Mets Merized Online » post season http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 02 Feb 2016 12:13:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.12 Patience & Diligence: The Not So Sudden Ascent Of The 2015 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/patience-diligence-the-not-so-sudden-ascent-of-the-2015-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/patience-diligence-the-not-so-sudden-ascent-of-the-2015-mets.html/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2015 17:11:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197435 NL East Champions dogpile

The Mets of the past few seasons have been characterized by the steps they’ve taken to improve according to a carefully orchestrated master plan. It’s been lurch and surge all the way, like driving with a bad clutch, and then suddenly around half way through the 2015 season it all seemed to kick into gear.

There were many among us, including our fearless GM Sandy Alderson, who predicted the Mets would come to prominence in 2014. Of course that didn’t happen, primarily due to injuries (Matt Harvey most notably) and some reclamation projects that fell through … but there were signs that the team was on the verge. Their second half record was respectable and their run differential was more like what you’d expect from a .500 team.

It’s always been about pitching. Early on in his tenure Paul DePodesta, cagily shared in one of his rare interviews that the Mets were actively accumulating a volume of pitching assets beyond what might be considered necessary to augment a major league roster.

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I have a hunch that initially they were targeting durability (big right handers with repeatable deliveries) as well, but when they determined (correctly I might add) that there was no true “durability profile” with physical specifications that they could effectively exact, they abandoned the approach for another: accumulate enough pitching to compensate for the inevitable attrition of arm and shoulder injuries.

As we speak the Mets feature 4 quality young arms who all in one way or another project as aces, with several other young arms on the way and Zack Wheeler returning from Tommy John surgery sometime next year. It is an embarrassment of riches but it didn’t happen by chance. The Mets neglected to focus on position players, unlike Theo Epstein of the Cubs who focussed almost exclusively on position players, and instead kept adding to an already sizable pitching corps.

The Mets obviously looked at what it takes to win both during the regular season and the post-season, and they appear to have built a team who did just enough during the regular season and who are, remarkably, taking October baseball by storm. It seems these Mets are built for the post-season with their wealth of power arms.

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Joe Maddon of the Cubs keeps going on about how his team isn’t hitting like they can which seems rather obtuse — it’s not so much that the Cubs can’t hit like they’re capable of, it’s that they can’t hit Mets pitching.

It’s really about the Cubs (like the Dodgers before them) not being able to pitch with the Mets. It seems almost unfair that the Cubs face DeGrom and Matz in Games 3 and 4 after they burned through Lester and Arrieta in Games 1 and 2 without registering a win. Yet that was precisely the plan on the Mets side, converge a “critical mass” of high end pitching assets on the major league stage all at once and take it from there.

The “take it from there” portion of the plan came at the 2015 trade deadline. The Mets seemed poised to compete on several fronts, they had a mighty arsenal of power arms and a lock down closer, they also had some expendable pitching in the minors. Sandy Alderson settled once and for all the “pitching or position player” argument by transforming a struggling and inconsistent bottom third offense into one of the best in the league with a few careful additions.

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Now here’s the thing, it’s certainly conceivable for a team to add a Yoenis Cespedes, a Juan Uribe, and a Kelly Johnson to an offense through a few mid-season moves, but conversely, trying to build a team around position players with an eye on adding pitching through free agency and trades, leaves you at the mercy of the market.

Availability may dictate limited options, and you’d certainly be hard pressed to assemble a rotation of 4 ace level pitchers on the fly … It’s just not realistic, to do so for one would require an exorbitant number of prospects from the receiving team and there simply may not be that many quality pitchers available.

Also, you never know how guys will perform given new surroundings. You look at the Blue Jays for instance and their attempt to basically do the opposite of what the Mets did (accumulate position players and build a rotation on the fly) doesn’t seem to be faring that well.

There’s still some baseball left to play. The Mets could clinch tonight, or not, it remains to be seen. But however things turn out, you have to give credit to the Mets front office for developing a plan, a good plan, and sticking to it. The benefits, which may include a sustained run of teams built around quality pitching, are more than worth the wait.

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Why This October Will Feel Different http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/why-this-october-will-feel-different.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/why-this-october-will-feel-different.html/#comments Sun, 04 Oct 2015 01:22:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=195330 bruce springsteen

Like all fathers, my dad gave me a hard time about driving too fast as well as “that crap” I listened to. And like most kids, I never listened. Except today. This particular afternoon I was in no particular hurry to get to my destination, nor was I in any frame of mind to listen to Bruce Springsteen or Van Halen. I preferred to be alone with my thoughts.

mmo feature original footerIt was spring but for the first time in almost forty years of being a Baseball fan I had as much as interest in the Mets as I did in singing along to ‘Jungleland’ or playing air guitar to ‘Unchained.’ It just didn’t matter.

I parked, and with heavy footsteps I flicked my cigarette into the ashcan and shuffled my feet inside.

The foyer was decorated to resemble a 5-star hotel. The collection of chairs and sofas in the center were occupied with sullen family members whose expressions were laced with both helplessness and hope, despair and desire for a miracle. To my right was an alcove with books. A withered, frail looking woman sat listlessly in a wheel chair, an open book perched unread in her lap, with her head down, an oxygen tank at her side. To my left the ‘front desk.’ This was no 5-star hotel. This was a care center, a convalescent facility or whatever the 21st century euphemism was for a nursing home. Never had I imagined being here.

I made my way to the ‘front desk’ and gave my father’s name. I showed my ID, wondering why the heck someone would be here unless they needed to be. She scribbled the room number on a piece of paper for me. I proceeded through the labyrinth of corridors toward a remote corner of the facility.

The hallways were filled with an antiseptic aroma and metal carts of slop that was evidently dinner. The rhythmic beep-beep-beep of heart monitors and other medical devices wafted gingerly from rooms. I kept my head up, eyes forward. Or tried to. Scanning the room numbers to verify I was heading in the right direction, curiosity got the best of me.

My eyes scanned a room here and there. Some beds were occupied by infirmed forms, small and outwardly defenseless, emaciated souls. Other beds were empty. Somewhere I heard the steady drone of someone flat lining followed by the hurried footsteps of RN’s.

I continued on.

It was March, a time normally my dad and I–and fans everywhere—were filled with optimism about the forthcoming season. Under normal circumstances, we’d banter back and forth about the Mets. My dad would typically be laced with unbridled optimism whereas I figured we’d be lucky to finish 500.

Perhaps this year, however, things would improve. We had a new GM and a new manager. Surely, Jason Bay would bounce back, Carlos Beltran would be healthy, Jose Reyes, in the final year of his contract, would likely put up good numbers and Mike Pelfrey would improve on his 15 wins the previous year.

But at this moment, I didn’t give a damn. I wasn’t thinking of the 2011 Mets.

I also wasn’t thinking of the 1973 Mets.

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It was my first season being a fan and after my parents and I relocated from The Bronx to Queens, my time in third grade was off to a bad start. I bolted through the doors at 3pm, ran down the sidewalk darting between classmates, ran into traffic without waiting for the crossing guard and raced home as fast as my little 7 year-old legs would take me. As soon as I arrived, I fell against my mom sobbing.

My classmates—my new classmates—were picking on me, teasing me, ridiculing me for being a Mets fan. It was September 1973 and my team was in fifth place. How embarrassing! My tears eventually stopped and I asked my mom to please not tell dad I cried. After all, I’d be turning 8 soon. Only little kids cried.

Naturally, as soon as my dad got home, she told him. During dinner I denied sobbing, throwing my mom under the proverbial bus. My dad eventually got me to come clean.

He explained that even though we were fifth, “We have ‘em right where we want ‘em.” He enlightened me. Every day someone in front of us will lose. If we win, we’ll pick up ground. All we had to do was win. And keep winning. “We have Seaver, Kooz, Matlack and Tug in the pen. How many games you think we’ll lose these next three weeks? Not many.” He paused. “And what does Tug say? C’mon, what does Tug say?”

“Ya gotta believe.”

“Right, ya gotta believe,” dad repeated. “Nothing to worry about. Now, go finish your homework.”

I walked away from the kitchen feeling confident.

Out of the room now, my mom asked my dad, “You really think they’ll win?”

My dad lit up a cigarette, sipped his coffee and shook his head. “Nah, no way. They’ve got no chance. They’re too far back.”

“What’re you going to tell Rob when they lose?”

My dad shrugged. “I’ll worry it about then. But at least he feels better now.”

The Mets of course won the pennant and came within one swing of winning the World Series. And somehow, as a little kid, I wondered if my dad truly had something to do with that. After all, he said we’d win the NLE. And we did.

But this was 201l as I continued through the hallway amidst the steady din of moans and wails of declining souls.

I wasn’t thinking of 1974 when my dad secured us two seats in the press box two booths down from Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner. I wasn’t thinking of 1975 when we went to a game we weren’t supposed to, sat in a section we never did and my dad caught a foul ball, the only one he ever would in a lifetime of going to both Shea and Ebbets Field. I wasn’t thinking of 1976 when my dad consoled me, explaining that Baseball was not a game but a business and tried to get me to understand why my team would trade away my favorite player.

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It wasn’t June 15, 1977 when this 11 year-old ran out of his bedroom and told my dad I just heard on TV we traded Tom Seaver. Nor was it exactly six years later when this 17 year old drove home, two days shy of graduating high school, walked in and saw my dad beaming from ear-to-ear. “We signed Keith Hernandez!”

I wasn’t thinking of 1986. Jesse Orosco fell to his knees and my dad and I jumped to our feet, hugging and dancing around the living room like little kids. At that moment, we weren’t father and son. There wasn’t 23 years between us. And since I was too young to remember 1969, this would be the only Mets championship we got to share.

I wasn’t thinking of 1988, a day when my new wife invited her new in-laws over for dinner and my dad had to weigh between a good father-in-law or watching game 4 of the NLCS. After Mike Scioscia hit that damn HR neither my dad nor I had much of an appetite.

I wasn’t thinking of 1998 when my parents were vacationing in Hawaii and forgetting—or perhaps not caring about the time difference—picked up my cordless phone, woke my dad in the early morning to advise him we signed Mike Piazza. I wasn’t thinking of 2005 when he called me on my cell to advise me we signed Pedro Martinez.

No. This was 2011. I approached my dad’s room, all the memories—a lifetimes’ worth in what now felt like the blink of an eye—didn’t matter. I was about to enter a dreary chamber in the far corner of a nursing home where a lifetime of smoking had caught up with him. I didn’t give a damn about Seaver or Hernandez or Orosco or Piazza or any of them. I just wanted my dad better. And out of this place.

I took a deep breath, steeled myself as best I could, and crossed the threshold.

“Hey, dad!” I said with enthusiasm I didn’t feel.

He drew his eyes back from the partially closed verticals and the setting sun. He looked gaunt, tired, and defeated. He readjusted his thin gown but not before I realized how skeletal his collar bone appeared. “Hey, Rob.”

Pulling a chair over I asked, “How ya feeling?” Stupid question.

He shrugged. And then asked me something that threw me for a loop. “Did we sign anyone today?”

I was appalled, stunned, shocked. “Huh?”

“Alderson make any moves?”

I may have rolled my eyes. I may have smirked. I truly don’t recall. What I do recall was utter astonishment. My dad should’ve been fighting. He should’ve been thinking about chemo, radiation and beating this damn thing. Instead he was thinking about the Mets??? “I have no idea, dad.”

I stayed as long as I could, kissed him on the head and eventually went home. As I retraced my earlier steps, I couldn’t shake it. Why the hell—how the hell—could he be thinking about Baseball at a time like this? The end was coming and he was asking about the stupid Mets?

It didn’t hit me until weeks after I lost him.

He knew what was pending, knew it was inevitable. But yet, he was hoping, longing, yearning for just one more summer, one more chance. He was craving a sense of normalcy in his life. Like every spring starting in 1949 he was asking for one more season, one more summer, 162 more games with hopefully a few more tacked on in October.

I still have the same sofa I did in 2006 where we sat side-by-side watching the last post-season game the Mets played. When Endy Chavez made that catch my hands clasped my head like Ray Knight rounding third. I looked right. My dad was stoic until saying, “He caught that?!”

“Oh my God! Oh My God! Yes! That’s better than Agee’s or Swoboda,” I shouted in disbelief.

My dad arched an eyebrow. “Calm down.” The ’69 club always held a special place in his heart. “David Wright?” he said numerous times. “Nice kid, but he’s not The Glider.”

An hour later I managed to pull my eyes away from the TV as Carlos Beltran took that called strike. My dad kept looking straight ahead, trying to cope with 2006 ending the way it did.

In less than a week the Mets will return to the post-season. This time, however, there’s an empty space on the sofa. I won’t be looking right this October. Instead I’ll be looking up, a bittersweet smile, thinking, “Dad, you missed a hell of a year.”

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Jerry Grote: The Man Behind The Mask http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/168700.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/168700.html/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:50:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168700 jerry grote

Winning was Jerry Grote’s bliss. In fact, his most joyous moment on the diamond was captured on film when teammate Jerry Koosman leapt into his arms after the final out of the 1969 World Series.

In 1976, Bob Myrick found out the hard way how Grote felt about losing when the Mets rookie pitcher beat his catcher in a game of Backgammon, causing Grote to explode, sending the board and its pieces across the room with a single swing of the arm.

“I just sat there staring at him – hard,” remembered Myrick. “He got up and picked up all the pieces, and we never had a cross word. He was a perfectionist.”

Grote’s desire to win led to unparalleled intensity on the field. During his 12-year career in New York, teammates labeled Grote surly, irascible, testy and moody. Then, there’s Koosman’s description: “If you looked up red-ass the dictionary, his picture would be in there. Jerry was the guy you wanted on your side, because he’d fight you tooth and nail ‘til death to win a ball game.”

Grote played with an anger and intensity that was, at times, intimidating to opponents, umpires, the media and teammates alike.

“When I came up I was scared to death of him,” said Jon Matlack, winner of the 1972 Rookie of the Year award. “If you bounced a curveball in the dirt, he’d get mad. I worried about him more than the hitter.”

“He could be trouble if you didn’t do what he said,” added former Met Craig Swan. “He wanted you to throw the pitches he called. He made it very simple. I would shake him off now and then, and he would shake his head back at me. If a guy hit a home run off of me, he wouldn’t let me hear the end of it.”

jerry grote catcher

Grote had a special way of letting his pitchers know he wasn’t pleased with a pitch. “Jerry had such a great arm. He could throw with great control and handcuff you in front of your belt buckle,” remembers Koosman.

Grote would get incensed when Jim McAndrew was on the mound. “McAndrew would never challenge hitters according to where Grote wanted the ball; so Grote kept firing it back and handcuffing him in front of the belt buckle, and we would laugh, because we knew what Grote was doing,” said Koosman.

The tactic didn’t go over so well when Koosman pitched. During a game when Koosman was struggling to find his control, Grote began firing the ball at his pitcher’s belt buckle. Koosman called Grote to the mound.

“I told him, ‘If you throw the ball back at me like that one more time I am going to break your f—ing neck,’” Koosman told Peter Golenbeck in Amazin’. “I turned around and walked back to the mound, and he never threw it back at me again. We had great respect for each other after that.”

He took his frustration out on umpires too. Retired umpire Bruce Froemming claims Grote intentionally let a fastball get by him, nearly striking Froemming in the throat. Because they had spent the three previous innings in a non-stop argument, Froemming accused Grote of intentionally moving aside in hope that the pitch would hit the umpire.

“Are you going to throw me out?” snapped Grote.

“He made no attempt to stop that pitch,” Froemming thought. The home plate umpire fumed but realized he had no grounds to toss Grote from the game.

National League umpires were well aware of Grote, and his on-field demeanor. In fact, in 1975, the league was discussing physical contact between catchers and umpires. Jerry Crawford was queried about his unique style of resting a hand between a catcher’s hip and rib cage and he said, “I ask the catcher if it bothers him, and only Jerry Grote has complained.”

“The writers never respected Grote, but they guys who played with him could barely stand him,” said Ron Swoboda. “He was a red-ass Texan who loved to f— with people but who didn’t like anyone to f— with him. It was a one-way street. Grote is Grote, and we would not have been as good without him behind home plate.”

“Grote had a red-ass with the media, but he didn’t care,” added Koosman. “All he cared about was what he did on the field. If you didn’t get your story from what he did out there, you either talked to him nicely or he wasn’t going to give you any more story.”

Grote did not return calls or respond to multiple email requests for an interview for this story.

This is who Jerry Grote is – and the Mets knew it from the day they traded for him for a player to be named later in October 1965.

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“When we got him, I don’t think anyone else had that big of an opinion of him,” said Bing Devine. “Jerry was withdrawn and had a negative personality, but he knew how to catch a ball game and how to handle pitchers, and maybe that very thing helped him to deal with the pitching staff. He was great. I know he surpassed our expectations.”

He was exactly what the Mets needed to manage a young, extremely talented pitching staff, but he was clearly a handful to manage too.

“If he ever learns to control himself, he might become the best catcher in baseball,” former Mets manager Wes Westrum told the media during Grote’s first season in New York.

Then, in 1968, Gil Hodges arrived. After being briefed on the Mets roster, Hodges said he “did not like some of the things I heard about Jerry. He had a habit of getting into too many arguments with umpires and getting on some of the older players on the club.”

Hodges, known for his firm, but fair, demeanor, took Grote into his office for an attitude adjustment. The Mets manager realized the importance of Grote’s talents and how it would affect the pitching staff. Hodges made his expectations clear.

“I hesitate to imagine where the New York Mets would have been the last few years without Jerry,” Hodges told Sports illustrated in 1971. “He is invaluable to us. He is intent and intense and he fights to get everything he can.”

Grote batted .256 in his 12 seasons in New York. He is a two-time All-Star (1968 and 1974). In 1969, Grote threw out 56% of baserunners. He ranks third on the Mets all-time list for games played (1235), 11th in hits (994), 15th in doubles and total bases (1413).

Grote fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in May 1973. The Mets recorded three shutouts the first month with Grote behind the plate, four more shutouts over the next two months (May 12-August 11) without Grote behind the plate and eight more shutouts over the final six weeks of the season with Grote managing the staff. Grote caught every inning of every playoff and World Series game in 1969 and 1973. Here’s a statistic for you: In the 20 post season games between ’69 and ’73, the Mets used 45 pitchers and one catcher. Those were the only two post season appearances the Mets made during Grote’s 12 years in New York.

“One of the advantages of playing for New York is that the big crowds at Shea Stadium help you tremendously,” Grote said in a 1971 interview with Sports Illustrated. “They make you want to give 115% all the time. In other places it cannot be the same for the players. Like in Houston, nobody seems to applaud unless the hands on the scoreboard start to clap. Once those hands stop, so do all the others. Real enthusiasm.”

Grote loved playing in New York, and New York loved his gritty style.

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David Wright Wants To Be Part Of Mets Resurgence http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/david-wright-wants-to-be-part-of-mets-resurgence.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/david-wright-wants-to-be-part-of-mets-resurgence.html/#comments Sun, 09 Mar 2014 12:22:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149845 wright

Bob Klapisch of NewJersey.com spoke with David Wright about the state of the Mets and about his decision to forego a more lucrative deal in free agency so that he could stay in New York and continue playing for the team he grew up rooting for.

Wright is bound by a sense of loyalty and his desire all along was to remain with the Mets and get through these tough times and be here when the team returns to contention and back to glory.

“To be part of the up and down and then back up, that’s what I’m thinking about,” says Wright. “To me, that would be pretty cool.”

In December 2012, Wright signed an extension with the organization, which meant that he would remain in a Mets uniform until at least 2020.

The last time that Wright tasted the post season was in 2006, when the Mets came one pitch away from reaching the World Series.

Wright remembers the thrill of it and wants to experience it again. He understood it would take some time before some of the younger prospects like Zack Wheeler would be ready, but he believed in what Sandy Alderson was building.

“If my goal was to win right this second, then obviously, I would’ve been a free agent,” Wright said.

“To me, it was more important to show loyalty to the Mets. I grew up rooting for them, they drafted me when I was 18, they’re the only team I’ve ever played for.”

The Mets third baseman also sees 90 wins as a good goal for the team. “We’ve got good players,” Wright said. “I love the fact that Sandy is confident in us. I think 90 is challenging, it’s attainable, and it’s a good starting point for us.”

“I think 90 is a good starting point for giving us something to shoot for and getting guys to understand that mediocrity is not going to be acceptable.”

A captain is not supposed to abandon his ship anyway, right? I’m glad he stuck around and as we continue to develop a new young core of talented players, it won’t be long until it’s smooth sailing again for the Orange and Blue.

(AP Photo, Ed Betz)
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Thanks to Sandy Alderson I Now Have Respect For the Yankee Way http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/thanks-to-sandy-alderson-i-now-have-respect-for-the-yankee-way.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/thanks-to-sandy-alderson-i-now-have-respect-for-the-yankee-way.html/#comments Sat, 21 Dec 2013 14:53:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136003 Rusty-Staub

When my dad taught me about something called Baseball in 1973 and introduced me to a team called the Mets, it was life-altering for this 7-year old. I’d learn to write cursive, get out of second grade, and eventually, when I grew a little taller, I’d replace Rusty Staub in RF. My whole life was planned out.

As I fell in love with the Mets, I developed an unbridled hatred for the Yankees. When visiting one of my grandmothers in the Bronx, we had to drive right past their stadium. In the back seat of my parents’ Plymouth, I shielded my eyes. I wouldn’t even give them the courtesy of acknowledging their existence.

The Yankees were colorless, uninteresting. They were even more icky than girls! Roy White, Chris Chambliss, Elliot Maddox, Graig Nettles. BORING! (And who the hell spells their name G-R-A-I-G anyway?) The Mets had friendly names: Tug, Rusty, Buddy, Kooz, Felix the Cat.

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By the 80’s the Yankees were irrelevant. New York was a Mets town and like I’d done as a little kid, I didn’t even bother acknowledging their existence. They were unimportant.

By the mid ‘90s, I was older and realized ‘hate’ is a strong word. It wasn’t really their players I ‘hated.’ It was their fans sense of entitlement, the way they acted as if they deserved to play into late October and the way George Steinbrenner attempted to buy a pennant year after year. While I was no fan of Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill or Scott Brosius, how can you not love Derek Jeter? Who amongst us won’t miss Mariano Rivera?

I’ll continue to root against the Yankees, something that’s entrenched in me since childhood. However, I no longer hate their players. Nor do I detest the management style in which their front office operates.

After seeing the Wilpon’s and Sandy Alderson in action, they’ve done the impossible: They’ve made me gain respect–yes, respect–for the Yankees.

Is it wrong to try and buy a pennant? Yes…I guess…maybe. On the other hand, why not? Baseball is a sport and the purpose is to win, to reward your fans with a championship. If it takes outspending other teams, then so be it.

Late October every year, the same scene plays out. Commissioner Bud Selig presents the World Series trophy to the manager, GM and owner of the World Championship club. I don’t ever recall a celebration where the commissioner presents a trophy of any sort to a team with financial endurance, the team that accomplished the most with the least. The reason is simple: That doesn’t matter.

Question: Which 2 years did our Mets win the World Series?. Now, a follow-up: What was our payroll those 2 seasons? Yea, I have no idea either.

When I think back to 1986, I recall Mookie hitting a slow roller along the bag. I remember Jesse Orosco down on his knees smiling broadly. I can still see Ray Knight knocking Eric Davis on his ass, Gary Carter making a curtain call after going deep and the majestic beautiful swing of Darryl Strawberry. I don’t have any memory of what our payroll was.

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In the end what matters is winning. Winning at, no pun intended, any cost.

Granted, both NY clubs have spent billions of dollars over the past two decades. And granted, the Yankees have spent far more than us. But ask yourself which fans have had a more enjoyable run since the mid ‘90s? Which team’s fans are optimistic about a championship and which team’s fans are biding their time? While one fanbase spends October cheering their team in the post-season, the other fanbase is counting down until April.

In the last 19 years, the Mets have won zero Championships while the Yankees have captured five. The Mets have made the post-season 3 times in 19 years. The Yankees have made the post-season 17 times in 19 years. It’s evident one organization wants to win and one wants to…well, I’m not really sure.

Baseball is a game, But it’s also a business. This is accepted in The Bronx but not in Flushing. There’s an old business adage that says, “If you want to make money, you must spend money.” The Steinbrenner’s realize this. The Wilpon’s don’t. It’s a very simple concept. The Yankees spend money to improve their product. Fans support the product by going to games and buying merchandise. This, in turn, puts more money in the owner’s pockets so they can turn around and further improve their product. The Yankees acknowledge that to keep their customers coming back for more, they must offer a good product. In Flushing, the Wilpon’s continue to ask us to support a sub-par product. It’s apparently okay for them not to spend their money—as long as we spend ours.

A couple weeks ago, the Yankees allowed their most productive hitter, Robinson Cano, to walk. Literally, within hours, realizing the need to keep their product relevant, the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury. Talk about a ballsy move. And if that wasn’t enough, added Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, too.

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Many Mets fans blame our woes and financial struggles on Bernie Madoff and the frugal Wilpon’s. While the Steinbrenner/Cashman team is determined to run a profitable and successful business, provide their customers with a solid product, the Wilpon/Alderson team runs their business about as efficiently as Countrywide Mortgage.

When Alderson took over the GM role, he asked for patience. He had a plan. He had no money, but he did have a plan. He would rebuild this team from the ground up. We’d need to develop the rookies, restock the farm system. Sandy’s plan would make the Mets relevant again.

The Mets have no money. The Mets have no money. The Mets have no money. But suddenly, the Wilpons found $138 million for David Wright. Hmm…that’s convenient.

Alderson has insisted that he is looking long term, looking at the big picture and wanting to keep the Mets significant for many years, not just one or two. That’s thought-provoking considering this winter’s transactions.

I applaud the moves our GM made. The 2014 Mets appear to be slightly better (on paper anyway) than the 2013 Mets. But the transactions of this winter completely contradict what Alderson’s been selling us.

For an organization that is focused on the future, that is determined to be relevant for the long haul, the Mets handed over $60 million for a 33-year old outfielder and $20 million for a 270 pound 41-year old pitcher. For a team that is crying poverty and focusing on “the future,” how does management justify handing over $80 million for 6 years to 2 players whose average age is 37? That doesn’t sound like a long-term goal.bartolo-copy

The future? Two years from now, Colon will be gone and Granderson will be patrolling Citi Field’s cavernous outfield on 35 year-old legs—probably looking to return to the AL so he can DH.

The ineptness and incompetence of this front office is mind-boggling. They tell us one thing, then do something else. Their actions contradict their words. They cry poverty and talk about the future, then hand over $80 million for 2 players past their prime. They allow Jose Reyes, citing they have no money, only to then find the money when it comes to keeping David Wright 10 months later. This front office is inconsistent. This is a business that has no direction, no goal. And no plan. Is this any way to run a baseball team? To run a business? Is this the way you attract customers?

The acquisition of Beltran, McCann and Ellsbury may not turn the Yankees into champions. But it might. Meanwhile, Mets fans would be ecstatic to get back to 500.

After seeing the Wilpon/Alderson team operate for years now, I’ve gained respect for the Yankees approach—their approach to winning, to staying competitive, to keeping their customers happy by providing a good product.

I’m no longer a little kid hiding my eyes in the backseat of my dad’s Plymouth. I no longer hate Yankee players or loathe Yankee management. If anything, I long for my team to take that same approach to winning. I’ve realized, too, that girls are no longer icky…but the Mets front office sure is.

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Enter Sandman: The Mets’ Three Year Journey to Irrelevance http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/enter-sandman-the-mets-three-year-journey-to-irrelevance.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/enter-sandman-the-mets-three-year-journey-to-irrelevance.html/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 15:59:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134187 The GM Meetings in Orlando, home of Disneyworld, came and went and while none of us honestly expected the Mets to make a lot of noise, let’s take a trip to FantasyLand for a moment. Imagine if the Mets DID grab headlines. Visualize Sandy wheeling and dealing and returning to New York with Jose Reyes. And Carlos Beltran. Let’s say Alderson outwitted Brian Sabean (go with me on this) and convinced the Giants GM to give us back Angel Pagan. And just for the hell of it, Alderson also reacquired R A Dickey as well. We’d sure be feeling confident about 2014. Yet, all of these players were already on the Mets roster when Alderson took over as GM.

Carlos+Beltran+Washington+Nationals+v+New+VgPE3ydVODOl - Copy

Enter Sandman:

When he filled the shoes once worn by good ol’ M. Donald Grant, Alderson told us he needed to rebuild the team. He advised us it would take several years. Personally, if you’re going to rebuild something, Beltran, Reyes, Pagan and Dickey would be a pretty decent foundation to build upon, definitely better than what we have now—basically David Wright, plus a 24-year old ace who will miss a year with elbow surgery, and unproven rookies who are always a crapshoot. Especially with the Mets.

Since Sandman entered, our fanbase has been divided into warring factions. Some urge patience, though those numbers are dwindling after suffering many casualties. Others, like myself, want to win quickly. (Granted, I’ve never had patience.) My question is this: Alderson has asked us to wait several years for his magical mystery plan to take hold. My question is WHY?

sign man miracles

Baseball is a different game now than it was in 1962. When the Mets came into existence along with the Houston Colt 45’s, expansion teams were filled with the worst of the worst. Has-been’s and never will-be’s. When Jerry Koosman induced Davey Johnson to fly out to Cleon Jones in LF on October 16, 1969, that sealed what has become known as a ‘Miracle.’ The Mets had been a laughing stock for seven seasons. Now in their eighth year, they shocked the baseball establishment. It was partially considered a miracle due to the fact that an expansion team had risen from the depths of futility to the summit of the mountaintop in just 8 years. No team had ever accomplished so much in so little time.

Darryl Strawberry (L) with Mets General Manager Frank Cashen.

Those were the days, my friends…

Baseball was also different in 1980. Frank Cashen took the GM reins and promised within five seasons the Mets would be winners. It took seven, but by that fifth year, the Mets were in a pennant race for the first time in a decade. And although there was no immediate improvement in our won-loss record, one could sense the darkness lifting. The optimism in 1982 was far greater than it was in 1978, though our win total was similar. Free Agency was in its infancy when Cashen took over. Yet, in his third season, he signed one of the premier hitters in the league, George Foster, and teamed him with the return of Dave Kingman. Suddenly, two of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball were in Flushing. In Cashen’s fourth year, 1983, he brought back Tom Seaver, mostly for publicity and to boost attendance every fifth day. He acquired a proven winner in Keith Hernandez. And Darryl Strawberry, Cashen’s first pick in the 1980 draft, made his debut.

Can you picture Alderson acquiring an impact player like Keith in 2014, his fourth year? Do we have someone equal to Darryl coming up next year, followed by another Dwight Gooden the year after?

In 1962, it took a while because the nature of the game dictated that. Same goes for 1980. In today’s environment it does NOT take several years to win. If a team wants to win—and win quickly—it is attainable. Yet, Sandman is applying 1980 rules to the 21st century.

In 2012, Boston won 69 games and finished 26 GB. The following year their win total increased by 40% and they became World Champions.

Cleveland won only 68 times in 2012. In 2013, they were victorious 92 times and found themselves in the post-season.

2010 saw the Dodgers, whose front office was a dysfunctional mess, finish below 500, 12 games back. In just three years, the Dodgers had the defending World Champion Giants buried by the All-Star Break on their way to the post-season.

The 2010 Pirates lost over 100 games. In three years, after hiring a new manager with a proven track record of success, the Pirates increased their win total–57 to 72 to 79 to then 94, good enough to play in October. In three short seasons, the Pirates have transformed their team from a joke to where they are now poised to challenge STL for many years to come.

These teams can turn things around quickly. But the Mets cant?

The Marlins, in just their fifth season, became Champions. They’ve won the same number of championships in 21 years as we’ve won in 52 years.

Tampa Bay made their debut in 1998 and floundered for their first decade. Yet, in Baseball’s toughest division—with no fan support and playing in a small market–they’ve made it to the post-season four times in the last six years. The Rays have appeared in as many post-seasons in six years as the Mets have appeared in the last 28.

The Diamondbacks came into existence in 1998. The very next year they were division champions. And two years after that, in just their fourth season, they captured the World Series. The D-backs have won five division titles in 16 years while the Mets have won the same amount of division titles in 52 years. The D-backs started with NOTHING and won it all in four years. Alderson started with Reyes, Beltran, Dickey, K-Rod and Pagan. Yet, three years later, we are worse off.

alderson sandy wilpon

“Don’t worry, son. Sandy has a plan that will ensure you’ll keep the Mets.”

Enter Sandman in 2011. The Mets needed to only fill a two maybe three holes. Three years into the Alderson regime, we don’t have a closer, are still trying to find a shortstop, still searching for two starters (they have no plans to replace Harvey, any two rags will do), have an unsettled situation at first base, and our outfield is a bigger mess than my bedroom when I was seven years old.

Could any of you have imagined that after three years, that Chris Young, Ruben Tejada and Eric Young will all be everyday players?

So again I ask, “Why? Why do we need to wait for ‘the plan’ whereas fans in Boston, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Phoenix do not?

Unlike Pittsburgh, where things improved dramatically in three seasons, in Flushing things have gotten worse over that same time. In 2010, the Mets won 79 games. Since Alderson’s arrival, our wins have dropped to 77, 74 and 74. And lets face facts. If it wasn’t for Matt Harvey in 2013, we would have lost close to 100 games. With three seasons in the books, Alderson’s Mets have averaged 75 wins, 24 games out of first, and own the longest string  of consecutive losing seasons in baseball.

For five straight seasons, of which the three most recent Sandy (AKA The Fixer) has been at the helm, the Mets have finished under 500. The last time the Mets have had such a dubious stretch was 1962-1968. We did post six consecutive sub-500 seasons from ’91 to ’96 and seven from ’77 to ’83. However, those stretches included strike-shortened seasons and no one can guarantee the Mets would have finished below 500 in 1981 and 1994 for a full 162 games. (The Mets concluded the abbreviated 94 campaign just 3 games under.)

And honestly, does anyone think 2014 will end our streak of irrelevancy?

empty seats citi field turner

Where did all the Mets fans go? Where’s Mets Twitter?

Another telling sign of the Alderson regime is not only the decreased TV ratings but also the declining attendance. In five seasons, Mets attendance has shrunk by 33%, dropping from nearly 3.2 million in 2009 to just over 2.1 million this past season. This is the first time in team history attendance has decreased five straight seasons. But that’s what happens when you get rid of ‘The most exciting player in baseball’, Jose Reyes, and expect to pack in the fans with the human windmill, Ike Davis and the King of Grittiness, Justin Turner.

If Alderson wants to save money AND get fans back to Flushing, why not bring Ron and Keith down from the booth? Sure, Ron may be 53 but since only Dillon Gee won more than 9 games, I’m sure Darling would be a good #3 at least. Ronnie—put down the microphone and start loosening up! And after you walk through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to your seat, who would you be more excited to see playing 1B: A 60 year old Keith or a 27 year old Ike Davis? 60 or not, I guarantee Mex would strike out less than Ike Davis. (Just joking…kinda.)

Frank Cashen had a “plan” also. And when his plan was put in place, he was the architect behind the most successful decade in team history. Sandy Alderson has a plan…though I’m not sure what it is. He wants to rebuild the team. I guess the way things are looking we should be ecstatic if the Mets finish 500. That may very well end up being Alderson’s claim to fame. If the Mets are lucky, Alderson’s legacy will be getting the Mets back to complete mediocrity. Even as of now, that seems like a major accomplishment.

Presented By Diehards

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Braves To Tomahawk Turner Field And Open New Stadium In 2017 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/braves-to-tomahawk-turner-field-and-open-new-stadium-in-2017.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/braves-to-tomahawk-turner-field-and-open-new-stadium-in-2017.html/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:19:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132678 turner field night

The Atlanta Braves announced Monday they will leave Turner Field and move into a 42,000-seat, $672 million stadium about 10 miles from downtown Atlanta in 2017.

Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller said the team decided not to seek another 20-year lease at Turner Field and began talks with the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority in July.

The Braves released a statement to the fans on their website.

“The reason for moving is simple,” the team said. “The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates.”

“Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings.”

The Mets may be thrilled by the news given their appalling lack of success at Turner Field. Since the ballpark opened in 1997, the Mets are 50-94 at Turner and are 0-3 in post season games.

The new park in Atlanta is scheduled to open in 2017.

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In Baseball You Get What You Pay For? Not Really… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/in-baseball-you-get-what-you-pay-for-not-really.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/in-baseball-you-get-what-you-pay-for-not-really.html/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 15:33:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131259 Albert-Pujols

I was having an email discussion with one of my writers this morning about the virtues of WAR (Wins Above Replacement). It’s not a perfect stat by any means, but most of the time it gives you a fair indication of how good or bad a player performs overall.

I was kind of curious after our discussion and decided to do some research over at FanGraphs which has become one of my favorite haunts lately. In addition to some great reading backed with solid analysis, you can find numbers and rankings on just about anything you could possibly want.

But for this post, I’m going to present some research on WAR (I’m sure some of you will damn me for this) and also corresponding payrolls.

The following are the Top 10 Teams in Offensive WAR for the 2013 season:

  1. Boston Red Sox* – 36.6
  2. Tampa Bay Rays* – 30.3
  3. Oakland Athletics* – 27.6
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers* – 27.5
  5. Baltimore Orioles – 26.6
  6. Detroit Tigers* – 26.5
  7. Los Angeles Angels – 26.4
  8. San Francisco Giants – 26.3
  9. Atlanta Braves* – 25.3
  10. Cincinnati Reds* – 24.4

* Seven of the ten teams made the post season.

Only four of the top ten teams in Pitching WAR made the post season in 2013. (Surprising, huh?)

Now here are the Top 10 Teams in 2013 Payroll:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers** – $220,395,196
  2. New York Yankees  - $203,445,586
  3. Philadelphia Phillies – $170,760,689
  4. Detroit Tigers** – $148,414,500
  5. Boston Red Sox** – $140,657,500
  6. San Francisco Giants – $136,042,112
  7. Los Angeles Angels – $127,896,250
  8. Chicago White Sox – $119,573,277
  9. Toronto Blue Jays  - $117,035,100
  10. Washington Nationals  - $114,194,270

** Three of the ten teams made the post season.

It’s amazing to see low revenue teams with bottom tier payrolls ranking in the top ten in offensive production. Tampa Bay and Oakland have been doing this for years now, with the Rays checking in with a $58 million payroll and the A’s residing in the $60 million area code. Both of them were in the bottom four with only the Marlins and Astros having spent less.

Of course Billy Beane has gotten plenty of notoriety for what he’s done and still doing in the Bay Area, but one general manager you hear or read so little about is the Rays’ Andrew Friedman.

Friedman doesn’t have any screenplays being written about him, but should be equally recognized for how he manages to keep the Rays in contention year in and year out in the toughest division in baseball – the American League East.

The Houston, Texas native initially started out as the Director of Baseball Development for the Rays from 2004 to 2005, before being promoted to general manager and eventually vice president as well. Friedman took over a team that lost 101 games in 2006 and were in the World Series two seasons later.

In the six years spanning 2008-2013, the Rays have posted a 550 – 423 record with a .563 winning percentage while making four post season appearances. It could have been five post season appearances, but despite winning 90 games in 2012, they were eliminated on the last day of the season.

I hear the word “genius” thrown about way too often in describing our general manager as well as others. But lets call a spade a spade here, and admit the real star among all general managers is Andrew Friedman – and what he’s done with the few financial resources he’s been given to work with, has been nothing short of genius and spectacular.

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Ya Gotta Believe: Mets Starting Pitching Is Not Far From NL’s Elite http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/ya-gotta-believe-mets-starting-pitching-is-not-far-from-nls-elite.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/ya-gotta-believe-mets-starting-pitching-is-not-far-from-nls-elite.html/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 15:38:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130887 harvey gee wheeler

Joel Sherman lauds the Boston Red Sox offense in a piece he did for the New York Post on Monday, suggesting when all is said and done it’s the Sox’ offense that might separate them from the rest of the post season playoff contenders. According to Sherman that’s because strong pitching is a given and an almost automatic trait of every post season baseball team.

Here’s how Sherman started his column:

“The correlation between superb pitching and success remains inarguable.”

He backs up that claim by adding that when it comes to earned run average, the top five teams in the major leagues this year are the National League playoff teams. And, the correlation between strong pitching and baseball success is not limited to the senior circuit. Five of the seven best American League teams also made the post season and the top eight all had winning records.

Those numbers reinforce the Met’s effort to stockpile young quality pitching throughout their minor leagues. With the ace of the starting rotation, Matt Harvey, on the shelf next season, it’s also why the Mets must be extra cautious, extra selective in deciding to move young pitchers as trade pieces to fill position needs on other parts of the field.

When it comes to ERA, in 2013 the Mets finished in the exact middle of the National League, ranking 8th among the fifteen teams. The National League ERA average was 3.73 with the Mets team mark at 3.78.

For the most part, the Mets starting rotation fared well against the league average this summer  - a hopeful sign for our future. Of course, Harvey was off the charts with an ERA of just 2.27. But, Zack Wheeler (3.42), Dillon Gee (3.62) and Jon Niese (3.71) all finished beneath the league average mark. Those numbers are likely magnified a tad with Wheeler pitching in his rookie season; Gee getting off to a horrid start; and Niese working through early season injury issues.

Actually, in his small sample of five starts Jenrry Mejia had a sparkling 2.30 ERA, almost matching Harvey. Carlos Torres, filling the fifth rotation spot down the stretch, also finished up with a respectable 3.44 mark. This too bodes well for the Met pitching profile moving forward.

Even more encouraging were the starting pitching ERA totals, post all-star. The performance of the starting rotation during the second half was a big factor in the Mets managing to pretty much play .500 baseball throughout that stretch.

mets erabraves era

Those impressive ERA numbers helped the five primary Met starters compile a 17 win 15 loss post all-star record. The chart to the right shows the ERA of the first place Atlanta Braves over the same period of time. In terms of earned run average, the Mets starting rotation matched up well with the Division Champs even though the Braves starters went 24-15 over that stretch. That speaks to the point Sherman was making.

Once you have the elite pitching as measured by ERA, then your hitting numbers start to make a difference allowing one elite team to move beyond the others. One point of reference has to be the condition of the Met bullpen. Even though the pen pitched well during stretches, the overall quality of relief work was substandard. That’s especially the case when you consider that Bobby Parnell led the team in ERA at 2.16 and LaTroy Hawkins turned in a remarkable 2.93 ERA, 2.37 after the all-star game. The Mets long relievers and their bridges to get from the seventh inning to the eighth and the eighth inning to the ninth need attention.

The Mets first order of business in getting to the post season and Sherman’s opening premise point the path. I’m optimistic, that’s were the Met rebuild has been focused. The Mets should be cautious about changing course by trading their best natural resource, their young starting pitchers.

That means the Mets should be thinking strongly about using free agency as a strategy of upgrading the roster. International free agents are particularly appealing, probably riskier, but with a bigger upside should things work out – and they won’t cost a draft pick.

Moving our pitching staff to that elite group of the top five is doable. Once we get there we compete. Then is the time to strategically go after the bats to make some Met magic.

ya gotta believe button

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Thanks For the Me”Mo”ries http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/thanks-for-the-memories.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/thanks-for-the-memories.html/#comments Sat, 28 Sep 2013 14:40:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130191 mariano rivera

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

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

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

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

rivera

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

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

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

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

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

rivera mariano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mariano-rivera

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

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Everybody Loves Sandy… Especially the Rest of the National League http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/everybody-loves-sandy-especially-the-rest-of-the-national-league.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/everybody-loves-sandy-especially-the-rest-of-the-national-league.html/#comments Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129898 tom glavine

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

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

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

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

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

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

sad mets bench

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

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

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

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

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

frank cashen davey johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

the-myth-of-the-plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Our 100 Loss Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-our-100-loss-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-our-100-loss-season.html/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 13:05:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123659 butch-cassidy-and-the-sundance-kid-robert-redford-and-paul-newman

Over the years there have been plenty of great 1-2 combinations: Ruth and Gehrig, Spahn and Sain, Jackie and Pee Wee, Mays and McCovey, Seaver and Kooz, Newman and Redford, Fielder and Cabrera, Bonds and…Huh? Newman and Redford???

In 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Paul Newman and relative newcomer Robert Redford teamed up to star in one of the greatest and most fun westerns of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A good portion of the movie centers around Butch and Sundance eluding a posse. Frequently throughout the film, Newman and Redford are shown peering out from a cliff or looking down into a canyon trying to determine who the leader of the pursuing posse is. On several occasions an agitated Butch asks his sidekick, “Who are those guys?”

As the Mets of late have come back to life, showing some fire in the belly and willingness to fight back, I can’t help but wonder if some of the National League looks at our roster and asks the same question Paul Newman posed to Robert Redford: Who are those guys?

Let’s be honest. Matt Harvey aside, Josh Satin, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Jeremy Hefner are not exactly household names. Many thought that John Buck and Marlon Byrd were out of baseball. Most experts, pundits and fans—myself included—knew without a doubt that 2013 would be a lost season. And the first 2 ½ months were downright abysmal and frustrating.

But a funny thing happened on the way to our can’t-miss 100 loss season. The Mets have started playing solid baseball.

It was May when, while honoring the future Hall-of-Fame closer for that other NY team, little Jeffy Wilpon commented, “Wish we could see you in the World Series. But I’m sure that’s not going to happen.” In spite of Mets ownership showing no support for their own product, this season is far from over. Wilpon’s lack of “believing” (pun intended) is downright disgusting.

Maybe little Jeffy should study Mets history. The Mets had no chance in 1969 either.

matt harvey i got this

Just recently Brian Lewis of the Post brought up an issue some have started wondering about: Matt Harvey’s pitch-count. We are at the half-way point of the season and Harvey is up to 117 IP. Last year, between Buffalo and New York, Matt threw 169 1/3 innings. Currently he is on pace to toss 249. These are Sabathia-like numbers. And Sabathia is known as a workhorse, an innings eater at the end of his career. Harvey is a 24 year old kid with his entire career ahead of him.

Brian Lewis has a valid point. However, what perturbed me was he raised the issue about Harvey’s workload under the guise of the Mets being out of contention. Noah Jarosh of SB Nation argued his point of a limit on Harvey by writing, “With a post-season bid growing more unlikely by the day…” My question is Who are THESE guys? Did they go to the Jeff Wilpon School of Optimism?

Do I think the Mets can make the post-season in 2013? No way. Of course not. We have no shot. No chance. Right? Good, now that that’s settled consider this:

I’m not basing a 162 game season on a couple of weeks. However, the fact can’t be denied that the Mets have played some damn good baseball over the last two weeks. We’ve won 10 of our last 15. That’s 667 ball. There are still 82 games remaining. Plenty of time. If Harvey continues to pitch well and if Hefner and Gee can keep it together and if Zack Wheeler doesn’t get overwhelmed by the hype or messed up too much by Dan Warthen and puts up some good numbers, anything is possible.

The Mets have played .667 ball for two weeks. If we continue to do that for the rest of 2013, we will go 54-35 in the second half. That puts us at 89 wins for the year and at the doorstep of the post-season.

I’m not intoxicated as I write this. I haven’t been smoking anything funny. But here’s something else to ponder. The Mets are 35-45, 12 ½ GB of the Braves. 11 out of the wildcard.

"Positive thinking breeds positive results."  ~  Tug McGraw

Consider where we were exactly 40 years ago today. On July 3, 1973, the Mets got a serious butt-kicking at the hands of the Expos. We got soundly crushed, 19-8. In relief, Tug McGraw allowed 4 hits and 7 ER in 1 1/3 innings, raising his ERA to an astronomical 6.07. 75 games into the season—almost half-way through the year—Rusty Staub led the team in RBI’s with “whopping” 26. John Milner had 12 HR’s and only 2 guys, Felix Millan and Cleon Jones, were hitting over 280. The 19-8 drubbing to Montreal dropped the Mets to 33-42, dead last and 11 ½ games back. Yet things turned out pretty well for us.

Maybe Jeff Wilpon’s remark was correct…but in reverse. Maybe we’ll be there in October and Mariano’s Yankees wont.

Now, do I really expect us to play into late October? Do I see the 2013 Mets joining the 1969 club in the category of a Miracle? Can I picture champagne being sprayed in the clubhouse while Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson are being handed the World Series trophy by Bud Selig? No. No way. Of course not.

But I do know that there are 82 games remaining and anything can happen. Do we have a legitimate shot? I say we have as good a shot as we did in 69 or 73.

And maybe, just maybe, after this season, some American League club will be shaking their heads, scratching their chin, looking over at the celebration in the Mets locker room and asking themselves, Who were those guys?

addicted to mets button

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A Molina Home Run Followed By Two Collapses: AKA The Good Ol’ Days http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/a-molina-home-run-followed-by-two-collapses-aka-the-good-ol-days.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/a-molina-home-run-followed-by-two-collapses-aka-the-good-ol-days.html/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 12:00:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121843 mets-cardinals-2006 - CopyIn four decades of rooting for the Mets my most painful memory, without a doubt, was when Yadier Molina deposited an Aaron Heilman pitch over the wall in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. I literally could not believe what I saw. Seeing is believing—but not in this case. 2006, like 1986, was OUR year. The 162 games were a mere formality.

It took us all winter to recover but when April 07 rolled around, we were ready. Sometimes you learn and become stronger by losing. 86 was an amazin’ year, but lets not forget the fact we lost two close pennant races in 84 and 85. We’d learn, we’d grow, we’d be hungry. So obviously, 2007 would surely be our year. But it was not to be. After the Mets historical collapse, blowing a seven game lead with 17 games left, it was devastating. Choking is for OTHER teams: The Cubs in 69, the entire division in 73, Boston in the 10th inning. But still, we dusted ourselves off and looked forward to next year.

But 2008 brought more heartbreak. For the second straight year, our Mets missed the wild card by one game on the very last day of the season.

That period was undoubtedly the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching three year span in team history. But man oh man, what I wouldn’t give to be in that situation again. I view those years as a great movie…that just had a bad ending.

The Mets fan base is an interesting bunch. Since our inception, we’ve never expected much. Look, if we wanted to win every year, we’d be Yankee fans. The difference between us and them is simple: Yankee fans feel anything less than the post-season is a failure. On the flip-side, Mets fans are generally content finishing at .500.

We don’t ask for a dynasty. We don’t hunger for 20 straight division titles or however many the Braves won. Cardinal fans have seen their team competing year-in and year-out since the 1930′s. San Francisco waited over fifty years for their first title. Yet, they have always had solid fan support.

But us? We just ask for competitive baseball. Just give us a good team. Not great. Good. Fun to watch. And maybe an actual pennant race thrown in once in awhile for good measure. That’s all we ask. Yet, we can’t even get that from the Wilpons and Alderson.

Those of us who witnessed the Seaver/Koosman days always hold it close to our heart. But think about it. In the 8 years from 69 to 76, we got just 1 championship and 2 pennants. Yet, the sweet cherished memories are recalled fondly. We talk about the 80’s as if we were the Yankees of the 1920’s. However, we only managed one World Series and one division title. The reason these years are so special for us is NOT because we won a string of championships, NOT because we dominated the league year after year. Rather, we were good. Competitive. From 69 through 76 and from 84 through 90, we knew we at least had a shot.

Those feelings of hope are now long gone. 162 games of Mets baseball is no longer fun and enjoyable, but seems more like six months of torture. In the mid 80’s, even if the Mets trailed, you could just FEEL that we’d win. It was not a matter of IF we’d win, but HOW we’d win. Over the last few years, even if the Mets are leading late, we expect the worst. We anticipate the bullpen blowing a lead or someone making an error that opens the floodgates.

124730502_display_image - Copy

Yes, we’d love to be Champions…but we’d be content with just being good and respectable. Me personally? I’d love to go through the pain and heartbreak of 06, 07, and 08 all over again. It sucked at the time. But it was nice to be oh-so-close. Ask yourself: Would you rather see the Mets lose the Wild Caed in game 162 or basically being out of it by Memorial Day.

Sandy Alderson’s first season was 2011. Since that time, our attendance and our wins have gone down while disgust and contempt has gone up. It was just 2007, not really that long ago, where the Mets were considered the powerhouse of the NL East. For once, WE were the team to beat. Yet, since Alderson has taken over, not only have we not been competitive and not only have we fans become an embittered and sour bunch, but we haven’t even played a meaningful game after the All-Star Break.

Last season we surprised some people by staying in the thick of things for the first half. But we then faltered badly. This season has been a monumental failure almost since Opening Day. I mention about the good ol’ days of 06-08. Hell, I can even refer to the good ol’ days of 2012 where, at least for a little while, we had hope. Hope– something that doesn’t exist anymore.

To Sandy, Fred and Jeff—we’re not asking for a dynasty or to dominate the league for 5 straight years. Just a decent product, a team we could support and feel excited about. That’s all. We’d be happy with that. But as we are in the midst of season number three with Alderson, not only does a championship appear nowhere on the horizon, but even respectability seems like an impossible dream.

As I said earlier, 06-08 was like a great movie that just had a bad ending. Now, with the current state of this team, we are just a bad movie. Period. If the 2013 Mets were a movie, I’d walk out of the theater after 20 minutes and ask for a refund.

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Memorable Mets Moments: Fonzie Goes Six for Six! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/memorable-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/memorable-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/#comments Sun, 28 Apr 2013 14:30:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115695 edgardo alfonzo white jerseyEdgardo Alfonzo remains one of the most beloved Mets alumni, both for his post-season heroics (e.g. 3 HR’s including a ninth inning grand slam in the space of two vital 1999 playoff games against the Reds and Diamondbacks), and his role as part of the “Best Infield Ever” as dubbed by Sports Illustrated. His flexibility as a player made him an invaluable asset to the team which moved him from his original spot at second base over to third, back to second upon the signing of Robin Ventura, and then to third again with the trade that brought Roberto Alomar into the fold. Despite a modicum of grousing due to all the defensive shifts, he provided consistent quality play during one of the upswing periods in Mets history.

As a batsman, Fonzie developed in almost textbook fashion before the delighted eyes of fans. Coming up, he had a reputation for a good eye at the plate, some evidence of moderate power, and the ability to make contact. Following his major league debut in 1995, the young Venezuelan worked diligently to refine his game both in the field and at the plate. By 1999, he had blossomed into one of the league’s premier middle infielders, hitting over .300 and slugging over .500 for the first time in his career. His peak game, and likely the peak offensive game by any Met, came in late August of that year as the Mets were heading toward a post-season berth under the guidance of Bobby Valentine.

The team was in Houston for a series against the Astros during their last go-round in the vast dimensions of the Astrodome. The following year, the team would move to the bandbox originally known as Enron Field (or “Ten Run Field” to fans for its propensity to produce high scoring games) and now dubbed Minute Maid Park. In stark contrast to the home run haven the Astros now inhabit, the ‘Dome was a pitcher’s dream and a slugger’s graveyard. Not only was the field characterized by expansive proportions, the roof insured that the very atmosphere itself was endowed with what batters swore was a deadening effect. But it was in this most unlikely of settings that the Mets’ version of the Fonz chose to put on perhaps the greatest display of slugging in team history.

1999 was a bumper year for runs scored by the Mets as they pushed 853 across the plate, good for 5th in the league and still the club record for a single season. Even 40 year-old leadoff batter Rickey Henderson was having a renaissance year, batting over .300 for the first time since in four campaigns. On the night of August 30 of that year, the team would rack up a run tally that was impressive even by the standards of that era, blasting the Houston squad by a score of 17-1.

The key figure in the onslaught was Edgardo Alfonzo who began his evening by rocketing a solo home run his first time up to give the Mets an early lead. After the Astros were retired in order in the bottom of the first, the New Yorkers erupted for six additional runs in the next inning with Alfonzo contributing a single and a run scored in the process. He then homered in his next two at-bats registering a two-run shot in the fourth and another solo round-tripper in the sixth. After collecting his second single of the game in the eight amidst another rally, he came up for a final time in the ninth. Urged by his teammates to shoot for the elusive 4-homer mark, he banged a shot off the right field wall for a run-scoring double, missing another 4-bagger by a matter of a few feet.

All told, Fonzie had recorded 6 hits in as many at-bats including 3 HR’s and a double. In the process he set Mets club records for hits, runs, and total bases in a game as well as collecting 5 RBI. Naturally, his performance set off the stat freaks at Elias who determined that the only other player to accomplish a comparable feat was none other than Ty Cobb some 74 years prior when he also recorded a 3 homer, 1 double, 2 single game against the St. Louis Browns.

Fonzie and Cobb, Cobb and Fonzie. A rather exclusive club with one member a Met.

edgardo alfonzo

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The Problem With the Aggregate Approach to Offense http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-problem-with-the-aggregate-approach-to-offense.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-problem-with-the-aggregate-approach-to-offense.html/#comments Wed, 20 Mar 2013 18:16:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111283 One of my favorite sci-fi flicks is Star Trek: First Contact. The first 20 minutes are some of the greatest deep-space action sequences I’ve ever seen, but what makes the movie great, of course, is the villainous Borg. The Borg function as a hive, they are profoundly creepy in an elemental way, they make us wonder about ourselves and our deterministic exceptionalist tendencies as a species. Maybe we’re doomed to be swallowed up by some sort of advanced ant-like social collective. Like Stephen Hawking says, if an alien species were to actually make contact, we’d be toast. Scary stuff.

baseball_glove_ball_and_bat

You know what’s scarier than an alien invasion? I think the Borg have taken over statistical analysis in Major League Baseball. There is a collectivism in the approach to team statistics that would make a Borg Queen blush. The famous Billy Beane paradigm where they try to build Jason Giambi by incorporating the sum of his parts into several cheaper players, a Frankenstat-Giambi if you will, has resulted in a tendency to look at team offense in the aggregate more so today than at any other time in the history of the game. The extent to which front offices have applied these attempts to build statistical by-products into their offensive attacks would make Mary Shelly proud.

On a more theoretical plain, when looking at an aggregate (the macro-level) you invariably dilute the significance of the exceptional (the micro-level). Would you miss the significance of a Vladimir Guererro in your lineup as a result? I should hope not, but by focusing on collective stats such as OBP (because they run up pitch counts and wear out opposing starters), you may miss the individual contributions of exceptional performers. For instance, if you look at a Mariner’s mediocre at best offensive performance as a whole you might miss the remarkable achievements of Ichiro Suzuki. Does it matter if in the end the team reaches the same statistical milestones? Well, that’s what I’d like to try and answer.

What if you took two teams with comparable statistical outcomes, but one reflected a more balanced performance across all members of the lineup while the other had a few players who performed poorly and a few who were truly exceptional “superstar” types. Which is better? The end result, the aggregate, is more or less equal, in terms of runs scored, OBP, slugging, but the two differ in how they got there.

Lets look at two teams with some comparable aggregate statistics.

OBP

BB%

AVG

Runs

WAR

Team 1

.315

7.9

.251

669

25.9

Team 2

.319

8.8

,247

651

25.6

With a few exceptions these two teams are fairly similar, in fact they are ranked in succession offensively on fangraphs. Team 2 has a slightly higher OBP and walk rate while team 1 has a slightly higher AVG  and a few more runs. One major difference, however, is payroll. Team 1 has a payroll of $82,203,616 with an average salary of $2,935,843, while team 2 has a payroll of  $55,244,700 with an average salary of $1,973,025. Team 2 ended up with some remarkably comparable aggregate statistics for 27 million less in annual salary.

Some of you may have already guessed at the identity of team 2 by their payroll, they are of course Alderson’s old team the San Diego Padres, and they reflect the kind of on-base presence we’re used to with Alderson’s teams.

Team 1 is a playoff team that packs a whole lot more star power, they are the Cincinnati Reds. They sport a perennial MVP hitter at the center of their lineup not to mention some major power threats. The aggregate effect of their talent is more concentrated in a few truly exceptional players and is less the blanket product of a trickled down organizational principle.

Teams historically have attempted to piece-meal collective benchmarks into their lineups that they could not otherwise afford were these accomplishments a product of individual players.Teams like the Twins, the A’s, and the Braves have spent modestly, drafted wisely, and have developed consistently serviceable major league players, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. These three teams have made the post season a whopping 33 times since 1975, but for all these appearances they have only 4 World titles between them. Seems like a statistical anomaly when for much of that time they were competing in a 4 team tournament doesn’t it? Good but not good enough in the post season — lacking those exceptional (and expensive) talents that might have pushed them over the top.

The problem is that lots of guys in the minors have a good eye but there aren’t that many Miguel Cabreras. Sure you can draft and develop with an eye on clogging the bases, and this approach might even get you to the playoffs, but once there who would you rather have come up in a tight spot against Matt Cain, Yonder Alonso and his .348 OBP or Joey Votto? Yonder might carry you during the regular season when you’re going up against league average more often than not, but I think you want Votto in there if you’re facing Roy Halladay in a deciding game. Institutionalized directives such as Alderson’s OBP bias and Beane’s desire to spread around dismembered Jason Giambis are all fine and dandy until the poop hits the fan and you end up staring down a Justin Verlander fastball. When the aggregate is equal, exceptional talent is the tiebreaker … the player who can actually hit a Verlander fastball out of the park or who can actually strike out Cabrera.

Exceptional talent must be met with exceptional talent if you want to win the big prize. There is simply no way around that. The Padres played “Alderson-ball” right up there with the Reds, they walked, they got on base, they hit, they even scored a similar number of runs, but in the end they sure didn’t win as many games. Why? While the Padres were able to perform according to many of the tenets of Alderson’s offensive philosophy, they didn’t have the exceptional abilities that the Reds have in other offensive domains, namely slugging and power skill sets that are considerably more expensive to procure. 

HR

RBI

H

SLG

W-L

Reds

172

636

1377

.411

97 – 65

Padres

121

610

1339

.380

76 – 86

What does all this mean for the Mets? Building from the farm is great, being more selective and improving plate discipline system wide is terrific and may win lots of games. During the regular season an aggregate effect spread across a given lineup may wear down lesser opponents more often then not, but if you want to win big you have to augment with free agents possessing those harder to come by skill sets. If we ever wish to reach the promised land again our owners are going to have to open their wallets and spend big on the exceptional, those select few who can put you over the top.

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Surveying The Mets Landscape One Area At A Time http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/11/surveying-the-mets-landscape-one-area-at-a-time.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/11/surveying-the-mets-landscape-one-area-at-a-time.html/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 18:10:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98181

What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.

Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.

So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it… Don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.

Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?

First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.

Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity?  Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.

Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.

Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.

Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.

Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.

Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.

Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…

Progress?

In truth this team is on a four-year down-slide and not many arrows are pointing up. Sure, this administration is now limited to working with a payroll of $100 million dollars, but that’s ample enough for many teams who consistently go to the post season with a much smaller budget.

Yes, the Mets have been hogtied by players with huge contracts that effected their flexibility, but in the last two seasons alone we’ve seen many such players traded by more progressive and forward thinking front offices who had the same exact constraints. The difference is they took action and did something about it for the future good of their teams.

A good GM does what needs to be done and succeeds with the resources he is given. If all we needed was a caretaker to oversee whatever you want to call the last two years, we may have as well brought in a front office that wasn’t getting paid more than any other just to stand at a podium with their mitts in their pockets crying “there’s nothing we can do.”

But the fact of the matter is that everyone in that front office knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. Unfortunately, they have fallen far short of the rosy picture they painted in November of 2010 when they predicted the Mets would be a championship caliber team by 2014. Now who seriously believes that?

A new GM always promises a brighter future when he takes on a new job. In almost every case they are all inheriting a team with a tarnished image and a roster full of under-performing and overpaid players with no help on the horizon. When they first get in front of all those mics during his introductory press conference rule number one is to promise that better days are coming. 99 times out of 100 they will tell you when you can expect to see the results of carrying out their new direction and philosophy. When Omar Minaya was introduced to New Yorkers, he promised that the Mets would be back in the post season in five years. He did it in two, and it should have been a three year run if not for an ill-fated at-bat and one horrid pitching performance. The point is we had results at the major league level, and we suddenly had a farm that was churning out baseball players (and still is).

You want to blame the owners for saying “hey we’re cutting payroll to $100 million dollars over the next two years, do you still want the gig?”

You want to blame owners who spent and invested more money on the Mets during the 1990′s and the 2000′s than any other team in the NL?

If it makes you feel good go ahead. But I’d bet anything that a different and more progressive and forward-thinking GM might have made some great lemonade with the lemons he was given. That’s all I’m saying.

There is no success here right now and nobody is pounding their chests because the organization is moving in a new and exciting direction. It’s not happening and the sooner you open your eyes and survey the landscape, the better it will be for you.

Shea Stadium may have once been called Grant’s Tomb, but the city morgue has had more life in it than Citi Field under Alderson’s tenure. It’s become a Potter’s Field.

For those of you who want to deflect all responsibility from the front office to the owners, were you parading up and down Broadway holding a Wilpon for Mayor sign in 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000 and 2006? I’m assuming you didn’t. Nobody cries about ownership when a team is winning, all the credit goes to the GM. But turn the tables around and suddenly it’s the owners who are the villains. How dare they spend $1 billion dollars in the last eight years… How dare they take all the risks, get none of the rewards in good times, and get hung out to dry by their big toes when calamity strikes. Such is life in the Big Apple.

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I Hope The Nationals Go Down In Flames For Shutting Down Strasburg http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/i-hope-the-nationals-go-down-in-flames-for-shutting-down-strasburg.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/i-hope-the-nationals-go-down-in-flames-for-shutting-down-strasburg.html/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2012 14:57:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98406

We never got a chance to discuss the pros and cons of the Washington Nationals shutting down their ace Stephen Strasburg who they opted not to include on their post season roster. It was a bold move to say the least by Nats GM Mike Rizzo, but was it the right call?

Bob Nightengale of USA Today asked some rival GM’s what their thoughts were, and not only did all of them call it a bad move, but there was a lot of resentment and anger in what they had to say.

After yesterday’s embarrassing 8-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nats find themselves on the brink of elimination and trail 2-1 in the National League Division Series. But there was no pity for them from rival GM’s who all say the Nationals got what they deserve.

“If we don’t win the World Series, I don’t care who does,” one general manager told USA TODAY Sports, “as long as it’s not those guys.

“They don’t deserve to win it. Not after what they did.”

Said a National League GM: “I hope they go down in flames. I hope it takes another 79 years before they get back to the playoffs. That’s how strongly I feel about it.”

Wow, I guess people are willing to say anything as long as it’s done anonymously, I’d love to know who these GM’s were?

Better yet, I wonder how sandy Alderson would play this if he were in the same situation…

Lets assume “Hell Freezes Over”, “Pigs Fly”, and “Bears Didn’t Shit In The Woods”. Lets assume the Mets clinched a wild card spot next season. Lets further assume Alderson shut’s down an utterly dominating Zack Wheeler who was 17-2 with a 1.76 ERA  because he reached his innings limit. Would you be okay with that?

What really pissed other GM’s off was when Rizzo said no matter what happens, “We’ll be back, we’ll be doing this a couple more times.”

Nightengale said it was the quote “heard round the baseball world”, with general managers and executives making sure everyone saw it.

Who do they think they are, the Yankees? Are the Philadelphia Phillies going to defect from the NL East? Are the Atlanta Braves retiring with Chipper Jones?

What if the Nationals don’t get back during Strasburg’s stay in Washington? What if this is their best chance to ever get to the Series? How do you live with that?

We haven’t heard the last of this as Nightengale also warns that Nationals players, particularly veterans, have grumbled and might sound off more once they depart.

National’s Game 4 starter Ross Detwiler has the weight of the world on his shoulders tonight.

As for my thoughts on all of this?

I’m with that general manager who hopes they go down in flames. I hope they don’t see the post season for the rest of this century and that their drought will forever be known as “The Strasburg Curse”. I have very little tolerance for any general manager who takes competing, winning,  and especially the post season for granted. That’s why I’m always keeping both eyes on Alderson. Until he starts using words like “wild card”, “world series”, and “championships” as part of his regular vocabulary. Those are the only words that will grab my attention.

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Don’t Expect A 1973 Finish, With This Front Office http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/dont-expect-a-1973-finish-with-this-front-office.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/dont-expect-a-1973-finish-with-this-front-office.html/#comments Sat, 28 Jul 2012 14:24:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=90276

YOGI BERRA: It’ Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over.

The season is three months and 27 days old as of today. The Mets have spent only ten of those days with a losing record and by that I mean sub .500. And in that regard today the Mets are only a whopping three games under .500.

In 1973, after 99 games the Mets were 44-55, eleven games under .500 and they would go on to lose the next two games to put them in last place with a 44-57 record. It was their low-water mark that season.

There were no Wild Cards back then. There were six teams in the NL East not five and the only way to go to the post season was to win the division.

With the Mets on the brink of mathematical elimination, manager Yogi Berra held a team meeting in hopes for a last ditch effort to impart some wisdom on a team that stopped believing they were going anywhere that season. Yogi, a true champion, had been in this position countless times before in his career and he knew all about finishing strong and amazing comebacks. Then some joker in the back of the clubhouse where they were all gathered, started jumping up and down like a nut and screaming “Ya gotta believe! Ya gotta believe”. It was Tug McGraw.

The Mets were 13 games under .500 and they had to jump five teams to get into the post season. They went on to go 38-21 the rest of the way to win the NL East and came within one out of winning game seven of the World Series against Reggie Jackson and the Oakland Athletics.

TUG MCGRAW: What’s 14 games under .500, that’s nothing. Ya gotta believe…

These Mets are three games under .500 and if they beat the Diamondbacks tonight, only three other teams are in front of them for the post-season, not five.

Yesterday, Terry Collins made an interesting comment after the game and it wasn’t about Matt Harvey, it was about Josh Edgin. “He’s unbelievable. He hates to lose and gushes with enthusiasm. That’s a major league reliever right there, that young man belongs. I only wonder where we would be right now if we had him here a lot sooner.”

Matt Harvey was spectacular and I’ll go out on a limb and say at some point he will give up some earned runs, but what an addition and what an opening performance.

Most fans never believed in this team. I was the only one among our staff of 30 who picked the Mets to win that second wild card. April, May and June only backed up my faith and I took it as a small reward for for staying true to the essense of what it means to be a Mets fan – believing.

I’m still mad that we have a front office who see the game through LCD monitors and don’t dream out loud like Gil Hodges, Tug McGraw and even Terry Collins do. When fans dare to be so bold they’re referred to as quacks.

SANDY ALDERSON: We’ill have plenty of money to spend mid-season if this team needs help.

It’s always easier to believe the worst of something or someone than to believe the best because it would be an admission that you’re the closed minded one and nobody likes to be painted in such a haughty role.

So here we are, with our chances significantly better than they were in 1973, but with a front office and a majority of the fanbase that since opening day has been in “sell mode” and “I dont believe in this team mode”. And they are brazen enough to admit it!

Too bad for the players – a rag-tag group put together from scraps and pieces much like the 1973 version.

There were no 20-game winners on the Mets that year. Their bullpen had an ERA of over 4.00 which would equate to 5.00 these days. Only one batter finished the season with over 20 home runs – John Milner. Rusty Staub led the team with 76 RBIs. Buddy Harrelson was our leadoff hitter and shortstop and batted .248 and stole five bases. Eddie Kranepool batted fifth in the order and his performance makes Jason Bay look Ruthian. Krane hit one home run all season with 38 RBI. Want to compare them to this year’s version?

Yesterday, Mike Puma of the NY Post reported that a team source told him the Mets were still looking for a catcher and reliever – however small ones. Small ones?

When I think of what things might have been like with a visionary at the helm instead of a Harvard Lawyer who is guilty of Lip Service in the First Degree, I can’t help. but think what this team could have accomplished and how far it could have gone with just a minimum of help from our Commander in Chief.

Sorry, there I go being negative again…

]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/dont-expect-a-1973-finish-with-this-front-office.html/feed/ 0 MMO Fan Shot: Pinky and The Brain http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/mmo-fan-shot-pinky-and-the-brain.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/mmo-fan-shot-pinky-and-the-brain.html/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 19:31:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=62044 For the purposes of my little demonstration, former Mets GM Omar Minaya will be cast in the role of Pinky, while world-renowned genius Sandy Alderson assumes the role of The Brain.

Sandy Alderson – Last six seasons as a GM

New York Mets
2011 – 77-85

Oakland A’s
1997 – 65-97
1996 – 78-84
1995 – 67-77
1994 – 51-63
1993 – 68-94

Total 406 Wins and 500 Losses – 94 games UNDER .500.

Six losing seasons in six years.

No post season appearances.

Omar Minaya – Last six seasons as a GM

New York Mets
2005 – 83-79
2006 – 97-65
2007 – 88-74
2008 – 89-73
2009 – 70-92
2010 – 79-83

Total 506 Wins – 466 Losses – 40 games OVER .500.

Four winning seasons in six years. One post season appearance.

Do the math!

This Fan Shot was submitted by Met Maniac. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Submit your own Fan Shot to us at GetMetsmerized@aol.com 

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TRON: Legacy – How I Came To Admire Carlos Beltran http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/08/tron-legacy-how-i-came-to-admire-carlos-beltran.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/08/tron-legacy-how-i-came-to-admire-carlos-beltran.html/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2011 18:44:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=56285

How cool is that Tron graphic from Kelly? I asked her if she would make me a cool graphic to go with my post and in a matter of nano seconds she emails me this. All Mets sites feature great posts to read, but to have artwork like Kelly’s mixed in with all of our rants and raves really adds a different character and flair to MMO. Thanks Kelly.

After many great posts from my fellow bloggers here, I thought it was time to give you my take on the Carlos Beltran trade and what he meant to me as player and person, and close out what has been a phenomenal Carlos Beltran Appreciation week at MMO.

Like Ed and Kelly, Beltran was by far my favorite Mets player on the team. It’s been that way since 2005 when he joined the team. He replaced the void that once belonged to Mike Piazza who had been my favorite current Met until he moved on.

It was easy for me to root for Beltran because as a Met fan, I’ve learned to love rooting for the underdogs. After the rude welcome to the New York Mets by gasbags like Joe Beningo and Mike Lupica, and the ensuing mass-negativity that would follow, I knew Beltran was going to be my guy. With the deck stacked against him from jump street, plus a new big contract, and then the weight of a fanbase starving for another post season on his shoulders, it was easy for me to view Beltran as the underdog and thus began my personal journey between me and Tron.

I still remember the day when Omar Minaya was introduced by Fred Wilpon, and Minaya laid out his vision for bringing the Mets back to the post season. He said it would take five years to get back there, but he obviously didn’t know at the time that he would be the winner of that offseason’s Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. Apologies to Yankees and Astros fans.

Things got off to a shaky start for No. 15. as unrealistic fan expectations, several injuries including a devastating outfield collision with Mike Cameron, and a never-ending bashing in the media, all contributed to a less than stellar 2005 season. During the last game of that season, one look at Beltran’s face and you could see he had just been put through an emotional wringer – he looked like he had aged ten years. The smile on his face was gone. Welcome to the Big Apple, Carlos.

What a difference a year can make… By the time Opening Day in 2006 rolled around, Beltran-Bashing had reached a fever-pitch in New York. Radio and cable-TV sportstalk blasted Beltran daily - calling him out for being soft, for being overrated, and even for being Latino, and fans were buying into it in droves. It was an ugly time for being a Mets fan, especially a Met fan like me who had just got his brand new Carlos Beltran jersey that Christmas. I couldn’t believe he was being treated and portrayed so poorly.

It didn’t take long before some of those haters were jumping back on the Mets bandwagon as after a slow April start (4 HR, 11 RBI), Beltran delivered a huge month in May (10 HR, 26 RBI) and was now in the top five in about a dozen different offensive categories in the NL, and well on his way to an MVP caliber season. Together with Carlos Delgado, they formed a powerful tandem and after one year of rebuilding, the New York Mets were now in the thick of a post season run and were the top team in the NL East. Beltran would hit a franchise best 41 home runs with 116 RBIs, 127 runs, 38 doubles and 18 steals in one of the best all around seasons in Mets history. He would also win his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and finish 4th in the MVP voting that season.

Beltran led the Mets to their first post season since 2000 that year, and for all the grief Mets fans have given him for that called third strike in game seven of the NLCS, the fact of the matter is that Beltran outplayed everyone in that series. The Mets won Game 1 of the NLCS 2-0 as Tom Glavine and Jeff Weaver locked horns in a pitchers duel. All the scoring came courtesy of 2-run blast by Carlos Beltran, who also made a tremendous play in the outfield – doubling off Albert Pujols at first base with a laser to Delgado.

In Game 4, with the Mets down 2-1 in the series, Carlos Beltran powered the Mets to a 12-5 thrashing of the Cardinals to even the series. Beltran was on base all five times going 3-3 with two walks, four runs scored and jolting another 2-run homer, his second in the series.

Then there’s Game 7 – that’s the game the Mets lost 3-1 with the only run from the Mets coming from Carlos Beltran who doubled and scored in the first inning. Despite a record breaking season, and an NLCS in which he posted a 1.054 OPS in 27 at-bats, Beltran was singled out for simply making the last out in a hard fought series. Never mind his 8 runs scored, his 3 home runs, and his being on base 12 times in seven games, blame Beltran.

In the next two seasons, Beltran would go on to rack up 73 doubles and 60 home runs while driving in 224 runs and scoring 209 in 2007-2008. He also stoled 48 bases and earned two more Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. But the stigma of that Adam Wainwright curveball was simply too much to overcome for most Mets fans, and sadly his heroics were always met with a subdued calm instead of an exuberant celebration. Sadly, that said more about many Mets fans than it did Carlos Beltran.

In 2009, a misdiagnosed knee injury led to what might have been Beltran’s best season as a Met. When the Mets finally shut Beltran down toward the end of the first half, he was leading the National League with a .338 batting average and a .423 on-base as well as doubles and extra-base hits. Unfortunately, what the Mets diagnosed as simple knee sprain and treated with a cortisone shot, ended up being a serious bone bruise. He would eventually miss more than half the season and although he tried to come back at the end after the Mets treated him with just rest, he would sit out the last remaining games and was prescribed more rest as treatment during the offseason. Bad idea.

The 2010 season couldn’t have started any worse for Carlos Beltran as the Mets organization unfairly attacked him for seeking a second opinion on his knee that had now swollen to twice it’s size and was a constant source of pain. The Mets went ballistic when Beltran proceeded with surgery to repair it even when it was proven that their own medical doctor gave the approval, and that GM Omar Minaya admitting he knew about it and wished his centerfield luck the night before. The Mets would spend the rest of that season portraying Beltran in a bad light at every chance they got. He now not only had a fanbase and a belligerent New York media railing against him, but the Mets owners and front office too, and they used their network SNY to do a daily hatchet job on Beltran all through the end of the season. It didn’t really matter to Beltran, and while it must have hurt him deeply, he never uttered a bad word about his team, the fans or the media, and he continued to pursue every opportunity to help the community here in New York or abroad in his hometown of Puerto Rico with many different charitable events, many of which MMO was honored to cover.

When the 2010 season finally ended, so did the tenures of Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins were tabbed to replace them. but the biggest story of the offseason wasn’t them, it was Carlos Beltran and his knee and whether or not he would move to right field to help the team. For months this debate fueled sportstalk shows on radio and cable TV until Spring Training arrived and Carlos Beltran would shut all the pundits and talking heads up. Beltran walked into the new managers office and said he would voluntarily play right field much to the shock and ultimate adoration of Terry Collins who lauded him for selfless act.

Of course than the conversation shifted to how many games will Beltran play a week, and how many days can he play until his knee would give out again – just the usual trash journalism. But as has always been the case, Carlos Beltran would once again shut up the always ignorant media and go on to post an MVP caliber season and actually lead the team in games played. Yes, you read that right. Carlos Beltran had become the Mets’ Iron Man.. So lets get rid of him.

The writing was on the wall and Beltran was now a marked man. With every swing of his mighty bat, his value continued to soar, and this under-appreciated Mets all-star was writing his own ticket out of town.

The truth is, Beltran needed to go. Not for all the reasons that have been regurgitated countless times on blogs, radio and TV, but because it really was time for Beltran to shake the dust of this town off of him and go someplace where his talents and his good nature will be more appreciated.

New York took a great player, chewed him up and spit him out, and yet they never dulled his shine. The experience never affected his ability to give back. Even in leaving, he did so with class. He thanked the Wilpons, for what I do not know. He thanked the front office who was bent on getting rid of him from day one. He thanked the manager who I know will sincerely miss his right fielder. And of course he thanked all his teammates who were all saddened and shocked to see him go. His final words?

“The Mets did the right thing. I don’t blame them. They tried to do what they felt was best for the team. I’m happy for them”

Yes, the Mets were being selfish. Not Beltran… He was being what he always was. A class act whose mark was left in the Mets record books, and whose spirit touched everyone that was privileged enough to play with him. You don’t believe me? Just ask the players.

Farewell No. 15.

This concludes our week-long tribute to Carlos Beltran. I want to thank everyone on MMO who contributed, and of course I want to thank all of you for reading and interacting with us.

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