The American Dream

If you haven’t yet, you should read the New York Post today and see the story about Yoenis Cespedes’ defecting from Cuba. It’s reporting at its best. 

I remembered growing up hearing about the oppression of communist countries like the USSR and Cuba. However, I never truly had context. Sunday’s Post story allowed me to do that. It’s hard to imagine for no reason a government trying to take away your dream of playing baseball. It’s unreal that you couldn’t use the Internet as freely as you can here. Lastly, it’s unfathomable you would have to leave your son behind to seek a better life for everyone. 

For most people, our ancestors came to America because it was the land of opportunity. Most sought out this land of opportunity because they were escaping something. I think no matter how far removed you are, you need to remember your roots and make sure your children are aware of them as well. 

My son comes from a line of survivors. On my side of the family, my ancestors escaped the English oppression of Ireland and the potato famines. My family’s story is mundane compared to my wife’s grandparents’ story. 

Her grandmother was similar to Frank McCourt in that she was born in America, but she returned to her native country, the Ukraine (she returned because she was born while her mother was visiting family in the U.S., not due to extreme poverty). Therefore, when the Nazis invaded, she was able to return to America as a citizen. Her husband was not as lucky. 

He couldn’t come to America immediately. So, while he waited to find a way out, he continued to run his tailoring business. Before he could escape, he was put in a concentration camp. He survived. When he and the other prisoners were freed, they were just released out into the wild. No one was given any help or support. 

His ever-loving wife never gave up hope. She waited, and waited, and waited. Her American cousins told her to move on. Surely, anyone would’ve understood. The chances of his survival weren’t great. Them finding one another after all those years was infinitesimal. Years and years passed. Finally, with all of the searching, hoping, and praying her husband was located and brought to the U.S.  

He became a proud American citizen. He and his wife saved money and purchased a home. He raised two daughters and put them through college. When he passed away, he left behind a loving wife, two daughters, and a smart, beautiful granddaughter. She, herself, was well educated, and very cognizant of her roots and her family’s history. She gave birth to an amazing baby boy. A boy who is fourth generation Irish-American (depending on which family member you select) and third generation Ukranian-American. 

As you can see, we all have our stories. Some escape starvation and oppression. Others escape one of the worst dictators and atrocities the world has ever known. Some just want to play baseball. 

Lucky for my wife, my son, and I, we were born in America, the greatest country in the world. We don’t know the oppression and hardships of our forefathers. We are here because of those who struggled and had to risk everything to come here. I couldn’t imagine them having to leave loved ones behind. 

I feel pity for Cespedes not being able to see his son. No amount of money or phone calls can make up for that. I know I couldn’t do what he’s doing right now. I hope one day he and his son are united because as we see when families are united wonderful things happen. 

It’s Just One Game

Take a breath and repeat after me: “It’s just one game.”

Yeah, but the Rays ended the Mets seven game winning streak. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets blew a three run first inning lead after a hard fought win last night killing all momentum. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets road record this year has worsened to 21-33. 

“It’s just one game.”  

Noah Syndergaard continued his bad pitching on the road. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Nationals won tonight with a strong start from Stephen Strasburg, who just came off the DL. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets have Bartolo Colon going tomorrow against Chris Archer. 

Okay, you’re getting to me a little, but “it’s just one game.”

The Nationals have Max Scherzer going tomorrow, and the Mets only have a one God lead in the loss column. 

Ummmm . . . “it’s just one game?”

Ruben Tejada wasn’t good in the field AGAIN.

You’re right. I agree the Mets need a SS, but really all tonight was about was one loss. We can’t make it more than it was . . . even if some evidence points otherwise. 

Let’s look at some positives. The bullpen was good tonight, after having some missteps recently, especially Sean Gilmartin. Curtis Granderson continues to hit well. Also, it’s great that so many Mets fans attended the game that the Rays had to remove the tarps to open up additional seating. 

So yes, a 5-4 loss is tough especially when your young and budding ace seemingly takes a step back in only going four innings. It’s tough giving a game back in the division to a team like the Nationals, who just got a huge piece back. 

However, it’s a legitimate pennant race. It’s supposed to be fun. I know I get too caught up in the game to game nonsense. One day it looks like the division is a lock; the next it looks like all this trades were all for naught. 

Even if Colon and Tejada are playing tomorrow, I’m still excited. I hope you are too. Even if they lose tomorrow and the Nationaks win, just remember “it’s just one game,” and the Mets can bounce back tomorrow. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman WILMER FLORES!

Bring Back ProStars!

When I was growing up, we got to watch Wayne Gretzky, who was the best hockey player of all time, and Michael Jordan, who was the best basketball player of all time.  Way back in 1991, they teamed up with perhaps the greatest athlete of all time, Bo Jackson, to form the ProStars.

By the way, how hilarious is it that those athletes were played by voice actors, but Marv Albert played himself.  I imagine the negotiation went like this.  “Now Marv, we can get someone to play you.  It’ll be less money, but it will also be less time for you, especially with you traveling around with the Knicks.  Are you sure you want to do this?”  Marv: “YES!”

Anyway, if you remember the cartoon, the superstars, sorry ProStars, would fight crime, help kids, and answer questions.  You would also see live action clips of the athletes dominating their respective sports.  In summation, this was amazing.  Sadly, it was also short lived.  There were only seven episodes in total.  I’m sure this doesn’t measure up with the Honeymooners Classic 39, but they were fun.  Sadly, there is a hole today in children’s programming on Saturday mornings.

On Saturday, NBC is airing the Today Show because that hasn’t been saturated enough to the point of falling ratings, has it?  Obviously, ABC is airing Good Morning America to keep pace with NBC, or rather stay ahead.  Let’s not forget CBS trying to enter this two man battle.  They certainly aren’t because they are airing CBS This Morning: Saturday.  Fox, to their credit, has children’s programming, but unfortunately, it isn’t cartoons.  Sadly, the death of the Saturday Morning Cartoon is something to bemoan.  I used to love getting up and having my breakfast in front of the television with my Dad  watching cartoons like Looney Toons.  Sadly, I won’t be able to recreate this experience with my son.

It’s too bad because I also think it’s a lost opportunity for networks.  You could easily recreate ProStars today.  There are already rumors that SpaceJam is going to be  recreated, and many want LeBron James in it.  I’d say they should make the new ProStars around him.  I think the natural choice to join him would be Mike Trout, who right now, is the best player in baseball.  Finally, I would have Peyton Manning for the NFL player.  I know he’s not the best player right now, but he’s in everything anyway.  Go ahead, try to watch an NFL game without a Peyton Manning commercial.  It just can’t be done.  Sadly, I do not think there is room for a hockey player right now as the NHL is not very popular now.

I’d love to do a New York version.  Since they are already good buddies, you can have Henrik Lundqvist and Matt Harvey star in the New York version of ProStars.  I think for the third person, you would have to go with Eli Manning.  I envision him as a master of disguises to help Henrik and Harvey.  Note, I didn’t have a Knicks player because the Knicks are not relevant in New York right now.  Once they turn things around maybe Carmelo Anthony can join the fray.

Anyway, I can long for the days of watching Saturday morning cartoons with my son.  Instead, I guess the two of us will just go outside and work on his swing:

Enjoy your Saturday.

Ray of Hope

Now that was special. Even with Jacob deGrom and Tyler Clippard unable to keep the game tied, the Mets found a way. 

First, Juan Uribe ties the game with a homer after this game started to look like the Grady Sizemore Show (homerun and stole a homerun from Wilmer Flores). After deGrom gave up a James Loney homer, Daniel Murphy hits a game tying homerun. Tyler Clippard gave up the lead on an Evan Longoria homerun that just skipped off the top of the right center field wall. 

In the ninth, after Lucas Duda reached in an error and moved over on a wild pitch, Michael Conforto had the biggest hit of his young career (in a terrific AB) with a hustle RBI double to tie the game. He was moved over to third in a Travis d’Arnaud infield single and scored the go-ahead run when Flores served the ball into right [standing ovation]. 

Jeurys Familia closed out the game to secure the 4-3 win. In an odd sequence it took the Mets a few times to record the first out. Uribe was aggressive in fielding balls in front of third, but the umpire correctly called the ball foul each time. 

With Clippard getting the win, when in actuality all he did was put the Mets on the brink of losing, I thought of how my thinking has evolved on wins. As I’ve stated before, I’m generally more open and accepting of Sabermetrics. I do think the pitcher wins are an overrated stat. For example, the horrendous Bartolo Colon is tied for the team lead in wins with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.  Luckily, no one on the Mets side had a loss to put in their ledger tonight. 

Some other fun notes:

  1. The sound of the crowd made it sound like a home game;
  2. It was great seeing Dwighg Gooden at the game; and 
  3. Terry Collins shows he’s delirious with some of these lineups 

With the DH, he had his lefty platoon lineup out there which meant Conforto and Kelly Johnson (2B). He had Uribe and his defense at third. However, I don’t understand Flores at SS instead of Ruben Tejada. Collins brought in Juan Lagares for defense in the ninth. He should’ve done the same with Tejada. At least the mistake didn’t cost the Mets the game. 

In other great news, the Rockies beat the Nationals to extend the Mets lead to 2.5 games (two in the loss). Tonight was a great night for baseball and an even better night to be a Mets fan. 

Charting the Mets Rotation

Coming out of the All Star Break, the Mets wisely set their rotation to allow their stud muffins to face the Nationals twice. Initially, the move was a bust.  However, after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Met took off and swept the Nationals.  Now, it seems like the Mets want to go back to the six man rotation, or at a minimum have some spot starts.  If the Mets did not go to the six man rotation or have any spot starts, here’s how the rotation would shake out:

Jacob deGrom:

8/7 @ Rays
8/12 vs. Rockies
8/18 @ Orioles
8/24 @ Phillies
8/29 vs. Red Sox
9/4 @ Marlins
9/9 @ Nationals
9/14 vs. Marlins
9/20 vs. Yankees
9/25 @ Reds
10/1 @ Phillies

Noah Syndergaard:

8/8 @ Rays
8/13 vs. Rockies
8/19 @ Orioles
8/25 @ Phillies
8/30 vs. Red Sox
9/5 @ Marlins
9/10 @ Braves
9/15 vs. Marlins
9/21 vs. Braves
9/26 @ Reds
10/2 vs. Nationals

Bartolo Colon:

8/9 @ Rays
8/14 vs. Pirates
8/21 @ Rockies
8/26 @ Phillies
8/31 vs. Phillies
9/6 @ Marlins
9/11 @ Braves
9/16 vs. Marlins
9/22 vs. Braves
9/27 @ Reds
10/3 vs. Nationals

Jon Niese:

8/10 vs. Rockies
8/15 vs. Pirates
8/22 @ Rockies
8/27 @ Phillies
9/1 vs. Phillies
9/7 @ Nationals
9/12 @ Braves
9/18 vs. Yankees
9/23 vs. Braves
9/29 @ Phillies
10/4 vs. Nationals

Matt Harvey:

8/11 vs. Rockies
8/16 vs. Pirates
8/23 @ Rockies
8/28 vs. Red Sox
9/2 vs. Phillies
9/8 @ Nationals
9/13 @ Braves
9/19 vs. Yankees
9/24 @ Reds
9/30 @ Phillies

Now, we are all aware of the rumblings of the Mets using a spot starter or returning to the six man rotation.  What we also know is the Mets are going to rip past the innings limits anyway.  So in this somewhat academic analysis, just go back and take a look again at how the rotation will work out.  For starters, it’s great that Colon only pitches one game against a team over .500 until the last week of the season.  Additionally, if everything works out according to plan, you don’t have to finagle the rotation to start the postseason with Harvey, Matz, and Syndergrom.  Isn’t that your goal?  Now, if things get hectic towards the end, remember the Mets don’t have a huge lead right now, they can shift starts around in September so you can have the stud muffins going against the Nationals in the last series of the season.

Overall, if you are going to rip through the innings limits, why not do it properly and set the team up for success in September and October?  My belief is that if you don’t change the rotation as it stands right now, the Mets look to be in good shape for the rest of the season, and they will have their stud muffins front and center entering the postseason.  Let’s not overthink things and keep it the way it is.

 

 

Is Being a Mets Fan Funny?

Every fan base has their own selection of celebrity fans. Here’s a list I’ve composed of celebrity Mets fans I’ve noticed over the years:

  1. Jerry Seinfeld 
  2. Kevin James 
  3. Jon Stewart
  4. Chris Rock
  5. JimBreuer 
  6. Ray Romano
  7. Amy Schumer
  8. Jay Mohr
  9. Gary Valentine
  10. Colin Quinn

With apologies to John McEnroe and Tim Robbins, I constructed this list to show that an overwhelming amount of Mets fans are comedians. Should this surprise us?  

Probably not. Psychologists and comics themselves will say comedy comes from places of pain. Not to mock or make light of this, but isn’t being a Mets fan mostly painful? Think about it, Yankee fans celebrate while Mets fans crack jokes. It’s a coping mechanism. 

Every time Dan Warthen visits the mound, my brother invariably texts me, well the next batter is getting a hit. He calls it the Dan Warthen Effect.  When the Mets blow a lead, you let out a few expletives, but I’m sure there’s also an Armando Benitez joke in there as well. 

As is his specialty, Jim Breuer is showing the world what it’s like to be a Mets fan. These videos not only show passion, but they also show anger and a sense of humor.  This is what it means to be a Mets fan. Jon Stewart has done the same on the Daily Show:

As Jon Stewart shows, being a Mets fan is fodder for good comedy. However, every so often the Mets are good and it brings you pure joy. That’s why we all can agree with Amy Schumer when she says:

Was this post funny?  It wasn’t meant to be. I was really looking to discuss a positive of being a Mets fan in even the worst of times. I left the comedy to Jim Breuer, Jon Stewart, and Amy Schumer. I’m not going to try to be funny here because you don’t go on after those people. You just sit back and enjoy them like we’re able to enjoy the Mets now. 

Mets Have “40” Decisions to Make

As of today, the Mets 40 man roster is full with Erik Goeddel and David Wright on the 60 day DL. Since players on the 60 day DL do not count towards the 40 man roster, two players will have to be removed from the 40 man before Goeddel and Wright can be added.

The first decision could potentially come on August 11th, when Goeddel is first eligible to come off the DL. The Mets can send down Hansel Robles, who has options, but that only solves the 25 man roster issue. As of today, here are the people who are on the 40 man roster, who are also not on the 25 man roster:

  1. Dario Alvarez
  2. Vic Black
  3. Jack Leathersich
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Akeel Morris
  6. Logan Verrett
  7. Gabriel Ynoa
  8. Johnny Monell
  9. Anthony Recker
  10. Dilson Herrera
  11. Danny Muno
  12. Wilfredo Tovar
  13. Darrell Ceciliani
  14. Michael Cuddyer
  15. Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:

  1. This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
  2. A player must be on the 40 man roster as of August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster (there are loopholes however).

Immediately, you can rule out the pitchers. They’re young, under control, and will be snatched up by another team . . . even Vic Black. That leaves eight players for two spots.

Next, we can eliminate Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from consideration. Cuddyer is set to come off the DL soon. Nieuwenhuis is a possibility, albeit remote right now for the postseason roster. We’re done to six players.

I would next eliminate Dilson Herrera, who is seen as the second baseman of the future. This is especially important with Daniel MurphyKelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe set to be free agents. We’re down to five players: Monell, Recker, Muno, Tovar, and Ceciliani.  Here’s where things get tricky. You can make cases for all of these players to stay or go.

I’ll start with the catchers, who have been awful this year . . . absolutely terrible. I’m expecting the Mets to move on from both of these players in the offseason. However, we need to remember Travis d’Arnaud has been injury prone. You don’t want to him to go down and have no playoff replacement. At a a minimum, one catcher must stay on the roster. Possibly both.

Up next are the young middle infielders. Admittedly, they have both been pretty bad in very limited major league experience. Accordingly, you can’t use that experience as the sole reason to outright that player. It should be noted neither player is a top prospect in the Mets organization. I think both are candidates, specifically Tovar, who is behind Matt ReynoldsGavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario on the organization’s SS depth chart.

Finally, we have Ceciliani, who played decently with the Mets this year (even if he was a little exposed). It should be noted he was passed over in the last two Rule Five Drafts.  I don’t imagine his limited playing time changed the minds of the other 29 teams.  Furthermore, with Nieuwenhuis being on the bubble for the postseason roster, there’s no chance he would even see the field. In my opinion, this makes him the most vulnerable.

Now, I have no connections whatsoever, but I would believe Ceciliani and Monell are the two players who will be moved to make room for Goeddel and Wright. You could easily interchange that for Recker and Ceciliani or one of the middle infielders.  However, I think Ceciliani and Monell are the two least  regarded players on this list.

Further complicating matters is Rafael Montero, who is also on the 60 day DL. Terry Collins recently went to talk to Montero to encourage him to ramp up his rehab so he can help the team.  If Montero is coming back, the Mets are going to have to make yet another roster move.  I believe at this time, the middle infielders would definitively be in danger of being removed from the 40 man roster.  My guess would be Tovar, but then again, I could be wrong.

The only way to avoid removing anyone, and risking losing a player, is to make a trade with another team.  The problem there is if these players had value to other teams, they would have been moved already.  Specifically to Ceciliani, we’ve seen teams pass on him a number of times.  There is also the possibility that the player to be named later in the Eric O’Flaherty deal is one of the aforementioned 15 players making part of this post moot.  However, I think that is unlikely.

Overall, the Mets have a lot of important decisions to make with an eye towards who they want on the postseason roster.  It’s fun to be a Mets fan again.

Trivia Friday

With the Mets making moves to reshape the roster, this week I wanted to see if you could name all the players the Mets acquired via trade in 2015. Good luck!


Debating the GOP Debate

With the Mets off tonight and the draw of Donald Trump, there were a lot of eyes (mine included) drawn to the GOP Primary Debate. Prior to the debate, I saw some “sports” personalities already bemoaning the backlash for their opinions:

This is fascinating to me. On the one hand, no one should silence anyone who seeks to offer their personal opinions on any subject, no matter how distasteful we may find them.  However, when offering opinions or rebutting them, we need to always be respectful and refrain from being dismissive or insulting. 

Most sports personas don’t act this way. When told their opinions are wrong or they should stick to sports, they become dismissive. Their usual response is:

  1. The door’s on your left, or
  2. Ask for a refund for your free content.

This is smug and wrong. They’re given a platform for a different reason, and they abuse it. If they tell you not to read/watch them, take them up on their offer. Their salary is predicated upon their viewer/readership. If they push people away, they’ll learn real quick. 

Also, if they’re offering an opinion, they should back it up. If they’re not willing to, they shouldn’t offer it. They shouldn’t treat Twitter like it’s different than their TV show or column. If that’s true, don’t promote yourself on Twitter. 

Speaking of Twitter, Katie Nolan is a humorist. Her Twitter feed reflected that tonight. However, the other sports personas are sports people. The exceptions are Keith Olbermann, Sid Rosenberg, and Craig Carton. If they offer a political opinion, their reputation precedes them and you’ve been fair warned. Despite what Mike Lupica says and no matter how much the Daily Nrw placates him, he’s a sports writer. 

That’s the thing. You don’t go to Bill O’Reilly for Super Bowl analysis. You don’t go to Rachel Maddow for trading deadline analysis. Similarly, you don’t go to ESPN or WFAN for politics. 

I keep that in mind here. This space is for the Mets and raising my son. I do have definite thoughts about the debate, but I won’t offer them here. If you want to know them, please reach out, and I’ll be happy to discuss. If you disagree, I’ll be respectful and listen to your opinions. I hope you’ll do the same. 

I know i want to raise my son to have strong, well researched, and well thought out opinions. I want him to engage in open and honest debate so he can learn from someone with an opposing view. I also hope he can teach someone else about the reasons for his opinions. That can’t happen when someone is dismissive before the debate actually can begin.