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.