2015 World Series

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. 

Jonny Gomes is Mark Madsen

Remember when the Lakers were winning titles with Shaq and Kobe?  They were unquestionably the stars of the team. However, what everyone was talking about after the victory parade was Mark Madsen:

Jonny Gomes took up the Madsen mantle at the victory parade:

Powerful speech. It almost made me forget he played in 12 games and had 34 at bats for the Royals this year. It almost made me forget he was left off the postseason roster. Put another way, Eric Campbell has a greater impact on the season. 

Look, I’m all for fun and a little trash talk, but you have to earn that right. It’s not like Gomes was a long time Royal, or he was waiting for his first ring. It’s not like he had to sit and watch from the bench all year. He was a waiver wire August 31 acquisition that didn’t play. 

He’s now going up and down the stage with an American flag like he’s Hacksaw Jim Duggan without the looks or brains. There were plenty of Royals there who actually contributed, but he was the spokesperson. Every Mets played should watch this as motivation not just for Opening Day, but also to win the 2016 World Series. 

I can’t wait to hear Campbell’s speech in the Canyon of Heroes. 

2015 Playoff Gear

As I noted before, it was not a good idea to spend your money on any 2015 postseason gear. Right now, it’s all on sale:

The reason?  It’s because the Mets lost the World Series. It’s because typically no one wants gear from the time their team lost. Right now when I look at postseason stuff, I think more about the Mets blowing three World Series games instead of Murphtober

It’s why you don’t see Mets fans wearing 1999, 2000, or 2006 gear. It’s why the gear is on sale now. By the end of next season you will no longer see 2015 postseason gear. In the smallest of consolations, at least the World Series gear is terrible

Hopefully, it will be much better next year when the Mets win the World Series. I guarantee it won’t go on sale right after the World Series ends. People will want to wear those forever. 

Collins Cost the Mets the World Series

In late August, I began to panic. I thought Terry Collins was cost the Mets either a playoff spot or a series with his in game management. Sometimes it sucks to be right. 

He had a terrible World Series. Just terrible. As a wise and independent Keith Law verified, Collins managing really cost the Mets in Games 3 & 4. The full details are here. The quick synopsis is from Game 2 on Collins grossly mismanaged his bullpen. He had the wrong guy in the wrong spots, and then he asked Jeurys Familia to bail the Mets out of an impossible situation. 

Now, it should be noted the players on the field win and lose games. Collins didn’t force Daniel Murphy to miss the grounder in Game 4. He didn’t force Lucas Duda to choke on a throw home for the last out when Eric Hosmer was dead to rights. With that said, Collins didn’t put his team in the best position to succeed. His mistakes cost the Mets the series. 

I’m not going to regurgitate everything from Games 1 – 4. I’m not going to go into the Game 1 & 2 pitching strategy again. I just want to focus on Game 5 here. This game highlighted every weakness he has as a manager. 

The first big decision was in the sixth inning. In actuality, it wasn’t a big decision. It was a no brainer that Collins blew. Yoenis Cespedes fouled a ball off his kneecap and went straight down. He was down for a while. He was limping even when he finally got back up. For some reason, Collins let him hit. 

Yes, it was a two strike count. You could anticipate that a cold hitter off the bench, presumably Juan Lagares, would’ve struck out or made an out there against Edison Volquez. Instead Cespedes hit. He was given a pitch to hit, and he popped it up. The Mets are lucky he did because the way he was limping, it would’ve been an automatic double play if the ball was hit in the ground. 

We all know the next mistake. He left Matt Harvey in too long. Personally, I would’ve pulled Harvey after right, but admittedly, my heart wanted Harvey out for the ninth. Apparently, Collins had the same issue. He pulled Harvey until Harvey talked his way back into the game. Like the rest of the planet, I thought Harvey had to be removed after he walked Lorenzo Cain.

A double by Eric Hosmer later, and the game was 2-1. Collins then lifted Harvey with one out with the tying run on second with no outs. He again put Familia in a bad spot. Again, the defense blew it. Royals tied the game. 

The lady fateful decision is one that had t gotten much discussion.  I had no problem with Addison Reed in the 12th, even if he’s the only one that had pitched in every game in this series. My problem was how long he stuck with Reed. Reed has been terrific with bases empty, not so much with runners on base. 

Once Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Salvador Perez, after his leadoff single, you knew Reed was in trouble. There’s holding on a runner and there’s being distracted. Reed was distracted and lost the zone. Predictably with Travis d’Arnaud‘s arm, Dyson stole the base. No one was up at this time. 

No one would be ready until two runs were home and the bases were loaded. He brought in Bartolo Colon. Now, while this was happening he never thought to warm up Hansel Robles even though: (1) he would get warm quicker; and (2) he’s been terrific. Colon allowed a bases clearing double to Lorenzo Cain. What was a 3-2 or 4-2 game was now a 7-2 game.

Collins’ inaction in the 12th led to a situation where the Royals had an insurmountable lead.  Game 5 and the series was over. 

My heart does break for Collins. He’s shown himself to be a good man. He waited his whole life for this moment. He’s been good with the clubhouse. With all that said, he cost the Mets the World Series. 

I Went to a World Series Game

There are many things I’m going to personally take away from the 2015 season. For a moment, I wanted to acknowledge that I went to a World Series game with my Dad and brother. It was a dream come true

I’ve been going to Mets games with my Dad since 1983 when Darryl Strawberry.  I wasn’t much older than my son is now. I’ve been going to Mets games with my brother not too long after that. We thought the moment was coming in 2006. We hoped it would happen in 2007 and 2008. It was getting to the point I would never be there to see this in person:

  
Friday night it finally happened. We made sure to commemorate the moment: 

 

Note, I thought it was great my Dad and brother wore the hats I had picked up for them a while ago. I was wearing the same All Star Game hat my brother got me. It is the same hat I wore the day my son was born. I wore the Lucas Duda jersey my son got me. 

Rare is it that you wait for something so long, and it’s even better than you imagined. There was an amazing energy in Citi Field that night. The place exploded when David Wright hit that homerun:

The three of us shared an embrace just celebrating something we thought we would never see (no, I don’t mean a Wright playoff homerun). We were high fiving strangers. It was pure joy. The place exploded again with the Curtis Granderson homerun:

When Wright broke the game open with a single in the sixth . . . 

. . . it just became a surreal experience. I mean I was standing there doing the eighth inning “Piano Man” sing-a-long with Billy Joel:

Are you kidding me?  I was there for Pratt’s All Folks and the Grand Slam Single games. I was there with my Dad and brother. This game meant much more than those. This was the World Series. THE METS WON A WORLD SERIES GAME WE ATTENDED!  

After the last out, everybody was screaming and yelling. We just gave each other a big hug. We were in disbelief that we were even there. We were convinced the Mets were going to win the World Series. We stuck around a bit longer singing along to “Back in the New York Groove” before leaving. It was then time for one last picture:

 
We decided to take the left field ramps out of the ballpark. It was fitting that we took the ramps like we had so many times at Shea. We said our goodbyes and headed home. It won’t be the last game we go to together. I pray it won’t be the last World Series game. 

On the way to my car, I broke my rule. I bought a World Series hat and fleece. I have 1999, 2000, and 2006 sweatshirts and hats that’ll never get worn again. I’ll wear these again. I will forever want to remember this moment.

So thank you to the Mets for allowing this to happen. Thank you to my Dad for making me a Mets fan. Thank you to my Dad for taking my brother and I to all those Mets games over the years. I still can’t believe the three of us got to be there on Friday night. 

The Mets may have lost the World Series, but they won the game we attended. Losing the World Series will always hurt, but at least I got this moment 32 years in the making. It was amazin’. 

This Was a Classy Team

After this season and a World Series, my head is swimming. On the one hand, I want to call the season a success. On the other hand, I want to scream and yell because they blew the World Series. 

With that said, to a man, this was a classy team. I’ll remember Daniel Murphy deflecting credit during his amazing run. I’ll also remember when he made the error in Game 4, he stood there prominently to answer questions about his play. I’ll remember how he accepted full blame. 

I’ll remember what a great man Terry Collins is. I’ll remember how he reached out and offered condolences to hurting Mets fans who lost a loved one. I’ll remember him congratulating the Royals after that painful loss:

I’ll also remember how the entire team honored a fallen NYPD officer during the World Series:

 

I’ll also remember how this team acknowledged the fans in the good times . . .

. . . and bad:

Look, there’s a lot of things that have to be said about this World Series, and trust me, I’ve got a lot ready to go. However, before talking about anything, I thought the team should be recognized for how classy they handled themselves all year. 

Fifteen Years Later Harvey was Leiter

It’s funny to think in the year Yogi Berra died, the feeling I walked away with from last night was “its déjà vu all over again.”

Fifteen years ago, I watched the Mets lose the World Series in five games. I remember believing that the better team didn’t win. The bounces went the wrong way. The Mets failed to execute in the late innings. They just couldn’t get that big hit when needed. I remember thinking of the Mets could just win Game 5, they could still win the World Series. 

Al Leiter started Game 5 and gave the gutsiest performance I’ve ever seen from a Met. He went 8.2 innings throwing 143 pitches. He was just in there too long. After getting the first two outs via strikeout, he let up three successive hits giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. I still thought the Mets had a chance. I thought Mike Piazza tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. Cruelly, it fell just short. 
Last night, Matt Harvey was every bit of Al Leiter’s equal. He too put the Mets on his back and had eight incredible innings. Truth be told, Harvey had a game for the ages. If he doesn’t come out for the ninth, his final line is 8.0 innings, four hits, no earned, one walk, and nine strikeouts. It should’ve been a game that was talked about for years to come. 

Instead, Harvey came out for the ninth. He allowed a walk and a double. The talk will forever be about how Terry Collins left him in instead of how great he was. It’s just like 1999. No one talks about how great Leiter was. They talk about Timo Perez and Roger Clemens. I fear this World Series will be talked about over Collins’ use of Jeurys Familia and the late inning defense. 

However, I’ll always remember Leiter’s Game 5 performance. If I ever had the chance to meet him, I’d shake his hand and thank him for it. Sure, the Mets lost, but I respected that performance. He wanted in that game every bit as Harvey did last night. If I met Harvey, I’d shake his hand and thank him for last night too. 

They both fell just short, but they gave it their all. Last night was just as painful as it was 15 years ago.  In some ways, it hurts even more so.  I may not have seen a World Series in either year, but I saw something special from two extraordinary local guys. They did themselves and their teams proud. They made me proud to be a Mets fan. 

They deserved a better fate. Instead, they have my profound respect. Thank you. 

Nothing but Pain and Tears. 

The Mets lost the World Series 4-1. The Mets easily could’ve won the series in the reverse. The difference?  The Royals executed in late innings. Terry Collins was terrible. The Royals got a little luck. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Not this series. Not tonight. 

This was the moment Matt Harvey we all imagined when he first came up and pitched against the Diamondbacks. This is the moment we anticipated when Harvey started the All Star Game at Citi Field. We were left dreaming of it when he missed all of 2014 while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. 

My God was he awesome. Awesome may be overused, but I can’t think of a better word. I’m not sure a word exists to describe how incredible Harvey was. He went 8+, five hits, two earned, two walks, nine strikeouts. 

For all the narrative thrown his way during the innings limit drama, he promised he would be here when the time called for it. Terry Collins tried to take him out of the game before the ninth. Harvey heard the news from Dan Warthen, and he went over to Collins and told him he’s not coming out of the game. He then threw in a lipper and charged out to the mound. You don’t get more old school than that. 

Unfortunately, it was the wrong decision. Harvey allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain followed by a stolen base and a Eric Hosmer double. Familia got a groundout sending Hosmer to third. Then the Mets late inning defense showed its ugly face again.  Salvador Perez hit a groundball to David Wright. Wright looked back at Hosmer, but it wasn’t enough. Hosmer took off with Wright’s throw, and he scored on a poor Lucas Duda throw. Blown save. Tie game. 

It certainly highlighted the fact that Terry Collins left Harvey in a better too long. It highlighted the poor offense with four double plays off of the grieving Edison Volquez. The only offense the Mets could muster was a Curtis Granderson leadoff homerun and a Duda sacrifice fly. The latter being the only run scored when the Mets had the bases loaded and no out. The first out of that inning came on a Yoenis Cespedes popout after he fouled a ball off his knee. He would have to leave the game after the AB. 

For the second straight game Familia got hit with the blown save that wasn’t his doing. He got the groundball. He did buckle down, got out of the ninth, and shut down the Royals in the tenth. Jon Niese kept it tied. Addison Reed didn’t. 

Perez leadoff with a single that dropped right on the right field line. Jarrod Dyson pinch tab and stole second. Travis d’Arnaud had no shot. With the way he’s throwing right now, he couldn’t throw out Sid Bream. Dyson would score on a Christian Colon single. Naturally, it was Colon’s first at bat in the playoffs. 

Of course Daniel Murphy made another error. Of course Hansel Robles went unused again.of course Collins would wait for it to be 4-2 before lifting Reed. Of course Bartolo Colon would allow a bases clearing double to Lorenzo Cain. The game was out out of reach at 7-2. 

Wade Davis came in, and the Mets went quietly into that good night. Duda struck out. d’Arnaud struck out. Michael Conforto singled leaving Wilmer Flores to make the last out. He struck out.  Fittingly, it was his final at bat that left us all in tears. 

Why Harvey Can Believe

With the Mets down 3-1 in the series and Matt Harvey on the mound, I was reminded about the 2014 New York Rangers. 

For those that are not hockey fans, here’s a brief synopsis. In 2014, the Rangers fell behind the Penguins 3-1 after a frustrating home loss. To make matters worse, the Rangers never beat the Penguins in the playoffs, nor had they ever overcome a 3-1 series deficit. However, there was reason to hope because the Rangers had Henrik Lundqvist, the best goalie in hockey. 

Henrik put the Rangers on his back, and the Rangers did the unprecedented and unexpected. They overcame the 3-1 deficit. They did it even though the Penguins dominated them at home in Game 7. This gives me hope because a hockey goalie is like a starting pitcher. They have the singular ability to shut down an opposition’s offense. They have the ability to put a team on its back and say, “I got this.”

Lundqvist knows better than anyone what it takes. In fact, he and the Rangers did it again the next year.  When he says Harvey is prepared and focused, I believe it. When he’s pulling for Harvey, it gives be confidence it can be done. 

Look, we know Harvey is an unabashed Rangers fan. He watched what happened in 2014 and 2015. He knows how this works. He’s gotten to know the Rangers players, so he knows the necessary mindset. If anyone should be out there to set the tone and start the comeback, it’s him. 

Sure, the Mets have never overcome a 3-1 deficit. Last time it happened, it was in the World Series, and the Mets lost at home in Game 5. However, that was a different team with different players. The Rangers have showed that. It can and will be done. We all now that. 

Best of all, Harvey knows it too. 

Happy Harvey Comeback Day

The Mets are on the brink on losing the World Series. They’re down 3-1. You’ll hear a lot of stats and reasons why this is impossible. Today, I offer you one reason why they’re going to win tonight: Matt Harvey

Put all the Dark Knight stuff aside. He’s not the Dark Knight tonight. That was a persona bestowed upon him as part of his rise and return from Tommy John surgery. No. Tonight is about the ace. The leader of the staff. The man who promised Terry Collins the Mets will be here. The man who delivered on that promise.

Gone is all the Harvey Dent nonsense. Harvey always has wanted this. The man did everything he could do to get himself to this point. He pushed himself past what his agent, his doctors, and his organization wanted. He will be there for his teammates, his fans, and his city tonight. 

When Harvey went down two Augusts ago, Mets fans were depressed because we knew there was no chance of winning in 2014. When he came back in 2015, he rejuvenated the fan base. He rejuvenated the Mets. We all knew there was hope in 2015. Hope became promise. Promise became reality. 

The reality now is Harvey takes the mound 27 outs away from extending the series. Twenty-seven outs away from fulfilling not only the promise he’s made with his words to Terry Collins, but also the promise he has with that terrific right arm. He’s going to deliver tonight. As you can tell from this post, I’m not focusing on fantasy in this belief . . . I’m relying on cold hard facts.

First, Harvey is terrific at home. This year he was 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA, 1.087 WHIP, and a 8.8 K/9. Second, he’s feeling more comfortable with his normal rest. Last time that happened in the postseason, he dominated the Cubs over 7.2 innings allowing only four hits, two earned, two walks, and nine strikeouts. He was a Juan Lagares misplay away from a much bigger night too. Third, the Royals haven’t seen him yet . . . at least the real Harvey. 

In Games 1 & 2, the Mets were not doing what they do best. With one pitch and one game from Noah Syndergaard, the Mets starters are back. Harvey is now going to come in and get that 95+ MPH fastball going. Once that’s firmly established, he’s going to keep the Royals off balance with the offspeed and breaking stuff.

The Mets have their backs against the wall. Harvey is angry and raring to go. The comeback starts tonight.