Shit Blogger to Appear at Indie Wrestling Show Tomorrow!

Hey, readers! You obviously like me enough to keep coming back to this blog where I bitch and rant about Terry Collins! Ever think, “Wow, I’d like to see the fine, masculine specimen in person”? How about, “I’ve always wanted to meet Dennis Haskins who played Mr. Belding on TV’s ‘Saved By The Bell'”?

Well, you’re in luck!

If you didn’t already, know, I’ve spent the past 14 years and 11 months of my life in and around the professional wrestling business and tomorrow, will be appearing on a show in Brooklyn, NY also featuring an appearance from Mr. Belding himself!

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That’s me. I’m the Revolting Blob. I’m probably the greatest wrestler you’ve never seen in person. Seriously, like totally and unbelievably amazing. I do an entrance. And I have music. And I do all those fucking flips the kids like to. Sure, why not?

If you’re interested, visit the official WrestlePro website or click on to their Twitter feed.

In all seriousness, WrestlePro does present a great live wrestling show appropriate for fans and friends of all ages. They feature a roster of homegrown talent sprinkled with veterans, globally-known stars and sometimes, even me.

So, if you’re in the area and in need of something to do, come down to St. Pat’s CYO Sports on 4th Ave. in Bayridge tomorrow and I will guarantee a good time.

WrestleproApril

Ballpark Experience: Cleveland’s Progressive Field

Sorry I’ve been quiet for the past week. Between traveling and work and basic adulting, I haven’t had much time to come here and give you my expert analysis of a sudden offensive juggernaut of a baseball team.

One of my favorite things about baseball is the ballparks. Each stadium has its own quirks and personality that make it distinctly different than the other parks around the league. Whereas an arena housing basketball or hockey or even a football stadium are pretty much interchangable, baseball stadiums stand out for their idiosyncrasies and can become – to people like me – tourist attractions.

Each year, I try to get to a few new stadiums. Usually, it’s just a day trip so as to not burn vacation time from work, but in cities where I have friends or there’s other things I’d like to do, I can and have made it a couple of days. I don’t always pick my visits just to see the Mets, but I will admit that I do make more of an effort to see them just because it gives me more reason to be invested in the game.

That being said, a weekend series in Cleveland against the Indians immediately caught my attention when the schedule was released. How often do the Mets play in fucking Cleveland? It seemed like a mighty good excuse to knock Progressive Field off my list.

A few weeks ago, I grabbed a great seat off StubHub. Three rows off the field on the Mets side, just a couple of sections down the right-field line. I paid $47 once taxes and fees and all that bullshit were included. That’s pretty good value.

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Gates only open one hour before first pitch except for the Right Field Gate which opens two hours early. It gives you the opportunity to catch what’s left of batting practice, but most of the ballpark is still closed off to foot traffic and you’re pretty limited to just the Right Field bleachers and food court area behind.

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I was one of the first people in the building and was able to grab a spot against the rail and saw basically all of Mets’ warmups. The fun part about this is meeting all of the other Mets fans who made the trip as everybody was more than happy to share their story of where they traveled from, where in NY they or their family was originally from and how they still keep in tune to the team while living in another market. Obviously, I was too happy to join in these reindeer games as living in Tampa, FL makes me ready-made for these types of conversations.

Now besides the game, the best part is exploring the culinary offerings provided by each park. I contacted the one person I know in Cleveland, Impact Wrestling Knockout, Marti Bell. She is actually a pretty frequent attendee at Progressive Field, but alas, would not be here this night because she was actually in Tampa to work for Shine Wrestling that night. Irony at its finest. But she did tell me that I had to eat at a spot called Melt and that I would thank her for it.

As batting practice wound down, I headed behind the seats in RF to what is apparently a newly-designed food court and found the Melt stand. After perusing the menu for a minute, I went with a BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese and a beer.

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I very rarely say nice things about Marti in public, but this was the best advice she has ever given me. This was goddamn delicious and, there was almost zero spillage from the bread which is a big deal when having a sandwich. In the words of Jeff Spicoli, “awesome, totally awesome.”

OK, so back to the stadium. Progressive Field has the look of being smaller than almost any other stadium I’ve been to. The outfield doesn’t seem very spacious, but the building has a nice, homely feel where the seats seem to hover over the field allowing for a lot of good views throughout various sections.

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I found the Indians fans to be very friendly. I kind of expected that as there’s no rivalry between the teams, but I was able to be engaged in night-long conversation as basically anybody within three rows all jumped in to talk about our run to the Series last year and – especially – the Indians teams of the 90s when they were just a powerhouse.

From what I’ve read online, they’ve done some serious upgrades to concessions since last year and the offerings and beer selections were pretty good. Bathrooms were relatively clean and walking areas were spacious and unconstrictive.

While Progressive Field isn’t one of the better parks I’ve been to, it definitely made for a fun night at a ballgame with reasonable prices on tickets and concessions. The biggest drawbacks are the views and setting (San Francisco is just on another level than everybody else when it comes to that) and the fact that, as an excursion destination, there just is many attractive tourist spots to hit in Cleveland. I did consider going to the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame before my flight the next day, but decided I can see much of the same memorabilia at the various Hard Rock Cafes around the country and ended up going to see a movie to kill time instead.

I give Progressive Field a 5/10. It lacks in aesthetics and has an almost “small-time” vibe to it, but does provide good value for your dollar and features a race between a hot dog with ketchup, a hot dog with mustard and a hot dog with onions that is exactly as creepy as it sounds. I’d recommend it, but it’s not one of the stadiums you have to put on a bucket list.

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Seriously…creepy AF.

 

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

 

Game 8: Logan Becomes Weapon-X,Terry Collins is Still a Moron

Welcome, everybody, to another Mets recap of the game you read about on 25 other sites first. For that reason – and also because there’s no sense in going into a full blown book report on a very uninspiring game – let’s break down the highlights into list fashion and then I’ll expand upon some things that stuck out.

  • Logan Verrett started in place of Jacob deGrom (who still hasn’t been put on the DL or the Paternity list which means the Mets are, essentially, playing down a man) and was excellent throwing six innings of shutout ball. Verrett has been pretty good when thrown into that spot starter role and it’s great that we were able to get him back from the Rangers last season after losing him in the Rule V Draft.
  • Terry Collins is a bumbling fool who is trying to destroy shoulders and elbows with no regard for humanity. He is the Son of Sam-equivalent for relief pitchers.
  • The Mets again did basically nothing on offense. But they were tremendous at finding not-fun and non-exciting ways of leaving runners in scoring position when they got them there.
  • Last week, Jim Henderson looked like he may have been a shrewd under-the-radar bullpen signing. Yesterday, he looked like his arm was going to fall off.
  • Jeurys Familia pitched in his third straight game, but to make matters even better, was asked to get a five-out save. No big deal.
  • Kevin Plawecki drove in both Mets runs with a late-inning single that felt as if it was never going to happen. Runs are good.

OK, so there we have it and you’re all caught up. But let’s talk Terry Collins. Colactus, The Devourer of Teams. Anybody that knows me knows just how much I disdain Terry Collins. I firmly believe that the team achieved what they did last season in spite of him as opposed to because of him.

He’s shown no ability to manage a bullpen. He’s consistently failed at further developing young position players at the big league level (the pitchers don’t count, that’s all Dan Warthen), he’s been too reliant upon preferred veterans when there’s clearly better options and he’s so stuck to a “script” of how he thinks he should manage a game that he has no ability to adapt and make in-game adjustments to his strategy.

Need examples? How about giving a washed-up Michael Cuddyer three at-bats in game one of the World Series instead of the much more productive Juan Uribe? Or trying to push Steven Matz through a sixth inning in Game Four when he clearly was losing his command through the fifth? And then burning through his two long relievers in Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon to bail out Matz of that same sixth inning so he could go to the storyboarded Addison Reed/Tyler Clippard/Jeurys Familia frame that he had mapped out which saw Clippard unable to find the strike zone and Familia put in a horrible position with men on base in the 8th to try to hold everything together.

Terry Collins’ ideas are held together with bubblegum and hope. And just like Roddy Piper, he’s all outta bubblegum.

After using the past few post-game press conferences telling the fanbase not to worry and to hold off on loading the moving truck to Panic City, Collins himself became the mayor of said city using his bullpen in a way that was both irresponsible and shameful.

After getting six shutout innings out of spot-starter Logan Verrett, Collins elected to bring in reliever Jim Henderson. Before making the Mets out of spring training, Henderson had not pitched in the majors since early in the 2014 season because of shoulder problems. He had been great through his first couple of appearances this season, but the night before had thrown a career-high 34 pitches to get through just one-third of an inning (mostly due to a 16 pitch at-bat to Dee Gordon). Seeing as how this was a day game after a night game and considering Henderson’s injury history, this is absolutely the type of game he should have been sitting out of.

The bullpen has been taxed heavily lately due to Steven Matz’s abysmal outing on Monday, but the Mets had called up Rafael Montero to supply depth to said relief corps. Collins decided against using Montero in what was, at the time, a scoreless game. If it’s a matter of trust (fuck you, Billy Joel) then perhaps Montero shouldn’t have been the man brought in from Las Vegas and the Mets could have gone the Sean Gilmartin route instead.

Henderson’s first pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 89 MPH, far short of the 95 MPH he had been averaging. After a hit and two walks, he was mercifully removed and Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins got the team out of a bases loaded, no out jam without sacrificing a run.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Collins, intent on setting fire to every reliever in his path called upon Jeurys Familia to record a five-out save in his third consecutive day of pitching. Familia had been a godsend for the Mets last year after inheriting the closer role once Jenrry Mejia failed the first of his 46 drug tests and was dominant. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the broadcast booth kept hammering home the point that Familia only gets stronger as he gets more work which pretty much goes against everything we’ve been told about arms, shoulders and elbows over the last few years.

The Mets can simply not afford to lose their closer because an inept manager panicked and felt the need to show fans they “mean business here.”

Thankfully, the team has today off for travel as they head to Cleveland for a weekend interleague match-up with the Indians. To be honest, I’m over the whole novelty of interleague play (which I’ll probably address in a future post), but the one thing I do enjoy is that it gives me a chance to visit a new stadium to see my team instead of watching two teams I otherwise don’t care about.

As long as I’m able to get on my flight tonight, I’ll be there tomorrow for my first visit to Progressive Field which will become my 15th ballpark. Pics and stories to come.

Thanks for reading. Bye, love you, mean it.

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

Game 7: Thor Can’t Defend Midgard Alone

Noah Syndergaard is really good at baseball. We can agree on that, right? The rest of the Mets right now, however, are not on the same level of performance.

The team dropped their fourth straight last night – this one by the score of 2-1 to the Miami Marlins – and wasted an absolutely scintillating performance from the 23 year-old fireballer in the process. Thor went 7 innings, allowing just one run and striking out 12 Marlin hitters in the process.

Syndergaard was on fire right out of the gate, sporting his trademark high 90s fastball and his array of low to mid 90s breaking and offspeed stuff. Two starts into the season and you can already see the dramatic improvements he’s made since last season. He hasn’t sacrificed velocity, but has refined his complimentary pitches which include a 95 MPH slider that is just absolutely unreal. It’s even more impressive when you realize that Thor didn’t really have a slider at all last season.

He was dominant, but got into trouble in the 4th inning thanks to our old friend, BABIP. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re my mom and don’t have a clue as to what BABIP is. It stands for Batting Average on Balls In Play and is exactly what it says it is. Obviously, you have a better chance of getting a hit if you actually make contact and the Marlins did exactly that. They hit nothing solid off Syndergaard, but a couple of soft grounders JUST out of the reach of infielders and a lobbed dinker into right field led to a run that would be the only one Noah would surrender.

Unfortunately – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Mets weren’t able to do anything with the bats despite having Miami starter, Jose Fernandez, in plenty of trouble early in the game.

They got on the board early with a run-scoring single from Lucas Duda, but ran themselves out of a potentially big inning when Duda was thrown out at second trying to stretch said single after a bobble in right field by Giancarlo Stanton. They followed up the first inning by loading the bases in the second, but David Wright hit a routine fly ball to Stanton ending the threat.

Fernandez then settled in and retired ten in a row before being removed after 5 innings and 90 pitches by manager, Don Mattingly, as he is still in the early stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery and isn’t being overextended especially on a particularly chilly evening in Queens.

Bottom line, the Mets haven’t been good. You can say it’s early and you can say the schedule was odd, but at some point, you can’t just keep making excuses. The Royals (the same Royals that beat us in the World Series last November) had the same schedule to start their season and they’re 5-2. Every day that goes by means we’re one more day removed from it being early. Seven games turns into 15 in the blink of an eye. And before you know it, 15 turns into 50 games. They need to get their shit together and quickly.

Remember, we’re not just competing against the Nationals here. In a short, postseason series or even a one-game Wild Card play-in, the Mets have a great chance because of the pitching staff they’ve assembled, but first, they have to get there. They currently have the second-worst record in the National League and, though I obviously expect that to change, we’re looking at an expected seven teams (Mets, Nats, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers and Giants) competing for five playoff spots. That doesn’t even include any kind of Cinderella team or a better than expected season from a team like the DBacks that could throw even more chaos into a race.

The point of this? While it may not yet be time to jump off a bridge, this is not something you want to see for very much longer. After the getaway game with Miami this afternoon, the team heads out on a 9 game road trip. They cannot still be playing this brand of baseball by the time they return home.

It’s not like it’s one player’s fault either. The offensive ineptitude is a complete team effort as there hasn’t been anybody in the lineup that has established anything resembling and consistency through the first 10 days.

If you’ve read my stuff back into last season, you know my feelings on Terry Collins. I don’t like him. Players have to play, but it’s his job to put those players in the best situation to succeed. I don’t believe for one second that he does that and can point to numerous examples (in just the World Series alone [and no, I actually give him the benefit of the doubt on the Harvey call in game 5; he was screwed no matter what he decided]) where he’s made very questionable tactical decision that have cost runs, innings or games.

While I’m not going to kill Terry quite yet, I do question the lineup he’s rolling out everyday right now. It comes off awkward and inefficient to me. Right now, this is what TC seems to be attached to:

  1. Granderson (L)
  2. Wright (R)
  3. Cespedes (R)
  4. Duda (L)
  5. Walker (S)
  6. Conforto (L)
  7. Cabrera (S)
  8. d’Arnaud (R)

I’m not a fan of that construction. Neil Walker is not a prototypical run-producer and seems out of place in the five-hole. By the same token, Travis d’Arnaud has shown an ability for power and potential and we all came into this season expecting him to take the next step in his growth by becoming the impact bat he’s been projected to become for years.Burying him in the 8th spot in front of the pitcher isn’t doing anybody any favors right now especially when there’s nobody on base in front of him. If I had my way, I’d roll out the following:

  1. Granderson (L)
  2. Wright (R)
  3. Conforto (L)
  4. Cespedes (R)
  5. Duda (L)
  6. d’Arnaud (R)
  7. Walker (S)
  8. Cabrera (S)

You’ll notice that the first thing I did was go lefty-righty-lefty-righty the whole way through. I don’t swear by that manipulation, but I do think it’s appropriate for the talent we have available.

I assume that most people would question my usage of Michael Conforto in the three-hole most. He’s young and while he LOOKS like a future star, he doesn’t have the track record to back it up yet. It’s a fair point, but Conforto has a good understanding of the strike zone, handles the bat well and does have pop. Plus, hitting in front of Cespedes should give him an opportunity to see more fastballs with men on base. I don’t think of Conforto as a 30 homer guy, but a consistent 15-20 is a very real possibility and with his gap-power could become a 100 RBI guy in the mold of – wait for it – Keith Hernandez. Keith was an MVP and a case can be made that he should be a Hall of Famer and I’m not saying Conforto is a future that, but their swings and ability to split gaps with some pop seem comparable.

I also like Walker and Cabrera near the bottom. Both are consistent, professional hitters. At this point, you’re not projecting anything with either of them. You’re getting what’s on the back of their baseball cards. They’re steady. Walker’s talents are put to better use in the 7 where he’s not expected to be an RBI man. Asdrubal Cabrera can be useful in a few spots (I wouldn’t hesitate him to use him at 2 depending on other players’ days off and such), but in the 8, he rounds out what looks to be a balanced lineup that takes advantage of the talent at hand.

We have a few hours to go before the getaway game with Miami. Hopefully, we’ll pick one up before hitting the road.

Also, the NHL Playoffs start tonight: LET’S GO PENS!

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

Wrestle-Matz-ia (Game) 6: The Not-Quite-Ultimate Challenge

Almost every Monday, my buddy Pete Cool and I go to a local bar over here in Tampa for Pop Culture trivia night. We have a few adult beverages, a gaggle of laughs and sometimes even win a gift card to be used for more adult beverages at the host bar.

Last night, I looked for any excuse not to go to Trivia Night because I just wanted to stay on the couch and watch the Mets. I get like that during baseball season. Anything that comes in the way of me watching the Mets gets severely questioned. Do I wanna go? Do I REALLY wanna go? I don’t wanna go. Maybe someone else will feel like not going and give me an excuse to not go.

Well, Pete was ready to comply as he was looking to get to bed early, but due to constant prodding from other friends who rely on our knowledge of “How Do You Talk To An Angel” by The Heights, we both ended up going out even if I was rather preoccupied watching the game on the MLB.tv app on my iPhone.

It became clear almost immediately that being in a place that served alcohol was the best thing that could have happened to me as Steven Matz got absolutely lit the fuck up in a seven-run second inning against the Marlins that made watching the last 7 and a half innings a chore of the worst kind.

The Mets did scratch across a few runs later, but the game was clearly decided as an offensive that has seen severe struggles early on showed no real capability to get back into the game. This allowed me to pay more attention to trivia and my did mounted a final round upset to win the aforementioned gift card by being able to put four albums from 2000 in order from highest to lowest by opening week sales.

Because I’m sure you’ll ask, here’s the order:

  1. “No Strings Attached” – *NSYNC
  2. “The Marshall Mathers LP” – Eminem
  3. “Black And Blue” – Backstreet Boys
  4. “Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water” – Limp Bizkit

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This is the legendary Pete Cool posing with the trophy that turns us into a group of incredibly obnoxious assholes. So we won. That was good.

Quick Mets notes that have nothing to do with trivia:

  • The team has gotten absolutely zero from both Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. The hope was for Grandy to sustain what he was able to do last season, but this was supposed to be the season for TdA to really come into his own and turn into an elite offensive catcher. Travis is far removed from being a prospect and, at 27, is in his athletic prime. If he’s healthy, the tools are there.
  • Nice job by Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins chipping in 3.2 innings of scoreless relief in what was already a whitewash.Was listening to Howie and Josh on the way back from trivia and Howie mentioned that the infield hit by Dee Gordon off Blevins was the first time a hitter has reached based safely since Blevins became a Met. He had retired his previous 21 hitters. Cool, little factoid.
  • What was up with the cage on Giancarlo Stanton’s batting helmet. It was on for his first at-bat, off for the second in which he homered off Matz and then back on again. I couldn’t hear the audio so don’t know if GKR made any mention of this, but that was just odd.

So, what did we learn from last night? Nothing, really. These kinds of blowouts happen both for and against every time at some point during the season and actually worries me less than the games against the Phillies. Combine that with the fact that Matz hadn’t pitched in what feels like two weeks because of the silly scheduling and I’m not overly concerned.

The boys are back at it tonight with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound against Jose Fernandez in one of those pitching match-ups that looks awesome on paper. Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last year, but it should still be fun.

Two more games against the Marlins before the Mets hit the road for a nine-game road trip. I’d like to see them (or just anybody in the lineup) get the bats going a bit so they have a little positive momentum going into that trip, but maybe getting on the road may be what this team needs.

After all the pomp and circumstance of the opening series rematch in Kansas City and then returning home to good crowd and NL Championship rings, maybe getting on the road for a stretch away from all this will be good to get them back in the routine of just having to play baseball.

I’ll actually be in Cleveland on Friday to see Progressive Field for the first time so if anybody else is making the trip and wants to grab a beer, let me know. Until then, Happy Thorsday!

Contact: On Twitter, @MaximusSexPower or e-mail: elshoeshatemail@msn.com

Game 5: Don’t Worry, It’s a Long Season

I hate being the negative guy. I genuinely do. And usually, I never am. I’m always happy and excited for the season to start and have found ways to enjoy even some really bad seasons on the field.

This year is supposed to be different. Like I’ve said multiple times, there are real and genuine expectations for this team this season. And a pair of lifeless, flat performances against a shitty team aren’t exactly encouraging signs.

If you’re reading this, you know what happened. The Mets lost in a very similar fashion to the way they did yesterday. Matt Harvey wasn’t amazing, but he wasn’t horrible either. The bats are still stuck in a deep, winter slumber.

Yoenis Cespedes did hit a two-run homer to make it a one-run game in the sixth and temporarily wake up the crowd, but that was as close as they would get as they went down quietly and without fanfare.

With that being said, here are some notes and takeaways from a game I can’t wait to forget:

  •  Curtis Granderson has had an awful start to the season. He’s now 1 for 20 with that singular hit coming last Sunday night in Kansas City. He did look to have a few good swings today so maybe he’s getting his timing back or whatever, but this team leans heavily on Granderson who single-handedly kept them afloat offensively last year when he was pretty much the only competent big leaguer in the lineup until the end of July.
  • There is one more year left on Grandy’s deal after this season and, while some regression is expected as he gets older, you hope it’s not too drastic. The lineup isn’t perfect (although, it is improved from even the end of last season), but Granderson does represent their best option in the leadoff spot. With the roster as currently constructed, I don’t even know who you would in that spot should some kind of shake-up be required.
  • David Wright had a couple of hits today giving him 1750 for his career and moving him into a tie for 413th on the all-time hits list with the immortal Deacon McGuire. That’s kind of nice. I think we’re pretty much all cheering for David, but watching him – even on a good day – makes you wonder how much longer his body will allow him to continue to do this. He did make a nice play barehanding a dribbler early in the game, but his throw had zero zip on it. The team has a lot invested in him between dollars, history and future marketing, so he’ll be given every opportunity to do as much as possible, but it’s not crazy to think that his time as an everyday player may be coming to an end a lot sooner than any of us had expected.
  • Addison Reed did a helluva Mel Rojas impersonation today.

Look, losing two of three to the Philthies isn’t the end of the world. But I expected more from these guys coming out of the gate. Maybe it’s the scheduling or the cold weather, I don’t know, but you have to take advantage of the – as Keith would say – second-division teams. Last year, the Mets took 8 of 9 from the Phils at home. They’ve already given away two.

This is going to the theme for the season. There is absolutely no excuse to lose a series to these horrible teams that are doing their best to tank as hard as they can this season.

Life and baseball shall go on, however. We welcome the Marlins to Citi tomorrow in yet another series that they Mets should win. You want to be a contender? You have expectations. Time to meet them.

Feel free to reach out: @MaximusSexPower on Twitter or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

Game 4: Bartolo Shows Up, Bats Don’t, Mets Fall to Phils

You can say it’s just one game. And you’re right. You can say it’s just the fourth game of the season. And, once again, you’re not wrong. But when the Mets drop a 1-0 game to the Island of Misfit Toys, well, that’s not something I’m necessarily OK with.

The baseball season is long and arduous and over the course of it, you will have bad losses and “character” wins, but – in a year when you are a legitimate contender coming into a season for the first time in a decade – you cannot waste a six-inning, one run performance from an aging innings-eater and watch your lineup go silently into the night against Vince Velasquez and a quartet of Philadelphia relievers who recorded 12 strikeouts against the defending National League champions.

Bartolo Colon started for the Mets and was terrific giving up just one run over six innings while striking out seven, but got zero support from his lineup who managed just three hits in the game. His one miscue ended up in the Left Field Landing as Ryan Howard took him deep in the 5th, but that performance should have been enough to absolutely tap dance on the grave of a Phillies team that has already been buried in the 2016 season.

Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda each recorded a hat trick of strikeouts and were backed up by equally bad at bats from pretty much everybody else. In the 8th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes and Duda all worked their counts to 3-0, 3-1 and 3-1 respectfully and none of them were able to reach base against David Hernandez, the owner of an ERA of 10.13 AFTER his scoreless frame.

The prevailing wisdom of the baseball season is never to let your emotion trend too high or too low. That is smart and that is wise when you think about just how long and exhausting emotional high and lows can be over a span of 162 games in 180 or so days.

The Mets had a lot of fun in spring training. There were cars and horses and it was great. I encourage that. I like to have fun at work too. And when Terry Collins said they were getting their work in, I trusted that. I still believe it.

For the first time in god knows how long, there was no overriding controversy. No malcontent player, no front office shaming. The focus was on a team that had made a surprising run to the World Series and that they were ready to get back and finish the job this time.

They bumbled through an uninspiring spring which was – for the most part – ignored because they games don’t count and guys were just getting prepared for the chance to defend their NL crown. But that lethargy has carried over from the embracing warmth of Port St. Lucie to trembling chills of Queens.

It may be just one game in the opening week, but it’s one game I don’t want to be talking about in September. The National League is top-heavy with that Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, Dodgers and Giants all expected to be in the mix for playoff spots. All have plenty of games against teams that are blatantly tanki…I’m sorry…”rebuilding” that will pad the win totals of the legitimate contenders and presumably lead to a lot of congestion at the top of the leaderboards come the conclusion of the regular season. One game has been in the past and could be again the difference between going home and meaningful October baseball. I just hope we’re not discussing listless April performance against an inept Phillies team then.

Feel free to reach out: @MaximusSexPower on Twitter, or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

 

Neil Walker Paying Early Dividends

After spending over seven seasons with the Mets and putting together one of the most historic runs in postseason history, Daniel Murphy was allowed to walk by Sandy Alderson and the front office during the offseason choosing instead to swap problematic lefty, Jonathon Niese to the Pirates for Neil Walker to fill the void at second base.

I was never the biggest Murphy fan, but he definitely had a solid, dedicated fanbase. I loved his intensity and that he seemingly loved being a Met, but his defensive shortcomings and mental lapses on the bases left something to be desired.

It is not my intention to slam Murphy as it wouldn’t be fair to do so to someone who literally left everything on the field night after night, but the Mets had a clear desire to upgrade the middle infield after a lack of range and defensive ability was exploited at the hands of the Royals in the World Series. Murphy signed a three-year deal with the division rival Washington Nationals for considerably cheaper than originally projected and, while it sucks to see him playing for the enemy, the Mets were able to upgrade at second base and receive a compensation pick for losing Murph.

The value of the 31st overall pick in the draft won’t be known for a few years, but to replace Murph, the Mets worked out a deal for longtime Pirates second baseman, Neil Walker. I loved this trade for two reasons: 1.) Walker is comparable if not slightly better than Murphy with the bat and a definite improvement with the glove. 2.) It finally allowed us to rid ourselves of Jon Niese who had never been able to make the move to anything above being mediocre while apparently thinking he was awesome and blaming everything on the defense.

While obviously only three games into the season, Walker has already been as advertised with five RBI thus far while showing a smoothness around the keystone that we haven’t been accustomed to seeing from our second basemen for quite some time.

He’s not a Gold Glover by any means, but he’s sure-handed and exhibits a competency while turning a double play (with SS Asdrubal Cabrera) that has been desperately needed by the team. The Mets gave away a ton of outs last year by not being able to turn routine double plays so this not only helps to keep runs off the board, but conserves precious bullets from our pitching staff who has consistently had their pitch counts grow quicker than needs be because of defensive incompetence.

Walker has never been an All-Star (whereas Murphy did once represent the Mets, but let’s be fair; it was only because every team needs to have a rep), but already shows to be providing the steadiness and consistency the Mets desired when making the switch away from the streaky Murphy.

While obvious to just about everybody that Walker is just keeping the seat warm for for Dilson Herrera to replace him next season, he does allow to Mets to double-dip, in a sense as they will be able to give the qualifying offer after the season and receive another sandwich pick in the draft if/when he signs elsewhere.

With 159 games to go, Walker at his average should play a vital role for a team looking to return to the postseason. It’s the famous “small sample size”, but the hot start has backed the Murphy diehards down and should allow him to settle in and get acclimated to his new surroundings.

No need to make any sort of prediction, but just want to see him continue to be a steady presence in the lineup and a net positive to up-the-middle defense. So far, so good.

 

Follow on Twitter: @MaximusSexPower

E-Mail: elshoeshatemail@msn.com

Spectacle be Damned; 2016 Starts Today

It took an extra week, but it finally feels like the Mets’ season begins today.

After an opening two-game rematch against the World Series champion Royals that featured more days off than actual game days, the Mets open in Queens this afternoon to raise their 2015 NL Championship banner and begin a weekend set against the division-rival Phillies.

The team comes in with a very real record of 1-1, but the split in Kansas City was missing a lot of the feels that usually come along with the beginning of the season. Sure, a World Series rematch to open the season was a nice bit of happenstance for both MLB and ESPN, but – for Mets fans – it was a cold reminder of how the team came up short against (truthfully) a better and more fundamentally sound ball club at the beginning of November last year.

We had to sit through a banner raising, ring distribution, Eric Hosmer’s d-bag smirk and ESPN’s verbal fellatio of everything Royals. The Mets even played into it with awful situational hitting, defensive miscues and by looking generally morose as if all the pregame hoopla had transported them right back into the World Series where they couldn’t get out of their own way and lost a five game series despite holding late leads in four of those games.

That they were able to escape with a win on Tuesday behind the effort of Noah Syndergaard and a timely home run from Neil Walker underscores the fact that the Mets bats were once again held in check by the 85 MPH fastball of Chris Young.

walker

Today, we can get back to normal. Get into the routine and everyday-ism of the baseball season. We can stop having our faces smeared in the leftover champagne-soaked mud in Kansas City and start playing the teams we need to beat for the chance to get back to the playoffs.

The National League is incredibly top-heavy this season in a way that I can’t ever remember before. There are so many absolutely dreadful (tanking?) teams, that the handful of good to great franchises should be able to pad their records by beating up on the Phillies, Braves and Padres of the circuit. This will cause some traffic along the top of the standings as there will definitely be a team with a very good record left out of the postseason dance since there’s not enough Wild Card spots to go around.

It’s absurdly early in the season, but – as I said to my buddy, Gomez, last night – I’m already scoreboard watching the Nationals because, for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m beginning a baseball season as a fan of a legitimate contender. That is weird and that is awesome. Or – if you think like Gomez – you think I’m “fucking crazy”.

Fucking crazy or not, the Mets performed well against the bad teams they needed to beat last year and there’s no reason to think that they shouldn’t do the same again now. Having two teams who are punting the 2016 season in their division is distinctly in their favor and will hopefully pay off as we wind down the season in September.

There are tons of angles and storylines and possibilities. But, for now, let’s just enjoy getting back into our routine of having Mets baseball back in our everyday lives.

Happy Opening Day.

Twitter: @MaximusSexPower

E-Mail: ElShoesHateMail@msn.com