MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE

Famous Last Words

One  of the great topics for debate when it comes to team sports is how much does team chemistry play in making a difference between a winning or losing team.  There are many who believe team chemistry is a bunch of bullshit and it’s mostly those in the sabermetric segment of baseball fans who take this position and feel that folks like me who believe in this part of the game are relics of the past and that whether you’re BFF’s with teammates or a big time snob, as long as you produce on the field that’s what counts. In some ways they’re right, Jeff Francouer had a million dollar smile and a ten cent approach at the plate while he was with the Mets.  Barry Bonds was one miserable prick in the Giants clubhouse but he is still considered one the best baseball players of all time (I’ll leave the PED discussion for another time) but there is still something about having a group of people who have the same goal, winning and will do whatever has to be done to achieve that goal. When you have that collective mind set, I feel you have a greater shot of being a winning team than if you have a team that is just a collection of talent who worry about their 2 for 4 day and their statistical resume than winning games.

I bring this up because of four teams I’ve watched over the last month or so, two teams that have that “team chemistry” one that doesn’t and one I think will have it.

I’m a Boston Celtics fan and if there is a team that thrives on chemistry and is the best case study on the subject it’s the C’s. For the bulk of his career, Paul Pierce was the best the Celtics had to offer but as the losses piled up with exception of a trip to the NBA Finals in 2001, Pierce was ready to bolt Boston until GM Danny Ainge made two deals that put the Celtics back into the forefront of the NBA,  obtaining Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. All three players were All-Stars and future Hall of Famers as well; this melding of talent would either be a big success or a major failure. It’s been a rousing success. All three superstars under the direction of Head Coach Doc Rivers have checked their egos at the locker room door and preached the value of teamwork to their teammates. Ainge also added a great supporting cast who all have the same team first mind set. Garnett uses the term “Ubuntu” which loosely translated from African culture means a sense of community. Yes it helps greatly that the team employs four players who are all time greats and one in Rajon Rando who will be in that same group when his career is over. When you watch the C’s play you know right away what the mission statement is, to win Banner 18 and to do it by any means necessary.

A team that is nowhere near having Ubuntu are the NY Knicks. Here is a team that is just a red hot mess.  The best guy in the entire Knicks organization is the GM Donny Walsh, who took over a disaster of a team, got them below the salary cap for the first since the inception of the cap, who then went out an acquired two superstar players and has made The Garden the mecca of basketball once again. For his hard work and dedication what did Walsh get in return, a knife in his back wielded by the clueless owner of the team Jim Dolan. The head coach Mike D’Antoni preaches offense, offense and more offense with his “7 seconds or less” fast break style. A style that will never win without the player’s ability to play even plausible defense, which the Knicks don’t do.  But the biggest problem with the Knicks is they have two superstars who don’t seem to know how to mesh. Amare Stoudemire was THE show for the bulk of the season with the Knicks. He was the focal point of everything from merchandising to promotion of the team, he was anointed the next great Knickerbocker. As the team had early success the chant of M-V-P cascaded from the fans at MSG, they loved their Amare. But wait, all of a sudden another superstar joined the team, this player was born in Red Hook Brooklyn but raised in Baltimore MD and won a National Championship with Syracuse and did everything in his power to be a Knick. Move over Amare make way for Carmelo Anthony.

Both these star players said all the right things at the ‘Melo presser (the same cannot be said of Dopey Dolan) and the first few games, the duo had Knick fans thinking it was 1970 all over again. But as the season has gone on, we see that both players are still trying to figure out who gets the ball when the game is on the line and how to get the rest of the roster to raise their game and guts to do what it takes to win games. We have seen ‘Melo glare at teammates who haven’t gotten the ball to him in crunch time and we’ve seen Stoudemire wonder what happened to the team he was the leader of and the coach trying to figure out how to appease two big egos. I guess you could say the Knicks lack “team chemistry”

Now the other tenant of MSG , is the exact opposite of their basketball cohabitants.  For long time NY Rangers fans like myself , the best trait of this Ranger team is they never quit and even in losses, it’s hard to get mad as they  are what hockey folks like to say a “lunch pail team” . Not only are they a hard working bunch but for the most part the Rangers roster is mostly home grown.  Ryan Callahan is the captain in waiting along with Brandon Dubinsky, Mark Stahl, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan  and King Henrik Lundquist  are all setting the tone for big run to the playoffs. No matter what happens in the playoffs, as Ranger fans we have to be pleased that the foundation of the team that will be a Cup contender for awhile has been set.  There is a very good blend of veteran and young players on this Ranger team. When you see teams like the Rangers play as hard as they do, as a fan your proud to say you root for that team. With the NY Rangers you have team and fan chemistry.

That brings me to the NY Mets. If your sole knowledge of the Mets was obtained through the NY beat writers, sports columnists and Twitter, you’d get the impression that this was the worst team in baseball. But if you watch the games and possess an open mind ,you’d come to the realization that the Mets are a pretty good ball club. Are they a World Series contender? Not this year. Will they be better than last year? No question in my mind they will.

There is a lot of familiarity with the players on the roster, most have played together either in the big leagues or in the Mets minor league system. R.A. Dickey had mentioned this during the off season that many of the guys on this team know each other very well. Dickey also mentioned that a baseball clubhouse is just like any work place, some of guys you’re close with and other guys not as close but when you put the same uniform you have that in common and that’s what’s important.

One of the biggest failures of the past front office staff was they let the clubhouse become fractured. The last two mangers seemed to polarize the clubhouse and that led to cliques forming between the players.  You can see this spring that the new regime realizes this has been a problem with the Mets as Terry Collins instituted the Sunday night bowling parties to try to form a bond within the team.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying if the whole team sat around singing Kumbaya  it will make the Mets a World Series winner, but if the TC and Sandy Alderson can change the climate of that clubhouse and Collins can get the team to buy into a team first mentality, that will be half the battle in getting the Mets winning games. I feel the seeds of that way of thinking have been planted. If the players realize that no matter how much money or how much time you’ve spent as a Met , means nothing  if you don’t produce something positive to the club, you’ll be gone.

Think about it, the past administration went out and brought in talented players at big money contracts and what do they have to show for it? A division championship and two players calling out their teammates for not stepping up and talking to the media (the infamous “they speak English you know” from Bill Wagner and Red Ass LoDuca towards their Latino teammates)   I think this will be a much better clubhouse and a much better Met team than most think. I can’t wait until a week from tomorrow and I really am excited for April 8th and the home opener. Forget about the mess the owners are in, forget about the nay sayers in media worrying about who the Mets fans are going to boo next. I’m not saying we should become a bunch of Pollyanna’s , but this Mets team looks like one we should be rooting for.

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TEAM OVERBOARD

Is there a team in any sport that goes from sugar to shit faster than the NY Mets? Before the All Star break we Mets fans were pumped for the second half, I mean think about the names we were banding about getting, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly. Now fast forward a week later, and the talk is it’s better to dump Rod Barajas and play that cute little Josh Thole, Toxic Ollie is back, the most popular boy in the class, Jeff Francouer and his putrid bat has been replaced by the star some Mets fans hate, Carlos Beltran who at 75% is still superior to Frenchy in every way except in personality and the ability to sell a perp phone (Metro PCS according to my cop buddies is the phone service of choice for NYC criminals)  in radio ads. Oh yeah and the acquisition of Chad Cordero to a minor league deal. Meanwhile the Phuck Phaces are on the verge of landing Roy Oswalt and the Braves just keep padding their NL East lead. With all that should we be surprised by the latest cliff dive by the Mets especially how this team is the most homesick team in baseball?

The mark of a true contending team is how the play in tight situations and the Mets fail terribly in that situation as their 11-17 record in one run games and the shocking 10 walk off losses indicate. The only saving grace with this team is their ability to win at home. For all the bullshit talk about Citi Field hurting the Mets, this season is quite the opposite as the club has wins at a 65 % clip in Flushing. But on the road it’s just a disaster.

So Leader of Men, Alex Cora wasn’t happy that Mike Pelfrey, while talking to reporters last night, was laughing and let him know about it. What’s missing in the story was why Big Pelf was laughing and what kind of laugh it was. Was is a smirk/chuckle (a Big Pelf trademark) explaining why he went with a ‘buzz cut” to try and change his luck? Or was a laugh over a joking about Jeff Francoeur commiserating at his locker on why Jerry Manuel has fallen out of love with him? Or was a piss your pants gut buster over seeing Oliver Perez’ pay stub? Until I find out which one of these Big Pelf is guilty of, I will reserve judgment on him. As for Cora, as much as there is sometimes ‘false hustle” on the field there is also “false leadership” off it and maybe Alex Cora is guilty of the latter.

As I said before, Chad Cordero is now a Met. No shock there except we all figured this would have happened a lot sooner as all former Expos have a home in Queens.

One of the positives from last nights game was the fact that R.A. Dickey remained on the bench after being removed and he and Josh Thole sat together in deep conversation. The more I see Thole the more impressed I am with him not just with the bat but also the way he handles himself on the field and how involved he is in discussions on the mound whenever Manuel or Old School Warthen come out to talk to the pitcher. I’m sure all the chemistry majors in Mets fandom love that fact.

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IS IT A HELP OR A HINDRANCE TO GET CARLOS BELTRAN BACK IN THE METS LINEUP ?

Do we really hope that Carlos Beltran comes back this season? This is not an anti-Beltran post, I like Beltran and I am in no means joining the Beltran contract worst in Mets history club just the contrary, he was the player the Mets needed to have at the time he signed his deal and he has produced offensively and defensibly to be the best center fielder in baseball. The reason I’m in no hurry to see him back is, I don’t see where he fits in with this Mets team.

The Mets have gone from a collection of talent to a cohesive team. Whereas the organization went out and brought in big names who made those names elsewhere (Glavine, Delgado, Martinez, Beltran to name four biggies) that Mets fans never warmed up to, now the fan base is giddy over the homegrown infield of Wright, Reyes, Tejada and Ike. Mets fans are also rooting harder for Jon Niese to make his mark and are glowing over once removed Met farmhand, Angel Pagan who has played not only productive baseball but smart baseball as well.

Even when it comes to who is the Ace of the Mets pitching staff, as much as we respect and hold Johan Santana in high regard to where he is his almost near home grown adulation, lots of Mets fans have anointed Mike Pelfrey as THE MAN for the Mets. We have watched Pelfrey go from a gawky pitcher who likes to lick his hands and sometimes space out on the mound to a stud pitcher who’s starts are now a reason to either make it to the TV or drop all plans and head to $iti Field.   

Jason Bay and Jeff Francouer have been big in this hot streak the Mets have been on this month but when you ask Mets fans about Bay they nod like “he’s ok” and Frenchy before this hot streak of his, Mets fans had him top of the non-tender list for this off season. As for Frankie Rodriguez, just check out Twitter when he comes in to close a game, it’s like someone in the car farted and the windows are all locked.    

Then we have Jenry Mejia who has been abused by the Mets to the point that Mets fan have been calling Child Services to have him removed from Jerry Manuel Torture Chamber (a/k/a The bullpen) That Mejia has not been allowed to grow in his craft in the Mets minor league system is a serious crime to all Mets fans, as we want Mejia to grow strong and add that 97 mph fastball to the rotation of Pelfrey and Niese. The handling of Mejia this season is the baseball equivalent of the 2 year old kid smoking two packs of cigarettes a day in Indonesia STOP THE ABUSE!!!!    

Back to Beltran for a moment, the Mets have a nice little run going here and if or when Beltran comes back where does he play? If he goes back to his home in centerfield then does that move Pagan to the bench? Or does the mean a platoon of Frenchy and Pagan in RF? Can Beltran cover the ground he used to now that he will wear a knee brace to play? If he can’t then does he move to right field knocking Frenchy to the bench? Loads of questions here and that’s why maybe for the good of the team, it’s better that Beltran is taking his time coming back and if you’re the Mets front office do you secretly hope he doesn’t come back?

don’t forget to check out my THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN Shop at Cafe Press

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BOO’S OF WRIGHT ARE MISPLACED

I know it’s all the rage to kill David Wright for his lack of clutchness lately but after checking out Baseball Reference, it looks like that anger is misplaced. Wright has a line of .290/.385/.581 with RISP. The other three big hitters for the Mets haven’t come close to the numbers Wright has put up.

Jason Bay with his .250/.370/.389 w/RISP has not been the run producer the club felt he would be. The real busts in the clutch have been Jeff Francouer and Jose Reyes-.200/.237/.286 w/RISP- but in Reyes’ defense he has been misplaced as a #3 hitter. It was an experiment by Jerry Manuel and I think we can say it’s a failed one and it’s time to put Reyes back in the 1hole. Frenchy has been a total disaster when it comes to getting a hit in the clutch as his .200/.295/.257 line shows. That bubbly personality of Frenchy’s will get him by for so long.

Wright it seems is a victim again of non-support in the lineup for the second season in a row, with Wright down in the 5 spot, most times Reyes and Bay, hitting in front of Wright, they have not been getting the job done putting all the pressure on Wright. It’s time to abandon the Reyes in the 3 hole and move Wright back to that spot.

Jerry Manuel’ patients has turned to stubbornness and needs to shake the lineup up. Oh by the way, Carlos Beltran will lace up a pair of running shoes today but its anyone’s guess if he will actually run in them though.   

Now that Chris Carter has been recalled from Buffalo, as Frank Catalanotto gets his release (how in good conscious does Manuel put GMJ up to bat, it’s like J-Man is shoving the shityness of Mathews in Omar’s face, “You won’t cut him so I’ll keep playin’ him.”) This guy is very happy The Animal is up.

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BENGI GO HOME!!!!

Thank you Bengi Molina for NOT signing with the NY Mets and thank you Brian Sabean for bailing out the Mets with your offer to Bengi Molina.

Now that the Mets have $5 mil lying around they can either put that money towards giving Ben Sheets and incentive filled deal and strike before some other team grabs him or they could put that money towards a buyout of Rogers (Hornsby) Castillo or keep Castillo and use the money towards giving Orlando Hudson a deal and left Castillo be a part time player/groundskeeper. I know it’s a pipe dream that the Mets would buyout Castillo and sign O-Dog so please Jeffey Baby, let’s give the cast to Sheets!!!!!!

More good news, Jeff Francouer signed for just 1 year. Rumor is that Freddy Skill Sets and Uncle Saul Katz made a deal Richard Heene for one of his balloons and Jeffey and Omar are now orbiting around the skies of Corona.

Metsgrrl just received a framed picture from opening day at $iti field for being a loyal season ticket subscriber. The note that came with it wished her a HAPPY HOLIDAY. Obviously the Skill Sets waited until all holiday items were at 90 % off to buy the frames the pics came with.

As much as I feel the Mets need to go full force for at least 2 starting pitchers, they still need a catcher. I like Omir Santos but his presences behind the plate has been questioned within the organization. I’m fine with Henry Blanco as a one half of a catching tandem as he is strong defensively. I can’t see going after Yorvit Torrealba with a lawsuit against the Mets still awaiting trial so the guy who makes the most sense would be Rod Barajas. Barajas is nothing at the plate but he’s very good behind it and the Mets need a very good defensive catcher.

Yes it is outstanding that the Mets have announced that Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen will be inducted into the NY Mets Hall of Fame this summer. But isn’t it remarkable that all four of these gentlemen are not in there already. In fact the last player to be inducted into the Mets HOF was Tommie Agee in 2002.  Induction day will be August 1st,  so far that’s the first “must game to be at” for 2010.

Sad news from the NY Rangers. John Haligan the teams long time PR man and top Rangers and NHL historian passed away today at age of 68. For years I sat in Section 432 of Madison Square Garden watching the Rangers and Halligan and his wife Janet were the two of the great people at MSG. John always had time to talk to us between periods and he would bring us the score sheets and any news on injuries. He respected us as people and as Ranger fans. This is a very sad day indeed.

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WRIGHT’S HEAD GAMES, EVIL JERRY, AND TWEAKING THE THROWBACKS

Here is how fucked up the Mets front office is, they are being praised for putting David Wright on the 15 day DL. That’s like praising someone for not driving through a red light or yelling FIRE!!! in a movie theatre. How is this hard choice? Sure Omar claims that Wright wanted to go day to day then see if he could come back but like my kids wanting Pop Tarts with a side of M & M’s and gummy bears for dinner, someone has to be the adult and say NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe Minaya has finally put his “man” pants on? Maybe it’s too late?

 

Jerry Manuel is a man who never uses profanity but he still is a nasty fuck sometimes as we see with his quotes about Ryan Church and how finally the truth is coming to light on why he was not a fan of Church:

 

Whether the Mets learned to be cautious with concussions as a result of Church’s case remains to be seen. Jerry Manuel appeared to question Church’s toughness yesterday, at least relative to Wright’s grit.

“David is a different animal, so to speak,” Manuel said. “And how he is made up is a little different than, say, Ryan Church, in my opinion. And that’s not to say one is better than the other. But they’re different.”

 

So Manuel feels Church was a big pussy, now we see it. That’s why I always liked Billy Martin, he was man enough to call his players a pussy to their face (sure after a few scotches) I will say I am kind of surprised that Manuel would question a player like Church’ intestinal fortitude, especially when everyone from doctors, fans and people around baseball all agree that the Mets botched up Church’s head injuries big time.

 

Jeff Francouer did a Q & A with the Atlanta Journal Constitution on how he is loving life in NY and $tit Field.

Great stuff from Mets Geek on the unsigned Mets draft picks.

After seeing those throwback uni’s in person Saturday you what, they weren’t that bad. I like the color and I LOVED the MR. Met on the sleeve along with no names on the back, if the NY were smaller it would have been a hit. Mets Police was listening to yesterday’s game on radio like I did (I was on my way to Coney Island to see the Brooklyn Cyclones and eat pizza at Spumoni Gardens. Also it was a day to torture my kids by telling them I’m selling our house and moving back to Brooklyn.  My wife and kids used to laugh when I’d do this but now they’re scared to death that the might see a for sale sign on the front lawn. Truth be told if I could up root my house and place it in Bay Ridge, I’d be back in Brooklyn in a heartbeat) and heard Howie Rose talk about the throwbacks and how the Mets are slowly learning that the fan base wants to see more Mets tradition and to be more like the Highlander, Cardinals, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox and just tweek the uniform and not go crazy. As we all know Howie is with us in the Black Uni’s Suck Club. If the Mets were to modify the throwbacks from this weekend to use an orange NY with blue and orange stripes on the sleeves, numbers on the front and back and no names on the back  with blue piping down the pant legs with Mr. Met on one sleeve and the round Mets logo on the other and top that off with blue stirrups and the classic blue caps that would be a world class uniform.

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