Musings

Announcing the Mets Lineup

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball. However, I’m not against making things more fun for the crowd. I though about this with the Mets contest allowing you to announce the Mets lineup:

All MLB stadiums follow the same general pattern. They dutifully announce the players in the mold of Bob Sheppard:

There’s nothing wrong with this.  It’s a workman like job. However, I’d love to see some emotion in the announcement like the NBA:

Sorry for the Bulls reference there fellow Knicks fans, but that intro is a classic that proves the point I’m trying to make. The announcer has emotion in calling the names. It sends the crowd into another octave. The place is going berserk before the game. 

Do I want this for a random weekday June game?  No, that’s out of place. However, it would boost the electricity for a playoff game. During a rally would you rather hear, “Now batting for the New York Mets, the third baseman, David Wright” or “NOW BATTING FOR THE NEW YORK METS, THE CAPTAIN, DA-VID WRIIIIIIGHT!”

Which one gets the crowd going more?  I don’t care if it’s deemed artificial. Is it any more artificial than the “Make Some Noise” sign on the scoreboard with the noise meter?  I’d argue no. In fact, I think it’s better because you’re capturing the emotion in the stadium, not trying to create it. 

I know the Mets won’t follow my suggestion, but I hope they will. If they don’t, I know Citi Field will be going plenty crazy this October. 

Michael Cuddyer Deserves Our Respect

In many ways, this year could not have gone worse for Michael Cuddyer. His deal with the Mets was widely panned. He got off to a terrible start. He then got injured. Basically, he was a Mets free agent acquisition. 

With the emergence of Michael Conforto and the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Cuddyer’s role diminished. He became a pinch hitter and a platoon player spelling Conforto and Lucas Duda. It was quite the fall from grace for a player who was once considered the Mets key offensive acquisition. The only question remaining would be how Cuddyer would respond. 

In the second half, he’s hit .350/.404/.525. As a pinch hitter, he’s hit .333/.381/.333. He’s hitting .284/.370/.358 against lefties. Basically, he’s accepted his role, and he’s excelled. It’s a good thing too because the Mets are going to need him in the NLDS with the Dodgers throwing Clayton KershawAlex Wood, and Brett Anderson

Cuddyer said he came to the Mets to win. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another to do everything you can for a team to help them win, even if it means making the most out of a diminished role. We’ve seen most players go the other way when these things happen. Not Cuddyer. He turned things around, and he’s s key part of this team. 

For that, he deserves our respect. 

Time for Robles to Make a Quick Adjustment

There are a number of stages to a player’s career. The first is when you’re called up and you’re learning. The second is when the league finds out more about you and adjusts. The most important is how that player responds. 

It seems we’re at the response stage for Hansel Robles and his quick pitch. The league seems to have adjusted to the quick pitch with incessant whining causing the umpires to have to intervene. Usually, the umpire would call it a no pitch, but for the first time yesterday, the umpire ruled the pitch to be a ball. Under the rules, the umpire has that right. 

The issue then becomes what exactly is a quick pitch?  Reading the MLB rules is like reading any modern statute. It’s needlessly long and open to interpretation. I can best sum it up as a quick pitch is a pitch made when it is purposefully made when the pitcher knows the batter isn’t ready. Talk about open to interpretation.

In theory, the hold plate umpire is supposed to hold time until the batter is set in the box. Once the umpire let’s gameplay resume, the pitcher should then be able to throw a pitch. Therein lies the problem. Each time Robles has been called for a quick pitch, time was in. The umpire already judged the batter to be ready. Therefore, how could that same umpire call a ball?  He’s already determined the batter ready, so how could that same batter be “off guard?”

Batters don’t like being rushed, so they’ll do anything to slow the game down. The best tactic they have at their disposal is whining. They’re doing it now with Robles, and they’re succeeding. I’m glad Collins argued last night. There needs to be a clear bright-line rule. The Mets need to get a conference call with MLB and the umpires to figure it out.

Absent that, Robles should keep doing what he does best, which is quick pitch. He just needs to be cognizant not to do it with three balls in the count so as not to award a walk. If he does quick pitch again, and it’s called a ball, he needs to collect himself better than he did last night. That’s the real adjustment needed. 

He’s an important part of this bullpen in the playoffs, so he better figure it out quickly. 

EXCLUSIVE: Terry Collins’ Post Game Locker Room Speech

Both Terry Collins and David Wright have each been involved in multiple September collapses. With that said, I found it interesting that they both disagree with whether or not the Mets are playing tight. With that in mind I thought it would be helpful to look at what’s going on after Collins’ tough game last night:

Maybe the Mets will now keep their composure down the stretch now. 

ESPN Missed a Real Opportunity Last Night

I’m well on the record defending Matt Harvey. Overall, in my opinion, unless you’ve been in his shoes, how can you properly judge him for ignoring a doctor’s advice and risk everything?  Personally, I know my father and I ignored doctor’s advice and went to work. We’re both idiots, and we’re both on Harvey’s side. 

However, there is a person with real credibility on the issue, who has taken umbridge with Harvey. That’s Curt Schilling, who said:

Because of a well earned suspension and the rise of Jessica Mendoza, Schilling took to Twitter with his comments rather than being able to offer them on Sunday Night Baseball. It’s a shame because Schilling saying these comments on live TV would’ve been interesting, especially since he’s got credibility on the issue:

  
The “Bloody Sock Game.”  Schilling risked his career to get the Red Sox to the World Series. The man literally had his tendon sewn into place so he could pitch. Then, he did it again in the World Series. If anyone can talk about risking your career for your team, it’s Schilling. I’m not going to parse out that Schilling did it in the playoffs after getting his money while Harvey still has a career to consider. The fact is Schilling did it. 

Instead, we get John Kruk criticizing Harvey. The same Kruk who retired mid-game due to injuries. He got his hit, was taken out of the game, and he drove home before the game was finished. 

So while I disagree with Schilling’s take, I respect his opinion. It would’ve made the broadcast last night better. 

He Broke Our Burkhardts

For a second straight week, I am lucky that I do not have to choose between the Mets and football. Now, I would choose the Mets, but I wouldn’t be thrilled with missing the Giants game.

There’s an extra treat for Mets/Giants fans like me today because

That’s right, we get to see and hear Kevin Burkhardt call a Sunday 1:00 game. Forgive me if I instinctively tune to Channel 11. 

It’s amazing if you think about it. Burkhardt was the Mets version of a sideline reporter, and now, he’s the football play-by-play man for Fox’s #2 broadcast team. In essence, it was like finding Jim Nantz doing postgame interviews for the Dodgers. No one going to ask Vin Scully to step aside for anyone, but Jim Nantz is way too qualified for the job he’s doing. 

Losing Burkhardt was tough for Mets fans. He’s one of us. Like Gary Cohen and Howie Rose, he was not only a Mets fan, but he’s also tremendous at his job. He showed he was capable of more, and he got it. However, that came at a huge loss to Mets fans. 

We miss him. I know we get him on Sundays and doing pre-game and post-game baseball work. It’s not 162 games. 

I do have one personal antedot regarding Burkhardt.  I got a chance to meet him when we just found out my wife was pregnant. I had a Mets Bob on me, which he was happy to sign. When he asked me what we were going to have, I said a baby, which he responded with an incredulous look. 

I think he thought I was trying to be funny. I explained to him that it was too soon to find out. In fact, he was finding out before most of my family because it was still too soon to tell. He then laughed and congratulated me. 

So now, I get the chance to turn him on today with my son. I’ll get to tell him that’s the guy who autographed the bib that hangs in his room. I only wish my son could get to watch him more frequently because he brought something to Mets games that made them a little more enjoyable. 

However, Kevin Burkhardt is too talented for that. Mets fans loss is America’s gain. I’m going to enjoy the Giants and seeing an old friend today.  I just want to wish continued good luck to Kevin Burkhardt . . . not that he needs it. 

Don’t Boo Carlos Beltran

Tonight, Carlos Beltran returns to Citi Field. This time he’s wearing a Yankees uniform. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s an All Time great Met. 

If you look at WAR, Beltran is the sixth best Mets to ever put on the uniform. He was better than Edgardo AlfonzoJose ReyesKeith Hernandez, and Mike Piazza. In his seven years with the Mets, he went to five All Star Games and won three Gold Gloves. He should have won the 2006 NL MVP Award. He was the best CF the Mets ever had in their history. 

More than that he was a gamer. After that violent August 11, 2005 collision with Mike Cameron, he suffered facial fractures and was hospitalized.  He only missed four games. In the last game at Shea, with the season on the line, he hit a game tying homerun to keep their hopes alive. He was also terrific in the 2006 postseason with a .422 OBP and 3 homeruns. 

That’s where it all gets mixed up. The strikeout. I can’t defend it. He didn’t even try to foul if off. What I can defend is the work that came before and after it. I was happy when he got a loud ovation at the 2013 All Star Game. It was all the more impressive because he was wearing a Cardinals uniform. He comes back again tonight wearing a Yankee uniform. 

It’s not cause to boo. He didn’t leave the Mets for them. He was traded away, and the Mets never showed interest in bringing him back. So when he comes up to bat the first time, give him some applause to thank him for his time with the Mets. 

It’s My Island

This is a huge start for Steven Matz. As a local kid from Long Island, it’s his opportunity to stand up and proclaim, this is the Mets town. It’s time for a man named Steven to stand up and declare:

In all seriousness, Matz has something more important to stake his claim – a postseason roster spot. Right now the postseason rotation is still in flux. It seems the only one assured of a spot is Jacob deGrom

Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard both have innings limit issues. Jon Niese has been utterly ineffectiveBartolo Colon has beaten up on the NL East and sub-.500 teams. Logan Verrett is nothing more than a spot starter. There’s an opening for Matz, and frankly a left handed starter, with the Dodgers coming up in the NLDS.

The Dodgers feature a number of big left handed bats with Adrian GonzalezJoc PedersonAndre Ethier, and Chase Utley, who you know is chomping at the bit to beat the Mets again.  It would be great if the Mets could throw a lefty starter out there to neutralize those bats.  It’s all the more important without a lefty in the bullpen.  Niese has shown it shouldn’t be him. 

This will be the last Mets opponent over .500 until the last series of the season. The Yankees are in a dog fight in the AL East and Wild Card. They need the series a lot more than the Mets do. Most likely, he will face Jacoby EllsburyBrett Gardner, and Greg Bird. It’s a good primer.

Matz needs to step up. He needs to go out there tonight and pitch like the ace the Mets fans think he is. I want to see his grandfather celebrating all game long. If we see it, it means Matz is pitching well. It means he’s securing a postseason start. It means the Mets will have a better chance of winning the NLDS. 

It may lead further towards the Mets taking back New York. It may see mad, but it may become Steven’s Island. 

NL East’s Most Hated Team

When divisional realignment took place in 1994, the NL East was haphazardly set up. Sure, it made sense geographically, but the division was set up with no natural rivalries. 

Despite being around since 1962, a Mets rivalry never developed with the Phillies or Expos. The Mets and Braves were always in separate divisions, and it’s not like there was any bad blood lingering from the 1969 NLCS. The Marlins were too new and too terrible to really create a rivalry with anyone. 

The Braves ruled the division early, and there was a brewing rivalry with the Mets. I’m still smarting from 1999. The rivalry is there, but it’s really fizzled after the Braves run. From 2006-2008, the rivalry was with the Phillies. With the Mets downward spiral since moving to Citi Field, that rivalry has dissipated a bit. 

Sure, the bad blood is there, but I’m not quite sure either is a true rivalry. However, what I am sure of is the fact that there is a lot of bad blood in the NL East and it’s directed at the Mets. 

In 2007 and 2008, the Marlins gave their all against the Mets. They beat the Mets two out of three in the Mets final home series with a Mets playoff berth on the line. I’ve heard blame Jose Reyes and his boisterous play (someday showboating). However, how do you explain this year?

I don’t think I’m imagining things when I say the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins have played hard against the Mets recently. This isn’t a complaint. They should play hard everyday, and especially so against their divisional rivals. However, I don’t think they bring the same energy against the Nationals. 

Since August, here’s how those teams have played against the Mets and Nationals:

Atlanta Braves

  • Mets go 4-0 with a composite score of 28-14
  • Nationals go 4-0 with a composite score of 36-9

Miami Marlins

  • Mets go 5-3 with a composite score of 50-40
  • Nationals go 3-3 with a composite score of 21-13

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Mets go 5-1 with a composite score of 56-49
  • Nationals go 3-0 with a composite score of 24-9 

The scores between the Mets and their NL East opponents are closer than the scores between the Nationals and the same opponents. Also, it looks like the Marlins like being a thorn in everyone’s side. Imagine if they put that same energy in a 162 game schedule?

Hopefully, the Marlins keep it up. They just beat the Mets two out of three spreading panic throughout Mets fans. They now have a four game set with the Nationals. Here’s hoping the Marlins put forth the same effort. 

If they don’t, it just shows the NL East truly hates the Mets. 

Matt Harvey IS Ricky Vaughn

With the hand-wringing over Matt Harvey, I noted that he’s not Billy Chapel. He’s not an aging veteran seeking that one last chance at glory. No, he’s Ricky Vaughn

Ricky Vaughn came bursting on the scene armed with a high 90s fastball. He was there to strike you out. He was a fiery competitor who only cared about domination and winning. That was Matt Harvey in 2013. The man put the team on his back every five days. He was there just to beat you, and he was as intense as they come:

  
Unfortunately, Harvey needed Tommy John surgery. Like Ricky Vaughn in Major League II, Harvey figured out he now had a career to consider. Instead of a publicist, he has Scott Boras trying to guide his career. Eventually, the fans turned on Ricky Vaughn. 

It seems like Mets fans have turned on Matt Harvey. I guess we’ll really find out how much on Sunday. However, before you boo him, remember how the story ends:

When his team needed him most, he was given the ball. The fans loved him. The manager made a ponderous decision. The fallen star pitched his team to the World Series. If you’re a Mets fan, you can see all of this happening. 

There’s greatness in Harvey. Never forget that. I know he will be there when he’s needed, and he’s going to deliver.