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. 

The Slide Debate

If you’ve been on Twitter, Instagram, or another social media site I’m not yet aware of because I’m getting old, chances are you’ve seen Daniel Murphy‘s takeout slide against Chase Utley:

    

Here’s the thing. If you want to tell me it’s a dirty play because Murphy can’t touch second, fine. However, you must concede two points: (1) Murphy slid; and (2) Utley could’ve avoided contact by sidestepping or jumping. With that in mind, let’s look at Utley’s slide again:

To avoid any confusion, here’s a still of the point of impact:

  

Is this the same slide as Murphy’s?  Could Ruben Tejada protect himself?  Of course not. Even if Tejada didn’t spin, with the way Utley slid/tackled Tejada, Utley’s arms are at Tejada’s hips. His face is buried in Tejada’s abdomen. This is not a baseball play. Stop kidding yourself. 

Another point, people have picked the ONE questionable slide in Murphy’s career. Utley is a guy with a reputation for being dirty:

So tell me this, how are these two plays or players comparable?  If you’re answer is anything other than they’re not, your a Dodger fan, hate the Mets, or both. 

Meet the Matt

After Ruben Tejada‘s injury, the Mets had to replace him on the roster. We knew Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] was going to be the starting SS, but the Mets had to pick a backup. Even though Kelly Johnson played one game this year, he wasn’t going to fit the bill. 

The Mets chose Matt Reynolds because he’s a SS. He’s the Mets 12th ranked prospect. He had a disappointing year in AAA. He dropped from a .335/.385/.479 hitter in AAA to a .267/.319/.402 hitter. Part of that may have to do with his mid-season elbow injury. His worst month was July when he went on the DL. 

Overall, it doesn’t really matter how he hits. Flores was original at SS because of his bat. Reynolds just needs to be ready to be called upon. Most likely that means as a pinch runner (13/17 in SB attempts this year) or as a defensive replacement. He’s been improving defensively. 

With all that said, he most likely will not play today or at any point in the playoffs. If he does get his chance, I would not discount him from doing something great

Happy Harvey Playoff Day

Between this past season, the missed workout, to the recent Boras interview, Mets fans were going to make Matt Harvey‘ first playoff start a referendum on him as a person and as a player. Then Ruben Tejada broke his leg due to a dirty Chase Utley “slide.”  

  
I know everyone wants to make it bigger than what it is, but one simple truth remains. Harvey’s only job is to put the Mets in a position to win. Jacob deGrom did. Noah Syndergaard did as well (even if the Mets lost). The reason we’re expecting more than that?  Well, it’s because it’s Harvey. 

Even after deGrom’s great year and his record setting Game One performance, Tery Collins came out and said:

He’s the ace on a staff of young aces. He’s the Dark Knight. He’s the guy who came back this year and gave Mets fans hope that all if this was possible.  Harvey helped turn this hope into reality.  Coming off of Tommy John surgery, he’s had a great year with terrific moments. 

He went into Yankee Stadium, and he went 8.1 innings allowing two runs and striking out seven. He’s shut down the highest scoring team in the majors. He was the winning pitcher when the Mets clinched the NL East. Famously, he stayed in that game later than originally intended to get ready for the playoffs. 

The playoffs are here. If you’re being honest, there is no one you want on the mound with the series tied 1-1 than a motivated Harvey. He’s motivated to show he’s better than deGrom. He’s motivated to avenge Tejada. He’s motivated to win the game. 

This is the biggest game of the year.  The Mets have never lost a home NLDS game. With Harvey in the mound, that’s not going to change. I’m expecting today to be a Happy Harvey Day. 

Utley Suspension Accomplishes Nothing

Well I guess even after reviewing on replay after the Dodgers’ challenge, MLB finally reviewed the ball and its own rulebook:

So finally, MLB admits it was interference. If the play was called properly on the field, it would’ve been an inning ending double play. If called properly, the Mets lead the game 2-1 going into the top of the eighth. 

Instead, Chase Utley was ruled safe, and the Dodgers won 5-2. Either way Ruben Tejada still has a broken leg. Utley is appealing. He may or may not play in Games 3 and 4. 

The Mets still lost Game 2, partially due to a blown call and inane replay rules.  A 2-0 series lead is now 1-1. Good job MLB. 

Tejada Gave His Right Leg for the Mets

There have been many comments made about Chase Utley‘s “slide.”  Depending on your intellect (or fandom), Utley was either hard nosed (no) or dirty (yes). The competing narrative is Ruben Tejada put himself in position to get hurt:

(Yes, I know that’s not Reynold’s Twitter account. The person publishes his quotes). 

You know what I don’t hear?  I don’t hear what Noah Syndergaard was saying:

Tejada knew who was coming. He knows how dirty Utley plays. He was anticipating the slide by using a spin move to get away from the bag. He knew that by doing this he was leaving himself vulnerable. He did it anyway because he was trying to get the double play to preserve the lead in a playoff game.

What he did took guts. What Utley did was callow. Let’s change the narrative to reflect what Tejada was willing to do to help his team win, instead of the other way around. 

Utley Would Do It Again

Tomorrow, I’m mentally moving on from the Chase Utley garbage. Does that mean I’m not going to viciously boo him when I’m there for Game 4?  No, I’m primed to boo him like I was to boo John Rocker during the 1999 NLCS. 

What I mean is that I’m going to start focusing on the positive. I’m going to focus on how this team will respond. I’m going to focus on how the Mets accomplished a lot by being tied 1-1 in this series. For now?  I’m still seething. 

When my son woke up this morning he wanted to know what happened. Usually, I’ll pull up the highlights. I didn’t this morning. I couldn’t show him that clip. I don’t want him seeing someone get hurt . . . especially like that. I also want to show him the right way to play the game. 

Utley doesn’t. I know people call him hard nosed. He thinks he’s a winner.  So does his former teammate. However, they were in the minority. Most everyone knew what happened. Utley made a dirty play to try to save the Dodgers season. Do I think he wanted to injure Ruben Tejada?  I’ll take him at his word that he didn’t

However, I don’t think he cared if he injured Tejada. The singular thing he cared about was breaking up the double play. When he accomplished his goal, he trotted off the field while a player he injured was writhing in pain. It was a classless move. In any other situation, the player sticks around or will come out of the dugout to see if the player he injured was alright. 

Utley didn’t. So did Utley want to injure him?  No. Did he care if he did?  No. Would he do it again?  If history serves as any precedent, yes. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Utley will play again in this series, and Tejada may never play again in his career. 

Sad part is, I think if Utley had to do it all over again, he would. He’s justified it to himself. His current and former teammates are celebrating his play. Nothing’s going to change.

The only thing the Mets can do is make sure he doesn’t play again after Tuesday. 

MLB Better Not Suspend Utley

What Chase Utley did in the seventh inning to Ruben Tejada was cheap, dirty, and any other adjective you want to use. There’s a fine line between hard nosed, and dirty. Utley crossed that line a long time ago:

As we know, he crossed it again when he broke Tejada’s right leg: 

As we know, this play was reviewed, and Utley was called safe. This means MLB found Tejada did not touch the bag, couldn’t turn a double play (neighborhood play exception), and Utley’s slide was not interference. The last part is the key. MLB ruled Utley’s slide was legal. 

Sure enough, Joe Torre made a buffoon out of himself at a press conference.  I’ll detail all the ways later, but with reference to this play, he acknowledged that: (1) the play was not ruled interference; and (2) MLB will investigate the slide because it was a late slide. 

Essentially, Torre is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He’s saying the slide was ruled legal, but it wasn’t because it was late. By suspending Utley for a late slide, you’re acknowledging the call on the field and the replay was blatantly wrong. It’s saying there should have been an inning ending double play on the interference call. 

If that’s the case, the inning is over. The Mets enter the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead. Disciplining Utley acknowledges the play was completely wrong, and if a protest had been filed, MLB would have to grant it. If MLB disciplines Utley and doesn’t overturn the result of the game, it’s a failure of epic proportions. Just like Game 2’s umpiring was

MLB failed on all fronts early this morning. They can’t compound it today.