Podcast! Awards! Postseason! Mets!

Greetings! You may or may not be aware that I do a weekly pop culture podcast (The Car JoeMez Podcast) which is a lot of fun to do, but following the Mets’ Wild Card loss to the Giants, we recorded a special baseball only episode where I speak about my IBWAA awards ballot, postseason predictions and I even examine what the future could bring for the Mets’ roster. Oh, I shit on Terry Collins too. You know how I do. Anyway, I hope you’ll give it a listen and if you like, maybe check out some of the other episodes.

Collins Puts Mets At Strategic Disadvantage

You can say that Terry Collins has players wanting to play for him. You’d be right. You’d can also say that with the sheer quantity of impact injuries the team has suffered that them even being in this spot tonight is incredibly unlikely. You’d also be right about that.

One thing you cannot say, however, is that having Terry Collins calling the shots on your bench – in what is assumed to be a pitcher’s duel tonight in the NL Wild Card game – inspires much confidence in a late-game situation where he would need to outmanage Bruce Bochy.

Collins rode a historic hot streak by Yoenis Cespedes to get into the postseason and then hopped back on the horse to ride Daniel Murphy’s historic hot streak to get into the World Series where he was completely exposed as a dumpster fire of a tactician who trusted history over current results (Michael Cuddyer), was unable to identify when a pitcher in a big spot was gassed (Steven Matz) and was unable to deviate from the script he had written for himself in regards to managing a bullpen that led to him using his closer in less than optimal situations which led to two “blown saves”.

Add that to everything we’ve seen this year. Wilmer Flores is unavailable for the remainder of the season because of an injury sustained in a home-plate collision because Terry Collins admitted he forgot to pinch run for him. The decision early in the season to destroy Jim Henderson. Also, he’s been a mad man using every single player available to him since rosters expanded in September and, should tonight’s game be close in the late innings, I’d be shocked if he’s able to use ONLY 25 players.

The Mets are only carrying 9 pitchers tonight which – in theory – is plenty for one game and maximizes your bench options. But with the way Collins has grown accustomed to playing musical match-ups over the past month, I genuinely have to question if Collins will have the foresight not to burn through all his players and put himself at a disadvantage should the game go into extra innings like last night’s AL Wild Card game.

One thing I can promise is that Collins is no Showalter and won’t be questioned for NOT using a certain player. In a perfect world, the Mets jump on Madison Bumgarner early and take the game out of Collins’ hands. But should Noah Syndergaard give up a couple of early runs and Collins has his hand forced, this could be an ugly game for the blue and orange.

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.

 

 

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.

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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

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

No Move May Be Right Move For Mets

David Wright is done for at least the remainder of 2016, Lucas Duda is waiting for his back to regenerate into one piece again, Travis d’Arnaud always seems a strong gust of wind away from another extended stay on the DL, Neil Walker has battled back spasms, Michael Conforto is nursing a tender wrist, Juan Lagares has hit the DL because of a bum thumb and Wilmer Flores just took an up-and-in fastball off his hand and wrist and is day to day.

The Mets are and have been dropping like flies except flies seem to have a longer life-expectancy these days.

Following up a World Series appearance, the Mets were expected to once again compete for the National League crown and now find themselves in a state of limbo, not knowing who will flush out a lineup or in what position they’ll do it in.

While there’s always a need to have quality depth players on your bench, it is simply impossible to stock the quantity of depth needed due to the volume of injuries the team has suffered. Maybe you think Sandy Alderson and company should have had a better feel for just how affected David Wright would be by his spinal stenosis and should have had a better fallback option, but truth be told, there’s not a team in all of baseball that would have sufficient stock in the cupboard to replace all the of the names listed and not miss a beat.

Fans and media alike have clammored for the team to make a trade, but not just any trade. They want the same type of impact deal that brought Yoenis Cespedes here from the Tigers last year. The cost was a steep, but fair price of a couple of prospects headlined by Michael Fulmer who – now in the Detroit rotation – is currently turning in one of the strongest rookie campaigns in the league, but it’s hard to get upset over a trade that, essentially, got you to the World Series.

So, it’s easy then, right? Make a few calls, get a brand new superstar to Queens and get back to the World Series. Not quite.

While fans are salivating over the possibilities, the Mets are hamstrung but a combination of roster construction, contracts, availability and a thin amount of desired minor league prospects due to the dual-barrel end game of major-league promotions and trades over the last 12 months.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets
Kelly Johnson: the super-utility player the team hoped Wilmer Flores could be. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Truth be told, the Mets may have to settle for another player cut from the Kelly Johnson cloth in lieu of the superstar the fans want to see. Johnson isn’t the sexy, game changer you necessarily want, he’s a solid major leaguer, familiar with the team after last season and provides flexibility of being able to play multiple positions while swinging a left-handed bat.

Let’s go over some of the options being bandied about to see which, if any, make sense for the Mets:

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Jonathan Lucroy, C Milwaukee Brewers

With Travis d’Arnaud looking more fragile every minute and Kevin Plawecki being unable to hit or throw at the big league level, the case for Lucroy has gone from “not even a thought” in March to “you know, that would be a nice upgrade” now. The problem is that Lucroy would be a huge upgrade for a lot of teams and is signed through the end of next year at a very reasonable dollar figure. The Brewers are going to want a huge return on him and it would start with the names “Syndergaard” or “Matz” and not “Wheeler” as a lot of people seem to think. The Mets are out of this before it even begins.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Longoria is the face of franchise no matter how unstable.

Evan Longoria, 3B Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria is basically the only homegrown player in Rays history that hasn’t been traded before hitting his arbitration years which makes him the all-time greatest Ray ever. After down years because of injuries and declining power numbers, Longoria has had a bit of a resurgence this year. Longoria’s quiet, confident demeanor, bat and plus glove would be a perfect replacement for recently-deceased David Wright. Except for a few things: Wright isn’t dead, Longoria has already shown signs of decline, the Rays would expect a hefty haul back and Longoria begins a contract extension next season that has him signed through 2023 at a cool $100m. With Wright sure to attempt to return next season added to the cost in players and dollars, Longoria is a certain pass.

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Jay Bruce, RF Cincinnati Reds

Whereas the slugging outfielder made a lot of sense of the Mets when they were supposedly close to landing him last year, the same cannot be said for him now. Bruce has had a terrific 2016 thus far, but with Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares (now injured, but we’ll wait to see if he’ll need surgery as well) already in the fold, the Mets don’t have an obvious spot for Bruce to play. The Reds will most likely move Bruce this season and his value hasn’t been this high in a while. Another case where the cost would be prohibitive for the Mets with a thinning farm system.

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Jose Reyes, SS Colorado Rockies (only in name, will be a free agent in a few days)

Look, I get it. We all used to love Jose Reyes. Remember we all did that “Jose, Jose, Jose” chant? So good. Remember when Professor Reyes taught us Spanish between innings? AZUCAR! That is not Jose Reyes anymore. As much as we would all like to think we’d be getting that fun loving, top of the order sparkplug from yesteryear back, Reyes is a slowed, flawed player at this point who probably shouldn’t be playing shortstop any longer. Oh, and there’s that whole beating up his wife thing hanging over him now too. So, no. No, no, no, no, no, no. No.

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Mike Trout, OF Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

We get Trout for a package of like Eric Campbell, TJ Rivera and Eric Goeddel. Who says no?

But seriously, the point of this is that the Mets are lot more likely to see a deal for a Luis Valbuena or Yangervis Solarte than they are a game changer. Even then, are those the types of players worth deal prospects for? In my opinion, we may be better off playing the cards already dealt and hoping the team can just stay close while guys work their way back.

I’ve emphasized all season about how important it is to stay close and beat the teams you’re expected to beat because of the huge discrepancy between good and bad in the NL. Last year, the Mets had a chance to pull away in a weak division and the front office went out and got Cespedes who single-handedly carried us through the remainder of the regular season and turned it into a race we won by quite a few strides.

I’m not protesting against a deal, merely stating that the costs may be prohibitive against making one. Either way, with Sandy’s history and track record, I do believe that if there is a deal out there to be made, he’ll do it. He understands the pulse and sees that the Nationals can’t just be expected to fall apart this year. Right now the team has done a pretty impressive job of keeping their heads above water despite the weak lineup they’re sending out on most nights and it’s a wonder that they ever thought they’d be able to have a chance this year without Cespedes in the middle of the order.

Hopefully, they can keep that up until Lucas Duda returns and then make a good evalution of where things stand going into the deadline. The window for the Mets to be a top-level team is open now and they need to capitalize while they can. But they shouldn’t empty out what’s left of their farm system to plug a square peg into a round hole.

 

Contact: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com, Twitter: @MaximusSexPower

Noah Syndergaard: Hero or Menace?!

What in the blue and orange fuck went on last night?

What started as a wonderful tribute to the last Mets team to win a World Series championship devolved into a sideshow of rulebook quoting, chest pounding, embarrassing baseball that will taint the great moment of seeing such an awesome 1986 team reunion beforehand and turn last night into “The Utley Game, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo”.

If you’re reading this, you know the deal. Last season, professional douchenozzle, Chase Utley, broke the leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during the NLDS with what wasn’t so much of a slide as much as it was some kind of rolling tackle that had plenty of intent to injure and was beyond dirty.

MLB ended up changing a rule regarding the process of sliding into the bag during the offseason to help protect middle infielders largely because of the blowback of the Utley slide. The rule is even commonly known as “The Utley Rule”. For his part, Chase Utley received a suspension that was later rescinded by MLB which meant that for doing his part in deliberately injuring another player to the point that they were forced to modify a rule, Utley received zero punishment.

Fast-forward to last night where Noah Syndergaard threw behind Utley and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire, Adam Hamari which directly led to an embarrassing Mets loss by the score of 9-1 to the Dodgers on the strength of two homers (including a grand slam) from Utley, of course.

Twitter and the baseball media erupted in the immediate aftermath that featured the hottest of takes from all angles that way anybody with any blog ever (hey, boo 😉 ) could pump their clicks and get in on the action as quick as possible.

Look, you can get facts and quotes from any number of bloggers and actual reporters. If you’re here, you are interested in what I have to say. Obviously, Thor is my guy. He’s my favorite current player on the team so I’m not without bias, but I have a really hard time believing that pitch “just got away” as he says. His control is far too good to just uncork a fastball that wildly.

So, figuring the pitch was purposeful, I like the fact that it was thrown behind Utley. It was away from him enough to never put him in danger, but sent a message at the same time. That’s fine. Nobody gets hurt and we move on. It certainly seemed like Utley understood (as he really always does, credit where its due) and was preparing himself for the next pitch as Thor was being ejected.

I have a problem with the ejection. As Utley’s slide was done with purpose and reckless intent to injure (nowhere near the bag and didn’t even slide so much as crouching chopblock), this pitch didn’t hit or injure. A warning would have sufficed and everybody could have been done with this. The ejection just further reinforces the small portion of people’s beliefs that the league is out to fuck the Mets (which I disagree with, but people say what they say). Ejection without warning basically just poured lighter fluid on a fire almost ready to expire.

Finally, and this needs to be said, the Mets came off completely bush league last night. Utley is a dick and always has been. Yeah, I get it. But if you were going to retaliate, why the fuck did you wait so goddamn long?

I understand not doing anything in the remainder of the NLDS. Stakes are too high. But if you wanted to do something, it should have been in LA last week where you played a four-game series and not wait until you had the coziness of a sellout crowd in your home park to try to impress the group of fiery brawlers from yesteryear who were being honored.

The 86 Mets pissed off everybody and for good reason, but the times and game have changed. Whether Collins called for this or if it was something Syndergaard did on his own, the fact is that it makes the Mets look like a group of whiners who then – poetically – got their shit pushed in by Utley anyway.

Noah Syndergaard is too talented – and too important to this team – to risk putting in a situation where someone can charge the mound seeking retribution and rip his right arm clear out of the shoulder socket. There is no reason to create an issue when the time has passed.

The Mets are a team that could and should be competing for a playoff spot and giving away games because of some misguided grudge isn’t going to do anybody any favors.

If this was on Syndergaard, then he needs to be pulled aside immediately. We love his talent, his personality and the way he’s able to project the aura of warrior one minute and fun-loving fan of life the next. But this episode makes him look less like Thor the future king and more like the petulant child who attacks Jotunheim and the Frost Giants in a fit of misplaced pride.

We can argue all day about the ejection being warranted or not, but the sad truth is that the Mets and Noah Syndergaard put themselves in a situation they didn’t need to be in and got son’d for it.

Contact: Twitter: @MaximusSexPower or via email: elshoeshatemail@msn.com

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