JIM LEYLAND, HERO TO ALL MIDDLE AGED MEN

One of the pluses when I turned 50 years old was it was the first time in my life I didn’t give a flyin’ fuck what anyone thought about me. It’s a great feeling to have the burden of acceptance lifted from one’s shoulders.  You reach that point in life where you make a decision that you feel is right and if anyone else doesn’t like it well, too bad.  That’s why I had to smile at Jim Leyland letting the media know why he told them ahead of time that he would not use Joquin Benoit or Jose Valverde in yesterday’s win or go home Game 5:

“Well, it’s what we said before the game. So it gave everybody a chance to get all their second-guessing ready about it,” Leyland said. “That’s just the way it had to be today. We talked about it before the game and we did exactly what we felt we had to do to give ourselves any chance to win the series.”

In other words, Leyland let all the wash women (a/k/a the main stream media)write up their “kill Leyland” stories ahead of time. Unfortunately for them Justin Verlander stepped up like a Cy Young/MVP and Phil Coke proved himself as a big time pitcher in relief. The game went just as Leyland planned and if it didn’t, well you can kiss his ass.

Looks as though Bob Geren will get the job as Terry Collins’ consigliore over Jim Riggleman. Neither one of the candidates, in my opinion, are anything to get excited over, in fact I feel they both suck. Riggleman walked out on his team because he didn’t get a contract extension and GM Mike Rizzo didn’t talk to him much. Geren was hated by his players in Oakland to where Houston Street said he was the worst person he ever met in baseball. Perfect. Looks as though Geren’s  Oakland pedigree got him the job. If the report is correct that Collins wanted Riggleman but the front office wanted Geren, will Collins and the players look at Geren as an Alderson snitch? I would.

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IF THE SKILL SETS NEED TO EMBRACE THE FAN BASE, MAKE US YOUR PARTNER

As a guy who has trouble balancing a check book, all this financial talk of the Skill Sets and the financial stability of the franchise has my head aching. What The Skill Sets knew and when they knew it about the Madoff Ponzi scheme is still not known and if an out of court settlement comes about, we may never know but what we do know is the brand of the New York Mets has been tainted.

Maybe this is why the organization has embraced the Mets blogging community, why not go to the folks whose love for the team is undying and let them be involved in events that we never dreamed we’d be a part of. I am very much appreciative of the organization for the opportunity they have given me with access to Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and various players but the folks the organization really needs to reach out to you guys who read this site and other Mets blogs and buy the tickets and watch SNY and buy team merchandise because you are the life blood of the franchise.

The news of the Skill Sets cash call could not come at a worse time. Season ticket sales are down and there doesn’t seem to be a big demand for single game tickets either, those go on sale in March. The biggest argument and it is a very fair criticism, is that the ticket prices are way to high. Now add in the news that the Skill Sets are strapped for cash most fans will feel that by buying a ticket to a Mets game will be paying for the Skill Sets Defense Fund. I’m not saying it is but that’s the perception.

A couple of pluses could come out of this firestorm. Yesterday I attended SABR DAY at Foleys Bar in Manhattan an event that was put together by SABR and Baseball Prospectus. It was a great afternoon of baseball talk with baseball fans and writers. Two of the panelists were Mets play by play man, Gary Cohen and Newsday baseball writer, Ken Davidoff. When the Q & A session began the Skill Sets money woes came up. Cohen didn’t have much to say on the topic and with good reason I guess, but Davidoff claimed that as far as the baseball operation goes it may be good for the team. It seems this had been brewing for some time and Davidoff confirmed what I’ve been told for years and what I’ve written about here, that Jeffey Skill Sets is a big part of the problem. Between Jeffey and Omar they wanted to be friends with everyone from players to front office people and anytime a tough decision had to be made neither man could pull the trigger. The Tony Bernazzard firing is a prime example, the team had to be humiliated by the media before they’d let Bernazard go as he was friends with both Jeffey and Omar. Davidoff stated this will not happen under Sandy Alderson as he will not tolerate it. The panel consensus was by putting Alderson in charge it takes Jeffey out of the baseball ops decision making except on money issues. So if there is a plus out of this fiasco it’s muzzling Jeffey. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard folks who cover the team say “Now there is an adult in charge” well, you’d be looking at a 25 % owner of the Mets.

The Mets will have to really work hard on marketing this team for 2011 and beyond. The best way to start is by ripping out those club seats behind home plate and replace them with seats that honest to goodness baseball fans can purchase. Not only would be good business but it go a long away to getting some positive baseball atmosphere in Citi Field. Every time you tune into a Mets game on TV, those seats are empty because the ticket holders for those seats couldn’t care less about the game going on as long as the free booze and food are flowing in the Delta Club. The organization lowered some ticket prices but they are still ridiculous. The Skill Sets have taken a massive hit on their credibility, if they want to win the fans back they have a lot of wooing to do. This is year three of Citi Field and the place still has no identity. Is it a playground for the well to do? Is it a food court with a ball park attached? How games have you sat in your seats watching a game a looked out toward centerfield marveling at the line of people who stand on line waiting to buy a hamburger? When people would rather wait on a line for a half hour to forty-five minutes for a burger than watch your team, you have a problem.

It’s time Mets ownership comes to the realization that in order to make this franchise great again it has to embrace the working stiff Mets fan. One thing you know about us working stiffs, we are loyal to the team and we show up and support the club in good times and in bad. Not like some rich thieving scumbag who but a knife in the Skill Sets back.  You want to sell 25 % of the club? Just make the real true blue and orange Mets fan feel like you actually care about them and make the Citi Field experience that wants fans to  come back rather than say good riddance and I guarantee you’ll see so much success that this cash call will be just a bad dream.

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BLOOMBERG SPORTS HAS YOUR NUMBERS

I had the pleasure last night to attend a presentation at Bloomberg headquarters  by Bloomberg Sports,  updating those of us in attendance, on the new features that have been added to their baseball analytical application and the unveiling of their Fantasy Football application. I came away quite impressed with both products.

Bloomberg Sports is really making a name for itself when it comes to statistical applications dealing with baseball and the football program, which is in pre-production, should be just as compelling to fantasy sports players, fans and media types alike.  

The first presentation of the evening was a detailed look at the analytical program that Bloomberg Sports has made available to all 30 MLB teams. Part of the presentation dealt with the batter/pitcher match up, where every pitch a pitcher has thrown to that batter is broken down to pitch type, pitch location, velocity, and the break of each pitch. There are pie charts that record what pitch type the pitcher has thrown in every conceivable count.   As an added bonus, you can click on each individual at bat in the batter/pitcher confrontation and see video of the at bat. The pitcher/batter used in last night’s demo was a Stephen Strasburg/Lastings Milledge matchup where ahead in the count to LMillz, Strasburg broke off a hellacious curve ball that Milledge’s initial reaction was the pitch was coming up and in or him and as he was bailing, the ball broke right over home plate for strike three. STUNNING!!!!!

For fans, Bloomberg uses the technology to help you win your fantasy league, in fact when you subscribe to the Bloomberg Sports application, you can sync your team into the app and have Bloomberg’s extensive stats and analysis show you the pluses and minuses of your team.

The Fantasy Football package will work the same but right now if you play Fantasy Football on NFL.com, the Bloomberg stat package will be included in the price of the game. If you wish to purchase the app separately (if you play on Yahoo or ESPN) it will cost you a very reasonable $7.95.

Both application are well worth it for fantasy players and non-fantasy players alike.

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