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.

Trivia Friday

Currently, the Mets are averaging 3.42 runs per game (with 2.83 runs per game in July).  As noted everywhere, the offense is historically bad at scoring runs.  To that end, today’s trivia question focuses on which teams have scored the fewest runs per season in the 2000s.  Good luck!


I Want You to Get Up

When games were close and late at Shea, they would play the pump up music and play various clips to get the fans to “GET LOUD!”  There was usually the clip from Network on Diamondvision (or the jumbotron if you will), which would go:

“I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell . . .”

  
What most people realize, the rest of the quote is really “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

With the exception of the people who set up the Mets billboard, no one has truly tried to rally the fans. The reason?  I think it’s because we all realize it’s useless. MLB got rid of Frank McCourt, but refused to do the same with the Wilpons. 

I know that I go to less games, but I will always go to games. I’ve been going to games with my Dad since 1983, and I will continue to do so. I’ve been going to Mets games with my son since 2014, and I will continue to do so. I love baseball, and I love going to games with those I love. 

But I do agree with Howard Beale, “things have got to change.”  

Kershaw Must Be Embarassed

Look, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet right now, and he could shut out the ’27 Yankees. Last night, the Mets trotted out a lineup that isn’t even as good as the  ’62 Mets. The Mets had three position players in the lineup below the Mendoza line. In all seriousness, Kershaw has to be kicking himself for not getting the perfect game. 

Sadly, after Thursday’s press conference, I don’t think anyone in the Mets front office is kicking themselves for letting the season slip away. Earlier this year, New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro stated the Mets were committing malpractice. He was being kind. This is either incompetence or indifference. Considering the skills of the front office people, I believe it’s the later.

I understand putting Michael Cuddyer out there when he wasn’t producing. You have to assume he will eventually revert back to form. Furthermore, the Mets roster is shallower than the Caddy Shack pool. Only this tIme, that’s not a Baby Ruth. Rather, it’s a bench complete with players under the Mendoza Line. 

Cuddyer has been hurt since June 30th. At the time, Cuddyer knew it was bad. It’s almost a full month later, and he’s still not in the DL. In St. Louis, he couldn’t play a full game. The Mets tell us they have money and are looking to make moves, but it simply just isn’t true. Also, we keep hearing Michael Conforto isn’t ready and Kyle Schwarber is an outlier. He might be. He might not be. Regardless, they have to try something. They’ve effectively been playing with a 24 man roster for a month!

This loss is strictly on Sandy Alderson. We criticize players who make a gaff and don’t make themselves available to reporters. Sandy hides behind Terry every game. That, like his roster, is embarrassing . . . almost as embarrassing as Kershaw letting up three hits tonight. 

Kazmir Continues to Haunt Mets Fans

Scott Kazmir is in the news again, and yet again, it makes Mets fans want to tear their hair out. First, he was inexplicably traded for Victor Zambrano. Then, we were enlightened how the Mets drafting of Kazmir symbolized yet again how bad the Mets front office was. Now, he’s the first player traded at a time when Mets fans have been begging the front office to do anything to help this offense. 

It’s also notable this trade was completed by fellow 1962 expansion franchise Houston Astros. Much like the Astros, the Mets are competing ahead of schedule. Unlike the Mets, the Astros have made a move AND maybe looking to make more. Mets fans hear they won’t pick the remaining portion of Ben Zobrist’s salary. It’s disheartening. However, the good news is that apparently the market was set low with only lower-end A ball prospects being traded. 

Maybe this trade will launch the Mets into action. There are already rumblings Michael Conforto will be called-up. I suspect they may start being tied to some players. Hopefully, they can pull the trigger on a deal. 

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.

Is Baseball in Trouble?

The reason I started this blog was to share my experiences as a dad trying to raise his son a Mets fan. For the first time yesterday, I began to realize how difficult this task is.

I wanted to take a my lunch break to sit down and watch a portion of the Mets-Nationals game.  I decided to go around 1:00 because I figured: 1) there may be less people and 2) the establishment would be changing the channel at this time in case they got the start time confused (it was a camper’s special 12:35 start).

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked in at 1:30. Not one TV was turned to the Mets game. This is the most important game the Mets have played in 8.5 years, and no one could be bothered. The TV set-up was as follows: two on ESPN News, two on generic soccer (sorry all the European leagues are the same to me), and one on NBA TV showing a game from the 80’s.

Normally, I would’ve asked them to change the channel, but I just hurried out to my car (whenever they change the channel in these places it takes 5 minutes longer than it should).  Thank God Howie and Josh do such a great job on radio that it really is a viable option.   However, no offense to Howie and Josh, I wanted to watch some of the game. I didn’t realize that was going to be a challenge due to the popularity of classic NBA games.

I’m still going to watch as many Mets games as I can.  I’m still going to watch the games with my son. The question is will I only be able to do it in the comfort of my home in the future?  I hope not.

Bobby Goes Boom

The Mets put everything into this series. They set the rotation to face the Nationals. They were holding three aces and put their chips to the middle of the table. They lost. 

You could kill the offense, but they did score three runs off of Jordan Zimmermann, who’s a really good pitcher in his own right. You could go after Thor for struggling all day and only going five innings. However, he only let up one run.  Overall, the story of the game is the bottom of the eighth . . . that’s where the Mets blew it. 

When you are up two runs in the eighth, you have to win the game. To his credit, Josh Lewin said Familia needed to come in the game after the hard hit liner by Tyler Moore. Instead Parnell stayed in the game, threw a wild pitch putting runners in scoring position. Michael Taylor followed up with a two RBI single Ina fastball down the middle. After not holding on Taylor, Taylor stole second and scored on a Danny Espinosa single. Game over. 

As Josh Lewin pointed out, Parnell’s Nationals Park ERA is over 8.00 (before today). Who’s to blame here?  First, it’s Parnell. He’s got to close the door. Second, it’s Collins. Look, when you set up the rotation to go directly after the Nationals out of the All Star Break, you have to go all the way. It was time for a four out Familia save attempt there.  To his credit, Collins took complete blame for the loss. 

However, all is not lost. The Mets are only three out ( four in the loss column) with nine left against the Nationals and relatively easy August and September schedules. 

However, you can’t feel good either with the offense questions not resolved, an 8-21 record against the Nationals the past two years, and a 17-32 road record. Next up?  The Dodgers, who are leading off with Kershaw and Greinke

You have to admit the atmosphere at Citi Field would’ve felt a whole lot different than it would’ve had they won this game.  

What’s Really Going on with Conforto?

Yesterday, I made two posts detailing why the Mets should call-up Michael Conforto if Michael Cuddyer finally lands on the DL (the posts can be found here and here).  Since these posts were made, the reporting on him has been all over the place (trust me when I say I’m not implying a cause and effect). Here is what the various news outlets have to say about Conforto:

The New York Post reports the Mets are thinking about calling up Conforto. 

The New York Daily News reports the Mets are leaning towards calling up Conforto on Thursday. 

Newsday reports a Conforto call-up is unlikely, but that may change if Cuddyer goes to the DL. 

Similarly, the Star Ledger reports the Mets will consider calling up Conforto if Cuddyer is placed on the DL. 

Adam Rubin reports the Mets the Mets are kicking around the idea of calling up Conforto I’d Cuddyer lands on the DL although “internal dissension remains.”

From my reading of the tea leaves, it appears the Mets are really hoping Cuddyer wakes up one day with a miraculously healed knee. They’re also hoping to add an OF without giving up much in return. Overall, they’re kicking the ball down the road before they are forced to make a tough decision. 

As a Mets fan, I do appreciate they are taking this seriously. The pitching is here. Next year, there will be even more pitching. We just need the hitting. I believe Conforto is ready to contribute (but not necessarily dominate). If the Mets feel differently, that’s fine, but they have to do something here. 

Collins Doesn’t Get Burned by Soup

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say Terry Collins made his biggest managerial decision of the year . . . and the entire planet disagreed with him. Collins pinch hit Eric Campbell for Jacob deGrom in the top of the seventh. We all know that deGrom has better hitting statistics than Campbell, and deGrom was pitching well. No one would have second guessed Collins if he left in deGrom. 

Instead, he went with Campbell seeking to capitalize on a missed call leading to a gift double to Nieuwenhuis. The gutsy move paid off as Campbell hit a two run single turning a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. What was even more surprising was Collins used Campbell over Cuddyer, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Good for Collins, who has been a gentleman all year. He’s never publicly complained about this offense and/or roster. Also, good for Campbell. He’s been a punching bag this year. However, he has earned Mets fans respect as he always hustles and really is doing everything he can do to be on the big league roster. 

Also, good for deGrom and the Mets pitchers. deGrom pitched well enough to win, and he got that win. This post very well could’ve been about how deGrom handed a lead back and how the Mets pitchers can’t do that with this offense. Hopefully, the explosion in the ninth inning is a sign of things to come. Maybe Campbell’s single allowed everyone to take a deep breath and relax. Maybe it was just one game. I’m choosing to be optimistic. 

A hat tip is also due to Matt Harvey. He had a rough start yesterday, but he settled down and powered through 7 innings. It allowed a tired bullpen to rest after an 18 inning game, and it allowed Collins to gamble knowing he had a rested Mejia, Parnell, and Familia.