This is Walter Tkaczuk, my favorite New York Ranger of all time. Tkaczuk was one of the great all around players in the NHL in the 1970’s. He could score a goal, set up a goal, win face-offs and was a top notch defender. The NY Rangers are one win away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Walter played on the the Rangers ’72 team that lost in the Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins and the ’79 Rangers who lost to the Montreal Canadians in that years Cup Finals. The Rangers are known for having many of the past players around as they celebrate the history of the team. I haven’t seen Tkaczuk around lately, hopefully the Rangers get this one win and make it to the Finals and #18 makes it to RANGERSTOWN!
My sports fan attention has been on the NY Rangers and the unbelievable story they are writing with this fantastic run to the Stanley Cup Finals. This Rangers team all season has played hard and dealt with an early season schedule that would have most teams loading up on excuses to explain their failure. So it was with a peripheral view that I have been watching the Mets these past few weeks.
So yesterday I sat back and watched/listened to most of the Mets-Pirates game. I sat in my yard and let Howie and Josh paint the picture for me about Jacob deGrom and his fantastic start. I then went inside for a few minutes and then decided to watch the last few innings of the game on TV with Gary Cohen and the always entertaining and informative Keith Hernandez.
Hernandez was so happy that the Terry Collins had left deGrom in to pitch the top of the 7th even though he was over the magical 100 pitches plateau. But as the inning went on deGrom had 2 outs but the 122 pitches seemed to sap him, Collins called on Jeurys Familia to get the 3rd out. He did, striking out reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen. So we go to the bottom of the 8th Mets up 2-0 and Familia ready to pitch the bottom of the ………………..wait hold on……………..that’s not Familia coming to the plate……………it’s………it’s………it’s…………CHRIS YOUNG??????
Why take out Familia? He pitched to one batter in the 7th, so why not have him start the 8th since your bullpen is short due to Jenry Mejia not available after pitching both ends of the double header and for some unexplained reason Vic Black was sent back to Vegas instead of sending back the unneeded Matt den Decker? As much as Terry Collins misused the personnel in the pen that he had, you have to question Sandy Alderson for not keeping Black here. Makes no sense.
So of course the game goes to shit as Scott Rice gives up a solo homer to pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez, hitting for Ike Davis by the way, so it shows Clint Hurdle doesn’t think Ike is all that either. Rice steady’s himself and gets 2 outs but here comes Terry Collins out of the dugout to call on Jose Valverde to get a 4 out save? WOW? Really?
What happened next was soooooo predictable; Valverde gives up 4 runs to make a 2-1 Mets lead turn into a Pirates 5-2 lead. Oh yeah then Collins went to Carlos Torres. A little late Terry.
After watching that debacle and clearing my head for Rangers thoughts, I went back to my yard to grill some steaks. I turned on the radio I keep in the garage to listen to the Mets post game show. When I flipped the switch, and exasperated Seth Everett, told listens to stand by as Sandy Alderson was about to address the media.
When I heard Alderson say “we are making a change “I was stunned thinking “holy shit he fired Collins” no it we were told that hitting coach Dave Hudgens was fired as was Jose Valverde .
I’m was a bit surprised about Hudgens, although we had heard some rumblings at Citi Field last week that players were not happy with his hitting philosophy and wished he was a bit more hands on with the mechanics of hitting. That’s the reason Luis Natera was brought in as his assistant to work on mechanics while Hudgens preached the Alderson Doctrine of Hitting.
The problems with the Mets hitting goes beyond Hudgens, Their biggest problem is between the ears of the players. The hitters lack a positive mindset when it comes to what needs to be done in the batter’s box. It’s never the player’s fault that they wilt in the box with men on base. They blame the configuration of Citi Field, the fans negative reaction to their failures and the organizational hitting philosophy for their short comings. It’s the not the ball park, the fans, or the philosophy that’s the problem, its’ the lack of offensive talent on the roster that’s bringing this team down.
Alderson can fire coaches and the manager but until he gets rid of players who are just not mentally tough enough to play in NYC then the losing seasons will go on and on. Mickey Mantle was booed. Darryl Strawberry was booed. Reggie Jackson was booed. Eli Manning with 2 Super Bowl wins and 2 Super MVP’s was booed last year, so please spare me playing the boo card. Hell, there aren’t enough fans in the Citi Field stands to work up a good hate, there all in the luxury clubs sipping cocktails. I don’t think many Mets fans give a shit about this team to waste a good booing on them.
The thing to watch with the Hudgens axing is that he was an Alderson guy. So was this firing a hit ordered by the Wilpon’s ? If it was, what happens to Collins who is now on notice that he’s the next to be jettisoned? Make no mistake about this, this is the first time in his Mets managerial stint that Collins is on the hot seat and that seat gets more en fuego with every loss. We will know if the owners are controlling the moves if Wally Backman gets the skippers job. Wally is a Jeff Wilpon production.