Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Welcome Back Dillon Gee

Dillon Gee hasn't pitched for the Mets in what feels like a century. But tonight the guy who has probably been their most consistent pitcher for the last 3 seasons heads back to the mound tonight.

I personally really like Gee. I don't think he'll ever be a dominant starter, but he's a guy who can eat up innings and be a reliable option in any pitching staff. His return may force Dice-K back to the bullpen, which actually could be a really good thing as Dice-K has shown some better stuff his last few outings.

While Gee has been on the DL he's no doubt been spending a lot of time at home. Check out this video from Coldwell Banker where they sat down with Dillon Gee to see how his home has changed from his life growing up in Texas to now in the Big Apple.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Can't the Mets Succeed at Home?

The Mets return to Citi Field tonight after what I would call a surprising road trip. Not only did they manage to get themselves over .500, but even in the games that they lost there seemed to be good baseball being played (except for the one game against the Angels).

The Mets are getting contribution from surprising places including Brown, Lagares (until he went on the DL) and Recker  while some of the more reliable players like Wright, Granderson & Murphy have struggled to find their swing. Even the bullpen proved it could close out a few games.

But that was on the road. For some reason things change as soon as that plane lands in LaGuardia.

Citi Field, while being one of the nicest looking ballparks in the National League, is still far from being home to the Mets. I'm not talking about the history and heritage of the park following in the footsteps of the beloved Shea Stadium, but rather the Mets rarely play at ease within the friendly confines of Flushing.

Why? There should be a comfort level there. They know the field. The pitcher's mound has the familiar spots for pitchers to push off the rubber. There are no surprises. But the Mets have yet to play well there.

The recent West Coast swing proves that the issue is purely psychological. To use an analogy from another sport it's like a 20 point per game scorer in basketball who can't hit free throws. His shot mechanics are the same, but something isn't setting right mentally when he steps to the line.

I'm no psychotherapist, nor do I have a degree in anything remotely close to it, but the evidence seems to be clear. The culture at Citi Field is lacking the confidence this team needs to perform at its highest level.

Can culture impact on field performance? Absolutely. Anyone who's played sports can tell you that. It has nothing to do with the players liking each other or the clubhouse being loose. It's when they step out on the field there isn't a confidence that teams should fear the fact they have to play at Citi Field.

We all know that feeling is absolutely true in parks in Atlanta, St. Louis and even San Francisco. I'll even throw Philadelphia in there. But definitely not Queens. Not yet at least.

I don't have the answer for what needs to change. All I know is that it has less to do with the skills of the players and more with the mindset of the organization. Sounds like psycho babble, but somehow the facts support it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An All Star Experience

The 2013 Major League Baseball All Star Game might have been the most boring game I've ever attended. Zero hitting. Minimal run scoring. Even the runs that were scored were on lame sac flies or fielder's choice plays. It was also one of the most amazing sports experiences I've ever seen.

This was my first All Star Game. I've watched every All Start for the last 28 years on television and when the opportunity came to see it first hand in my favorite team's stadium I had to do it. Price gouging aside, this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Not only was this my first All Star Game, it was the first All Star Game my son has been to. In fact, yesterday was the first baseball game he's ever been to in person. I will now accept my Father of the Year trophy. My son is 8 years old. He's not a huge baseball fan. He knows daddy loves the Mets. He knows David Wright and every so often asks where is Jose Reyes. I got him a Matt Harvey shirt and he thinks Kevin James on the jumbotron is fat, foolish and pretty hilarious. I didn't expect him to appreciate the significance of this game now, but I know he will down the road.

Explaining to my son what the All Star Game exactly is was interesting. He kept asking why aren't there more Mets players playing if it's in their stadium? He's starting to learn the game of baseball and a steady flow of junk food being passed his way helped him endure 9 innings of lackluster play from the game's top players.

But the sentimental father/son moments aside, the All Star Game being at Citi Field for a Mets Lifer was remarkable. Mets fans have lacked a packed house brimming with energy for quite a few years. What was interesting was just how few Yankees fans were in the building. This truly was a night for Mets fans.

The ovation for Wright and Harvey during the starting the lineups was raucous. David Wright may have worked harder the last two days than he will the remainder of the season. The guy did every interview. He was in almost every promo on the scoreboard. He was a PR machine for the Mets and after seeing him do all that I came to realize that it's really hard not to like David Wright. Is there a more clean cut, likeable, quality player in the majors than Wright? I'm not sure there is.

Then you have Harvey. The flashbacks to the hopes and dreams of Doc Gooden come flooding back every time I see Harvey take the mound. When he had 2 outs and 2 strikes in the first inning, the "Harvey! Harvey" chants started up organically as Citi Field just wanted to explode with a strikeout. I can't wait for more of those types of moments in regular season and hopefully postseason games in the future.

And Harvey plunking Cano was a bit entertaining as well.

Even as a Mets fan, I could appreciate the moment that was Mariano Rivera's final All Star Game. How could you not applaud this guy who might be the best pitcher we'll ever see. Rivera standing alone on the mound for a good 3 minutes amongst cheers and revelry was a moment I'll never forget.

So the National League lost and won't have home field advantage in the World Series. And yes the game was ridiculously boring for the most part. It didn't matter. This was an amazing experience, especially for Mets fans. If I liked the Dodgers or the Orioles or even the Reds, I probably would have walked away without that much of an impression. But for Mets fans, the All Star Game might very well have been the beginning of a new chapter. Changes are happening. An inkling of that was felt last night and I can't wait for what's to come.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why the Mets Sweeping the Yankees Means Nothing and Everything at the Same Time

The Mets swept the Subway Series from the Yankees this week. It's never happened before and who knows if it will happen again. The fact that the Mets were able to win every game in the series isn't as surprising as who they won it with. To call the Mets lineup fearsome is as laughable as calling Tom Green an actor.

In the grand scheme of things this series win means nothing in 2013. The Mets will most likely still finish the season under .500. They won't be going to the playoffs and there isn't an expectation of them winning any division titles. It was just a nice winning streak in the second month of the season that will just be a blip on the radar come the off season.

But then this series also means quite a bit.

The Mets were on the precipice of losing their entire fan base for the rest of the 2013 season. No one wanted to watch the product on the field, let alone go to the ballpark. This mini winning streak and the fact that it came against the cockiest fan base of them all, Yankees fans, makes it all that much more sweet.

The even bigger reason this sweep meant so much is because it switched the discussion from the litany of problems with the Mets to the positives. From Valdespin to Ike to Terry Collins, there have been enough of negative headlines and minutia discussed online and radio about the circus that is the 2013 Mets. Winning solves most problems and this was a huge one. While Ike Davis still deserves to be demoted to the minors, for one week Terry Collins hasn't had to deal with the same questions over and over and over.

You have to also give credit to what The 7 Line is doing for Mets fans. Sure it's a business, but honestly The 7 Line has done more to energize the fan base than the Mets organization has done in the last decade. The idea of bringing a contingency of Mets fans to Chicago and then to the Bronx to occupy the home team's ballpark is just genius. I wasn't able to go in person to either of those venues, but not only was I aware of it but was excited by it as well.

I guess The 7 Line is capitalism and free enterprise at its best and it's probably the best thing to happen to the Mets fan base in a long time. Darren Meenan deserves a lot of credit and our thanks even if you've never bought one of his t-shirts (but you probably should because they're pretty great).

So where do the Mets go from here? Who knows. Maybe they'll continue to win and surprise us. Maybe they'll quickly return to their irrelevant status, but whether you want to mock it or not this series has meant a lot for the Mets and especially for their fans.

Wining makes baseball so much more fun...especially at the expense of the Yankees.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trustless in Flushing

Some Mets fans and especially vocal ones on social media will try and call you out for criticizing this team. They may say you're not a "true fan" or spout how they love this team regardless of the record. They are well within their rights to do so.

But as a fan of this team for the better part of 30 years this is the most faithless I've been in a long time. While the last half decade has been anything but ideal, there have been injuries that prevented players from succeeding or stop-gap players were the core of the lineup that you knew was just a placeholder for the current season.

Look at the names in the current Mets lineup and in the starting rotation and what you'll see is that the majority of them are the homegrown players the organization has been hoping to build around. Names like Duda, Davis and Tejada. Pitchers like Gee, Niese and Hefner. These were pieces we did not trade because the Mets saw them as being more valuable in the future than what they could get for them right now.

So here the Mets sit. 10 games under .500 and it's not even June. Ike Davis is about to slump further into oblivion. Duda can only drive in runs with a solo homer. Tejada who made us forget Reyes last year is now reminding us of Rey Ordonez except without the SportsCenter highlights in the field. Jon Niese looks lost. Dillon Gee is on the John Maine path to success.

Fortunately Murphy and Wright are pulling their weight, and of course Matt Harvey is living up to expectations.

What is my point here? Besides just needing to vent, it's that how can anyone trust the idea that the Mets are planning for future success? The future of 2009 is on the field right now and looking like a Double A lineup. You want to give them more time? I say it only gives them more rope with which to hang themselves.

I can't point the finger at any one person because I honestly believe the entire culture of the organization is poisoned from the front office to the bullpen to the hitting coach.It has become a culture where losing is acceptable because our investment lies in the ever elusive "future."

I'm emotionally invested in this team. I have been for 3 decades, but that doesn't mean I'm blinded to the ineptitude and the false hope that's unraveling before our very eyes.

Trust is the most valuable commodity on the planet earth. It's invaluable when you have it and will make you broke if you don't. Once trust is loss it's a long and arduous road to get it back.

Why would anyone trust the Mets at this point? A culture change has to happen. Not in the future. Not at some point. It has to happen now before trust is gone for good.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Time for Sandy Alderson to Be Held Accountable

Betting on futures can be a dangerous game. Futures can be used either to hedge or to speculate on the change in price of tan asset. For example, a producer of wheat could use futures to lock in a certain price and hedge their bets on risk. On the other hand, anybody could speculate on the price movement of wheat by going long or short using futures.

I'm not going to pretend I understand all the intricacies of futures trading, but I feel I have a reasonable grasp on the futures exchange that Sandy Alderson is trying to sell us. He's saying 2014 and beyond is where the Mets will compete.

Here's the thing about Alderson's futures plan. It can't be disproven in the present. In fact Alderson has had several years to prove his mettle, but we continue to be sold that 2014 is the year. Could he be right? Sure, but what if he's not? What if his master plan ends up falling apart? Then we've been left with continued years of being awful only to not get any better.

So then Alderson gets fired. Who cares? The Mets and their fans are the ones that will suffer. The moves Alderson has made has been about freeing up money and acquiring young talent. So far not much has been done to improve the team.

All of the assets Alderson has attained currently reside in our minor league system. Matt Harvey is the lone exception. Wheeler could be great. So far the Dickey trade for D'Arnaud & Buck looks genius, but none of Alderson's moves have translated into wins. Isn't that what really matters?

The two biggest flaws with the Mets over the last 3 years have been its bullpen and outfield. Nothing has been done to rectify that. Cowgill was being touted in spring training and now we're longing for Cowgill given that we have to endure Brown & Lagares & Byrd at the plate. Anyone with eyesight can see the Mets bullpen is atrocious. Sure you can say they're overworked, but honestly there are no room for excuses when you continually blow leads and opportunities year after year after year.

But don't worry Mets fans. Next year is 2014. It will all magically turnaround. How? I don't know. But there's a master plan right? Has to be.

But what if there's not. Instead of slowly filling holes the Mets still have gaping chasms that need to be addressed before they can compete in what is becoming the ridiculously talented NL East. From the bullpen to the entire outfield to the now absence of a reliable bat first base, the Mets are in need of more than just a few moves.

So while the Mets season quickly fades away even before summer arrives, someone should start holding Sandy Alderson accountable. Before you know it he'll be named the new commissioner of baseball and the Mets will be left trying to piece together this master plan of his.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

There Will Be No False Hope this Mets Season

The issue for Mets fans the past few years has been the tease of hope amidst the reality of low expectations. A fast start last year turned into a painful collapse after the All Star Game and the questions of woulda/coulda/shoulda abounded within Mets fandom.

There will be none of that this year.

This April is proving to be a sign of things to come. The Mets have zero balance in their game. They get great pitching from their bullpen, and then the Mets go 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position. The Mets average 6+ runs per game, but their pitching gives up over 6 runs regularly.

Duda gets hot, but Ike is abysmal. Harvey is awesome, but Gee can't find the strike zone. Buck surprises everyone with an MVP-esque April, but the team is 4 games under .500 and falling.

Welcome to your 2013 Mets or better known as the lame duck Mets. Like a president who has lost reelection, Terry Collins finds himself mired in purgatory until the lauded 2014 season can begin with its promises of hope and success. If this were any other year, Collins would be gone by May. But the Mets won't make that move, which would be the right one along with dismissing Dan Warthen, because they are waiting to fully clean house in the off season with the hope of ramping up for a run in 2014.

Not to mention the fact that they're hosting the All Star Game in July and probably want no drama circling the team ahead of that media whirlwind.

So here's what Mets fans have to realize: the Mets are mailing in 2013. The players aren't, but the organization is. Try and sugar coat it if you like. No one will ever admit to this, but that's the truth.

This is a lame duck year. Kinda reminds me of the scenario in the movie Major League. It's not fun for the fans. It's not going to be fun for the players. But that's the reality.

It's gonna be a long season so find joy where you can in every Harvey start.