Friday, August 31, 2012

Trust is Gone from Mets Nation

Terry Collins has talked about fighting until the end. The goal being to finish in 3rd place (woohoo!). Players will say the right things and the product on the field will hopefully not have a lingering feeling of apathy.

But let's not kid ourselves. The season is over. The only argument that can be made is RA Dickey deserves a Cy Young award so for his starts there should be nothing holding us back from fighting to the bitter end. But the other days are just merely a means to another disappointing end.

While I've enjoyed the recent 4 game win streak and taking a series from the Phillies, the thought still lingers in my mind that we lost 4 straight to the pitiful Rockies and even splitting that series would have made things a whole lot more interesting let alone if we swept them.

There's also the thought that as soon as the Mets come back to Citi Field another massive losing streak awaits them because they've show no sign of life when playing in Queens. So we can go through the motions now, I will still watch games and cheer for this team, but for the most part it's time to move on.

Move on to what is the bigger question? I'm not talking football or basketball or hockey. I'm talking about what are we going to move onto specific to the Mets. At this point I feel like the Mets should just have a computer run this team. The guy in your fantasy league who does "auto-draft" always seems to end up with a half decent team where the guy who over thinks every pick often finds himself out of the playoffs.

That's how I feel about the Mets front office at this point. Let's just set it to auto-draft and see where we end up because the human beings making decisions haven't really helped a whole lot.

Sure there's the bright star of Matt Harvey, the hope of Zach Wheeler and the addition by subtraction in 2014 with the departure of Jason Bay, but it's the moves in between that will make or break this team.

Just look at the bullpen as a reference point. It is the most overhauled portion of the 2012 Mets and got the most attention from Sandy Alderson this past offseason. But even a blind man can see that is the worst part of the Mets. So what's going to happen when they tinker with the lineup? Or starting pitching? Faith is one thing, but blind faith in something that has done nothing to prove it deserves said faith is just idiotic.

Yet that's where Mets fans find themselves. Again. I understand it's a rebuilding process. But what I understand even more is that we've been given no reason to trust those steering this ship.

It all comes down to trust. A team can be bad, but if you trust those who are running things to turn things around, it can still make for an energized fan base. Right now the Mets have no trust left with their fans, that battered group of loyal individuals who pretty soon will not blindly shell out money to watch a sinking ship.

Trust is gone from Flushing. A crowd of Doubting Thomas' gather at Citi Field. It's time to see some action. Or maybe it's time for a rebellion.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Evolving Batting Stance of David Wright

There are players throughout baseball history with signature batting stances. Off the top of my head I think of Darryl Strawberry, Julio Franco, Gary Sheffield, Keith Hernandez, and Dave Magadan are few from recent Mets memory that I can think of. These hitters had a stance that you could imitate because they did the same thing every time.

Most of the names mentioned were pretty good hitters. None hit like Gwynn for their entire career, but they weren't slackers. But something has recently changed in baseball philosophy where it's now acceptable for hitters to tinker with their swing.

Maybe this has always gone on but I find it hard to believe that Tony Gwynn, Todd Helton or Paul Molitor messed with their batting stance as drastically as player do today.

Look at this picture below which was brilliantly put together by Rich Macleod and tweeted out this afternoon. This isn't tinkering. This is an evolution. Did Jordan change his shooting form from year to year? Does Peyton Manning tinker with his mechanics this much?

Maybe the ends justify the means. Wright was hitting .355 earlier this year and is still in the top 10 in batting average. It still makes me scratch my head that a guy who's now a seasoned veteran would be messing with his approach to the plate this much over the course of several years.

Photo credit to Rich Macleod

Friday, August 24, 2012

RA Dickey is an Inspiration

This past week I've found myself back in a familiar place: being down on the Mets. It's an annual rite of passage Mets fans take when things predictably fall apart. There's nothing wrong with being down on this team. I still love them. I still cheer for them. But man they are frustrating to watch.

A friend forwarded me this video of Eric Fleming who works for the Corcoran Group in New York City, and it made me realize what an amazing thing we have this year in R.A. Dickey. Not just the magical Cy Young worthy run that he's making, but the fact that he is an incredible story and should be an inspiration to us all.

In an era of performance enhancing drugs, liars, cheaters and guys who just won't go away (ahem, Clemens), Dickey is a rarity. A humble, unselfish guy who is a wunderkind on the mound and from reading his book an even remarkable person.

Watch Eric's video and try to appreciate what we as Mets fans have been able to enjoy in RA Dickey in spite of blowpens, bad contracts and losing streaks. Don't lose sight of the good in the shadow of the bad.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Movie Titles for the 2012 Mets

During yet another epic fail of a game and to prevent myself from pulling a Hulk smash on my television, I resorted to a juvenile distraction...Twitter. I started thinking about how you couldn't make a tear-jerker of a movie as bad as this season has been in July and August. So what would the title of this doomed Mets season be.

With the help of some other feeble minded Mets fans, here are some options for you that are plays off of existing movie titles and were tweaked to be appropriate for the 2012 Mets.

  1. BLOWpen Strikes Back
  2. Raiders of the Lost Season
  3. The Curse of the BLOWpen
  4. Strikeout Kings
  5. A No Hope
  6. The Loss Boys
  7. Death Angels in the Outfield
  8. Dumb and Dumberer
  9. BLOWn Away
  10. BLOW Out
  11. Come BLOW Your Horn
  12. Let the Win BLOW
  13. The Expendables
  14. The BLOWpen Legacy
  15. The BLOWpen Ultimatum
  16. The BLOWpen Supremacy
  17. Most leads are...Gone in 60 Seconds
  18. Scary Movie
  19. (30) Million Dollar Baby
  20. The Other Guys
  21. Legends of the Fail (my personal favorite)
  22. Five Runs is Not Enough
  23. Man Not on Fire (the Jason Bay story)
  24. Mets leads go...Up in Smoke
  25. The Lost World
  26. Losing and Other Drugs
  27. Superbad
  28. when will Jason Bay get his next hit?....28 Days Later or From Here to Eternity

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MetsMerized: Fixing This Amazin’ Mess

This is a really good post with some real thought behind how to fix the Mets beyond the players on the field. We all know how badly the Mets need personnel changes, but does a great job going beyond the players and looking at how the Mets have lost a connection to their fans.

It's worth a read at the link below:
Fixing This Amazin’ Mess | Mets Merized Online:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut: Jason Bay Homers

Like the fat kid who somehow manages a home run in kick ball, the Mets bench exploded last night when Jason Bay not only homered, but managed to squeek out a single as well.

With the home run, Jason Bay now has as many extra base hits as Matt Harvey since the All Star break.

The crazy part is whenver Bay does something good there's a thought that creeps into your mind. You start wondering, will this be the hit that breaks him out of this funk?

But no. Even blind squirrels find nuts every once in a while. Bay just happened to have a lucky day where he found two. Color me a sinic but I've been thinking these same thoughts for the last 3 seasons. I'm sure you have to.

So let's just celebrate Bay's game for what it is. Like Haley's comet, these days appear every once in a while. Today we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program.

But man can that Harvey did hit...he pitches pretty good too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Waiting for Terry Collins to go Ballistic

The day is coming when Terry Collins just can't take it anymore. He is so good at saying all the right things and being positive. He's been a way better manager than I could have imagined, but the time is coming when he's going to snap.

Collins isn't one to hold back his emotions. We've seen a number of times on the positive side like when Reyes won the batting title last year or when Santana threw the no-hitter. He's not afraid to shed a tear or get choked up. And I think the same will eventually be true when times are bad.

We saw a glimpse of it earlier in the year when Kirk dropped an easy fly ball towards the end of a winnable game and even more recently when he barked at Dan Warthen after the BLOWpen blew yet another opportunity to get a W.

But all of these were just small potatoes compared to what's coming. Last night during the post game press conference, you could see the fumes stirring in Collins' head. He's had enough. It's one thing to lose games, but Collins won't accept consistently poor performance, on the mound and at the plate. He's a manager who wants to see effort. If you're playing hard, trying hard and you come up short on the scoreboard, he can live with that. But lazy, sloppy and unintelligent play must be dealt with. And that's what the Mets are putting on display.

Attendance is down over last year and any good will the Mets earned with their first half surprise is now completely erased. Collins should be mad. I know I'm mad. I'm the type of fan that watches every single game, but last night after back to back home runs and then strikeout after strikeout from the Mets hitters against a guy with an ERA over 6...I changed the channel. In fact I forgot to even check the score until this morning which of course was not a surprise because I knew it would be a loss.

That's apathy setting in for the most hardcore of fans and it's the most dangerous thing for a New York sports team. Apathy leads to lower ticket and merchandise sales. It leads to more pressure on management and players to perform. And it takes even longer to win back the good favor of the people.

You think Mets fans have been apathetic before? Things are just getting started.

But a Terry Collins implosion could temporarily stem the tide. I want Collins to unleash his inner-Pinella. I don't even care if it's directed at the umps or his own team. Someone needs to ignite a fire. A cleansing fire, perhaps, to burn away this smog of mediocrity that lingers over this team.

Unleash the beast, Collins. At the very least it will be the most entertaining part of this team that we've seen in months.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Quandry that is the Mets Outfield Situation

I'd write about another episode of the BLOWpen, but that story is as tired as the plot lines for NCIS. Let's focus on playing armchair GM, shall we?

Sure the bullpen is horrendous. There are questions with starting pitching, but the recent attention of the Mets blogosphere has been on the outfield. The Mets currently have the professional equivalent of the Bad News Bears out there. You've got you're ridiculously underperforming star (Bay), the speedster who can't really hit (Torres), the kid with the big mouth (Valdespin), the hometown boy you want to cheer for (Baxter) and the guy who either hits a home run or strikes out (Hairston). 

Forget Bad News Bears. That's the casting call for Major League 4. 

Because none of this motley crew is performing at an exceptional rate, Mets fans are longing for the days of Duda and Kirk who are currently relinquished to Triple A.

How soon we forget?

Honestly, the current rag tag crew is performing at a higher level than Duda and Kirk (except for Jason Bay of course). Valdespin is not going to hit a clutch 3-run homer every time at bat. He strikes out a lot, but not as much a Kirk who was getting eaten up on high fastballs like shrimp at a buffet. 

Duda just looked lost. the last month or so in the majors, but the fact still remains that he was in the top 3 on the team in HRs & RBI before he went down.

Baxter is a multi-position player who probably shouldn't be an every day guy, but should certainly be on a team at the major league level for his pinch hitting alone.

Hairston is Hairston. You know what you get.

Torres is, as we thought, and older version of Angel Pagan. 

And Bay...just needs to crawl under a rock..and stay there...for a while.

Where am I going with this? The fact of the matter is that regardless of who we think deserves to be starting or who needs to be sent down, the Mets still need an entirely new outfield.

Valdespin is too rough to be a starter yet, but honestly he and Baxter are the best options for the future which isn't saying much. Your corner outfielders are supposed to provide you with power and the Mets have had a drought in that aspect for several years now.

There are kids in the minor that show promise and potential, but I'm far from ready to bank my hopes on Duda & Kirk. I was ridiculously high on Kirk at the start of the season, but given enough at bats I was able to see, like most NL pitchers, there are serious holes in his game at the plate.

The point is there is no easy fix and with Bay's contract still looming for another year, it's hard to see the Mets making significant moves to right what's wrong in the outfield.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Link: The 10 Best Things About Being a New York Mets Fan

This is such a great post. Yankees fans will read it and mock, but really that shouldn't bother Mets fans.

The timing of this post is great because just last night I went to a Yankees game for the first time in about a dozen years. It was with some people at work so not a game I would choose to go to or pay money for. That being said I figured I'd be able to get into the game and admire the winning ways of this year's Yankees team. Not so. The more I watched the more I found myself disliking the team. There was no underdog to root for. No story line. No anticipation of what was to come. A couple of home runs later the Yanks won without breaking a sweat.

It's easy to be a Yankees fan. I take nothing away from the people that are avid Yankees fans. They should enjoy their team, but it takes a very special person to be a Mets fan through thick and thin. There's hope, there's uncertainty and always plenty of drama. It's like watching a sports soap opera and you're just waiting for one story line to end happily instead of tragically.

The only thing missing from the list that I would add would be Mets fans on Twitter. Following the Twitter timeline during a game is therapy, comedy and camaraderie all rolled into one. Without a doubt, Mets fans are some of the wittiest people out there.

Check out the list at the link below and use it to appease your tragic thoughts for this year's team:
The 10 Best Things About Being a New York Mets Fan | Bleacher Report | Bleacher Report:

Should Dan Warthen Be Held Accountable?

In the business world you have annual reviews. A time where you sit down and find out what you're doing well and what needs improving. You're given specific action items that you need to accomplish and the glaring holes in your performance are shared so that you have opportunity to improve them.

I have no idea how "reviews" work in the baseball world, but I wonder if someone is sitting down with Dan Warthen to talk about how his pitching staff is performing?

Let me start by saying that I'm not the person who blames managers for on field performance...unless your name is Willie Randolph. Dan Warthen has not thrown a single bad pitch this year. His pitchers are responsible for their own actions from game to game. But what Warthen should be held accountable for is the longer term growth or ineptitude of his pitchers. Bad games happen, but what you don't want to see is the same problems occurring over and over and over. A coach should be able to see the issues, bring them to the players attention, and make sure they can work to resolve it.

With that being said there is a glaring mental problem with Mets pitching. They have a habit of imploding in a single inning. The Mets are rarely beaten over the course of 9 innings. They tend to lose due to the fact that single inning accounted for the majority of the runs.

If you look at the Mets record this year, all but 7 losses have come because Mets pitching has given up 3+ runs in a single inning. 54 losses have come because Mets pitching can't get out of an inning and they allow a floodgate of runs to open.

We all know the BLOWpen issues, but this is occurring with starting pitching as well. No Mets starter is innocent of these charges. In fact all of them have given up 3+ runs before the 5th inning in one game or another. So in the first 4 innings of a game the Mets consistently find themselves in a ditch they have to crawl out of.

Why is this such an issue? It has to do with a combination of lack of mental strength and situation awareness. Mets pitching has to realize that it is imperative to stop the bleeding of runs ASAP because of the power shortage that is the Mets lineup. Efforts need to be made to hammer this home especially as the Mets continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper into a sub .500 hole.

Dan Warthen is not fully to blame, but when his "employees" consistently fall into the same trap over and over and over, 54 games worth,  you would think this is a vital area that a pitching coach needs to work on with his staff.

Maybe he is, but whatever he's doing is not working.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

San Fran is Just What the Mets Needed

The city by the Bay seems to have a nice effect on the Mets. In fact, it's exactly what this team needed. The series was not pretty. It was downright ugly, even disgusting, at times, but the Mets leave with a series win in what was an unexpected result.

A West Coast road trip is always brutal on this team. Given the fact that they were falling faster than a lead balloon, it was the last thing the Mets needed. After splitting the series in Arizona, a trip to San Fran to face the division leading/tied Giants didn't look promising. Games 1 through 3 of the series would support my point, but the results are what counts.

During the Mets skid in the post-All Star break freefall, nothing was going right. Umpires. Errors. Strikeouts. Ineptitude. You name it, the Mets were doing it poorly. But against the Giants all of sudden the Mets were able to scrape out some wins despite poor performance. And honestly that's what competing teams do. They scratch out wins even when things aren't going their way. That was what the first half Mets did so well and we're finally seeing that again in the second half.

Every double play is an adventure. The BLOWpen gives you ulcers. Hitting with runners in scoring position is still a rarity, but even so the Mets a leaving the Bay area with a 3-1 series win and some momentum behind him as they're currently 5-3 on this road trip.

So now San Diego awaits. A team the Mets SHOULD beat. Should. Not guaranteed but the Mets could start to climb out of this cavernous hole they've dug for themselves if they can continue to find ways to win in San Diego.

By no stretch of the imagination am I think this team is back in contention. What I am saying is the first half traits that we loved in this 2012 team is starting to show up again. Well except for Jason Bay, but that's a separate rant all together...

I'm not looking for the Mets to win every game. I'm looking for the spark, the tenacity, the energy that carried us from April thru June to continue to be seen in August and September.