Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mets fans unite

Mets fans unite. Come together next Sunday to see the Mets honor Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson, and Frank Cashen. Forget about the troubles that Fred and Jeff Wilpon have brought on Mets fans with Citi Field (bad seats, high prices, expensive parking). Forget about the troubles of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel and the coaching staff with the current day Mets and the Mets teams of the past few seasons.

Come together to support the team's history, in a rare occurrence in which ownership chooses to honor it. We don't have Old Timer's Day. We no longer see the fan-favorite Banner Day. In the past 4 years, the Mets have honored milestone anniversaries for both of the team's championships. It's about damn time they did something beyond that.

I'll be there, bright and early, and probably jet-lagged from having just returned from England.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Ollie or Takahashi?

Given how Takahashi has pitched in his last few outings for the Mets, and given how Oliver Perez has pitched in his last few rehab assignments, which would you rather have as the Number 5 starter, and why?

I've read that the Mets are going to allow Ollie to rejoin the team, but he will pitch out of the bullpen, instead of trying to make another rehab start or sending him down to the minor leagues. But I have to think that Ollie would be better than Takahashi right now in the rotation.

And who would be demoted to make room? Is there really someone pitching worse than Ollie and Taki right now?

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Only All-Star Game at Shea Stadium

I asked my readers on facebook for an idea of what to write about as a feature for the All-Star Break. Something not related to the 2010 Mets, but still of interest. Last year, I posted something short about Gary Cohen called "Gary Cohen, Hockey Announcer". You get the idea. My friend Coop suggested that I write about the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea. Perfect.

So what do I know about it? From my Mets History classes, I know that the 1964 All-Star Game was played at Shea Stadium as part of the ballpark's first season, along with the 1964-65 World's Fair that was taking place next door. Ron Hunt was the first Met to start an All-Star Game (remember, it was only the 3rd year of the team's existence, and well, the Mets rosters of the 1960's overall were not filled by good players). I found out today that Casey Stengel was a coach for Walter Alston's NL squad.

I've never seen a highlight from this game. I've never seen a replay. Remember that it took place in a time in which there wasn't video tape of every game like there is now. Replays of live events from that era are pretty rare. MLB Network recently showed the 1965 All-Star Game. I wish that I could include a video clip of Ron Hunt getting hit by a pitch in the 1964 game (after all, that's one thing he was famous for as a Met). But that didn't happen. Hunt did go 1 for 3 with a strikeout playing second base.

Johnny Callison, Outfielder then with the Phillies hit what's know known as a "walk-off homerun". I highly doubt that Lindsey Nelson or Buddy Blattner used that term on the NBC telecast. Callison won the Game's MVP Award for his performance that day in front of 50,850 at Shea.

Red Sox ace Dick Radatz was on the mound and had already thrown two hitless innings. Willie Mays, in a tough at-bat, got the walk and then stole second. Orlando Cepeda followed with a soft looper to right field scoring Mays due to a bad Joe Pepitone throw to the plate. Two quick outs and a walk later, Johnny Callison hammered a fast ball into the right field stands scoring three runs, giving the Nationals their sixth win in seven games and finally evening up the series.
The winning HR went out towards the Subway in RF. Soon-to-be Hall of Fame Umpire Doug Harvey was officiating down the LF line.

Not much else has been written to tell the story. Nothing with pictures or video that I could find. Shea never hosted another All-Star Game for whatever reason. Citi Field is likely to receive the next game assigned (2013 I believe).

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fixing the All-Star Game

I was inspired by a post on Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ about how the "All-Star Game is Broken". So inspired in fact that I wrote a nice big comment. Morgan is asking for ideas from his readers on how to fix the game. (Morgan Ensberg for Commissioner?) Are you watching the game next week?

You're right that the All Star Game is broken. I think you left out a few players from your example, but no matter since you got your point across (and it seems like this happens every year). I'll give a few ideas, both big and small, on how to fix this (some seem contradictory to each other):

The fans today choose the starters, and in a way, influence the reserves (but position players only). The fans vote like it's a popularity contest rather than voting for the most deserving player at each position. They vote very early, and often. First, I'd let fans vote for pitchers. I don't know how many pitchers are taken for the game, say 11 or 12, and vote for 9 starters and 4 relievers. Second, start the voting later in the season. With online voting widely available in many forms, voting doesn't need to start in late April just a few weeks into the season like it did 20 years ago when fans had to go to the games to vote. The internet changed that whole model. April is too early to figure out if a player is great. Start voting on Memorial Day. Third, get rid of the rule where every team should be included. It dilutes the product on the field.

Fourth and biggest, I'd take it out of the fans' hands and give the vote to the sports writers and baseball broadcasters. It kills the marketing of the ASG, so I see it as somewhat controversial, but give it to the people most capable of determining who deserves to be an All Star. In the end, it will make for a better game, one worthy of letting the winner determine who's league has home field in the World Series (and if you don't go with change #4, then remove the implications of winning). Maybe we can let the fans have a say to influence tiebreakers (but see also changes #1 and 3). I'll go a step further and say that the new class of voters also selects the manager and maybe even coaches (still mostly being other managers).

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mike Pelfrey, All Star Snub

A few things that I wrote on facebook earlier today after the All-Farce Star Game. Discuss...
Mike Pelfrey deserved to be an All Star, and was snubbed. Putting aside the part where he's scheduled to pitch on the last day before the break and can't pitch in the All-Star Game itself, he deserves to be on the NL pitching staff. Now I thought there was a new rule that starting pitchers pitching on the last day before the break couldn't be added to the roster. Even without that stupid rule in place (if I didn't make it up), select players based on merit, so they can be introduced on the field before the game with everyone else, and then make them ineligible because they pitched on the Sunday, selecting another player in their place. Douche move not to include Pelfrey simply because he will pitch on Sunday. What if it rains between now and then?

On the matter of Charlie Manuel, I thought there was a rule that a manager couldn't manage the All-Star Game 2 years in a row, which Charlie Manuel is going to do. Now I'm not advocating Jerry Manuel to be managing, though he would like all the pitching changes, but the the game has become a farce.

One other thing I never understood was why the fans don't vote for pitchers. MLB can make a rule that after the top vote-getters are announced that a taxi squad could be announced with it to replace any pitcher actually pitching on the Sunday before the game (or choosing not to work in the ASG).

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The 3/6th report - 81 down, 81 to go

What a roller-coaster ride it's been so far through the first 81 games. The Mets are 45-36, 3 games back of Atlanta, and leading the LA Dodgers for the Wild Card by 1/2 game. The numbers most curious to me are the home/road splits. The Mets are 28-12 at Shea Stadium Citi Field and 17-24 on the road. The winning percentages actually come out to nice fractions - 5/9 overall (.556 winning percentage) and 7/10 at home (.700), and on the road is not a nice fraction with a .416).

I still think the Mets true identity is a team that plays almost like a champion at home and can't find their way on the road. I have to think that at least one of two things accounts for this - Citi Field truly is a unique ballpark built for the Mets and the Mets are conditioned to win there and only there - and/or the manager of the Mets only knows how to manage the Mets in a "home" game and can't quite figure it out in a "road" game.

On to the players of the first half of the season. Coming into the season, I don't think most knew what to expect from the Mets 2 best starting pitchers - Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese - or the thought that those would be the 2 best starting pitchers. The Mets have a good crop of in-season callups from Buffalo as well - Ike Davis, Chris Carter, Ruben Tejada, R.A. Dickey - to go with the homegrown core of the team (Wright, Reyes, Pelfrey, Niese).

There's a few players from past years that seem to be "missing". Carlos Beltran, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo. I almost think that the Mets could do without at least 3 of these guys and bringing any one back would be a big disruption to something going well.

Let me ask a question in jest. The Mets are playing well in an 9 game home stretch. Name 2 things that can disrupt it. Answers - one of those "missing" players returns, or the homestand ends.

The biggest concerns for me for the 2nd half of the season are Johan Santana, the bullpen, and the return of the injured players. Yes, you heard me right. I'm concerned about Johan Santana. He hasn't recovered from his offseason surgery. He has the mentality of an ace, but doesn't have the physical abilities, at least this season, to back it up. The bullpen is weak and overused. The overuse is on Jerry Manuel's shoulders. Something's wrong with the Mets closer. Maybe he isn't being pitched enough, or in the right spots, but he's paid to get guys out and just isn't able to. This will be 2008 all over again when Jerry Manuel ran the bullpen into the ground and cost the Mets a playoff berth. And the aforementioned injured players, older, rusty, and/or overpaid, coming back could disrupt what the Mets already have. Think about where you, as a fan, would want those players inserted into the lineup and starting or bullpen rotations.

For the 2nd half, well, I think my March prediction of 75 wins might be a bit short, but I don't see 85 wins happening. I expect a deja vu of 2008 (which I admit is better than a deja vu of 2009), and I expect the Mets to miss the playoffs again.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Can't close the door

My facebook news feed is lighting up with comparisons of K-Rod to Benitez. Fair comparisons at this point. I saw this one and remember telling a few people of it 2 months ago. It also reminds me of the 2008 Mets, where the bullpen made fans sick. In total fairness, blame for those comparisons should be split between the manager and his misuse of the 'pen and those pitchers.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Stat of the Day

Through July 1, 2010, almost half way into the season...

the Mets have 20 saves, tied for 13th in the Majors.
Washington has 24 saves, tied for 3rd in the Majors.

the Mets have 44 wins and Washington has 35.

Let's do the math. 20 of 44 wins (45%) were saved for NY compared to 24 of 35 (68%) for the Nats. 9 more wins and 4 fewer saves for the Mets compared to Washington.

Make of it what you will...

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