Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Mysterious Moves of Terry Collins

Let me start by saying I like Terry Collins a lot. I love his attitude and demeanor. Overall I think he's the right guy for this team, but some of his moves lately are baffling.

Take Sunday night for instance. Bases loaded in a tie game with 2 outs. Righty on the mound. Instead of a seasoned player, like Scott Hairston being able to bat for himself he puts in the rookie Captain Kirk (yes, I still don't know how to spell his last name from memory) in the tightest of spots. I get he was doing the lefty vs. righty thing, but there's gotta be some common sense that tells you don't throw the rookie cold off the bench into the tensest moment of the game. He had Murphy on the bench too who is a much better contact hitter than Kirk even though he's been struggling.

Speaking of Murphy, all of a sudden Murphy is no longer considered a starter? We live through Ike Davis batting .150 for 3 months, but Murphy's average drops to .270 and all of a sudden he's relinquished to platoon duties? Where's the consistency. Murphy is a hitter. His glove in the field will never be golden. With the rag tag defense the Mets already have is Murphy really going to do that much more damage? Why isn't he given the opportunity to play his way out of a slump when he's way more reliable a hitter than Davis?

Then you have the whole Torres/Kirk/Hairston platoon going on in the outfield. Kirk should be playing every day. He's proven he's a talented player and has earned the right to do so. The Mets lineup is already lefty heavy so is it really going to make a difference that Torres is in vs. Kirk?

There seems to be a lot of turnover on the lineup card the past month where for the first few months of the season it had been relatively consistent outside of injuries. I think the Mets play is showing this to be an issue as well. The defense has been atrocious and there's no continuity in the lineup.

The Mets are a flawed team with some serious holes and I'm not even getting into the pitching/bullpen. But the best thing for a young team is to allow them to get into a rythmn, establish roles and quit over analyzing ways to mask the issues your team has.

Let Kirk play everyday. Give Murphy the chance given to Ike. Let's not make the lineup card a daily surprise.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ESPYS Interview Series: Mike Piazza

I'm a sucker for any post about Mike Piazza so I was excited to see ESPN's series of the greatest sports moments in the last 20 years feature Mike Piazza in one of my all-time favorite Mets moments. Check out the video below and click here to read the full interview with the future Hall of Famer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Appreciating RA Dickey

I remember when the Mets called up R.A. Dickey a few years ago. I mocked that the best option the Mets had to fill a starting rotation hole was an aging pitcher who was banished to the minor leagues and forced to try a knuckle ball to save his career.

Since that point RA Dickey has done nothing but make me appreciate him. From his demeanor to his fastball to his Bugs Bunny knuckler to his consistency, R.A. Dickey is heaven sent.

Honestly he is. Without Dickey the Mets probably would have forced a young arm into the mix too early. They would certainly have fewer wins. And Santana would left alone on an island as being the one reliable option the Mets have as a starter.

Dickey is proving that it's never too late to change for the better. His life's story is a fantastic read if you haven't picked up his new book and if there ever was a player made for the NY media, it's Dickey.

The Mets should lock him up for a few more years and ride this amazing Dickey Train for as long as they can. No longer am I asking, "Is Santana pitching?" when headed to Citi Field. I'm hoping Dickey is on the mound so I can see the wonder that he has become.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Not Breaking Bad for the Mets

The Mets may very well be the luckiest team in baseball so far this year. It feels odd saying that when I consider how many players have been on the DL and the amount of people in the starting lineup that have a sub .200 batting average but it's true.

For once, things are not breaking bad for the New York Mets.

They've had their stretches where they play poorly. Their defense is suspect. And the bullpen is schizophrenic. But whenever the Mets have been on the brink, just a loss or two away from spiraling downward, they come back in a major way.

This week's series with the Rays was just that. Losing 5 of 6 to the Nats & Yanks and then having to go on the road to face arguably the best starting rotation in baseball felt like the Mets were doomed. So what do they do? They score more runs in 3 games than Dickey has given up all year.

Not only that but they do it by hitting an amazing amount of home runs and some from the unlikeliest of sources: Jason Bay & Ike Davis. Sure the Mets couldn't beat the Astros earlier this year, but when you sweep the Tampa Bay Rays on the road you kind of forget about those low moment.

Add onto all this the sensational play of Captain Kirk, the productivity of whomever the Mets plugin at shortstop, the renaissance of R.A. Dickey and the consistency and leadership from David Wright and you have a true marriage of skill and a series of fortunate events.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mets Bullpen: A Culture of Blowing?

In business, companies have a culture that represents their brand regardless of changes in personnel and leadership at the top. Apple's culture is still the same even though Steve Jobs is no longer at the head. Some things have changed, but the core of what Apple is and does remains consistent. The same can be said of Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Nike and Google.

The pieces change but the way things are done and the end product it produces remains the same. Unfortunately what's worked for these great brands is what's killing the Mets bullpen.

The Mets are trying to change their culture this year. No more free agents for hire as the backbone of the ballclub. Home grown talent permeates the lineup. But unfortunately the bullpen is going to need a cultural shift to get out of it's current standing as a BLOWpen.

How many years in a row has the Mets bullpen been consistently blowing tight game after tight game? It's been a while. You could go back to the days of John Franco, who may be lauded as a great reliever, but true Mets fans know that Franco was always one to have runners on base and blew his fair share of close games during his time with the Mets.

Then you have Benitez, Looper, Ayala, and KRod. Add in Heilman, Parnell, Acosta, and Mota and you have a decades worth of blowing.

No bullpen in baseball is perfect, but the Mets bullpen is performing poorly on an annual basis. It's become a culture of blowing. So how do you change a culture like that? I can't say that I have the answer, but if it's anything like culture change in business it takes a long time and it starts at the top.

You can say the bullpen mishaps this weekend aren't necessarily the fault of the pitchers. Fine, you can make that excuse, but that's all it is.

A culture change is needed. Perhaps even something drastic. Those who refuse to look at history to help change the future are doomed to repeat it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bugs & Cranks » Oh, Wait…Is There Another Subway Series?

The always witty Brad Bortone of Bugs & Cranks posts a witty commentary on his views of the upcoming Subway Series and reveals surprising evidence that the Mets & Yankees are actually quite evenly matched for once.

Check out his post at the link below:
Bugs & Cranks » Oh, Wait…Is There Another Subway Series?:

Ike Davis is Holding Back the Mets But He's Not To Blame

Ike Davis is an automatic out. He's the fat kid on your little league team. He gets up to the plate. Flails at a couple of pitches. Most of the time strikes out. But every once in awhile gets a hit.When that happens we all cheer. Not because we're happy for his success, but because we're surprised something good actually happened.

I like Ike Davis a lot. I had high hopes for him, but there's something wrong between his ears that needs to get worked out. His failures are painful to watch and it's not his fault. The Mets are letting him dig his own grave.

By coming out a few weeks ago and saying they aren't going to send Ike Davis to the minor leagues the Mets organization ruined more than a few games as well as potentially the season for Ike. What they did is show they have no accountability for young hitters. Ike is getting a free pass for being the worst hitter in the National League when he hasn't even been an All Star caliber player. He's only been playing in the bigs for parts of 3 seasons. He's hardly a seasoned veteran that has earned the respect to fight through it. Even Jason Bay's numbers look stellar compared to Ike. Sure he's a nice guy, great in the clubhouse and all that, but last time I checked being nice doesn't put fans in the seats or get you to the playoffs. Wins do.

The Mets are also causing the success of others to be hindered by Ike's playing time. Davis has played almost every game since the announcement that he wasn't headed to the minors. During that time frame, Scott Hairston has hit more home runs, scored more runs and gotten more hits than Ike has the entire month of May. And he's done all that for the most part coming off the bench. When Bay comes back will Kirk have to platoon instead of letting Duda play first? When did the Mets stop putting the team first in the hopes of not hurting someone's feelings.

If the organization honestly believes that Ike Davis would be totally crushed by being sent to the minors do they think that keeping him in the majors and making him suffer through every game and every at bat in total embarrassment is doing much to help his cause?

With interleague play upon us, the struggles of Davis will be even more obvious. Someone who bats merely .200 would be a 25% increase in production compared to Davis. Think about all the horrible hitters the Mets have had in their history. None of the every day players have hit for average as poorly as Davis to this point in the season.

Ike Davis needs help and the Mets aren't giving it to him. With all eyes on the Subway Series and nationally televised games this weekend, you can be sure Ike Davis will want to be out of the spotlight instead of being forced into it.

And most importantly, it's costing the Mets wins. That's too high a price for even the nicest of guys.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Defending Mets Jorts Fan

On Friday night as I jumped around in front of the TV as Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history I was shocked to see a Gary Carter jersey in the pile of Mets players mobbing Santana (image above courtesy of NY Post). As the camera zoomed out I finally saw that this was a man wearing jean shorts and he was about to get pummeled by security. I laughed at the brazen move by this die hard fan and then was a bit surprised to see he was the only one who ran out on the field during an iconic moment for Mets fan.

I was surprised and saddened to find out that this Mets fan, Rafael Diaz, spent the next two nights in jail for this moment of admitted stupidity and he actually missed his son's first birthday because of it. On top of that he has been banned from Citi Field - FOR LIFE!!! Really? Are they going to hang up his picture at every gate and have security make sure he doesn't enter? Come on. This is an unenforceable ruling, but it gets worse. Diaz could also spend a year jail and a $25,000 fine.

I understand that's the law. He broke the law and there's a penalty for it, but let's put things in perspective. It was a victim-less crime. This poor guy is probably getting sufficient punishment from his wife for getting thrown in jail and then missing their son's birthday. He'll be working this one off for way longer than the 1 year jail sentence.

But beyond that, what Diaz did is an iconic moment. Every single highlight of the Santana no hitter shown for the next 50 years will have Diaz in it. I know I won't soon forget him and it reminded me of another iconic baseball moment.

When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record what's the first visual that comes to your mind? I'm guessing it's probably this image to the right. You may not remember who the pitcher was or where the home run was hit to, but you distinctly remember these two guys in funny looking outfits running with Hank Aaron around the bases. In fact an image of this shot is hanging up in the hall of fame. The hall of fame.

Today's game, fans and environment is much different than when Hank Aaron entered the record books, but the fan's reaction is still the same. Uncontrollable jubilation that makes you do something crazy.

Here's to you Rafael Diaz. You did what we all wanted to do. You can have one of my tickets the next time I head to Citi Field. Just wear a mustache and glasses.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Only True Mets Fans Can Understand the Significance of this Moment

You can talk about the hit that should have been. You can boast about how your team has thrown multiple no hitters. You can be impressed at the pitching prowess of Johan Santana. But unless you're a true Mets fan, you can't appreciate just how special the no-hitter last night really was.

I received tweets, texts and messages from friends who are fans of the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Brewers and a handful of other teams who all knew how excited I would be about Santana's no hitter but as I browsed my Twitter stream and Facebook feed to see other Mets fans reaction our feelings were all the same...amazement.

I honestly didn't think I'd see a no hitter in my lifetime. I certainly didn't expect it to come this season with low expectations and an uncertainty of what to expect from a Santana just coming off of surgery. If you look at last night's lineup it was littered with 8 left handed hitters and 6 of them from the Mets farm system. 2 of them were batting under .200. 1 of them just came off the DL.

Then you have Santana who's pitch count has been scrutinized more than the Dead Sea scrolls. You have Collins who was a manager no one expected or wanted. There are so many unexpected elements in place this season that to see a no hitter in this year of all years is simply surreal.

I've watched the highlights at least 15 times already and it's not old. I'm perusing every Mets blog imaginable and every post I'm reading is exactly the same although the words are different. The thread that connects us is not just that we're Mets fans, but we're appreciating the unexpectedness of this moment.

I watched this video from Andrew Vazzano of The Ropolitans and felt it could have been a video from any true Mets fan across the country. Enjoy this moment Mets Lifers. Appreciate it for what most Mets memorable moments are...amazing.