Memories

Thank You Pedro

This weekend, Pedro Martinez will be the 13th former Mets player to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame (joining his former Mets teammate Tom Glavine). As of today, The Franchise, George Thomas Seaver, is the only player inducted as a Met into the Hall of Fame.

We were all lucky to see Pedro pitch. He was a combination of dominant power pitcher and crafty veteran while on the mound. As I stated in this blog before, Pedro’s 1999 All Star Game start was one of the most memorable All Star Game moments ever. However, that 1999 All Star Game appearance is just a minor footnote to Pedro’s 1999 season where he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP. Naturally, he won the MVP and finished second in the MVP voting (he was robbed). How do you top that? With his 2000 Cy Young season where Pedro went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.737 WHIP. These are insane numbers that compare with the all-time greats.

My Dad always tells me about Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, and Bob Gibson. He waxes poetic that if Seaver played for good team his entire career, he would have won 30 games per year (he’s not wrong). He tells me about the year Steve Carlton won 27 games on a Phillies’ team that only won 59 games. He told me about Bob Gibson’s 1968 season when he went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. For my money Pedro was better in 1999 and 2000 than Bob Gibson was in 1968. The reason is Pedro did it in the steroids era while Gibson did it in the Year of the Pitcher.  People talk about Sandy Koufax’s stretch with the Dodgers?  Pedro was better.

Luckily, Pedro became a Met after already cementing his status as a Hall of Famer. Before joining the Mets, he was a three time Cy Young Award winner with six All Star appearances and a 182-84 record and a 2.81 ERA. In 2005, he came to the Mets.  His arrival brought energy and legitimacy to a franchise that was on the decline since the 2000 World Series. I remember when the Mets schedule came out, I looked for what would be his first start at Shea. I remember getting seats in the first row of the upper deck so my brother and I could hang Ks for every Pedro strikeout. I still remember he had seven that day. I still have my Vote for Pedro Mets t-shirt.

It was the first time the Mets had an ace since they traded David Cone to the Blue Jays 13 years before. There is always a different atmosphere in the ballpark when an ace is on the mound. From the first to the last pitch, you are on the edge of the seat. Pedro was that pitcher in 2005. Every fifth day, you felt the Mets had a chance to win. He was electric. Back in a time when this really mattered to Mets fans, he came ever so close to getting a no-hitter. He finished with a 15-8 record with a 2.82 ERA. He led the league with a 0.949 WHIP, and he was an All Star.  As we know Pedro’s last great season was in 2005, and we now know why. He still did have his moments because remember Pedro was a great pitcher and a proud man. He made the All Star team in 2006 and he had one last great start in the 2009 World Series.

Overall, what I admired most about Pedro was that he got the best out of his ability and he kept fighting to be the best. And you know what? For a stretch, he was the best pitcher on the planet. That’s impressive because he pitched at the same time as all-time greats like Randy Johnson (who is also being inducted this weekend) and Greg Maddux. So for all of that, I want to say “Thank you Pedro Martinez.” You were a joy to watch as a baseball player, and you gave it your all when you were with the Mets. When my son is older and he asks me about players I saw play, I will mention you in the same vein as my father told me about Seaver, Carlton and Gibson. That is the best tribute I can give to you. Enjoy your well-deserved honor this weekend. You earned it.

Mets in Same Position as 10 Years Ago

Did you ever hear of the saying, the more things change the more they stay the same? The saying drives me absolutely nuts. Inherently, something that is static cannot also be idle at the same time. However, for the first time I am starting to understand this saying.

I believe this season is starting to resemble 2005. Sure there was some optimism before that season with the signings of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. This was also going to be the first full season David Wright and Jose Reyes were going to play together. That team also had some holes: Doug Mientkiewicz had a great glove but not the bat to play 1B, Kaz Matsui was being shifted to play 2B after he showed he couldn’t play SS the prior year, and let’s not forget the closer was Braden Looper in a largely ineffective bullpen. However, I don’t know of anyone that expected the Mets to realistically make the playoffs that year.

At that point, the Mets fans were suffering. In 2001, the Mets rallied around the city, but they fell short of making the playoffs in an otherwise disappointing season. In 2002, we watched Steve Phillips attempt to recreate the team as an offensive juggernaut with the likes of Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno. This lead to three years of just bad baseball. Now, the Mets fans were clamoring for a move to be made. We wanted to see Piazza go out on his last year with the Mets with a winner. At the Trading Deadline, the Mets found themselves only 4 games out of the Wild Card.

However, Omar Minaya stayed the course. The Mets made no trades. He kept his bullets for the offseason. If you recall, that was a magical offseason with the additions of Paul LoDuca, Carlos Delgado, Jose Valentin, Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, John Maine, Jorge Julio (was was then traded in season for El Duque), Darren Oliver, and Billy Wagner. Omar showing restraint permitted the Mets to build that great 2006 team the fans loved.

Now, Mets fans have been suffering longer than they were in 2005, and they are begging for just one bat (which I don’t think will do the trick). While Mets fans were disappointed in 2005, I don’t remember them being a distraught as they are now. I think the difference is trust. We trusted that ownership and Omar would spend the money to get the players that were needed. In fact, they just come off of a spending spree that netted Pedro and Beltran. Now, fans don’t trust that ownership will spend the money. I believe this is the trust gap that is the biggest sense of frustration with this team.

It’s a shame too because I remember 2005 being a fun season. So far, I think 2015 has been gut-wrenching with all the tight, low-scoring games. My only hope is that if the Mets don’t make a move now, they have a plan for what can be realistically accomplished this summer. There will be LF available who can really help the team in the short term, but the market is scarce on middle infielders. My fingers are crossed.  I want to be able to go to a playoff game with my father and son.

Strat-O-Matic or: How I Learned to Start Questioning and Accept Sabermetrics

The 1980’s were a simpler time. The internet was not widespread for personal use. Bill Cosby was still a beloved American icon. There was no interleague play and only four divisions. When you got the leadoff man on, you bunted him over and gave your 3 and 4 hitters a chance to knock in the run.  It is now 2015 and how we view everything has changed.

When I was a little kid, I remember my Dad opening my eyes to the world of Strat-O-Matic. There was a baseball board game you could play! You could set your own lineup and let the game unfold before your very eyes. I remember the first time I set my lineup I thought I came up with a revolutionary idea that would shock the baseball world . . . I batted the pitcher second! My reasoning was simple. If when the leadoff batter gets on, you want to bunt him over to second. Well, the pitcher is the one guy in the lineup who seemingly bunted all of the time. It made perfect sense to me. My Dad heard my rationale and then explained to me how this was incredibly stupid . . . as only a father can. From that point forward, I know I stopped accepting how baseball was played and really thought about what the team should really do in a particular situation. I began to believe managers should stop being robots and really, truly think about the strategy.

Now, I know, as I assume most do, that bunting the runner over is mostly bad baseball. Sure, there are times when it is a good idea (pitcher at the plate and less than two outs), but overall, the percentages say let the batter swing away. To the older generation, this was the idea of a crazy manager called Earl Weaver. A man so crazy that his teams averaged 94.3 wins a year (highest all time) and was enshrined in Cooperstown. Still to this day, there are people who do not believe this is good baseball. They bemoan how Sabermetrics have changed the way the game is played and how it is no longer being played the “right way.”

Personally, I truly believe Sabermetrics are a tool for evaluating the game for the front office and managers. I think it can also serve to allow fans to develop a deeper understanding of the game. While admittedly I don’t always see how some stats are useful or how they were contrived, it doesn’t bother me. My sole care when watching a baseball game is seeing the Mets win. If Sabermetrics help that, then bring it on.

Overall, I am baffled as to why Sabermetrics or advanced statistics in general bother people. I think it has been great for the sport. Not only has it created more baseball fans (which is always a good thing), but it has really enlivened debate on managerial moves (which is a great thing). Now I can use stats like BABIP to say to my Dad or brother, Daniel Murphy has had some hard luck this year, and I think he may be poised for a better second half. We can sit there and argue about what the Mets should do in a particular situation, including, but not limited to whether the Mets should bunt. This brings me to the biggest debate my family has to this day:

Randolph called for Cliff Floyd to pinch-hit for Heilman rather than, say, Anderson Hernandez, who could have bunted. Floyd, thanks to injury, was also taking just his third at-bat of the series.

WAINWRIGHT: “Looking back, I’m still a little surprised they didn’t bunt. But they’re at home, they’re trying to win the game. They don’t want to go into extra innings there. They’ve got a rookie closer on the mound.”

RANDOLPH: “What went into it is my supreme confidence in Cliff Floyd. He had been swinging the bat well for us. He’s one of our biggest hitters all year. You have that bullet on the bench. I just felt good about using it then. I just felt at the time that Cliff was going to hit a line drive in the gap somewhere and give us a chance to win the ballgame.”

BRADFORD: “I think it was with Cliff Floyd up, I’m thinking, Cliff’s gonna do something big here.”

WAINWRIGHT: “I knew he was in the game for one purpose only. He was trying to end it right there.”

http://nypost.com/2011/10/30/look-back-at-the-mets-nlcs-loss-to-cardinals-with-those-who-were-there/

For my money, Willie Randolph made the right call. The reason? It’s the last inning of the NLCS with a chance to go to the World Series, and you’re going to give away an out? I know runners will be on 2nd and 3rd, but you need them both to score just to force extra innings. Think about it this way, would you rather Cliff Floyd at the plate or Anderson Hernandez. Hint, even a hobbled Cliff Floyd could hit for some power; meanwhile Anderson Hernandez just couldn’t hit at all.

Let’s say you bring in Anderson Hernandez and he lays down a successful sacrifice. Even if Reyes still hits that liner to Edmonds, that means it’s 3-2 Cardinals with two outs and a runner on second. Those odds aren’t the best even with a rookie closer on the mound. Keep in mind that rookie was so overwhelmed by the moment he dropped that curveball on Carlos Beltran.  Yes, I know it didn’t work out for the Mets in 2006, but we also don’t know if bunting would have worked either. Keep in mind that just because something doesn’t work out the way you wanted, it doesn’t mean you did the wrong thing. I’m sure that’s something every parent and baseball fan out there can understand.

Remembering Gary Carter

I love Gary Carter. I have since my father taught me how to catch in our backyard. When I became the catcher for my Little League team, I wanted the number 8 because that was Gary Carter’s number. I was elated when I received it. During MLB’s Franchise Four promotion, I realize how upset I’ve been about how Gary Carter’s been treated since his retirement. I can only hope that times will improve for him, since he should be enjoying his retirement.

Everyone who retires does it because it’s the next step in their long life. Retiring in itself is a reward, however, people should make sure that they check out these great tips to ensure an enjoyable retirement. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless to just sit and do nothing. But going back to Gary Carter though, he deserves to be treated so much better in his retirement.

First, Gary Carter had to wait for six Hall of Fame votes before being elected. Carlton Fisk went in on his second try despite having inferior stats. Next, when he was finally elected, he was not permitted to wear a Mets cap, as he wished, rather he was inducted as an Expos (as he probably should have been).  Fisk went in as a Red Sox and Reggie Jackson went in as a Yankee, but the Hall of Fame drew the line with Gary Carter.

The same year as his Hall of Fame induction, the Expos dutifully retired his number 8. The Washington Nationals have seen it fit to unretire all of the Expos’ numbers, including Gary Carter’s number 8. The players who have worn it since: Marlon Anderson, Chris Snelling, Aaron Boone, Jorge Padilla, and Danny Espinosa.

That’s a shame. I know Mets fans will always remember him. I know when he’s old enough, I’ll tell my son about Game 6, and how he refused to make the last out of the World Series sparking an improbable rally. That’s how I’ll honor him and his memory.

Montreal still honors him with a banner in the Bell Centre (which is also where Youppi resides). That’s nice, but it’s not enough.  With Commissioner Rob Manfred talking about possible expansion, MLB needs to consider Montreal to give the Expos, their fans, and former players their identity back.

Gary Carter, je me souviens.

deGrominant

Wow, that certainly was something wasn’t it? Reigning Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom, struck out the only three batters he faced on 10 pitches in his first All Star Game; just a great day to be a Mets fan. That was as fun as it gets, and it was the All Star Game at its best.

At its core, the All Star Game is a showcase for the best players in the game. Much like the very first All Star Game at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, this game featured the best players of our time: Mike Trout, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and yes, Jacob deGrom.

How was the game? Not that great really. Does it matter? No, because the All Star Game is about moments and not the game itself. Most people couldn’t tell you who won the All Star Game 25 years ago, but here are just a few of the classic moments that are still talked about to this day:

  1. Carl Hubbell striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession;
  2. Ted Williams’ walk off homerun in the 1941 All Star Game;
  3. Pedro striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced in Fenway;
  4. Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse; and
  5. A-Rod giving his spot at SS to Cal Ripken, Jr. at his last All Star Game.

If Jacob deGrom continues to be deGrominant, we will tell our children and grandchildren about him. Part of that story will be his performance in the 2015 All Star Game. It will be known as the day as Jacob deGrom went from a potential ace to a superstar, and that my friend is the beauty of the All Star Game.

Introduction

Welcome to Mets Daddy. Rather than regurgitate what is in the About section of this blog, I wanted to introduce myself, and why I am writing this blog. I have always been a Mets fan. My father dutifully saw that I would become one. Upon his learning that I loved strawberries and strawberry ice cream, he told me that the Mets had a player named Strawberry, and he took me to my first game when Strawberry was called up in ’83. I grew up loving the Mets, as I still do this day.

Now, I want to share these experiences not just with my Dad and brother, but also with my son. Every night, I sit down with him to watch a Mets game as he falls asleep. When I ask him who plays first base for the Mets, he says, “Duda!” We’re still working on the rest of the players on the 25 man roster. When he sees Mets caps, he points and either says “Mets” or “Daddy” (as you can imagine, I usually wear a Mets cap when I’m not working). These are experiences I treasure and hope not to forget. My hope is that this blog will help with that.

I’m also looking at using social media too. So if you’re trying to grow your instagram account like I am, please head over and show your support with liking a few posts or even giving me a follow! I’m going to try my best to get to everyone’s comments to reply and get to know all of my Mets Daddy’s readers!

Spending time with my son is so important to me. Apart from watching a Mets game, we also enjoy singing along to songs for kids from youtube. He’s already learned so much from the videos we’ve watched – from shapes and colours to different types of animals, it’s so cool that kids can learn things online nowadays. I’m hoping that when he gets older we get to move on from the Youtube videos, I would love to teach him home to play sports or something. I wouldn’t even mind getting him into gadgets and stuff. I was looking at the Coolest Gadgets the other day, and I have to admit that that would be quite a good way to spend some time together with their toys (they even have some pretty cool stuff for us older guys as well).

But that’s not all I want to do. I also hope to share with Mets fans the experiences of being a “Mets Daddy.” How much fun it is to play baseball, have a catch, or watch a game. How great it is going to a game at Citi Field. How challenging it can be to raise a Mets fan when seemingly being surrounded everywhere with Yankees fans. Overall, how being a Mets fan has bridged generations from my Dad to my son. My Dad’s favorite Met was Tom Seaver; mine is probably Mike Piazza. Who knows what player will become my son’s favorite? That’s part of the fun.

I thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more in the future.