek jeter

Derek Jeter, the crosstown rival player we Mets fans loved to hate. He was the embodiment of perfect and one heck of a ballplayer. From the clutch hits to the jump-throw across the diamond to saying exactly what you are supposed to say after a valiant losing effort. For 19 years Jeter did it all.

Many will argue how good Jeter actually was and to all those people I would like to politely say “shut up.” Jeter was a 14 time All-Star, 5 time Gold Glove, 5 time Silver Slugger, 5 time World Champion, the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996, and the World Series MVP in 2000. He finished his career on Sunday with 3,465 hits and a lifetime batting average of .310.

Sure Jeter was an overrated fielder, but whenever the game was on the line, you knew Jeter was going to shine. His instinctual manner on the baseball field was matched by no one. Diving head first into the stands to make a game saving catch, knowing the outcome was not going to be favorable for his body, is everything Jeter was about. Winning no matter what the cost may be. His iconic flip in Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics to save the game still does not make sense. How did a shortstop know to sprint from his position to the first base line and flip the ball perfectly to cut down the tying run at home? Only Jeter.

He was the epitome of consistency. For most of his career you could pencil No. 2 into the lineup every game. Jeter played 145 or more games in 16 out of his 19 full seasons in the Major Leagues. If only the Mets could find someone like that.

Hating the New York Yankees is something most baseball fans enjoy doing because it is so easy. The way they spend money, Alex Rodriguez, the “Yankee way”, their fans, Roger Clemens, the list goes on and on. Jeter was always different than any of that. He was a hero in the baseball world. One of the most well-mannered and classy individuals to ever have ‘New York’ emblazoned across the front of their jersey. The way he played the game and handled the media, while frolicking around with a new super model every week, was something else. It is almost unimaginable that someone can be as successful as he was in the New York market for 10, let alone 20 years.

He deserved all the praise, gifts and commercials this year and anyone who wants to complain about that just has not being paying attention. We all witnessed a player grow from a starry-eyed 20-year-old to one of the best to ever play the shortstop position, a living legend. It was fun to watch and as a baseball fan it is sad to see him go.

With Jeter retiring, the Yankees’ dominance of New York should soon follow suit. Now the time has come for the New York Mets to take center stage and take this town over. No more ‘Core 4,’ no more living legends. The Mets are young, talented and ready to rock the baseball world. it’s our time, now.

So for one last time we tip our caps to Derek Jeter, the Captain. Not our captain, but a darn good one at that.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mr. September and the Keystone Kid Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:06:12 +0000 Curtis - Granderson

As our beloved New York Mets played their final series in the capital this season, the Nationals continued to work towards locking up the best record in the National League.  The Mets only took 1 of 3 from their division rivals, but there were positive takeaways despite losing the series.  Below is a breakdown in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. Back in late August, it was easy to speculate that Curtis Granderson would be the next free agent bust to hit Flushing, but the veteran outfielder maintained a positive attitude and strong work ethic, which has helped transform him into a doubles hitting, RBI machine.  Since the first of the month, Curtis is hitting (.329) with a (.980) OPS that’s being heavily bolstered by his (.566) slugging percentage.  He’s adapting to the needs of his current team and abandoning the high strikeout/high home run player he was across town.  If Granderson’s current month was stretched over a 150 game season (conservative figure), he’d have 50 doubles, 7 triples, 21 home runs and 114 RBI.  That’s exactly the type of player the Mets should pay $16 million for next season.  Whether he maintains a pace like this next season is highly debatable, but his mid-summer and fall statistics offer enough fuel to counter the negative predictions.  Overall, Curtis slashed out a series line of (.455/.500/1.045), with 3 RBI’s to go with a run scored.

2. Wilmer Flores is an entirely different player as a second baseman.  His range improves drastically in comparison to his reps at shortstop and his plus arm is a tool that finally has the Mets rounding out routine double plays.  In 15 games (54 at bats), Wilmer is batting (.296) while boasting a monstrous (.593) slugging percentage.  Wilmer’s (.321) OBP sits barely above his batting average, so he isn’t walking much when his glove is played at the keystone.  Instead, he’s opted for the conventional route of putting some wood on the ball, giving him 10 runs scored and 8 RBI’s in those 15 games.  Flores continued his playing time at second this series and actually turned in the exact same results as Granderson, posting a line of (.455/.500/1.045).

3. Jeurys Familia was outstanding in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, pitching a perfect 8th inning and striking out the side. Familia owns a 2.27 ERA to go with 71 strikeouts in 75.1 innings this season.  The other setup relievers have been excellent this season too, including Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin. It’s not yet known if Bobby Parnell will return as closer in 2015, but Jenrry Mejia has handled the role admirably and he has been ferocious against left-handed batters.  Whatever happens, the Mets will have one of the youngest and brightest bullpens in all of baseball next season and that’s a huge relief.

3 Down

1.  Injuries absolutely kill this team year in and year out.  It’s reasonable to expect some unscheduled absences during the season, but ask yourself this question, how many players have put in a full season?  For the starting pitchers, only Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon have remained healthy since Opening Day.  For position players, only four Mets have a qualified number of at-bats and only two have played more than 150 games (Lucas Duda has 150 and Curtis Granderson has 152).  We learned during this series that David Wright suffered structural damage in his left shoulder which he played through for the most of the season, and it could be more serious than the Mets originally thought. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been no stranger to the disabled list as well and now he’s undergoing tests with team doctors in New York for an unknown elbow injury.

2.  There are numerous ways to frame statistics and come up with hypothetical scenarios, but consider this “what if”.  What if the Mets went .500 against the Nationals this year?  Actually, they played an odd number of games this season, 19 in total, so let’s say they went one game over .500 and posted a seasonal W-L of 10-9.  In that case, the Mets 2014 record would stand at 83-76 and they would still be in the hunt for the last wild card spot.  Instead, NY finished the season 4-15 against their division rivals.

3.  Let the Matt Harvey media circus resume.  During the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, news broke that recovering ace Matt Harvey was at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter’s final home game.  It’s true that these kinds of actions raise more questions than most Mets fans want answered, but it’s going to be a bigger story than needs to be.  He’s proven that he’s a competitor no matter what uniform he puts on and Matt’s locked into the Orange and Blue for the next four seasons.  Derek Jeter’s last home game is an iconic moment for Yankee fans and Harvey has openly admitted that Jeter is his idol growing up and favorite player.  It could very well signal where he intends to go in the future, or it could just be a 25-year old guy, living in New York City, going to the only baseball game in town.  Sandy Alderson made the rules, which included staying behind when the team traveled for road games, and to the best of my knowledge that didn’t change when the Mets shut down Harvey for the season.  He knew exactly what he was doing and did it anyways.  That’s the beast the Mets have to live with, incredibly talented, but lacks the foresight to cater to a sensitive organization.  Hopefully, Harvey leads the Mets to a World Series title in the next four years, but the bottom line is that I could care less where he goes and what he does on his free time.

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Matt Harvey At Yankee Stadium Paying His RE2PECT To Derek Jeter Fri, 26 Sep 2014 00:15:35 +0000 matt harvey

While the Mets are playing against the Nationals in D.C., Matt Harvey, is at the Yankee Stadium to see Derek Jeter play his final game in the Bronx.

Here’s what he posted on Instagram:

matt harvey

Harvey grew up a Yankees fan and while he’s on rehab, the Mets don’t want him traveling with the team when they are on the road.

Marc Carig - Asked GM Sandy Alderson if he had any issue with Matt Harvey being at the Yankee game while the Mets are playing: “No comment.”

 Bob Klapisch - Nothing wrong with Matt Harvey being here tonight. Nothing

John Harper - Harvey at war with Mets’ brass, going back to sticking his locker in the shower room. But should have more respect for teammates, fans.

Andy Martino - If Alderson isn’t going to get excited about Harvey being here, don’t see why anyone else should. A guy is allowed to watch a ballgame.

Personally, I can’t wait for this ridiculous and bizarre Jeter crap fest to end… I’ve never seen so much slobbering in my life.

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The Mets Against Grooved Pitches Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:15:24 +0000 eric young

When there is no real baseball for four days, stories like Adam Wainwright grooving a pitch to Derek Jeter in the All-Star game has legs. The game is an exhibition, except it is not, since now home field advantage in the World Series is decided by the winner. Really, it’s just silly, and baseball’s attempt to market the game has overtaken what makes sense.

All of this grooved baseball talk got me thinking about grooved pitches in actual games. No, pitchers don’t intentionally groove a pitch when the games count in the standings, but there are plenty of pitches that end up right over the plate, as meatballs. Luckily, thanks to Baseball Savant, we can look up how the Mets performed against meatball pitches this year. We will define a meatball as not only a pitch right over the middle of the plate, but also a fastball. Essentially, we are looking for “grooved” pitches in the form of fastballs in the middle of the strike zone.

Mets Grooved Pitches

Of Mets’ hitters with at least ten at-bats ending on a meatball pitch, Eric Young is the best slugger. Surprisingly, none of the four qualified Mets hit with a slugging percentage above .500. However, of the 75 players in all of baseball with at least ten at-bats decided by a grooved fastball, close to half slugged below .500. Andrew McCutchen was the best hitter, slugging 1.750, and, wait for it, Ruben Tejada, was the worst hitter in all of baseball against fastballs down the middle of the plate with a measly .083 slugging percentage.

Does any of this mean anything? Not really. But if we are going to talk “grooved” pitches, we might as well in the context of the Mets.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Savant.

Presented By Diehards

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Montero Showed Poise and Confidence In A Solid Debut Thu, 15 May 2014 14:07:30 +0000 rafael montero debut 2

After watching Rafael Montero make his major league debut against the Yankees last night, one thing that jumped out at me was that he most certainly looked like he belonged here.

There was a confident swagger prevalent that you won’t see in his pitching line, and he carried himself like a 10-year veteran on the mound at Citi Field.

Unfortunately for Montero, he was matched up against a fierce mound opponent in Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese import shut down the Mets’ bats, resulting in a 4-0 defeat and Montero’s first loss of his career.

Montero gave up home runs to Yangervis Solarte and Mark Teixeira, perhaps his only blemishes, but he grinded it out for six innings in his first big league start which was refreshing to see.

The Dominican righthander allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts for the night.

He needed 69 pitches to get through the first three innings, but bore down and utilized another 39 pitches for his final three innings, tossing 108 on the night – far exceeding the most he’s thrown all year.

“I was calm from the first inning until I finished up,” Montero said through an interpreter. “I just kept trying to throw strikes. That’s the most important part.” 

Manager Terry Collins came away far more than satisfied by Montero’s effort.

“I was very impressed,” Collins would say afterward. “This kid is going to be good.”

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He came out and threw strikes right away, which tells me he was comfortable.”

The first run Montero got tagged for will go down as earned, but an ill-advised diving attempt by Eric Young Jr. allowed a Brian Roberts single to turn into a triple that scored Solarte from first base.

The second homer to Teixeira was also forgivable as it came in the sixth and after he had already exceeded the 95 pitch mark.

One thing that Montero will never forget and may one day become a great Mets trivia question was his first big league strikeout – a swing and a miss by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in the third.

“That was a good feeling,” Montero said. “I felt very happy.”

All in all a fantastic job by Montero and the first of what should be a long career of solid starts in the Mets rotation.


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Are the Mets Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:10:18 +0000 gary carter

After Gary Carter got a hit with two outs in the bottom of the 10th in Game Six, he turned to 1B coach Bill Robinson and said, “There’s no way I was making the last ******* out.” Moments later, pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell, void of his cup, got a base hit. He turned to 1B coach Bill Robinson and also said, “There’s no way I was making the last ******* out.”

When you look at the Mets today, do you see that same determination?

There’s a difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. When I watch the Mets, I see the latter. I see a team that’s not loose, that’s timid, almost waiting for something to go wrong and have a loss snatched from the jaws of victory.

I look at the Mets and, even this early into the season, it appears they are going through the motions. Willie Stargell once said, “Baseball is fun. That’s why the umpire says ‘Play Ball,’ not ‘Work Ball.” But to me it doesn’t seem like the Mets are having fun. They play hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

Last Friday night, the Mets arrived in Anaheim after a cross-country flight from Atlanta. But you’d think they were the first team to ever do this. They seemed lethargic, a far off distant look in their eyes. If this was the dog days of August I’d understand. But to see—in my view—a team this weary and this sluggish on their first road trip of the season made me wonder.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One

In the top of the 3rd, Travis d’Arnaud hit a solo HR to tie the game at 2-2. It was only the second homer of his career. Upon returning to the dugout, d’Arnaud smiled briefly, got a couple of proper pats on the butt from teammates and promptly sat on the bench putting on his catching gear. Very formal, very businesslike.

Three innings later, the opposite happened. J.B. Shuck, just called up to replace injured Josh Hamilton, hit a HR in the bottom of the 6th to knot the game at 4. It was the only the third of his career. Several of his teammates stepped onto the field, giving him high-fives after he rounded the bases, hugging him as he walked through the dugout. By the Angels’ reaction, you’d think it was a post-season game in October, not a Friday night in early April.

The stark difference was…amazing. The Angels were ecstatic, exuberant, nine-year-olds in Little League. The Mets were blasé, nonchalant, and almost indifferent.

In the 1970’s our hitting was definitely anemic. But out excellent pitching and stellar defense always kept us in the game. We had a legitimate chance to win. At the end of the 20th century, we had good enough pitching and enough big hitters that a win, no matter the score, seemed within our grasp. From 2005-2008, with a lineup consisting of David Wright and Jose Reyes—both coming into their prime–the power of Carlos Delgado and the 5 tools of Carlos Beltran, no deficit seemed insurmountable.

And then, there was ’86. If the Mets jumped out in front, it felt as if ‘that’s the way it’s supposed to be.’ Business as usual. And if we fell behind, our confidence never wavered. It wasn’t a matter of IF we’d win but HOW. And we did win. 2 of every 3 all year. But now it’s just the opposite. It feels like when the Mets take a lead, we don’t count on the win. Instead we ‘hope the bullpen can hold it.’ And if we fall behind, well, that’s when it feels like business as usual.

Why is this? Where does this culture stem from? When and how did mediocrity become acceptable and losses expected? Does it start in the executive office with ownership and the GM? Is it the fault of the manager and coaching staff? Perhaps, the players themselves?

When you look back at the good times there is one underlying consistency. We created a culture of winning.

On Opening Day 1969, Tom Seaver was a 24 year-old kid, Jerry Koosman was 26, Gary Gentry didn’t even look old enough to shave and Wayne Garret looked like he arrived at Shea via his tricycle. They were inexperienced kids but yet they won. How? The reason is they were surrounded by people who were winners. Manager Gil Hodges and coach Yogi Berra had played in 114 World Series games combined!

In June, management acquired Donn Clendenon, the player who Buddy Harrelson stated, “…gave us credibility.” Clendenon spent the bulk of his career in Pittsburgh alongside the likes of Stargell and Roberto Clemente, players who knew how to win.

When the Mets returned to the Series four years later, much of the team were holdovers from ’69. They were already champions.

By 1986, we had young stars like Gooden, Strawberry, and Dykstra. But we also had Gary Carter who, at this late stage in his career, would’ve done anything to get a ring. Keith Hernandez already had a ring as well as an MVP on his mantel. And at the helm was Davey Johnson, a player who spent the bulk of his career playing under Earl Weaver, one of the games’ winningest managers. Davey had two rings. He knew about winning.

The 99/00 club didn’t have “winners” but we had a roster loaded with guys who had that fire in the belly: Piazza, Ventura, Franco, Leiter, Payton. Even over-achiever Benny Agbayani.

Around 2006, we had the perfect blend of young talent and veterans who knew the game. Delgado was running out of time to become a champion, Beltran was determined to quiet the critics, Pedro Martinez was a big game pitcher, El Duque was a post-season stud, Paul Lo Duca played with the passion of Jerry Grote. And our skipper, Willie Randolph, had won 5 pennants and 4 World Series.


Which one doesn’t fit in with this group: Hodges, Berra, Johnson, Valentine, Randolph, Collins.

The 2014 Mets are centered around David Wright. Like Seaver before, he is the face of this team. He already holds many team records and by the time he hangs up his cleats, he will be at the top of every offensive category in our history. We all love him, no doubt about that. It’s as if we get through the other 8 guys just to get back to Wright, who seems like he’s the only one who can give us a chance. And although we all love him, he can’t be called a winner yet.

That’s not a knock on David. Cooperstown is filled with legends who never won a ring. No one should diminish the accomplishments of Ernie Banks, Juan Marichal, Tony Gwynn, Nap Lajoie, Ted Williams and countless others. And while David puts up great numbers year after year, he can’t be lumped together with winners like a Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Keith Hernandez, Tom Seaver, Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia.

The 2014 Mets do have Curtis Granderson, a player with extensive post-season experience. But can he be labeled a ‘winner?’ In 36 post-season games he’s compiled a paltry .229 BA. His one World Series appearance, 2006 with Detroit, his team lost in five. Granderson went 2-for-21, an .095 BA.

When I look at the Mets today, I see a lot of things. I see management that operates a big market club with a small market mentality. I see a GM whose hands are financially tied, searching the bottom of the barrel, hoping for one more good year from players well beyond their prime. I see a manager and a coaching staff who has never won. I see a third baseman who’s the only real player we have on our team, a role model for kids, but not a champion. I see the future of our team, Matt Harvey, a 25 year-old who has already undergone Tommy John surgery. I also see potential. Young pitchers with a lot of upside who are still unproven.

I see a lot of different things. Regrettably, though, I don’t see any winners.


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Source: Yankees Still Have No Interest In Drew Sat, 15 Feb 2014 02:49:28 +0000 stephen drew

A source told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that the Yankees still aren’t interested in free agent Stephen Drew despite the Derek Jeter announcement. Marchand added that it didn’t sound as if the Yanks were going to change their minds, either.

This really doesn’t change anything for the Mets.

Sandy Alderson said on Thursday, that he was unlikely to make any major free-agent signings before Opening Day. It was the third time in two weeks that Alderson has said this to reporters, so I’d take him at face value.

Additionally, he has repeatedly downplayed the rumors they were close to signing Drew, who turned down an one-year $14.1 million deal from Boston and would cost the Mets a third rounder.

The Mets GM also said yesterday, that he has very little room left in his payroll budget which he estimated to be somewhere between $85 to $88 million.

“We are within the small margin of where we are going to be I think, and we are ready to go.”

During an interview on WFAN, Alderson did say he could sign Drew, but only under the right circumstances, but that he would not sign any player for $15 million at this stage of the game.

Unless Drew and Scott Boras can come down to a one year offer for $7-8 million, I don’t see the Mets committing to much more than that. If Drew wants a multi-year deal, he isn’t getting one from the Mets. 

Presented By Diehards

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Derek Jeter and David Wright: Two New York Baseball Icons Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:23:46 +0000 david wright and derek jeter

It’s the end of another era in the Bronx, where Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees announced today that he will retire at the end of the 2014 season.

Like former teammate and closer Mariano Rivera and Braves third baseman Chipper Jones before him, this season will have a certain feel attached to it and a touch of class as the game remembers the career of another baseball legend.

Whether you hate the Yankees as I do, there are always some players who transcend that especially when their career was marked with such impact and eloquence. Jeter certainly fits that bill.

Jeter told fans via Facebook, that the decision to retire was a tough one for him, but he realized that some of the things that came easy to him had now become a struggle.

wright jeter

“So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last,” Jeter wrote. “As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure.”

He enters his final season with 3,316 hits, 10th on the all-time list. A remarkable achievement that all began with an AL Rookie of the Year season and included five World Series championships as the Yankees shortstop.

Jeter wrote: “I will remember it all: the cheers, the boos, every win, all the plane trips, the bus rides, the clubhouses, the walks through the tunnel and every drive to and from the Bronx.”

Perhaps one day, we’ll experience what it’s like to see a lifelong Met go out in much the same way when David Wright walks off the field for the last time. Perhaps not at the same level on the baseball stage, but I would bet even more so in the hearts of Mets fans.

Wright had the following to say after he heard the news:

“I was fortunate as a young player in this town to be able to watch how Derek Jeter conducted himself on and off the field.”

“I’ve always been a big Derek Jeter fan for what he has done on the baseball field. I became an even bigger fan after getting to know Derek and learning there is more to this game than what goes on between the lines. Excluding the Subway Series, I wish him all the best in his final season.”

In Jeter and Wright, our great city has also had two truly magnificent men of character that have held their positions as team ambassadors in the highest esteem. How we’ve been to have both of them representing two teams steeped in such grand Gotham baseball tradition. One of them will say farewell in 2014, while the other will continue on in his footsteps and hopefully bring another World Series to city, this time with the New York Mets.

Presented By Diehards

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Building A Case For Wilmer Flores At Shortstop Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:51:05 +0000 wilmer floresBy this point, everyone has heard that Sandy Alderson alluded to the fact that arguably the Mets’ best offensive prospect, Wilmer Flores, will be given time at shortstop this spring. We have been hearing for years that Flores was moved away from the position due to a lack of range. Flores, now 22, hasn’t played a professional game at short in two full years—St. Lucie in 2011.

Is it feasible for the Mets to move him back to short after two years of logging zero time? Is there a case for Flores at shortstop in 2014? Let’s take a look and see.

The Derek Jeter Response

Jeter is moving into his age 40 season. If the Yankees are willing to play Jeter at shortstop at 40 years old, I would have to think a 22 year-old Flores has better range at this point. Jeter was never considered a great defensive shortstop to begin with anyway. It’s not like Flores is an out of shape, heavy guy that has been sitting on the couch the past few years. He’s the same size as Jeter, and as the Mets have reported, he’s been doing agility drills all winter to improve his range.

Time at Position

Although Flores hasn’t played a professional game at shortstop since 2011, he has still logged more games and innings at shortstop than any other position on the field…a lot more. The second-most amount of games played have been at second base—so he’s spent the majority of his career in the middle infield. He’s spent 82 percent of the games played in the middle infield and 67 percent at short. In other words, the move back to shortstop is not like he is learning the position all over again. If anything, he’s moving back to his natural position.


Defense doesn’t change much as you move from level to level. There will be slow hit balls, and harder hit balls. There will be faster runners and slower runners. Defense is defense. The field is the same size in A-Ball as it is in the major leagues. It’s not like offense where there is an adjustment that has to be made at each level. If you’re a solid defender in the lower levels, you usually hone your craft and get even better.

Flores is a career .960 fielder at shortstop. That is unspectacular, and if that translated to the big leagues he would be at the bottom of the barrel defensively—among the likes of Jed Lowrie, Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro. But if Flores can put up offensive numbers like Lowrie and Desmond (top-five offensively), which he probably can, people will forget the errors.


Admittedly, I have never seen Flores play a single game at shortstop. I have, however, seen him play second base numerous times. In all the games I have seen him play at second, I never once said to myself “I can’t believe he didn’t get to that ball, his range sucks.” Not once. In fact, I remember thinking to myself, “why do people think his range is so bad?” Maybe watching Daniel Murphy at second base has reprogrammed my brain for middle infield range, but Flores didn’t look so horrible to me.

The beauty about the range at second base and range at shortstop is that they aren’t that different. The major difference is when the shortstop has to go to his backhand in the hole and then have a strong enough arm to get the runner out. Flores plays third base, so the arm strength is not a question. The question is can Flores get to those balls in the hole? See the Derek Jeter Response.


The Mets did something a couple of years ago that looked like it was going to be a total joke—they moved a slow-footed Daniel Murphy to second base—a position where Murphy would not be able to cover up any range issues. Why did the Mets decide to do this? Simple…his offense demanded he be in the lineup.

Murphy isn’t the best defensive second baseman in the league, but he gets the job done, and is considered one of the top offensive second baseman these days.

Murphy played all of 18 games at second in his professional career before being moved there permanently—he was a natural corner infielder. If a natural corner infield can be moved to second and do a good enough job, then a natural shortstop should be able to move back and do a good enough job.

The decision to give Flores burn at short again is a wise one. Even if he’s the worst defensive shortstop in the league, the amount of runs he would cost the Mets would easily be made up with his bat. Flores has the potential to hit .280 with 15 homeruns (if not better) which would make him a top-five offensive shortstop. Who wouldn’t sign up for that right now?

Presented By Diehards

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Robinson Cano: With All Due “Respect” Sat, 14 Dec 2013 17:51:12 +0000 Seattle-is-targeting-Robinson-Cano.-300x207Robinson Cano and Jay Z’’s orchestrated dinner with the New York Mets was clearly transparent, made even more so after his introductory press conference in Seattle. It was only an indicator of things to come from this childish man.

Bottom Line: Cano wanted to stay in New York, but at his price, and in the end his price is all that mattered to him. It is impossible to do business when you give nothing back in the negotiations. If you don’t give back they cease being negotiations.

Cano is a marvelously talented baseball player, but a flawed individual. He might be a five-tool player, but on the human level, none of his tools include discretion, loyalty, common sense or rational thinking. We do know Cano has streaks of arrogance, delusional thinking and greed in his persona. He also has an annoying sense of entitlement.“I didn’t feel respect. I didn’t get respect from them and I didn’t see any effort,’’ Cano said with a straight face when asked about the Yankees.

Being offered $175 million over seven years was plenty of respect countered Yankees president Randy Levine. Look, Levine and the Yankees don’t need anybody to fight their battles, but Cano was shown respect and his hissy fit needs to be addressed, because if nothing else it is a display of all that is wrong with today’s professional athlete.

From the outset, $300 million over ten years, was over the top, but it never hurts to ask because somebody might bite. However, when it became apparent Cano didn’t want to budge, you knew he wouldn’t stay in New York and the Yankees would be better off without him.

With Derek Jeter at the end of this career, and Alex Rodriguez in PED limbo, Jacoby Ellsbury will not be the difference. They need pitching and to shed some of its unproductive payroll – Mark Teixeira for one – and start rebuilding. The money earmarked Cano will be better invested elsewhere.

It was a business decision for Cano to state his negotiating objectives of money and years. It is also a business decision for the Yankees to say they no longer want to give ten-year contracts to players over 30 years old. Cano wants us to respect his business decision, yet he can’t respect the Yankees’ right to do the same. Just delusional and out of touch with reality is Cano.

I don’t begrudge Cano the right to have money as his motivation, but distasteful is his attitude. The only party showing a lack of respect in this issue is Cano, towards the Yankees, to the fans, and to his profession.

You made a choice, now live with it and don’t bash the Yankees on the way out. They didn’t criticize your choice; don’t criticize theirs.

Perhaps the greatest complaints people have about athletes is their disconnect from reality, their disregard about others, and when they don’t hustle. Cano violates our sensibilities by doing all three.

I believe a player is worth what his employer is willing to pay him. In that vein, Cano is worth $240 million to the Mariners. He’s just not worth $240 million to the Yankees, which is their right to determine.

Nobody has the right to say $240 million is too much, because who among you would turn it down?

But, we have the right to be irritated at Cano’s lack of touch with reality, which is insulting to those struggling to make ends meet or have been out of work.

“I was looking for a contract where I would just be able play and focus on the game and wouldn’t wonder when I’m 37, 38 would I have a job one day,’’ was what he tried to pass off as logic for his decision.


If at the end of the $175 million he would have gotten from the Yankees, if healthy and had he not worn out his welcome, he would have had another deal. Please don’t tell us after $175 million you’d be that insecure as to worry about your future. It is insulting to all those who buy tickets to watch you play or purchase your jersey.

Also insulting is your agent, Jay Z, who operating on your behalf, after accepting $240 million from Seattle went back to the Yankees with the request of $235 million over ten years.

It says you really don’t want to be in Seattle. How should they feel about that?

The Yankees are better off without him, which is something Seattle will find out eventually. At 3,000 miles away, it isn’t far away far enough.

In New York, there are too many apologists for your style and attitude. They say you’re entitled to take plays off, to jog down to first base because you’re usually in the line-up and you’re a good player. But, you don’t have that right. Cano has been given a gift of talent, but when you half-ass it to first base, you insult the fan and your profession. Not hustling is never justified.

They let you get away with it, and in the end it had to figure in the Yankees’ thinking. Deep down, they don’t want a dog to be the face of their franchise. You got a pass on that in New York, but they know how to boo in Seattle, and you’ll hear them soon enough.


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Puma: Mets Dealing With Sticker Shock On Free Agents Wed, 20 Nov 2013 20:45:02 +0000 MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers

An interesting tweet from Mike Puma of the New York Post who said the Mets believed they could get Peralta on a two-year deal:

“Mets dealing with “sticker shock” on free agents. Thought they could get Peralta on a two-year deal, but he wants at least three years.”

On November 11 I actually used the same term to describe recent statements and actions by the Mets front office:

“My guess is that Sandy is suffering from sticker shock. I think it’s safe to say that as much as they wanted you to believe everything is now hunky-dory, it’s obviously not.”

Let me add that this does not mean they won’t still continue to pursue Peralta. I think they will.

However, this just shows how poorly they misjudged this year’s market and explains their hesitation in signing any free agents now and preferring to wait until late in the offseason instead.

Original Post 11/19

MLB Trade Rumors reported on Monday that the Yankees are expressing interest in Jhonny Peralta, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Peralta would provide the Yankees with insurance should Alex Rodriguez miss significant time with a suspension or in the event of a Derek Jeter injury. He has extensive big league experience at both shortstop and third base.

The Mets met with the free-agent shortstop during the GM Meetings, but a team executive downplayed it saying he just happened to be in Orlando.

Today, Sandy Alderson revealed to reporters that he hasn’t had any contact with Peralta since a rumored meeting with him at the GM Meetings a week ago in Orlando, Fla.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Peralta’s agent is looking for “Big-Time Money” and far more than a three-year, $45 million contract.

The Mets want to add a shortstop from outside the organization. With Stephen Drew expected to be outside their price range, Peralta figured to be the top target in a limited pool of candidates at the position, writes Rubin.

Peralta, 31, was the second most productive player in the Tigers lineup prior to his 50 game suspension for violating major league baseball’s joint drug agreement. He batted .303/.358/457 this season and his strong first half earned him a spot on the All Star team.

An average season for Peralta would like .290 with 35 doubles, 15 home runs, 80 runs, and 80 RBIs.

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A’s Won’t Trade Jed Lowrie Who Was Atop Mets’ Wish List Fri, 15 Nov 2013 17:00:35 +0000 jed lowrie

If you thought when the Oakland A’s signed veteran infielder Nick Punto to a one-year deal that it would open the door for them to  trade shortstop Jed Lowrie, think again.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Lowrie, who was atop the Mets’ wish list of potentially available shortstops, is staying put and not going anywhere.

A’s assistant GM David Forst said in an email Wednesday: “Punto’s signing has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie. Jed is our starting shortstop.”

That echoed what GM Billy Beane told The Post the previous day, that “there is no such thing as a definitive ‘no’ in Oakland,” but that the A’s feel they can win the AL West for a third straight year in 2014 and have no plans to move pieces, such as Lowrie, vital to that effort.

Lowrie, 29, had his best season in 2013 batting .290/.344/.446 in 662 plate appearances for the A’s, and he is a free agent after the 2014 season.

He would have made a nice backup plan should the Mets’ attempts to sign Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew failed.

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Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, and a Yankee Lesson Tue, 15 Oct 2013 07:57:26 +0000 derek-jeterA good friend of mine recently sent her only child, a son, off to college. I remember those times as heart wrenching moments when each of my three children left the nest. To occupy my mind, I would usually wrap myself around some kind of project. That may have been my friend’s strategy, too.

Knowing I host a weekly radio show, she appeared with a stack of sports books that she and her son had read over the years. Hoeing out the house is sometimes a mind occupying project. Last weekend, I plowed through “Ya Gotta Believe,” the book penned by Tug McGraw as he was dying of cancer. It was a fascinating read and the primary focus of Friday’s radio show.

This weekend saw me busy at work reading “The Life You Imagine, Life Lessons For Achieving Your Dreams.” That’s a tome from the pen of Derek Jeter written in 2000 during the earlier years of his career, a topic the Dawg and I hope to cover on a future show.

As a Met fan and a contributor to Metsmerized and MetsMinors. Net, I have read several threads over the last two years where people almost bayonet the Met front office for their first round draft selections of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. When both logged rather modest statistics during their first full season of baseball with identical .248 batting averages the howls were harsh and loud.

Imagine what the reaction may have been had either Met prospect brought home Derek Jeter’s stats during his first professional year. Moving directly from high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a 17-year old kid, Jeter was overwhelmed by his start in professional baseball. Jeter laughs at his naivety when he remembers his request to the Yankees to delay his professional baseball start for a week so he could spend July 4th at home with his parents and girlfriend, a request the Yankees politely nixed.

Jeter was miserable that first summer. USA’s top high school baseball player in the country and the Yankees number one draft pick had batted .557 in his senior year at Kalamazoo High with 7 HR’s and had struck out only 1 time the entire season. Jeter’s professional baseball debut came during a doubleheader where he went 0-7 and struck out 5 times. It took Jeter 15- at bats before he would register his first professional hit. The future Yankee great hit .202 that first year in Class-A for Tampa in the Rookie League.

Jeter was overmatched and depressed. He talks about doubting his lifetime dream of becoming a Yankee for the first time, of crying himself to sleep at night, and running up telephone bills back home to his Mom, Dad and girlfriend, of between $300 and $400 dollars a month. That was tough to do in those days.

Luckily, Jeter had a strong support network. His Dad reminded him over and over again that Chipper Jones had only hit .229 during his first year in the minor leagues. The Yankees didn’t dwell on his statistics, identifying characteristics of his batting approach that they liked and emphasizing those instead.

Jeter’s batting stabilized some during his second minor league season when he batted .295 with 5 HR’s and 71 RBI’s, not quite the mark of Kevin Plawecki, but a huge upgrade indeed. But, during his second campaign, Jeter’s defense was a mess. The future Yankee Hall of Famer made 56 errors for Class-A Greensboro.

Could you imagine the ruckus if Cecchini (who has committed 13 errors in his first two seasons) had comparable shortstop fielding stats. My ears would still be ringing.

Once again, Derek’s Dad was supportive reminding his son that Mickey Mantle totaled over 50 errors as a shortstop during his second minor league year. And, the Yankees rushed Gene Michael, the “Stick.” to Greensboro to counsel and work with Jeter and signed him up for the summer Instructional League to focus only on defense. Jeter was a designated shortstop who only played defense in games after 3 hours of morning skill drill work, 24/7. The young shortstop received one-to-one tutelage from Brian Butterfield the only student for Butterfield that summer.

Nimmo and Cecchini

Let’s make this perfectly clear. In no way am I suggesting or even hinting that I think Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini is going to become a Derek Jeter. I’m only pointing out that like it was for Jeter, two years in the minor leagues is not sufficient to determine the value of a baseball prospect. Like Jeter, as a professional baseball team’s number 1 draft pick, both Nimmo and Cecchini have played the game at the highest plateaus at the amateur level. That’s still no guarantee of major league baseball success. Only with time and patience will the answer of whether or not the two Met prospects contribute as major leaguers will become more clear.

It often leaves me shaking my head when I read threads that almost sound like some Met fans are hoping Nimmo and Cecchini fail. Whether you’re happy with a front office draft selection or not, it makes sense that every Met fan should hope these entry level prospects do well. God knows we could use the help.

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Death. Taxes. Beltran. Sat, 12 Oct 2013 17:21:03 +0000 carlos beltran cards dodgers

Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!

Some people live for the big game.  Joe Montana saved his best efforts for the many NFC Championship Games and Super Bowls he won.  Michael Jordan was excellent at sinking clutch shots and the spirits of opposing teams in his six NBA Finals victories.  (I’m a Utah Jazz fan.  I should know.)  And then there’s one Carlos Ivan Beltran.

Carlos Beltran has never been a player who has sought the spotlight.  But come October, the spotlight has always found him.  And how could it not?  After all, he may just be the best postseason baseball player in history.

On Friday night (and early Saturday morning), Beltran provided all the offense for the Cardinals and prevented the Dodgers from producing some offense of their own.  In the third inning, Beltran doubled above the outstretched glove of Andre Ethier to plate the tying runs.  The game was still tied when Mark Ellis hit a one-out triple for the Dodgers in the tenth inning.  But Carlos Beltran caught Michael Young‘s shallow fly ball and fired a perfect throw to catcher Yadier Molina to nail Ellis at the plate.  Beltran kept the game tied in the 10th.  He untied it in the 13th.

With two men on and one out, Beltran line a Kenley Jansen offering down the right field line to score the winning run for the Cardinals – a hit that would have scored both base runners had the first run not ended the game.

That’s not the first time Beltran has driven in every run his team scored in a postseason game.  It’s actually the fourth time, and the second time he’s done it in a victory.   Beltran’s two-run homer in Game 1 of the 2006 NLCS gave the Mets all the runs they would need in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals.  (Without it, the Mets might never have made it to a Game 7.)  Beltran also drove in the only run scored by St. Louis in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS , a 2-1 loss to Washington.  In addition, Beltran homered and drove in all three runs for the Cards in their 5-3 defeat against Pittsburgh in Game 3 of this year’s division series.

Hey, someone’s got to pick up the slack when his teammates aren’t doing their part.  And who better to do that than Carlos Beltran?

Let’s look at Beltran’s career numbers in the postseason, or rather, let’s marvel at them.

Three is a magic number.  Yes, it is.  It's a magic number.

Three is a magic number. Yes, it is. It’s a magic number.

Beltran turned in a postseason performance for the ages with the Astros in 2004, batting .435 with 11 extra-base hits (eight homers, three doubles), 14 RBI, 21 runs scored and six stolen bases in 12 games.  He reached base a whopping 30 times in those dozen contests and recorded a 1.557 OPS – a number that looks like a typo if we weren’t talking about Carlos Beltran.

In 2006, Beltran continued to rake the ball in the postseason.  Beltran was held without a hit in his first two playoff games with the Mets, but still reached base four times in the dual victories over the Dodgers.  After his two oh-fers, Beltran batted .323 over the Mets’ next eight playoff games, collecting three homers and five RBI.  He also continued to score better than one run per game, as he crossed the plate nine times in those eight games.  And once again, his OPS remained at an otherworldly level, as Beltran registered an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.062 in those final eight games.

After a five-year playoff absence (which surely made opposing pitchers quite happy), Beltran returned to the playoffs in 2012 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.  What did he do in 12 postseason games with the Redbirds?  He absolutely raked it.  Beltran batted .357 with nine extra-base hits (six doubles, three homers), six RBI and eight runs scored.  He also reached base 22 times in the 12 games and had a 1.154 OPS.  And lest ye forget, in the fifth and deciding game of the division series, Beltran started the pivotal ninth inning rally against the Nats with a double and scored when Daniel Descalso hit a game-tying two-run single.  That leadoff two-base hit in the ninth was the fifth time Beltran reached base in the game.

That brings us to this year.  Fourth verse, same as the first (and second … and third).  In six games versus the Pirates and Dodgers, Beltran has reached base nine times and driven in nine runs, including all three runs in Friday’s Game 1 victory over Los Angeles.  He has also made excellent contact in this year’s postseason, striking out just two times in 27 plate appearances.

To sum it all up, Beltran is batting .345 in 40 career postseason games.  He has reached base an incredible 80 times in those 40 games and has 28 extra-base hits, including 16 home runs.  His .750 slugging percentage is the third-highest mark in postseason history and his 1.199 career OPS ranks fifth.  Only seven players have hit more postseason home runs than Beltran, but all seven (Manny Ramirez, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols, Jim Thome) needed at least 267 postseason plate appearances to show off their prodigious power.  Beltran has come to the plate a mere 178 times.  And just think, Beltran has never gotten the opportunity to add to those tremendous postseason numbers in a World Series game.  But that might change this season.  And Beltran might have a lot to do with it.

There are very few sure things in life.  One is death, as it will come for all of us eventually.  Another is taxes, as even Jerry Koosman and Pete Rose couldn’t evade the IRS.  But if there can be only one other certainty in life, it has to be that Carlos Beltran will turn the postseason into a one-man wrecking crew.  He’s not perfect (who put that Crazy Glue on his bat before Wainwright’s 0-2 curveball?), but he’s as close to being perfect on the October stage as any player in baseball history.

Death.  Taxes.  Beltran.  Is there anything more certain in life?

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Thanks For the Me”Mo”ries Sat, 28 Sep 2013 14:40:05 +0000 mariano rivera

I know what you’re thinking. This is a Mets website. Why do I have to read about a %$#@*^# Yankee? Yes, we are all Mets fans. And yes, we all despise the Yankees and everything they represent. But ask yourself this: Next time you drive north to Cooperstown, will you look at Tom Seaver’s plaque and then go home? Probably not. The Baseball Hall of Fame is a place where the most talented ballplayers are forever enshrined in immortality. And now the curtain is coming down on Mariano Rivera, the best closer the game has ever known.

My friend and fellow MMO blogger, Satish Ram, pointed out something that shows Rivera’s greatness: 12 men have walked on the surface of the moon. Only 11 men have scored against Rivera in the post-season.

In the 17 years from 1996 to 2012, the Evil Empire made the post-season every year but one. They captured 13 division titles, 7 pennants and 5 World Championships. There’ve been lots of talented players in the Bronx over these years. Jason Giambi, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Roger Clemens and of course, Derek Jeter. However, at the risk of going out on a limb, I’ll state that the main reason for the Yankees success over this time is due to Mo.

Simply put, Mariano Rivera changed the very nature of the game. He didn’t do it in the way Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson did, however, he did alter each individual game just by his presence. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s teams did whatever was necessary to avoid facing Barry Bonds with runners on base. Even so, that did not work. As Bonds shattered records, opposing managers would intentionally walk him. Often the free pass would even put a runner into scoring position. Rickey Henderson was another. His speed alone changed the complexity of the game. Pitchers did whatever they could to keep him off the basepaths. Once Rickey was on, they KNEW he’d go…and they still couldn’t stop him. Rivera is in that same class. The game of baseball is designed so that each team has 27 outs. But with #42 poised and ready, Yankee opponents had only 24 outs. If you were losing to the Yankees after eight innings, your fate was sealed.


Considered a “fringe prospect at best,” Rivera debuted on May 23, 1995 as a starter. He got his butt kicked, allowing 5 ER in 3.1 innings. After four more starts, his ERA stood at 10.20. He spent much time being shuffled back and forth between the Bronx and Columbus.

At this same time the Yankees had a kid named Derek Jeter in the minors. The team was less than warm to him at first. He had a good glove, but they questioned his hitting. Scout Clyde King advised that Jeter was “nowhere near ready.” Yankee manager Joe Torre said he was hopeful Jeter could at least hit .250, good enough to stay in the majors.

Owner George Steinbrenner, however, was restless. Determined to bring a pennant to The Bronx, he approved a trade sending struggling starter Mariano Rivera to Seattle in exchange for shortstop Felix Fermin. However, GM Gene Michael and assistant GM Brian Cashman convinced ‘The Boss’ to give Jeter a chance. Steinbrenner relented and elected to hang on to both Jeter and Rivera — at least for the short term to see how things went.

In 1996, Rivera served as the set-up to John Wetteland. That season the Yankees were 70-3 when leading after six innings. Amazing.

There are ballplayers we dislike. Names like Clemens, A-Rod and Swisher come to mind. Then, there are others who, while we dislike them, you still gotta love ‘em. Manny Ramirez for example. Growing up and watching the Yankees win pennant after pennant while the Mets floundered in the NL East basement, I hated Reggie Jackson. But ya still had to love Reggie. Say what you will about Barry Bonds, but as he walked toward home plate, did you ever get up to get something to drink from the kitchen?

rivera mariano

Sure, Rivera is a Yankee. And we therefore have it in our genes to detest anyone in pinstripes. However, like Jeter, Rivera is and has always been a class act, the consummate professional. He’s not an in-your-face closer like a Jose Valverde or Jonathan Papelbon. Rivera never shows up an opponent. He comes in, does his job and walks off the mound.

He recorded 25 saves or more 15 consecutive seasons—a major league record. His ERA has been under 2.00 11 times, tying him with Walter Johnson. His career ERA of 2.21 and WHIP of 1.00 is the lowest of any pitcher in the live ball era. He has the lowest ERA (0.70) and most saves (42) in post-season history. He is baseball’s All-Time save leader with roughly 10% more than the man in second, Trevor Hoffman.

What made Rivera great is not just how effective he was but his durability. There have been plenty of great closers over the last few decades. Most, however, have a few solid seasons and then fade away. Francisco Rodriguez set the record for the most saves in a season with 62. Then never again came close to that mark. In 1990, Bobby Thigpen set the mark K-Rod would break. Thigpen’s 57 saves was unheard of at the time. However, he recorded only 31 more before injuries and ineffectiveness cut short his career at 31 years old. Dodgers’ closer Eric Gagne notched 152 saves over 3 seasons. Burned out, he then recorded just 35 more over 5 years.

As these and many others came and went, Rivera has remained the game’s predominant closer.

Some can argue that Rivera has it easier nowadays. Goose Gossage praises him but also points out that in today’s game closers traditionally work just one inning. In his entire career, Rivera recorded just one 7-out save. By comparison, Gossage notched 53. Closers, or “Firemen” as they were sometimes called, like Bruce Sutter, Rollie FingersDennis Eckersley and Tug McGraw frequently tossed well over 100 IP, an exorbitant amount by today’s standards. There is some validity to Gossage’s claim.

To offset that, however, Rivera pitched the bulk of his career during the steroids era and in smaller hitter friendly parks. The Yankees string of post-seasons as well as extra round of playoffs also meant that Rivera logged more innings in pressure situations. Yet, his durability was never affected. (Mitch Williams anyone?)

Mo is linked to one of Baseball’s Greatest Moments. But not in a good way. The 2001 World Series saw the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the heavily favored Yankees in a seven game thriller. Arizona rallied for 2 in the bottom of the ninth game seven to defeat the Yankees. It was an iconic moment in Series history. It was a shock that the D-Backs won. It was more of a shock that they upset the Yankees. However, the key to this extraordinary incident is not the fact that Luis Gonzalez knocked a bloop hit over the drawn-in infield but rather that it came off Mariano Rivera. Rallying for 2 in the bottom of the ninth off any team would be historical. The fact that it was against the best closer in history is what elevated this moment.

There are two teams I root for in Baseball: The Mets and whoever is playing the Yankees. When Jay Bell scored from third and ended the Yankees 2001 season I jumped off my sofa cheering as if Jesse Orosco had just fanned Marty Barrett all over again. If we can’t win, I don’t want to see the Yankees win either. It was sweet revenge for the 2000 World Series. For years I used Luis Gonzalez’ nickname, Gonzo. Anyone who knocks the Yankees out is okay in my book. Seeing Rivera and his teammates wander off the field in stunned shock was a beautiful thing. I have rooted against the Yankees my whole life and will continue to do so. However, while I loathe the team, I still can’t help but respect Rivera for what he meant to the game itself and to the post-season. Tom Verducci once stated, “Basketball has Michael Jordan, Hockey has Wayne Gretsky and Baseball has Mariano Rivera.”

Once asked to describe his job, Rivera stated, “I get the ball, I throw the ball and then I take a shower.”


If I ever get back to Cooperstown again, I’ll spend a lot of time admiring the plaques of Tom Seaver and The Kid, Gary Carter (despite the fact Gary’s has that ridiculous M instead of the more appropriate NY). But I will also spend a few extra moments checking out Rivera’s plaque. I didn’t cheer for him, never rooted for him. But I did experience his greatness and that is what makes Baseball a beautiful game.

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With Great Sales Comes Greater Responsibility Fri, 27 Sep 2013 17:41:17 +0000 Harvey Pitching 6/28Matt Harvey must be feeling pretty good about himself right now. The pitcher’s elbow injury is healing well, or so he says, and he wraps up a winning season in his first full season in Major League Baseball. Yesterday, MLB reported that Harvey ranked #2 in the jerseys sold this half of the season.

Surprising, as he hasn’t pitched for a month and with no national holidays worthy of gift buying, it’s hard for many to understand how the 24-year-old nearly topped the best-selling list.

Whether or not he’s worthy of this ‘accolade’ is a discussion to be had down the bar or in the Betfair forums. More important than worthiness is what the list actually implies.

Being so popular suggests Matt Harvey is increasingly becoming a role model for Mets fans young and old. His game has improved this season but it certainly isn’t at a level to match the hype and sadly recent controversies may be driving the sales – not his game.

Modelling yourself on Derek Jeter is great for your baseball but not for public image. Harvey is still suffering from that Men’s Journal article this summer but his jersey sales aren’t.

Clearly fans who bet on the World Series with betfair like a lovable scamp and there’s plenty to admire in Harvey, but he must be careful not to push the boundaries too far now he’s directly in the public gaze. Young fans idolize him, and with that comes great responsibility.

Hopefully, Harvey has seen the jersey list and appreciates what it means. Next season he must hit the ground running and throw like an All-Star pitcher, or the critics will be ready to put him in his place if he slips up.

We’ve said for a while now this special player had tremendous potential and this season he’s proven capable of meeting it. Now it’s time to push his game further.

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Harvey and Wright Crack Top 20 Best Selling Jerseys Thu, 26 Sep 2013 16:23:08 +0000 harvey wright

Matt Harvey (# 2) and David Wright (# 13) are among the top 20 selling jerseys in a list released by Major League Baseball.

The list which follows, is based on MLB jersey sales since the All-Star break.

Top 20 Selling Jerseys

1. Mariano Rivera, Yankees
2. Matt Harvey, Mets
3. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
4. Manny Machado, Orioles
5. Buster Posey, Giants
6. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
7. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
8. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
9. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
10. Mike Trout, Angels
11. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
12. Derek Jeter, Yankees
13. David Wright, Mets
14. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
15. Bryce Harper, Nationals
16. Chris Davis, Orioles
17. Hyun-jin Ryu, Dodgers
18. David Ortiz, Red Sox
19. Robinson Cano, Yankees
20. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

Wright was actually fourth on this list prior to the All-Star break, but dropped to thirteenth. Cant help but notice Puig and Cespedes ranked so high… Wonder if Abreu will be there next year?

harvey wright jerseys

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Everybody Loves Sandy… Especially the Rest of the National League Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:00:48 +0000 tom glavine

It was the most important game of the year. If the Mets wanted to make the post-season they needed to win. There was no tomorrow. I prepared myself: A Coke, a handful of pretzels, a fresh pack of cigarettes, my Mets cap, my lucky Mets shirt. And before I even got comfortable, it was over.

A lead-off walk, a single, another single, a double, yet another single, another walk, still another base hit, a hit batsmen just for the hell of it and one more double. Tom Glavine lasted just 1/3 of an inning, the shortest outing of his career. The Marlins sent 12 men to the plate, scored 7 times and sealed the Mets fate on the final day of the season.

Man that was fun! No, the game surely wasn’t. It was heartbreaking to watch my team unravel before my eyes. The entire year shot to hell in 20 agonizing minutes. But yet it was enjoyable. 2007 was like a good movie that had a bad ending—just like 2006. The fact that in game No. 162 the Mets had the post-season within reach was exciting.

When we hear “Mets” and “1980’s” in the same sentence, we can’t help but smile. We immediately conjure up images of Doc and Darryl, Keith and Gary, Darling and Knight. Although things never materialized the way we envisioned, it was a fun and exciting time to be a Mets fan. From 1984 through 1990, our Amazins’ averaged 95 wins, never finishing below 2nd. However, in those seven years, we managed just one Championship and one division title. Not exactly a dynasty.

We older fans have fond memories of the Seaver/Koosman/Matlack days. From 1969 through 1976, our club averaged a respectable 84 wins. Yet during this eight year span, we won just two pennants and one World Series. Good, but not great.

So, why do we regard the eighties and early seventies so highly when we didn’t really dominate? The reason is because at least we were relevant. Each year the Mets had a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. Each year we played meaningful games through September.

sad mets bench

This is a big change from the current sad state of our club. Since Alderson has become GM, not only have the Mets not won, but we haven’t even been competitive. We have yet to play an important game after the All-Star Break. Whereas most teams play 162 games, the Mets’ season is, for all intents and purposes, wrapped up after 90. The last 2 ½ months are spent going through the motions of finishing out the schedule.

Mets fans are an interesting bunch. We’re not Yankee fans who deem anything less than a Championship as failure. We’re not Braves fans or Cardinals fans who battle and then always find a way to play into October. Regrettably, we’re turning into Cubs fans where sub-500 finishes and tolerating less than mediocrity is now the acceptable norm.

Alderson is missing one simple fact and it shows how out of touch he is with the fan base. We’re not looking for a dynasty. We’re not looking for a string of championships. We’d be happy with simply being relevant, respectable. Sure, a World Series would be nice, but we’d be content even contending, with fighting for the pennant. Ask yourself, would you rather go through the heartache of a late season collapse or hardly look at the standings after August 1?

Sadly, baseball IS a business. However, it also smacks of politics. Alderson supporters blame “the other guy.” Look at what Alderson inherited they claim. He can only do so much. It’s not his fault. Are we talking about George W. Bush or Omar Minaya? To a man who is unemployed, a single mom who now has to work two part-time jobs to support herself and her children or a family struggling to make ends meet on reduced income, they don’t care whose fault it is; they just want things better. The same can be said for Mets fans. I don’t care whose fault it is. I just want to win. Or at least be relevant.

Those in the Alderson camp are quick to argue that once big contracts come off the books, he’ll have more money to spend. However, many of these are the same fans who condemned Minaya for his big contracts. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

frank cashen davey johnson

Some compare what Alderson inherited to what Frank Cashen saw when he came in in 1980. However, Cashen had a harder road ahead of him. Back in the eighties and seventies, making the post-season was harder than it is now. Only 2 out of 12 teams got in — 1 out of 6. You had to earn it. Now, 5 of 15 teams make the playoffs. 1 of every 3, not 1 of every 6. Yet, in spite of the easier path, the Mets have yet to even come close under the Alderson regime.

If the same format that is in place today existed back in the 1980’s, the Cashen-led Mets would have made the post-season every year from 1984 through 1990. Seven straight years of seeing our Mets in October.

Can anyone picture this happening as long as Alderson is in charge?

Another example of how losing has become accepted is Terry Collins. Whatever you think of Collins, the simple fact remains he has not won. Just yesterday, Alderson stated of his manager, “He’s done an excellent job.” (Bartender, I’ll have what he’s drinking.)

Through September 22, Collins has a .463 winning percentage since becoming skipper, only slightly better than Dallas Green and the one and only Jeff Torborg, lower than even the gangsta, Jerry Manuel. Yet, Alderson will most likely be rewarding Collins’ losing ways by bringing him back for more. (Note: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.) And as Collins and his losing ways will return, Wally Backman–a proven winner both as manager and player—will not even be given a passing thought.

Many of us continue to buy what Alderson is selling….


Yes, The Plan… But yet, the losses pile up as we accept failure.

Five years ago today, Johan Santana won his 15th game, allowing two runs while striking out 10 in a 6-2 win over the Cubs. The Mets pulled to within a game and half of the first place Phillies with five games left. Now, under Alderson, fans are ecstatic that we moved into a tie with the Phillies for third place. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The Matt Harvey situation further proves how Alderson has lulled fans into a culture of accepting failure. Harvey is still a question mark for 2014 and yet many are already saying that without our ace next year, we’ll have to bide our time until 2015. HUH??? WHAT??? The 2013 season isn’t even finished yet and already we’re throwing in the towel on 2014???

But that’s what happens when you have a GM who keeps talking about the future, the future, the future…

In 1988, Gary Carter hit just 11 home runs, Keith Hernandez missed two months of the season with injuries, and Bobby Ojeda had a losing record. In spite of this, the Mets still captured the division with 100 victories. Yet, nowadays we lose one pitcher and immediately lose hope.

By comparison, look at the Bronx. The Yankees played the bulk of this year without Derek Jeter and A-Rod, two of their most potent bats and future Hall of Famers (well, at least Jeter.) They also have a 43-year old closer. Yet, in spite of this, the Yankees find themselves in contention for the wildcard. Meanwhile, in Flushing the AlderMets are doing what they do best: Reduced to playing spoiler—again.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Harvey is healthy in 2014. Let’s assume he shows no lingering effects and is 100%. Let’s say he picks up where he left off. He dominates the NL again in 2014…and 2015….and 2016. What if he REALLY is another Tom Seaver? Wouldn’t that be great?

However, if he is, then you’re looking at Harvey wanting a salary commensurate with Verlander or Kershaw. Perhaps, even more since he has a taste for the finer things in life. Can anyone picture the frugal Alderson and thrifty Wilpons handing over $23 million a year for 5-6 years? R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young award and he was allowed to walk over $8 million. Jose Reyes, one of the most beloved Mets in the last 20 years, became the first Met to win a batting title and he was discarded like an old rosin bag. Why will things be any different with Harvey?

In a few days, ten different teams will find themselves in the post-season while the Mets clear out their lockers and head home for another winter. Meanwhile, fans from Los Angeles to Boston, and from Oakland to Atlanta, will be cheering for their clubs to bring home a championship. And what will we be doing? We’ll be looking forward to 2014…unless Harvey isn’t healthy which means we’ll be looking forward to 2015…unless Wheeler gets hurt and then we’ll be hopeful about 2016…unless David Wright gets hurt. And so on and so on.

While most baseball fans cling to the age-old hope of “Wait Till Next Year.” Thanks to Alderson, we can cling to the hope of waiting for…the future. It will get here…eventually.

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Interview With Mets Second Base Prospect T.J. Rivera Thu, 29 Aug 2013 10:00:59 +0000 t.j. rivera

With the St. Lucie Mets coming back in town this past weekend, to face the Fort Myers Miracle, I set out a few weeks ago to try and land an interview with one of their players. My first thought was since I picked second baseman T.J. Rivera as my first MMN Player of the Week honoree, it would be really cool to chat with him about the great season he has been having in High-A.

I reached out to Alex Kushel, who is the play by play announcer for the St. Lucie Mets, whom I met when I covered the Mets/Miracle game here in Fort Myers back in late June. I emailed Alex and requested to chat with T.J. Rivera prior to Sunday’s game and he responded that it would work. Upon receiving that email, the excitement in me took over. I have always dreamed about being in this position, but never did I imagine that my dream would actually come true.

After Alex granted me my wish, I now had to get prepared, and make sure that I had what I needed to make it a success. My good friend Humberto was visiting from New York with his family and he agreed to be my camera guy. I wanted to make sure I chronicled this event in every way.

We arrived at Hammond Stadium on Sunday around 12:45 pm and Alex met us at the front gate. We chatted for a bit about how nervous I was and he basically just told me not to worry about it. But I am not sure he understood what this really meant for me. Being a Mets fan all my life and now having the opportunity to have my first interview with a Mets player, to me that was huge.

We walked down under the stands and other players from the home team started to make their way out for their workout, but my mind was so focused on what I had to do, I paid no attention. It was kind of dark with occasional lighting in certain spots, so I asked Humberto to take some practice shots and he reassured me everything was good to go.

Alex disappeared into a door, which I assumed was the clubhouse and within a few minutes he came out with T.J. Rivera and introduced him to me and at this point the butterflies were really stirring up in my stomach and I felt like my mind was going blank. I took a deep breath and greeted T.J. with a handshake and said hello, he shook my hand and smiled back and greeted the both of us. At that moment, Humberto lifted his camera, took a picture and the flash from the camera lit up the darkness and at that moment it all sunk in, my first interview was underway.


David –  You lead the league in hits, what do you attribute to your continued success at the plate?

T.J. – I just try to go up there with having a good approach and a plan that will help me execute, and just help my team win any way possible. If I have to move a guy over and do something small, that is my goal honestly.

David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped you with your performance?

T.J. – I think all the Mets coaching staff and everybody, they all help us out.  I think they equally have a part in our success, and just try to take their advice, what they tell us about the game and try to learn from each and every one of them.

David – This question comes from one of our writers, you have shown enough at the Florida State League to warrant a promotion to Double-A to start next season. Are you looking forward to that challenge and have you set any goals for yourself for 2014?

T.J. – I try not to set some really outrageous goals, I just want to play to the best of my ability and try and get better every year, and if that does happen and I do get promoted next year to Double A,  that would be awesome. I really try not to think about those little things, because you can get frustrated sometimes, and I just try to look at each day and play as hard as I can every game.

David – Who was your favorite player growing up and did you try to model yourself after him in any way? 

T.J. – When I was a kid I used to watch the Yankees a lot growing up in the Bronx and I loved Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter were my two favorites and just the way they both carried themselves and played the game. They were amazing and they were just really humble. I think they play the game the way I want to play the game, they play hard all the time, never really had that cocky attitude and they just went about their business the right way. That’s always the way I wanted to play my game.

David – You have played both SS and 2B as well as 3B in your career, which position do you prefer? 

T.J. – Honestly, third base used to be my favorite but I haven’t played there in so long, so I couldn’t tell you if I still like it or not, especially now that I’m playing here in pro ball. These guys are some big guys and they can turn on some balls, so I don’t know if I still like it as much as I used to (as he cracks a smile). Honestly, I’m comfortable at all positions, second base I think is honestly the easier one up the middle obviously from short because it is an easier throw. It’s a little harder to turn the double play, but it’s something I have gotten used to when I moved over to that side of the field, but I am really honestly comfortable in all the three positions.

David – What is something you would like to improve on in your game and have you made any progress?

T.J. – Probably add some speed and maybe my first step quickness. I want to be able to steal a couple of more bags, and if I can add that to my game, I think that would be huge being a middle infielder. I want to obviously add some power too; I didn’t have too much power this year, but adding some flexibility to my game to where I can have a first step quickness a little better than it was this year, a little burst and maybe show I can play shortstop a little better than I did last year, and of course add some power, hopefully I can get a little stronger.

David – I noticed you hit for power last year, do you feel that the pitching is different or has your approach been different?

T.J. – Honestly I don’t know, I  feel that I’ve hit some balls that I could have gotten out in some places here but I mean, these fields are a little tougher to hit at. I don’t know if I have lost any power really or just the pitchers obviously get better here and there, but I think my approach last year was that I had it down to a tee and when I found my pitch I drove it. Once in a while now I missed it a couple of times here and there, but I don’t think strength wise I have lost any strength. I just want to be able to get the power back into my game, I think half way through the season, I hit a couple of balls that could have gone out or maybe I thought should have and it didn’t and I started pressing to try and hit home runs and that is obviously not going to work. You can’t try to hit one, it’s pretty tough to do, which I don’t think I have ever done and I don’t think anyone has ever done (as he laughs). I just got to stick with my game and hit doubles and base hits and if they come, they come.

David – What do you do to keep in shape in the off season?

T.J. – In the off season, I use the Mets training program and then I’ll add some stuff to myself in there with some explosive workouts and things of that nature. We had a really good trainer at Troy (University) in my senior year and I have a lot of his workouts that we used to use also and that is when I got really strong, the strongest I have ever been. So I try and add that workout in with the Mets program that they give me, just eat good and do those kind of things that will get me ready for Spring Training of next year. I just like to bust my butt in the gym, the biggest thing I think is that if you just give it your all in the gym that it will be harder to quit during the season, it kind of brings that mentality over to the season.

I told T.J. that I had to point this out to him, so I asked him if he knew that he was born on an important date in N.Y. Mets history (October 27) and if he knew what happened 2 years prior. I stumped him for a moment but he did say it had to do with the Mets and 1986 World Series, and when I said that was the exact day the Mets won the World Series he thought it was awesome, really got a kick out of it, but hey who could blame him for not knowing exactly the date, he wasn’t even born yet.

T.J. Rivera was the perfect first interview for me, because he was very humble and responded to every question was ease and a lot of patience. At times I think I may have mumbled through the question with my nerves kind of taking over, but T.J. made it very easy on me. I could see that having Derek Jeter as a role model truly has made an impact on who he is as a person. His approach to the game reminds you a lot of Derek Jeter and the success that he has come accustomed to lately will only transpire into a very successful pro career. I am definitely rooting for T.J. to be promoted next season to Double-A and hopefully soon find himself making his Major League debut with the Mets.When David Wright moves on from the game it would be great to see T.J., a native New Yorker take over the reigns as the man of the city, because his dedication and his way of approaching the game of baseball is truly the make up of a player worth having on any roster.

t.j. rivera conde

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I would like to thank Alex Kushel for granting me access to T.J. Rivera. I really appreciate his willingness to help me in any way. I want to thank  T.J. for allowing me to interview him and for being very patient with me and for the great responses he gave. I look forward to following his career and rooting for him as he is promoted through the Mets Minor League system and makes his Major League Debut with the Mets. When that day arrives, the Mets will have a player that will bring excitement to the game and be a great role model and ambassador of the game.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Great job David and thanks T.J. I had the occasion this season to ask two different players I interviewed who they felt was the most exciting teammates they’ve seen with the Mets and both of them said Rivera without hesitation. “When he finally arrives to Citi Field’ Jack Leathersich told me, “Mets fans are going to love what they see.”

The fact that he leads the FSL in hits is notable because it is a notorious pitcher’s league so his numbers to me are all the more impressive. T.J. leads the team in runs scored and is second on the team with 23 doubles. I’m certain we’ll see him in Binghamton next season, and as one coach told me, “he lives for baseball.”

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