For some reason, the Mets were not given a travel day before flying almost across the country to play a day game in Coors Field. Anytime a team has to do that, they are at a disadvantage. That is all the more the case as the fatigued players have to deal with the thin air. That thin air is also a great disadvantage for pitchers.
Much like he has most of this season, Mike Hampton struggled in his start in Coors Field. While we can over-focus on that, fact is this is an environment ill-suited for Hampton and really any pitcher who toes the rubber.
With Hampton, it was once again the walks which got him into trouble. In the Rockies six run third, Hampton ignited a powder keg by walking Brian Hunter and Mike Lansing ahead of the heart of the Rockies order, and beginning with a Larry Walker two RBI triple, the Rockies would make him pay.
That Walker triple was the first of five straight Rockies hits. Four of those hits would go for extra bases including a Todd Helton RBI triple. Later in the fifth, Hampton’s last inning, the Mets defense did him no favors with Edgardo Alfonzo making a rare error leading to an unearned run.
That Alfonzo error turned out to be much worse than your typical error leading to an unearned run. On the play, Alfonzo was trying to nail Helton at the plate. His low throw led to Piazza putting down an awkward tag, losing the ball, and having to leave the game with an injured wrist.
Getting back to Hampton, this is Coors Field, but once again, there is question whether he is the ace the Mets thought they were getting. His final line in this game was 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. That’s not exactly awe inspiring, and notably, Pedro Astacio wasn’t having the same issues. To be fair, Astacio has called Coors home for two years now, and he wasn’t exactly great either.
The key difference is Astacio found his way out of jams. In the first, he got Todd Zeile to ground out to get out of a bases loaded jam. In the fifth, the Mets had the bases loaded with no outs, and Astacio was able to limit the damage by getting Jay Payton to hit into a double play. As a result, he exited the fifth with a 7-2 lead.
The Mets got a rally going again in the seventh. Robin Ventura and Zeile hit back-t0-back RBI singles, and Payton hit an RBI double. Astacio would then be relieved by Stan Belinda, and he would receive an ovation for allowing JUST five runs over 6.2 innings. Again, this is Coors Field.
That Mets rally was just too little too late. At that point, the game was out of reach, even by Coors Field standards, as Eric Cammack provided little relief allowing four runs in the sixth. After Rich Rodriguez allowed a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Mets would lose the game 12-5.
In the grand scheme of things, the Mets losing this game isn’t that big of a deal. The bigger issue and potential loss is Piazza. Fortunately, x-rays were negative. However, wrist injuries tend to linger, and no one really knows when Piazza can get back to being Piazza. If Piazza isn’t Piazza, there’s not telling what will happen to this Mets team who just started playing like contenders again.
Game Notes: Masato Yoshii, who the Mets traded to the Rockies in the offseason, is slated to pitch against his former team tomorrow. Notably, that trade not only gave the Mets both Bobby Jones and Bobby Jones, but it also meant Yoshii did not get to return to his native Japan as a Major League player.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.