Strasburg Injury Reinforces Playing For Now & Not The Future

Strasburg Injury Reinforces Playing For Now & Not The Future

The window of opportunity is a fickle thing. Sometimes, what looks to be a budding dynasty gets one shot at winning and then crumbles in the aftermath.

In 2006, the Mets ran roughshod over the rest of the NL East, but injuries to key starting pitchers and horribly timed slumps from impact hitters led to the Mets dropping a heartbreaker of an NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in a season where the Mets SHOULD have not only beaten the Cardinals, but steamrolled the AL Champion Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

In the days that followed, the sadness turned to optimism as many fans pointed to the emergence of young stars Jose Reyes and David Wright as well as continued excellence from veteran Carloses, both Beltran and Delgado added to a pitching staff featuring a “healthy” Pedro Martinez, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and young fireballers John Maine and Oliver Perez who had both performed admirably in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, it would be nine years before the Mets even reached the playoffs following the disappointment of 2006. They had their chance. And they blew it. You don’t always get a second chance in sports.

The Atlanta Braves and NY Yankees both had runs of sustained success in the 90s and early 00s, but the Braves were only able to win one championship (in the strike-shortened season of 1995) proving that even if you have a fistful of lottery tickets, your number may still not come up.

This week, Nationals pitcher Stephan Strasburg was removed from a game and it was feared that he may have needed a second Tommy John surgery. The Nationals sit comfortably atop the NL Eastern division right now and – barring a monumental collapse – are pretty much guaranteed to see postseason play. But the loss of Strasburg for the postseason would have been a huge hit to their World Series chances.

The diagnosis was that he just had a strain of the flexor tendon, but more than that, it was a harrowing reminder of how you need to seize your opportunities when you have them. Strasburg was probably the most hyped draft pick in history when he was taken first overall by Washington in the 2009 draft and his talent and potential was on full display when he made his debut in 2010 in a 14 strikeout performance against the Pirates that was carried nationally on ESPN.

Unfortunately, for Strasburg and the Nats, he would need Tommy John surgery and missed most of the 2011 season before returning for a cup of coffee in September. He was ready to go for the 2012 season, but with a strict innings-limit that would force him to be shutdown in September while the Nats were thought to be a favorite to win the National League and potentially the World Series.

Without Strasburg – Washington’s clear-cut ace – they lost a five-game series to the Cardinals and, though they have always defended the organizational decision to sit Strasburg in his first full-year back from surgery, the questions and “what-ifs” have never gone away.The Nationals haven’t been in a position to make another such run until this season where they almost lost Strasburg again.

The Mets were faced with a similar issue with their ace, Matt Harvey, last season. They decided to peel away from their pre-season, self-imposed innings limit and let Harvey pitch until the final game of the World Series, by which point he had accumulated more innings than any other pitcher in history fresh off TJ surgery.

There’s a fine line between use and abuse and the Mets – while clearly pushing Harvey – didn’t abuse the right-hander. They simply tried to seize an opportunity both the player and team knew wouldn’t present itself very often.

It’s unenviable situation for an organization to be put into with how we value young, power arms in this day and age of baseball, and to risk long-term damage to such a valuable asset for a short-term gain is borderline irresponsible, but there has been no definitive proof showing exactly what causes pitchers to break.

Until there is, the cases of Harvey and Strasburg will keep presenting themselves with new faces and new names and new coaching staffs and front office executives who are forced to make the decision of whether to try to protect and asset or put the pedal to floor and go for what may be your one chance to get through a window that is eternally closing.

If you ask Mets fans, I guarantee they agree with going for it as 2015 was a magical season that evolved out of thin air and fell just short of possibly being miraculous. Nationals fans may have agreed with the decision to sit Strasburg at the time, thinking it was just the beginning of a long run of Washington dominance, but that never did materialize. They’re left with the what-ifs and the realization that you need to capitalize on legitimate championship opportunities when they present themselves because there is zero guarantee that there is another one waiting behind it.

There’s no sport as fickle as baseball when it comes to injuries and the impact they can have on expectations. Losing a starter of the ilk of a Harvey or Strasburg long-term usually means postponing expectations until they’re able to return. Which is why when you have them and when they’re able, you go for it. Every time. Because by the time you’re back in that position, you’re just a flexor tendon away from not being close again.

 

 

Shut Up Assholes, Signing Tebow Is Fine

Shut Up Assholes, Signing Tebow Is Fine

Let me be the one to put all your fragile minds at ease.

Tim Tebow signed a minor-league contract with the Mets today. He is not going to be on the major league roster this season…or next season, for that matter. He is not adding to an already crowded outfield. He will not be affecting the chemistry of the big league team during a stretch-run.

This is not embarrassing. You are not embarrassed. If at any point you DO feel embarassed, you are a moron. Plain and simple. You, kind sir and/or madam, are a fucking simpleton and are hereby no longer entitled to an opinion.

The biggest arguments against this are from people who are acting like he’s going to be taking playing time away from young (actual) major leaguers like Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. As we’ve established, this is not happening.

Then the next and best argument is that signing Tebow is a publicity stunt of the worst kind and the Mets should be embarassed. This one is only partially incorrect.

Yes, signing someone of Tim Tebow’s notoriety is part publicity stunt. But it is not a desperate one, nor even a bad one. For an example of a completely negative sports-franchise publicity stunt, look no further than when Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets.

It was a move completely forced by Jets owner, Woody Johnson, in an attempt to sell jerseys and personal seat licenses, but it quickly became an embarassment for the franchise as the coaching staff rejected Tebow from the very beginning and he ended up taking up a valuable roster spot as the backup quarterback and, even when starter Mark Sanchez faltered, was kept on the sidelines in favor of a third-stringer.

This is not happening with the Mets’ signing of Tebow today. Yes, he will be taking up a roster spot at the minor-league level, but it’s not like he will be hindering the development of a blue-chip prospect and, in fact, will add some much needed star power to the minor leagues who are always running some sort of gimmick or promotion in an attempt to draw more people to minor-league games.

Tebow brings star power and attention. He will sell tickets. He will sell jerseys. He is a PR machine like very few other major athletes alive right now.More than that, he’s a quality human being. At no point has Tim Tebow ever been connected to drugs, scandal or domestic violence. The worst thing ever said about him is that he’s very religious. Apparently, that rubs some people the wrong way.

I’m an atheist. I have the right to be. Tim Tebow also has the right to worship his god as he sees fit. So, to be perfectly honest with you, I couldn’t care less how hard Tim Tebow religions because at no point does it affect me or the way I have to lead my life.

He is an athletic freak. You have to be to even be considered to play professional sports at any level. Maybe (and most likely) he doesn’t ever crack a major league roster. So what? Since when did we become so obsessed with tearing people down and wanting to see them fail?

Tim Tebow is an immensely talented human being who brings a built-in fanbase so an organization that can benefit both financially and in public relations from what he brings to the table. This is the dictionary definition of a “no-lose situation”.

Tebow gets to try his hand at a different professional sport and the Mets and other franchises get to sell tickets to people who clearly have an interest in his pursuits. If he learns to hit off-speed pitching, who knows, maybe one day he’ll get a cup of coffee in the bigs and Mets GM, Sandy Alderson will be regaled as a genius for seeing something in “the failed football player”.

Or maybe Tebow only plays a year of A-ball and realizes that he’s been away from baseball for far too long to have a legitimate chance of moving through the system. There’s no shame in trying and failing. Good on him for putting himself out there knowing full well that people will be frothing at the mouth and waiting for him to fail so they can jump on him again.

At no point have I ever been a Tebow supporter, but I have zero against the guy. Let him try. It’s not affecting the Mets at the major league level and will only help their exposure and financials in the lower levels of the minors. Worst case scenario: it doesn’t work out and he goes back to ESPN to be a college football analyst again. Oh well.

So if you’re waiting for Tebow to fail, shush. Because if he didn’t sign with Mets, there was another half-dozen teams waiting to do the same thing.

For now, though…it’s Tebow Time.

TV Review: ESPN 30 For 30: Doc & Darryl

TV Review: ESPN 30 For 30: Doc & Darryl

ESPN continued its phenomenal 30 for 30 series the other night with “Doc & Darryl” directed by Judd Apatow.On paper, you’d think this was made for me. In execution? Eh…kinda.

When this was first announced, I was obviously interested, but skeptical at the same time. It’s one of those stories that – as a Met fan – you know all too well. You’ve heard all the scenarios, the fables, the what-ifs. I imagined that this was it was like for a hardcore comic book fan to see a new interpretation of a Spider-Man movie.

My biggest fear was put to rest in the first minute when Apatow states during his introduction of the film that, “This is not a story about 1986.” That genuinely worried me. I say it way too much, but the Mets are a franchise with very little in terms of great players and history so it becomes tiring to keep going back to 1986. Especially this year when we’ve been besieged with the 30th anniversary of that last Mets championship team. I’m kind of 86’d out.

Which, by proxy, means I’m kind of Doc and Darryl’d out too. So yes, this wasn’t a story about 1986, but it was still a tragic tale that was all too familiar to those of us who lived through the rise and fall of two of the most talented players the Mets have ever had.

Even though I saw pretty early on that I probably wouldn’t get any new information out of it, I still enjoyed it for what it was and think people with only a casual knowledge of the subjects would like it even more.

I do have a major problem, however. It has nothing to do with the movie, really, but the ease of making a “what-if” story about two young, black kids in the 80s who lost what could have been legendary careers when alcohol and cocaine ran rampant throughout all of not just the major leagues, but society in the 80s.

Yes, it’s sad that Doc blew the chance for a few more Cy Youngs and 300 wins up his nose. It’s sad that Darryl drank away 500 homers and the chance to be as revered in Queens as Reggie Jackson in the Bronx. But it’s equally as sad to see someone like Steve Howe (the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year) be suspended 7 times and die at 48 with meth in his system. Or Darrell Porter, a first round pick and multiple time All Star who was one of the first players to be open about his use die at 50 from what an autopsy revealed was “toxic effects of cocaine”.

The focus on Doc and Darryl is because it further pushes the narrative of the black community immersed in drug culture. Sure, it serves as a cautionary tale for those learning their stories, but it also scapegoats them as the posterboys for an epidemic which isn’t fair.

The movie is good enough. I’m sure there will be stories and factoids that people will be surprised to learn, but if you’re a big Mets fan or of either of these two players, there’s probably not much in here that you haven’t heard before.

I do hope that finally we can let these two be, though. Dragging them out every few years to write a new book or TV piece where they have to come up with some new scandalous story to keep things fresh is kind of tired.

If you haven’t yet caught this, “Doc & Darryl” can be caught streaming on the WatchESPN app.

Contact on Twitter: @MaximusSexPower or e-mail: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

The Octopus! Eight Ways to Fix Baseball!

The Octopus! Eight Ways to Fix Baseball!

With the talk of reducing the current 162 game regular season schedule gaining some steam among insiders, it’s time to take a look at other possible changes and improvements. I know you definitely won’t agree with most if any of them, but I believe in them and, hopefully, you’ll at least see the reasoning behind it. So, without further ado, I give you the inaugural ShoesOnSports OCTOPUS! Eight ways to fix something that is more profitable than ever!

1. Reduce the schedule to 154 game

The most obvious. The World Series ends far too late in the year. I think everybody would agree with that. This is also not a game meant to be played while wearing four layers of clothes and a mesh mask to protect from frostbite. In a perfect world, I’d actually reduce this a bit further, but we know what a ruckus this will cause over the income being given up by the owners by reducing the amount of event dates. Cutting just over a week off the schedule makes games more meaningful, helps players better manage their personal wear and tear and ends the season sooner in the calendar year. This should happen.

2. Abolish interleague play!

It came, it was fun for a while and now it’s redundant for no reason. A lot of teams don’t have “natural” rivals and so much of this is forced beyond the fact that it takes away from the appeal of the World Series and All-Star Game. Those events had an extra layer of intrigue to them in the past because we hadn’t seen these teams or players go at it during the year. That’s lost now and it’s time to fix it. Plus, as a Mets fan who couldn’t care less about the Yankees, those games have zero extra meaning to me beyond being a game I could make money on by re-selling my tickets. Besides if we’re going to cut games off the schedule, we need to reallocate those matchups because we’re about to…

3. Abolish divisions!

Right now, we have three division leaders and two Wild Card teams that qualify for some form of postseason play in each league. We also have unbalanced schedules within divisions and interleague play which leads to an unequal strength of schedule between the teams all competing for the same playoff positions. By eliminating both interleague play and the heaviness of a predominant inter-divisional schedule, we turn to playing all teams within the NL equally with the top 5 qualifying and playing under the same postseason format. If we want the regular season to matter, we can’t continue to have teams from stronger divisions (i.e. the 2015 Pirates) get punished while division winners in weak divisions (i.e. the 2015 Mets) get a guaranteed series of play because of quirk. The best teams should be in the best positions.

5. Force hitters and pitchers to hurry up

I was watching a Mets classic game recently and was taken aback with how quick the game moved from pitch to pitch. Ron Darling was on the mound for the Mets and as soon as he received the ball back from the catcher, he was back on the rubber ready to throw his next pitch. The hitter never left the box and was prepared for it and the game moved at a brisk pace. This is important. Games take too long. I love baseball and I think games have an incredible tendency to get boring and slow. What does that say about casual fans? Where’s the incentive for them to sit and watch or attend a game? I’m constantly disheartened by how many people at games nowadays couldn’t care less about the game. They’re there for the clubs or perks or whatever else the stadium offers that means they don’t have to sit in their seat and watch the game. You’re not building newer, younger fans with a three and a half hour trudge through molasses.

6. Call the high strike

We say it all the time: the strike zone is from the knees to the letters, but hardly ever is anything above the belt called a strike. Start calling it. Make these players swing the bats and keep the game moving. We all get strategy and the benefits and taking pitches and trying to get the starter out of the game, but we’ve got other stuff to do and while we want to watch the game, we also want to get to bed at a decent time. Offense drives interest. Make players swing the bats. This isn’t even a new rule. Just call it the way it’s written.

7. Ban “God Bless America”

Keep your politics out of my baseball. This is not the national anthem and I do not have to stand and remove my hat for this. I don’t and I never will. We honor America at the beginning of each game by playing the real national anthem. That’s sufficient.

8. Day games on weekends: No excuses

No more ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. No more FOX game of the week at 7 PM on Saturdays. Give both networks an NFL-like 1Pm east coast and 4PM west coast game and that’s it. While I understand that people work weekends now more than ever, you’re not doing yourselves any favors by continually making kids leave games early because they take forever and Dad wants to beat the traffic. This also serves another purpose by making MLB destination afternoon viewing during months without other sports competition and opens fans up to seeing players and teams they’re not accustomed to. The game has become so regionalized that this would help in the marketing and exposure of superstar players. Sure, you know Mike Trout is great, but how many of you that don’t have MLB At-Bat and don’t work nights actually get to see him play. He’s just a name in a box score to most people. That has to change. This is a good way to help that along.

There you have it. Eight ways to improve the presentation and nature of the baseball season. Comments, complaints and verbal jousting welcome and expected.

Twitter: @MaximusSexPower, E-Mail: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

 

 

Playoffs?! Are Mets Playoff Bound? Would That Even Be Enough?

Playoffs?! Are Mets Playoff Bound? Would That Even Be Enough?

I try to have realistic expectations when it comes to the Mets and, a lot of times, those come off as rather negative, but – when it comes down to it – we all want the same thing: for the Mets to win the World Series.

Coming into the 2016 season, I said how strange it felt to actually have genuine expectations for this ballclub. As Met fans, we’ve basically gotten used to being out of things before the trade deadline, but still seem to enjoy the few bright spots whether that be an overperforming fan favorite (see: Dickey, R.A, 2012) or a singular moment of awesomeness (Santana, Johan, also 2012). There are times when the team is bad, but there’s still enough to have fun while taking in the day-to-day grind of the season.

There’s been plenty of years where I’ve gone to a ton of games during lost seasons and found ways to still maximize the fun value whether that be through cheap tickets, short lines for bathrooms and concessions or not having to wait to get out of the parking lot. That kind of stuff matters to a ballpark experience.

This year was different, though. Coming off a surprise World Series appearance last year, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the same seats at the same prices anymore. I knew I’d have to wait a bit longer than usual to get a steak sandwich. More importantly, I knew I had a team on the field that wasn’t building for the future, but meant to contend right now.

To be honest, the fact that the Mets are only 6 games out in the NL East right now despite all of the injuries they’ve suffered in the lineup is an accomplishment in itself. The team has looked so inept offensively at times that you have to wonder just how much of a catastrophe this season would have been had the front office followed the original blueprint and not resigned Yoenis Cespedes.

But let’s not play the “what-if” game right now. Let’s take a genuine look at what we have as we start the second half tonight in Philadelphia. Can this team make the playoffs? Is making the playoffs enough to fulfill the preseason expectations? Can Daniel Murphy just leave us alone? Let’s examine.

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Is there enough pitching to hold this together?

This is the most important question and the answer isn’t as simple as it was even a month ago. Matt Harvey hasn’t been the Matt Harvey we thought we were getting and will now miss the remainder of the season due to surgery. For now, at least, he’ll be replaced in the rotation by Logan Verrett who has basically been your typical 6th starter/swingman out of the bullpen. Key thing to remember here is that while Harvey has a lot of name value, the performance that needs to be replaced wasn’t Cy Young level so Verrett should – hopefully – be able to give you what you were getting out of Harvey before the injury.

A bigger problem is the setbacks in the rehab of Zack Wheeler. Originally expected to be returning to the rotation around now, Wheeler has continually suffered what the team has classified as “minor” setbacks and hasn’t even thrown off a mound as of yet. That is not good. At this point, it’s basically unreasonable to expect any kind of significant contribution from Wheeler in 2016.

Which brings us to Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz who both have bone spurs in their elbows which doesn’t even include Thor’s recent “dead arm” issue. If one or both of them decides that the pain from the spur is just too much and decides to have surgery to remove it, this team is dead in the water as there just isn’t the depth in the system that there used to be because of promotions, trades and Rafael Montero completely forgetting how to pitch. Bartolo Colon was brought back this season to give the team a bridge in the rotation until Wheeler would come back at which point he’d move into the pen and provide depth. He’s been terrific and the Mets have needed it as their best-laid plans have caught fire.

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Why didn’t they re-sign Daniel Murphy?

Look, Murph was here for a long time and was a nice player, but aside from two weeks in October, he never looked like the player he has apparently become. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and the Mets desperately needed to upgrade defensively after they were absolutely exposed in the World Series against the Royals. Allowing Murph to leave gave them the chance to add a comparable offensive player in Neil Walker who was a definite improvement with the glove while also being able to add a first-round sandwich pick in the draft after giving Daniel the qualifying offer. With Dilson Herrera waiting in Las Vegas to take over 2B in Queens, the ability to use Walker as a one year stopgap and get back another compensation draft pick when he leaves as a free agent after this year was a smart tactical decision by the front office. Sure, it stings that Murphy has had a great year and has hit something like 43 homers against just the Mets so far, but sometimes these things happen. I’m not rooting against Murph. For a team that lacks positive moments in their history, Murph provided us with one of the all-time great postseason runs – not just in Mets history – but in all of baseball. We should always be grateful for that.

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Is Jose Reyes the biggest addition we’ll see for this lineup?

From how it sounds…probably. But is this enough? I wasn’t enamored with the idea of signing Jose. As much as I was a fan during his first go-round in Queens, the combination of declining skills and him grabbing his wife by the throat and slamming her into a door didn’t exactly put him at the top of my list. But he’s here. He’s shown obvious signs of rust which is to be expected since he hasn’t seen major league action since last October, but, aside from that, there does appear to be something left in the tank. He’s obviously motivated to reclaim his career and – even if he isn’t as fast as he used to be – he’s still a net positive on the basepaths (as long as he can get on base with any consistency) because the Mets – as a team – may have the least footspeed of any team ever. This team is strictly station to station which limits the things you can do offensively if you can’t steal a base or go first to third on a single to right or even score from second on a base hit. This team needs to be able to generate more runs so Reyes could be valuable if he finds even some of what made him special way back when.

The lineup will still need another addition, but it’s doubtful it will come from outside the organization in another Cespedes-type acquisition like last year. Lucas Duda seems no closer to returning than he did when he first went out and the team may have to rely on Walker, Curtis Granderson to provide bigger second halves to go along with the return of Michael Conforto once he returns to the big club from a stint in Triple-A. Before going down, Conforto looked absolutely overmatched and was an automatic out. Hopefully, he comes back in a similar fashion that d’Arnaud did when he was demoted a few years back with a renewed approach and clear head.

collins

Is Terry Collins the right guy to be leading this team?

I hate Terry. It’s no secret. I can’t kill him too much this season because of all the injuries, but do I have faith that Terry Collins will be to outmaneuver anybody come crunch time? No. Not in the least. Unfortunately, barring an unforseen and atypical ballsy move by Alderson, Collins is here to stay.

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Is this a playoff caliber team? Is just making the playoffs enough?

Can this team as currently constructed make the playoffs? Tough question. I’d lean toward yes, they can, but it’s far from a sure thing. The Marlins have been surprising and while the Pirates haven’t played as well as you may have expected, there’s still plenty of time for them to get hot. The Dodgers currently hold the first Wild Card spot, but if Clayton Kershaw’s back injury is anything longer-term than thought, they are in real trouble with a thin rotation.

The Mets had huge expectations coming into the year with a maturing pitching staff that was considered the best in the game and a solid lineup that Collins never figured out how to work before everybody dropped like flies anyway. I am not confident that the Mets will catch the Nationals. It wouldn’t be absurd if they did, but this is not the Nationals of last year. They’re playing with a chip on their shoulder and are taking extra enjoyment each time they can humble the Mets, especially when Murphy is the one leading the way.

The Mets will have to slide in as a Wild Card where they have as good a shot as anybody as long as they don’t lose any of the other pitchers. But would that be enough to satisfy preseason expectations?

Honestly? Yeah. To me, yes. The Mets – in their history – have only qualified for the postseason in consecutive years one time (1999-2000). That’s it. We’ve sat through such consistency of losing that our great teams are standalone years as opposed to transcendent eras of winning. This team has enough pieces in place where this can be a sustained run of competitiveness and – with the amount of teams that now qualify for the postseason – should be playing meaningful September and October baseball for the foreseeable future.

Only eight teams (the two that lose the Wild Card game really don’t count) in the majors make the playoffs. It’s an accomplishment to get there after such a long season and should be respected and appreciated as such. As a Mets fan, you’ve learned to deal with extended periods of losing baseball while keeping the optimism high that the future holds better days. Well, that future is here. This team may not be blowing teams out of the water like the 86 or 06 teams did, but they’re a far cry from being “the worst team money can buy” of the early 90s.

Yes, missed opportunity to score a run from third with less than two out is going to frustrate you, but sometimes you have to take a step back and remember, “Hey…we went to the World Series last year.” I know I do. It actually happened. I have a cap and jersey that actually say “World Series” on it. Enjoy the good times, friends. Because, as we’ve seen, they can be fleeting and then you’ll be left wishing you enjoyed them more as they were happening.

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or via e-mail: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

 

Collins Again Inept On National Stage

Collins Again Inept On National Stage

After an abomination of tactical performance in the World Series, Terry Collins was rewarded with managing the National League All-Stars in last night’s game in San Diego.

I’ve gone into enough detail in the past on my feelings on the deficiencies of Collins. He was supposed to be the guy to just steward a ship of kids until they were ready for a real manager. He’s proven time and again that he’s not the guy to guide this team to the next level and last year’s ride into the World Series was more in spite of him than because of him.

But last night should have been too easy to screw up.

And it would have been, too…for everybody except Terry Collins.

The Mets are a franchise with very little in terms of positive history. So when there’s an opportunity to add something fun to the ledger for both the team and the fans it has to be capitalized upon.

While the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals were once again stealing the headlines, Clueless Collins did his best to hide his players, his team and leave his fanbase frustrated and disappointed by not inserting either of the available Mets players (Bartolo Colon and Jeurys Familia) into last night’s All-Star game.

Collins apparently had his script for if/when to use both players, but – shockingly – the game didn’t play out like the one he had written on paper and what should have been a proud moment for Familia to participate in his first and Colon in probably his last All-Star event instead ended with a lot of angry people turning off TVs in New York after being unable to cheeer for their own players.

Look, I get it: The All-Star Game is a pretty pointless exhibition and at least nobody on the Mets had an arm amputated during the 7th inning stretch. But this was supposed to be a moment for the Mets to once again take another step as one of the better franchises in the league in front of a national audience. It was supposed to be a moment for fans to be excited to cheer on THEIR All-Stars from THEIR defending National League champions.

Instead, it became a giant “fuck you” from Tone-Deaf Terry to his fanbase. Collins is a baseball lifer and this blatant exhibition of ignorance from the man is abhorrent. The reports from the Mets’ beat writers after the game had both Familia and Noah Syndergaard both unwilling to give interviews and apparently the mood amongst the players was rather dour.

It would take the Mets to fuck up such an easy opportunity to do something easy and great for the franchise and fanbase. Thanks to Terrible Terry they were able to not only do it, but do it spectacularly.

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or email: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

Book Report: Ron Darling’s “Game 7, 1986”

Book Report: Ron Darling’s “Game 7, 1986”

I don’t read half as much as I’d like to or as much as I think I should. Books anyway. I mean, as a population, we probably do more reading now than ever before because of the internet, but we’ve also become uninterested with anything that can’t be done within a few minutes.

So, recently, I’ve kind of made more of an effort to read more actual books and started with “Game 7, 1986: Failure And Triumph In The Biggest Game Of My Life” by Ron Darling (with Daniel Paisner).

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It took me longer to get to this book than it really should have because the book’s target audience is essentially me, but once I finally made the decision to read this, I was able to fly through it in just a few sessions. I had read Darling’s earlier book, “The Complete Game” a few years before after winning a copy in a contest on MetsMerized and came into this book with a built-in appreciation for Darling’s thoughtfulness as he tends to dig a little deeper than normal sports cliches and give the reader (as he does his listeners on SNY and TBS during the season) a deeper and better understanding of what is happening and why.

Darling was the starting pitcher for the Mets on Monday, October 27, 1986 when the Mets last clinched a World Series title in a game that has become mostly forgotten about due to the extraordinary circumstances that surrounded the classic Game 6 of the series just two days before.

He acknowledges that fact early-on and proceeds to take you on a roller coaster ride inside the head of a young athlete getting ready to have the seminal moment of his career. From late in Game 6 where pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre tells him to head home to get a good night’s rest for the next day’s deciding game (which was subsequently postponed because of rain) you have a front row seat for the whirlwind of thoughts, preperation, worries and dreams that fill a man’s head when the success of a team and a city are all put on his right arm.

But, whereas you normally get the Disney ending with these types of stories, Darling wasn’t up to the challenge on this night and was pulled from the game early while putting his team at a three-run disadvantage.

You never get the feeling that moment was too big for him, but just that the Red Sox were well-prepared and had made adjustments as this was Darling’s third start in the series. It’s the setting every kid has dreamed about. He’s front and center during the deciding game of the World Series, but there would be no walk-off homer or 9th inning strikeout as the dream collapses around him.

I found this to be new and fresh and – to a point – almost awkward in that you’re eavesdropping on Darling’s private moment as he admits his failing and what he was going through on the mound as he realizes that things are caving in around him. It’s a game that even in victory has haunted him for 30 years as he (and everybody else back then) just assumed he would get another chance; that the Mets would be returning to the World Series every year, but that never came to pass. A combination of trades, drugs and injuries clipped the mid-80s Mets dynasty after just one glorious season and while the team that night in 1986 did come back to win, Darling was left with a giant “what if” that he was never able to properly vanquish throughout the remainder of his career.

I loved this book as it provided some incredible detail into one of the most significant games in Mets history along with a ribbon of hindsight after 30 years that will make you want to re-watch Game 7 almost immediately after completing the book. Yes, I did re-watch the game and yes, putting the context of the book with the body language and facial expressions given off by Darling until he was pulled in the 4th inning.

Recommended highly for Mets and baseball fans, but also for all sports fans who want to get a feel of what it’s like to be on the biggest stage in a profession and how one of the athletes at the center of the focus dealt with the pressures and expectations.