MIke Piazza

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Giving It All They Have

The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.

1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.

2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.

3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.

4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.

5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.

6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.

7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.

8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.

9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.

10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.

11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.

12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.

13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.

14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.

15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.

16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.

17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.

18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.

19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.

20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Play Worse Than Awful Players’ Weekend Uniforms Looked

As has seemingly been the case since the dawn of time, the Mets played a big series against the Braves, and the Braves left them in the dust. Somehow, the Mets were not all that worse for ware:

1. Congratulations are due to Pete Alonso who tied Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season mark for homers. Of note, this broke his tie with Mike Piazza for single season homers by a right-handed batter.

2. That homer should’ve been a momentum change in Saturday’s game and for the rest of the series. Instead, due to the way the Mets played, it proved to be a footnote.

3. Speaking of historic footnotes, Jacob deGrom became the first ever pitcher to homer in a game where he struck out 13 batters twice in his career. In that game, the Mets struck out 26 tying a Major League record.

4. With the Yankees roughing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, we should be reminded the Cy Young race is still wide open. On that front, deGrom leads the league in bWAR, fWAR, and strikeouts while being top five in nearly every important statistical category.

5. Steven Matz has also been great recently. On Sunday, he ripped off his fourth straight start of at least six innings allowing two earned or fewer. Of course, with the way the Mets played in this series, he’d take the loss.

6. Two of the three losses were games Billy Hamilton had a huge impact. He got the game winning hit in one, and he scored from first on a single on what proved to be Ronald Acuna‘s game winning two RBI single.

7. One of the reasons Hamilton scored from first was J.D. Davis‘ not hustling in to field it and his weak throw back to the infield. It should be noted he’s a -7 DRS in left.

8. The only thing uglier than his defense was the uniforms this weekend. Seriously, what’s the point of having uniforms promoting players and their personalities if you can’t read them.

9. The only thing worse than that was not claiming Hamilton so you can keep having Aaron Altherr on the bench. To end the narratives, no, Hamilton would not have been designated for assignment when Jeff McNeil and/or Brandon Nimmo returned, especially with rosters expanding in September.

10. Nimmo’s recent rehab appearance looks promising. If he’s right, and Juan Lagares keeps hitting while playing Gold Glove defense, you have to wonder how long the Mets will be willing to live with Davis and his cooling bat in left.

11. No need to speak of Jed Lowrie‘s rehab until he plays consecutive days in the field or even a full game in the field.

12. On the topic of injuries, the Mets need to be heavily fined for how they handled Tomas Nido‘s concussion. He was hit on the head with the follow through of Josh Donaldson‘s back swing and went down. He had to be pulled then and not finish the inning with him then going through concussion protocol between innings. This is not okay.

13. This wasn’t the Mets only terrible decision. Mickey Callaway having Amed Rosario bunt was one of the dumbest decisions he’s made as Mets manager. He doubled down by overmanaging ordering a hit-and-run with Joe Panik. Panik swung and missed, and Rosario was caught at second easily.

14. There was also Callaway not pinch hitting Wilson Ramos for Rene Rivera. The decision made zero sense, and Rivera ended that rally.

15. That’s right, just like Carlos Gomez and Ruben Tejada, Rivera is back because nostalgia is apparently more fun than actual depth and winning.

16. On the Rivera point, Francisco Cervelli was released by the Pirates and was picked up by the Braves. Yes, he’s been bad, bout Nido was hitting .088/.162/.176 in the second half. With Ramos’ injury history, the Mets needed more depth, and they passed on that depth. Like with Hamilton, Cervelli made the Mets pay.

17. Brad Brach needs to be better. After allowing runs on three of his last five appearances, his 7.50 Mets ERA is higher than what it was with the Cubs before he was released. The Mets can’t afford for him to be this while Edwin Diaz is dealing with a trap issue. If he’s not, Paul Sewald May take his spot on the depth chart.

18. This series and history highlights why the Braves are the Mets biggest rival and should be the most hated team by Mets fans, not the Nationals.

19. If you’ve ever heard anyone scream about Brian Jordan, Mel Rojas, Kenny Rogers, or anything Armando Benitez and weren’t quite sure why the vitriol, just look at this series. Mets-Braves games in the late 90s were always like this series.

20. Feel depressed after watching this series? Don’t be. The Mets went from two games out of the Wild Card to two games out of the Wild Card. They’re now hosting the Cubs, the team currently in the second Wild Card spot, and they’re a bad road team.

Mets Mistakes Cost Them Game

Somewhere even Plaxico Burress can’t believe just how much the Mets shot themselves in the foot tonight.

Zack Wheeler walked back-to-back batters in the second, and both runners would score on a Francisco Cervelli RBI double. Cervelli is the other guy the Braves claimed this past week to build this thing other baseball teams call depth.

In the third, it was homers from Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson to make it 4-0. With the way the Mets have been playing, it should come as no surprise the Mets mounted a comeback.

The first run came on a rally started on a Juan Lagares double off Max Fried. Lagares has simply been great lately. Not only is he hitting (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B), but He’s also playing Gold Glove defense again. He’d double again in the fifth, and he’d score on an Amed Rosario single.

After a Joe Panik single, Pete Alonso would tie Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s single season home run record:

That homer also passed Mike Piazza for the Mets single season record for homers by a RHB or for that matter a non-switch hitter.

That should’ve been the turning point. It should’ve been the point where the Mets turned things around and not only won the game but the series. Instead, the Mets just played hideous baseball.

The Braves immediately tied the score on a rally started with Todd Frazier throwing one away. That put Cervelli at second, and he’d score on a Rafael Ortega single.

The Mets had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, but Mickey Callaway and the Mets must’ve just completely stopped thinking.

Fresh off the IL, in typical fashion Jeff McNeil hit the first pitch he saw for a double. Then, despite Amed Rosario hitting .348/.384/.510 in the second half, Callaway asked him to bunt. If you think that was bad, after two bad attempts, he’d swing away and hit a grounder to short.

Instead of staying home on the ball hit in front of him, he’d break for third, and he was out as Adeiny Hechavarrias throw to Donaldson. Then, trying to make something happen, Callaway called for a hit-and-run. Panik swung and missed at the Josh Tomlin pitch, and Cervelli would throw out Rosario easily. As bad as that was, the top of the eighth would be so much worse.

Billy Hamilton, a player the Mets had no interest in adding, would hit a pinch hit single off Brad Brach setting up runners at first and second with two outs. Then, J.D. Davis screwed up big time when fielding Ronald Acuna Jr.‘s single.

Not only did he not charge the ball, but he’d flip the ball casually into the infield. This all allowed Hamilton to score from first on a single. It’s completely inexcusable from Davis . . . almost as inexcusable as the decision for a team to not claim him so they could play Aaron Altherr. That gave the Braves a 7-5 lead.

Edwin Diaz began the ninth, and he’d immediately allow a homer to Freddie Freeman. Not too long thereafter, Diaz was lifted from the game due to injury. Really bad job by Mets fans booing him in that spot. It was probably a worse moment than any other in this Mets 9-5 loss.

Now, instead of looking to win a series, the Mets are now looking to salvage a game in this series. On the bright side, they’re not loosing ground in the Wild Card race.

Game Notes: Tomas Nido did indeed sustain a concussion, and he was placed on the seven day concussion IL. He was replaced on the roster by Rene Rivera. Rivera was added to the 40 after Altherr was designated for assignment.

20/20 Hindsight: Chairs Going Further Than The Mets

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the Mets continue to embarrass themselves as an organization, and there is no one to answer for anything other than the manager:

1. Brodie Van Wagenen was real quick to put down Sandy Alderson in saying he was going to be more available to the media, and he was going to build a team with no ifs. Seeing how he is hiding in plain sight, and this team is a bigger disaster than any team Alderson, he should call up Alderson and apologize.

2. It should be noted former executives and players noted Van Wagenen’s behavior was completely unacceptable. Also unacceptable was how Van Wagenen ducked reporters on not just this question but any question. Instead, he would rather berate Mickey Callaway and send him to the wolves. This is the definition of callow.

3. Jay Bruce has as many homers against the Mets as Robinson Cano has for the Mets this season.

4. The reports Van Wagenen was angry over the team blowing a Jacob deGrom start just feeds into the narrative Van Wagenen took the job to help his clients.

5. The Callaway criticism among the fanbase is getting way over the top. It’s now at the point where they are criticizing him for being directed by the team’s video review official to challenge a play. That’s not a manager lacking feel. That’s a manager doing his job with the information on-hand. It’s also very doubtful if he passed on the challenging the call because he used his “game feel” the same fans killing him for it would give him credit.

6. Like with the media, Callaway is just a whipping boy. The fact he does this without throwing anyone under the bus is really remarkable. Even with the regrettable Healey outburst, he has shown himself to be the consummate professional. Even if you disagree, you should admit no one deserves to be treated the way he has been.

7. More than Callaway, Mets fans deserve better than this.

8. The state of umpiring in baseball is a joke. Rhys Hoskins was out at the plate, and yet, the umpires were perfectly content being wrong on a potentially game changing play. It’s beyond stupid that tag plays at the plate are not automatically up for independent review like touchdowns.

9. Pete Alonso is quickly becoming like Mike Piazza, Yoenis Cespedes, or Darryl Strawberry. You have to stop to watch when he bats. His homer off Aaron Nola ended the no-hitter, and in the rally later in the game, you were just waiting for that Jeff McNeil hit to get Alonso to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

10. At least at the plate, Amed Rosario has been quite good for over two weeks now. Over the past 19 games, he his hitting .333/.361/.455 with five doubles, a homer, and six RBI. That’s real progress, and if he hits like this he has a spot on this team. Unfortunately, it is increasingly looking like that may not be short.

11. When looking at the trade with the Brewers, everything that has occurred has been reasonably foreseeable. The lone exception may be Edwin Diaz‘s struggles. However, there are indications it may be bone spur related, which was a known problems. So, overall, every disaster that has occurred was foreseeable.

12. A Future’s Game with Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic could have been the high point of the season, especially with them being friendly with one another and talking about how much they love and respect Alonso. It was still great seeing Kay pitch a scoreless inning.

13. As if things weren’t bad enough, Jerry Manuel wore a Mets cap as he coached the World Team in the Future’s Game. The backstabbing self-interested walking soundbite sacrificing the team’s youth and potential wearing a Mets cap is just perfect.

14. Somehow, Jake Arrieta hit Todd Frazier and Rosario were hit by pitches, and it was Frazier and Callaway who were tossed from the game. You can say it was unintentional, but Arrieta did hit three in that game which doubled his season total. He also gave that psychopath press conference after the game saying he was going to dent Frazier’s skull.

15. The Mets aren’t going anywhere, and they were heading into the All-Star Break. How the team doesn’t put Michael Conforto on the IL with his stiff back and just give Juan Lagares more playing time in the hopes of creating some sort of a trade market is just plain incompetence.

16. Still no Jed Lowrie.

17. Mets are getting better than can be expected production from Alonso, McNeil, Frazier, Dominic Smith, and Tomas Nido, and they are 10 games under .500. That’s almost impossibly bad and a reflecting on a bad GM making impossibly bad decisions.

18.  Steven Matz in the bullpen didn’t exactly look good with him allowing three hits to the five batters he faced in his second game. Of course, you should probably ask yourself why a starter would work in back-to-back games. But that would assume the Mets have a rhyme or reason for what they do.

19. The “Sell The Team” chants need to be much more prevalent in the second half of the season. No, it’s not going to get them to spend or operate this team better. What is will do is embarrass the Wilpons who deserve all the embarrassment they’re due.

20. Alonso has the potential to become a superstar tonight with a big performance in the Home Run Derby. Let’s hope it happens.

Congratulations Pete Alonso

One of the burdens for a first time dad is figuring out just how you can make your child a Mets fan. The Yankees have long owned New York, they win, and they always have the bigger stars. As a parent, you make do with what you have.

Back in 1983, that was Darryl Strawberry.

Strawberry was the biggest thing to happen to the Mets since seemingly Tom Seaver. He was the first overall pick of the 1980 draft, and he was hailed as the black Ted Williams. He’d be called up in 1983, and he’s actually live up to the hype that year.

Strawberry electrifying baseball and the Mets made selling the team easy to young impressionable baseball fans. The ensuing run for the team made it all the easier. While we talk about players like Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Carter, and justifiably so, Strawberry was the first to burst onto the scene and give everyone a glimpse into what would soon be.

Some of Strawberry’s Mets rookie records still stand today. That includes his 26 homers, which was 26 if his still team record 252 homers as a Met.

The latter still stands, but for who knows how long. In today’s 10-2 route over the Cubs, Pete Alonso hit his 26th homer of the season tying him with Strawberry atop the Mets all-time rookie leaderboard:

With 85 games remaining in the season, Alonso is not just assured to surpass Strawberry, he’s going to obliterate the record. In fact, Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season home run record (41) is in jeopardy.

Other records like Beltran’s and Howard Johnson‘s 80 extra base hits or Mike Piazza‘s .614 SLG may fall as well. Seeing how these power records are in jeopardy, you understand why Alonso’s at-bats have become must see TV. You have to stop to watch him hit because you don’t know what’ll happen next.

Combine that with his being a great teammate, and his doing fun Step Brothers spoofs with Jeff McNeil, you see how he and his epic home run blasts have made him a fan favorite. Much like Strawberry, you not only see how he provides hope for the future, but you also have a seminal figure who makes it cool to be a Mets fan, which is a relief to fathers everywhere.

So, with him hitting his 26th homer congratulations to tying a record which had stood for over 35 years and a record which exists for a franchise which is 57 years old. More than that, congratulations are in order for being a terrific ballplayer whose skills are only surpassed by being the teammate he is. Overall, congratulations to Alonso for being Alonso. As we see, that’s a very special thing to be.

Conforto Needs The Mets To Learn From Concussion History

On August 16, 2009, David Wright stepped up to the plate against Matt Cain, and he would get hit on the helmet knocking him unconscious. As a result of the hit by pitch, Wright would sustain a concussion. Up until that point in the season, Wright was hitting .324/.414/.467. He would miss 15 games, and in the 29 games after he returned, he would wear a ridiculously large helmet and hit .239/.289/.367.

For years, there would be questions about whether Wright could ever be the same player after getting hit by that pitch. Some would surmise he was gun shy on inside pitches. There were other theories as well. However, what is not oft discussed is whether the Mets were sufficiently cautious in bringing him back from his concussion.

That’s not a discussion people had with respect to Ryan Church,. In real time, people thought the Mets handling of him and his concussion went well beyond negligence. In fact, they showed ignorance and stupidity.

On May 20, 2008, Church slid into second base in an attempt to break up a double play. On the slide, Yunel Escobar‘s knee hit him in the helmet with such force it rendered Church unconscious. It was his second concussion in little more than three months. After missing just one game, he would board a plane and fly with the team to Colorado. It would be a couple of weeks before he hit the disabled list.

Prior to the concussion, Church as a revelation for the Mets. Over his first 43 games, he was hitting .311/.379/.534. After the concussion, he hit .241/.313/.342. He wasn’t much better in 2009, and to add insult to injury Mets manager Jerry Manuel questioned his toughness and went so far to cite how Wright came back from his concussion.

Of course, Manuel was such a terrible manager he was never aware of how Wright struggled after his concussion.

Effectively speaking, this concussion and the Mets handling of it ended Church’s career. He was never quite the same player again, and after the 2010 season, he was out of baseball. The same was likely the case for another Mets outfielder.

On July 23, 2010, Jason Bay ran head first into a wall at Dodger Stadium, and he suffered a concussion on the play. He’d fly back with the team from Los Angeles to New York.

While we remember Bay’s tenure with the Mets as a complete disappointment, at that point in the season he was an above average hitter with a 1.5 WAR on track for a near 3.0 WAR season. Despite the concussion, Bay would actually play two more games before being shut down for the rest of the year. To be fair Bay was not the hitter the Mets expected him to be. Although, no one was in the days of the Great Wall of Flushing.

As bad as Bay was in 2010, he kept getting worse in the ensuing years. He’d retire at the age of 34 after his $66 million contract expired.

If we are being honest, we do not know what impact concussions had on any of these players. With each player, there were extenuating circumstances. We have also seen concussions are not a death sentence for anyone’s career.

For example, Wright had a great 2010 season, and he would have great years leading up to his career ending spinal stenosis. Mike Piazza was concussed by a Roger Clemens fastball on July 8, 2000. He would return five days later, and he would hit .294/.380/.518 (which was a big drop-off for him) in a season where he would led the Mets to the World Series. He would also show no ill effects going forward with a great 2001 season. Ultimately, it was the wear and tear from catching and age, not the head injury, which led to the end of Piazza’s career.

No player is alike, and we have seen seemingly recovered athletes struggle from their returns from concussions. When handled poorly, you have the potential to ruin careers. We saw that with Church, and we have seen it with athletes in other sports as well.

This is the dilemma facing the Mets right now. So far, they have done everything right with Michael Conforto. They have apparently learned from their lessons from their gross mishandling of concussions in the past. That said, there is the natural pull from the team to rush him back from this injury.

With Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Robinson Cano on the IL, the team desperately needs him in the lineup. That said, they need a healthy and ready to play Conforto. When that time will be is anyone’s best guess. The key here for the Mets and especially for Conforto and his career is they guess right.

Jacob Rhame Should’ve Been Suspended

Mets fans were so angry over Roger Clemens hitting Mike Piazza in the head in 2000, and the subsequent bat throwing incident, they wanted blood when Clemens was finally pitching in Shea Stadium two years later. It didn’t matter that Shawn Estes wasn’t a teammate in 2000. What mattered was Clemens needed justice.

Anytime a pitcher throws a ball near a players head, there is going to be a visceral reaction from fans, and there should be. It is a dirty play.

On Tuesday, Drew Anderson went up and in twice on Michael Conforto. Anderson did control it a bit, and while it brushed Conforto back, he was not getting hit in the helmet by the pitch. But if he was hit in the head, Mets fans would want blood. They would want him suspended, and Major League Baseball would have been well within their rights to suspend him.

So far this year, the Phillies have hit three Mets batters. There is already animosity between the teams, and in this particular game, we saw that animosity grow.

So when Jacob Rhame takes the mound and throws one behind Rhys Hoskins back, he earned a suspension. When Rhame knocks Hoskins back twice, he earned the suspension. When Rhame goes up and in FOUR TIMES, he earns a suspension.Again, if you switch the names, there’s not one Mets fans saying Rhame shouldn’t be suspended.

The counter-argument is Rhame didn’t have intent. The basis behind this claim is Rhame is a bad pitcher with poor control, and as a result, he wasn’t really throwing at Hoskins. Rather, he’s just terrible.

Assume for a second this is correct. Why should this matter? Why should we allow pitchers to recklessly throw at batters? Why should Hoskins be hit in the helmet and suffer an injury just because Rhame is an awful pitcher? Shouldn’t we penalize those pitchers who go inside knowing they don’t have the ability or control to go inside?

Really, when you break it down, pitchers should not be allowed to throw near a batter’s head, intentional or otherwise. Sure, sometimes a pitch gets away. It happens. No one is suggesting you should penalize a pitcher for one errant pitch. However, when you go inside FOUR TIMES and brush a batter off the plate TWICE, you need to be suspended.

If you did it on purpose, you earned the suspension. If you are terrible, and you can’t handle throwing inside and you didn’t anyway thereby risking a severe injury to a better, you earned the suspension.

If you are a Mets fan, instead of questioning why Rhame was suspended, the question is why Anderson wasn’t. After all, he purposefully threw in hard to Conforto with what looked like clear intent.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Up The Twins

The Mets finished their first homestand of the season going 2-3, and now they are embark on a brutal road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Here are some observations before the Mets set off for that trip:

  1. Jacob deGrom just didn’t have it. It was bound to happen, but it was still startling to see.
  2. Anyone who even suggests deGrom’s struggles were related to Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate simply doesn’t know anything about baseball. It wasn’t d’Arnaud who caused the chilly weather, nor was it the weather which caused deGrom to miss his pitches by a foot.
  3. Baseball is funny sometimes. After thorough research shows Citi Field suppresses exit velocities, the ball was flying out of Citi Field. Of course, when you have power hitters like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto that will happen anyway.
  4. In one series, Mitch Garver went from a nameless guy to the second coming of Mike Piazza.
  5. Jason Vargas was terrible, and it is simply inexcusable he was not so much as challenged for the fifth starter spot.
  6. The Mets have gotten away with calling up Alonso saying every game matters while carrying Vargas as the fifth starter and having Tim Peterson in the bullpen. Why do fans just let the Mets get away with pushing narratives like this?
  7. The booing of Brandon Nimmo and d’Arnaud was embarrassing. Mets fans should be better than that.
  8. And just like that, in his last three games, Nimmo is 4-for-10, with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk, and a HBP.
  9. What the Mets did to Corey Oswalt is inexcusable. He effectively lost a year getting jerked around by the team, and the first chance this new regime gets, they call him up on three days rest to sit in the bullpen.
  10. Oswalt should be making Vargas’ start this Saturday, and if he doesn’t the Mets cannot pitch Oswalt until then because they may need him to piggyback that start.
  11. These two games were miserable creating difficult pitching situations. It led to deGrom’s struggles, and it likely led to Jeurys Familia‘s, but that’s now two bad outings from him. Too soon to overreact, but not too soon to take notice.
  12. After J.D. Davis‘ two home run game, he’s back to being Davis. He his 42.9% of his balls on the ground, and he has hit 45.8% on the ground this year. His inability to make a play at third led to Familia getting in trouble, and he almost botched a double play only to be saved by Luis Guillorme making an amazing turn.
  13. With Todd Frazier getting a rehab start at SS, it would seem Guillorme will be the odd man out, which is a shame because he’s doing everything he could do to stay. It’s at the point where he’s having to wear batting gloves because he has blisters from all his extra batting practice. He’s also been really good in the field.
  14. When you have players fighting this hard to stay in the majors, you will get the best results not just from them, but also from the players they are pushing. We are seeing some of that with this team.
  15. Robinson Cano has a knack for the moment with two big home runs already and a walk yesterday. That said, his overall body of work has not been good. He may be a slow starter, but he has never been this slow. It’s something worth monitoring with his age, PED suspension, and the Mets history on this front (Roberto Alomar).
  16. Mets are going to regret waking up the Nationals. They went from a team in trouble to a team who took consecutive road series from the red hot Mets and Phillies.
  17. There may be some holes and warning signs with Alonso here and there, including his having difficulty on two grounders this series, but pointing them out would be being a killjoy. So far, Alonso has been great, and the only things people should point out is how great he has been.
  18. We should not care what his final stat line said. Noah Syndergaard was dominant yesterday, and when you consider how everyone else pitched, he looked all the more so. Really, if not for some poor defense, he gets through the eighth unscathed.
  19. Good for Jay Bruce hitting seven homers so far this season and helping the Mariners to a 12-2 start. He gave the Mets everything he had, and it was not his fault it was a poor fit.
  20. In waht was promised to be a tight NL East, we have the Mets, Braves, and Phillies tied atop the division with a 7-4 record with the Nationals right behind them at 6-5.

20/20 Hindsight: First Place Mets Sweep Marlins

After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:

  1. When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
  2. With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
  1. In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
  2. While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
  3. When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
  4. On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
  5. While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
  6. It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
  7. The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
  8. With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
  9. Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
  10. That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
  11. Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
  12. If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
  13. With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
  14. It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
  15. Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
  16. With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
  17. More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
  18. It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.

Re-Examining Mets Black Jerseys

Throughout their history, the Mets have have had some bold uniform designs which have elicited strong reactions. For the most part, the bold designs are met with near universal disdain or mockery.

The underscore jerseys were tainted not just because of the poor sense of fashion, but also because it was the jersey of Anthony Young‘s losing streak. There was the ill conceived white cap dubbed the “Ice Cream Man” cap. Certainly, these stand out as the most despised, but they’re not the most controversial.

No, that honor belongs to the black jerseys.

The black jerseys were a shock to the system and a complete departure from Mets tradition. Beloved announcer Howie Rose repeatedly voiced his displeasure for them. Noted Mets fan and uniform guru Paul Lukas of Uniwatch launched a campaign against them. Eventually, they and the many detractors won the day when the black uniforms were disposed of after the 2011 season.

However, for all those who despised them, there were a legion of Mets fans who loved them. As previously noted, one of the main reasons why is those jerseys are so closely tied to beloved Met Mike Piazza and a whole era of Mets baseball.

Piazza wore the black jersey when he capped off the 10 run inning against the Braves with a home run. Robin Ventura was wearing the black jersey when he hit the Grand Slam single. Mike Hampton was wearing the black jersey when he pitched a complete game shutout to win the fourth pennant in Mets history. Overall, they were plenty of great moments in those jerseys.

Going back, you have to question why those jerseys elicited such a visceral reaction. The answer is multilayered, and it’s more than just the traditionalist point of view.

One aspect was it got to be too big, and the Mets were a bit of a laughingstock. It wasn’t just the black jerseys. There was also the snow white jerseys along with the pinstripes. There was also a gray and black road jersey. In addition to five different types of jerseys, the team had three different caps.

Personally, the caps were an issue as the black caps were not aesthetically pleasing. The blue bill on the black hat with the two toned interlocking NY was too busy. That was at least better than the three toned interlocking NY on the all black cap. It should be noted those caps were worn predominantly even with fans arguably preferring the traditional blue and orange caps, which did match all five of the jerseys well enough.

More than the caps, the jerseys were probably just overdone. The traditional blue pinstripes were all but forgotten, and they were awkward looking with the completely unnecessary drop shadow.

Really, when you ruin the pinstripes and push them by the wayside, you give traditionalists more ammunition. Between them not giving up the cause, and with the Mets collapses and the team falling apart when they moved to Citi Field, it was time for a change.

The change has been good with the blue jerseys looking sharp. Mostly, it’s been great to see the Mets wear the pinstripes with the traditional caps again.

Still, with Piazza going to the Hall of Fame and the 20th anniversary of the 1999 team, you do wonder if there’s room for the return of the black jerseys. Under the right circumstances, there should be.