All Is Forgiven Lawrence

The best part of any rivalry is having a foil. In the Mets-Braves rivalry, that foil was always Chipper Jones

I remember during his 1999 MVP year, the Mets-Braves rivalry was at its height. There was John Rocker insulting everyone. It may be hard to believe, but Shea Stadium was built into a much bigger lather than Citi Fieldcwas last night. However, there was another player Mets fans hated more than Rocker. It was Chipper Jones. 

After the Braves swept the Mets in late September 1999, it looked like the Mets may miss the playoffs again. After the series, Chipper famously needled a Mets fans saying, “Now all Mets fans can go home and put their Yankee stuff on.”  He hit .267/.517/.368 in the NLDS. For his career, he hit .309/.406/.543 with 49 homers and 159 RBIs. 

Chipper would hit .313/.407/.557 with 19 homeruns and 55 RBIs. He hit so well at Shea, that he named his son Shea. He tormented the Mets and their fans for 19 long years. The Mets fans only response was the “LARRY!” chants. That one came courtesy of an Orel Hershiser call into the Fan. Other than that, Mets fans just had to endure his career.

After Chipper Jones built a Hall of Fame career off of the Mets, he’s apparently now rooting for the Mets:

I knew the Mets were getting some bandwagon fans, but this is ridiculous. However, if Larry, sorry Chipper, wants to come along for the ride, he can hop aboard.  He earned that right when he ripped Chase Utley:

So, welcome aboard Chipper. Nice to finally have you on our side. 

Tonight is Going to be Special

This is the third time I’m going to the NLDS. I went to Game Four of the NLDS in 1999 and 2000. Here’s what happened in 1999:

Here’s what happened in 2000:

Citi Field was rocking last night. It’s going to be rocking again tonight. The Mets have local kid Steven Matz on the mound. The offense is hot. So far, the Mets have continued the tradition of not losing NLDS games at home. 

There’s something special going on at Citi Field. I can’t wait to see what the Mets have in store tonight. 

Kershaw Still Scares Me

There were three things we knew coming into the NLDS: (1) Clayton Kershaw has had trouble in the postseason; (2) pitchers do not pitch well on three days rest; and (3) Kershaw is awesome. 

In Game One, he was incredible. He struck out 11 Mets. When he left the game, he had only allowed one earned run (the other two were runners he left on base).  Kershaw showed the Mets why he’s the best pitcher in the game. Fortunately, the Mets had Jacob deGrom matched Kershaw pitch for pitch. He outlasted Kershaw. However, unlike deGrom, Kershaw is returning in three days rest. 

This will be the third time Kershaw has pitched on three days rest. In those prior starts he’s gone 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings. In those two starts he’s struck out 15 and walked three. He limited opponents to a .159 batting average. 

The Mets plan should be to do the same thing they did on Game One. Work the count and jump on the fastballs. If Kershaw is on, you need to help get him out of the game. He threw 113 pitches. He shouldn’t be good for more than 100 pitches. As his last two starts indicate, he’s not going past six innings. 

The Mets just need to keep it close until they can get into the Dodgers bullpen. The Mets did it for seven earned runs yesterday. If they do that, the Mets will be on their way to the NLCS. 

I’m Jealous of Steven Matz

I grew up a Mets fan on Long Island. My brother and I would play in the backyard pretending to play for the Mets. We’d hit the game winning homerun in the bottom of the ninth with two outs in a 3-2 count. We’d strike out the best hitters in the game to win the World Series. Tonight, fellow Long Islander, Steven Matz, gets to actually live that dream tonight. 

I’m not afraid to admit I’m jealous. He’s getting the chance we all wanted growing up. Unlike you and I, he’s left-handed and throws a mid to high nineties fastball. He’s also shown he’s a major league pitcher. 

In his major league debut, he pitched 7.2 innings allowing five hits, two earned, three walks, and six strikeouts. He also went 3-3 with a double and four RBIs. Against these same Dodgers, Matz pitched 6.0 innings allowing two hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts. He got to stick it to the Yankees (as every Mets fan has wanted to do) by pitching 6.0 innings allowing seven hits, one earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

For the season, he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA, 1.234 WHIP, and a 8.6 K/9 in six starts. By the way, these are the numbers of the Mets fourth starter. He fought through injuries. He’s earned this start. He can pitch the Mets into the NLDS. He’s living every Mets fans dream. I’m jealous, but I’m glad he’s on the mound. 

Lets Go Matz!

Clayton Kershaw is a Second Baseman?

Everyone had their own take on Chase Utley‘s “slide” injuring Ruben Tejada and the subsequent suspension.  Of all these people only Clayton Kershaw would play the you ever played card. His full quote: 

I feel like MLB got, you know, a little bullied into suspending him. I’ve seen slides a lot worse. And then, you know, the main thing I want to say is we all feel bad for what happened to Ruben. You know, that’s a terrible thing. You know, you never want to see that happen. It’s devastating. You never want to see a guy get hurt. You know, with that said, there’s a lot of people that have a lot of different opinions about it that probably shouldn’t because they’re not middle infielders and they have no idea what they’re talking about.  [emphasis mine]

So, if we go by Kershaw’s standard that only middle infielders can offer an opinion, why is he talking?  He says he’s seen worse. When?  Every example you could present was before his time. 

This play wasn’t as bad and it lead to a brawl:

Here’s the main example:

The Hal McRae slide was arguably worse. However, I didn’t see the Yankees accept it as a hard nosed play. They lost it and rightfully so. So to act like a bad slide is part of the game is nonsense.

Regardless, this play should stand on its own merits. Kershaw effectively asked us to dismiss his opinion since he’s not a middle infielder. I guess since I was a catcher, I can’t offer an opinion. With that said, here’s the opinions of some middle infielders:

So you know what Clayton, the middle infielders say it was dirty. I’ll take your advice and listen to what they have to say about it. Maybe you should do the same, you know, since you never played there. 

Chase Utley is a Coward

All we’ve heard about Chase Utley is that he’s a hard nosed player. He’s a winner. He’s a tough guy. Last night, he proved to be none of this things. He showed he’s a guy who hits you when your back is turned and runs away:

 

In my book that’s cowardice. If you’re going to hit someone or do something dirty be there for  repercussions. Instead, Utley his behind his manager and his team. 

First, he snuck into Citi Field hours well before team arrived so no one would see him. Then, even though he’s 6-18 with a double and a homerun off of Matt Harvey he didn’t start. The Dodgers sent up Joc Pederson to pinch hit against Harvey. During the game, the Dodgers used everyone on their bench except their backup catcher and Utley. He also wasn’t around after the game:

Utley ducked this game. He hid behind his manager. He’s a coward. 

Yotober Dominance

Mets fans had every reason to be pumped before the game. The fans came and they brought it tonight:

From the first pitch to the last pitch, the crowd was amazing. I loved the Mets pausing introductions when Utley was introduced to prolong the booing. This is what happens when the Mets haven’t been in the playoffs for nine years. It’s what happens when Chase Utley injures Ruben Tejada on a dirty slide. It’s what happens when Matt Harvey finally gets to start in October. 

After a smooth first, Harvey got into some trouble in the second. There were three soft singles, and Terry Collins brought in the corners with bases loaded and no out. Why?  No one knows. In any event, Yasmani Grandal hit an RBI single to right. If the infielders were properly positioned, it would’ve been a 3-6-3 double play. Because they weren’t, it was a single. 

The bases would clear on the single after a Curtis Granderson throwing error. It was 3-0 with a runner on second. Harvey struggled from that point forward, but he kept the Dodgers at bay. His final line was five innings, seven hits, three runs, two earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. He kept the Mets in the game, and he gave them a chance to win. 

The Mets seized that opportunity. Everyone reached base at least once. Travis d’Arnaud got the Mets on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. The Mets loaded the bases and Curtis Granderson came up to the plate. He hit a double off the wall clearing the bases giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. 

d’Arnaud would expand the lead with a third inning two run homer. The Mets would put the game away with a six run fourth capped by a massive three run Yoenis Cespedes homerun:

It’s officially Yotober

In total, the Mets put 14 runs on the board. They were lead by three big bats:

  1. Granderson 2-5 with two doubles and five RBIs;
  2. Cespedes 3-5 with three runs, one homerun, and three RBIs; and
  3. d’Arnaud 3-4 with three runs, one homerun, and three RBIs. 

The Mets also got big contributions from Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares. Flores played well at short, and I’m not grading on a curve. Lagares went 1-3 with three runs, one double, and a walk. Neither player was thought to get any start in this series, and yet, due to extenuating circumstances, they came in and played extremely well. 

Essentially, none of the Dodgers played well. Trash talking lefty starter Brett Anderson only pitched three innings allowing seven hits and six earned. The Dodgers bullpen went five innings allowing six hits, seven earned, and, five walks. On top of that the Dodgers and/or Chase Utley were gutless in not putting him in the game. They couldn’t find a spot for him in a 13-7 loss. Pathetic. 
The Mets rallied around Ruben Tejada. The only downside was having to use Jeurys Familia after Erik Goeddel allowed three runs and couldn’t record one out. 

The Mets are a win away from the NLCS. They’re one win away from exacting revenge on the Dodgers for what Utley did to Tejada. I can’t wait to be there tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

Citi Field of Dreams

When it first opened, I hated Citi Field. I hated the Dodger aura. I hated the sight lines. I hated the dimensions. I hated the green seats and black walks. I hated that it wasn’t Shea. 

Shea was where I went to my first Mets game. It’s where 1969 and 1986 happened. I saw great games there. I was there for Pratt’s All Folks, the Grand Slam Single, and the Jones’ one-hitter. The one thing I remember was how loud that place got. I remember how it shook. I remember after a huge win high giving and hugging people in the stands and on the ramps. I remember those loud “LETS GO METS” chants on this ramps. As funny as it sounds, I may miss those ramps most of all. 

This past year my opinion on Citi Field has started to change. There’s more Mets stuff all over the place. The walls are blue. The dimensions are finally right. I liken it to when you move in to your home.  At first, the place is empty and strange. However, over time, you make it your own. It may never have the nostalgia of the place you grew up, but this home has memories. 

My memories truly began this year. It’s where I brought my son to his first game. Its where Wilmer Flores cried because he thought he was leaving. It’s where he hit a walk-off homerun to celebrate the fact he was still a Met. It’s now where the Mets play the 2015 NLDS. 

With all due respect to No-han and the All Star Game, the Citi Field story starts tonight.  Shea had the aforementioned moments. It had the catches in the 1969 World Series. I had the Buckner play. Tonight we may find out what the postseason play that defines Citi Field will be. 

With a win today and tomorrow, this formerly despised ballpark will start to become beloved. It will become Mets fans’ Citi Field of Dreams. 

Mets Did What They Needed to Do in LA

Prior to the NLDS, I predicted the Mets would win in four games. I anticipated the Mets would split in Los Angeles and take care of business at home. 

I know everyone is angry over Game 2. The Mets had a 2-0 series lead taken from them. The Dodgers took advantage of the play where Ruben Tejada got hurt, and they rallied to tie the series at 1-1. It looks like the Dodgers have all the momentum, but this is baseball. Momentum is today’s starting pitcher, and the Mets have Matt Harvey

This year Harvey is 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 at Citi Field. The Mets are 49-32 at Citi Field this year. The Dodgers are 37-44 on the road this year. The Dodgers are pitching Brett Anderson, who is whipping Mets fans into further frenzy. Advantage Mets. 

Citi Field should be the loudest it’s ever been. The crowd is going to be great. With the Chase Utley suspension and appeal, the Dodgers may actually be the more distracted team. Behind Harvey, the Mets are poised to win. 

I was nervous about Game 1. I was excited for Game 2. I’m confident about Game 3. LETS GO METS!

We Knew It Would Come Down to Flores

Let’s be honest. We all knew Ruben Tejada earned the right to be the everyday SS in the playoffs with his incredible second half. However, we all knew deep down that it would come down to Wilmer Flores [standing ovation]. 

We knew it when he broke down into tears in the field when he thought he was leaving:

We knew it when he came back from that incredibly tough moment to do this:

Through everything that happened his teammates picked him up. With what happened to Tejada, the Mets need him to pick them up. They need his bat. They need his glove. 

They need him to be Ruben Tejada.