Cliff Floyd

With Universal DH, MLB Needs Radical Realignment And Postseason

With the institution of the universal DH, MLB has officially killed off National League Baseball. As such, the only real difference between the two leagues is their names. One just happens to be the American League, and the other just happens to be the National. Why are we even bothering anymore?

It’s not like changing up divisions and leagues is unheard of in this sport. Tom Seaver led the Mets to the first ever NL East title in 1969. Prior to that, there were no divisions in either league. Fast forward to 1994, and the Montreal Expos would have won the division led by players like Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, and Pedro Martinez. Of course, that season didn’t reach completion because of the strike.

As a result, the first World Series with a Wild Card in the postseason was won by the Atlanta Braves with Tom Glavine taking home World Series MVP honors. The Braves would win the NL East as part of their journey. An interesting fact here is the Braves won the first ever NL West title, and they actually played the Mets in the inaugural NLCS.

Baseball has moved and changed teams and divisional structures as they have seen fit. When baseball expanded in 1998 to include the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Milwaukee Brewers were moved from the AL Central to the NL Central. In 2013, the Houston Astros, who were an expansion team the same season as the Mets, were switched from the NL Central to the AL West because baseball wanted six five team divisions.

Things change according to the random whims of the commissioner. We see that has happened with the institution of the universal DH, and we are likely going to see it again with MLB trying to increase the amount of postseason teams from the current five per league to seven per league. That is again completely radical, and it cries for the need for another correlative move.

Before delving further, one of the reasons for the push for an expanded postseason is increased revenues. It should also be noted the reason for revenue sharing and compensation systems is to address the (laughable) assertions owning an MLB franchise isn’t profitable and costs need to be reduced. One major cost which can be cut is travel fees.

To do that, you can more geographically align the divisions of baseball like it is done in the NBA and NHL. After all, we see MLB trying to more align their sport like those, so why not take a look at what that would look like:

Northeast League

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. New York Mets
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Philadelphia Phillies
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Toronto Blue Jays
  8. Washington Nationals

Southern League

  1. Atlanta Braves
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Houston Astros
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Tampa Bay Rays
  6. Texas Rangers
  7. EXPANSION
  8. EXPANSION

Central League

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Cleveland Guardians
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. Kansas City Royals
  6. Milwaukee Brewers
  7. Minnesota Twins
  8. St. Louis Cardinals

Western League

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Oakland Athletics
  6. San Diego Padres
  7. San Francisco Giants
  8. Seattle Mariners

Yes, this does call for the inclusion of two expansion teams. Let’s face it. It is well past time for MLB to expand. If the NHL can support 32 teams, MLB certainly can. There are markets in the United States and Canada which have been relatively untapped, and to a certain extent, the minor league retraction has created a void in many communities for baseball. At least geographically, the southeast with cities like Raleigh and Nashville makes sense, but MLB can look elsewhere and align differently if it makes more financial sense.

As for the blowing up of some rivalries, well, that’s a consequence. That said, it wasn’t a concern when the Brewers and Astros changed leagues. There is also the important consideration the geographical rivalries will be off the charts, and there will certainly be the development of new rivalries.

Now, the next step is especially radical, but then again, so was the death of National League baseball. Before delving further, we first need to acknowledge baseball’s crown jewel is the World Series. Baseball needs to do all it can endeavor to create the best possible World Series matchups to generate more fan interest. The best way to do that is to actually set up the best possible match-ups in the World Series.

For that, just eliminate the AL and NL in its entirety. Instead, just have the four divisions. If you want to keep an AL and NL for nostalgia stake and create new names for the other two divisions, fine. That said, the World Series should abandon the concept of the AL against the NL. Instead, it should be the two best postseason teams.

This is where MLB can borrow a bit from the NHL. Since MLB wants an expanded postseason, they can have the top three teams in each division make the postseason. After that, the next eight non-automatic qualifying teams, regardless of division and division rank, can play a one game Wild Card Game to qualify for the Division Series. The World Series will instantly become increasingly more interesting.

The potential match-ups can radically change. For example, one year, the Mets and Cardinals could meet in the World Series, and the next, they could meet in the Championship Series. As a bit of added intrigue, under this format, MLB could get their biggest dream to come true with a Yankees-Red Sox World Series. The ratings and revenues from that may set records never before seen.

Overall, MLB has been forever changed with the death of National League baseball. As a result, instead of trying to hold onto some vestiges of the NL, it is time to just let it go away entirely and focus on what would create the most interesting and exciting baseball. Creating a four league format would be refreshing, and it would create the best possible postseasons. From there, genuine interest (and associated revenues) would grow putting baseball in the best footing it has been in a century.

Fun Former Mets Who Need To Return

With the return of the Old Timer’s Day, we are going to see some of the most beloved Mets in history return and play a game in front of adoring fans. We will once again get to see beloved players like Cliff Floyd, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura return for the day. It is going to be a great and emotional experience.

Those are players forever in Mets lore. We will always love them for what they did on the field. Not all of them had the biggest personalities. There are, however, some Mets who had the innate ability to become fan favorites without so much as dominating.

One player all over the baseball news is Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The formet Met was hired as the manager of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Sorry, as Shinjo says, he isn’t the manager, but he is rather the “Big Boss.” This is just Shinjo being Shinjo. No one has better understand the great theatre baseball can be in the moments outside of the action. After all, he used to name his homers and orchestrated his own epic retirement ceremony

Baseball needs that type of theatre, and the Mets are the perfect frachise to embrace it. Shinjo can create a spectacle which could garner attention and interest. Really, teams pay a lot of money to hire people who try to figure out the things Shinjo just does on his own, and it comes naturally to him. Whether as a part of the coaching staff, televsion, or just as a team ambassador, Shinjo would make Mets games that much more entertaining.

In recent history, Mets games have probably not been as much fun as they were in 2015. A large part of that was the Mets winning the pennant. Another component of that was the force of nature that was Juan Uribe.

Uribe was the perfect addition to that Mets team. First and foremost, he was the real stopgap third baseman the team needed. He would quickly ingratiate himself to Mets fans with a walk-off hit in his second game with the team. He would then become a larger than life character for needling David Wright, objecting to football being played on TV, and for declaring he doesn’t wear a cup in the field because there isn’t one big enough for him.

Uribe was great in the clubhouse keeping the team on an even keel and upbeat during their first real pennant race. He was also a leader who helped the team reach their full potential that season. In some ways, his presence was missed the following season as he helped a Cleveland team get to the next level. Certainly, you want to believe there is room for him to do the same again for the Mets in some capacity.

Finally, there is Curtis Granderson. Aside possibly being the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform, Granderson was as fun a player as there was. He was not just terrific on the field, but he was also the genius behind the We Follow Lucas Duda Instagram account. Granderson didn’t just understand how to make baseball fun on the field, he knew how to do it off the field as well. The fact he is a great person on top of it makes it all the more important to get him to return in some capacity.

Overall, the Mets franchise has had a number of colorful characters. From Roger McDowell to the hot foots to Pete Alonso with the fake hitting coaches, you need a certain personality to handle and thrive in New York. While the Mets do need to honor their greats, they also need to find a way to better incorporate those players who made the Mets the fun team they are and hopefully always will be.

Mets Need Carlos Beltran To Return For Old Timers Day

The New York Mets made the announcement they are officially bringing back Old Timer’s Day. So far, it has been announced Mets greats Cliff Floyd, Howard Johnson, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura will be there. We are undoubtedly going to see many other greats.

As we work through the list of players which will undoubtedly include Mike Piazza and David Wright, the most important player would be Carlos Beltran. This would set the perfect stage and opportunity for the best free agent signing and center fielder in team history to return.

The saga of Beltran and the Mets is in many ways a story still unfolding. During his playing days, he was never fully appreciated by the fans. Part of that was his very disappointing first year in Flushing, and then in 2006, when he was everything and more the fans expected, he would strikeout looking to end the NLCS. After that, while Beltran was great, he was part of the Mets teams who collapsed in consecutive seasons.

From there, he was a bit injury prone. Lost in everything was the Wilpons interference with his ability to get the treatments he needed. There was also the fact he graciously accepted a move to right field because it was what was best for the team. After his departure, it did seem Beltran was better received by Mets fans as evidenced by the ovation at the 2013 All-Star Game.

Of course, we know all too well Beltarn was initially hired to replace Mickey Callaway. He wouldn’t get the chance to manage one game because of his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. To date, he is the only player to face any discipline as the callow Wilpons fired him.

Sadly, it wasn’t the Mets who gave Beltran his path back into baseball. That would be the Yankees. Much like how Beltran began his post playing career working in the Yankees front office, he will be part of the Yankees’ YES studio shows. It is something the Mets could’ve potentially done with SNY, but it should be noted the Wilpons still owned the network, and as such, Steve Cohen didn’t have the chance.

This is now Cohen’s opportunity. He can reach out to Beltran and bring him back for a big ovation at Citi Field. He can remember him of all that was great during his time, and that Beltran will go to Cooperstown largely because of his time with the Mets.

Remember, Beltran will be on the ballot for the first time next season. Looking through his career, Beltran will likely have three choices for his Hall of Fame cap: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) blank. Beltran played more games for the Mets than any other team. He also accumulated his highest WAR, all three of his Gold Gloves, both of his Silver Sluggers, and five of his nine All-Star appearances with the Mets.

Fact is, Beltran will go to the Hall of Fame because of what he did in a Mets uniform. He belongs in Cooperstown as a Met, and his 15 should be retired. However, there is evidently still some healing which needs to occur to secure Beltran wearing that Mets cap. That should begin with Old Timer’s Day. It’s an excellent opportunity for a first step, and hopefully, it will be a big step in what can be a journey for Beltran emerging as a great former Mets ambassador for years to come.

Sticks Out For Teddy . . . And Stricter Protective Gear Mandates

On January 6, 2022, high school sophomore Teddy Balkind suffered a fatal injury. During a collision, a skate sliced his neck causing him to bleed to death.

At this point, we don’t know if he was wearing a neck guard or not. What we do know is two things: (1) they’re designed to prevent tragedies like this one; and (2) they’re not mandated by USA Hockey.

The second point is a massive problem. When you don’t mandate it, you allow children (and sometimes parents) to get lax with pieces of safety equipment. Moreover, when you don’t introduce it and/or enforce it with young players, they become less inclined to wear it as they age.

It’s more than that. There needs to be appropriate minimum standards. If you’ve seen hockey necks guards, they run the gamut. There’s the it’s a neck guard to say you have a neck guard to actual Kevlar.

Governing bodies need to not only set standards, they need to lead studies. More than that, they need to inform.

Most parents are decades removed from playing the sport. That’s even if they played the sport. Parents are only guessing what’s the correct and most up to date equipment.

In addition to neck guards, there are hockey wrist guards too. In baseball, there are chest protector shirts, and former New York Mets LF Cliff Floyd introduced protective cap liners to the market.

There is equipment out there. However, most parents don’t know about it, and worse yet, it’s not mandated. All of this needs to change. Teddy shouldn’t have died, and we can’t sit around and wait for the next tragedy.

Mets Core Wasn’t The Problem

With the New York Mets failing to make the postseason, and worse yet, with their collapse, the narrative has become this core hasn’t been good enough to win a World Series. Sandy Alderson seemed to echo that sentiment a bit when he said there were going to be changes to the core this offseason. Of course, with free agency and the like, that was probably going to happen anyway.

Before Steve Cohen purchased the team, the Mets core could probably be defined as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Noah Syndergaard. At least, that was the homegrown core. In that core, you had two ace level pitchers, two All-Star level first baseman (yes, Smith was that in 2020), two All-Star level outfielders, and a jack-of-all trades All-Star.

When you add Francisco Lindor, who joins deGrom as a future Hall of Famer, you’d be hard pressed to find much better cores in all of baseball. This level of talent should be the envy of the other 29 teams in the league. That begs the question what went wrong in 2021.

On the one hand, this was a team which was 3.5 games in first place at the trade deadline. Their high water mark was 5.5 games up on June 16. As we know, this team had the bottom completely fall out as they finished eight games under .500 and 11.5 games back of a mediocre Atlanta Braves team for the division.

The narratives emerged. Luis Rojas was in over his head. The ReplaceMets got them the division lead, but the regulars couldn’t seal the deal. This team had no heart, no will to win, no killer instinct, etc. Basically, chose your narrative and apply it to this team.

In many ways, that’s what people said about the 2007-2008 Mets. As we all learned, firing Willie Randolph wasn’t a solution. Switching out leaders like Cliff Floyd was a mistake. Really, making change for its own sake proved to be a complete and utter disaster. Certainly, so was the Wilpons involvement in a Ponzi Scheme. That said, the level of dissatisfaction with “the core” rather than a real analysis of what was the problem led to the demise of that team.

The real issue with that Mets team was injuries and pitching. During the back-to-back collapses, the pitching completely fell apart at the end. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon playing doctor played a massive role in that happening. In some ways, we’re seeing the same thing happen but with a completely new regime.

Let’s take a look at the 2021 Mets. The first thing which should jump off the page is the team went into the season without a real third baseman or a left fielder. We all knew by Opening Day J.D. Davis could not handle the position, but there he was. Behind him was Luis Guillorme, who was as good a glove in the middle infield as they come, but he was a poor third baseman. After that was Jonathan Villar, but he has never been a good fielder.

As for left field, it’s the Mets mistake as old as time. You cannot just throw anyone in left field and expect it to work. Todd Hundley wasn’t a left fielder. Lucas Duda wasn’t a left fielder. Sticking a good bat in the outfield just never works, and oft times, we see diminishing returns for that player at the plate. While Smith did an admirable job, he again proved he couldn’t play left field.

Of course, the Mets could have gone with McNeil at either position as he’s played both positions well. Instead, the Mets were obstinate he was a second baseman because that was the belief Sandy Alderson stubbornly held during his first stint with the Mets.

This speaks to a real problem with the Mets and how it colored how the core was viewed. Players were asked to do things they shouldn’t have been asked to do. For example, remember Conforto in center field? It’s been an organizational approach to just plug bats everywhere. The end result was the team suffering as players failed to reach their ceilings as they struggled out of position, and we also saw the defense lag.

Now, the defense wasn’t really the problem in 2021. With the analytics and Rojas at the helm, the defense was much improved. However, to a certain extent, the damage had already been done. Steven Matz, who struggled in large part due to the absence of defense and analytics, was cast off for relievers who pitched poorly. We had already seen pitchers like Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald cast off. There’s more.

Really, the issue isn’t the core, but what the Mets did with it and how they built around it. For years, we knew Alonso and Smith were both first baseman, but they Mets absolutely refused to make the tough decision and pick just one of them and try to move the other to address a need. It’s a decision which has held this team back for three years now. As for the justification of the anticipation of the universal DH, that’s no reason to throw away three seasons, especially with Alonso and Smith is going to a free agency after the 2024 season.

Looking deeper, this was a team really harmed by injuries. Really, you can make the argument if deGrom was healthy, they don’t collapse. If Carlos Carrasco isn’t hurt in Spring Training, they don’t collapse. If Syndergaard returns when anticipated, they don’t collapse. However, that happened. That’s more of a sign of a snake bit team than it is a problem with the core.

Really, despite the flaws in roster building, this team was good enough. We actually saw it with this team being in first place despite the injuries and the odds. If you’re being honest in your assessment, you should be saying the Mets need to get a real third baseman and left fielder, and this team will be primed to win a World Series. After all, this team with a relatively shallow pitching staff and being plagued by injuries was on the precipice.

That brings us to the next issue. The front office didn’t try to go for it. There was the opportunity, and they chose not to get the pitching this team needed. There’s no good explanation why they didn’t.

As a result, the people who failed at supplementing a very good core is now going to call it an eroding one. They’re going to allow people to falsely accuse this core of not being good enough to win. It’s complete and utter nonsense, and it completely obfuscates what the real problem is – how this organization has approached building rosters.

Overall, if the Mets bring back this same exact roster replacing Davis at third with a real third baseman and putting McNeil in left field, they will be the best team in baseball. There should be absolutely no doubts about that.

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.

Let’s Stop Celebrating Endy’s Miraculous Catch

All over the internet yesterday was video of Endy Chavez‘s miraculous catch robbing Scott Rolen of a go-ahead homer in the top of the sixth inning of a tied Game 7. It was one of, if not the, greatest catch ever made, and it came against a hated rival with the pennant on the line.

For 14 straight years, this catch is celebrated. We should all agree there should not be a 15th year.

After that catch, neither Jose Valentin nor Chavez could deliver on what was a bases loaded one out situation.

The Mets couldn’t capitalize on Carlos Beltran drawing a leadoff walk in the eighth, and in the top of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a homer off of Aaron Heilman which sailed over Chavez’s Head.

Cliff Floyd just missed one before striking out. Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes. After Paul Lo Duca drew a walk to load the bases, Beltran struck out.

All told, this ranks as one of the most frustrating and depressing losses in Mets history. This loss was further exacerbated by collapses the following two seasons, and the complete and utter failure which was the first version of Citi Field.

That’s nothing to say about the Wilpons getting caught up in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme only for them to be needlessly propped up by Major League Baseball.

After that Chavez catch, everything just kept getting worse for the Mets and their fans. Frankly, after that catch is was a nightmare which lasted for nearly a decade. Much of the reason for that was the meddlesome ways of the clueless Jeff Wilpon who kept finding new ways to embarrass this franchise we all adore.

Every Mets fan should love Chavez for this catch and for all he gave the Mets. We can and should love the players from that era who were a mixture of snakebit and not quite fully supported by ownership never ready to go all-in on winning, and that’s even when they had the financial capacity to do that.

Still, we should all fall short of celebrating the mile. We can all acknowledge it was perhaps the greatest catch ever made. However, in the end, the Mets lost in the most excruciating way possible, and no Mets fan anywhere should really look to celebrate a moment which is intrinsically tied to the loss.

If you think this is too far or it’s too far, consider this. There is not a Red Sox fan alive who celebrates Dave Henderson‘s homer off Rick Aguilera. That is among the pantheon of the most clutch homers ever hit, and no one cares because the Red Sox lost that game and series in the most excruciating way possible.

Celebrating Chavez’s catch is really no different than celebrating Henderson’s homer. That’s why it’s time to stop and turn the page. With Steve Cohen at the helm, we instead need to look forward to celebrating big moments like the Mets winning the World Series.

2000 Game Recap: Rickey Gone And Mets Still Lose

The Mets finally got rid of Rickey Henderson. The Mets finally had enough of his lack of hustle and his attitude. According to Bobby Valentine, it wasn’t just him, but the players as well. Combine that with his threatening a reporter, and the Mets finally got rid of the future Hall of Famer. Given how he has been purported to be the issue with the team, you’d think they’d right the ship immediately.

They didn’t.

The Mets are really running out of excuses as to why they are playing as terribly as they are. A team who was once six games over .500 is now at .500, and they have lost four out of the five games they have played against the Marlins. This is the same Marlins team who lost 98 games last year and 108 the previous season.

The Mets had a 2-0 first inning lead in this game. Derek Bell hit a one out homer, and then later in the inning, Todd Zeile hit an RBI single. At that time, the Mets had runners in the corner with one out, but the rally ended there when Benny Agbayani hit into an inning ending double play.

As an aside, Agbayani is one of the players who should benefit from Henderson’s release. Agbayani went from coming THIS close to beginning the year in the minors to being on the cusp of an everyday role. Others who may benefit include Joe McEwing, who made his Mets debut starting in center before moving around the field.

That Mets lead grew to 3-0 in the third. Bell hit a lead-off single, and he’d steal second. Paul Bako‘s throw was wild allowing Bell to go to third on the play. He would score an unearned run on Robin Ventura‘s RBI ground out.

Unfortunately, this 3-0 was not enough for Pat Mahomes to protect. With the injury to Bobby Jones, and the complete ineffectiveness of Bill Pulsipher, Mahomes was again thrust into a starting role. For the first three innings, he kept the Marlins off the board. Starting in the fourth, they’d begin to hit him hard.

Preston Wilson, who is starting to wear out the Mets, led off the inning with a double. He’d then score on a Kevin Millar two run homer. Mahomes would get that run back with an RBI double off opposing pitcher Vladimir Nunez in the bottom of the inning to extend the Mets lead to 4-1. He’d then pitch a scoreless fifth, thanks in part, to an inning ending double play after Luis Castillo reached on an error.

In the sixth, the trouble started for Mahomes the way it usually does for any pitcher – the lead-off walk. Cliff Floyd walked to start the inning, and he stole second. That allowed him to score easily on Wilson’s second double of the game. Turk Wendell would relieve Mahomes, but he would allow the inherited runner to score making this a tied 4-4 game.

When Zeile homered off of Ron Mahay to lead off the bottom of the sixth, that’s where the Mets should have put this game away. That gave the Mets a 5-4 lead late in the game. That meant the Mets bullpen, which is supposedly superior to the Marlins’, would be able to close this one out. They didn’t.

Again, it was Wilson who killed the Mets. Dennis Cook started the seventh, and he was didn’t have control. Castillo had reached on a lead-off single. He’d then plunk Floyd with one out. That put two on in front of Wilson who hit a three run homer to give the Marlins a 7-5 lead.

Not wanting to lose this game, Valentine went to Armando Benitez. Benitez got the last five outs of the game which gave the Mets a chance. They would have their chances, but they failed to capitalize.

In the eighth, Todd Pratt, who started this day game after the night game, hit a two out single. Sensing his chance to get the win, Valentine sent Mike Piazza up as a pinch hitter for Kurt Abbott against Braden Looper. Instead of Piazza hitting the game tying blast, he struck out. Then, Valentine pinch hit Jon Nunnally for Jay Payton. Despite Looper not being good against left-handed batters, Nunnally struck out to end the inning.

It should be noted at that point, Valentine had emptied out his bench completely. Actually, there was one bat left, but that bat was Rey Ordonez, who is injured and unavailable. That meant Valentine was going to have to use a pitcher in the ninth as a pinch hitter. It is really difficult to defend that complete lack of foresight and decision making.

You could say it cost the Mets.

McEwing led off the ninth with a double against Antonio Alfonseca, and he’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo RBI single. Now, instead of having Piazza to bat here or even Nunnally, the Mets had Mike Hampton. For a second, Valentine looked like a genius when Hampton got a hold of one, and he appeared to hit a game winning two run homer. Instead, it went foul, and Hampton would wind up striking out in the at-bat.

With two outs, Zeile kept the rally alive with a single pushing Alfonzo into scoring position. That’s where Alfonzo would stay as Matt Franco grounded out meekly to Alfonseca to end the game.

With the loss, the Mets are at .500, and they look like a team completely lost. They are getting beat up by the Marlins, and they are trying to use interchangeable parts in their outfield and rotation. For now, the only thing they can hope for is Hampton to once again play the role of stopper and get the Mets back on track tomorrow.

Game Notes: McEwing was up because Melvin Mora was placed on the DL. He had busted up his index finger and needed stitches on a bunt attempt on Friday. This will put the shortstop duties squarely on Abbott until Ordonez feels healthy enough to play again.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.t

2000 Game Recap: Marlins Put Mets In Dempster

So much for the Mets getting healthy after getting swept by the Giants. Instead of taking a series against a bad Marlins team, the Mets lost two out of three, and they really lost the last two games of the series in rather embarrassing fashion. Yesterday, it was a route. Today, well, it was domination.

Looking at the positives for the Mets, there was one, and that one was Glendon Rusch. After this rough outing against the Giants, he returned to the form he was to start the season. His final line was 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.

Once again, it was a sterling seven inning effort. where he allowed two runs or fewer on six or fewer hits. He has done that in five of his six starts. That makes his 1-3 record to begin this season all the more bewildering.

Rusch allowed three straight singles to start the game, and on the third single Cliff Floyd scored Luis Castillo. After that, Rusch only allowed three more hits the entire game, and including the walk, just four base runners. He really wasn’t even threatened.

The problem is the Mets never really threatened Ryan Dempster. After all, that is difficult to do when the one and only hit you get is a Mike Piazza two out double in the sixth. At least with that double the Mets did not suffer the indignity of being no-hit. Instead, they had the indignity of being one hit by a pitcher who entered this season with a 5.36 career ERA.

It’s not even like Dempster was THAT sharp. After all, he did walk four batters, and the Mets did get runners into scoring position. In the first, there were runners on first and second with one out after Derek Bell reached on an error and Edgardo Alfonzo walked.

In the fourth, Alfonzo reached via a lead-off walk, and he was erased on a Piazza fielder’s choice. After a walk to Robin Ventura, there was once again runners at first and second with one out. Finally, as referenced above, Piazza hit a two out double in the sixth.

Again, the Mets offense did nothing against Dempster who just made the Mets look bad at the plate striking out eight batters en route to his shutout in the Marlins 3-1 victory.

To make matters worse, Rickey Henderson blew up again. After the detente in San Francisco, Henderson responded by becoming an on-base machine. While he has just four hits over his last 13 at-bats, he has drawn an astounding eight walks for a .524 OBP.

Despite that hot streak, Bobby Valentine opted to rest the 41 year old in the day game after the night game. In Valentine’s defense, this is not too dissimilar than what he did with Henderson last year, and Henderson responded with a great year. However, this is a soft spot for Henderson, and he was angry for sitting yet again in place of Jon Nunnally.

This means that yet again we have to monitor how much of a problem Henderson and his playing time will be, and worse yet, when the Mets are mired in a slump like this losing six of seven to sub .500 teams, you wonder how much this is affecting the team.

Game Notes: This is the first time the Mets have been one hit since 1994 when Andy Benes pitched a one-hitter in San Diego. The last time the Mets were no-hit was by Darryl Kile in 1993.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Pulsipher Looks Done

As an organization and as a fan base, we  are always going to root for Generation K to finally figure it out and become the aces we all hoped they would be. However, each time any of them takes the mound, we get further and further away from the time we thought they were going to be the trio who would be the ones who brought the Mets to their first World Series since 1986.

Bill Pulsipher might’ve thrown three scoreless to begin the game, but it was a tightrope walk. In the first, he walked two batters. In the second, he allowed back-to-back singles. In the third, he allowed a double to Cliff Floyd. Despite the trouble, Pulsipher managed the tight rope walk. In the fourth, there was a big gust of wind from the Marlins batters swings knocking him right off.

In the top of the fourth, Derek Bell hit a lead-off solo homer to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, having a lead did little to calm Pulsipher down. If anything, it made things worse.

Derek Lee and Alex Gonzalez led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and after a Gonzalez stolen base there were runners at second and third with no outs. After Mike Redmond struck out, the opposing pitcher, Alex Fernandez hit a two RBI double. The Marlins were off and running, and they wouldn’t trail for the rest of the game.

After the Fernandez double, Pulsipher allowed consecutive singles to Luis Castillo, Mark Kotsay, and Cliff Floyd. At that point, it was 4-1 Marlins, and Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez to relieve Pulsipher.

When it comes to the 2000 Mets, it is likely Pulsipher will be a footnote in what is hopefully a season where the Mets win a World Series. However, in the grand scheme of things, you do wonder if that is it for Pulsipher in a Mets uniform. This is now his second straight start where he just wasn’t up to the task, and the team already traded him away once. He was the first member of Generation K to make his debut, and he may be the first one to see his Mets career or even his Major League career end.

There is a certain sadness to that.

For now, it is about this game, a game the Mets were routed by a bad Marlins team. To be fair, it should be pointed out the Marlins did start Fernandez, who is the last hold over from the 1997 World Series winner. Fernandez certainly pitched like the very good pitcher we know him to be.

For the Mets, it seemed fortunate he had to leave with an elbow injury, but the Marlins bullpen also shut down the Mets. On the Mets side of the ledger, Rodriguez had walked Preston Wilson when he first relieved Pulsipher to load the bases, and then he got bailed out of the inning. On a Lowell sacrifice fly, Floyd got caught in a run down.

Rodriguez did his job pitching 2.1 innings, and Turk Wendell showed no ill effects from the sprained ankle. While Rodriguez and Wendell did their jobs, Armando Benitez struggled. He allowed a lead-off double to Brant Brown, and he issued two walks loading the bases. Wilson then hit a grand slam.

That took a game within reach to a 5-1 route. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, but a loss like this is all the more frustrating. First, the Mets gave themselves little chance with Pulsipher on the mound, and then, they really had no chance when Benitez allowed the grand slam. Mostly, it is frustrating because the Mets are not playing well right now losing five of their last six.

Game Notes: This was the fifth homer Benitez has allowed this year raising his ERA to 6.88. At the moment, there are no plans to give the closer duties back to John Franco.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.