Lucas Duda

Cubs And Red Sox Have Recently Won World Series Titles, Mets Haven’t

When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:

  • Astros – Never
  • Nationals – Never
  • Rockies – Never
  • Indians – 1948
  • Dodgers – 1988
  • Twins – 1991
  • Diamondbacks – 2001
  • Yankees – 2009
  • Red Sox – 2013
  • Cubs – 2016

Just go back over that list again.

For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.

Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins.  The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.

Until recently.

We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit.  It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series.  Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series.  There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.

In 1969, the Cubs went from Ron Santo clicking his heels to a black cat crossing their path.  We would then see Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman pitch the Mets to their first World Series title.

In 1986, Mookie Wilson hit a little roller up along first that got past Bill BucknerRay Knight scored the winning run en route to a Game 6 win and eventual World Series title.

Even in 2015, the Mets beat up on the Cubs.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom dominated them from the mound, and Daniel Murphy homered the Mets to the team’s fifth pennant.

Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs.  Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.

In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden.  In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded.  In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall.  In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright.  In 2015,  Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw.  Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.

In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal.  However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way.  It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series.  In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.

Again, the Mets are not cursed.  Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.

Reason For Mets Fans To Root For A Yankees – Nationals World Series

You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.

Or is it?

The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.

Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.

That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.

Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.

The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.

Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.

Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.

That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.

As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay BruceLucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees.  They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets.  More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.

Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series.  With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse.  Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear.  That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.

If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds.  On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful.  On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite.  That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.

Who knows?  If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action.  We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team.  Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.

Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team.  If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series.  They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario.  The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.

Thanks For The Memories Terry Collins

Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting.  He will not be returning as Mets manager.  While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring.  The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.

In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started.  The Mets were bad and injured.  It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag.  What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.

Part of being human is being emotional.  We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences.  And yes, we’ve seen him cry.  Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality.  In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory.  In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.

He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title.  He left Santana in for that no-hitter.  He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult.  Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.

Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players.  It would be the source of much consternation among fans.  This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto.  What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.

In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed.  You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.

But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers.  It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players.  Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner.  It wasn’t just those players.  Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.

With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets.  Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets.  Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.

Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see.  A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young.  A Mets player won a batting title.  There was actually a Mets no-hitter.  Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.

Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that.  Collins got the best out of his players.  It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.

And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans.  More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect.  He returned their affection.  That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:

It was more than the celebrating.  Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants.  At his core, Collins is a good and decent man.  It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.

Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake.  Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers.  This was just one aspect of his poor managing.  There were many times where he left you scratching your head.  It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.

However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins.  To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season.  We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.

He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history.  When he was hired no one expected him to last that long.  Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure.  In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.

I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him.  My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man.  Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled.  Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Fans Don’t Need More Netting, They Need To Make Better Decisions 

Before addressing the horrible incident at Yankee Stadium, I have a personal story, one that did not end in tragedy.

With the Yankees playing the Rays at Citi Field, I took advantage of the cheap tickets, and on the spur of the moment, I went to the game with my son. The seats were excellent.


There was just one issue. They were not protected by the netting. Even with the extended netting, we were not completely protected.

If it was just me at the game, it would not be an issue. However, it wasn’t just me. I was there with my son. He loves baseball games, but at three, he’s not fully capable of paying full attention to the game.

When I’m there with him, I’m not either. I spend most of my time fishing for juice boxes, snacks, or napkins. When I’m not going that, I’m leaning down to describe what’s happening in the game to him.

That leaves me susceptible to getting hit with a line drive. Even worse, my son could get hit. Knowing the power players like Lucas Duda possess, I had little choice but to move my seats.

With the upper tiers being closed off and ushers no longer allowing fans to freely move to different sections to open seats, my options were much more limited than what they would’ve been when I was three.  Still, I didn’t give up, and I eventually found an usher willing to let us sit elsewhere with the caveat if the fans who had those seats appeared, I would move.

Was I as close to the action?  Not even close, but my son was much safer. As a parent, that’s my number one responsibility.

This is not to say the parent of the toddler at the Yankee game yesterday was a bad parent, or that I’m a better parent. Rather, under similar circumstances, I was much more aware of the risk. It’s why my child would have been nowhere near a Todd Frazier foul ball.

It’s a horrible situation that just leaves you sick for everyone involved – especially, the little girl and her parent.  Thank God that little girl was alright. 

Understandably, it has led to renewed calls for extended netting in baseball stadiums.  This despite, in the entire history of baseball, just one fan being killed as a result of being struck by a foul ball.

One.

There have been professional baseball games played since 1846 when the New York Nine beat the New York Knickerbockers at the Elysian Fields.

Simply put, while what happened was horrible, it was an anomaly. Watching a baseball game is not an inherently dangerous activity.

With the images of the young girl getting hit, many people don’t want to listen to reason. They want action. They want netting instead of choosing to be responsible with their seating choice. They want netting so they don’t have to pay full attention to the game. If they want rules to address the abdication of personal responsibility, let’s make the rules to address that situation.

Similar to an airplane, you’re restricted from using all electronic devices. If you’re in an area with no netting, you’re not permitted to use an electronic device during game action. If you’re caught using them, you’ll be ejected from the ballpark.

Also, all vendors, including the beer vendors, will only be allowed to walk the aisles between innings.

Like with roller coasters, if you’re not a certain height or age, you’re not permitted to sit in field level seats not protected by netting.

Really, since you’re there to watch a baseball game, these rules shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Overall, what happened yesterday was horrible, but it was avoidable. Some would say it would’ve been avoidable with the netting, and maybe they’re right. It’s also right to say no toddler should have been sitting in that area.

Personally, I agree this incident should be a call to action. Unlike most, I want that action to be the acceptance of personal responsibility and not more netting.

Mets Are Younger But This Is Ridiculous

With the Mets selling at the deadline, we saw them call up young players to begin building for the future.  That meant players like Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis GrandersonAddison Reed, and Neil Walker were gone.  In their stead are young players like Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Jamie Callahan, Jacob Rhame, Gavin CecchiniKevin McGowan, and Tomas Nido.  

With that, you knew the team was going to be young, but his young?

Wow.  I expected a younger group, but not ones that were dressed up in rompers like my then nine month old son.

It seems that with the Mets recent youth movement, my son is closer to majors than I initially believed:

 

deGrom Finally Gets Win Number 15

Back in 2012, when things were about as bad as they are right now, the most captivating moment of the season was R.A. Dickey and his push for 20 wins and a Cy Young.

Somewhat fittingly, Dickey was the starting pitcher for the Braves on a night when Jacob deGrom was going for a career high 15th win. 

This was deGrom’s third chance to get that 15th win. That’s two more than he had in 2015. In 2015, he would only pitch four scoreless innings before being taken out of the game so he would be ready for the postseason. Tonight, with the Mets playing for nothing else, he would go as long as he needed. 

deGrom would throw 101 pitches over seven innings. His final line would be 7.0 innings, five hits, one runs, one earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. 

The one run deGrom allowed was a Freddie Freeman sixth inning solo homer because it’s Freeman. With that homer, the only question was whether the Mets would score enough runs. 

Tonight, deGrom got the requisite run support and then some thanks to the Mets offense exploding for seven runs thanks to the Mets young hitters. 

The standouts were Brandon Nimmo (1-3, 2 R, 2B, BB, RBI), Dominic Smith (2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI), and Gavin Cecchini (3-3, 2B, 2 RBI). 

The scoring began with a two run second started by back-to-back singles by Smith and Travis d’Arnaud. They’d score on a pair of Juan Lagares and Cecchini RBI singles. 

This would prove to be enough, but the Mets offense would keep on clicking. 

A trio of doubles in the third (Nori Aoki, Nimmo, and Asdrubal Cabrera) would make it 4-0. 

The doubles would continue. A fourth inning Cecchini double scored Lagares, and a seventh inning Smith double plated it two more to make it 7-1. 

After deGrom exited with a six run lead, it was time for the Mets bullpen to hold the lead. After the Cubs series, it was far from a guarantee. 

Jeurys Familia alleviated some of the tension pitching a scoreless eighth. 

Not leaving anything to chance, Terry Collins went to AJ Ramos in the ninth to protect the lead. After a typical stressful Ramos inning, the Mets would win 7-3, and deGrom would finally have his 15th win. 

deGrom winning his 15th is a big highlight in a terrible season much like Dickey winning 20 in 2012. Hopefully, prosperity will soon follow much like it did after Dickey’s magical season. 

Game Notes: On Smith’s seventh inning double, Gary Cohen referred to him as Lucas Duda

Odd Day At Citi Field

You know it’s a good day when it’s an unexpectedly nice day and someone offers you free baseball tickets.  It’s even better when they are great seats a few rows away from the field.  With that, my son and I headed out to Citi Field for a fun day. Well, it turned out to be a fun but odd day.

From the Home Run Apple to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to rooting against the Yankees to seeing Lucas Duda‘s name in the lineup, there were many things that were familiar.  However, it was Duda that became a symbol for what made this an odd day.  After seeing Duda play eight years in a Mets uniform, it was bizarre seeing him wearing a Rays uniform.  It was even stranger to see a DH in a National League park.

This was the end result of Hurricane Irma forcing the Yankees and Rays to move their series from Tropicana Field to Citi Field.  That meant the Rays would be the fifth team in history to play a home game in New York.  It also meant American League baseball would be played in a National League park.

There was also the fact just the lower tier of the ballpark was open.  Really, it was a bare bones operation.  The children’s section was closed down.  While Shake Shack was open, Boxed Frites was closed.  Other than that, most of the other places on the Field Level were open leading to a number of Yankee fans making a number of trips to take in the full Citi Field experience.

For a Mets fan, that wasn’t the case.  The children’s section with the tee ball and the dunk tank was closed.  There was no suite access.  No, Howie Rose play-by-play playing in the bathrooms.  The televisions at he concessions and near the obstructed views were on YES an not SNY.  Mostly, there were no Mets.  With the DH, no Mets, and the like, it was more Brooklyn Cyclones than a Mets game.  Except it wasn’t the Cyclones, it was a MLB game with a vast majority of the fans in the park were Root-Root-Rooting for the away team.

Personally, I’m happy I went to the game.  It was great seeing Duda playing one last home game at Citi Field.  It was great seeing a well played baseball game between two teams fighting for a postseason spot.  It was fun even if there was no Aaron Judge or for that matter, the New York Mets.  It was a different and strange experience, and those don’t come around very often.

Hopefully, we will never see a repeat in the circumstances leading the Rays playing at Citi Field.  However, if it were to happen again, I would recommend people go to that game.  If for no other reason, it’s an opportunity to see a baseball game.  No real baseball fan should ever pass up on that opportunity.

Trivia Friday – Who’s Left From The 2017 Mets Opening Day Roster

This year, we have seen the Mets trade Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, and Jay Bruce.  The team let Rene Rivera go to the Cubs on a waiver claim.  

On top of that, the team has seen player after player find themselves on the disabled list.  Most depressing of all was Conforto yesterday.  

It makes you question who is still around from the Opening Day roster.  Can you name the 10 players who were on the Opening Day roster that are still active on this team?  Good luck!


Travis d’Arnaud Wilmer Flores Asdrubal Cabrera Yoenis Cespedes Michael Conforto Jacob deGrom Robert Gsellman Jerry Blevins Rafael Montero Hansel Robles Josh Smoker

Mets All Eclipse Team

With the solar eclipse happening, now is as good as any to create a Mets All-Time Solar Eclipse Team.  These are players who are included due to their names and not because of their exploits.  For example, the will be no Mike Piazza for his moon shots, or Luis Castillo for his losing a ball in the moon.

SP – Tim Redding

He is the great nephew of Joyce Randoph of Honeymooners fame where Ralph threatened to send Alice right to the moon,.

C – Chris Cannizzaro 

Cannizzaro is the name of a lunar crater

1B – Lucas Duda

Lucas means light giving

2B –Neil Walker

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon

3B – Ray Knight

Pretty self explanatory, first sun rays, and then night.

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal means helped by Baal.  Baal is a moon god

OF – Kevin Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the 12 men to walk on the moon

OF – Don Hahn

Hahn means rooster, which is an animal that crows at sunrise.

OF – Victor Diaz

His first and last name combined translate to day conqueror, which is effectively what the eclipse does.

Mets Fans Have Been Watching An Eclipse All Season

Right around this time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun bringing darkness across the country . . . or as Mets fans like to call it, the perfect euphemism for the 2017 season.

We’ve seen Noah Syndergaard go down for the season, and we are not sure when Jeurys Familia can come back.  Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were mishandled coming back from their injuries.  Steven Matz had another injury plagued year.  We never did get to see David Wright play this season, and we do not know if we will ever get to see him play again.

With the poor season the Mets are having, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Rene Rivera, and Neil Walker have been moved and are now playing for teams with an actual shot at the postseason.  The moves didn’t bring back much, and there were rumors the Mets were more interested in salary relief than anything causing fans to go back to a dark place they resided at the inception of the Madoff scandal.

The thing is, the eclipse today will last just a brief time.  Sandy Alderson has an entire offseason to get to work.  If ownership lets him spend the money, and with a little help on the health front, the Mets dark period will last just for the 2017 season.  If it is business as usual, this isn’t an eclipse – we’re back to the Dark Ages.