It Was The Best Of Nights, The Worst Of Night’s At Citi Field

The photo was from Mets Merized Online and taken by Clayton Collier who also has a great write up of the Q & A the Mets Bloggers conducted with Phil Niekro, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield

It was another Mets blogger-rattzi day at Citi Field yesterday and it was almost the best bloggers day ever. I say almost because there was an unfortunate incident late in the game that put a damper on the events of the day. Josh Edgin and Andres Torres with his ability to kill a rally with a signal ground ball, played the sad clowns. So instead of all of us heading home with the wonderful memory of chatting with 86er Barry Lyons, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield along with an outstanding performance by the 2012 winner of the Clff Floyd Light At The End Of The Tunnel Award Matt Harvey, the lasting image of the day was a Ryan Howard 2 run home run off closer of the day Edgin.

The day started with Terry Collins and his daily FEMA update on his club. Collins is the definition of a ‘fox hole guy”, as bad as this team is, as inept as they are at the basic fundamentals of baseball, as dismal as the outlook for next season appears, Collins still talks about his players being talented and how they are playing out the season to the fullest and those of us in the conference room feel our pant legs getting drenched from being pissed on but being told it’s just condensation from the air conditioning unit.

So after a few eye roles we head out to the field to watch and schmooze while our heroes stretch and take BP. After a few minutes of observing and kibitzing, the blogger group was introduced to former Mets catcher Barry Lyons.  We spent a good 20 minutes with Lyons talking about everything from his days as an 86er, to Davey Johnson to catchers calling pitchers other than the pitching coach and how the 1986 Mets would have fared in the new social media world.

Lyons spoke of the special bond he and his 1986 Mets teammates have and how winning a championship builds that special bond forever. Lyons was wearing his Mets Alumni golf shirt and mentioned how even though he played for other teams (Dodgers, Angels, and White Sox) he will always be a Met. In fact, Lyons even spoke of maybe getting back on the field as a manager in the Mets minor league system. I told Lyons that if he needed an advocate for him to take over the helm in Brooklyn I would be honored to head the campaign. Hopefully the Mets front office acknowledges that Lyons is interested in getting back to coaching to managing in the organization as gives him strong consideration for a job.   

From our session with Barry Lyons, we headed over to meet the stars of the movie KNUCKLEBALL , which I can’t stress enough is a must see for all baseball fans, Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, our own R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield. We first spoke with Niekro and Wakefield, and then R.A. Dickey joined the group. It was nice to see the camaraderie between these three men who belong to a special fraternity or as Niekro said “the freaky group”. We then talked about who are the next knuckleballers on the horizon. Dickey talked about Frank Viola’s son, who Dickey worked with a bit in spring training, who was trying to learn the pitch and another young many name Steven Wright. I asked Dickey whether the Mets or any other organization seeing the success that has had with the pitch, would work with pitchers who have fallen from prospect status to just organization fillers to become an asset to the big league club. His answer was all it takes is one organization to take a chance and be bold enough to take on that initiative, to which both Niekro and Wakefield nodded in approval.

All three men stated that they would do all they could to help any pitcher who had the patience, the competiveness and the work ethic needed to master the pitch. If anyone does get to work with these gentlemen and with Charlie Hough or Tom Candiotti, they should consider themselves fortunate.  

With the pre-game Q & A’s over, we went up to the Champions Club to enjoy the ambiance and watch Matt Harvey’s 2012 Farewell Tour. After getting some food and a beverage, myself, Ed Marcus, Matt Falkenbury and Randy Medina sat down to discuss this lost season and what is on the horizon for the off season and 2013. In a room with, I’ll say roughly 100 people milling around the bar area and food stations, the four of us were the only one’s talking Mets baseball or anything remotely  close to baseball talk and even in a fine establishment like the Champions Club, you still get douchenozzels walking around in Highlanders garb.  The lack of etiquette is appalling.

Matt Harvey was on the bump as we made our way to the seats, first batter Jimmy Rollins home run just over the orange line on the right field wall. UGHHHH!!!! , but then Harvey gets the next three batters , 86 year old Juan Pierre, Life Alert spokesman Chase Utley and the ghost of Ryan Howard to end the inning on a high note. From innings 2 to 5, Harvey faced just 12 batters and was in full Ace mode. But of course the Mets being the Mets and being at Citi Field all they could muster was a run to tie the game until David Wright hit a baseball over an outfield wall for a go ahead home run. A Festivus miracle I tell you.     

So going into the 9th inning we have the Mets, at home, with a lead, Josh Edgin filling in as closer with Frank Frisco nursing a right elbow riddled with tendonitis, 2 up 2 down, open the book as we are ready to put this baby……..in…….ah…………shit…………..!

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Baseball Is Fundamental

If you’re going to lose three straight in the South Bronx, at least get blown out in all three so it doesn’t hurt Mets fans so much. Friday night was easier to take than the last two losses as we can expect Johan Santana to bounce back and pitch well but in the Saturday and Sunday losses to the Highlanders the two big deficiencies of this Mets team were highlighted for all to see, the inability to execute the fundamentals of baseball and a bullpen that doesn’t know how to pitch.

The lack of “fundi’s” were on full display yesterday. I know Andy Pettite has been gone for a year but everyone knows he has one of the greatest move to first base in the history of baseball. The Mets who are now a station to station base running team decide yesterday was the day to get aggressive on the base paths and it bit them in the ass as David Wright and Scott Hariston were picked off, with Hairston looking like deer on back road upset in the dead of winter look as Petitte ran right at him to get him out.

Then there were the errors. Wright was charged with a throwing error which was followed by the first Russell Martin homer to cut the Mets lead to 3-2 and before that Omar Quintanilla’s error allowed Jeter to go to second and that opened the flood gates for Bobby Parnell because no one in that Mets bullpen ever picks up a teammate.  So from a 3-0 lead the Mets are now down 4-3 heading to the 9th inning. Lucas Duda and Ike (That’s Right) Davis hits a game tying double and the Met tie the game at 4. Now’s the time to get that go ahead run over to 3rd base with Quintanilla with a sac bunt but of course he doesn’t execute the bunt because just like last year no one on the Mets can lay down a bunt, Q then hits a bullshit roller to short and Jayson Nix throws to 3rd to get Ike who runs like he’s pulling a frost free refrigerator, again poor execution.  Murph hits for Valdespin and gets a base hit with would have scored Ike had he stayed a 2nd base, so now it’s Q on 3rd 1 out and contact hitter Josh Thole up. A base hit would be great but fly ball to one of those noodle armed Highlander outfielders would suffice.  Thole works the count to 3-2 and leaves the bat on his shoulder to take a called third strike, then has the balls to argue the call with home plate Mike Muchlinski, are you kidding? SWING THE BAT!!!!!

So the Mets fight back to tie the score at 4 and in comes Jon Rau………………………game over 5-4 Highlanders on a Russell Martin home run.

Off to Tampa. Ya Gotta Believe!!!

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SPRING TRAINING BETTER GET HERE FAST BEFORE METS FANS KILL EACH OTHER

My good buddy Ed “Rusty Jr.” Marcus over at The Real Dirty Mets has a very good column posted this morning on the patients Mets fans will have for the team this coming season. Ed asks the questions will fans show up at Citi Field, if the team gets off to a slow start will fans call for Terry Collins and Sandy Aldersons head and how much more cat calls will we hear from the stands of Citi Field for the Skill Sets to sell? All very good questions.

This off season has been as dormant of any positive Mets news in a long long time. The specter of the Madoff trustee law suit and the teams financial straits have overshadowed any baseball move made by the club as all the moves and non-moves have been money driven. That being said, I can’t wait until training camp opens as we can finally get back to discussing hitting, pitching and defense and hopefully some baseball related story lines.

The die hard “the Mets are in my blood” fan will come out to Citi Field no matter what this coming season brings.  With all the talk of boycotts and protest and insurrection by a part of the fan base, let me say don’t count on me for support. Am I pissed off about the way the Skill Sets have run this franchise and besmirched the good name of the New York Mets? Oh hell yeah! Do I wish they were gone from their seat of power as owner of the team? Double oh hell yeah? But will I abandon my Mets fandom? Infinity hell no!

If Terry Collins can continue to move this team in the direction he has and improve on how they fundamentally play baseball, then this could be a very interesting season. Two major things have to happen for the Mets to play above all expectations this coming season, they must master the fundamentals of baseball and they have to stay healthy, those two aspects of the game will be the difference in whether the dormant Mets fan will come out to Citi Field or will stay home. The Mets do not have the raw talent to be a contender for a division or a wild card berth, but if they limit the mistakes on defense and on the bases along with staying healthy, especially the very fragile starting pitching, the Mets could be the big story of the 2012 baseball season.

If the Mets do become this out of the blue story ,no one in the fan base will give a rat’s ass about the owner. We care about the Skill Sets now because we’re bored and angry, bored because there hasn’t been anything baseball related to discuss thus we’ve started to turn on ourselves (just check out Twitter any afternoon) and angry because we want to have a team we can be proud to call ourselves fans of.  What the Skill Sets have to worry about is that the die hards don’t become the minority among the fan base.

 

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WELCOME TO OPENING DAY, LET THE SCREAMING BEGIN

Turned on my computer this morning to check my e-mail and lo and behold there was a message from Mets manager Terry Collins. What? You got one too? And you? You mean you all got an e-mail from the Mets skipper? Shit, I thought I was special.

The crux of the letter was that after years of awful baseball played in Queens, the Mets will now play the game the right way. In a roundabout way, Collins is letting us now that after his years as minor league coordinator his suggestions fell on deaf ears, that the organization was run by a bunch of clueless dolts who were fundamentally bad at teaching the fundamentals of baseball.

But now the time to talk about the season is done, it’s time to put up and show Mets fans that this is the dawning of the age of good baseball, the kind of baseball we, as paying customers don’t mind being priced gouged over (The Mets still don’t understand that the prices they charge for tickets and concession are, as Jimmy Macmillan would say, “TOO DAMN HIGH” you want to build goodwill with the Mets fans, you should have lowered your ticket prices by 50 %  and allow families to buy kids meals at the food stands at a discount) if the team does all the things that TC said in his opening day missive, the fans will come back. The problems the last few years in Flushing was the fans cared more than the players did about the team but it’s time to put all the horse shit of the past behind us, new front office, new manager, new attitude? I hope so. LET’S GO METS!!!!!!

I’ve always felt NY Ranger fans were the most passionate of all New York Sports Fans (I don’t want to get into the late season swoon by the Blue Shirts as I’m trying to have a positive day even though the Rangers are going into the tank and as I walked from the Subway to my office this morning, I had to deal with ice cold rain hitting my face, so far, so shitty) but I think the Mets fans have taken over the top spot. Yesterday afternoon, the Mets announced their opening day lineup:

Jose Reyes, ss

Willie Harris, lf

David Wright, 3b

Carlos Beltran, rf

Angel Pagan, cf

Ike Davis, 1b

Brad Emaus, 2b

Josh Thole, c

Mike Pelfrey, rhp

With the sight of Harris in the 2 hole and Thole in the 8 spot, a little bit of holy hell broke out on Twitter over this slotting. What other fan base is that passionate that they look at the opening day line up on the eve of the opener and go into shit storm mode? Had they waited to hear Collins reasoning maybe they wouldn’t be popping blood pressure pills today:

“Not only will Willie Harris start on Opening Day in left field in place of injured Jason Bay (left rib-cage strain). Harris also will bat second in Terry Collins’ first lineup as Mets manager.

The reason: Harris is hitting .267 with one homer, two RBIs and seven walks in 22 career plate appearances against Marlins ace Josh Johnson — good for a .500 on-base percentage.

“Strictly numbers,” Collins said about selecting Harris over Lucas Duda or Scott Hairston. “We talked about the importance of getting out of the gate. This guy [Johnson] is one of the best in the league, one of the best in baseball. And if you’ve got a guy who hits this guy, it would seem to me you should get him in there.”

Duda has never faced Josh Johnson, and Scott Hairston is 0 for 5 with a walk and two strikeouts vs. Johnson. If Jason Bay was healthy, all this fan angst would have been avoided as Angel Pagan would have been in the #2 spot and Bay in the 5 spot and Harris on the bench. By the way, to make things worse, Bay is 4 for 9 with a home run vs. Josh Johnson. Can’t we just enjoy the day, Mets fans?

Another stain on the Minaya/Manuel resume, Big Pelf pitched in pain last year.

Hopefully the Mets will be so good this season that Gary, Keith, Ron and Kevin Burkhardt won’t have to discuss the Skill Sets/Madoff financial fiasco. By the way, yesterday at work I listened to the Highlanders-Tigers game on WCBS. I don’t know how Highlander fans do it, listening to Suzyn Waldman made me want to punch someone in the face; the screeching of her voice was making my skin crawl. I thought she was just there to read commercial spots and give out of town scores? Yesterday, she wouldn’t shut up, even as I begged her through the radio (please you annoying yenta SHUT THE FUCK UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP) which kept my co-workers in a jolly mood. Sterling doesn’t bother me that much. Sure he is the worst play by play man in the history of sports broadcasting but for some strange reason I get a kick out him. Even his schmaltzy home run calls make me chuckle (“you’re on the Mark, Texiera” or “The Grandy Man Can” are so lame their hysterical) the TV side is no better as the male version of Waldman, Michael Applegate, is as much a shill as Sterling but nowhere near as entertaining. Mr. Applegate is in fact down right annoying and what pisses me off more is I have no choice if I decide to take in a Highlander game on TV I have to watch YUCK as MLB Extra Innings blocks the feed from the out of town team. Plus I’m spoiled as Gary, Keith, Ron and Kevin are the Gold Standard of baseball broadcasting.

Check out THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN Podcast on Blog Talk Radio or as a download on iTunes

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TIME FOR A NEW PLAN FOR THE METS

 

 

 

 

Sorry for no posting yesterday but I am preparing for my annual Boy Scout camping trip to Ten-Mile River  and my son decided it would be nice to get new sleeping bags and a frame backpack since he is taking  hiking and wilderness survival  merit badge classes this trip, so it was off to Campmor in Paramus NJ and from there it was on to Coney Island and our first Brooklyn Cyclones game of the season and it looks like if there is any meaning full baseball being played by the Mets organization this summer it will be at Key Span Park.

The Cyclones won their 8th straight home game last night coming from behind in the bottom of the 9th to win 3-2. Nicholas Santomuro had the game winning hit with a blast off the left field wall. The Cyclones are now 12-2 this season and have a 7 game lead over Aberdeen in the NY-Penn League’ McNamarra Division.  

At some point we Mets fans just have to come to the realization that this is not a very good team and stop screaming for a trade because right now a trade is like a band aid on a gunshot wound ,what should be debated is what direction is the organization headed and what can Omar Minaya do to fix what is a team that is so fundamentally flawed that everyone from the fans, owner, on field personnel, front office and coaches and managers throughout the organization should be embarrassed to wear a Mets uniform.  Its one thing to suck but to suck and not have the grasp of the basic fundamentals of baseball is scandalous. For all the heat Minaya takes for not making deals and for the one’s he makes that don’t work and for the bad contracts he has saddled the organization with (can’t wait for Ollie Perez to come back against the Dodgers next week, glad I’ll be in the woods for that) the lack of baseball intellect on display by the Mets has not gone reported and Omar has not been called out for it.

Omar is like me when I go to IKEA, I can pick out some really great book shelves and a gorgeous entertainment center  but when I get them home , I have no clue how to put them all together.  Minaya has an eye for talent and can find some bargains in the dumpster but he is at a loss at putting a full roster together.

Which is the big problem with the Mets, too many square pegs not fiting in round holes. Too many players out of position and too many players old and over the hill that break down physically and production wise when they are tested on a daily basis.

With his contract extension kicking in after this season Minaya isn’t going of to be fired  but there really needs to be a shake up in the front office maybe bring in a Paul DePodsda type of exec to work with Omar to bring a different perspective in judging talent and maybe better way of constructing a 40 man roster. Something needs to change as the way it’s laid out now ain’t working.

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