Mets Merized Online » Mariano Rivera Tue, 17 Jan 2017 03:21:05 +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

we are original 280 footer

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Righting The Wrongs Tue, 06 May 2014 12:21:04 +0000 USATSI jenrry mejia Credit Brad Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presented By Diehards

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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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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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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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Fair or Foul: Not So Fast On Trading Bobby Parnell… Thu, 05 Sep 2013 02:20:00 +0000 fairorfoul

For a team that after three seasons still has so many holes to fill, I find it amazing how many times I read posts about trading away the few productive players we do have for either more prospects or merely for the fact that arbitration is approaching. Yesterday, in a post on MetsBlog announcing that Daniel Murphy was named National League Player of the Week, rather than a few congratulatory words as we did, I read that “Murphy is arbitration eligible this winter and I wonder if Sandy Alderson looks to move him in a deal for a starting pitcher or a bat”.

It’s one thing when Ike Davis is arbitration eligible and could earn $5-6 million. You look at his body of work over the last three season’s and you say no way.

But when you consider Murphy will get about $4 million in arbitration and is currently among the top five in almost every offensive category for second basemen, why would you trade someone who has given the Mets so much value?

  1. 159 Hits – #2
  2. 32 Doubles – #2
  3. 10 Home Runs – #5
  4. 67 RBI – #2
  5. 18 Stolen Bases – #1
  6. .282 Batting Average – #3
  7. .403 Slugging Percentage – #5

I thought players like Murphy, who is also second in the NL in hits, were exactly the kind of assets this front office coveted? And that undervalued, cost-controlled performance was the number one thing they look for in a player? So either we have the front office pegged all wrong, or MetsBlog has got it all wrong… I’ll leave you to decide which is which…

Another player whose name is constantly being propped up as a prime target for the Mets to trade by the folks at SNY is Mets closer Bobby Parnell. The 28-year old fireballer is currently sidelined with a bulging disc that he received an epidural for about a week ago. He may have surgery, but whether he does or doesn’t he will be ready for Spring Training either way according to what team doctors have said. Parnell was in the midst of his finest season as a Met and had a 2.16 ERA with 22 saves in 49 games before going on the DL.

Last night, I came across a refreshing article written by Paul West of Through the Fence Baseball, who did a splendid job on conveying why Parnell is another player, like Murphy, who the Mets should keep and not trade.

bobby parnellJust when you thought it was safe to watch the ninth inning without your hands wrapped around your face, some people are suggesting the New York Mets should trade Bobby Parnell. This would be a terrible idea.

After several years of ups and downs and cultivation, Bobby Parnell has evolved into a true closer. He used to be a “when in trouble, throw harder” fireballer, a one-trick pony who threw surprisingly hittable 98 mph fastballs that ran out of the park by themselves when guys made square contact. Now he throws in the mid 90s with movement — and moreover, he can execute his secondary pitches under duress. He now gets strikeouts with his sinker and groundouts with his sinker, splitter and curveball, and most importantly, he’s no longer especially predictable.

Why would the Mets want to give away a closer they spent several years developing into the real thing? Have people forgotten how hard it is to find a reliable closer who wants the job and wants the ball even after tough outings and has top-notch closer stuff?

He goes on to summarize some valid points on how difficult it has been for the Mets to get some closure in the closer role and how this time it didn’t cost tens of million in free agency and how he came up through our own system.

What really gets me is the fact that for many years, people laughed at the Mets for carrying the bloated contracts of failed gambles like Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay. “Why don’t we develop minor-league talent?” people asked; “we need to cultivate guys for the future and not just chase superstars,” people said. So, the Mets do just that: take a young flamethrower with a triple-digit arm, stick with him and work on him until he’s a solid major-league closer who can pitch his way out of trouble. And now people want to sell him?

You can read the rest of his article by clicking on the link above and I suggest that you do.

Paul really hones in on some of the issues regarding the difficulties of acquiring a dependable closer via free agency when most of them are already in the throes of decline, and how valuable and oftentimes rare it is for a team to develop their own closer like we have with Parnell.

I’m amazed at how often fans will overlook how long it’s been since the Mets had a 20+ save season from a player they have developed themselves. Rather than telling you how long, take a look and see for yourselves… Then consider the fact we have a young closer entering his prime who is under team control for the next three years at a cost that is less than 75% the going rate for a top 15 closer which is exactly where Parnell falls in.

Fair or Foul?

I believe that Paul nails this one right on the head, definitely FAIR…

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ESPN: Mets Are Team Of The Future In New York Thu, 22 Aug 2013 03:18:19 +0000 the future

Wheeler, d’Arnaud, Flores, Lagares, and Harvey take a group photo on flight to NY

The Mets are finally getting recognition as a team on the rise in 2013. Yesterday, you heard Mike Francesa on WFAN say that the Mets are “emerging from the abyss”; coming a long way from just three months ago from when he bluntly labeled them “unwatchable, embarrassing losers”. Today, David Schoenfield of has labeled Flushing’s Finest as “the team to watch these days” in New York.

Behind Harvey and Wheeler in the rotation there is solid Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese and promising Jenrry Mejia, who was just shut down after five impressive starts. He’ll have surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero started the Futures Games and are two top pitching prospects who have reached Double-A. The Mets can dream of a 2015 rotation of Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Montero and Mejia.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have players just trying to stay awake in the late innings.

Maybe the Yankees hang in this wild-card race — although at 5.5 games behind the A’s and with the Rays and the Orioles and Indians still a game ahead of them it will take exceptional baseball from the Yankees and bad baseball from at least one of the A’s or Rays for a playoff berth to happen. More likely, the Yankees fall short and they’ll have to figure out how to reload for 2014.

Maybe they can figure out a way. Maybe they make peace with Alex Rodriguez, he gets his suspension reduced and hits 20 home runs in the second half. Maybe Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira all return healthy and perform. Maybe they replace Mariano Rivera without a hitch. Maybe.

Just don’t be surprised if it’s the Mets who start getting the back page covers in the New York tabloids next year. They need a shortstop — how about a trade for Starlin Castro? — and they should go hard after free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The bullpen needs some work but that can be fixed. But Mets fans can see a foundation building instead of crumbling.

-Dave Schoenfield,
Team of the future in N.Y.? It’s the Mets

It is an excellent piece by Schoenfield and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety here.

I can’t wait to see what the immediate years ahead hold for the Amazin’s. The future is here and before we know it, the city is going to be dressed in orange and blue once again.

Hat tip to Jonathan B. for the link

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The “Songs That Best Describe The Mets” Edition Tue, 20 Aug 2013 12:20:47 +0000 In today’s ever changing world, the art form of music is extremely important. Classical Music calms us down, Hard Rock and Hip Hop can give us a feeling of angst as well as euphoria , Adult Contemporary can make us contemplative and this new pop//techno//Bieber style is just well….. CRAP !

But the type of music a ballplayer uses when he steps up to the plate or runs out to the mound is rather important as well. It can create a feeling of fear or anxiety to the opposing batter/pitcher. This is sometimes purposeful – case in point the use of the Metallica song “Enter Sandman” as Mariano Rivera‘s intro song. If you are a batter and you hear that song , well you know you have a Sisyphean task ahead of you.

Oftentimes their musical choice is just a play on their name or personality, and yes sometimes they mean absolutely nothing at all… But not in this exercise…

I now present you with my list of songs that our current Mets players should be using as their walk up/intro music:

David Wright should be walking up to the strains of “I’m Your Captain” by Grand Funk.

Middle reliever, Scott Atchinson should enter the game to “Old Man” by Neil Young.

The recently promoted Travis d’Arnaud should use “New Kid In Town” by The Eagles as his theme until he gets more experienced.

The case of Marlon Byrd it is quite simple – “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Matt Harvey should walk to the mound with the song “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor blasting through the P.A. system.

And an appropriate song for Zack Wheeler is “Wheel In The Sky” by Journey .

Last but not least, if there was a song that should best describe the Mets future it should be “Movin On Up” – The theme from The Jefferson’s!

So what do you think ? Agree/disagree? What song would you use for a player that was either mentioned or not? Feel free to write your choices in the comments section.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

Utility player from 1962, Cliff Cook is 87 (1936) .

Reserve outfielder from the ’09 season, Cory Sullivan is 34 (1979).

Middle reliever from the ’09 season, Lance Broadway is 30 (1983).

Some other notables...

  • The  New York Mets purchased the contract of spot starter/middle reliever, Bill Connors from the Chicago Cubs on August 20, 1967.
  • The New York Mets purchased the contract of starting pitcher Ray Burris from the New York Yankees on August 20, 1979.
  • The New York Mets signed free agent utility infielder, Larry Bowa on August 20, 1985. Bowa’s tenure with the Mets was rather short. He played in 14 games for the Mets, batting .105 with just 2 RBIs.
  • The New York Mets traded minor league infielders, Sean Henry and Jose Castro, to the Cincinnati Reds for reserve outfielder/first baseman, Jeff  Conine on August 20, 2007.
  • The New York Mets released starting pitcher, Livan Hernandez on August 20, 2009.

The song that best describes Mo Vaughn is “I Want Candy’ !!!!!

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MMO Fan Shot: I’ve Had Enough of Collins Fri, 09 Aug 2013 15:03:44 +0000 terry collins

A Mets team source told Andy Martino of the Daily News, that provided the Mets don’t collapse down the stretch of the season, there’s a good possibility Terry Collins could be retained beyond 2013,

“We can’t have a collapse, and Terry knows that. Otherwise, at the end of season, something good might happen,” the source told Martino.

With that bit of news this morning as my intro, here is my Fan Shot on the matter of Terry Collins being retained as manager for next season and beyond.

Let us start by understanding how Collins became the manager of the New York Mets.

In 2010, Fred Wilpon went to Bud Selig for advice and assistance on how to save his ownership of the Mets. Wilpon had a high payroll and financial problems, and needed a loan from MLB to keep the Mets solvent. At the time, his investments were struggling and his credit lines were dry. Selig wanted to help a friendly owner. He gave a loan and some advice. That advice was to hire Sandy Alderson to clean up the finances of the organization.

Sandy Alderson was working as an adviser to Bud Selig, and had helped MLB in negotiations with the umpires’ union in his first tenure in the commissioner’s office in the early 2000s. Alderson is a lawyer, quite smart, and known for not being risky when it comes to spending money. He had built the Oakland A’s into winners in the 1980s and took over as CEO of the San Diego Padres in 2005, winning divisions his first two years.

Upon hiring Sandy Alderson to be the General Manager following the 2010 season, Fred Wilpon also recommended that Alderson “consider” Terry Collins as the next Mets manager. Collins had been hired in early 2010 to be a minor-league player adviser for the Mets, and had previous MLB managerial experience, but couldn’t get a job. He was brought to Wilpon’s attention by Sandy Koufax his lifelong friend. Koufax had met Collins in 1982 with the Dodgers, and in February 2011 said of Collins: “He’s always been a good baseball man. He’s organized. He’s devoted. He’s passionate. And he’s just a good guy.”

On the day before the all-star game at Citi Field, Wilpon said that Collins was doing a great job considering what he had to work with, and he would remain as the Mets manager for the duration of the year. Considering what he had to work with? This, somehow, seems like an odd choice of words for an owner to say about his own product, but it echoed his son Jeff’’s sentiments as told to Mariano Rivera regarding the possibility of the Mets getting to the World Series to play the Yankees when the Yankees were in first place in May. So, these guys both feel the team sucks, but they want us to buy tickets and merchandise, and want to keep Marlon Byrd to carry the momentum? Really??

To begin the Fan Shot, let me start with excerpts from two postings following another loss to the suddenly hot and talented lineup of the Kansas City Royals:


So for Collins to publicly criticize Wheeler while he’s still refining his game is over the top and uncalled for when the coaching staff is obviously still working with him. Collins has no patience with young players, which has been demonstrated numerous times this season alone. This is not the man you want developing young players because he won’t play them enough for them to really learn to play at that level (unless he’s forced to play them for lack of a veteran to plug in there).


Hiring Sandy came from Selig. Sandy’s job was not to design the team for the future, rather it was to save the present team for Fred. He was told to seriously slash payroll. Of course, when you have trading chips such as the current Cy Young winner and a possible future hall of fame outfielder you are going to get prospects. But that was result of cutting.
Today, right now, we have a sub-par team with a small market payroll and a lack of stud position players in the minors to replace anyone not hitting or injured. That is unacceptable after Sandy’s three off seasons and letting go players such as Reyes. He traded -got prospects – and never replaced the players he traded.

Which leads us back to Collins.

Who knows – under a different GM, with better players, he might be a success. I find it hard to determine.

First, let’s look at what a manger is supposed to do as described:

In Oxford: a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.

In Wikipedia: In baseball, the manager is an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. The manager chooses the batting order and starting pitcher before each game, and makes substitutions throughout the game – among the most significant being those decisions regarding when to bring in a relief pitcher. How much control a manager takes in a game’s strategy varies from manager to manager and from game to game. Some managers control pitch selection,defensive positioning, decisions to bunt, steal, pitch out, etc., while others designate an assistant coach or a player (often the catcher) to make some or all of these decisions. The manager’s responsibilities normally are limited to in-game decisions, with off-the-field and roster management decisions falling to the team’s general manager.

terry collins

To get to the chase, my point is to show that even though Collins has faults, and is a good guy, he’s a bad manager.

Let’s go through some of the reasons:

Lack of Fundamentals

The team has never been fundamentally sound. As I watched the Oakland A’s play one night, I was stunned. Every play was made exactly as it should be. They threw to the right base, cut-offs were fielded, bunts were executed. Last week I noted how in successive plays Ike Davis was out of position to field cut off throws from the outfield. Further, three players tried to steal third this year (to my recalling: Baxter, Murphy, and Valdespin) with two outs, but only Valdespin got ripped openly. Also, remember when Ike Davis didn’t try for the hit down the line that he thought was foul but the umpire called fair? These things must not happen on a team of players of which just about all are trying to make a name for themselves in the majors.

Player Development (or lack thereof)

Collins, as has been discussed in great detail, favors veterans over youngsters. This makes sense if your veterans are “stars” and the expectation of performance is great, however, Collins prefers veterans even that aren’t performing. Collins is a big fan of platooning young players, but his “veterans” play everyday. How does a youngster learn, if he’s not allowed to play? He benched Tejada for hitting too many fly balls but played Davis every day when he was swinging and missing everything.

Ripping the Paying Customers

In May, Collins was asked if he was aware of the fans feelings regarding younger players; his response was “I don’t answer to fans. They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level”, and that he has been in baseball 42 years, so he has nothing to answer to.

Benching Players After Great Performance or Game-Winning Hit

In many sports, coaches “play the hot hand”. It’s also true in baseball, as players that do something special are usually rewarded with more playing time than those who don’t. Not in Collins’ world. When Valdespin hit a game winning grand slam, he sat for three games while the team was struggling to score. When Lagares hit a game winning three run homerun, he sat for six games waiting for the next left handed pitcher while the starter Ankiel went oh-for-the week. When Andrew Brown hit a game winning double in extra innings to beat Arizona, he didn’t play for five games. On a team of which EVERYONE is fighting for a job, there must be no favorites.

Double Standard For Veterans and Rookies

We’ve heard all the excuses for why veteran players make a mistake, but we haven’t heard any for younger players. Just today on WFAN, Evan Roberts threw Collins a meat ball and Collins still swung and missed. Roberts asked him if he felt the fielding mistakes on Sunday cost Wheeler in the fifth inning. Rather than saying that it made his job harder or something kind, Collins adamantly said no. As if a young pitcher, or even an older pitcher, having to get five or six outs in one inning is no big deal in MLB.

Bullpen Management

Don’t get me started. Collins treats relievers like dogs treat fire hydrants. Besides using four relievers to get one out in a game that he was up by four runs in the eighth (Harvey’s game against the Nationals) and he lost it, Hefner was removed after 83 pitches with a spent bullpen and double headers to follow and again, they lost it. Collins brought in Atchinson to face a right-handed batter in the ninth inning of a game against the Phillies, knowing Howard was holding a bat waiting for the righty. Scott Rice hadn’t pitched yet in this game. Howard’s hit beat the Mets.

Putting Players in Prolonged Slumps in Key Lineup Spots

Earlier this year, the lineup consistently featured non-producing players in prime hitting positions. Furthermore, upon removing Davis from the lineup and moving Buck down in the lineup in June did the Mets offense started to roll. Coincidence? Doubt it. Also, Murphy has been terrible getting on base this year. In late July, his OBP was .310. He should not have been hitting second until that point. He swings at pitches with all arms and mostly hits the ball in the air to left center. Collins termed his play before the all-star break as tired, but we didn’t see any rest for a player that was slumping anyways. Further, under this heading we will put his overuse of John Buck; Recker started just three games in the month of May.

Saying One Thing and Doing Another

Open competition in spring training and using Valdespin in center exclusively, but on opening day his defense wasn’t good enough. Saying Lagares is their best defensive centerfielder then, the next two days using Collin Cowgill there two days in a row as a defensive replacement and costing them two wins: One when Howard’s ball went over his head and landed on the warning track, and the next day when Cowgill broke back on a short fly and it landed in front of him for a two run single in the ninth, losing that game, too. That’s just one of many…

Name the last hit and run you remember the Mets putting on; name any three attempts this year. On a team that is offensively challenged, shouldn’t we see more plays being put on?

Not playing hot hitters like Satin, Nieuwenhuis, or Brown when they first came up but rather allowing them to sit for four days to a week before inserting them in the lineup. The Mets were fortunate that Satin was able to pick up where he left off at AAA after sitting so long while the Mets were thinking about sending Davis down. Then, after Satin hits .386 at the MLB level, they replace him with Davis who hit .293 at the AAA level. It’s just one thing after another…

In my first day at Brooklyn College, my economics professor, Prof Goldstein said the following: “80% of the people have their job not because of what they know, but who they know.” Twenty-five years later, I agree with him everyday.

It’s not easy for me to ask that Collins be fired right now, but he should be given another position within the organization and someone who knows how to accentuate the assets of the team should be brought in. Forget the extension. If I were running the Mets, I would try one of my coaches for the rest of the year to see how things look and what difference it would make.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Kostas Livaditis (TexasGusCC). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 18,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Filthy, Nasty, Dominating… That’s What Mejia Was Against The Nationals Sat, 27 Jul 2013 14:37:18 +0000 jenrry mejia

Before Sandy Alderson rolled into town and traded Carlos Beltran a couple of weeks after drafting Brandon Nimmo with his first selection in the 2011 draft, the top prospect for the Mets was Jenrry Mejia. However, by July of that season, he was merely an afterthought as he was beset by injuries that included Tommy John Surgery. His status as a Mets prospect had shrunk to nothingness.

The more and more people I talk to about Tommy John Surgery, the more of them tell me that if you’re young enough you usually come back better than before. Could this be the case with Mejia?

In one fell swoop, Mejia has placed himself back to the top of young Mets royalty with a performance that had to be seen to be really appreciated. Here was Mejia, now 23, making putty out of the Washington Nationals. Here was this long-forgotten prospect firing cut fastballs, sliders and changeups that were buckling knees all day long.

I’m not talking about garden variety stuff – we are talking three plus offerings. And the best part? His impeccable control and mastery of the strike zone. Wow, what a performance.

Making his season debut, Mejia delivered a scintillating start that had Terry Collins backpedaling on his pre-game statement that Mejia was slated for the bullpen after this start. Hey Terry, open mouth – insert foot.

Mejia dominated over seven scoreless frames, befuddling the Nationals with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball, a knee-bending slider, and a lethal changeup.

“I think today he showed you he should be in the mix,” Collins said afterward. Gee Terry, that’s rich…

So now the plan is for the Mets to include Mejia on the team as part of a six-man pitching staff. This will allow the team to continue using Mejia while cutting down the workload on Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. By the way, Zack, I hope you were paying attention when Mejia was on the mound…

Harvey sure was…

“I don’t think he allowed a walk the whole time”, an excited Harvey said after the game. “That was so huge for him to go seven innings and do what he did. It was fun to watch. He’s got nasty stuff, that’s for sure.”

Nasty is right…

That cut fastball looked just as good as it did when it was being compared to Mariano Rivera‘s by Jerry Manuel back in the day.

“Everybody says it’s a cutter, but I say it’s my fastball, my normal fastball” Mejia said to reporters with a big smile. “I never throw a cutter. But they say it’s a cutter so I guess it’s a cutter.”

Mejia says he feels 100% healthy, but there’s some suggestion he may have a bone spur removed from his elbow in the offseason. Are you kidding me? He did this while pitching with a bone spur in his elbow? Oh my… Matt Harvey, meet your new No. 2 for the 2014 season.

Mejia made light of his outstanding command saying that his command has never been an issue with him. He only had a three ball count twice during his stint. Can I get a Hell-Yeah? He had a 2-0 count only twice yesterday. Can I get another Hell-Yeah? He threw 66 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Damn, that’s outrageous.

Welcome Back Jenrry… Thank God the organization came to their senses and called you up as I demanded over a week ago when they were toying between Chris Schwinden and Jacob deGrom.

You see… They can make a good decision when they try… Maybe they’re turning a corner….

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Parnell Chalks It All Up To Bad Luck Tue, 23 Jul 2013 17:43:14 +0000 The New York Mets gift-wrapped a game last night to Atlanta. However, there’s nothing to like after hearing Bobby Parnell, who did more dancing than pitching after blowing his fifth save opportunity.

The Mets don’t want to deal Parnell because they believe he’s their closer of the future. His 18 saves is a good indicator, but he’s not immune from some head scratching and wonder.

PARNELL: Spits the bit. (AP)

Yes, Parnell was victimized by a hit against the shift, a bloop and a passed ball, but the bottom line is the closer must overcome and pitch out of trouble, whether it is somebody else’s or his.

Mariano Rivera didn’t become the greatest closer in history by whining about bad luck as Parnell did.

“I didn’t feel like I gave up any hard-hit balls,’’ Parnell told reporters last night. “They just, unfortunately, got through. I wouldn’t have done anything different, I don’t think.

“I didn’t walk anybody. I didn’t give up free bases. I attacked the zone. Unfortunately it just wasn’t my day.’’

Really? You wouldn’t have done anything differently? You were happy with the placement of the pitch John Buck couldn’t handle? You were happy with the grooved pitch to Reed Johnson that produced the go-ahead run? Seriously, you attacked the zone?

Let’s first look at the passed ball. Parnell said he thought he saw a fastball sign, but Buck called for a curveball. It’s the ninth inning, so you must be sure. That’s not bad luck, that’s not taking care of business.

“We don’t know who was right and who was wrong,” Parnell said. “We’re not going to worry about it, and get them tomorrow.’’

It’s not that simple. It is the pitcher who decides what, when and where’s he’s going to throw a pitch. If the pitcher doesn’t like what is called, or is uncertain, then he doesn’t throw the pitch. It is that simple. What Parnell did was surrender control of the situation.

There are times saying “get them tomorrow,’’ doesn’t cut it and last night was one of them. While it remains possible there was legitimate miscommunication, it is Parnell’s job to get the next hitters out, which he did not.

Somehow, Parnell must find a way to get the outs he needed, as Dillon Gee did in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh.

Parnell has made significant improvement, but remains a project. His .097 WHIP is a career best, as is his 2.0 walks per nine innings average. His 6.8 hits per nine innings are his best since 2008.

However, his 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings is his lowest since 2009, which leads to the suggestion when Parnell needs a strikeout, as he did last night, he’s unable to get it despite still throwing in the mid-to-high 90s.

Terry Collins defended not playing the infield in against Chris Johnson, who hit a game-tying RBI grounder to shortstop, when what Parnell desperately needed was the strikeout.

Unlike Rivera, whose cutter might be baseball’s most devastating pitch, Parnell’s money pitch is still the fastball, which is reliant on movement, location and velocity – in that order – to be effective.

Parnell’s wasn’t working, which made throwing the knuckle-curve difficult.

It is about execution. Luck is irrelevant. Great closers understand the difference.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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Jerry Seinfeld Tells Met Fans That The American League Is Not The Taliban Fri, 19 Jul 2013 15:13:33 +0000 Jerry Seinfeld, celebrity Mets fan extraordinaire, didn’t take to kindly to how Met fans behaved at the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

“This is one of the lowest moments of my lifetime of Mets fandom, when the Citi Field crowd was booing teams that they see as rivals to their Mets team,” he told Steve Somers of WFAN.

“I was in shock. I was embarrassed. I thought it was horrible manners. These are the best players, in the game you love, that have come here to put on a show for you, and we’re booing them like five-year-olds as if there’s some sort of real animosity.”

“The American League is not the Taliban,” referring to the way Miguel Cabrera was treated.

He did acknowledge that the fans may have partially atoned for their sins in how they celebrated Mariano Rivera’s tribute later in the eighth inning.

Umm…. Okay….

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3 Up & 3 Down: The All Star Game Edition Thu, 18 Jul 2013 16:20:54 +0000 harvey wright

I haven’t sat down to watch an All-Star game in at least the last twenty years. The All-Star game just isn’t my cup of tea. However, with the game taking place right here in our own backyard, I figured I’d at least watch the opening introductions. I stuck around longer than that, but not until the end of the game. Anyway, I though it would be fun to a 3&3  about the ASG.

3 up

A Kid At Heart: It was great watching David Wright during the opening introductions. He came on to the field with his game face on, but as he started shaking hands, his smile grew wider and wider. It made me realize baseball is still a game for kids, and we all should be kids at heart.

The Franchise Returns: For a whole generation of Met fans, we still get goosebumps when we see the Franchise Tom Seaver on the mound. Seaver was sick recently with Lyme Disease, but he sure looked great on Tuesday night. It would have have been awesome to have number 31, catch that first pitch, but the Captain was a nice alternate.

Mo’s Moment: In all the years of doing 3&3 we have never had a Yankee in the “Up” slot. That said, how classy, and how much of a gentleman is Mariano Rivera? The American League, and Citi Field got it 100% correct when Mo entered the game. A great job, a great baseball moment.

3 down

It Happens All The Time: It’s amazing how many people tried to make an issue of Matt Harvey hitting Robinson Cano on leg the in the first inning. It happens in baseball, especially on a very hot night with a nervous young pitcher on the mound. There was no intent to harm Cano, and both Cano & Harvey handled the situation like pro’s. Pipe down, Yankee fans…

SNL Rip-Off: You would think if FOX was going to use an opening from an established TV show to open the ASG with, it would have been a show actually on FOX. I expected a little more creativity from FOX than to steal the intro to Saturday Night Live.

Enter The Yankee Fan: How about the dopey Yankee fan who felt the need to run out onto the field during the game? This is typical of Yankee fans who feel the need to be the center of attention. I’m sure the whole time the clown was in lockup, he talked about the 27 World Championships…..

All right the season resumes on Friday. Until then…

lets go mets dog

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Watch It Again: Mariano’s Enter Sandman Tribute At Citi Field Wed, 17 Jul 2013 16:29:22 +0000 I got this MLB video clip and embedded it here for you that missed it last night….

It’s the complete Mariano Rivera tribute from last night…

Watch it and enjoy… Joe D.

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As Neil Diamond completed his performance of “Sweet Caroline” in remembrance of the Boston Marathon bombing victims, the real show of the eight inning was brewing below the Shea Bridge. For the final time, he was preparing to take the jog across the baseball field in the mid-summer classic. As he makes for the gate, the familiar building intro of his theme song echoed throughout the bowels of Citi Field. The chicken-wire gate swings open, a crowd of baseball’s luckiest 45,186 fans in attendance rise to their feet. He gazes out to the bright lights, his final chapter in the mid-year match of the game’s greatest is about to be written. He takes a deep breath, looks up from the dark brim of his cap, and with a short hop and a kick is off; Mariano Rivera is in the game.

For the next four minutes following his emergence from the bullpen gate in right, the greatest closer of all time was honored in the most basic, yet impeccable of fashion. While his fight song “Enter Sandman” blared, the All-Stars vanished. Every player and coach retreated to the dugout, making way for Rivera to have his moment. There was no tribute video or owners conceding the World Series, just baseball’s finest honoring the cream of the crop.

As the crowd and the rosters of both leagues remained on their feet in tribute to Rivera, all he could do is smile. Appearing to be holding back tears, the Yankee closer began warming up once his catcher took the field. Then, Mariano Rivera did what he does best; make the opposition look silly, retiring the side on 16 pitches, earning MVP honors and a new Corvette. When given the mic by Erin Andrews and asked to give a few words, the humble Rivera used his moment in the spotlight to thank those who had brought him to where he is today, never forgetting where he came from and what makes all of it possible.

Continuing to to prove why Rivera is one of the great gentlemen of the sport, he took the opportunity in his post-game interview to talk about what an honor it is to be the final bearer of Jackie Robinson‘s number 42 in Major League Baseball.

It couldn’t have been more fitting that a man who has made an entire career out of just throwing one common pitch, was honored by a very simple gesture, with fantastic results.

mariano rivera

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Mets Need To Get Out Of Wheeler’s Way Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:33:36 +0000 zack wheeler 2If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s some sage advice for a franchise who oftentimes ends up making a good situation bad, and a bad situation worse.

The Mets have always been an organization that loves to get their grubby little hands into everything. Sometimes their meanderings are harmless, but every now and then they do something that really tries my patience as a Met fan. Last night was one of those times. Let me expand.

Going into last night’s game, I was as excited as the next Met fan in anticipation of seeing Zack Wheeler‘s second start. After holding a solid Atlanta Braves to six scoreless innings in his debut, I couldn’t wait to see him overpower one of the worst offenses in the game – the Chicago White Sox. This was going to be epic… Well, as epic a game as one will see in a 90 loss season…

A 97 mph strike with the first pitch… Awesome… Lets do this thing…

Uh oh… What the hell did Gary Cohen just say? “The Mets have told Wheeler they would like to see him utilize more offspeed pitches and changeups. More sliders and curves.” Ron Darling sighed.

“I didn’t throw a lot of strikes. And when I did, they were bad strikes,” said Wheeler, who threw 109 pitches.

Why? Why would you ask your top prospect to throw fewer of his two plus-pitches, both fastballs? Aren’t those the pitches that got Wheeler to the majors in the first place? Aren’t those the pitches that had scouts drooling for years?

Who made this god-awful decision? Who was the genius behind this operation?

During his first start against Atlanta, Wheeler’s fastball was his most effective pitch. Twelve of his fourteen swinging strikes were on the fastball and it led to seven strikeouts. Last night… Wheeler only struck out only one batter and it didn’t happen until the fifth inning. He wasn’t missing nearly as many bats as before. We saw a different pitcher last night. What should have been a dominating performance against one of the worst teams in the game, ended up being one of those “shake-it-off, kid” starts. It wasn’t what any of us wanted to see.

“Everybody goes over some bumps. I’ve been struggling with my command lately. And you really can’t do that up here, so I have a lot of work to do,” Wheeler said afterward.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen blamed it on Wheeler tipping his pitches and showing the batters a different arm angle between his fastball and breaking stuff. “I thought it was pretty obvious that he had different arm angles for different pitches.”

So what? Wheeler’s been tipping his pitches his entire freaking minor league career… Now you’re going to use that as a crutch? This is not something new, coach…

Mariano Rivera is going to the Hall of Fame while tipping his pitches… His plus-plus-pitch, that cutter, he could just as well shine a beacon or shout it out to the hitter, “Hey Miguel, here come’s my cutter”. They still couldn’t hit it.

If your stuff is great, it doesn’t matter if the hitter knows it’s coming or guesses right. You’ll still be successful, the pitcher still has the advantage. Throw your best stuff…

Wheeler’s four-seamer and two-seamer are supposed to be his kill pitches. His “stuff”. Why would you limit him from using those pitches more? He’s got a great curve you can throw in there as well, but I’m not impressed with his slider or changeup. Let him develop those during his bullpens and side sessions.

Another thing… I love how some Met fans are already bailing on Wheeler after just two starts. Are you serious, people? Are you freaking kidding me?

First of all, if you’re willing to bail on one of the game’s top prospects after just two performances, you really need to see a shrink, or better yet, you need a keeper.

The comparisons to Matt Harvey have got to stop. As I said all along, they are two completely different specimens. Harvey was a polished college arm who went from his first minor league pitch to his first major league pitch in less than two years. Wheeler was a high school pitcher who has been trying to tame his wildness since the day he signed with the San Francisco Giants. The only similarities the two of them share is the name on the front of their jerseys. So lets cut the crap.

Anyway, we’ll do this again on Sunday when Wheeler will face the Washington Nationals. The kid will be pitching in front of a home crowd for the first time, and I’m hoping the Mets decide to just let him loose and stop playing games with his mental approach. Let him do what he wants. Let’s see what we have. Keep your grubby little hands off of him.

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MMO Exclusive: The Mets And Their Difficult Relationship With The New York Press Sat, 08 Jun 2013 00:20:53 +0000 jeff wilpon

To Jeff Wilpon The Mets Are Just A Laughing Matter…

That charming headline appeared in a May 29th Daily News article by the rabble-rousing Filip Bondy

You may remember that Jeff Wilpon showed up at Citi Field and made a rare public appearance during a pregame ceremony for Mariano Rivera, who threw out the first pitch, and eventually the last. That was the day that the Mets COO gave up on the season and let the future HOF closer know about it.

The title caught my eye like a mangled raccoon on Interstate 94, but as I wasn’t able to read it until days later. I tried to hold my preconceptions in check, but it looked like Jeff may have put his foot in his mouth again. Or maybe not… Here is what he actually said: “Wish we could see you in the World Series,” Wilpon told Rivera. “But I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”

For Mr. Bondy, this is tantamount to throwing in the towel, giving up, abandoning hope and tucking tail, only one problem … that’s not really what the words say. “I’m not sure that’s going to happen,” doesn’t mean it won’t … or can’t, or even will not … Correct me but don’t those words mean that Jeff WIlpon isn’t certain the 2013 Mets will make it to the World Series?

On what planet is this a revelation? Is this not what any rational person might say under the circumstances? Am I actually coming to Jeff Wilpon’s defense? What kind of warped alternate reality have I just stepped into? Cue the Twilight Zone music.

For Mr. Bondy these comments were outrageous, an affront to his own lofty standards for spirited competition. He never even thought about giving up when he was on the chess team back at the University of Wisconsin (Badgers never surrender!), or maybe it brings back all those ugly memories in H.S. when the jocks would make Filip cry “uncle” between an atomic wedgie and a swirlie. You may recall, this is the same “Flip” Bondy who spent a year in 2004 with the “Bleacher Creatures” in Yankee Stadium and who wrote the following in 2010 as he was gearing up to cover the ALCS:

“Ryan’s no-hitters aside, this ALCS represents one of sports’ great historical mismatches, 40 pennants versus zero. The Yanks should win this series just by throwing their pinstriped uniforms onto the  field and reading from a few pages of The Baseball Encyclopedia. If only Bud Selig would agree to waive a few silly postseason rules, the Bombers might send their Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster to Arlington for the first couple of games, make this a fair fight.”

Of course the impossible to beat Yankees lost that series the same way they recently lost four games to the Mets, shocker.

Now lets pan back a little ways to 2008 and look at a different quote by a different NY Journalist.

“The Yankees are absolutely down two stars this season, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. They still have enough big names and big contracts in their batting order and that is why it is almost bewildering that, at this point in the season, it is so difficult picking an offensive MVP for them. Right now the closest to that, the player doing the job you expect him to do, is the guy hitting between Jeter and A-Rod, Bobby Abreu.”

“But the biggest offensive disappointment in town, as much of an under-producer as any big name or big ticket or big player either New York team has, is Carlos Beltran.”

The above  was written by Mike Lupica in August of 2008. Lupica never seemed to appreciate Beltran and it is believed his attacks may have had at least something to do with Carlos’ brief media blackout after his difficult first year in NY. To read Lupica on Beltran you’d think the guy slept with his wife or stole his lunch money or failed to treat him with the customary reverence media royalty demand. I never quite understood the unceasing vitriol directed at a guy who by all accounts was a great player (the best center-fielder the Mets have ever had) and a decent human being.

Maybe Lupica was upset that Beltran didn’t end up in pinstripes? Who knows. Maybe Beltran brushed past Lupica in the clubhouse on his way to the restroom just as Mike was trying to ask a question? Hard to say, but, beyond the questionable beef stir-fry at the player’s buffet, what was clear was the one man campaign Lupica went on to try and destroy an athlete’s reputation. None of the accusations that Lupica leveled against Carlos were true, not the selfishness, or the lack of leadership, or the absence of passion, or the surly listlessness, in fact, to anyone who knew Beltran and had actually watched him play, they were categorically false.

Or how about Lupica lumping Beltran in with Castillo and Perez (two bonafide lumps) during the whole Walter Reed fiasco, even though Beltran had a more than legitimate reason than them not to attend? This didn’t prevent Lupica from throwing in a nasty little innuendo:

“All athletes worry about their next contracts when they get close to the end of their current ones. It is why Beltran wanted to get back on the field, even in his current diminished capacity, hoping he would look better than he has before his walk year, worried about what happens to him when he comes to the end of his $100 million contract a year from now.”

Lupica once called Beltran “as much of a free-agent disappointment as any big hire the Yankees or Mets have ever made.” Remember, this is a guy who had a 7.5 WAR in 2006 (only Pujols had a higher WAR a 5.1 WAR in 2007, and a 7.1 WAR in 2008 and who by almost any and all measures more than earned his salary over the course of his contract. Carlos remains one of the greatest players ever to put on a Mets uniform, and this is how he is treated? Unbelievable you say?

How about Murray Chass and Mike Piazza? One man’s tenacious obsession with another man’s back acne may very well have resulted in Piazza not entering the hall as a first ballot inductee. The personal and relentless focus on one of New York’s good guys was weird and creepy, and for what? In the end it seemed Murray’s one man witch hunt was more about Chass demonstrating the power of his pen and less about the ethics of PED use. Chass had this to say in a recent post on his blog following this last ill-fated HOF vote.

“When I worked for The New York Times, I tried more than once to write about Piazza and steroids, but the baseball editor said I couldn’t because his name hadn’t been linked to steroids. I can link his name to steroids, I countered, but I had to wait until I started this Web site to talk about Piazza’s acne-covered back, a generally accepted telltale sign of steroids use.”

Didn’t matter that the accusations were largely based on one observation of some acne which may very well have been caused by Mike’s chest protector straps. Didn’t matter that Piazza had an on and off again history of problems with acne since High School, nope, all that mattered was that Chass was certain that Piazza was a roider, judge jury and executioner.

seaver tradedLets go even further back in our little insidious chronology to February 1977 when Tom Seaver blasted M. Donald Grant for not doing more to improve the team. Later that summer, with a contract agreed upon in principle on the table, Seaver called Grant and demanded a trade after an article by Dick Young came out in which Young commented:

Nolan Ryan is getting more [salary] now than Seaver, and that galls Tom because Nancy Seaver and Ruth Ryan are very friendly and Tom Seaver long has treated Nolan Ryan like a little brother.”

For Seaver the personal nature of the comment was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he would not tolerate his family being dragged into the fray. Young faced numerous conflict of interest allegations in the press and was vilified by the fans who were aware of his close ties to Grant and McDonald, and the fact that his son-in-law worked for the Met front office.

The day after the trade, in a rare direct assault on a fellow member of the press, Maury Allen of the New York Post responded, “It is Young who forced the deal, who urged Grant on, who participated strongly in the unmaking of Tom Seaver as a Met.”

The wolf spider is known for a particularly peculiar practice, they will very often devour their own young.

You can’t walk into the Met clubhouse without feeling it. The tension is thick and palpable. I couldn’t help notice on the occasions when I was present that there was visible consternation among many Mets players at having to negotiate the press gauntlet, starting most prominently with Terry Collins who seemed acutely agitated and perturbed — even after a win. It was painfully obvious that this team did not like or trust the press. Their words were measured, their inflection flat, their demeanor extremely guarded.

I’m not saying the N.Y. Press should act like a bunch of obsequious homers pandering to a less than informed home crowd as you might see in some other cities. I’m not saying they shouldn’t continue to hold athletes who play in N.Y. to a higher standard. N.Y. is a tough place and New York’s news-media establishment is the one of the most prestigious in the world. If you can make it in N.Y. right? But there’s a difference between holding players to a higher standard and petty character assassinations.

When you contemplate the ubiquitous nature of the N.Y. media, the brightness of the big city spotlight, and the intensity of the fan base, playing in N.Y. is hard enough, we don’t have to make it any harder by subjecting these kids to the megalomaniac rants of self-declared kingmakers holding who knows what grudges against an organization and it’s players. Bondy has openly admitted his dislike of the Mets dating back to 1969 when they dashed his Cubs’ hopes. Seriously? He’s upset because the Cubs lost? That’s like holding a grudge against a bear for pooping in the woods.

It’s hard enough to play in the Major Leagues and it’s hard enough to do so in New York, but when the press becomes it’s own story, adding to an increasingly difficult set of hurdles that young often foreign born players have to overcome, you almost get the sense they are spiting their own just for the hell of it, because they can, and because negativity sells. Circling like sharks at the slightest inkling of controversy ready to destroy lives and careers because they believe it to be within their purview and part of the dog-eat-dog terrain. Meanness for the sake of meanness. Whatever it takes to break a story or make a mark.

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Matt Harvey’s Got Liquid Nitrogen Running Through His Veins Sun, 02 Jun 2013 13:50:41 +0000 matt harvey

I hardly agree with anything Terry Collins says – except on the rare occasions when he quotes me. While talking to reporters about Matt Harvey, the Mets manager offered up this gem:

“He’s been in every game he’s pitched. If we scored him some runs, he’d be 9-0.”

Harvey, who starts this afternoon’s game against the Marlins, is coming off a no-decision against the Yankees that the Mets came from behind to win off closer Mariano Rivera. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed just one run and struck out 10 in eight innings against the team he grew up rooting for. He was electric that night but don’t think for a second he won’t be up for today’s less than marquee matchup.

Marc Carig of Newsday talked to Harvey about the difference between pitching against Yankees in Yankee Stadium and today’s contest against the hapless Marlins.

“Every start, I’m going out there no matter if we’re on a losing streak or a winning streak, it’s my job to go out there and go as long as I can,” he said. “In my mind, that’s putting up zeros.”

Harvey has been this season’s highlight reel for the Mets. He currently leads the majors with a 0.82 WHIP and .172 BAA while boasting a sterling 1.85 ERA and a perfect 5-0 record.

“I play a game within the game,” Harvey told Carig. “Each hitter is a game. I don’t want to get beat by any hitter. That’s how I take it.”

I wish we had more players with his aggressiveness and attitude… Harvey’s got liquid nitrogen running through his veins…

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Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon’s Huge Blunder Fri, 31 May 2013 22:59:06 +0000 USATSI_7279228_154511658_lowresWith Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time, set to retire at the end of the season, teams across the MLB are honoring him in some fashion before games. This is true of the Mets, who honored him prior to Tuesday’s game against the Yanks.

He would throw out the first pitch of the game and, ironically, throw the last, as the Mets actually scored two runs on three hits in the bottom of ninth. In the wake of the Mets’ win streak, fans actually have something to relatively excited about.

This is great news for the owners, who over the past couple of seasons have experienced financial losses. This win streak may butts in the seats, they might be able to turn a profit. This is an excellent time to capitalize on the momentum created  by this recent stretch.

So what does COO Jeff Wilpon do?He did what any other professional sports administrator would do, he mocked his team and their chances at the World Series.

While honoring Mariano, Jeff Wilpon, speaking to Mariano, said “Wish we could see you in the World Series, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.” Rivera, always being a professional, said “You never know.”

Strictly dissecting what he said, nothing he said was particularly wrong. There were very low expectations of this year’s club, with the general consensus being that they would finish second to last, only because the Marlins exist. Furthermore, their lack of spending on free agents, even middle-tier players, indicated that this season was planned to be a “bring up the kids year”.

However, him going out and explicitly stating something like this publicly is absolutely ridiculous. In my opinion, this just shows the difference between the two New York ballclubs. If you ever heard anything like this from Yankees upper management it would be considered preposterous and outrage from the fan base would ensue. The Yankees aim to win no matter the odds. A perfect example is that Jeter, A-Rod, Granderson, Teixeira, and other top players have missed the majority if not the entire season. Do you hear the Yanks complaining? No. Sure they acknowledge their absences, but they still go out and play and expect to win.

This is a fundamental difference between the organizations. The Mets are selling this season to us as a rebuilding year – as a season that was lost before it ever started. What incentive is there as a fan to go buy a ticket to a game? Would you buy a product whose maker does not believe in it? No, you would not.

Another thing, what does Wilpon gain from saying this?. Perhaps, it was just a passing joke. But being in a major market, especially New York, scrutiny of every comment and move is to be expected. No he is not wrong, but he still should have not said it.

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Can the Mets Pitching Staff Build on this Current Win Streak? Fri, 31 May 2013 13:54:47 +0000 matt harvey

Is this a mirage, are we actually witnessing something special happening with this Mets team. Have they woken up from their hibernation? We know not to expect anything special with this group this season, but what just happened this week, is somewhat confusing. Did it take for the Yankees to come into town for the Mets to finally start playing winning baseball? Was it the aura of the subway series that brought out the best in the team? Or have the Mets been trying to break out of this slump all season and it just took the Yankees invading their home for them to realize just how important and fun it would be to start winning again.

Two players this week have had their jobs on the line dependent on how they play, one being Ike Davis and the other Ruben Tejada. Ike has bought himself some time and Tejada basically saved a demotion by going on the DL. We know that was not done purposely, but it has bought him sometime to think about his recent play. The rest of the team didn’t go out and put a hitting clinic on, but they scored just enough runs to contribute to the current win streak, the really story this week was the dominance of the whole Mets pitching staff. They showed up and proved that finally they belong.

shaun marcum

Starting with the Braves on Sunday night, Mets pitchers this week have showed signs of breaking out of their two month slump of pitching woes. It started with Shaun Marcum holding the Braves to 2 runs on 4 hits with 12 K’s in 7 innings of work, which allowed the Mets to win in fashion with 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th.

In the Yankees series the starters for the Mets were basically lights out. Starting with Jon Niese on Monday, he pitched 7 strong innings and only allowing 8 hits, 1 run with 4 Ks. The bullpen would do their job and hold off the Yankees as the Mets made their comeback to steal the first game 2-1. The next night, Matt Harvey basically dominated the Yankees all game by going 8 inns, allowing 6 hits and 1 run with 10 Ks. The Mets didn’t wake up in this game until the last inning when they ruined Mariano Rivera’s, say goodbye tour, and gave him his first blown save of the year with a 2-1 victory. Just two whole runs for the Yankees at Citi Field that must be a record.

On to Yankee stadium and the Mets continue on their high and score 5 runs in the first inning, and in this game, everyone but Mike Baxter gets in the hit column. Even Ike Davis contributed two solid hits in the win. Jeremy Hefner may not have been lights out, but he kept the Yankees at bay only allowing 3 runs on 9 hits with 5 K’s, in 6 inns of work to record his first victory of the season. You would have probably tossed up this game as a victory for the Yankees because Hefner came into the game with a 0-5 record and giving up more than 4 runs a game. But he pitched well enough for the win and the Mets bats supported his effort with a 9-4 victory.

dillon gee

Last nights game was more than just a series sweep for the Mets, it was welcome back Dillon Gee, glad you showed up for the party. Not only did Gee earn a victory last night, but he stifled the Yankees for 7.1 inns, allowing only 4 hits, 1 run and 12 K’s. What a performance on a night where a sweep probably was an unlikely thought giving the fact that Gee struggled against the Braves on Saturday night when he was tagged for 5 runs on 8 hits in only 5 innings of work. So with something to prove, Gee showed what he can do when he is running on all cylinders.

What a week for Mets pitchers, in the 5 game win streak, especially the bullpen, which allowed only 1 run on 6 hits with 8 K’s in 8.2 inns of work. The starters allowed 8 runs on 31 hits in 35.1 innings of work with 43 K’s. The numbers for the starters may not be masterful, but with how the bullpen did their job they contributed in allowing only 6 runs in 5 games and to help the team come away with 5 straight victories. Hopefully they can continue their recent success when they visit the Marlins (13-41) this weekend. After what the Mets did to the Yankees, nothing short of another sweep would be accepted against the Marlins, but maybe that is asking a bit too much from this bunch. Maybe this week was a mirage or could it actually be something to build on. I know that Mets fans, and myself, who have suffered through these past two months, are relishing now in the thought that maybe, just maybe the Yankees have helped to save our season. You have to start someplace and what better than a 4 game sweep of our cross-town rivals; it doesn’t get any better than this for now.

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3 Up & 3 Down, The Subway Series Sweep Edition, Yeah Baby!!! Fri, 31 May 2013 12:42:25 +0000 esb we got this

We’re feeling giddy here at 3N3 headquarters… The champagne corks are popping, because yes friends, the New York Mets have swept the New York Yankees in all four games of the Subway Series for the first time ever. Let’s say it again, the Mets SWEEP the Yankees! In all my writing here on MMO, I am nothing if not honest, so I’ll say it up front, I hate the Yankees, and I despise their fans. Sorry if that makes me a bad guy, but at least I’m honest. So in light of the this great moment in Mets history, we have a special Happy Recap Edition with 6 Ups.

root for two teams

3 Up:

  • Dan(iel) Is The Man: I’ve always been a big fan of Daniel Murphy. Our second baseman is such a genuine major league hitter at the plate these days. Murph came up with some HUGE hits this series, especially after being robbed of a home run on a great catch by Brett Gardner on Monday night. Murphy would exact his revenge and deliver a key hit in the ninth inning to help the Mets win the first game. He kept delivering one big hit after another throughout the series and is one of the most reliable and proficient hitters in the Mets lineup. Murph is the man!
  • Captain America: David Wright came through in the clutch and delivered key hits in the first two games of the series at Citi Field. It was great to see our captain come up huge against the Yankees against whom he has a franchise record most hits. Just great!!
  • Niese Is Back: Jon Niese had a spectacular outing on Memorial Day against the Yankees. In fact we can say Jon single-handedly diffused the Bronx Bombers, surrendering just one run in seven innings. He’ll be missing his next start on Saturday, but the Mets don’t think it’s serious.

3 More Up:

  • Hard Luck Harvey: Just imagine what Matt Harvey‘s record would be if the Mets actually scored some runs for the kid. Harvey pitched brilliantly on Tuesday night and only gave up one run, thanks in large part to a misplayed ball by Marlon Byrd. It was all good however as the Mets came back to win and handed future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera the first no-out, blown save of his career. Harvey was all smiles.
  • Heff, Heff Hooray: Keeping up with the whole pitching theme, how about Jeremy Hefner in game three? Heff was aided by five big runs in the first inning, as the Mets knocked Yankee starter David Phelps out of the game very quickly. Jeremy gave up three runs in six innings and finally earned his first win of the season. It’s nice to have Heff as an “Up” for a change.
  • Gee Whiz: Last, but certainly not least, we have to give recognize the tremendous performance by Dillon Gee who pitched the best game of his career in clinching the finale of the Subway Series to complete the sweep. Gee pitched a gem, going 7.1 innings, allowing just one run, and fanning 12 pinstripers. A very nice job by Dillon.

Mets sweep the Yankees… I love the sound of that.. Now we can head off to that sorrowful ballpark in Miami to take on the slumping Marlins riding a five-game winning streak… I love our chances… Lets Go Mets!!

mets win walkoff harvey wright

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Series Preview: New York Yankees Mon, 27 May 2013 22:05:45 +0000

Series Preview

This year, for the first time ever, the Mets and Yankees will be playing a four-game series with two games in Queens and two in the Bronx. After complaints from fans and new changes to the schedule this year, Bud Selig was forced to shorten these marquee interleague rivalries from six games to four. That’s probably a good thing for the Mets considering how good the Yankees are this year, and how bad the Mets have played thus far.

This year, the Yankees have been devastated by injuries. In fact, the payroll of those players on the DL is approaching $100 million, which is higher than the actual payroll of about half of baseball. Nonetheless, against all odds, the Yankees are tied for first place atop the American League East at 30-19. They haven’t scored as many runs as a typical Yankee team would, and they are actually the lowest-scoring team in the division, but they have gotten stellar pitching from both the bullpen and starting rotation. Andy Pettitte returned and has continued to be a rock the Yankees can rely on. C.C. Sabathia has been a workhorse, tossing 72.2 innings in 11 starts. Thankfully, however, the Mets will not have to face either of those two as they get the bottom of the rotation. The bottom half is still nothing to joke about, as Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps each have sub-four ERAs in the still-tough AL East.

The bullpen hasn’t been as good as the rotation, but it’s been one of the better units in the game, even after losing Rafael Soriano to free agency last offseason. The ‘pen ranks 11th in baseball in ERA and fourth in batting average agains with men on base. Mariano Rivera hasn’t pitched at all like a 43 year-old, posting a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings this year. He has given up just 14 hits and two walks while striking out 16. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 4 against Oakland.

All in all, this team is one of the best the Mets have faced all season, even despite the injuries the Yankees have suffered. It could be a long four days.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jon Niese, LHP (3-5, 4.80 ERA, 54.1 IP, 5.1 K/9, 4.5 BB/9) vs. Phil Hughes, RHP (2-3, 5.51 ERA, 47.1 IP, 8.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Hughes has been inconsistent over his seven-year career with the Yankees, and has some convinced that his best role would be in the bullpen. After posting a 4.23 ERA in 191.1 innings last season, Hughes’s ERA has gone up, and is now at 5.51. His strikeout and walk numbers are right where they should be, but he is giving up more home runs than ever, almost two per nine innings. He is getting hurt badly on his fastball which, after being average last year, has been worth about seven runs below average this season, meaning hitters are hitting it, and hitting it hard. He has already given up ten homers on the season, eight of which have come off fastballs.

Game 2: Matt Harvey, RHP (5-0, 1.93 ERA, 70 IP, 9.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9) vs. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (6-3, 2.67 ERA, 60.2 IP, 5.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9)

Kuroda, even at age 38, has continued to dominate. Despite moving to the American League two years ago, he has held steady. This season, his ERA is a career-best 2.67 through ten starts. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but he gets ground balls more frequently than most without allowing many walks. And unlike Hughes, Kuroda hasn’t given up many home runs this year, despite pitching most of his games at Yankee Stadium.

Game 3: Jeremy Hefner, RHP (0-5, 4.76 ERA, 51 IP, 6.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9) vs. David Phelps, RHP (3-2, 3.96 ERA, 50 IP, 8.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)

Phelps, 26, slowly pitched his way through the minors after being taken in the 14th round in the 2008 draft, and pitched well at every level before earning a promotion to the big leagues last year. He started 11 games due to injuries in the starting rotation, and posted a very solid 3.34 ERA. This season, he again got the nod due to injury, and has a 3.27 ERA as a starter. In his last start in Tampa Bay, his pitching arm was struck by a line drive. However, he suffered only a bruise and will most likely be out there for his start on Wednesday.

Game 4: Dillon Gee, RHP (2-6, 6.34 ERA, 49.2 IP, 6.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9) vs. Vidal Nuno, LHP (1-1, 1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 4.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9)

Nuno, a 48th-round pick, isn’t a big name, but has certainly earned an opportunity with his domination of the minors the past two seasons. After bouncing around for a while, even pitching for an independent league team, Nuno, posted a 2.54 ERA in 21 starts between Single-A and Double-A last year. This season, he had a 1.54 ERA in four starts before earning the promotion. So far, he has been a solid option for the Yankees as a swingman.

Series Notes

  • Curtis Granderson, who just got back from the DL, will have to sit out another month thanks to a broken finger he suffered earlier this week after getting hit in the hand by a pitch. Granderson hit 43 home runs last season. However, he only batted .232 (compared to .262 in 2011) and struck out in 28.5 % of his trips to the plate.
  • Lucas Duda extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games going 3-4 last night…Duda is hitting .351 (13-37) during his run, which dates to May 16…His previous best was a seven-game hitting streak done two previous times, last, June 16-24, 2012.
  • David Wright is tied with Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd for the most regular season home runs by a Met against the Yankees with eight.
  • Bobby Parnell converted his fifth straight save chance last night in New York’s 4-2 win vs. Atlanta…Parnell is 3-1 with five saves in May and has been unscored upon in 10 of his 11 games this month.
  • Daniel Murphy has at least one hit in 11 of his last 14 games,batting .400 (22-55) with two home runs and eight RBI over that clip.Murphy has 15 doubles, tied for the second-most in the NL…He has seven doubles this month, tied for the sixth-most in the NL…Since the start of the 2012 season, Murphy has 55 doubles, the third-most in the National League, two behind Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and one behind Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez.
  • Since 2009, the Mets are 0-3-1 in season series vs. the Yankees…The Mets have dropped five straight individual series to their crosstown rival…The last series the Mets won was May 21-23, 2010 at Citi Field…The last time the Mets won the season series vs. the Yankees was in 2008 (4-2)…The Mets are 2-8-6 in all-time season series against the Yankees.
  • The Mets along with the other 29 teams will wear specially designed caps and jerseys featuring an authentic military digital camouflage design licensed from the United States Marine Corps tonight…MLB will donate 100 percent of its net proceeds from sales of the caps and jerseys to Welcome Back Veterans…Since 2008, MLB has committed $23 million to Welcome Back Veterans.


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