MIke Piazza

Francisco Lindor TKOs Yankees

In a series where the New York Mets and Yankees were fighting not just for bragging rights but to stay afloat in their postseason races, this was an important rubber game. Short of Roger Clemens committing assault against Mike Piazza, this turned into the most emotionally charged Subway Series game.

In the season and series finale, it was Francisco Lindor who would knock out the Yankees. First, he hit a three run homer in the second inning to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Entering the sixth, that 4-2 lead was a narrower 5-4 lead. Lindor would hit a solo shot to increase the Mets lead to 6-4. As he rounded the bases, he made a whistling motion to let the Yankees know he was angry with their whistling during not just Taijuan Walker‘s previous start to let the batters know what was coming, but we would also hear it during the game.

That Mets lead would evaporate when Giancarlo Stanton hit a two run homer off of Brad Hand in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6. Notably, when Stanton would pass short, he would make it a point to trash talk Stanton leading to the benches clearing. Also noteworthy is while the benches were clearing, Stanton went to the dugout to take off his batting helmet and gloves before coming back out of the dugout to stand in the back.

While Stanton would shrink from the trash talk, Lindor would stand tall. The Mets superstar shortstop came up in the bottom of the eighth, and he would join Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets hitters to have a three home run game at home. Lindor would be the only switch hitter.

As if this wasn’t sweet enough, Stanton would come up in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third and two outs. He was facing Edwin Diaz who has struggled mightily in September, and he appeared on the verge of another blown save. Instead, Stanton popped out to none other than Lindor to end the game. As he and the Yankees left the field, both Lindor and Javier Baez waved them off of the field.

People are calling this Lindor’s signature game with the Mets. That’s probably too soon to call. There are going to be 10 more years of Lindor after this season. With that is going to come All-Star appearances and hopefully multiple World Series titles. Chances are we haven’t yet seen Lindor’s signature game. Instead, we have probably seen Lindor’s first real great game in a Mets uniform.

That is more than good enough for now, and those three homers were more than enough to TKO the Yankees. As for the Mets, it’s kept them alive for at least another day. Maybe, just maybe, with Lindor playing at this incredible level, there may just be a miracle run.

 

20 Years Later, Thank You Mike Piazza

With this being the 20th anniversary of 9/11, there are many memories which return. There’s also seeing how loved ones are dealing with the diseases and cancers suffered after being at Ground Zero.

Most of the memories are painful and full of fear. There were the sights and the stories. However, at a certain point, we get back to Mike Piazza.

That moment was everything right with sports. It brought hope to those in despair. It brought a sense of relief to those with anxiety. It turned tears of sadness into tears of joy.

There have been homers to win World Series and break records. However, there will never be a more important homer ever hit. For that, thank you Mike Piazza.

All Star Game Should Be Played At Field Of Dreams

Watching that Field of Dreams Game, you couldn’t help but be overtaken by how extraordinary it was. The players coming out of the cornfield. The views on TV. The game. All picture perfect.

What raised the game to another level was the game itself. Getting huge homers from legends like Tim Anderson, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton elevated that game. You can argue they’re not legends, but what they did on the field will elevate them to that status as we’ll be talking about it forever.

Whether you liked the movie, or not, there’s no denying there’s some magic to seeing the game there. That’s because the field is about the magic of baseball.

Put aside the hand wringing over Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox. Part of the magic and mystique was seeing the all-time greats emerge from the cornfield. There were players like Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, and other legendary all time greats – just not Ty Cobb.

There was a magic to seeing those players emerge from the cornfield and play. There was magic seeing the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees emerge in the Field of Dreams Game, but it meant something extra to see players like Judge and Stanton.

There can be an argument to rotate this game to other teams for the experience. There’s some problems there. First off, it’s not just the same the second go-round.

Due to the book and movie, the White Sox should also be taking part. After all, a large part of it is it’s their story. Mostly, you’re going to miss the opportunity to see some of the true greats emerge from that cornfield.

We should be seeing Mike Trout and Jacob deGrom. Without a doubt we need to see other future Hall of Famers like Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Lindor, Buster Posey, and many more. Essentially, what you need and want is all of the greats of the game emerging from the cornfield like in the movie.

The best way to accomplish that is an All-Star Game, and what an All-Star Game it would be.

Instead of the awful uniforms from this year, Nike can design the throwback (or for newer teams throwback feel) jerseys. Instead of seeing players looking for reasons to opt out, you may find those same players pushing up get in and participate.

You can even expand it. Each team could send a living legend to take part in the festivities and emerge from the cornfield. You can see Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey, Jr., Willie Mays, Mike Piazza and other living Hall of Famers. Invite them all to come and be a part of what could be the greatest event in all of pro sports.

This could be pure magic. It could be all that we love about what makes baseball great. It can all we love about it. You will get the entire sports world excited, and you will make new fans.

Yes, there are obstacles. There are All-Star Games already assigned. Certainly, you can overdo it by making it a yearly event.

However, if you do it just right, say one or twice a decade, it will be perfect just like how baseball can be perfect. This can be the best thing to ever happen to the sport in years. Hopefully, it will happen.

Mets 2021 Uniforms: Back in Black

After the years of waiting, the New York Mets are finally bringing back the black jerseys on July 30, and they’ll be worn for all the ensuing Friday games.

These are the jerseys Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo wore the last time the Mets captured the pennant at home. They’re the jerseys David Wright and Carlos Beltran wore the last time the Mets clinched a division at home, and they wore them again to open Citi Field.

Now, we’re going to see current Mets greats carry on the tradition. Certainly, we should expect to see Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso accomplish similar feats to those Mets teams.

Friday nights are the perfect time for these jerseys. By limiting it, it prevents the issue fans previously had where the regular jerseys were almost entirely phased out for the black.

Of course, there’s also hope the Mets still embrace the blue alternates. It would be great to see Mr. Met return to the sleeve and have them worn on Family Sundays at Citi Field.

Overall, it’s great to see the Mets bringing back a fan favorite jerseys and treating them like a special event. Hopefully, it is something which stays well past this season.

Keith Hernandez Reminder Mets Need Better Attention To Own Hall Of Fame

During this series between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, it was announced Keith Hernandez will FINALLY be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. It didn’t exactly go great:

The Edward Jones advertisement being larger than Hernandez’s name is embarrassing. Then again, at least the Cardinals are attending to their Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have an official committee, and they have fan votes to determine who belongs in their Hall of Fame. More than that, they actually have a Hall of Fame.

When Citi Field first opened, there was some lip service to the Mets Hall of Fame. As time progressed, and the impact of Madoff continued, we saw the Team Store push into and completely overwhelm the Mets Hall of Fame.

Aside from that, there’s been a serious lack of attention to inducting new members. The last member inducted was Mike Piazza in 2013. That’s unacceptable.

Right now, 13 of the top 24 Mets by WAR have not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Put another way, most of the best players in team history have not been recognized.

That includes Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter. That’s shocking with Alonzo being the best second baseman in team history, and with Leiter being the only Mets pitcher to win a play-in game.

It’s more than that. Bobby Valentine led the Mets to consecutive postseasons. Johan Santana had many great moments including the first and only no-hitter in Mets history. There’s also Nelson Doubleday who purchased the Mets and brought in the right people leading to the best run in Mets history.

Point is, the Mets Hall of Fame is severely lacking. Case-in-point. David Wright has not yet been inducted. We can argue over retiring his number, but his not being in the Mets Hall of Fame is absurd.

The Mets need to have Wright and others in the team Hall of Fame. For that matter, there needs to be a real Mets Hall of Fame.

This is a franchise with real history and great moments. It’s well past time it’s celebrated and properly honored. The Mets need a real and proper Hall of Fame. Hopefully, it will happen soon.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Take Series From Nationals

Well, after the first series of the season was canceled due to COVID19, the Washington Nationals and New York Mets finally got to play in a series. The Mets would win yet another home series and stay above .500:

1. Jacob deGrom is already the second best pitcher in Mets history, and in short order, we will consider him the second best Mets player to ever wear a Mets uniform. In fact, he may already be there.

2. To put in context just how great deGrom is, he’s set the record for most strikeouts to start a season, and he has passed Tom Seaver in Mets ERA and ERA+. Yes, he has been so great he has put himself in Seaver territory.

3. Seeing deGrom hit, you are reminded pitchers can actually hit and help themselves at the plate. The fact other pitchers don’t do it is their own failing, and it is not a good argument for the universal DH.

4. deGrom has driven in and scored more earned runs than he has allowed.

5. Marcus Stroman had one bad day. There is nothing more that should be read into it.

6. We saw Robert Gsellman step up, and he has looks ready to be a solid contributor to the bullpen. Overall, the bullpen has picked it up across the board, and they seem to be outperforming the early season expectations. In some ways, this could be attributable to Jeremy Hefner who had a similar effect in Minnesota as an assistant pitching coach.

7. Once again, Taijuan Walker was really good, and he appears to be the steal of the offseason for the Mets. Notably, when starters are going deep into games, that also helps the bullpen.

8. Michael Conforto‘s defense is still worrisome, especially his arm, but he appears to be getting going at the plate. We saw him hit his first homer of the season, and we saw him get extra base hits on back-to-back days for the first time all season.

9. For reasons that defy expectation, this Mets front office seem to believe more in J.D. Davis than Jeff McNeil. Davis can cost Mets consecutive games with his glove, and they give him on brief rest, but McNeil has some struggles at the plate, and they refuse to try to put him where he thrives in the lineup or let him work through it.

10. Albert Almora doesn’t play much, but when he does, he makes an impact. He scored from first in a pinch running opportunity earlier in the season, and he robbed Kyle Schawarber of an extra base hit as we have only seen Juan Lagares do previously.

11. Jonathan Villar has contributed quite well in the games he has played, and he has earned his playing time. It is really curious why the Mets won’t sit Davis for him, but they will sit McNeil. It’s also curious what Luis Guillorme has to do to get into the lineup.

12. The Mets sat Dominic Smith against a left-handed pitcher again despite his being one of their best hitters against left-handed pitching. Again, better players sit so Davis can be force fed into the lineup.

13. While Sunday was a really good game defensively, the Mets defense continues to be atrocious, second worst in the National League by DRS, and the Mets show little to no interest in playing their best defensive players.

14. It needs to be mentioned again. Jacob deGrom is doing things we haven’t seen since Seaver, and we may never get to see greatness of this level in a Mets uniform again for quite some time, if ever. He is that good, and he is going to be the player we tell our children and grandchildren about for years to come.

15. The Mets better not fail deGrom the way they did Mike Piazza and David Wright. They need to make sure he wins a World Series in a Mets uniform.

16. Brandon Nimmo is very quietly emerging as one of the best players in baseball. He is an on-base machine, and we see his defense steadily improving. This is someone using all the information at his disposal to be better. He should be an All-Star, and at some point, we may need to have serious MVP discussions about him. Then again, that award should go to deGrom.

17. The state of umpiring in the majors may be at its worst. We see calls routinely blown, especially by the home plate umpire. Needless to say, if Nimmo takes a pitch, it’s a ball.

18. Pete Alonso is really heating up at the plate, and we have seen him just demolish homers.

19. Put aside the offense, the work James McCann and Tomas Nido have done behind the plate has been nothing short of phenomenal. They are getting their pitcher the calls they need, and they are playing all around great defense. If McCann can start hitting like we know he can, watch out. Hopefully, that RBI single on Sunday for McCann was a start.

20. Listening to the game on the radio really makes you miss Josh Lewin. No one really wants to hear Francisco Lindor needs to run out foul balls or Nimmo is swinging at pitches because he’s finally confident at the plate. The Mets can and should do better than that, but in some ways, that’s an allegory for their season so far.

Mets Need To Stop Playing J.D. Davis At Third Base

For two nights in a row, J.D. Davis made errors which cost the New York Mets dearly. In back-to-back nights, his defense was a direct cause of Taijuan Walker and David Peterson being unable to navigate through five innings.

The problems with Davis at third are multi-faceted. He sometimes has difficulty hitting balls hit right at him. He doesn’t have range. While he has a strong arm, he seemingly has the yips where he is taking multiple steps before releasing the ball.

Honestly, this is a player who is crossed up right now, and it is an adventure when he is out there. Right now, his play is on par with Todd Hundley in left field or Mike Piazza at first base. Put another way, the Mets are putting a player in a position to fail, and despite Davis’ best efforts, he’s failing miserably.

This is not a direct reflection on the effort. We all saw the reports of Davis working with Gary Disarcina and Francisco Lindor. There is really nothing to doubt the effort. That said, there is every reason to doubt he can play third base or any position.

Since joining the Mets in 2019, Davis has a -19 DRS at third base. That is the worst at the position by a significant margin. In fact, on just his play at third base alone, he’s the fifth worst defender in the majors. When you include his -9 DRS in left field, he surpasses Jurickson Profar as the worst fielder in all the majors.

The Mets were attempting to hide him at third, and they thought putting him next to Lindor would help. Seeing him in action this year and over the past three years, it’s not working. It can’t work.

Also, keep in mind, the Mets are not just trying to hide Davis’ glove. Because they refused to make the hard decisions, they put Pete Alonso at first pushing Dominic Smith to left field. That put Brandon Nimmo to center. Of all those moves, Nimmo in center seems to be the only one working well. That’s the Mets getting lucky.

The Smith in left field is another factor. The Mets left side defense is atrocious. He and Davis combined are working to neutralize Lindor. Honestly, what is the point of getting Lindor if you’re going to surround him by terrible defenders? That’s like putting a great sound system in a Ford Pinto.

The bigger problem is the Mets pitching staff. We saw it with Walker and Peterson, and we will see it with Marcus Stroman. In fact, we will also see it with Jacob deGrom. The Mets have a ground ball pitching staff. That issue will further compound it self when Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard return from the IL.

Overall, the Mets have built a team based on ground ball pitching. That is why you could believe you can get away with Smith in left and Nimmo in left. That’s all well and good. However, you can’t assemble a ground ball staff and put literally take the worst defensive third baseman in the majors and make him the starter.

The Mets decision is compounded by the fact they have Luis Guillorme, who is a great defender. We also see Guillorme is hitting to start the season. He’s a grinder who is just never going to give up. Case-in-point is Guillorme’s at-bat last night. The Mets were down 12 with two outs in the ninth, and he got a base hit after battling in a seven pitch at-bat.

Overall, when you look at how the Mets built this team, Davis cannot start. When you look at how mightily, he’s struggling, Davis cannot start. When you see his numbers over the past three years, Davis cannot start. When you see the other options available, Davis cannot start.

Yes, this is getting redundant, but then again, so is the Mets insistence on trying to make Davis an everyday player. They tried. Davis tried. It’s not working, and they are putting an entire season at risk by doing so. It’s time to make Davis the strong bench player he was always meant to be and allow Guillorme and/or Jonathan Villar play in his stead.

Francisco Lindor Traditionally Slow Starter

The New York Mets are 11 games into the season, and they are not quite getting the offensive performances they expected from key players. One of those players is Francisco Lindor. So far this year, he is hitting just .189/.340/.216 (62 OPS+).

Now, when it comes to Lindor, he is a new face to the Mets. Since we have not been following his career, we do not know what a typically Lindor season is. Every player is different, and they typically thrive over different parts of the season.

When looking at Lindor’s career, he is more of a second half than a first half player. His batting average, OBP, and SLG are all better in the second half. In fact, he has a career 113 wRC+ in the first half as opposed to a 122 wRC+ in the second half.

Part of the reason for that is Lindor has typically struggled in the months of March/April and June. In March/April, he has a .792 OPS (108 wRC+), and in June, he has a .762 OPS (97 wRC+). In no other month of the season does Lindor have an OPS under .828 or a wRC+ below 113.

Looking deeper into Lindor’s career, his performance in April is really no indicator on how he will perform that season. For example, his best offensive season was 2018. In that season, Lindor had a .740 OPS and a 100 wRC+. Contrast that with the previous season, 2017, Lindor had a 1.018 OPS and 156 wRC+ at the plate in the first month of the season. Putting aside the COVID shortened 2020 season, that 2017 season was his second worst at the plate.

Now, if you are prone to panic, yes, Lindor’s start to the 2021 season has so far resembled his start to the 2020 season. So far this year, he has a .557 OPS and a 69 wRC+. That is actually a step back from his first month of the season last year (July) where he had a .690 OPS and 77 wRC+.

Of course, not every season is equal. Last year, Lindor and all of baseball had to deal with a shutdown and abbreviated Summer Camp. This year, Lindor seemed primed to have a great start of the season, and then the Mets didn’t play in over a week because the Washington Nationals were infected with COVID. After that, the Mets have had a series of rain and even snow postponed games. That makes it difficult for any player to get going.

There is also the fact Lindor is adapting to a new team and a new city. He’s no longer the big fish in a small pond. He’s now a shark in the ocean. Everyone has an eye on him and his every move. We’ve seen superstars like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran struggle with that in the past only to eventually take their game to an even higher level than it had ever been.

Right now, the next step for Lindor is to take a look at his May, and more importantly, his second half. Lindor usually thrives in May, but he also regresses in June. If he follows his typical career norms, we may see some “What is wrong with Lindor” analyses coming heading into the All-Star Break. There is bound to be some hand wringing that the trade and contract were a mistake.

When and if that comes, they should largely be ignored as panic. The true test for Lindor is going to be how he comes out of the All-Star Break. That is the point of the year where Lindor typically recharges and takes off. No matter what happens between now and then, we can expect Lindor to finish the season strong.

In that end, that is what we want. Let Lindor continue playing great defense and acclimate himself to New York. Sooner or later he is going to be completely comfortable, and he’s going to play a stretch of games which allow him to get in a rhythm. Before all is said and done, Lindor is going to be great, and hopefully, he is going to lead the Mets towards having a special season.

Jose Alvarado Needs To Be Suspended

In the first game of the doubleheader between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, Michael Conforto came to bat against Jose Alvarado with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. In that at-bat, Alvarado showed no intention of getting Conforto out.

The first pitch was at Conforto’s head. If Conforto does not get out of the way, there is another Mike Piazza/Roger Clemens situation. That said, pitches do get away from pitchers, even 100 MPH fastballs. However, the benefit of the doubt should have been gone when Alvarado threw the second pitch.

Alvarado’s second pitch was again a 100 MPH fastball up and in on Conforto. This time, Conforto was unable to get out of the way. He would be hit on the wrist. The end result was Conforto taking his base. He would get another at-bat in the game drawing a four pitch walk. However, Conforto would get an x-ray after the game and miss the second game of the doubleheader.

Make no mistake, going inside to a batter is acceptable. It is also entirely possible pitchers make a mistake and lose control. Not every pitch up and in is done with a purpose. Not every purpose pitch is meant to come up near a batters head. However, what Alvardo did was different.

No matter how much Alvarado seemed to dismiss it, he very clearly meant to hit Conforto with a 100 MPH fastball. You don’t go up and inside like that twice and not mean it.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Alvardo didn’t mean to do it. After all, J.T. Realmuto wasn’t set up for the inside fastball (which is not exactly definitive proof). Alvarado STILL thew near Conforto’s head with 100 MPH fastballs twice. That is not acceptable under any circumstances.

Whether or not there is intent is almost a red herring here. What we do know is Alvarado threw two 100 MPH fastballs near Conforto’s head. They were back-to-back pitches. Major League Baseball cannot accept that happening. The end result was Conforto getting hurt enough to miss a game. It could have been far, far worse.

In situations like this, it is incumbent on Major League Baseball to deliver a message. It needs to say multiple 100 MPH fastballs thrown up and in like that is unacceptable. If it was intended, or the pitcher simply can’t handle throwing those fastballs, he has no place on the mound in a Major League game.

In the end, that is why he needs to be suspended for his actions. Regardless of his intentions, what he did was dangerous. He can’t be allowed to do it again.

Francisco Lindor Era Finally Begins

If not for the Washington Nationals, we would have seen the start of the Francisco Lindor Era with the New York Mets. Instead, that era starts in Philadelphia nearly a half week into the season.

If Mets history is any gauge, the era will start off with a win as the Mets have won on Opening Day at a higher percentage than any team in Major League history. The chances of that increase exponentially with Jacob deGrom on the mound.

Of course, this isn’t really Opening Day, but that is also besides the point. The real point is Lindor is a Met now, and he will Be for the following decade.

In that decade, there is a clear path for Lindor to easily surpass Jose Reyes to become the best shortstop in Mets history. In fact, in what New York Yankees fans may consider sacrilege, he could go on and become the best shortstop in New York baseball history.

Anything is on the table with Lindor. Since his career began, he’s been the best shortstop in baseball, and really he’s been the third best player in the game. Looking at it that way, it certainly fits that Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are the only higher paid players.

Lindor is having a Hall of Fame career, and much like Mike Piazza and Gary Carter, he’s going to get the opportunity to cement that legacy in Flushing. If so, he will join Piazza and Tom Seaver as players who have entered the Hall of Fame as Mets and had their numbers retired by the team.

With Lindor and Steve Cohen’s willingness to invest not just in players, but also the front office and technology, this promises to be one of the greatest stretches in Mets history. In fact, it could surpass what we saw in the 1980s.

Whatever happens from here on out, it’s most likely going to be defined by Lindor. He’s a genuine superstar playing in the best city in the world. Chances are this is going to be a mixture of magic and amazin.