2015 World Series

Why Not the Mets?

Last night, we all were “witnesses” to LeBron James leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title.  As he lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy, he was lifting the monkey off the back of all of Cleveland sports fans.  The city and the fan base had an NBA title.  They got an epic 3-1 series comeback, and a classic Game 7.  When everyone looks back at this series and game, the moment that will forever be talked about was this play:

Thinking about that play actually makes me a bit melancholy as it reminded me a bit of the play where Patrick Ewing blocked Hakeem Olajuwon in Game 3 of the NBA Finals (Highlight Number 7):

It’s a reminder that for many fans, the New York team that is in blue and orange has never won a championship in their lifetime.  The Knicks haven’t won since 1973, and the Mets haven’t won since 1986.

The Mets had their chance last year.  There wasn’t a Mets fan alive who didn’t think the Mets were going to win the World Series when Matt Harvey was so utterly brilliant in Game 5:

That night was supposed to be the Mets stepping stone to their own rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a championship.  The Mets had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard lined up to pitch in Games 6 and 7.  The Mets were in position to win the World Series.  They were so close, and they let it slip away.

Last night was an absolutely incredible moment for LeBron James, the Cavaliers, and the entire city of Cleveland.  It’s a moment all Knicks and Mets fans are dying to experience.  During this Mets losing streak, it’s a moment that seems to get further and further away from these fans.

Still, as we saw with the Cavaliers, there is reason to hope. This was the same Cavaliers team that lost in the NBA Finals last year.  This was the same Cavaliers team that had a rocky regular season until finally turning things around after the All Star Break.  This was the same Cavaliers team that had their backs against the wall and still won a championship.  It may be a phrase that has not been uttered anywhere before, and it may not be said anytime hereafter but:

Cleveland gives us all hope.

Better Ways to Spend Your Money than on the 2015 National League Championship Fan Collection 

Shortly after the Mets won the NL East, the Mets sought to cash-in on the opportunity by selling champagne bottles and corks from the team’s celebration. To be fair, other teams did it too, but it feels different when it’s the Mets. 

Now, the Mets and Jostens are taking it to the next level:

First off, I’d like to note how the Mets went with Jostens. If Jostens sounds familiar, they should. They’re the company that made that cheap over-priced high school graduation ring of yours. You know the design. Giant fake stone on top, year on one side, and some design on the other.  I’m happy to see they didn’t stray too far from that pattern here.

A team like the New York Giants went with Tiffany for their championships rings, but I digress. 

Jostens has created a 2015 Mets Championship Fan Collection. Put aside your feelings on whether the collection looks good or not. That’s subjective. Regardless of whether you like it or not, the collection is overpriced, and you can better spend your money elsewhere.  

Note, I don’t go through the Women’s collection because neither my wife nor mother would want any of it. If anyone’s going to buy stuff like this, it’s me. As you’ll see, no, I will not be buying anything from the collection. 

Let’s start with the $39.00 key ring

 First of all, let’s be honest – $39.00 for a key ring is absurd. It’s even worse when it’s made out of “non-precious metals” (i.e. tin or titanium). If you go Amazon, you can get a Mets keychain that also serves as a bottle opener for $7.53. It not only serves the same purpose, but it’s also more useful. 

In terms of Mets tickets, $39.00 can get you Promenade Infield tickets to a Mets game this weekend. For a dollar more, you can sit in the Field Box for a mid-week game. 

The next item on the list is a $199.00 paperweight:

  
At least this uses Swarovski crystals which have some value. However, why do you need to spend $199.00 to hold papers down on a desk? Is your office located in a wind tunnel?  Are there no rocks available outside that you can use to hold down the papers that are in no threat to go flying off your desk? 

Instead, for that same $199.00 you can sit in the Delta Club when the Mets play the Royals in June. These seats are behind homeplate, and it gives you access to the Delta Sky360 Club. At some point, you may be able to pick up an authentic rock – or paperweight – from Citi Field to hold down your papers. 

Next up are the priced all over the spectrum cuff links:

  
Before discussing price, did you notice something about these cuff links?  They don’t have anything denoting these are the 2015 National League Champions cuff links. In essence, these are really just Mets cuff links with a discolored interlocking NY. However, unlike when you go to a jewelry store to purchase a set of cuff links, you can “customize” these:

  • White Lustrium & Cubic Zirconia – $269.00
  • Silver Elite & Cubic Zirconia – $399.00
  • White Lustrium & Diamonds – $1,369.00
  • Silver Elite & Diamonds – $1,499.00
  • 10K White Gold & Cubic Zirconia – $1,509.00
  • 10K White Gold & Diamonds – $2,609.00

Well, that’s quite a range. You could spend anywhere from $269.00 to $2,609.00 for effectively something that does the same thing – it keeps your shirt sleeves fastened while effectively preventing you from rolling up your sleeves and getting some real work done. 

As we know from the paperweight, you can get tickets to the Delta Club for the price of the White Lustrium (by the way I must’ve missed that metal on the Periodic Table of Elements) and Cubic Zirconium cuff links. If you upgraded to the silver, you could get the Promenade Reserved 20 Game Weekday Plan or a ticket to the Hyundai Club seats for a Mets-Yankee game. The Hyundai club also includes free food for the game. 

Once you start talking diamonds (A WHOLE 0.150 CARATS!), you’re talking some really good season ticket plan options. For the White Lustrium and Diamonds, you can purchase the following:

  • Excelsior Box 20 Game Plan (Sunday, Saturday, or Weekday)
  • Promenade Infield Weekend or Promenade Gold Weekday Half Season Plan
  • Promenade Infield Full Season Plan

As you move up the line towards 10K Gold and Diamonds, you can get the same plans in better seat locations. If you got the “top of the line” cuff links, you can get a full season ticket plan in the Field Reserved. 

Now that we’re at the higher priced options, here’s the Mets Tag necklace:

  

As you have the option to customize it, the price of this varies. By the way, you have to love the gaul it takes to make jewelery in the fashion of an identification for soldiers in the event they die. Who knows the reason why they went in this direction?  Maybe this is a relica of what they give you when you enlist with The 7 Line Army. 

Depending on how you choose to customize this necklace, the cost will be as follows:

  • Silver Elite & Cubic Zirconia – $649.00
  • Silver Elite & Diamonds – $779.00
  • 10K White Gold & Cubic Zirconia – $2,469.00
  • 10K Gold & Diamonds – $2,599.00

They don’t give you the carats for the diamonds because you don’t want to know. By the way, think of the caliber of diamonds they are using if it costs only $130 more than cubic zirconia. 

This necklace is so expensive, we are now in the realm of season ticket plans no matter which option you select. If you do the cheapest necklace route, it’s the equivalent of the Coke Corner 20 game Sunday Plan, a Promenade Infield 20 game Saturday Plan, or a Field Reserved 20 game Weekday Plan. You also could purchase a Promenade Reserved Weekday Half Season Plan. 

Naturally, as you move to “Silver Elite” to 10K White Gold, the level of ticket plans you can get is much better. If you selected the White Gold and Diamonds, you could purchase with the same amount of money:

  • Metropolitan Box 20 Game Saturday Plan
  • Metropolitan Silver 20 Game Sunday Plan
  • Metropolitan Silver 20 Game Weekday Plan
  • Baseline Silver Weekend Half Season Plan
  • Field Box Weekday Half Season Plan 
  • Field Reserved Season Tickets 

By the way, how elite is this silver if it’s worth about $2,000 less than white gold?  

Finally, we’re at the piece de resistance:

  
You can get your very own knockoff -sorry replica – National League Champions ring. Before reading, scroll back up to the paperweight. Yes, they look different. It’s understandable. Even though everything else is overpriced, to replicate the actual ring with diamonds or cubic zirconium would’ve been cost prohibitive. Note, they don’t tell you what that big blue stone in the middle is. 

Like some of the other options, you can decide between the metal and the stones. However, unlike the other items, you can personalize the ring with your name or whatever else you decide. Here are the price breakdowns:

  • White Lustrium – $349.00
  • Silver Elite – $799.00
  • 10K White Gold – $4,889.00

There’s no difference in price between ring sizes. It costs the same whether you have fat fingers or slender piano player fingers. Also, it costs nothing extra to have the ring engraved. Based upon what’s already covered, we know based upon these prices you can sit in the Hyundai Club or get full season tickets. 

But hold on one second. The white gold ring costs $4,889.00!  Seriously?  That’s any 20 game plan in the Hyundai Club. Your half season plan is in the Metropolitan Box on weekends and Metroploitan Silver on weekends. Your full season ticket plan is in the Field Box. With that money, you can probably buy a jersey that never should’ve been sold in the first place.

If this doesn’t convince you to buy tickets, or spend your hard earned money otherwise, ask yourself a question: when will you ever wear any of this?  If you’re going to wear the stuff, ignore my sarcasm and snark. Go buy it. However, I really find it hard to believe you will wear a National League Champions ring anywhere. Think about it. When did you last wear your high school graduation ring?  You actually earned that one. 

If the Mets won the World Series, I’d probably buy all of this garbage. I think when the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, I purchased a Super Bowl Champions dog water dish, and I don’t even own a dog (I didn’t). 

With that said, save your money right now. You’re going to need it for World Series tickets this year and the 2016 World Series Champion Fan Collection. 

Hi Duda!

Last night, my son wanted to watch baseball. Fortunately, YouTube has about every game you could want to watch. For various reasons, I picked Game Three of the 2015 World Series

What was interesting is that I never saw the telecast because I was at the game. It would not only be the first time I watched the game on TV, it would also be the first time I got to watch it with my son. From what my wife told me, he loved that game. It was great to watch it with him. 

My favorite moment wasn’t him celebrating the David Wright or Curtis Granderson homeruns. It wasn’t even his the game inspired him to take out his teeball set. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even when he hit a line drive clear across the living room with him screaming “HOMERUN!”  No, it was sinpler than that. It was when Lucas Duda came to bat. 

My son looked up at the TV, waived and said, “Hi Duda!”  

When I confirmed it was Duda by waving and saying hi to him as well, my son began saying hi to the players he remembered. At one point, I got him to scream:

I was impressed when he recognized Michael Conforto (his new favorite player) and told me he played leftfield. When I called over to my wife to let her know, her response was, “Of course he knows, you’ve been drilling it into his head.”  

In any event, on what was a beautiful Spring-like day, I was never more prepared for baseball. My son is prepared too. Hopefully, he will get the chance to say, “Hi Duda” to him at Citi Field this year. 

Answering Questions on Duda’s Throw Home

In 2014, the Royals were 90 feet away from scoring the tying run of the World Series. Even though most agreed Alex Gordon made the right decision stopping at third, his decision became a topic of discussion when Madison Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to foul out to end the World Series. 

The game tying run was forever stranded at third. 

Fast forward to the 2015 World Series. 

With the exception of Game 2, the Mets had a late lead in each game. They got to that point despite the Mets starting pitching not having one truly great game. In fact, the Mets starting pitching had been somewhat disappointing. With that said, they pitched well enough to put the Mets in position to win four of the five games. 

Then the pitching showed up in Game 5. Matt Harvey shut down the Royals much in the same way Bumgarner had shut down the Royals. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were ready to go for Games 6 & 7. Before the ninth inning, the Royals had a dejected look in the dugout. Even if they were up 3-1 in the series, they were in real trouble. The Mets great starting pitching had awoken. 

In the fateful ninth inning, Eric Hosmer was on third base. He was 90 feet away. Then this happened:

Hosmer had no business running there. None. He was the last out of the game. However, when 90 feet separated you from a World Series championship the previous year. 

Yes, we heard it was about the scouting reports on Duda. The Royals scouts said the team should test Duda’s arm when they got the chance. However, that’s not what really happened. Hosmer described it somewhat differently:

We think about [losing the World Series] often. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think that’s kind of something we turn to mentally . . . .  Everyone kind of relates to that and relates to how much that hurt. 

                      ***********

You’ve got to try to take a chance. With who was on the mound, Familia, hits are hard to come by, so, you know, you had to be aggressive. If it hadn’t worked out, I’d be answering some hard questions right now, but that’s the way we’ve been doing it all year. We’ve been taking chances, and found a way to get it done. 

Hosmer admitted the end of the 2014 World Series impacted and drove the Royals throughout the 2015 season and World Series. The team was not going to let the tying run be stranded on third base. In 2015, the Royals strived to be more aggressive. 

It’s now 2016, and now it’s the Mets turn to answer questions about why they lost the World Series. Naturally, one of the issues that arise is Lucas Duda’s throw:

In reality, Duda’s throw didn’t cost the Mets the World Series. Overall, it was their defense. You can pinpoint to problems in each and every game the Mets lost. 

The Mets have to let this fuel them in 2016 much in the same way the Royals were fueled by the way they lost in the 2014 World Series. They need to use it to be better defensively, to pay better attention to detail in the field. If the Mets do this, they can do what the Royals did. They can return to the World Series. 

And when they return chances are Lucas Duda makes that throw home helping thereby helping the Mets win the 2016 World Series. 

World Series More about the Fans than the Super Bowl

I’m not going to criticize Cam Newton and his performance at the post-Super Bowl press conference:

He was sullen and depressed from losing the biggest game of his life. In the background, you can hear a Bronco player bragging about how they shut down Cam Newton and the Panthers. He was literally asked the same question over and over again. Do you really expect him to be ecstatic and loquacious?  

Of course not. The narrative will be either how he didn’t play well or how he was shut down. He has a long flight ahead of him. He’s 3,000 miles away from the Panther fans. It’s just a terrible situation. 

Juxtapose that with the Mets losing the World Series. The team lost three games in which they had a lead with their seemingly invincible closer on the mound. Perhaps the cruelest defeat was Game Five when the Mets arguably had their ace carry a shutout into the ninth. They had a lead from two homeruns from their future superstar leftfielder. They blew the game like they blew the rest of the series. They lost in front of their home fans. 

Cam Newton had to hear how he got beat. He got asked the same question repeatedly. Here’s the treatment the Mets players received:

The setting allowed the fans and team to celebrate a great season together. Yes, it would’ve been different had the Mets been on the road. Conversely, the passionate fans would then have a chance to celebrate their teams World Series title: 

Did you hear or see any of the exuberance yesterday?  No. That’s the effect of playing a game at a neutral site. There’s no rejoicing when your team wins.  There’s no celebrating a season that fell just short. In short, there’s no shared experience. 

In the end, baseball is about a journey. It’s a shared journey between the team and their fans. Football ignores their fans and leaves their players out to dry. It’s why baseball will always be superior. 

Thor Should Start on Opening Day

Honestly, I believe it’s too early to start naming Opening Day starters, but teams are already doing it. I guess when you’re the Diamondbacks it’s easy. When you’re the Mets with a loaded pitching staff, it’s a much more interesting question. 

The first choice would be Jacob deGrom. He had the best year out of any Mets starter last year. He was the story of last year’s All Star Game. He was terrific in the NLDS. Also, he was supposed to be the Game Sux starter. Starting him in Kansas City would be the Mets way of saying we’re picking up where we left off, and we’re heading back to the World Series. 

The next choice is Matt Harvey. In many ways, he’s the presumptive ace. He’s the guy that burst on the scene in 2013 giving the Mets fans hope this all was coming.  He’s another year removed from Tommy John surgery, and the second year back is normally when a pitcher excels.  He ended his year with an incredible Game Five performance. Starting Harvey in Kansas City is saying you’re not going to beat us again. 

With all that said, I start Noah Syndergaard on Opening Day. The message is plain and simple. We’re not backing down this year from anyone. This was a 23 year old rookie pitcher who toed the rubber at the first ever World Series game at Citi Field, and this was his first pitch:

When the Royals complained about the pitch, Thor told them to meet him at the mound. His presence on the mound alone is saying to the baseball world the Mets are intimidated by no one, and they’re back fighting to win 2016. If you have a problem with that, you know where to find them. The story line won’t be about the Royals getting their rings. Instead, it’ll be about how the Royals will handle Thor. 

We want the 2016 season to be about the Mets and their pitching staff.  We want it to be about the Mets responding to last year’s World Series loss by beating and intimidating other teams. You want all of baseball to look at this staff and wonder how they’re going to beat the Mets. This needs to be the story from day one. Let Terry Collins explain he’s starting the guy who beat the Royals last year. However he presents it, the most important thing is that we all know the Mets are going out there looking to get into their opponents’ heads with their pitching. 

That starts day one. That’s why you start Thor on Opening Day. 

Would You Miss the World Series?

Happy New Year!  When I think of New Year’s now, I think of college. It’s probably because even the most responsible of adults revert back to their college behavior in celebrating the new year. 

Speaking of college, I went to school with a lot of Buffalo fans. My roommate was a huge Bills and Sabres fan. As a Giants fan, I used to set his VCR around Super Bowl time to record Super Bowl XXV highlights. He got me back in 2000. Between 2000 and the Sabres losing the Stanley Cup on a garbage no-call, we were convinced we would never see our teams win a championship. I was waiting since 1986 for the Mets, and Buffalo has never win anything. 

One night, my roommate and I had a discussion. After the way the Mets lost the 2015 World Series and the Mets less than spectacular offseason, I thought it was time to bring it up here. What would you be willing to do for the Mets to win the World Series?  We didn’t talk about absurd things like giving up our first born or losing a limb. We talked about the one thing that would give even the biggest of fans pause. 

Would you be willing to miss each and every game of a season, including the postseason, if it meant the Mets would win the World Series?  No watching games on tape delay. No listening to games on the radio. No following the games on the Internet or Twitter updates. None of that. You can only find out about the games after they’re over by reading what happened in a newspaper or on some website. Also, don’t be smart, you wo t get the benefit of laying a bet down in Vegas. 

Would you be willing to do it?  There are times I thought I might. However, at the end of the day, I love baseball too. I would miss the games too much.  Part of my joy is seeing it happen. Part of what makes it all great is that tension you feel followed by the rush that follows after a big hit or out.  I wouldn’t miss out on any of that even if it meant I would never see a World Series in my lifetime. I’m still not sure if that makes me a better or worse fan. I’m not sure it matters. 

However, I am curious. Who would be willing to miss it all?  

It Still Hurts

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later. Tonight, my son wanted to watch the Mets. I figured the best bet was SNY for a classic game. Nope. I then went to MLB Network. Mistake. 

I turned it on just to watch Michael Conforto hit his second homerun off of Danny Duffy. As my son was cheering homerun, I was despondent.  All the pain from last week came rushing back again. I remembered how I sat there helplessly through Games Four and Five. As he fell asleep, I kept playing it all over and over in my head again. Just replaying these two games that should’ve sent the Mets back to Kansas City with a 3-2 lead. 

Well, I think I found something that will let me get some sleep tonight. It isn’t Conforto’s two homeruns in Game Four. It was his meaningless single at the end of Game 5. The Mets were down to their last out. Wade Davis had two strikes on him. Instead of giving in to the inevitable, Conforto battled in that at bat (as every Met batter did that inning). He eventually hit an opposite field single. 

Yes, in the grand scheme of things it was a really meaningless single. The Mets were down five and were not coming back. However, Conforto got that basehit. It speaks a lot about him, and it tells you what type of player he will be. He’s never giving up, and he will do what he can to give his team a chance to win. 

So if you are a Mets fan still in mourning over the World Series, take solace in that Conforto at bat. It’s a sign of good things to come. 

Granderson is a Role Model

When you hold up an example of what you want in a ball player, it’s hard not to point to Curtis Granderson. He’s an All Star caliber player and human being. 

First off, Granderson is a charitable human being. His one-time $5 million donation to his alma mater is the highest single donation made by a player. The ballpark built with that money serves not only the college baseball team, but it also is available for the youth in the area. It hosts a city-wide baseball tournament. He invites kids to the field to work out with him. 

In addition to this, he found the Grand Kids Foundation. The organization provides educational and athletic opportunities for children. The organization has provided school supplies at different schools. It has held events at the aforementioned college stadium. It’s no wonder he was a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. 
On the field, he’s an All Star caliber player. This year he was the MVP on a Mets team that went all the way to the World Series. He had an amazing postseason both at the plate and in the field. With a torn thumb ligament requiring surgery, he hit three homeruns in the World Series. 

He is giving it his all both on and off the field. He’s the type of player and person that makes you proud to be a Mets fan. He’s the type of human being that I can hold out to my son and say, “there’s a man you can root for.”  

Thank you for that Granderson. 

I Ordered the d’Arnaud

Today was supposed to be the day I was able to put baseball aside for a little bit. Game 7 was supposed to be last night. However, I was reminded of the Mets blowing the World Series because:

The reason for the free AM crunch wraps?  It’s because the Royals were able to steal a base during the World Series. The steal that got us free breakfast was Lorenzo Cain stealing second in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the World Series. He would score to bring the game to 3-2. 

Overall, the Royals were 6/6 stealing bases off of Travis d’Arnaud in the World Series. This includes a whopping 4/4 in the deciding Game 5. It caused me to sarcastically text my Dad and brother during the game that when we say we wanted d’Arnaud to be like Mike Piazza this isn’t what we meant. Look, I know there are many elements to what causes stolen bases, but a catcher loses the benefit of the doubt when he can’t reach second base. 

In any event, it’s hard to say the Mets lost the World Series because of d’Arnaud. There were so many different elements that it’s hard to point a finger at d’Arnaud. I also don’t think it’s a reason to move him out from behind the plate because he does everything else well. 

He’s a terrific pitch framer, who makes sure his pitchers get that borderline strike call. As the stats suggest, his work behind the plate gets his pitcher not just the corner but a little off of it. Also, he’s a good hitter. His triple slash line this year was .268/.340/.485. To put that in perspective, another great Mets catcher, the late great Hall of Famer, Gary Carter, hit .262/.335/.439 for his career. 

Is d’Arnaud as good as Piazza or Carter?  No, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good catcher for the Mets. All he needs is a little health and to work on his throwing mechanics a bit. (Note: I’m not comparing him to Mackey Sasser. Not going to happen). 

In any event, I had my AM crunch wrap courtesy of a stolen base in the World Series. A World Series the Mets should’ve won. Hopefully, I’ll have one next year because of a Juan Lagares‘ stolen base.