Mets Merized Online » fans http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:27:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Mets and SAS Analytics Announce Partnership To Improve Fan Marketing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-and-sas-analytics-announce-partnership-to-improve-fan-marketing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-and-sas-analytics-announce-partnership-to-improve-fan-marketing.html/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:27:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168819 citi field fans

According to this SAS release on the company website, the New York Mets and SAS, the leader in business analytics, today announced a partnership that will see the Club use SAS analytics to help analyze fan data at an individual level to engage with them in a meaningful way. This analytics initiative applies a data-driven approach to discover what fans want and how they behave so the team can design experiences that appeal to them on a personal level.

It appears the Mets want to gather as much information as they can from ticket buyers (what did you eat, did you buy a T-shirt, etc.) to generate a 360o view of you to help them personalize their communications and future promotions.

Via various social media channels like Twitter, they will also accurately gauge fan sentiment relating to different players that will help them make better decisions based on what the fans want and care about.

“There’s an ever-increasing volume of data in the business of baseball and we are always looking for new ways to analyze,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Lou DePaoli of the New York Mets.

“In the past, SAS has been a great partner in analyzing data and providing us with a unique way to engage with our fans. We look forward to our continued relationship in the years ahead.”

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Puppets, Puppeteers and Pedagogy, Why Managers Matter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/puppets-puppeteers-and-pedagogy-why-managers-matter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/puppets-puppeteers-and-pedagogy-why-managers-matter.html/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167595 terry collins 2

Pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching. From the Greek “ped” (child) and “agogi” (a place where you undergo a test or “trial by suffering” that you learn from – as in “agony”).

We all teach and we all learn throughout our lives. Some of us are better at it than others. There is a misconception in many circles that teaching (and learning) are exclusive to academic settings, and that once a person reaches a level of mastery they graduate to some sort of real world where they no longer stand to benefit from the acquisition of new information. This is of course absurd. I cannot think of a single occupation outside of perhaps the most banal and menial where you would not benefit from continued learning and growth. Those of us who open our minds continue to grow, while those us us who resist the novel and the new, do not.

There is a bias in baseball, one that implies that a player’s physical skills are all that matters. That once a player learns the essentials of the game, he is ready for the big leagues provided he has the physical talent to compete.  And yet this is clearly not the case as nearly half of all high draft picks never make it to the show. You cannot in good conscience say that they didn’t have the tools because they are drafted almost entirely on the merits of their physical gifts. Clearly there is something else at work, clearly there is a psychological, cognitive, and perhaps even emotional aspect to the game that isn’t quite understood in a world of how high can you jump how fast is your bat and how hard can you throw? Consider for a moment what life is like for a kid far from home, cast into a world of “b” list cities, vending machine fare, crummy hotels, and endless grueling bus rides. It’s not for everyone.

A great mystery of Major League Baseball is why the jump to the majors is so difficult for so many. Is it the level of skill? The increased speed and strength and agility required to compete against the best of the best? Or is it something else?

Many have argued that what makes Major League Baseball so difficult is the pressure of the big stage itself. The bright lights and the unforgiving lens of the media and the fans can make the mental aspect of the game overwhelming. In reality it is of course some combination of both, but fans of this great game have often wondered why some organizations, the Cardinals and Braves for instance (Minnesota and Oakland are up there also), seem to routinely produce more viable major league players?

Scouting certainly may have something to do with it, but how often have we seen two players with comparable physical gifts take different paths? One succeeds while the other ends up back in San Antonio working in the old man’s furniture shop. The fact of the matter is that the more time and money an organization invests in a prospect, the greater the chances that prospect will succeed. Mike Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick, but he had a godfather in the organization looking after his needs and he was of a mindset that allowed him to take batting practice for hours on end until his hands bled.

Player development may play a greater role than we think. The pedagogy of preparing young athletes for the rigors and challenges of major league baseball is no small undertaking. It takes a certain kind of person … patient, intelligent, creative, experienced, with impeccable communication skills. They need to be part teacher, part parent, part psychiatrist. Coaches in the minor leagues have a uniquely challenging job. You have to believe that organizations that devote exceptional resources to their player development programs do a better job of producing major league players, and this does in fact appear to be true. The Braves for instance actually employ a mental skills coach who conducts psychological evaluations of potential draft selections for the Scouting Department – his name is Geoff Miller. Mr. Miller has even written a book on “Intangibles.”

terry collins

But this story isn’t about intangibles or even player development. This story is about pedagogy, the teaching and learning involved in competitive baseball. Sandy Alderson came to us with his own set of beliefs and inclinations. His doctrine involves securing young controllable pitching assets, managing the strike-zone, clogging the basepaths — we’ve been over Mr. Alderson’s tenets ad nauseam … But one of his long held beliefs is that the coaching staff  at the major league level shouldn’t be working on teaching a whole lot … they’re maybe tweaking a thing here or there and providing lots of incidental support but not much else.

For this reason Mr. Alderson has always taken a watered down approach to selecting his major league coaching staff … as if his manager is a token figurehead with little impact or influence who more or less goes through the motions of creating a lineup and making fairly cut and dry in-game moves that don’t require a lot of sophistication and don’t amount to much anyway. This goes against virtually everything that Alderson the man represents … from his military background to his experience in academia, he more than anyone should know that leadership and teaching are indispensable.

His approach is one of there only being one leader, one clear chain of command, and field managers who usurp this chain with their own ideas are dangerous because they may deviate from organizational tenets thereby interfering with their integrity and application … But If there’s one thing we know about our species it’s that we’re all different and the best teachers have always been those most tuned into those differences, able to tailor learning tasks to individual needs, able to work around a particular learner’s blocks and shortcomings by being creative, by thinking outside the box, by taking alternate perspectives.

A debate has raged in education in recent years as standardized testing and common core curricula have blanketed the profession making many tenured experienced teachers feel like mindless automatons forced to teach to faulty tests in a system that deprives them of the ingenuity, flexibility, and creativity that was once the driving force of that all important student-teacher bond … teachers know their students better than administrators, test developers, and politicians … managers and coaches know their players better than general managers (and owners).

It’s an odd and peculiar irony that the same micromanaging and standardization plaguing our educational system also presents as quite possibly the biggest impediment that our Mets are facing in their attempt to take the next step. Terry Collins is a veteran’s coach. He’s a guy who says the right things to the media, does what he’s told, and doesn’t make waves, but he is also very, very old. He’s not the motivator, the inspirational leader, the win at all costs find a way to succeed pioneering thinker that this very young team needs.

Terry Collins is not that teacher or coach that we all remember got in our faces and forced us to become better, to look at ourselves, to believe in ourselves and to push through doubt. He just isn’t. It’s not a knock on Collins … I’m sure he is a good person with deep knowledge of the game that might be perfectly suited to any number of other baseball scenarios, but he isn’t a teacher, he is more of a caretaker. This team needs someone who will get personal, who will find ways of helping players solve their issues, be they psychological, physical, or emotional.

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A figurehead placeholder, a puppet if you will, cannot do that. No one wants Pinocchio for a boss – as the recent Geico “did you know” commercial points out. Pinocchio doesn’t make for a good inspirational speaker. Puppets aren’t very good listeners either, and if there’s one thing I’ve discovered over the years, it’s that you can’t teach if you can’t listen.

Sometimes refusing to admit you are wrong precludes learning. We’ve all had those moments in our lives when we’ve had to come to terms with our mistakes, and for this front office, they need to confront the possibility that they’ve been fabulously amiss in their approach to selecting a manager for their major league club.

Until that time when the Mets front office recognizes that you can only pull the strings so far and you need someone on the ground who is uniquely involved with his players and who can teach and motivate and solve complex problems, this team will be mired much more in the agony part of pedagogy, than the learning part.

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Featured Post: Now Is The Time To Make A Difference http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-now-is-the-time-to-make-a-difference.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-now-is-the-time-to-make-a-difference.html/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:16:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167112 sandy alderson

It is officially the time of the year when every Mets fan begins to try and figure out a way to turn this franchise into a contender in 2015.

For the first time in a long time, there actually is a serious chance that with one or two moves – the Mets can be a contender next year.

The problem I have with all of this chatter thus far is that some fans are seemingly trying to once again look for the “affordable” fix. This is a team that could enter 2015 with the best 1-5 pitching staff in the sport, and saying that would not be viewed as an exaggeration.

That’s something to build around, and a formula for success. However, what they do around them will dictate just how dedicated to winning the Mets really are.

If you’re the Mets or a fan of the Mets you cannot, I repeat CANNOT accept a non-difference maker offensive player being brought to this team for 2015. End of story, not up for discussion.

markakisFellow MMO Staffer Harris Decker posted his top five free agents that could help. The first one was Nick Markakis, and I am telling you right now – if the Mets come to us this winter and claim they have solved their offensive woes by signing Nick Markakis, I might throw up in my mouth. He is a fine ballplayer, but the guy has a .707 OPS over the last two years. The Mets don’t need another .700 OPS hitter. That’s more of the same, not a true fix.

I am so tired of hearing anybody, fans, media, and the team owners talk about the payroll for 2015. Who cares what the payroll is? Seriously, why does anybody care about a number right now? The Mets could get rid of substantial payroll via trade, add a difference maker and have a far better team than 2014 and spend the same or less money doing it.

So who cares what the payroll is? The issue shouldn’t be “you better spend X” it should be “you better go get the right talent.”

That’s the statement we as fans should be making. That is the statement the Wilpons and Alderson should be making.

Rather than talk about imaginary payroll numbers as if anybody knows free agent demands right now, tell me you’re going to get the right players…no matter the cost because you recognize a chance to be a contender in 2015.

If that means your payroll ends up at $80 million or $100 million, I could care less. Just don’t tell me the payroll is the reason you backed away from a difference maker.

Let me be clear on something – there is a difference between being concerned with Troy Tulowitzki’s contract because of his health issues as it relates to the financial commitment and backing away from a player with limited risk, a quality resume but a high salary.

The Mets are in NEED of a power hitting corner outfielder, and potentially a SS/2B.

If they are confident Wilmer Flores is the SS for 2015, and they can figure out the Daniel Murphy/Dilson Herrera situation, that’s probably going to be acceptable for 2015, so long as there is a utility/backup option put into place.

What is not acceptable however, is trying to in any way claim the corner outfield position can be fixed internally, or through patch work Chris Young-style signings. Players like Matt den Dekker are nice players with excellent defensive ability, but the Mets simply do not have the luxury right now to dedicate a corner outfield spot based primarily on defense.

Jose BautistaJoe D. posted a thought about acquiring Jose Bautista on Wednesday. That is the type of move you need to make if you’re the Mets. He changes everything for the 2015 Mets, and the 2016 Mets. He’d bring life back to Flushing and would make everybody around him put up better offensive numbers as well.

I’m not sure what I would “offer,” because I have no idea Toronto’s true intention with that kind of move. I’d think if you’re dealing Bautista, you’re looking for young players, not Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese. But who knows? They need to find out though.

If the Mets give you more of the same this off-season with patch work signings, then they simply are proving to you and I, once and for all, that this is more about saving money than winning games.

I cannot remember a more vital off-season for this franchise. If it’s more of the same in 2015, even the strongest Alderson supporters will start to wonder what is really going on.

If a legitimate attempt at bringing in a difference maker is made, then the cynical fan who is quick to point out the Mets failures will start to come back, and be re-connected with the team and the rest of the fans.

I gave them a pass to get their house in order since 2011, but the time to make a splash and rejuvenate your fan base – is right now.

There are no excuses for failing to do so.

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Can Mets Win Without That Big Splash Free Agent? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/can-mets-win-without-that-big-splash-free-agent.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/can-mets-win-without-that-big-splash-free-agent.html/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 05:02:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167337 mets win

There are two different ways you can lose 80-games. You can lose 80-games as a really bad team or you can lose 80-games as a team that has shown signs of growth. Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the Mets are the latter.

If you begin to dissect the team, you can start to see his point. Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares, Vic Black, Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia and Zack Wheeler all took big steps forward this year. Sherman contends that Dilson Herrera and Matt den Dekker should be included in that group. I’ll let you judge that one for yourself.

Still, his point is made. The Mets were not a lost cause this year. You can see growth and you can see a core starting to form.

“There is no reason the Mets cannot go to the Braves’ $110 million range which is middle of the pack for the 30 teams,” Sherman writes.

“I can understand if they want to avoid the long-term risk. But there will be opportunities through free agency and trades to obtain assets for three or fewer years and for $10 million annually or less, and if the Mets — at such a vital crossroads moment — can’t do that, then the Wilpons really are going to have some explaining to do.”

What he is eluding to are the type of moves that keep teams like the Oakland A’s competitive year-after-year. Michael Cuddyer and Shane Victorino appear to be logical choices as far as free agents go but would that be enough?

In addition to a few key signings, the Mets will have to look into some strategic trades. The most intriguing of them could be with the Boston Red Sox. In an attempt to retool their pitching staff, the Sox could send Xander Bogaerts to the Mets in exchange for one of the top pitching prospects Alderson has worked so hard to stockpile.

As we’ve discussed on MMO a few times, a trade for Yoenis Cespedes could also make a lot of sense for the Mets and Red Sox. Cespedes has already stated that he would like to reach free-agency and with just one more year of team control, they could flip him to the Mets and get four years of Jon Niese in return. The Mets would then have to try and keep the young slugger in New York or outbid others in free agency.

We all know the Mets aren’t that far away. They may be a few small pieces away and may not need to bring in a massive free agent hitter like many fans are clamoring for. Instead, they can build around a core of d’Arnaud, Lagares, deGrom, Duda and of course Matt Harvey and developing talent through their farm system.

Do you think the Mets can win with their $85-90 million payroll?iheartnym

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Derek Jeter Through The Eyes Of A Mets Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/derek-jeter-through-the-eyes-of-a-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/derek-jeter-through-the-eyes-of-a-mets-fan.html/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:00:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166908 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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Di-JEST: Might As Well Be The Suckiest http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-might-as-well-be-the-suckiest.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-might-as-well-be-the-suckiest.html/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 20:56:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166308 terry collins Mets Spring Training

The missus and I just returned from a short vacation which means that I could see no Mets games on either SNY or PIX for about a week.   Usually that’s a REAL vacation.

But I see that while I was away the team dismantled the Atlanta Braves and pretty much stymied any hopes they had of making the playoffs.  I can’t believe I missed that since I’ve been waiting for the Amazins to do something like that since Larry “Chipper” Jones was a teenager.

One thing I did keep up with was Metsmerized (and the other lesser Mets-themed blogs).

An article I found particularly interesting was written by Joe D. It’s a survey measuring how fans view their team in many different areas.

Just as pretty much no one remembers who finished second in the Miss America contest or lost the last Super Bowl (yes I know that some of you know that one) being 28th or 29th out of 30 is nothing special.  The key is to be at one end, 1st, or the other, 30th.

So let’s see what the team can do to move those low rankings to the very bottom.

Ownership – Rank 28 – Honesty and Loyalty to Core Players

The two teams that “beat” out the Mets here are Miami and Oakland. That Miami is there is no surprise to me.  I think we can beat Oakland here easily.

The key to getting that rank from 28 to at least 29 and probably to 30 is this.  Traditionally the team has badmouthed its players on their way out, e.g. Justin Turner.

Once arbitration numbers are exchanged the team will surely find a way to detach itself from Daniel Murphy.  And when they do perhaps they’ll leak what a cancer he was in the clubhouse or some other drivel.  That should be enough to fly past Oakland.

It may not get them to Loria’s lead position.

For that Jeff Wilpon might have to spray paint the words “Child out of wedlock” on the side of Leigh Castergine’s car.

Fan Relations – Rank 29 – Openness and consideration towards fans.

Here the only team that fared worse, and not by much, was the San Diego Padres.

This could be a trickier one than you might imagine.  I suppose some of you have read this, especially if you are regular subscribers to the Jewish Business Daily (phew, glad I didn’t let my subscription run out):

You see the Mets have been dealing with “crushing debts” and denying it to the fanbase for years.  Who knew????

As the oft quoted line goes:

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

So now it looks like the tactic is to admit what we all knew and try to stall through another few years with a substandard payroll.

Stadium Experience – Rank 28 – Quality of ballpark and game day promotions as well as friendliness of the environment.

Without even looking up who did worse in this category I think I know how we can get that rank to 30.  I’ve often read that the ushers are rude and disrespectful to fans and will shoo them out of the lower seat areas even if the attendance is puny and no one else is down there.

All they need to do is arm these boors with cattle prods and surely the rank will hit rock bottom.

Player Effort – Rank 28 – Overall effort displayed on field and likability of team

Guess what.  I think this ranking is a bit unfair.  This is a difficult club to love but not impossible to like.  There are just too many guys to like for a ranking this low.  How many of us don’t like Jake deGrom, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud?

And while I’m staunchly anti-Eric Young Jr. as a player I give him credit for running out ALL his feeble grounders and being willing to steal a base late in a close game which even the immortal Jose Reyes wouldn’t do.

I just can’t see this player effort thing dropping to 30th any time soon.

Leadership – Rank 29 – Overall strength exhibited by manager and coaching staff.

The only team that ranks lower here is the Kansas City Royals. Personally I don’t think Terry Collins is a particularly good manager but I also tend to doubt that he and his crack coaching staff are only better than one other major league team.

With the addition of fan favorite Wally Backman to the coaching staff I imagine this ranking is going to be going up, not down, in the immediate future.

So I don’t think the Mets can get a perfect 30 in all categories – try as they may.

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What Will The Mets Do This Off-Season? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/what-will-the-mets-do-this-off-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/what-will-the-mets-do-this-off-season.html/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:38:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165981 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Well, it looks like another sub-.500 season is close to the end, and we can expect Alderson and Collins back, so it’s time to look at what the off-season might have in store for the Mets. I think we can eliminate “spend big and acquire two or three major stars”, but it’s still somewhat of a mystery what the Amazins will do. Here are a few possibilities. 

1. Minor Tinkering Only: With Matt Harvey coming back and progress from the likes of Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and Lucas Duda, we can hope for continued improvement from them along with better seasons from David Wright and Curtis Granderson. Just add a few pieces via low-cost free agency or minor trades such as another righthanded hitting 1B/LF type, a veteran utility infielder, and a couple of arms to replace Carlyle and Eveland. Maybe replace a coach or two. This, is of course, the ultra-conservative approach. It assumes any trade of Colon, Gee, Niese, or Murphy will be instigated by the other team involved and that the return will be in the form of more prospects or relatively inconsequential major leaguers.

2. Trade Prospects for Established Players: Will Alderson go this route to fill the holes in left field and shortstop? Such names as Yoenis Cespedes, Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar, Starlin Castro, etc. have popped up from time to time Obviously the value of each in terms of the talent the Mets will have to give up varies and whatever deal the Mets make will undoubtedly be considered an over-payment by some fans, but at least the Mets can say they are serious about challenging for a playoff spot in 2015.

3. Trade Pitching Prospects for Hitting Prospects: This probably won’t improve the team’s chances in 2015 but there are plenty of fans drooling over the Cubs’ Addison Russell or Javier Baez and think trading 2-3 of our top prospects for either one of them would be a great deal. Count me out on that one.

4. Unload Veteran Players: Trade Colon, Murphy and/or Gee for whatever they can get in prospects and use the money saved to sign a Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz to a multi-year deal.

5. Get A Star: Target one particular star player and offer whatever prospects it takes to get him. The player has to be potentially a major difference maker such as Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, or any other established star in their class. Of course, we are also talking major salary commitment.

Personally, I am hoping for option #2, but I’m expecting option #1.

What do you think? What do you want the Mets to do (be realistic, please – selling the team is not an option!) and what do you expect them to actually do?

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MMO Fan Shot: Time To Send Hodges To The Hall by http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-time-to-send-hodges-to-the-hall.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-time-to-send-hodges-to-the-hall.html/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:53:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166193 Gil-Hodges

An MMO Fan Shot by Bill Hall

The woman who has earned the title First Lady of Brooklyn Baseball turns 88 late this month. The Brooklyn Cyclones honored Joan Hodges and her late husband Gil in grand style this year, handing out commemorative jerseys bearing Hodges’ name and his famous number 14, and adding a “Mrs. #14” banner to their row of honored numbers at MCU Park.

Probably the only thing that could make 2014 a happier year for Joan Hodges would be to see her fondest wish come true: the election of her late husband to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Gil Hodges becomes eligible for election again when the Golden Era Committee meets December 8. The slate of candidates will be announced right after this years’ World Series.

A group of dedicated fans is working to help Joan Hodges’ dream come true. They’ve coalesced around an online petition, supported by a Facebook page. As of this writing, the petition has attracted more than 1,600 signers. They include a dozen past and present major league players, as well as numerous prominent baseball writers, announcers, bloggers and historians, plus hundreds of fans who remember the former Dodger first baseman and Mets manager with affection and respect.

Sign the petition here.

joan hodges

Some of the luminaries who have added their names include “Boys of Summer” author Roger Kahn, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Dave Anderson, former Dodgers General Manager Fred Claire and former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter.

Gil Hodges Jr. was at his mother’s side for the ceremonies at MCU Park, which also celebrated what would have been his father’s 90th birthday earlier in the year.

Hodges, an Indiana native, married Brooklyn native Joan Lombadi on December 26, 1948. They had four children together in their almost quarter-century of marriage, which ended with his sudden death on Easter Sunday, 1972.

She’s kept his cause alive in all the decades since. In 2002, a reporter visiting her at her Brooklyn home—the same one on Bedford Avenue she shared with her husband and four children–observed her offering a prayer for her husband’s selection:

“Joan Hodges holds fast to her rite of passage into the night, starting with rosaries and ending with a whispered act of contrition. She begs forgiveness from a husband who died 30 years back, a coal miner’s son from the heartland who would have never allowed his bride to hold a big-city vigil over some self-important cause.

“‘Please forgive me,’ Joan asks of Gil. ‘I just have to do this.’

“‘It’s the last thing in the world he’d want me doing,” Joan said. “But I feel a real injustice has been done.”

A dozen years have passed and still Joan Hodges waits.

Fans devoted to the Hodges share her sense of injustice. They point out that he received more votes than any other candidate not eventually elected by the baseball writers, and he’s come as close as a single vote to being elected through the veterans committee.

gil-hodges-300x280Many fans think he’s in the Hall already; some are indignant over his exclusion; but most are simply puzzled why this man, the dominant National League first baseman of the fifties, a key member of seven pennant winners and two world champions, a man who retired tenth on the all-time home run list, hasn’t received the call yet.

Some Hodges supporters try to take comfort in the fact that his exclusion from the Hall (like that of Pete Rose or Joe Jackson, though for very different reasons) actually has kept his name before the public in a way that wouldn’t happen if he already had his plaque. There was a raft of stories and discussion the last time he was on the ballot, in 2011. Many thought it would finally be his year. A candidate had to receive at least twelve votes from the sixteen member committee. Ron Santo was the single hopeful to be chosen that year; Hodges finished with nine votes.

Once more, Hodges boosters are hopeful that his time has finally come. Although whoever is chosen by the Golden Era Committee will be a member of the Hall’s class of 2015, the election and announcement will take place in December, so the campaigners have adopted a hashtag to help publicize their cause: #14in14.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Bill Hall. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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A Somber Goodbye From Kevin Burkhardt http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/a-somber-goodbye-from-kevin-burkhardt.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/a-somber-goodbye-from-kevin-burkhardt.html/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:15:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165962 kevin burkhardt

Early Wednesday morning, SNY’s field reporter Kevin Burkhardt took to Twitter to thank Mets fans for an amazing journey as he prepares for his final SNY broadcast on September 25th. Here’s what he had to say:BxtrrFNIIAEOk2a

This is actually a really sad moment for a lot of Mets fans, including me. Since 2007, Burkhardt has been there as the voice of stories, happy and sad. He talked to real fans and for many, was the face of the SNY broadcasts. He was there during the pre-game and was the first guy players would speak to after a big win.

Burkhardt’s letter to fans was kind and gentle as was his demeanor on and off the field. On numerous occasions I watched as he talked to kids, signed autographs and talked shop as he mentioned in the Tweet.

Back in December, Howard Megdal (Capital) did an incredible article about FOX “poaching” Burkhardt from SNY. In it, Fox Sports executive producer John Entz described the now veteran broadcaster and why they wanted him at FOX.

“First and foremost, I find Kevin to be a very likeable guy, both on the air, and off the air, frankly. And when you like the broadcaster who you listen to, it makes all the difference in the world. He’s not talking down to you. He’s talking to you as a friend.”

Truer words have never been said. What made Burkhardt so great is that while he was tracking down big stories and talking to players parents, he spoke like he was one of the guys. He was your friend and you trusted his tone as much as you trusted his judgement.

From the entire team at MetsMerized and from me, a lifelong Mets fan through the good and the bad, you will always be our boy KB and good luck at FOX. We’ll be watching.

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Wright Nominated For Roberto Clemente Award http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/wright-nominated-for-roberto-clemente-award.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/wright-nominated-for-roberto-clemente-award.html/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:46:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165917 david wright

The New York Mets, Major League Baseball and Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, today announced that David Wright was named the club’s 2014 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.

Wright is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Wright, the fourth Mets captain in franchise history and seven-time All-Star, has established himself as a leader both on and off the field. He launched the David Wright Foundation in 2005 to provide aid and assistance toward the health, emotional development and education for children in need in New York City and his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia.

Over the past five years, the Foundation has expanded its scope and raised more than $600,000 for a variety of charitable organizations, including the United States Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots, the Ronald McDonald House, the Virginia Tech Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Police Athletic League and the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association – a tribute to his police officer father – as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for whom David hosts children at Citi Field on a regular basis.

David has been a leader in his adopted hometown of New York City ever since putting on a Mets uniform. Every season, David visits a firehouse around the anniversary of September 11 to recognize our fallen heroes and offer support to the hard-working members of the FDNY. He has spread good cheer to September 11 families during Tuesday’s Children visits to Citi Field.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated New York, David donated $250,000 through his foundation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC to help the city recover and rebuild. He toured Staten Island communities that were hit hard by the storm and visited students at a local elementary school along with the New York City School Chancellor.

Inspired by the men and women working to rebuild their communities, David launched The Wright Thing in 2013 to honor and recognize volunteers who made an extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and organizations impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Each month that season, David met with individuals who dedicated time and effort to help their fellow New Yorkers in need. The honorees received an autographed miniature third base and VIP tickets behind third base. They also had the chance to install third base with the grounds crew and had their story told through a video tribute on Citi Vision.

The Wright Thing has continued this year with Wright saluting heroes from the New York City Police Department. The initiative underscores David’s admiration of law enforcement personnel as his father, Rhon, served in the Norfolk Police Department for 30 years before retiring as Assistant Police Chief in January.

The Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet pays tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others. The 15-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow marks the 13th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially recognize local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.

Beginning tomorrow, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet recipient by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees.

Voting ends on Sunday, October 6th and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2014 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

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Di-JEST: My Top 10 Fake Mets Headlines http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-my-top-10-fake-mets-headlines.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-my-top-10-fake-mets-headlines.html/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165476 I’ve been a reader of newspapers for as long as I can remember. Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island I spent years reading the NYC tabloids and then Newsday.

Now living upstate I read the local paper to see what streets have sinkholes the size of in-ground swimming pools.

I still keep up with the NY papers using their online sites. But in my humble opinion, nothing beats a foldable paper in hand. Here are some headlines I’ve made up, most of which I’d love to see, but know we won’t. The newspaper mastheads are courtesy of Newseum and headlines are my own of course.

1. We’ll start with one fans of Wally Backman would love, even though I just can’t see Alderson tabbing him as the next Mets manager. 

headline1 copy

2. Here’s one every baseball fan would be thrilled to read. And how about a pill to make hamstring pulls abate?

headline2

3. Of all the headlines this would be the one that would please me most.

headline3 copy

4. Let’s face it, the Dude has had a fine year but still can’t do squat against a left handed pitcher.

headline4

5. I really wonder about this next guy’s future.

headline6

6. And as if we could ever afford this guy….

headline5

7. I wonder if Juan could make a catch like Willie Mays made on Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.

headline7 copy8. This is how Murph rolls…

headline8 copy

9. Wishful thinking here.  Kevin will be missed.

headline9

10. I’ll admit that Wilmer has been better than I thought he’d be at short but…

headline10

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Featured Post: A Met Fan’s Lament http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-a-met-fans-lament.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-a-met-fans-lament.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:46:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165619 citi field

It’s hard for me to see the team I love always being embroiled in some sort of turmoil brought on by the owners themselves, namely Fred and Jeff Wilpon. How can any of us ever trust these two again?

Fueled by two Ponzi schemes, misrepresenting their impact on the team, the frequent public relations blunders, and now a sexual discrimination lawsuit, my growing disdain for the Mets owners is certainly warranted.

For too long, the Wilpons have run their franchise with varying degrees of failure and far too little success. But ever since getting caught up in the Bernie Madoff scandal, it seems as if every single move they’ve made has been in the best interest of themselves. They are not concerned with the success of the team, nor do they care about the fans. The bottom line has become their bottom line and the fans are just along for the ride.

Last year I made a personal determination about the Wilpons. I truly believed, in the deepest parts of my sports soul, that when the Mets were ready to contend and ready to win, that the money would be there to plug in the final missing pieces. I believed that while they spoke about a decreased payroll, the cash would be there when all our top prospects finally arrived and the team was at the verge of putting together a winning season.

We have finally gotten to that point, and I have never been less confident that the owners will do what it takes to put this team over the top. ‘With all this young talent’ I would think to myself, ‘how could they rationalize not spending?’ What has occurred to me of late is that this ownership group is as far from rational as could be.

For me, there isn’t a singular incident. The lawsuit by former Mets VP Leigh Castergine only added to the frustration, but I can’t call it the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just a guttural feeling at this point. It doesn’t feel like an organization that I’m proud of, but more like an out of control mess with no direction. At this point, an escape plan seems like a pipe dream.

The Mets are on the cusp of being a winning team. They could still realize that goal despite being saddled with such a dysfunctional ownership. However, the hopes of winning are dampened by the stench of antiquated ideals and small market realities. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the money shows up and that the Mets are about to enter another great age of baseball in Queens. For now, all I have is that hope.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Modest Proposal for Emotion in Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-a-modest-proposal-for-emotion-in-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-a-modest-proposal-for-emotion-in-baseball.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:45:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165828 yasiel-puig

An MMO Fan Shot by Gregory Shaw

Baseball has a problem. For over one hundred years, baseball has been played with four bases, nine fielders and zero emotion. So, when you look at the current crop of miscreants like Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz, Jose Reyes and our very own Jenrry Mejia, things get confusing. What the hell are they doing?

I’m no art major and I don’t think I’ll ever appreciate or understand interpretive dance, so bare with me here. It seems to me that when Ortiz flips his bat after hitting a monstrous home run, or that when Reyes shines an imaginary spotlight on himself after stealing a base, these players may be desperately seeking attention. It could be that they’ve come from troubled homes or unfortunate circumstances in their childhoods. Maybe their mothers hugged them too tightly or not enough. Don’t they realize that baseball is a traditional team game that’s played a certain way and will never change for all eternity?

Maybe these players, young and old, have skipped their required reading of baseball’s unwritten rule book. There’s no doubt that Puig has zero respect for the game’s records anyway, as he looked to break DiMaggio’s feat of twenty-seven hits in his first fifteen games – good for a .434 average. Mejia certainly doesn’t care about the Mets’ annals, being that he set the team’s rookie saves record this season. So why then should we expect them to care if they’re shattering the hopes and dreams of true-blooded-put-your-head-down-and-run-the-bases fans everywhere?

I have a proposal. All of the three hundred seventeen new fans that baseball draws every year should not have to be subjected to these raw shows of emotion. I believe that if we remove players that violate the generally agreed-upon moral code of baseball, MLB will attract double – maybe even triple the current figure. We may see a rise to one thousand new fans a year. What other sport can boast a three hundred percent increase in its fanbase by making one simple change?

These moves will also help teams’ rosters. By removing these trouble-making players, there will be free roster spots for younger, cost-effective players. Those removed will have their contracts voided and stricken from all forms of their respective teams’ documents and history. It will be as though they never existed. Teams will offer promotions whereby any merchandise or memorabilia of said players will be thrown into enormous bonfires – correctly controlled and regulated to make sure that the flames do not get too high or too hot, so that nobody will be made uncomfortable by their flashiness.

Baseball’s problem of league-wide player antics needs to be addressed and solved. The spirit of the game has been deteriorating for quite a while. Every time a player claps his hands or points to his teammates in his dugout, another piece of our national pastime crumbles.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and die-hard Met fan Gregory Shaw. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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What’s Wrong With Mejia Showing Some Emotion? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/whats-wrong-with-mejia-showing-some-emotion.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/whats-wrong-with-mejia-showing-some-emotion.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:20:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165771 jenry mejia

Recently, fans and people around baseball have been directing criticism towards Mets closer Jenrry Mejia, who has made a name for himself by not only leading the National League in saves since the All-Star Break, but by celebrating each successful save with a unique and explosive celebration.

The #MejiaStomp has become popular among Mets fans, as well as players and fans around the league. While some people admire the energy Mejia brings in the late innings, others tend to look down on it.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York asked Terry Collins after Friday’s game whether he thinks Mejia’s actions were over the top.

“You’ve got to have some emotion in the game. We see it everywhere. I see other teams doing it.” He continued, saying, “I want these guys to have some fun. But, gosh, it’s a big win for us against a first-place team and there’s no reason not to be excited.”

However on the very next day, Collins did a complete 180:

“Certainly our job here is not to embarrass anybody. They get emotional, they get excited and they become reactionary. He was a little over the top last night. He’s going to tone it down.”

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post goes one step further.

“Terry Collins is trying to convince Jenrry Mejia that his exaggerated, self-absorbed, attention-starved, post-save fool-dancing — even after nearly blowing a save — is unprofessional. Let me give it a shot: Jenrry, you look like a fool.” 

Players show energy all the time in sports, most of them by utilizing some combination of flexing and yelling. Mejia takes it a bit further, bending his knees after the final out of the game and then performing a ‘back-breaking’ maneuver of sorts in full view of his opponent’s final victim of the game.

On Friday night, Mejia took it one step further when the Mets took one game from the Nationals at home, something that has been a rarity this year and since Citi Field’s inception.

Before Mejia performed his Mortal Kombat-like finishing move, he feigned casting a fishing rod in the direction of Ian Desmond, the victim of Mejia’s game-ending strikeout. After ‘reeling him in’, he finished off his celebration in customary fashion.

I personally love the celebration and the emotion and fire it brings to the moment for the players and the fans. Sure, the Mets aren’t really in contention and it could have been seen as Mejia showing up the first-place Nationals. However, rivalries are supposed to be prevalent.

The Nationals have had the Mets’ number in recent years, and the Mets players shouldn’t be happy about it. So when the Mets win a game at home against the first place team, they should be emotional about it.

Mejia seems to be the only player on the roster who shows any fire at all (besides Harvey). I want to see that. I understand the point that it may or may not place other Mets players in jeopardy of retaliation. I suppose that is a fair point. But that type of culture has been decreasing exponentially in baseball.

I love Mejia’s fire on the mound. If I had to guess, this would be a non-issue if Mejia simply screamed out loud or into his glove after the game rather than performing his routine. However, I am never more excited (at least this year) then when Mejia is in to close a game. I am ready for his celebration every time and although I know what to expect, I still get anxious and tense before the show.

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Di-Jest Song Parody: Eve Of Contention http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-song-parody-eve-of-contention.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-song-parody-eve-of-contention.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 02:25:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165753 terry collins

Di-Jest readers know that I started watching the Mets in ’62 when I was just a teenager. The music that I fell in love with is almost entirely from the ’60′s and ’70′s. By the time disco arrived I was already, to quote Gary Cohen, “outta here.”

Sometimes Di-Jest articles are song parodies and the songs almost always date back forty or more years. One of my favorite protest tunes back then was recorded by Barry McGuire in 1965. It was called “Eve of Destruction” which you can play below. But before that, here’s my version of it called:

Eve of Contention

(You’ll have to supply your own harmonica breaks)

September’s come again and still the Mets are losin’
The Nats have just come in to give the team a bruisin’
The captain’s on the shelf – he’s got an injured shoulder
He hasn’t hit a lick and now he’s getting older
Attendance really sucks and it sure is getting colder.

But you tell me…
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you do believe
We’re on the eve of contention.

The guys we added on were Bart, Young and Grandy
Supposed to be all good – that’s what we heard from Sandy
Bartolo’s worked out well – he’s really pitched okay
But Chris sucked so much – he got sent the Yankees’ way
While Curtis goes hitless – almost every day.

But you tell me…
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you do believe
We’re on the eve of contention.

The fans are fightin’ mad. All the time they’re bitchin’
The F.O. says but wait, you know we got the pitchin’
Harvey’s coming back and he’s beyond compare
DeGrom is deBoss and how about his hair
And Jenrry gets those saves and then he’s got that flair.

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you do believe
We’re on the eve of contention.

Wilmer’s now at short – but he lacks the range for that.
The other guy is Ruben – who doesn’t have the bat.
Left field’s a black hole – no one can hit and play it
EY and Kirk and Dekker – it really hurts to say it
They need another guy – but you know the Mets won’t pay it.

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you do believe
We’re on the eve of contention.

Jeff has caused a mess. I don’t mean maybe
He fired someone just because she had a baby
We’re hoping it’s a case of where there’s smoke there’s fire
And boorish Jeff himself heads to the waiver wire
And that the Wilpons time is ready to expire.

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you do believe
We’re on the eve of contention.

Yeah, yeah
You do believe we’re on the eve of contention.

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Featured Post: Wilpon’s Legacy And A Fool’s Hope http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-wilpons-legacy-and-a-fools-hope.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-wilpons-legacy-and-a-fools-hope.html/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:24:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165105 The 2015 schedule is hot off the presses as the Mets wrap up their sixth losing season in a row. Please try to contain your excitement.

The latest hot potato is whether or not the Mets should bring back manager Terry Collins next season… As if that will make one hell of a difference… You know what the real problem is with this team… Don’t you?

How did we get into this mess?  

Let’s face it, the Mets are really all the Wilpons have. No one cares about office buildings or investment securities, but the Mets, well, the Mets have a mascot with a giant head who lacks vocal cords — the Mets get airtime on Letterman and the Daily Show and TMZ. It is thus perhaps as good a time as any to consider how Fred Wilpon came to own our Mets in the first place and what this ownership group continues to represent for fans who desperately want to believe there is yet hope for our franchise.

nelson doubleday

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have always appeared vulnerable to the perception that they burst onto the scene as Johnny-come-lately’s (compared to old money blue-bloods like Nelson Doubleday), ascending to ownership on the wave of a real-estate boom as a couple of tenement flipping nouveau riche guys from Bensonhurst (no, not the fat bus driver and the sewer worker). Wilpon was a West Egger to Doubleday’s East Egg (if I may cite Gatsby), and Katz’ giant brass balls (of note in a notable New Yorker piece) notwithstanding, Doubleday made no qualms about his disdain for Fred.

You see Doubleday never forgave Fred for the manner in which he took over half ownership. Nelson Doubleday had even more to say about the way he was low-balled during his buy-out proceedings. N.D. considered the “first refusal” clause that Wilpon used to match Doubleday’s ownership percentage (after the sale of Doubleday & Co.) underhanded because Doubleday never intended that the Mets be part of the deal. The clause was nevertheless present in the fine print as a standard if not forthright real estate maneuver.

Down the road the two sides would end up in some nasty litigation when Doubleday balked at Robert Starkey’s appraisal of the franchise’s value after Doubleday and Wilpon finally agreed to part ways. Doubleday may have had a point as Starkey was a crony of Selig’s dating back to Bud’s Brewer days. But in the end you get the sense that Doubleday had had enough and wanted to be done with his marriage to the Wilpons.

Early in the dissolution negotiations Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reported that Doubleday openly doubted Wilpon’s ability to come up with the kind of money he’d need to buy him out and implied he’d be more than willing to purchase Fred’s share. I believe Doubleday would have bought Wilpon out in a heartbeat if he had the opportunity as he never really intended to share the Mets with Fred.

nelson doubleday fred wilpon

Doubleday knew you don’t just wake up one day hundreds of millions of dollars richer unless your dear old dad leaves it to you in a trust fund, and Wilpon’s father was just an undertaker from Brooklyn.

These comments by N.D., when looked at through the lens of the Madoff debacle (it is speculated that Wilpon’s involvement with Madoff dates back to around 1986), make one wonder what percentage of Wilpon’s new-found financing power wasn’t perhaps leveraged by artificial means.

Of course the case for Doubleday wasn’t helped by the fact that he was a pompous and obscenely wealthy eccentric who occasionally let slide anti-Semitic slurs (detailed in “Lords of the Realm” by John Helyar), but he had a knack for knowing when to splurge on the fans and when to spoil his grandchildren. Doubleday also didn’t endear himself to Commissioner Selig as a long time supporter of Selig’s predecessor, Fay Vincent.

Nelson Doubleday ran further afoul of MLB when quotes were leaked from his lawsuit against Wilpon implying the following against Major League Baseball:

“In a desperate attempt to reverse decades of losses to the MLB Players Association – MLB was determined to manufacture phantom operating losses and depress franchise values.”

If Selig wasn’t on Doubleday’s side before those comments you have to believe he didn’t have a lot of warm feelings for him afterwards.

The wording in the lawsuit specifically struck a chord that Donald Fehr and the Players Association were harping on. Selig threatened Doubleday with a million dollar lawsuit and soon afterwards T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News reported that the quote “was not written by Doubleday or his associates, according to sources.”

Doubleday eventually apologized to MLB and the commissioner’s office for questioning Selig’s integrity and for any controversial comments in light of ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. Doubleday went on to say that his lawyers worded and filed the lawsuit without specifically informing him of the implication that MLB was making attempts at systematically devaluing franchise values by drumming up artificial losses (accusations that in retrospect seem almost prophetic given Selig’s now notorious devices in this regard). Needless to say, Doubleday all but sealed his exit from the owner’s club with these actions and the Wilpon Era began in earnest.

Since that time, Doubleday has come to be seen as the magnanimous and colorful figure who presided over one World Series title and another World Series appearance. Fairly or not, he’s accepted as largely orchestrating the triumph of 1986 by hiring Frank Cashen.

From the time of purchase in 1980 when he bought the Mets from the Payson family for $21.1 million, Doubleday was warmly received as a kind of rescuer. Doubleday fulfilled that promise in 1986, and furthered his rapport with the fans by openly pushing for the Mike Piazza deal over Fred’s balmy reservations.

Nelson was well-liked by the fans and his absence left an image vacuum in the owner’s box that Wilpon never really seemed comfortable filling. Fred, on the other hand, got off to a bad start with the fans by being the thin dour-faced fellow with way too much hair gel who elbowed his way into the partnership that eventually pushed Doubleday out of the picture. Doubleday became a kind of betrayed would-be savior in hindsight, whether that designation was deserved or not.

fred wilponFred Wilpon’s efforts in filling the ownership vacuum became an exercise in how NOT to conduct a public relations campaign. Doubleday wore bright outfits and had a big personality while Wilpon’s sullen and reserved demeanor and ridiculous paranoia over his own public image led to some awkward missteps both with the press and the fans.

Wilpon seemed to become obsessed with cultivating and maintaining a sterling reputation, as he and Katz seemed to be caught in a perpetual public relations struggle against the perceived notion that there was little separating them from run-of-the-mill, moneybag slum-lords.

You can imagine Fred perhaps even feeling ostracized as a new-money “East Egger” (the Madoff proceedings might have all but cemented that perception for some), but in the end they did still own the Mets, and that was their great redeemer. The Mets are their legacy, their badge of honor, their Plaza Hotel, their claim to elite standing. If the Wilpons had a family coat of arms the Met “NY” would be at its center.

Owning the Mets gained admission for them to all sorts of exclusive circles and country clubs that only the likes of Doubleday were formerly privy to. For these reasons (among others) there is not a snowball’s chance in hell the Wilpons are going to give up the Mets unless they absolutely have no choice, unless the team is pried from their cold… Well you get the picture.

Sadly, Fred’s desire to keep the Mets “in the family” speaks to an identity driven disregard for the “public domain” component of a Major League baseball club and its loyal fan base. His own dream of bringing the Dodgers back and filling the abdicated longings of a failed baseball career and a childhood marred by the loss of his beloved team not only hints at his own self aggrandizement, but points to a profound misunderstanding of the true Met ethos. Our unique identity — born from the modernist intonations of the 1964 Worlds Fair — not only stands apart from old New York baseball culture, it is in many ways diametrically opposed to it. The Mets are all that is new and different, quirky and inventive, and of course, charming.

The Mets are lovable in losing, and occasionally boisterous and unstoppable. They are Tom Seaver and Cleon Jones and Tug McGraw and Lee Mazzilli and Strawberry and Doc Gooden and many other wildly talented players. Wilpon believed he could superimpose his own perceptions on the franchise rather than allow the fans to drive the team’s culture and heritage.

wilponThe Dodger inspired edifices and rotundas of Citi Field may seem like passing slights to the team’s true character, but they point to an owner who is hopelessly out of touch. It is difficult to envision how these owners, given their history, could possibly prevail upon whatever faculties are available to them to bring about a Met renaissance. Much like Gatsby, no amount of lavish parties or helicopter rides during spring training will convince anyone that they are legitimate to their ambitions.

Like Pandora, Wilpon has let loose all manner of calamities on our Mets, while making every attempt to shut the door on our last remaining hope; a forced sale.

But we should not begrudge Fred Wilpon’s unwavering determination to hold onto our team. He is resolute even if unable to apportion sufficient resources to effect success while standing in the way of letting another buyer do so.

For Fred, the Mets are all he has separating him from all the other filthy rich West Eggers. Citi Field is the one deed he can hold up to the snooty Doubledays of this world to show that he has something they don’t.

No, Fred’s not giving up this team, not any time soon. We’re pretty much stuck with these guys unless the team continues to crap itself for several more seasons or things take another dramatic turn for the worse. Our only real hope is that Sandy Alderson is all that he’s cracked up to be, and it’s a fool’s hope at that.

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Di-JEST: Mets Float Opt-Out of All-Star Game Plan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-mets-float-opt-out-of-all-star-game-plan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-mets-float-opt-out-of-all-star-game-plan.html/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:57:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164754 721_-mlb_all-star_game-primary-2013Let’s face it fellow Mets fans, there was one brief moment this year when the team looked ‘not awful’ and almost promising. And that time came just a week and a half before the mid season classic, the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

As usual the Mets landed one pity player on the team because – well you know – every team HAS to be represented.  And with David Wright being a shell of himself and Matt Harvey making all his headlines off the field there was just about no one else to tab for the honor.

Meanwhile we true blue baseball fans could watch the Home Run Derby on Monday (I for one have stopped bothering to watch that particular commercial-fest), the actual game on Tuesday, and then nothingness for the next couple of days.

The Mets came into the break looking sort of like a baseball team. They came out of it looking like the team they are, the Mets. It’s been a pure nosedive since then. Curtis Granderson has been hitting like Ruben Tejada since the AS Break and I think that says it all.

all star gameSo clearly this All-Star break is just not working out for the Metropolitans.

Willing at this point to try anything, the Mets have submitted a plan to Commissioner-elect Manfred asking permission to opt out of the All-Star game entirely in future years.

The proposal includes other teams opting out as well. The Monday of All-Star week, as well as the Wednesday and Thursday, would have these teams meet in a split 3 game series. Each team will forfeit the opportunity to send a player to the All Star Game, big whoop.

Meanwhile MLB network or ESPN can air any or all of these games so that the nation’s baseball fans will get to see some version of Major League baseball during the break. Given the conservative nature of baseball one would expect that the new commissioner will reject this proposal out of hand. But it’s worth a try.

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Who Are The Top Left-Handed Pitchers After Matz? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/who-are-the-top-left-handed-pitchers-after-matz.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/who-are-the-top-left-handed-pitchers-after-matz.html/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163977 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

With a dominating season across two levels of the minors, Steven Matz has clearly established himself as the top left-handed prospect in the Mets organization. Matz owns a 9-8 record and an excellent 2.27 ERA in 22 starts for Double-A Binghamton and Advanced Single-A St.Lucie. He has been so successful this season that many believe that he now ranks inside among the top 100 prospects in the game.

Although the Mets do not have another southpaw who has the ability of Matz, they do have several who can become solid contributors. Here is a breakdown of the top 5 left-handed prospects after Matz.

Blake Taylor
Height/Weight: 6’3, 220
Age: 19

The Mets acquired Taylor as a player to be named later in the Ike Davis trade earlier this season, and he appears to be a nice find for New York. Taylor’s fastball sits in the low 90’s, and he has solid secondary offerings with a good curveball and a newly developed changeup. While Taylor has struggled with a 5.13 ERA in Kingsport, this is mainly due to the fact that he is one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League. As he gets older and gains more experience, he has the talent to emerge into a top prospect for New York.

Jack Leathersich
Height/Weight: 5’11, 200
Age: 24

Leathersich quickly became fan favorite due to his exceptional strikeout rates throughout the minor leagues. Leathersich has struck out 324 batters in 192 career innings, which translates into an incredible 15.2 K/9 However, his stock dropped dramatically after a disastrous stint in Triple-A Las Vegas last season where he posted a 7.76 ERA and 29 walks in 29 innings. Leatherisch still has the potential to become a solid reliever despite these struggles, but he needs to show better results in Triple-A soon in order to live up to his former hype.

Dario Alvarez
Height/Weight: 6’1, 170
Age: 25

Alvarez is one of the biggest surprises in the Mets minors this season with a 1.17 ERA and 14.0 K/9 in 69 innings. While he has pitched mostly against weaker hitters in Single-A ball for the Savannah Sand Gnats, his performance this year has been too good to ignore. Alvarez did not allow a single run in 23 of his 26 appearances while pitching for Savannah. The Mets aggressively promoted Alvarez to Double-A Binghamton recently, and his performance there will be pivotal. If he is able to dominate hitters in the Eastern League, he will be an intriguing option for the Mets bullpen in the near future.

Adrian Almeida
Height/Weight: 6”0’, 150
Age: 19

The Mets signed Almeida as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2012. While most fans have not heard of Almeida yet , he has shown a lot of promise this season at the rookie level with the Gulf Coast League Mets. In six starts, he has a strong 1.80 ERA and 9.8 K/9. His control has been problematic though with 21 walks in 35 innings, but he is someone fans should monitor as he climbs up the Mets system.

Darin Gorski
Height/Weight 6”4’, 210
Age: 26

Gorski first grabbed the attention of minor league analysts after being named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year in 2011. For the St. Lucie Mets that season, Gorski posted a 11-3 record with an outstanding 2.08 ERA. In the years that followed however, he has not been as successful. He had a mediocre 4.00 ERA in Double-A in 2012, and was demoted from Triple-A early in the season in 2013 after several sub-par outings. While some consider him a non-prospect because of his age and these setbacks, I think he could prove these skeptics wrong. He is a crafty and intelligent pitcher on the mound, and he has rebounded nicely this season back in Double-A with a 2.22 ERA.

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Di-JEST: Desperate Mets Try New Promo Tactic http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/di-jest-desperate-mets-try-new-promo-tactic.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/di-jest-desperate-mets-try-new-promo-tactic.html/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:47:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163152 huey lewis

When your ballclub is cruising toward another mid-70s win season and seeing its attendance in continued decline you try everything you can think of to get fans out to the park.

The Mets have tried promotions like fireworks nights, concerts by name entertainers, and have given bobblehead dolls out of everyone from Ed Kranepool to Joe Biden.

Nothing is working and those fireworks are pricey.  So are the prices the club has to pay to bring in a Huey Lewis and those News guys.  The Boyz II Men group is another one that needed to be paid like men, not boys.

So when all else fails the team’s approach has shifted to a scary less traveled path: honesty (or their version of it).

Here’s the script of a proposed promo to be read on SNY pleading for fans to come out to Mets games.

bill maher jeff wilpon

“Hi, I’m Jeff Wilpon, one of the owners of ‘your’ New York Mets.  My father, my uncle Saul, and I know that you fans have been impatient waiting for our team to get good again.  We sympathize and, believe me, want it even more than you do.

It’s clear to us that you would like to see our club’s payroll be higher and we want that too.  But to get there we need to have more fans coming out to games.  We must all do our jobs in order for us to get to the promised land, the playoffs.  And the job for you most loyal of fans is to come out to the games at Citi Field and root your team on.

We want you to know that we have been listening to your complaints in the so-called blogosphere.  And even though it may appear we are moving a bit slow for your liking you must admit that there has been movement in the correct direction.

USATSI jose valverde

For instance, you made it clear that you didn’t want to come to games to watch pitchers like Scott Rice, Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde.   We heard you and now they’re gone.  You must admit that we’ve punched up the bullpen from early on in the season.

And more recently you told us and showed us that you had no interest in seeing 40 year old Bobby Abreu or our free agent bust Chris Young out there.  We bit the bullet on Young and will pay him for the rest of the year to not be on the team.  How’s that for responsive?

And while we still have Ruben Tejada and Eric Young, Jr. on the active roster you have probably noticed how little we are playing them these days.

So think of all this when you consider coming or not coming to Citi during the final month and a half of the season.  Think of all the players you don’t like who you’ll now not have to see: Rice, Farnsworth, Valverde, Abreu, and Chris Young.

Next year with a returning Matt Harvey and hopefully a rejuvenated David Wright we look forward to your coming out to the ballpark to see people you want to see.  But for now please come out to not see all those folks you don’t want to see.”

fred_wilpon

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Di-JEST: The MMO Chat You Missed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-the-mmo-chat-you-missed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-the-mmo-chat-you-missed.html/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:26:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161822 This MMO Chat isn't loading for me...

This MMO Chat isn’t loading for me…

OK.  Truth be told you didn’t miss this Mets Merized chat on account of the fact that it never happened.  Here’s the back-story.

I’m a sucker for online chats and read them at MLB Trade Rumors, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and wherever else I stumble upon them.   I don’t know why I bother since I rarely find more than 10% of the questions and answers interesting or useful.  But once you’re hooked, your hooked.  Sort of like being a Mets fan.

The reason I don’t do a real chat is two-fold.  One is that I’m not all that technologically advanced and probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it.  I’m the guy with the cell phone that has a crank on its side so I can call Mabel and ask her to connect me with Andy or Barney at the sheriff’s station.

And the other reason, a bigger one I suppose, is that I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as those guys who do the real live chats.  These guys can tell you who the 11th rated prospect is for the Royals and what his chances are of cracking the major league roster.  Me, I think I know that Josh Satin plays for Las Vegas – end of knowledge.

Another thing about those chat hosts is that it seems they all are expert in some other area too. For half of them it’s their ability to tell you what craft beer to order in any particular county in this country.

My beer knowledge consists of liking Samuel Adams and a few others. And I do know that my son likes Yuengling – but in the BOTTLE, not the can (won’t make that mistake again).

So my chats stay on topic for that reason.

Given all that, here’s the chat transcript you missed.

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Philadelphia Beans:  You’re always so hard on Terry Collins.  What is the thing that most bothers you about him?

LS: I suppose it’s that he plays too many Young guys (Chris and Eric) and too many old guys (Bobby Abreu).  I’d prefer to see Chris released, Eric confined to pinch-running mostly, and Abreu restricted to pinch-hitting.  Let Soupy Campbell share LF with Captain Kirk and let Flores, Murphy, and Duda share 1B and 2B.

Ted Pontiff:  Clearly Ruben Tejada is a bad hitter but exactly how bad is he?

LS: Let’s give him this – he’s not the worst.  My scale of awfulness begins with Rey Ordonez, the ABSOLUTE ZERO of offensive effectiveness.  In Rey Rey’s illustrious career he batted .246 and had an OPS of exactly 600 (remember readers I use the Bill James method and toss out the decimal point when I discuss on base + slugging percentage).  His career WAR (wins over replacement) is a ridiculously puny +1.2 and almost all of that is due to his defensive prowess.

Ruben has a career batting average of .255 with an OPS of 644.  44 points of OPS is not monumental but it is more than trivial. He already has logged a WAR of 3.8.

So bottom line is that Ruben is a poor hitter and really should be a team’s utility infielder.  But he’s not the bottom of the barrel.

My Name Is Earl:  In Washington they do the Presidents race and in Milwaukee it’s the sausages.  What kind of race can the Mets do to entertain the fans?

LS:  Certainly not a pennant race….

But let’s try this.  We’ll have Mr. Met, a person dressed as a large apple, the Statue of Liberty, and someone impersonating Jeff Wilpon all racing towards a  dollar sign that’s placed at the finish line.  (Come to think of it, to save money maybe Jeff will do the running himself)

Strato Buddy:  What was your reaction when the Mets came back dramatically in the 9th inning on Friday to win?

LS: I think this sums it up nicely:

Bucky Dentine:  When the Mets don’t make the playoffs (you know – most every year) what team do you pull for?

LS:  There are other teams?   Who knew?

Not Really Sandy Alderson:   Should I be trading Murphy and/or Colon?

LS: Listen NRSA, questions like that are silly since we fans have no knowledge of what players are being offered for our guys.  I don’t think any Met should be ruled untouchable – if the Angels want to offer Mike Trout for David Wright + Matt Harvey (or Syndegaard or friggen anyone else) I’m down with that.

I really like Daniel Murphy and would hate to see him go but knowing that Flores, Matt Reynolds, Dilson Herrera, and Mazzilli are coming on strong makes it more palatable to trade Murph IF the return is particularly promising.

Bartolo would be easier to deal but hopefully he can bring back someone to upgrade LF or SS.  If all that is offered is another minor league arm then hold on to the guy and have someone teach him to bunt.

SNY Viewer:  You’ve always been extremely complimentary towards the broadcast team of Gary, Keith, Ron, and the soon to be departed Kevin Burkhardt.  Surely there’s something about them that ticks you off.

LS: You got me.  There’s just one thing.  It drives me nuts that none of them ever describe a player as “hot” but rather that they all use the term “red hot” exclusively.

I know that’s not a biggie but I always felt there were degrees of hotness.  For example, if Ruben Tejada has three hits, all singles, in his last 10 at bats, I’d say he is “hot”.  If he has four hits in his last 10 and one of them accidentally is a double, then OK he’s “red hot.”

If Chris Young is one for his last five – “hot”.

If he’s one for his last five and has two loud fouls – ok, “red hot.”

Depressed Mets Fan:  With the commissioner retiring how might this affect the Mets?

LS: Good question.  I’ve always suspected that Papa Fred Wilpon had a stash of incriminating photos of Bud Selig doing kinky stuff with Suzyn Waldman in the Yankees’ radio booth.  What else could explain why the commish would let a big market team run such a barebones operation?

Hopefully the next commissioner won’t feel so beholden to the Wilpons.  Perhaps he prods them to spend more on their team and less on the real estate market.  One can hope.

Skeptic:  So you say you’ve been a Mets fan since their inception in 1962.  Who are your favorite players and least favorite?

LS:  Check out this table for a semi-pleasant walk down memory lane.

 favorite-least-favorite-table

(click on the graphic to embiggen it)  

Stratogist: Where do you stand on the question of bunting?

LS:  I’m not a big advocate of sacrifice bunting.  What does puzzle me is why Terry Collins will have a good hitting pitcher like Jake deGrom give up an out with a bunt in order to bring up a pansy hitter like Eric Young Jr.  Hell, I’d rather see Tejada bunting to bring up deGrom!

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LS: Sorry folks that’s all the time I have. Got to wrap up this chat.   I have to go check on eBay to see if anyone’s bid yet on that Brad Emaus jersey I’m auctioning off.  Damn, thought that kid was going to make it.

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