All Star Game

More Focus Should Be On Hader’s Growth And Where He Goes From Here

Up until some old tweets resurfaced, you would have to say the All-Star Game was going to be a smashing success for Major League Baseball.

Bryce Harper electrified the crowd and baseball winning the Home Run Derby.  After years of baseball’s most ardent fans begging him to become more marketable, Mike Trout would not only allow himself to be miked during the game, he would also do some shtick with the weather with Ken Rosenthal.

This really was about letting players be themselves and showing their personality on the field.  While it was a good game that went into extra innings, the highlight was really the interactions players on the field had with the booth including Francisco Lindor, Matt Kemp, Harper, and Trout.  It was seeing them have fun playing a game they and we love:

Speaking of those interactions, how great was it to see hear Harper refer to Trout as the best player in the game?

Well, it was about as great as it was awful to see some of Josh Hader‘s tweets from seven years ago.  Actually no, seeing those tweets were much worse than that.

There’s no need to republish those now deleted tweets here.  You can find them if you want.  Suffice it to say, they were racist and homophobic. Post-game, he was left searching for an explanation:

It was something that happened when I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. And that’s just what it is.

*     *     *     *     *

I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. And like I said, that doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs going on now.

*     *     *     *     *

When you’re a kid, you tweet what’s on your mind.

In some corners, his blaming it on his youth is probably going to go over about as well as the statements themselves.  Perhaps rightly so, there will be people who didn’t think or say those things when they were 17, and they are going to judge a 23 year old man about things he said as a 17 year old.

There is a real problem approaching it that way.

We don’t know Hader’s life experiences and influences when he was growing up in Millersville, Maryland.  We don’t know the beliefs of his family, his school, his friends, and the like.  Whether people want to admit it or not, what Hader said as a 17 year old is a true reflection of his upbringing and his area because someone or something made him believe it was alright to not just speak like that, but to also publish it on Twitter.

That’s not excusing anything he said.  No reasonable person will excuse it or take this to say Hader is blameless.  He’s not.

What is important was Hader was a young person who said some incredibly stupid things.  What is more important is Hader is a 23 year old man.  The hope in life is you have matured as you grow older.  As you mature and grow older, you should become wiser and more tolerant.

Put another way, you don’t expect a 23 year old man to think and say the things a 17 year old teenager would.

To that end, there should be more interest in how and why Hader has matured to the point where he now disavows those statements. In many ways, it is of more importance Hader said those statements don’t reflect who he is now or what his current beliefs are.  We should hear more about that transformation, and he has the exact platform he needs to do it.

Remember, baseball is a sport with its own racist past.  It is also one which did a brave thing and broke not just it’s own but professional sport’s color barrier with Jackie Robinson.  It’s now a sport which names its humanitarian award for Roberto Clemente, a Puerto Rican.

If a sport like baseball full of bigots could grow to become much more inclusive, then so can someone like Hader.

Given how the offensive statements were made right before he was drafted, it’s quite possible it was Hader’s experiences in baseball were those that made him mature and see how wrong he was.  Major League Baseball and Hader should be at the forefront in the coming days and weeks to explain how it was baseball and his interactions with people that led him to mature and become a better person.

Don’t hide behind anything.  The comments are public, and out in the open. There’s no more hiding.  Rather, own up to them, and explain to everyone why you are a better person.  More importantly, tell us how you became a better person.

Who knows?  Maybe there is a 17 year old out there right now who thinks the same way Hader did back in 2011.  Maybe, just maybe, Hader speaking out now will help reach that person and make them a better human being.  When that happens, we need to listen and be accepting of his being a better person.

Really, some good can come of this.  Hopefully, everyone will do their part to make sure that happens.

Brandon Nimmo Should Be Playing Tonight

Each and every year, there are a number of notable All Star snubs.  While some would argue it’s attributable to the every team represented rule, it’s really a function of how many good players there are in Major League Baseball.  Mostly, it’s a function of some really bad decisions by people who are supposed to know better.  For example, look at the players who were selected as outfielders for the National League:

Two things should be immediately noted: (1) none of these players were their team’s lone representative for the All Star Game; and (2) each one of these players were selected by either fan or player vote.

When looking over this list, immediately Blackmon jumps off the page as undeserving.  Harper is probably close to it, but with his track record, the game being played in D.C., and his being elected via the fan vote, you can certainly understand why he was an All Star this year.

What isn’t as understandable is why Brandon Nimmo isn’t an All Star.

At the close of the first half of the season, Nimmo is the National League leader in wRC+ (137) meaning he was the best offensive outfielder in the National League.

His 2.4 WAR puts him above everyone except Cain, Markakis, and Yelich.  Although it should be noted if we used fWAR instead of bWAR for the analysis, Nimmo would be ahead of Yelich.

More than that, Nimmo is a player from the largest market in the country who is an eminently marketable player.

Nimmo is a guy who is always hustling, and he does everything with a smile on his face.  No matter the score, Nimmo gives an honest effort on the field.  It’s a large reason why Mets fans adore him.  If he was exposed to a larger audience, other fanbases would get a chance so see him, appreciate him, and adore him as well.

And you know with how lazy national broadcasts are, they would go on and on about Nimmo whenever he entered the game.  There would be discussions about how he’s always smiling, he sprints around the bases on a walk or homer faster than most players do on a double, and his pointing to the heavens after a walk.  Again, marketing him is easy.

In the end, Nimmo and Mets fans lost out on his being an All Star snub.  Mostly, baseball missed out on a guy who is everything that is right about the sport.  They missed out on an opportunity to market a guy who has had a smile that has lit up the entire city of New York.

 

Early Review Of Possible Mets All Stars

The 2018 MLB All Star Game in Washington, D.C. is about a month and a half away, and All Star voting on the horizon, the Mets will look to send as many as four players to the Midseason Classic:

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Stats: .313/.352/.523, 15 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1.0 WAR
All-Star Appearnces: 2011, 2012

Cabrera jumped right out of the gate, and he quickly emerged as an early season MVP candidate. When the Mets have needed a big hit, by and large, it has come from Cabrera.

Among qualifying second baseman, Cabrera has the most doubles. He is also in the top five in hits, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, homers, and RBI.

Cabrera’s dip in May has weakened his attempt to become a third time All Star. It’s not going to be an easy path for him with some steep competition coming from Ozzie Albies, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez.

Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: .260/.408/.519, 4 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.2 WAR
All Star Appearances: None

Like Michael Conforto last year, one thing that may complicate Nimmo’s ability to become an All Star is whether or not he will appear on the ballot. While that may prevent him from being elected a starter, his play on the field may force his way onto the roster.

If Nimmo had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would lead all National League outfielders in OBP. His SLG would also be the fourth best in the National League, and quite impressively, his .927 OPS would be the second best behind just A.J. Pollock, who is also going to be out for about two months with a broken left thumb.

Ultimately, this may be too difficult a group to crack for Nimmo as he is battling bigger names like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, who are arguably having better seasons. There may also be a push for a player like Nick Markakis, a good player for a first place team, to make his first All Star appearance in his 13 year career.

Jeurys Familia, RHP
Stats: 2-2, 2.16 ERA, 14 SV, 1.040 WHIP, 11.2 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2016

Among closers, Familia leads the league in games finished, and he is third in saves and ERA. Another consideration, is for a Mets team who has expected a lot from their relievers, Familia ranks third among closers in innings pitched.

These numbers are easy to overlook for many Mets fans when you consider Familia has only converted 14 of 18 save opportunities, and they are still hung up on some postseason failures from the past.

As it pertains to Familia, those stats may no longer be sufficient. As time progresses, we all look less and less to saves as the true measure of a reliever’s worth. Certainly, the emerge of firemen like Josh Hader are going to complicate things for the selection of relievers for the National League bullpen.

Jacob deGrom, RHP
Stats: 4-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2015

Right now, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and he is a lock to represent the Mets in the All Star Game. If the game was not being played in Washington, you could make the case he should start the All Star Game. However, the presence of Max Scherzer will stand in the way of that happening.

What is interesting to note with deGrom is if he doesn’t step aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016, we would be talking about a pitcher who has been in All Star in three out of the last four seasons. That’s something we saw from Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. As this season continues to unfold, you can make the case deGrom deserves consideration of being grouped with those names. If not them, then at least in the conversation as the third best Mets starter of all-time.

In the end, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be joining deGrom. Up until recently, you could have made a case for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, but recent hiccups may be enough to prevent them from being All Stars in their own right. That said, another impressive run from them, or really anyone, could have them joining deGrom as Mets representatives this year.

 

Pretty Good Day For All Star Michael Conforto

Things got off to a pretty good start in the All Star Game when Michael Conforto actually had his name announced during player introductions. 

Things got better for him. He’d enter the game in the sixth. In his only chance in the game, he would make a nice leaping grab on an Avisail Garcia liner. He finally got to bat in the bottom of the seventh, and he singled against Roberto Osuna:

Conforto’s big moment came in the bottom of the ninth. With the game tied and runners at the corners, he faced off against Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, he struck out to end the inning. 

It was a good day for the Mets star, but unfortunately, it won’t be the moment we will be talking about for years to come. That moment will be Nelson Cruz taking his phone to the plate and having Yadier Molina take a picture of him with Home Plate Manager Joe West:

Molina then followed this moment by hitting an opposite field homer against Ervin Santana

Your MVP would be Robinson Cano. Cano’s 10th inning homer off Wade Davis was the difference in the game. On the bright side, the Mets weren’t the only New York team to lose an All Star second baseman. 

Former Mets: In addition to Conforto, there were more than a few ex-Mets on the field. 

Jason Vargas pitched one scoreless inning. 

Justin Turner was 0-1 in his lone at bat.  
Daniel Murphy, who was the National League’s starting 2B, was 1-2. The ball Murphy couldn’t quite get to led to the first run of the game. 

The American League’s sole run came when Miguel Sano blooped a single into a Bermuda Triangle of Nationals – Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman
Having pitched Sunday, Michael Fulmer did not appear in the game. 

Should Michael Conforto Be The Mets Lone All Star?

 

Considering how the season has progressed, and the ebbs and flows of the season, when the All Star rosters are announced, it should come as no surprise that the Mets will likely have just one representative on the National League roster. In some ways that is quite odd as the Mets do have some strong candidates to be a representative on the All Star Game roster.

The natural choice for the selection has long been Michael Conforto. Conforto jumped out of the gate to start the season, and for much of the season, he was the second best outfielder in the National League. However, he has slumped in the Month of June. His slump has coincided with a back issue, and now, he is on the Disabled List with a bone bruise on his hand. His numbers are still terrific with him hitting .285/.405/.548 with 14 homers and 41 RBI, but the struggles have opened the door for someone else to be considered.

The other Mets player that has been outstanding from the beginning has been Jerry Blevins. No one baseball has made more appearances than Blevins this year. In his 42 appearances, Blevins is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, and a 12.7 K/9. In what has mostly been a horrendous Mets bullpen, Terry Collins has been able to go to him time and again to get the big outs. With his stats, and the fact he’s done it more than any other reliever in all of baseball, he should naturally be an All Star. However, LOOGYs rarely make the roster leaving the door open for someone else.

Fellow bullpen arm, Addison Reed is having another outstanding season for the Mets. Bounced between set-up man and closer, Reed has done everything the Mets have asked him to do. Through it all, Reed has made 40 appearances, more than any other closer in baseball, and he is 0-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 14 saves, a 1.104 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. Few teams have as consistently dominating an arm in the bullpen, and Reed should be awarded with an All Star appearances.

Another outstanding and consistent arm that deserves to be an All Star is Jacob deGrom. For those of us that forget, deGrom was the story of the 2015 All Star Game, and he would have been an All Star last year if he did not step aside for his teammate Bartolo Colon. It’s time they now find time for him. Since working and figuring things out with John Smoltz, deGrom has been the most dominating pitcher in baseball. Over his past four starts, he is 4-0 with a complete game, 0.84 ERA, 0.719 WHIP, and an 8.7 K/9.

More than that, deGrom’s 125 strikeouts are fourth in the National League, and his 10.8 K/9 is the third best. What will likely hold him back is the poor May deGrom had. Overall, the ace is “just” 8-3 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9. That May will likely open the door for another Mets player to be named an All Star.

That brings us the second most likely selection in Jay Bruce. Right now, Bruce is on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season. The slugger is having a career year hitting .264/.335/.524 with 20 homers and 55 RBI. For what it is worth, those are better numbers than what Bruce put up last year when he was named an All Star.

Overall, with the Mets playing much better of late, the team has much more viable All Star candidates than initially presumed. And that is even before we discuss Curtis Granderson having been the best hitter in the National League in the Month of June and his outstanding stats since May 1st.

At the moment, it appears like Conforto is the likely nominee, and he is well deserving. However, he should be joined by one or two of his teammates on this roster.

Trivia Friday – Mets Lone All Star Representatives

With the way the Mets season has been progressing, it appears Michael Conforto will be the team’s lone All Star.  If he is, it will be the 21st time in the Mets 55 year history they have had just one All Star.  Can you name the Mets players who were named as the team’s lone All Star?  Good luck!


Richie Ashburn Duke Snider Ron Hunt Ed Kranepool Tom Seaver John Stearns Pat Zachry Joel Youngblood Jesse Orosco David Cone Bobby Bonilla Bret Saberhagen Mike Piazza Armando Benitez Daniel Murphy Jacob deGrom

Why Wasn’t Conforto On The All Star Game Ballot From The Beginning?

It doesn’t matter what position you are voting.  If you are looking to elect a president, dog catcher, or an outfielder to the All Star Game, when you are solely relying upon write-in votes, you have a steep uphill climb to accomplish your goal.  With the first round of voting results being published by MLB, we see Michael Conforto is going to fall far short of being elected one of the All Star Game starters:

 

Even if Conforto was one vote behind Carlos Gonzalez, that still puts him 226,223 votes behind Jason Heyward for the third spot in the National League All Star outfield.  Even if Conforto were to get a head of steam in the voting, it is unlikely he gets elected because Cubs fans coming off their first World Series in their lifetimes have been stuffing the ballot box.  Right now, the lowest any Cubs player is in All Star Game voting is fifth.  That honor goes to Kyle Schwarber who is hitting .173/.294/.339 on the season.  Right above him is World Series MVP Ben Zobrist.  Long story short, a Cubs outfielder will likely start the All Star Game.

They will start the All Star Game despite Conforto being far superior to the three Cubs outfielders.  Arguably, Conforto is the second best outfielder in the National League behind just Bryce Harper.  Still, he has no shot to start the All Star Game, absent Joe Maddon making him the DH, because he was not put on the All Star Game ballot when it was first released.  In fact, Conforto’s name is still not on the ballot.  Why?

Back in the days when ballots were printed and put in ballparks, this was understandable.  There’s a finite amount of room on a paper ballot, and you are not going to undergo the cost of revising ballots after they have already been printed and put in 30 MLB ballparks.  However, MLB no longer prints paper ballots.  It’s all digital meaning the same constraints you have with paper ballots are presumably not present.

Even if there are some unforeseen issues with updating the ballots mid-vote, there is a legitimate question over why Conforto’s name was not on the ballot the minute it was released.  Conforto made the Opening Day roster.  As such, his playing in the first half of the season was not in as much doubt as say an Amed Rosario who began the season in Las Vegas.  Given how players get injured, why couldn’t MLB put every player who made the Opening Day roster on the ballot?

If Conforto was on there from day one, he might have had a chance to overtake one of the Cubs outfielders to start in the All Star Game.  The fans could have rewarded him for his terrific start to the season by voting for him.  However, his name wasn’t there, and for many voters he was out of sight out of mind when the ballots were cast.  It is something that could have been rectified by having all palyers who made the Opening Day roster on the ballot.

There’s really no downside to this unless MLB is overly concerned with players like Chase d’Arnaud being elected starters.  Of course, this exact scenario happened to the NHL with John Scott.  Of course, the end result of that was increased attention to the sport, increased rating for the All Star Game, and a feel good story.  If MLB still has this concern, maybe they should take the vote away from the fans.

It wouldn’t be a huge stretch from where they are now when MLB doesn’t even list players like Conforto on the ballot.

I Tuned In to Watch Terry Collins Manage

Given the fact that the Mets weren’t going to have any players playing tonight, I wasn’t as excited for the All Star Game. However, it was still a baseball game with the best players in the game, so naturally, I tuned in to watch. Here are some quick thoughts:

Very cool to name the AL & NL batting champs after Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn. Even better to do it at the San Diego All Star Game. 

Am I the only one who thought Collins was sitting Michael Conforto because the American League started a left-handed starter in Chris Sale?

The Terry Collins getting tired of the Royals’ hitters jokes after the Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez homers were about as funny as Sophie’s Choice and as original as Carlos Mencia’s standup. 

I still can’t believe Collins let Jose Fernandez pitch to David Ortiz after Fernandez said he was going to groove one in to Ortiz in a game with World Series homefield advantage on the line. Fortunately, he didn’t, and Ortiz walked. 

Speaking of Ortiz, just go away already. I double down on those feelings after seeing how Tim Duncan retired today. 

love how Terry Collins lifted all the Cubs starters – Anthony RizzoBen ZobristKris Bryant, and Addison Russell – as the game got close and late. You don’t want the Cubs playing with the World Series on the line.

By the way, remember when the Mets announced to everyone they were signing Zobrist – even after he already agreed to a deal with the Cubs?

As I learned during Game 3 of the World Series, the home team tapes the Stand Up to Cancer signs to each seat with a generic statement like “Survivors.”  During the World Series, you could fill-out your own in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. I was shocked there weren’t any “Tony Gwynn” signs in San Diego. 

Speaking of the signs, it was classy for Collins, Tim Teufel, and other members of the Mets to hold up signs for Sandy Alderson. I did wonder where the signs for Shannon Forde were. By the way, it was really classy for Daniel Murphy to hold up a sign for “Sandy Alderson” with the way Alderson let it be known he didn’t want Murphy around:

  
Speaking of Murphy, that Net Negative saved a run with a nice defensive play that Neil Walker doesn’t make. Just saying. It should be noted Murphy reached base in all three at bats, including being the first ever batter to be awarded first base after a replay in the All Star Game, as he’s clutch in the biggest moments. 

It was fun being able to root for Murphy again. It was also great seeing Carlos Beltran appear in the game in what is likely to be the last one for the future Hall of Famer. He joined David Cone as the only players to appear for the Mets and Yankees in an All Star Game. Note, remember this on Friday

Seeing the Jacob deGrom GEICO commercial reminded me of how great deGrom was in last year’s All Star Game

I was shocked Mark Melancon wasn’t wearing his Mets hat when Collins brought him into the game in the seventh. 

Nice to hear the blurb about how Terry Collins wanted to get at least one representative from each team in the game and then not pitch Jeurys Familia or Bartolo Colon. Apparently, he thought Mets fans were content seeing just him. But hey, at least the fans of the other 14 teams were upset with him. 

And that’s the thing, in essence, I tuned in to watch Terry Collins manage and try to figure out again why the Mets didn’t re-sign Daniel Murphy. In the process, the National League lost the game and homefield advantage in the World Series in a game that saw them leave 10 runners on base. 

In that sense, the game wasn’t too dissimilar than watching a Mets game. 

The All Star Game Is Already a Letdown

Back in 2012, there was a debate over whether R.A. Dickey should start the All Star Game.  He deserved the start as he was the best pitcher in the National League in a season where he would go on to win 20 games and the Cy Young Award.  Instead, Tony La Russa would go with Matt Cain to win the game leaving Mets fans to wait until the sixth inning for Dickey to enter the game.  Each and every Mets fan was excited as Dickey pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

The following year, Matt Harvey would get the start at Citi Field in the first All Star Game hosted by the Mets since Shea Stadium opened in 1964.  Harvey would be the first Met to be the starting All Star Game pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1988.  There was an electricity in Citi Field and amongst the fan base as Harvey pitched two scoreless innings striking out three.  There was more excitement due to the fact that David Wright was the starting third baseman in the game.

Last year, the Mets would only have one All Star in Jacob deGrom, but it wouldn’t matter.  He would become the story of the All Star Game with his dominant sixth inning appearance.  While getting his fastball up to 98 MPH, he only needed ten pitches to strike out Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis, and Jose Iglesias.

In each of these instances, Mets fans felt a certain sense of pride and excitement in watching their favorite players not only play in the All Star Game, but also in dominating in the All Star Game.  With Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jeurys Familia named to this year’s All Star Game, Mets fans were expecting more of the same.

Syndergaard was supposed to be the All Star Game starter striking out the side in the first and second inning while getting his fastballs over 100 MPH.  He was supposed to be in line for the win while Cespedes showed the world his Feats of Strength that caused Mets fans to wall in love with him last year.  Finally, Familia was supposed to come in and get the save in the ninth.  The win was supposed to let the world know that the Mets are still a force to be reckoned.  It was supposed to give not just the National League but the Mets specifically home field advantage in the World Series this year.  Instead, injuries struck.

Syndergaard has a dead arm and will not be pitching in the game.  Cespedes is missing the game with a strained right quadriceps.  Terry Collins has stated that deGrom declined to replace his teammates and/or Madison Bumgarner in the All Star Game.  Accordingly, there would be no repeat of his 2015 performance.  In their stead is Bartolo Colon, who is not likely to pitch as he is slated to pitch against the Phillies this Saturday.  The only real hope the Mets fans have is with Familia, who probably won’t be taking the mound until sometime after midnight, well after many fans have already gone to bed, in the event that the National League has a chance to record the save.

No matter the outcome tonight, the All Star Game has already been a letdown for Mets fans.

Andy Cohen Was an All Star and Matt Harvey Isn’t 

On January 29th, Matt Harvey appeared on Watch What Happens Live. It’s a celebrity and pseudo-celebrity talk show hosted by Andy Cohen, who seemingly produces everything on Bravo. Who knew that seven months later, Cohen would’ve been the only person from that night who would participate in the All Star festivities?

This is no slight on Harvey. For the second straight season, he pushed himself physically – perhaps beyond the limits

Last year, Harvey was able to help pitch the Mets into the World Series where he pitched a game for the ages. This year he couldn’t do it. He struggled all year. First l, it was thought to be his mechanics. In the end, it turned out he has thoracic outlet syndrome requiring Harvey to have season ending surgery. As a result, Harvey will not be participating in the All Star festivities, nor will he be participating in this year’s postseason. 

It’s a shame because he worked so hard to get back to this point after needing Tommy John surgery in 2013.  It’s a shame as when he’s great, the Mets look like a team that can win the World Series. It’s a shame because Harvey has been a truly great pitcher that should be out there this week. 

Except he couldn’t be. Instead, Andy Cohen is. That juxtaposition explains so much about what has ailed the Mets this year.