Mets Merized Online » NY Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:21:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 The Horrendously, Impossibly, Unclutch 2016 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/the-horrendously-impossibly-unclutch-2016-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/the-horrendously-impossibly-unclutch-2016-mets.html/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 16:20:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216446 curtis granderson

Marc Carig of Newsday tweeted the following yesterday:

“In short: the Mets have been so horrendously unclutch that it’s hard to think they could sustain that level of crappiness.”

Carig was referring of course to an article by Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs detailing just how “unclutch” the Mets have been. Clutch, as calculated on Fangraphs, measures how well a player (or team) perform in high leverage situations. It’s calculated as such: Clutch = (WPA / pLI) – WPA/LI

David Appelman defines it as: “How much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment.”  Sullivan concluded: “Offensively speaking, the Mets have been impossibly unclutch. It shouldn’t continue like this. Of course, what’s done is done.”

Per Sullivan, in April, Mets hitters ranked 29th in Clutch. In May, 22nd. In June, they were 29th. Overall, they’re dead last, and it’s not very close.

The Mets’ current run of unclutch play is, in fact, historic, as you can see in the chart below listing the 10 most unclutch seasons over the past 40 odd years.

10 Least Clutch Offenses

Team

Season

G

Clutch/162

Mets

2016

77

-10.9

Padres

1994

117

-9.0

Twins

1978

162

-8.5

Indians

2005

162

-7.6

Yankees

1981

107

-7.4

Dodgers

1989

160

-7.2

Angels

1981

110

-7.2

Orioles

2004

162

-7.2

Expos

1983

163

-6.9

Giants

2002

162

-6.9

It gets worse … Sullivan goes on to note:

“My stat of choice is tOPS+, which measures split performance vs. overall performance. By this measure, the worst team in recorded history with runners in scoring position is the 1962 Mets, who finished with a tOPS+ of 77. The 1987 Indians finished with a tOPS+ of 80. As I write this, this year’s Mets have a tOPS+ of 74.”

That’s pretty bad folks, unsustainably bad, which is to say, it is extremely unlikely that the Mets will continue to perform this poorly in high leverage situations. But the article looks at this phenomenon from a decidedly statistical aspect. Statheads, for the most part, believe that clutch is not sustainable, clutch performances are simply random fluctuations in performance where successes happen to coincide with high leverage situations. So Alex Rodriguez was never really unclutch in the playoffs, he simply hadn’t had enough at bats … something like that.

So if clutch isn’t “real” in this sense, how do you explain the fact that some teams and some players clearly perform better in high leverage situations? You don’t, it’s simply a function of performance and context, a 900 OPS player isn’t considered clutch if he puts up a 900 OPS in a given playoff series.

Now a .770 OPS player who puts up a 1.850 OPS during the playoffs (Daniel Murphy) would be the definition of clutch, right? Well, yes and no. The fact that he rose above career averages in a high leverage environment and sustained it more or less for an entire post season is certainly the definition of “clutch,” however, you could argue that the talent was always there, it simply hadn’t been realized … Murphy’s performance since then would certainly support this conclusion.

There’s nothing wrong with saying a given hit was “clutch” because it scored a winning run, but to say that a player is intrinsically “clutch” because he has a knack for hitting with runners in scoring position is (at least according to some) presumptuous, because it may simply be a demonstration of that particular player’s natural ability randomly juxtaposed over high leverage contexts – a coincidence if you will.

The good news is Clutch (the stat) isn’t predictive. Sullivan took a bunch of notably unclutch first halves over the past 20 years and drew a correlation scatter with those same teams’ second halves and there was absolutely no correlation. An “unclutch” first half is not even in the slightest way predictive of an unclutch second half. Sometimes teams simply under-perform, sometimes they go through unbelievable stretches of bad luck, sometimes hitters slump. So the Mets are probably not as bad at they appear.

terry collins dan warthen tim teufel

But while Clutch tells us nothing about the future and little about the present, it can certainly be used to qualify the past, and as such, the Mets have indeed been “impossibly unclutch.” When you have these extraordinary unlikely scenarios repeating over and over for weeks and months you invariably have to wonder how much of it is bad luck and how much is bad talent.

Sullivan pointed out that according to BaseRuns, the Mets should be averaging 4.07 runs scored per game. They are currently at 3.58, giving them a difference of -0.49. That happens to be the biggest negative difference in Baseball, and, it works out to about 38 missing runs (which amounts to around four wins). On paper, the Mets should be better, and as a team, it’s hard to avoid the specter of underperformance. The Mets have been atrocious at sequencing hits, they’ve hit tons of solo home runs and have left busloads of runners in scoring position. There are legitimate concerns that the team continues to stumble over it’s own misplaced parts.

The other question is whether the Mets offense, as constructed, somehow lends itself to excruciatingly bad runs like this current one. The value of improved plate discipline and selectivity (as an organizational tenet) is based on a preponderance of data, but do patient and selective lineups falter when they rely too much on the long ball? Does it become all too easy to pitch around the odd hot bat in a depleted lineup? Does the lack of team speed and contact hitting undermine even the most patient lineup’s ability to push runs across?

Whatever the myriad causes, this historic run of unclutch play shouldn’t continue. “What’s done is done.” Eventually the Mets will hit with runners in scoring position. Still, you can’t overlook just how bad this first half has been.

While things as unlikely as this level of ineptitude rarely occur (for this long) without some good reasons, waiting for the winds of change to somehow bolster the Mets’ fortunes seems naive.The Mets may be the most unlucky team in baseball for all we know, but the 2016 Mets, very much like the 2015 Mets, have some significant offensive shortcomings, and much like the 2015 Mets they’re going to need to improve their offense in some tangible ways if they intend to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Waiting for the inevitable odds that say the Mets will hit with runners in scoring position to catch up with events on the field seems like an affront to a fickle pantheon of baseball deities who could just as easily make it so the Mets continue their historic futility. Stranger things have happened.

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Mets Look For A Win To Avoid Limping Into Cubs Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-look-for-a-win-to-avoid-limping-into-cubs-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-look-for-a-win-to-avoid-limping-into-cubs-series.html/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 16:32:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216276 terry collins dan warthen tim teufel

The Mets were armed and not dangerous in a two rain delayed 5-0 loss against the Nationals in D.C. Mother nature limited Matt Harvey to 3 2/3 innings, depriving the right-hander from seeing a little more light at the end of his dark and demoralizing tunnel.

Manager Terry Collins said Harvey (4-10) was outstanding despite being the hard-luck loser.

“It would have been great for him to go a few more innings because tonight was some of the best stuff he’s had all year,” Collins said. “Tonight he had it. Tonight he had things going. His arm was working great, he just felt good on the mound.”

Surrendering only one run in his stunted stay, Harvey handed the baton to the recently reliable Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles. But the duo gave up four runs between them, while the Mets bats belted their rendition of Silent Night.

As New York sinks deeper in the NL East standings, now five games back and in third place, the entire team’s walk up song should be, Free Fallin’.

moah syndergaard

With the musical chairs of changes to the Mets line-up, the round trip tickets to and from Las Vegas, along with the uncertainty of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz’s elbows, the Mets are mired in a precarious state of mind.

Baseball’s top prospect Lucas Giolito delivered a dandy of a four shutout inning debut allowing a single and walk to Curtis Granderson.  He kept the rest of the Mets off balance and off the base paths with a combination of change-ups, fastballs and curves.

The Mets had a golden opportunity to do some damage in the 6th when they loaded the bases with one out against relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. But Dusty Baker pulled Petit for Oliver Perez who struck out James Loney, then retired Wilmer Flores on a fly ball to center, recording his second win of the season.

On the Mets floundering offense Collins lamented, “I’m scratching (my head) a little bit. But we’ve got to make sure these guys stay upbeat.”

Well, to avoid a sweep, Logan Verrett has some big cleats to counter facing Max Scherzer, as he gets a spot start in lieu of the bone spurred Steven Matz. Verrett has come through for the Mets before, but in his latest spot starts he has been found wanting.

The Mets certainly need a win tonight to calm the masses which are getting loud and boisterous – and not in a good way. Another loss and they limp home to Citi Field to begin a four game series against the National League’s best – the Chicago Cubs – who lead the majors with 25 wins on the road.

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Bartolo Colon Thumbs His Way Through Seven Solid Innings http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/bartolo-colon-thumbs-his-way-through-seven-solid-innings.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/bartolo-colon-thumbs-his-way-through-seven-solid-innings.html/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2016 14:55:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216065 bartolo colon 2

Now that the diamond dust of Michael Conforto’s demotion, Jose Reyes’ resigning, Logan Verrett, Sean Gilmartin and Brandon Nimmo being recalled from Las Vegas has settled, it’s still much ado about nothing with the Mets starting line-up.

NY prospect Brandon Nimmo’s 0-4 major league debut was not one that dreams are made of, as he got a taste of the meal Conforto dined on during his roller-coaster stay in the “show.”

“I’m sure the first-game jitters were huge for him,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve got to get him calmed down because he’s going to a bigger series here in 24 hours.”

A day after Jacob deGrom had the dubious honor of pitching a gem of a no-decision without any input from his offense, Bartolo Colon got the same cold shoulders, as the Mets lost to the basement dwelling Braves 5-2.

Colon’s one run to Freddie Freeman was his only flaw, and it’s a shame that the 43 year old couldn’t cash in a win on an impressive seven-inning outing that was his for the taking. This was his first start since taking a line drive off his thumb and giving everyone a scare.

“At no point throughout the game did the thumb bother me, thank god,” Colon said through an interpreter. “I’m able to squeeze the ball without any issues.”

Colon has really ramped up his performance of late and owns a 1.80 ERA over his last seven starts.

 Braves right-hander Bud Norris has made the best of his move from the bullpen back to the staring rotation where he is 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA in his last five starts.  He raised Colon’s seven strong innings by not surrendering a single run, allowing 4 hits, striking out 8.

The Mets, rotating their batting order more than a team of volleyball players, are lucky that the team they are chasing are 1-7 in their last eight games.  But believing they’re going to bank on the misfortune of Dusty Baker’s boys is a risky venture.

This same old same old silence in the batter’s box does not bode well with a three game series in our Nation’s capital, followed by four against the Cubs, three with the Marlins, and another plateful of the Nationals prior to the All Star break.

Noah Syndergaard takes the mound on Monday bringing triple digit heat along with a 2-0 record and 1.33 ERA in his last four career starts against the Nats.

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Mets Avoid A Sweep Despite Defensive Woes, Flores Delivers Game-Winner http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-avoid-a-sweep-despite-defensive-woes-flores-delivers-game-winner.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-avoid-a-sweep-despite-defensive-woes-flores-delivers-game-winner.html/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 15:26:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=214441 wilmer flores

(USA Today Sports)

Despite a couple of Neil Walker defensive miscues, the Mets escaped a sweep by the skin of their teeth, finally breaking their nine game losing streak against the pesky Pittsburgh Pirates.

With the bases loaded in the top of the 10th, Wilmer Flores dropped a pinch-hit single into center field for the go ahead run. Mets closer Jeurys Familia flirted with potential disaster, walking three in the final frame before recording his 35th consecutive regular season save for a 6-5 Mets win.

“I wanted to stay up the middle against him but the ball got up on me a little bit,” Flores said about his keenly placed bloop single. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

Noah Syndergaard had a very Un-Thor-Like no-decision, surrendering a career high five doubles and leaving the game after 102 pitches with the score tied at 3-3 in the sixth. The Mets defense certainly didn’t do Thor any favors.

Rookie Ty Kelly recorded his first career home run, a two-run shot that evened the score in the fourth.  The 27 year-old utility rookie, filling the cavernous cleats of the injury plagued Lucas Duda and David Wright, was expected to return to Triple-A this weekend when veteran Kelly Johnson rejoins the Mets from Atlanta for the second time in a year.

ty kelly

 (AP, Gene J. Puskar)

“It was exciting,” said Kelly about his first MLB blast. ”I was happy to just hit a home run or just get a hit in the first place. It was a bigger deal because of the score and everything. That was the first thought that went into my head, was tied it up. Just made it that much more fun.”

It’s unfortunate that the long-time minor leaguer, who may be beginning to hit his stride, has to be the fall guy to the Mets’ infatuation with a player that they’re still not sure they’re in love with. But maybe Kelly staved off a flight to Las Vegas with his performance last night, both at the plate and in the field where he made three sparkling plays and saved a run with a perfect throw to the plate.

Syndergaard’s bat helped his own cause with a double in the 5th, and Michael Conforto’s sac fly protected his starting pitcher from getting the loss.

Right-handed reliever Jim Henderson was the recipient of more Neil Walker woes in the bottom of the 7th after the defensive dynamo muffed a relay on a double by Gregory Polanco, that allowed Andrew McCutchen to score from first. The error gave Polanco 3rd base, and a sac fly by Josh Harrison gave the Pirates a two run lead.

It may not have been a walk in PNC Park Wednesday night, but the Mets found a profound way to claw their way back to remain 3 ½ behind the nasty Nats going into a four game series against the Brewers, who they swept back in May.

“That was a hard-fought game for us,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We had to work hard for everything we got. And then to make it stand up, it was a struggle. We’ll take it and get out of here.”

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Miami Heat: Matt Harvey’s 98 MPH Fastball Not Enough To Beat Fiery Jose Fernandez http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/miami-heat-matt-harveys-98-mph-fastball-not-enough-to-beat-fiery-jose-fernandez.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/miami-heat-matt-harveys-98-mph-fastball-not-enough-to-beat-fiery-jose-fernandez.html/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 11:00:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=214088 matt harvey 2

On a day when the Dark Knight displayed his former 98 mph fastball, he was out-dueled in the Miami sun by his counterpart, Jose Fernandez, who matched his career high 14 strikeouts en route to a 1-0 masterpiece over the Mets.

A resurgent Matt Harvey kept his cronies in the game for seven strong innings, but they didn’t uphold their end of the bargain with bats so silent you could hear a pin drop in the Marlins ballpark. Harvey averaged a season high 95.6 MPH on his fastball.

And although the offense of yesterday’s game was lost, the positive piece of Harvey’s cryptic pitching puzzle hopefully has been found.

The wrapped too tight right-hander gave up a run in the pesky 5th inning that has previously haunted him, but Harvey rebounded nicely after that with two scoreless innings to wrap up a very impressive start.

Not to take away from Fernandez’s dominance as the Marlin’s ace was undeniably better, but Harvey could have come away with a win if his mates could have delivered even one timely hit – especially when they had runners at first and third in the 7th.

The two Tommy John repaired pitching arms scattered nine hits between them, giving a ringing endorsement to the surgeons who gave them new life on the mound.

In light of this disappointing defeat, Terry Collins has to be over the moon at Harvey’s consecutive two game turnaround, extending his scoreless inning streak to 12, giving up only one run over his last 14.

“I think it’s going to ease Matt’s mind most of all, and that’s the one that counts,”  Collins said about Harvey’s performance. “He felt good about what he did today, how he got through it. Kept the damage down and pitched great. It’s one of those games where a great pitching matchup, head-to-head, and that’s exactly what you’d expect, a 1-0 game.”

Harvey, while pleased with his performance of late, is being especially cautious of any premature champagne popping celebration.

“It’s still two starts,” Harvey said. “Obviously, the massive struggles that happened before, the only thing you want to think of is not letting that creep back in. Today was, you could say, a second step from the last start. Obviously, going deep into the game and feeling pretty good, it’s a positive.”

Positive indeed, for a guy who a couple of weeks ago couldn’t pitch his way out of a paper bag, or deter the demons of the diamond from messing with his mentally and mechanically challenged head.

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Harvey Regains Rare Form In 1-0 Memorial Day Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-regains-rare-form-in-1-0-memorial-day-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-regains-rare-form-in-1-0-memorial-day-win.html/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 16:05:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213579 matt harvey 2

The Dark Knight finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel with a two hit 1-0 shutout over the wilting Chicago White Sox.

It may not have been the better team from the Windy City, but this victory was shades of vintage Matt Harvey, and for the first time in 10 starts, he made it to the 7th inning – and even managed to get the win thanks to a well timed home run.

How sweet it must have felt to come off the field to the sound of Mets fans cheering instead of jeering in what has been two months of mechanical and emotional madness.

With both teams donning Memorial Day camouflage duds, Harvey heroically retired the first 13 batters, then got some dandy defense in the 5th from Wilmer Flores, filling in for Duda at first base.

After J.B. Shuck lined a single to left, Flores doubled him up with a diving catch on Brett Lawrie’s liner.

Harvey was put to the test in the top of the 7th in a scoreless tie with runners on second and third, and one out.  Fortunately the .220 hitting Todd Frazier popped up to first and Shuck had no such luck the second time around, grounding out to short.

“You kind of think about the worst at that point,” Harvey said. “You start getting some negative thoughts that creep in your head.”

Asked about his decision not to face the music after his last start, Harvey said: ”I was frustrated with myself and I know that’s not right and not acceptable. But for me there was a lot of emotions, a lot of frustration and I had been beating at the bush over the same questions.”

Neil Walker was worthy of receiving a medal of honor for keeping Harvey’s mental state intact with a 397 ft. home run into the left field seats, his 12th of the season.

Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, who’s had back-to-back bad outings, held down the offensive fort with a pair of strikeouts apiece, giving Harvey a Holiday gift from the heavens.

It was also a great day for the recently called up Rookie Ty Kelly, who singled in the 5th for his first major league hit.

Next up, LHP Steven Matz, 7-1, takes his six straight wins to the mound against Mat Latos, the 6-1 right-hander who will attempt to right the wayward ship of the White Sox last 10 game, 2-8 record.  Since recording just five outs in his season debut, Matz has been nearly untouchable, going 7-0 with a 1.13 ERA in seven starts.

Diamond Dust

Monday’s win for Matt Harvey is his first career win when the Mets have scored two or fewer runs. Harvey had previously been 0-17 with a 2.67 ERA in 30 career starts where the Mets had scored two or fewer runs.

With his 7.0 scoreless innings vs. the White Sox, Harvey has now thrown 16.0 scoreless innings in two career starts vs. Chicago. He struck out 19 and walked two in the two starts. His other start vs. the White Sox came on May 7, 2013 and he tossed 9.0 scoreless innings, retiring the first 20 batters he faced in that game.

The Mets are 29-21 after 50 games in 2016. Last season, the Mets were 27-23 after 50 games.

The Mets have 72 home runs this season and have now homered in 10 straight games, extending a season-high. The last time the Mets had a homer streak longer than nine games was a 13-game streak that stretched from October 3, 2012 – April 16, 2013. The 72 homers through the team’s first 50 games are the most in team history after 50 games.

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Chase Utley Gets Last Laugh, Burns Mets With Two Homer, Five RBI Night http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/chase-utley-gets-last-laugh-burns-mets-with-two-homer-five-rbi-night.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/chase-utley-gets-last-laugh-burns-mets-with-two-homer-five-rbi-night.html/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 14:30:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213346 chase utler hr

Retaliation for a player who is no longer on their roster took an ugly turn on Saturday when the targeted Chase Utley tagged the Mets relief pitchers for five RBI’s.

On his first trip back to Citi Field since his vicious slide broke the leg of Ruben Tejada, Utley has been a marked man who has eluded the fate of a much-anticipated payback.

Friday night, when Jacob deGrom stayed clear of a counterattack, it appeared as if the Mets might have buried the hatchet.  Or were they just playing mind games to keep Utley off guard?

On Saturday night it seemed like Utley’s time had come when in the 3rd inning of a scoreless tie, Noah Syndergaard fired a 99 mph fastball behind the much maligned second baseman, then immediately was ejected from the mound.

In Syndergaard’s absence, the Dodgers took sweet revenge on all of his replacements by going on a homerun hitting spree to take game two 9-1.

For the second day in a row, Utley’s bat has become the bane of the Mets bullpen, which also gave up solo shots to Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, and Corey Seager.

Utley roped a solo home run against Logan Verrett in the sixth inning, and then one inning later, he launched a grand slam off reliever Hansel Robles. It stunned the 40,000+ at Citi Field into silence after they were chanting, “We want justice. We want justice.”

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you,” Utley said after the game, telling reporters that he feeds off how Mets fans react to him. “It kind of gets your adrenaline going a little bit, makes you dig down deep.”

Dodger pitcher Kenta Maeda held the Mets to five shutout innings of two hit ball after taking a line drive off of his pitching hand, stopping his three game losing streak.

terry collins

In defense of Syndergaard, manager Terry Collins ran out of the dugout in a rage, pleading his case to plate umpire Adam Hamari that there should have been a warning in lieu of an ejection.  For all of his screaming and finger pointing in the face of Hamari, Collins was given his walking papers, as well.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion said after the game. “And with that, we have a judgment of whether we thought it was intentional. And if it was, we can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Syndergaard stuck to his story that the ball got away from him, and then added, “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

“I was just kind of dumbfounded. I’ve never been thrown out of a game before, so it was just kind of a whirlwind of emotions. It kind of rattled me a little bit, the reason I got thrown out. I was kind of at a loss for words.”

Whether or not it was a pitch with a purpose, this is how the game of baseball is played.  Syndergaard’s ejection was premature as the bad decision-making by umpires marches on.

It’s unfortunate that this occurred on the night the 1986 World Series Championship team was honored for their Cinderella season, as well as a lost opportunity for NY to take sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Next up, Clayton Kershaw will try to keep up his Mets domination against the pitcher 15 years his senior, Bartolo Colon, who is looking to capitalize on his prior one run outing against the Nats.

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Youth Movement: Matz and Conforto Get Mets Back On Track http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/youth-movement-matz-and-conforto-get-mets-back-on-track.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/youth-movement-matz-and-conforto-get-mets-back-on-track.html/#comments Sat, 21 May 2016 14:00:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=212472 michael conforto

Coming off Matt Harvey’s hellacious outing, faith was restored in Flushing on Friday from the franchise’s best and brightest future stars.  Steven Matz was armed and dangerous, and the crack of Michael Conforto’s bat gave the Mets a 3-2 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.

The first inning loomed ominous when Chris Carter launched a two run shot, but the Long Island born lefty then retired 15 in a row, striking out eight with no walks through seven for his sixth straight win. ”I was definitely happy I was able to command the ball,” a satisfied Matz said after the game.

Matz now leads all qualified rookie pitchers this season with six wins and a 2.81 ERA. He is also the first player in franchise history to win 10 of his first 11 major league decisions.

Conforto was in his comfort zone facing right-hander Wily Peralta, who up until the 5th inning had sent 10 consecutive Mets batters back to the dugout without a peep.

Notable among Conforto’s single and homer were that they were both hit to the opposite field, something that wasn’t lost on manager Terry Collins.

“What you saw tonight is what I hope we see more, the fact that he used the field,” Collins said.

“He was hitting a lot of homers to right field, and I think when you get into a situation where you think you’ve gotta hit home runs, all of a sudden the pull thought comes in your head, and his swing, he was trying to turn on balls instead of putting good swings on them.”

An interesting note on Conforto. Four of his seven homers this year have given the Mets a lead and nine of 16 career home runs have either tied the game or given the Mets a lead.

What a sigh of relief for Collins who didn’t need to call upon his battered bullpen that had taken quite a beating in their last couple of losses.

Reliable Addison Reed tossed a perfect eighth, and the unflappable Jeurys Familia improved to 14 saves in as many chances.

In eight of his last 11 outings, Familia has retired every batter he’s faced. Meanwhile, Reed has allowed just two earned runs in his last 13.1 innings pitched (1.35 ERA). He leads the team with nine holds and has 25 strikeouts in his last 17.0 innings.

For the past couple of weeks, run support has been at an all time low, so hopefully on Saturday, the Amazins will give Jacob deGrom some offensive love after uncharacteristic back to back no-decisions.

After a much-needed win, it’s one game at a time for a Mets team whose youth carried the day in the series opener against the Brew Crew.

(USA Today Sports/Photo By Brad Penner)

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Round One Goes To The Amazins, Bryce Harper Neutralized http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/round-one-goes-to-the-amazins-bryce-harper-neutralized.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/round-one-goes-to-the-amazins-bryce-harper-neutralized.html/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 16:26:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=212221 noah syndergaard 3

After a grueling eleven game road trip, the Mets found comfort back in Queens by shutting out the Nats 2-0, in a duel between two formidable right-handers that lived up to the hype.

This time around, Noah Syndergaard left the run scoring to his fellow teammates, who wasted no time putting the Mets on the board.

Curtis Granderson smacked Max Scherzer’s first pitch 359 ft, then in the 3rd inning, Michael Conforto, on a 2-2 count, went yard for a solo shot of his own.

Syndergaard, armed with 100 mph heat, struck out 10, walked none, and more than held his own against the former Cy Young Award winning Scherzer, whose last outing yielded 20 k’s.

Thank god the Mets only needed one of their two runs because Scherzer was mighty stingy, matching Syndergaard in strikeouts – the difference being two of the three hits he surrendered left the ballpark.

It was bittersweet seeing Daniel Murphy at Citi Field in a different uniform and dugout, and the NY fans showered him with a flurry of mixed emotions.

“It was really nice,” Murphy said of the fans. “The ovation from the crowd left me humbled to say the least.”

They gave him a standing ovation when the Mets, in a classy move, played a one-minute video montage highlighting his monumental record six straight postseason homerun games.

“It was very nice of the organization to play that video montage before the game,” Murphy added. “They didn’t have to do that.”

Murphy was greeted with another ovation his first at bat, then booed his next time up.

If Harper got on base in the top of the 9th, Murphy could have given the crowd more drama than they desired by tying the game with one crack of the bat, but Familia was on fire, dousing any heroics from his former friend now foe.

Familia converted on his 13th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning and is 13-for-13 in save opportunities this year. Dating back to August 1, 2015, Familia has converted on 29 consecutive saves, the second-longest active streak in the major leagues behind Arizona’s Brad Ziegler.

Matt Reynolds, called up from Triple A, filling in for the day-to-day David Wright, had the dubious honor of making his MLB debut against Scherzer.  He went 0-3 with a strikeout, not much of a departure from the veteran he replaced.

Syndergaard and Co. went right after Bryce Harper, who went 0-4 with two strikeouts and had his career-best 10 game streak with a walk come to a close. The streak was the second longest in the majors this season behind David Wright’s 11-game streak from April 27-May 12.

The Mets are now 6-0 after an off day this year and have scored an average of 6.0 runs in those six wins.

Up next, Bartolo Colon will try to free himself of the five earned run demons he last deposited at Dodger Stadium as he faces the Nationals Gio Gonzalez‘ 2-1, 1.93 ERA.

Photo: USA Today Sports, Adam Hunger 

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Another Controversial Call and a Fatal Pitch Doom Mets in Colorado, But Fear Not… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/another-controversial-call-and-a-fatal-pitch-doom-mets-in-colorado-but-fear-not.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/another-controversial-call-and-a-fatal-pitch-doom-mets-in-colorado-but-fear-not.html/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 16:09:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=212029 ryan raburn

Colorado fans did not need the weed they can legally buy to get a buzz this weekend because the Rockies gave them a natural high in the form of a three game sweep over the New York Mets.

On an afternoon when the Mets could have picked up some precious ground, Ryan Raburn delivered a painful pinch-hit two run homer to ruin Jacob deGrom’s glorious day.

In that fateful 7th inning, deGrom’s 12-pitch walk put a runner on base hastening his exit from the game. In came the usually highly effective reliever Jim Henderson, but a 2-0 pitch on the corner of the plate put the ball out of the park, resulting in an unfavorable 4-3 Rockies win.

“Down 2-0, I definitely wasn’t thinking about grooving one and getting back in the count,” Henderson later said. “I was thinking about down on the corner and in to him. It just caught too much of the plate. You don’t want to get beat on the pull side and he got his hands through and got the barrel to it.”

lagares

A rally in the top of the 8th proved fruitless when another controversial call gave Terry Collins a consecutive day of agony.

Juan Lagares came off the bench, and clocked a double to deep left.  After Yoenis Cespedes was given a free pass, Lucas Duda hit a double play ball, but Lagares avoided the tag, and was ruled safe at third.

But the ruling was reversed as Lagares was called for running out of the base path, which to me looked like Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, just gave up on the tag, and threw to first for the sure out.

“I was really surprised,” Lagares said. “The guy in front of me said safe. When I looked back, they said out. I have no idea what happened, but I never thought that was going to be an out. I just avoided the tag. What am I supposed to do? Hold him? I just tried to avoid the tag. I don’t know how that play can be an out.”

Of course Lagares has a good gripe, he never even touched the grass. The rules say a runner has to veer off the baseline by three feet or more to be ruled out, and Lagares was barely a half-foot off kilter. Yet another botched call against the Mets.

yoenis cespedes

In taking something positive out of an unfortunate 3 days in May, deGrom pitched well, Eric Campbell went 2-for-3 playing in place of David Wright, catcher Kevin Plawecki got another hit, Yoenis Cespedes homered for the 12th time this season, and the Nationals and Phillies took a dive to keep the Mets only a game and a half back.

So with a bit of carnage left on Coors Field, the mighty Thor will be brought in for damage control in D.C. when the Mets face the nasty Nats, and their newly crowned 20 strike out pitching maven, Max Scherzer.

The good news, Syndergaard is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the boys from Capitol Hill.

(Photos: USA Today Sports Images)

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Harvey Still Ineffective In Middle Innings, His Next Start Comes Against Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-still-ineffective-in-middle-innings-his-next-start-comes-against-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-still-ineffective-in-middle-innings-his-next-start-comes-against-nationals.html/#comments Sat, 14 May 2016 14:19:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211880 matt harvey 2

After a strong outing against the Padres, the middle innings came back to haunt Matt Harvey again, making for a miserable 5-2 loss for the Mets at Colorado’s cavernous Coors Field.

The Mets bats that were muted by Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, barely made a peep off of Rockies rookie right-hander, Jon Gray, who unlike Harvey, found good fortune on Friday the 13th.

In his 14th career start, Gray finally got his elusive first major league victory, giving up 2 runs and 5 hits over 7 innings of 8 strike out ball – topped off with his first big league base hit to boot.

Gray’s 105 pitch performance snapped an 11 game Rockies losing skid to the Mets. It also puts the Amazins in second place behind the Washington Nationals, who the Mets will host at Citi Field for a crucial three game series that starts Tuesday.

Harvey’s ineffectiveness is cause for concern, and although he and Terry Collins claim that last year’s workload is not to blame, there is something amiss in the arm and mind of his former ace.

The velocity on his fastball last night was well, about 3-4 mph from where it should be, and his secondary pitches are more erratic than the stock market. It’s uncanny how he looks so good early in a game and then just peters out come the fourth and fifth innings.

With Jacob deGrom’s shaky outing, Colon’s colossal loss, and Steven Matz’s visit with the doctor on the docket, the touted top pitching staff has made the natives restless lately, and the starting lineup is doing a poor job patching it up when the ball stays in the park.

Granderson is batting .206, David Wright .223, Duda .235, and Neil Walker, who momentarily made us forget about Daniel Murphy, has lost his mojo at the plate of late.

Kevin Plawecki has heeded Terry Collins’ call to be more productive, but when your number one and two hitters whiff a combined five times, and your starting pitcher in a previous game accounts for all of your runs, there’s something seriously wrong in Mudville, and let’s hope the Mets figure it out before they face the Nationals in their first critical matchup of the season.

As of now, Noah SyndergaardBartolo Colon and Matt Harvey are slated to start against the Nationals, while they counter with Max ScherzerGio Gonzalez and now Stephen Strasburg.

Nats manager Dusty Baker has moved Strasburg’s start this weekend from Sunday to tonight so that he can pitch in Thursday’s finale against the Mets.

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Bartolo Colon Pulls Off A Milestone On Monday http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/bartolo-colon-pulls-off-a-milestone-on-monday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/bartolo-colon-pulls-off-a-milestone-on-monday.html/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 14:24:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210997 bartolo colob

USA Today Sports/Photo by Anthony Gruppuso

With the scent of Sunday’s winning streak coming to an end still fresh in the Citi Field air, Mets elder statesman Bartolo Colon reached into his bag of tricks to pull off a milestone on Monday.

Pitching 8 innings of shutout ball, Colon captured his 220th career victory surpassing fellow countryman Pedro Martinez to garner sole possession of second place on Major League Baseball’s all time win list for pitchers who hail from the Dominican Republic.

It seems inconceivable that Colon could catch Juan Marichal, who’s 23 in his way of tying the record, but who would have thought that this roly poly right hander would still be mowing them down at the age of 42?

The silent bats that couldn’t save Syndergaard from his only loss of the season, bellowed loudly in the bottom of the first.

David Wright’s Louisville Slugger sent a solo shot to left; Yoenis Cespedes crushed a 411 ft. two run blast to center, then Lucas Duda came home all by his lonesome with a dinger into the right field seats.

The soon to be 43 year old was masterful on the mound using his varied fastball to get out of trouble spots with men in scoring position, incurring the longest outing of a Mets starter this year.

The 8.0 innings were the most by a Mets starter this season, and it was Colon’s second start this year where he did not permit a walk. He had 15 such starts in 2015 to lead the majors.

Colon, who is also pretty crafty at the plate, hooked a sharp shot foul down the left field line – just shy of a potential double.

Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, fresh up from Triple-A, took a beating from Mets batters in the first, an unfortunate outing for the 24 year-old righty, who returned to the bigs after life threatening blood clots almost ended his career last season.

Foltynewicz settled down, but with two on and two out and Cespedes due up, he was pulled for relief, which the Braves received, too little, too late.

Matt Harvey, coming off consecutive wins, will face fellow righty, Matt Wisler who’s gunning for his first win against 2 losses, hoping to repeat his major league debut defeat of the Mets of last June.

Mets Diamond Dust

The Mets have now scored in the first inning in 11 of their last 16 games (20 runs total) and have scored first overall in 15 of their last 18 games. New York is now 14-3 when they score first, including 6-1 at home.

The Mets hit three home runs last night and now have 34 long balls in their last 16 games. They lead the majors in home runs since April 15.

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A Day After Scoring A Baker’s Dozen, deGrom And His Merry Mets Take Game 2 Against Giants http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/a-day-after-scoring-a-bakers-dozen-degrom-and-his-merry-mets-take-game-2-against-giants.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/a-day-after-scoring-a-bakers-dozen-degrom-and-his-merry-mets-take-game-2-against-giants.html/#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 13:27:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210823 jacob degrom

USA Today Sports/Noah K. Murray

A day after the merry Mets blasted the Giants for a baker’s dozen, they held on for a 6-5 win, their eighth in a row, boasting the longest streak in the major leagues this season.

On Saturday, young Michael Conforto continued where he left off going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three ribbies, raising the roof on his batting average to .365. He matched a franchise record with his sixth consecutive game with a double.  Neil Walker helped his new team take the lead in the first with a two run single. He wrapped up April with a career best 19 RBIs. 

Jacob deGrom got his third straight win, but not without yielding an uncharacteristic four walks.  An error by Flores put the Giants on the map with three unearned runs, and within one of a tie game.  After pitching two hit ball for six, deGrom was relieved by Jim Henderson who put two on, then struck out two to end any more wrongdoing.

Conforto hit one out to lessen the cozy lead 5-3, then in the sixth, Flores made up for his foil with his first dinger of the season, a solo shot to extend the cushion by three.

The Mets flirted with disaster once again in the top of the 8th when the bullpen came dangerously close to giving it all away.  Addison Reed walked the first batter, then gave up a single to Buster PoseyHansel Robles came in with a lot on his plate, and immediately surrendered two sac flies to make it a one run game.  Thank Blevins for getting Gregor Blanco to ground out to first to end the inning.

Jeurys Familia gave up a lead off single to Denard Span who was immediately erased by way of a double play off of the bat of former Met, Angel Pagan.  And Matt Duffy had the dubious honor of recording the final out.

Weather permitting, Sunday’s finale features a premier pitching matchup of Madison Bumgarner against Gnome giveaway day warrior Noah Syndergaard.  The Mets will be zeroing in on their third series sweep, their ninth straight win, and hopefully overthrowing their nemesis Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East.

Mets Diamond Dust:

Jeurys Familia is 8-for-8 in save opportunities and notched his 57th career save Saturday to move into a tie for 10th place on the Mets all-time list with Braden Looper.

Michael Conforto has reached base safely in 17 straight games, extending his career-high. Over his last 14 games, the Mets left fielder is batting .407 (22-54) with 14 runs scored, nine doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI. In addition he also extended his career-high hitting streak to eight games.

The Mets hit two homers Saturday and finished the month with 33 home runs, tying the most the club has ever hit in the month of April. They also belted 33 home runs in April, 2006.

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Featured Article: All In From The Start For 2016 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/featured-article-all-in-from-the-start-for-2016-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/featured-article-all-in-from-the-start-for-2016-mets.html/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 18:10:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208916 opening-day-baseball mets fans citi field

An MMO Fan Shot by Laura (Mookie4Ever)

Surviving as a lifelong Mets fan requires you to wall off your heart a little. You have to be cautious for your own sanity, because they will break your heart 14 out of 15 years. You naturally try not to get your hopes too high, so you can avoid the devastating lows that inevitably have come with this team.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda…. will drive you crazy, so when at all possible, you avoid looking back in too much painful detail. (I still have little personal memory of the 2000 WS games. Pre-Series hoopla, yes, actual games, no.) Similarly, you avoid looking too far ahead, too. Well, that strategy has worked for me in most years, anyway.

Which is why, with the Mets 7 games up and 22 to go last year, I was still telling myself, just enjoy the exciting ride, that watching meaningful September baseball was so much fun, that if they didn’t make it to the playoffs, I would be good with it.

As Gary and Ron and Keith started counting down the magic number using Mets uniform numbers, I was screaming NOOO! inside, fearing a jinx. Superstition goes along with this deal, of course, because of the decades upon decades of awful past disappointments and the Oh-So-Close finishes.

By the way, that little touch with the players’ numbers was my favorite part of the season to that point. It gave us a chance to share our connection to Mets history, and to honor all those guys, especially those we have lost. Little did I know then just how much fun and excitement was yet to come.

But here’s the thing about rooting for the NY Mets. It only gets really great and memorable when you go all in. When you give them your heart and really hang on for the ride, the magic truly happens, for me, anyway. It’s always a huge risk, but just like in love, no risk, no reward.

And so, of course, I finally did unwall my heart, and it was truly a magical journey. It seemed like we didn’t get more than 4 hours of sleep a night for the whole month of October into November, all while in a state of continual adrenaline rush, with all those heart attack postseason games. And of course, we did get our hearts broken in the end. But it was different last year, I actually was good with it — eventually.

First came the awful first week of grieving, actual physical grieving (to be honest it was probably mostly adrenaline withdrawal), to the point that I felt like I needed to have a little cry to get past it. I have to tell you, I haven’t cried over a sports team since I was a teenager with the ’73 Mets and Rangers, so this came as a shock.

Then, I painfully stumbled through various other stages of grief, from denial in the early morning hours of insomnia, to wallowing in the highlight videos, to the Hot Stove obsession, to finally watching MLB’s World Series Film, and my own brand of acceptance. You know, they really were so close in every game….

With this weird and wild offseason culminating in signing Cespedes, the crazy fun loose spring training, and the young stud pitchers looking so damn good, the rollercoaster is happily cranking up the hill again. Except, I’m hoping it’s more of a freight train ride like 1986. The Mets are finally ready to throw down and work their way back to finish what they started last year. The defending National League Champion New York Mets, that is, thank you very much.

I’m so excited for 2016 real baseball to start. First order of business will be to watch Matt Harvey and a quietly seething Mets team teach KC about the dangers of rubbing opponents’ noses in their past failure. Never before has the opportunity to settle Unfinished Business come so soon for any two World Series opponents.

This year, I’ll be all in from start to finish, hoping to hang on for another wild ride to the World Series with a happier ending this time. All aboard! #LGM

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Laura (Mookie4ever). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Featured Post: Can We Change Matt Harvey’s Future? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-can-we-change-matt-harveys-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-can-we-change-matt-harveys-future.html/#comments Fri, 26 Feb 2016 21:15:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206744 matt harvey tall

 An MMO Fan Shot by Laura (Mookie4ever) 

Matt Harvey was asked recently about an extension deal with the Mets, and he said he would not shy away from it, and would consider it if the Mets offered. While not exactly a ringing declaration of lifetime Methood like other teammates have given, it seemed like a step in the right direction, at least.

Certainly, it was the polar opposite of what we all have been led to believe. Immediately, media and fans alike downplayed it as him just saying the right words or what we want to hear. The reaction went something like; 1 – Everyone knows Boras clients never sign extensions, they always go straight to free agency; 2 – We know greedy Harvey wants to get every last million he can, and 3 – He grew up a Yankees fan and he wants to be a Yankee.

Well, I submit a radical opposing viewpoint. What if not all of those assumptions are true? Suppose the “foregone conclusion” can still be changed, suppose if Harvey felt as happy with the Mets as Cespedes apparently does, what could the future hold? If we could do one thing to influence his future decision-making, it would be this: how about actually treating him as a Met, whose players we love, root for and wish good health and great careers?

It’s time to cut Matt Harvey a break. He worked incredibly hard to come back as good as ever from Tommy John. He had a beast of a season in 2015, pitched way beyond his doctor-recommended innings FOR THE GOOD OF HIS TEAM, and proved he is a dominant force in the game. He shows the extreme competitive drive and confidence of a true ace. He also has the huge ego and sense of infallibility that has to come with that. Make no mistake, Harvey is the real deal, a once-in-a-generation-pitcher, and Mets fans should know how to recognize that more than most, seeing as we’ve had two already.

So he got scared about his future at one point, can’t blame him for that. Mets don’t exactly have the best track record with pitchers’ health although that could be changing. Harvey erased any doubt about his desire to pitch and help his team win when he overruled Boras down the stretch. You could see during the clubhouse celebrations how much his team’s success meant to him; he was so emotional and spoke with such pride about how they got there together:

And he handled the aftermath of WS Game 5 professionally, no temper tantrums, no hiding from the press, no finger-pointing. What more could we possibly ask of him?

Remember, he is just 26 years old, a millennial who is mature beyond his years, but still a millennial. I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t think my 26-year-old son could handle this turbulent year in the public eye as well as he has. Most millennials are still figuring out how to make it to work on time, which, come to think of it, Matt had a bit of trouble with as well.

matt harvey

On the personal side, Harvey ruffles feathers with his outspokenness and high profile. I’ve never quite gotten why. He has a big personality to match his talent; seems to be a perfect fit for NY. Big deal, Matt runs around town dating models and making TV appearances. He’s young and having fun in the best city in the world for that. A lot of NY athletes have made much poorer choices than playing a raunchy game with Andy Cohen and Connie Chung! I thought it was fun to see Matt’s less intense, somewhat goofy side, as well as his obvious attachment to his family.

I believe he’s poised to take a run at 20 wins and the Cy Young this year as he and his fellow horsemen try to lead the Mets back to the World Series. We Mets fans need to stop assuming we know exactly what his future plans are, and stop the nasty “use him up and trade him” talk. It’s just hurtful and creates bad vibes.

Instead, we need to root for him, cheer him on, and embrace him the way only NY Mets fans can. They are going to need ALL their young studs for as long as possible to try and take it all. You never know, we just might be surprised how a ring and a chance for more can change the way things are “supposed” to go down. Above all, let’s just enjoy this very special time with these amazing young pitchers, Matt Harvey included.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Laura (Mookie4ever). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Greed is Good… Except If You’re A Baseball Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/greed-is-good-except-if-youre-a-baseball-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/greed-is-good-except-if-youre-a-baseball-fan.html/#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 14:25:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205417 wall-street-douglas

If you’re Gordon Gekko greed is good.

If you’re Bernie Sanders greed is bad.

If you’re a baseball fan you wonder if MLB’s greed has a direct impact on winning the World Series.

Although none of us like to admit it Baseball is a business. But what happens when the desire to make a buck intrudes on the integrity of the game we all cherish? Case in point: The post-season.

I applaud MLB’s effort to prolong fan interest by adding first one wildcard, then a second. Stadiums that would be barren much of September are now filled as spectators cheer their team into a post-season berth. But as a longtime fan I feel October baseball is greatly lacking.

I became a fan in 1973 when making the playoffs meant something. It meant you were good, damn good. But that prestigious honor has lost its luster.

Casey Stengel Holding Drawing for New Baseball Uniform

The addition of the Mets and Colt 45’s in 1962 brought the total of professional teams to 20. Two 10-team leagues. No playoffs. You won your league, became league champion and played in the World Series. 20 teams, just 2 made the post-season.1 out of 10.

Baseball expanded in 1969, adding the Padres, Royals, Expos and Pilots and launched divisional play. Two divisions per league with each division winner meeting in a best-of-5 to determine league champion and earn the right to appear in the Fall Classic. 24 teams, 4 made the playoffs. 1 out of 6.

The addition of the Blue Jays and Mariners in 1977 brought the total to 26 clubs. But the powers-that-be kept the format the same. 26 teams, 4 made the playoffs. 1 out of every 6 ½.

The message was clear and this is what separated Baseball from other sports where seemingly mediocre teams faced off in the playoffs, playoffs that went on and on and on and on. To make Baseball’s post-season, you had to fight for it. Mediocrity wasn’t rewarded.

After the cancellation of the World Series, and in an attempt to return fan interest, it was decided to have three divisions and one wildcard. This was immediately after baseball expanded into Denver and Miami. A few years later, clubs were added in Phoenix and Tampa. 30 teams, 8 made the playoffs. Almost 1 out every 4 were now in the post-season.

When the second wild-card slot came along a few years back that brought the total of teams eligible to 10. 10 out of 30. 1 in every 3 teams now make it.

The 21st worst team in Baseball has now ‘earned the right’ to possibly call themselves World Champions.

Or to look at it differently, in the last 22 years MLB added 4 teams while adding 6 post-season slots.

Granted, fans hand over cash in late September they normally wouldn’t and tune in when they’d usually be watching something different. Everyone makes a buck. Everyone’s happy. But should a team who plays just average baseball for 5 ½ long months be worthy of winning it all if they get hot at the right time?

Play solid baseball for 3 weeks in early May, no one notices. Play solid baseball for 3 weeks in October, you get a trophy.

I believe the question that begs to be asked is this: By adding so many levels to the post-season, does MLB’s greed have a direct bearing on who wins it all?

Baseball’s a streaky game. Superstars like Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey or Yoenis Cespedes can get hot, put the team on their back and carry them for a couple weeks. Clayton Kershaw can turn into Sandy Koufax for a month and go 5-1 with a 0.85. We’re all familiar with the expression ‘You can’t turn it on and off.’ Yet that’s what MLB now expects. In the post-season, a number 3 starter, for example, can conceivably go 10 days between taking the hill.

In 2010, the Rangers were clicking on all cylinders and defeated the Yankees in the LCS. They then had to sit around 5 days waiting for the NL to finish. Texas lost the World Series in 5.

The 2012 ALCS saw the hot-hitting Tigers crush the Yankees in 4 straight. They now waited 6 long days before facing the NL Champions. It was then Detroit who got swept by the Giants.

daniel murphy hr 3

This past year saw the Mets stun the heavily favored Cubs, sweeping them in 4. The Mets had a 6 day layoff and when the World Series ended, the Mets lost in 5.

In the LDS, Daniel Murphy went 7-21 (.333), 810 slugging percentage with 3 HR’s and 5 RBI’s. In the LCS, Murphy stayed hot, going 9-17 (.529), slugging at 1.294 and hit 4 HR’s and knocked in 6 RBI’s in 4 games.

After almost a week layoff, Murphy went 3-20 in the World Series, (.150), a .150 slugging percentage. 0 HR’s 0 RBI’s.

When I was younger I’d make a point to watch every playoff game I could. I knew that not only was I seeing the best of the best, but also there weren’t too many games. The LCS was 3 out of 5, the Series 4 out of 7. At the most I could watch 17, just 10 if all rounds were sweeps.

With today’s format, the post-season will go, at the very least, 26 games. Perhaps as many as 43.

There’s no sense of urgency to watch a playoff game today because you can watch one tomorrow, or two or three or sometimes four tomorrow.

How many of you tuned in to non-Mets games last October? Maybe you watched an inning here and there, but did anyone watch the entire Rangers/Jays series? I’m guessing only a few.

Psychologists refer to Cognitive Dissonance as a disorder where an individual can hold two contradictory beliefs, ideas or values at the exact same moment. I’m starting to wonder if the powers-that-be atop MLB’s food chain should seek out help.

For years now, owners and commissioners have looked into ways to alter the very fabric of the national pastime and speed up the game, to make the game shorter.

Meanwhile, as they look into speeding up pace of play, they continually make the season longer. Longer, and less meaningful.

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On October 16, 1969, Davey Johnson flied out to Cleon Jones and the Mets won their first championship. On October 16, 2015, the Mets were still 24 hours away from the first game of the post-season. When Johnny Podres was the winning pitcher in game 7 for Brooklyn’s one and only title the date was October 4, 1955. Sixty years later, October 4, 2015, the regular season hadn’t even ended.

The 2015 post-season continued for nearly a full month, beginning on October 6 and running through November 1st.

Nothing will change anytime soon. Everyone’s making money and everyone’s happy. But is that what’s best for the game? There’s even been some scuttlebutt that some higher-ups were kicking around the idea of adding yet a third wild-card spot. Or expanding the one game wildcard to a best of 3 series.

The pinnacle of the season is always the World Series. It’s called the Fall Classic for a reason. It’s the mountaintop, the exclamation point on an arduous 162 games. It’s a chance for the 2 best teams to be showcased and battle it out for the world to see.

But has this also become anticlimactic?

The LCS, like the World Series, is 4 out of 7. One could almost argue that the LCS is a National League and American League World Series.

I feel that the wildcard should remain one game, the LDS 2 out of 3, the LCS 3 out of 5 and the World Series – the culmination and high point – remain 4 out of 7.

“Baseball must be a great game to survive the fools who run it.”

Hall of Fame First Baseman Bill Terry

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Unraveling The Arrieta Enigma http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/unraveling-the-arrieta-enigma.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/unraveling-the-arrieta-enigma.html/#comments Sun, 18 Oct 2015 16:06:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197078 arrieta

There have been late bloomers before. Jamie Moyer didn’t really see any sustained success until the age of 33. Also at age 33 R.A. Dickey began a fantastic string of three seasons with the NY Mets where he posted a 39 – 28 record with a 2.95 era and a Cy Young in 2012. Hoyt Wilhelm didn’t even make it to the major leagues until the age of 29. And of course there’s Randy Johnson who really was a mediocre pitcher until about the age of 30.

It isn’t unprecedented, but when you consider that Dickey reconfigured himself into a knuckleballer and Wilhelm spent several of those early years in military service, it is exceedingly rare to se a pitcher struggle early in his career only to bloom into an ace level pitcher in his late 20’s, and yet that is precisely what Jake Arrieta has done.

Consider for a moment the following: 4.66, 5.05, 6.20 and 7.23. Those numbers reflect Arrieta’s earned run averages in his years with the Orioles. His command was below league average (he averaged over 4.5 BB/9 in his Oriole years), and while he always had a decent sinker, he never accumulated more than 1.6 WAR in a season and never pitched more than 114 innings. He also averaged under 7 K/9 prior to coming to Chicago.

Eno Saris over at FanGraphs points to his sudden improved command and an even better, more versatile sinker but when you look at his 2015 numbers it is astonishing, a 9.28 K/9 and an insane 56.3% GB rate. Saris believes his sinker has become such a versatile weapon, he not only is able to spot the two seamer on different sides of the plate, he can use it down and in to righthanders as a strikeout pitch.

Arrieta throws a four seamer, his signature sinker, a changeup, a slider, and occasionally a curveball and a cutter. But he is for all intents and purposes a sinkerball pitcher, albeit one who can get more than his share of swings and misses on the pitch. He had a 7.4% swinging strike rate on his two seamer, with, again, that 57.9% ground ball rate. The four seamer is primarily a strikeout pitch high in the zone that Mets hitters should lay off of, but he seems to be using it less and less.

There are a lot of fans out there who believe it’s that sinker that makes him so effective. He is able to power it by hitters and, when they do make contact they drive it into the ground. It sounds a lot like our very own Familia doesn’t it? I differ somewhat on my analysis, yes his sinker is indeed more effective with perhaps an inch more of drop than his already great sinker from last year, but the most striking thing about this new improved Arrieta is his command. His control back in his early years was always a problem, and that is certainly no longer the case with his 1.9 BB/9 rate in 2015.

If the Mets are going to beat this guy they’re going to have to pick their spots and find some holes. Weaknesses? Well his HR/FB rate is somewhat high but that is probably an artifact of playing in Wrigley. He has few weaknesses, but there is perhaps one. While his command has never been as good as it’s been in 2015, he’s also pitched 243 and 2/3 innings this season (73 innings more than his previous high) and he wasn’t sharp in his last outing. Joe Madden even commented that his performance may have been fatigue related … so there’s that, but then he’ll be going on extra rest today. His record this year against the Mets? 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts.

The Mets will certainly have their work cut out for them. They have to believe that Syndergaard can pitch with him, and that’s certainly possible, but the Mets will have to hope his command is still somewhat off, that fatigue may still be an issue, and that some of their grounders find holes. No matter how it goes, tonight promises to be another great pitching match-up.

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MMO Fan Shot: Cespedes Has Made The Mets Offense Lethal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-fan-shot-cespedes-has-made-the-mets-offense-lethal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-fan-shot-cespedes-has-made-the-mets-offense-lethal.html/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:28:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192288 yoenis Cespedes

An MMO Fan Shot from Sgt. Kevin Belickis, USMC

Entering play on July 31st, The New York Mets offense ranked at the bottom of the MLB at 3.56 runs per game. Let’s be honest with ourselves, they were horrible. They were three games over .500, but somehow just three games out of first place coming into a HUGE series with the rival Washington Nationals.

As I stood in my kitchen prepping food to cook for the opening game, I anxiously watched the clock. As of 3:59 I hadn’t gotten an update or a tweet or anything about The Mets acquiring the bat that we so coveted, desperately needed, and seemingly had missed out on in the trade for Carlos Gomez that wasn’t.

I was paranoid. “Could we really have come so close to making a big move, with the division in reach, only to let the deadline come and go without an upgrade? How could they do this to us again?” I started throwing more food on, I had a feeling I was going to be stress-eating my hurt feelings away over the course of what could be a painful weekend.

Then, something amazing happened. At 4:00 my phone started buzzing. Then it buzzed again, and again. I could hear it vibrating across the counter as I was wrist deep in a bowl of chopped meat. My computer started chirping from the table with the sound of incoming Facebook messages.

“Oh God,” I thought, at first. “We didn’t make a move, and these are my Yankee and Cardinals fans friends calling to give me a hard time.”

I was down trodden and a little depressed, but in the back of my mind I still had hope. Maybe we had managed to do something. Maybe Sandy held true to his word and went out and got us an impact bat, and this buzz was the excitement of Mets fans across the country that I talk baseball with every day.

I washed my hands and grabbed my phone, I’ll never forget it. The first notification was from twitter. “NY Mets trade minor league pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa to Detroit.” I didn’t even have to read the rest. I knew, in that moment, that we had gotten the man I wanted us to get. I wanted Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline last year when Oakland prepared to unload him, and was let down. I wanted him in the offseason when Boston needed pitching, and we hadn’t yet signed Cuddy. I wanted him the moment I heard we were looking for an outfield bat. And now it was really happening, he was coming to Citi Field.

Cespedes made his way into the lineup on August 1st, and we haven’t looked back. Since that day, the Mets have gone 22-9 and blew past the Nationals with a 6.5 game lead as of this writing. We have scored 6.35 runs per game and have hit over 45 homeruns and set a new franchise record for homers in a month, including a franchise record breaking eight HR in a HUGE come from behind victory in Philly.

To put all of that in perspective, the Mets hit 125 homeruns ALL of last year. However after Wednesday night’s 9-4 win over the Phillies they already have 138 this season, with 29 games still left to play. And 36% of our HRs have come since Cespedes entered our lineup. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

After a huge 3-for-5 night with an eighth-inning home run, Cespedes has 18 RBI over his last 12 games and is hitting .295 (38-129) with 23 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 30 games for the Mets. His 18 extra-base hits in his first 30 games with the Mets has also tied a franchise record.

It’s not just the numbers that he has put up that have made this team better. His presence in the lineup was felt immediately, when he was intentionally walked in front of Lucas Duda in the 8th inning of his first game. The red hot Lucas promptly deposited a screaming double to left allowing Granderson to score the all-important insurance run, putting The Mets up 3-1 late in the game, on their way to sweeping themselves into a tie for a hold on 1st place that they have not since relinquished.

Think about that. Lucas was absolutely scorching hot at the time. He had homered 8 times in the past 9 games, including 2 earlier that day. The Nats STILL chose to face Duda over Cespedes, and he made them pay for it.

This team has played fantastic baseball since Cespedes arrived. He has been a catalyst for this team to excel, and excel they have. His contributions to this team are immeasurable.

It’s still a bit early to discuss this and it’s probably not going to happen, but if Cespedes keeps on producing and the Mets keep on winning, could it be possible that we have our first MVP in team history? Probably not as Bryce Harper is having a great season for a team that is falling out of the race, despite his production. But Cespedes has certainly impacted the Mets in an MVP kind of way and that’s what MVP’s are supposed to do.

Cespedes has lit his team on absolute fire. The Mets were 17-32 on the road when he showed up. It was a glaring weakness, as they had such great success at home. Now, they’re 29-35 on the road.

Being under .500 isn’t great, but this is a HUGE improvement with as they’ve gone 12-3 since Cespedes arrived. If they can get to a point that they win 35+ road games, I’ll be ecstatic and I think you all should be too considering how poorly the year started. They have 18 games left each on the road and at home.

Could we see a 90 win team in Queens? 93? 95? With Yoenis Cespedes in the line-up, he’s got Mets fans (and Nationals fans) thinking anything is possible, and that this team might just be invincible. The sky is the limit, and it’s a good thing because I’m so incredibly high on this team.

Yoenis Cespedes has completely transformed the Mets offense and has taken it from impotent to a mind-staggering lethal.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Sgt. Kevin Belickis, USMC. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Mets Don’t View Kevin Plawecki As A Trade Chip http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mets-dont-view-kevin-plawecki-as-a-trade-chip.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mets-dont-view-kevin-plawecki-as-a-trade-chip.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:45:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=182643 kevin plawecki 1

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets do not view rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki as a potential trade chip this season, preferring instead to hang onto him as insurance for regular catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

Last week, William Li made a strong case for hanging onto Plawecki, which you can read below. – Joe D.

June 2 – Why Kevin Plawecki Should Not Be Traded

With Travis d’Arnaud set to return to the big league club shortly after as he wraps up his rehab assignment, the Mets appear to be set on sending Kevin Plawecki back to Las Vegas as playing time and service time are both factors in this decision.

On the big league club, Plawecki will likely be sitting on the bench 5 out of 6 games, doing him no good. And considering that sending him down for a few months will ensure that he does not accumulate a year of service or reach super two status, Plawecki is almost certain to return to Triple-A.

Catching Depth

Looking forward to 2016, one of the biggest questions will be whether both d’Arnaud and Plawecki should be kept. If both remain with the Mets, how will playing time be divided? Before we look at playing time scenarios, I think we should anticipate what the upside and downside are to trading away one of the two.

Assuming the less established Plawecki is traded and TDA ends up on the disabled list as he did this year, the Mets take a significant hit to their production at the catcher position. Could you imagine seeing Anthony Recker penciled into our lineup for two months? This is one dreadful scenario that the Mets absolutely cannot afford.

On the flipside, if the Mets keep both, they should continue to see above average production out of their backstop, no matter who is starting.

Plawecki/D’Arnaud As A Trade Chip

Common sense will tell us that you should trade abundance at one position for dearth at another when constructing a roster. Teams who have many holes will need every trade chip they can use to fill their other needs. However, the Mets have the luxury of having a very deep farm system and one where most of the talent is in the upper minors so they have plenty of pieces to deal from without having to include Plawecki or d’Arnaud’s name.

Playing Time Distribution

Since there is not enough playing time behind the plate for both catchers, one of them will need to learn a new position or two. Plawecki has played 1B in the minors and he is the younger and slightly more athletic of the two so I propose that he spends a good part of the rest of 2015 in Vegas with a first base and/or outfield mitt.

In 2016, the Mets can distribute their playing time as follows.

Travis d’Arnaud – 110 starts at catcher, 10 starts at DH.

Lucas Duda – 140 starts at 1B

Kevin Plawecki – 50 starts at catcher, 20 starts at 1B, 10 starts in LF

At the catcher position, you see a minimal or non-existent downgrade going from D’Arnaud to Plawecki. At 1B, you would likely rest Duda for 10 games a year anyway so giving him 10 additional days off is the trade off for NOT running into a scenario where Anthony Recker starts for two months. With this setup, it will also help keep all three players fresh for a long season.

Potential DH Implementation

One final factor to consider is the potential implementation of a designated hitter in the National League. After Adam Wainwright tore his achilles running to 1B on a ground ball, there was a firestorm of discussion on the benefits and harm of requiring a pitcher to bat in the NL. With the way that the league has shifted to protect their players (home plate collision rule), there is an outside chance that major league baseball could make a change in the next year or two.

If this does indeed happen, the Mets stand to be one of the top benefactors by having two catchers who both project to be above average hitters.

All of these factors should make it very clear that dealing Kevin Plawecki would not be beneficial to the Mets. Keeping both of our above average catchers allows us to avoid possibly exposing a backup quality catcher to day in and day out pitching for an extended period of time.

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Some More Managerial Options For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/some-more-managerial-options-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/some-more-managerial-options-for-the-mets.html/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 14:00:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=181621 collins joker

Couple of years back I wrote a piece where I detailed several alternatives to Terry Collins as Manager of the NY Mets. You can read it here if you are so inclined. Well, here we are two years later and wouldn’t you know it, Terry is still our manager. I guess none of the options I so graciously put forward were considered. I especially thought the sign-language speaking gorilla would have done well, but you never know with these things. Some people just don’t appreciate the value of a gorilla in the dugout.

Anyway I thought I’d give it another shot. Maybe broaden the candidate pool … why limit ourselves to higher primates? I think a pigeon would do nicely, one of those messenger pigeons. We could name him Lefty.

You could outfit it with a little Mets cap and maybe some tiny cleats, this way Lefty can truly take the role of “middle management” and fly directly from the front office to home plate with the lineup card rolled up and stuffed in a little pill bottle around its neck …

MLB: New York Mets at New York YankeesAfterwards Lefty can waddle into the dugout and munch on sunflower seeds, giving funny sideways glances that the camera can zoom in on every time the ump misses a call. If we need to challenge a play? Lefty can fly right out to the ump with a red flag in its beak and sit on the Ump’s shoulder while they look at the video … if he doesn’t like the results Lefty can leave a little present on the Ump’s shoulder!

Or how about an unused Mars Rover prototype? NASA is practically giving those things away! I know, I know this is kind of like the robot suggestion from the earlier piece, but the Mars Rover isn’t your run of the mill robot. It’s solar powered for one so you wouldn’t need an extension cord all the way back to the clubhouse. It can take earth samples as well, so it could give a detailed reading when the grounds are getting too wet for continued play.

While we’re at it, with an inconspicuous little poke in the buttocks of opposing batters as they walk out of the dugout, Mars Rover could get an instant steroid reading — how useful would that be?

getPartMars Rover has all kinds of flashing lights and whistles and camera-sensors so it could speed up turn-around time on reviews.

The all terrain capabilities are nice too … and, as always Mars Rover would feel right at home in Terry’s office as a fellow deep space traveler. Also, instead of kicking dust at an umpire, Mars Rover could simply put its tracks in reverse and literally bury the Ump in dirt in a matter of seconds!

We could try and sign one of those creepy gremlins from the original “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” movie. Someone (perhaps Bob Geren?) would have to carry around an umbrella to shield the spooky nether-worlder from the sun’s rays.

These particular gremlins are unusually persistent and are very good at setting booby traps. The official word in the paper the next day might read “opposing player tripped and fell into a bottomless abyss while entering the visiting clubhouse.”

The nice thing with one of these guys is you wouldn’t need to pay for new uniforms as Collins is pretty much the same size. Creepy “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” gremlin could also scare the hell out of the opposition with its weird whispered-tone taunting.

And finally, unlike Collins, creepy nether-world gremlin is clearly capable of forethought — showing the capacity to lure women named Sally to their inevitable demise in a chimney shaft — so he’d probably be good at figuring out ways to get Bryce Harper to slip on banana peels and stuff, just sayin’.

There’s also the gopher from Caddyshack. Again, pretty much the same size as Collins so Jeffie could use those extra bucks on fender-bender bumper-cars at Six Flags. Gopher could create an underground network of tunnels at Citi Field and scamper out to tell Granderson to play Markakis more to pull, delivering the message himself. Of course the team would have to learn Gopher’s strange scratch & snort language but we could easily hire a linguist. Money is no object here.

Gopher Manager could scoot right out to the bullpen and see with his own beady eyes that maybe Torres doesn’t have it tonight … So he could go with, oh I don’t know, pretty much anybody else. This particular candidate has mad people skills as well, and he sports an impressive resume listing Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Punxsutawney Phil as references. Gopher Manager is also good for lots of laughs (he is a much better dancer than Collins), and I have it on good authority that Gopher Manager would work for a salary of peanuts and small shiny objects.

Finally we could just hire a pastrami on rye sandwich to manage the Mets. As the diametric inverse of a ruben (on whole wheat), there is little to no chance Pastrami Sandwich Manager would pencil Tejada in at shortstop, second base, or even third base.

Pastrami Sandwich would not only rival and perhaps surpass Terry Collins intellectually, those little toothpicks that keep Pastrami Sandwich together could also be used to pin down a lineup card – a lineup card, mind you, conspicuously lacking in feather-brained permutations passed off as “unorthodox new-ageisms.”

Also Pastrami sandwich could act as quite the distraction were it conveniently placed slightly off the third base line as a runner were rounding third — they’d go right for the sandwich and totally miss home plate just as Tim Teufel pulls Pastrami Manager away with a string.

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MMO Hall of Fame: Left Fielder Cleon Jones Was Always At Center Of Things http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-hall-of-fame-left-fielder-cleon-jones-was-always-at-center-of-things.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-hall-of-fame-left-fielder-cleon-jones-was-always-at-center-of-things.html/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 16:35:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177997 cleon jones 2

When he removed his Mets uniform for the final time he was our all-time leader in hits, runs, RBI’s, doubles and 2nd in batting average. There was no fanfare, no celebration of his achievements, no day honoring his accomplishments after a decade of playing in New York.  Instead, he lumbered away, head down, disgraced, a beaten man.

He’s one of very few Mets who can call himself a two-time pennant winner. He had a direct impact on both the 69 and 73 season. Teammate Buddy Harrelson said of him, “Even if he was in a 0-for-20 slump, he was the guy you’d still want at-bat.” Tom Seaver was our first superstar. But this man was our first offensive superstar. He caught a fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson and dropped to one knee, an image that remains one of the most iconic in team history.

He was never given a snazzy nickname like Doctor K, Nails, Kid, or The Franchise. Instead, we referred to him by his given name only: Cleon

Cleon Joseph Jones was born August 4, 1942 in Mobile, AL, the same birthplace as Hank Aaron. He’d wear number 21, the same as Roberto Clemente. His first Major League game was playing center field in the Polo Grounds, the same position patrolled by Willie Mays. And although Cleon was nowhere near the player these Hall of Famers were, it was okay. He was our legend.

Numerous players throughout history have been seemingly predestined for a career in the majors, be it the ability to throw a ball at 100 MPH with pinpoint accuracy, blinding speed or remarkable hand-eye coordination. Cleon was not one of them.

Whereas some burst on the scene, Cleon yo-yoed for several years. Wearing number 34, he made his major league debut on September 14, 1963. Manager Casey Stengel put the 21 year-old in as a defensive replacement for Duke Carmel. In what would be one of the final games ever played at the Polo Grounds, Cleon played CF. And like Moonlight Graham’s one inning, they never hit the ball anywhere near him. .

Cleon had 15 AB’s that September, getting just two hits for a forgettable .133 BA.

He spent all of the 1964 season with the AAA Buffalo Bisons. The next year, he made the team out of spring training. However, after one month and a meager .156 BA, he was once again demoted to Buffalo. Cleon was a late-season call-up and on September 22, 1965, in a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh, he hit his first HR, a solo blast off of Bob Friend. Despite the dinger, however, he batted just .149, 11-for-74. The Mets finished in 10th place, 50-112, 47 GB.

In 1966, Cleon was named the Mets everyday starting center fielder. Not because of a overwhelmingly solid performance, but largely due to the fact the Mets had little else. In his first full season, Cleon improved. .275-8-57 and 16 steals. His performance earned him fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting.

There was optimism coming into 1967. For the first time, the Mets had NOT lost 100 games the previous season and two rookie pitchers, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, showed lots of potential. However, Cleon backpedaled. His BA dipped to a disappointing .247 and he ended up in a CF platoon with Larry Stahl. The team as a whole also backtracked, once again losing over 100 times that year. Six seasons, five of which saw more than 100 losses. Would things ever improve?

In 1968, Cleon was shifted to LF to make room for a newly acquired CFer. Tommie Agee had been AL Rookie of the Year in 1966 and was a childhood friend of Cleon. Management also brought in a new manager, much loved former Brooklyn Dodger Gil Hodges. Despite Hodges, Agee and defending NL ROY Tom Seaver, Cleon’s struggles returned. Six weeks into the season he was hitting just .205 and found himself in a platoon again, this time with Art Shamsky.

Then it happened. Something clicked.

On May 18, Cleon went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s and a pair of runs scored. He started to hit. And there was no stopping him. On July 16th against the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium, number 21 went 4-for-6 with 3 RBI’s, 1 RS and played all 3 OF positions. He ended the season batting .297, fourth best in the NL. Next up: 1969. And our left fielder was in the center of it all.

Although he notoriously started slow and was always a streaky hitter, Cleon was 26 and coming into his prime. He kicked butt from Opening Day and never looked back. By the All-Star Break he was batting .341 with 10 HR’s and 56 RBI’s, good enough to earn a starting spot in the Mid-Summer Classic along with the likes of Aaron, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey and future teammate Felix Millan. Cleon went 2-for-4 with two runs scored against the best the American League had.

By that summer Mets fans were beginning to think the unthinkable. The team that had lost 737 games in seven seasons actually had a good chance to finish .500. However, Gil Hodges, a man who knew a lot about winning, wanted more. In late July the Mets were 55-41 and in second place, just five games behind the powerhouse Cubs. Despite the fact Chicago was laden with future Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins, Hodges kept the Cubs right in the Mets’ crosshairs.

July 30th in Houston was the turning point in the season. And yes, Cleon was again in the center of it. The Mets got trounced in the first game of a doubleheader, 16-3. The Astros continued the embarrassment in the nightcap, jumping all over Gary Gentry for 8 ER in 2 2/3 IP. In the third inning, Cleon failed to hustle after a ball that went for a double.

gil hodges

To Gil Hodges, it didn’t matter that the Mets were in a pennant race for the first time in their history. It didn’t matter that Cleon Jones was an All-Star. It didn’t matter that he was our best hitter. The Mets skipper would not sit idly by tolerating lackadaisical play. Hodges, stoic as always, stepped from the dugout, took a lengthy slow walk to left field and conferred with his star hitter. After a few words, Hodges turned and walked off the field. Cleon, like a chastised little boy, shadowed Hodges into the dugout.

Years later, Jones claimed he advised Hodges the turf was wet. Hodges replied there must be something wrong with his ankle and pulled him from the game. “Gil was my favorite manager I ever played for,” Cleon clarified years later. “He’d never embarrass a player that way.” We may never know the true content of the conversation. However, the implication was undeniable. This was Gil Hodges’ team. You either play hard or you don’t play. The Mets lost the nightcap, 11-5. They wouldn’t lose too many more.

Hodges’ club played .780, winning 39 of the last 50 games and capturing the division by 8 games. Cleon ended up hitting 340, third behind Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente.

In the first ever NLCS, the Mets swept the Braves. Cleon hit 429.

In the World Series few gave the Mets any chance of defeating the mighty Baltimore Orioles. And when Don Buford opened the Fall Classic with a HR off 25-game winner Tom Seaver, it appeared we were out of Miracles.

The Mets tied the series when Jerry Koosman outdueled Dave McNally 2-1. Back in New York for game three, the Mets drew first blood. Tommie Agee opened the game with a HR. He also made not one but two of the greatest catches in history. Gary Gentry outpitched future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for a 5-0 Mets win. In game 4, Seaver returned to form. After struggling in the opener, Tom Terrific threw 10 innings, the Mets prevailed 2-1 and were now one win away from a championship.

The Orioles, however, showed why they won 109 games. Needing a win to return the series to Baltimore, they scored early off Koosman and took a 3-0 lead. In the top of the 6th, Kooz delivered an inside pitch. Frank Robinson claimed the pitch hit him. Home plate umpire Lou DiMuro disagreed. Replays clearly showed DiMuro blew the call.

Lightning struck again in the bottom of that same inning. And once again, Cleon was in the center of it. McNally threw a pitch low. Cleon danced out of the way, the ball ricocheted into the Mets dugout. Cleon, like Robinson, claimed the ball hit him. DiMuro claimed it did not. Gil Hodges ever-so-slowly walked onto the field and presented a ball with shoe polish to the umpire. DiMuro changed the call and awarded Cleon First Base. Seconds later, Donn Clendenon deposited McNally’s offering beyond the LF auxiliary scoreboard to cut the lead to 3-2. And one hour after that, Cleon caught that fly ball and dropped to one knee.

In the late 60’s/early 70’s, pitching dominated the game, especially in the NL. Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton and Phil Niekro, all future inductees in Cooperstown, quieted NL bats. But don’t tell that to Cleon. From 68-71 Cleon averaged 308.

The 1973 NL East was a dogfight of mediocrity. On August 30th, the Mets were in last place, but just 6 ½ back with 30 games remaining. Just like 1969, the Mets got hot at the right time. By September 17th, the Mets inched up to 4th, were just 3 ½ GB of Pittsburgh—with the Mets and Pirates playing a rare 5-game series–2 in Pittsburgh, 3 in New York. The two contests at Three Rivers were split and the series moved to Shea for three crucial games.

The Mets captured the opener, 7-3, and for only the second time in his career, Cleon went deep twice in one game. The lead was trimmed to a game a half. The following day, September 20th, one of the strangest yet most memorable play in team history occurred. And once again, Cleon was in the center of it.

Jerry Koosman faced off against Jim Rooker. A Mets victory would bring us to within a half, a loss would shove us 2 ½ back with just 9 games remaining. It was a back-and-forth contest. Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the 4th. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 6th. Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 7th. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 8th. Pittsburgh scored 1 in the top of the 9th to go up 3-2. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 9th.

In the top of the 13th, Richie Zisk singled with one out. Pinch Hitter Dave Augustine came up and sent the Ray Sadecki pitch into the night. Cleon turned and ran…and ran…and ran some more. The ball did not go over. Nor did it bounce off the wall. It bounced on top of the wall. Cleon played the carom perfectly, pivoted and fired to relay man Wayne Garrett who turned and threw a bullet to catcher Ron Hodges who applied the tag to keep the game deadlocked at 3-3. In the bottom half of the inning, the Mets won, First place and the post-season was now within our grasp.

all-time-mets-left-field-cleon-jones

In the 1973 League Championship Series against the Big Red Machine, Cleon batted .300, 6-for-20 with three RBI and three runs scored. In the World Series against Oakland, Cleon hit .286. Of his eight hits, three were for extra bases. He scored five runs in seven games.

In 1975, it would all come crashing down like a Shakespearean tragedy. Spring training saw Cleon suffer a knee injury. He stayed behind when the team went north. On the morning of May 4 in St. Petersburg, FL, Cleon was arrested at 5:00 am. The charge? Indecent exposure.

Police found the 33 year-old sleeping inside a van next to a 21 year-old female who was in possession of marijuana. Cleon insisted he didn’t know the woman, that he met her at a party and was giving her a ride home when the van ran out of gas and he fell asleep. Ultimately, the charges were dropped. “Indecent exposure” was the fact Cleon was barefoot. However, in the eyes of Mets chairman M. Donald Grant this was inexcusable debauchery.

Grant was an autocrat, a tyrant who viewed his players as chattel. He once relinquished his membership to an exclusive Connecticut country club when he learned an inferior individual named Tom Seaver was also a member.

Grant fined Cleon $2000, four times more than any other player had ever been fined. Worse than the financial punishment was the degradation imposed on the Mets superstar. In the glare of the media, with cameras recording every mannerism, spotlights bathing him in a stifling glow and situated behind a bank of microphones angled like missiles about to launch, Cleon was ordered to apologize—to fans, to teammates, to his employer. And to his wife, Angela, who Grant insisted appear at his side.

In October 1969, Cleon caught a fly ball and cemented a miracle. It was the highest point in Mets history. Now, less than six years later, Cleon was again in the center, but this time it was the lowest point in Mets history.

He returned to the team in late May. But was not welcomed back. As if the financial punishment and humiliation were not enough, the order had come down from management that Cleon was to only play sparingly. For two months, the Mets icon was largely relegated to riding the pine. He seldom started and was used meagerly as a pinch-hitter. Such sparse play inhibited his ability to get any timing, extra burdensome knowing he was notoriously streaky. In July Cleon reached his breaking point. Hitting only 240 he got into an altercation with manager Yogi Berra. Grant now had more ammo and fired the fatal bullet. After 13 seasons, he was released outright.

The following year, 1976, he played for the White Sox but Cleon, a slow-starter, was hitting just 200 and promptly released. Cleon Jones, loved and adored by fans in New York, a World Champion, an All-Star, an almost Rookie of the Year and almost batting champion, was unwanted by any club. He was shamed out of Baseball by age 33.

For those of us lucky enough to have seen him play, he was the one that made you sit a little closer to the TV, move up onto the edge of your seat at Shea and chant Lets Go Mets a little louder. He was the one you always made sure to watch when he stepped to the plate, the one guy you wanted to get to in the batting order if you were trailing. He was flashy without being flashy.

It’s been nearly forty years since Cleon wore a Mets uniform. He played in a time when pitching dominated the game. And despite the fact that names like Strawberry, Hernandez, Piazza, Carter, Wright, Ventura and Reyes came after him, Cleon Jones still remains near the top in runs, hits, doubles and RBI’s.

In July 1969, he was involved in a play that turned around the season. In October 1969, he was involved in at-bat that opened the door to the Mets comeback in Game Five. In 1973, he was involved in one of the most famous, most strange plays in history, yet another turning point that led to yet another pennant.

MMO Hall of Fame cleon jones

And with that, Metsmerized Online is pleased to announce that Cleon Jones is this year’s inductee into the Metsmerized Hall of Fame.

Jones now joins mike Piazza, Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden and David Wright in our own hallowed halls honoring the best players the Mets ever had. Congratulations, Cleon!

Feel free to leave your best memories and most heartfelt recollections of Cleon in our comment threads.

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