The next three homers would come from the Nationals. The first was a two run shot by Juan Soto against Stroman in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mets would load the bases in the eighth, but J.D. Davis struck out, and Robinson Cano flew out. Throw in a Nationals homer off Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the eighth, and the Nationals would win 4-1.
On the bright side, neither we nor the virtual Mets had to watch the Nationals raise their virtual banner.
Well, it finally happened. Behind the pitching of Jacob deGrom, the Mets finally have a simulated win for the 2020 season.
For a while, it looked like a typical deGrom start with him shutting down the other side and the Mets not scoring runs. Jeff McNeil was thrown out at the plate, and Brandon Nimmo struck out with the bases loaded.
Finally, Robinson Cano hit an RBI single in the third, and Dominic Smith would hit a three run homer to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. Pete Alonso, who has struggled in 2020 (for what very little that’s worth) also homered in the game.
It was a very rude homecoming for Zack Wheeler who only lasted four innings and would take the loss.
The Phillies didn’t get to deGrom until Nick Williams hit a two run homer in the seventh, but that only pulled the Phillies to within 5-2.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) March 30, 2020
What is interesting with Smith is this isn’t his first foray into catching. In fact, Smith told Michael Mayer of MMN he caught in high school. As seen above, he hasn’t completely given up on it as he was slated as the Mets emergency catcher in 2019. Overall, reviews of his limited work behind the plate are somewhat positive.
— Braxton Davidson (@Braxdavidson) March 30, 2020
Looking at 2021 and beyond, Wilson Ramos is going to be a free agent, and Smith is a player who is blocked from playing his everyday position of first base by Pete Alonso. Seeing him catching Stroman, being an emergency catcher last year, and the positive reviews of his limited work back there, you do wonder if the Mets should try to move Smith behind the plate.
Before addressing the point in full, as noted by The Hardball Times, Jack Clements is the only left-handed catcher in Major League history to catch at least 1,000 Major League games. His last game was in 1900. To that end, you could consider him the only true left-handed catcher in Major League history, and he played in the Dead Ball Era.
There have really been a handful of left-handed catchers in Major League history (14 in total) with Benny Distefano being the last one to appear in a game. What is somewhat interesting about that is he played first base and the outfield from 1984-1988 before he was permitted to catch three games in 1989, which was a function of his preparing to be an emergency catcher. More interesting than that was the fact he didn’t catch in his professional career before those three games.
With his limited experience, Distefano noted the issues for a left-handed catcher were bunt plays towards third base as well as applying tags at the plate. (New York Times). The Hardball Times addressed this in their article, and they noted there is a slight issue with it, but they also noted a left-handed catcher would not have the same issues with a right-handed batter the right-handed catcher would.
The bigger issue is getting the tag down, which The Hardball Times confirms. On both issues, it was noted it is such a small part of the catcher’s duties it likely would not have a real impact on the game. That is all the more so when you consider the advantages a left-handed catcher would have including fielding plays right in front of the plate and catching breaking pitches from right-handed pitchers.
In total, at least in theory, there would be no real discernible difference between right and left handed catchers other than the fact seeing a left-handed catcher would look strange. In the end, it is not like a left-handed shortstop or third baseman where playing the position is an impossibility.
Seeing how it could happen, we revisit the question of whether the Mets should look to move Smith behind the plate.
Certainly, it helps he already has some experience in terms of high school, preparing to be an emergency catcher, and now catching Stroman. Being a first baseman, he is accustomed to the bunt plays towards third and making the left-handed throw to third base.
We know he has the agility to do it between his first base and left field experience. In terms of left field, we know he has the ability and willingness to learn a new position if it means helping out the team. Overall, he has shown himself to be a team first person, who may prove willing to do this. That may prove to be all the more the case if it meant a regular position for him.
In terms of the Mets, Ramos has a $10 million option for 2021 which may or may not be picked up. Tomas Nido is a defensive back-up with no remaining options. Ali Sanchez may be nothing more than a better defender and possible a worse hitter than Nido. The shot in the dark is Patrick Mazeika who is still just a part-time catcher in the minors.
Really, from an organizational standpoint, the Mets are exactly the team who should experiment with this. After all, Smith is an everyday caliber player, and he has the experience. More than that, he has nothing to do now but work out on his own and to meet up with Stroman to catch him.
The more he catches Stroman, the better prepared for the transition he will be. Speaking of Stroman, Jose Bautista working out with him led to his getting work outs to try to return to the Majors as a pitcher. At the end of the day, there isn’t much reason not to at least see if this could happen.
No, this is not a pre-scheduled article which was not edited. Remember, that today is still Opening Day, and just because we are not going to see Jacob deGrom square off against Max Scherzer for the second straight year doesn’t mean there is absolutely no baseball.
If you have a glove, bat, and a baseball. There is baseball.
Go outside and have a catch with your kids or someone else in your household. If it is just you, find a wall and throw a tennis ball against the wall. If nothing else, it is good exercise.
Put on your favorite Mets shirt. For example, I’m going to wear my Michael Conforto raglan t-shirt while my kids wear their Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil shirts. We’re going to go out there with our mitts, tees, and wiffle ball stuff, and we are going to play baseball (again).
Remember, today is Opening Day, and on Opening Day, there is baseball.
It may not be happening at Citi Field or at any other Major League park. You may be banned from playing baseball with people outside of your household. Still, there is baseball. It is in your yard, or if you can’t go outside, it is on your video game platform. If nothing else, it is on your TV.
On ESPN2, you can see Alonso and Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby all over again. On mets.com, you can relive the Murphy Game. You can see deGrom use guts and guile to outlast Zack Greinke followed by Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia just mowing down Dodgers hitters. You can see Daniel Murphy having the game of his life (up until that point) propelling the Mets into the NLCS.
You can also go check out anyone of the Mets games available on MLB.tv or YouTube. There are various Mets games throughout history available on YouTube, or you can just decided to go with clips like Gary Carter hitting a walk-off homer in his first ever game as a New York Met:
Today is a beautiful, cooler Spring day. It is the type of Spring day you want when you go out to the park to go see the Mets play on Opening Day. Just because the Mets can’t take the field today doesn’t mean there’s no baseball.
You can play baseball inside, outside, and/or go watch it. Really, find a way to celebrate baseball because it remains a huge part of our lives. In the end COVID19, may delay the season, and it may take away games. However, it cannot rob us of our love for the sport and the New York Mets.
Today, is March 26, 2020. Baseball is played today. We join as one in our love for the game. This is the day we are supposed to have hope. While some things are definitively different, there is nothing that can change all of that. This is the day we have baseball.
Let’s Go Mets!
Due to COVID19, ESPN is planning to replace their Opening Day programming by re-airing the Home Run Derby from the past five seasons. With them being run in reverse, Mets fans get to see Pete Alonso winning the 2019 Home Run Derby in the 6:00 P.M rebroadcast, and they get the end the day watching Todd Frazier, then of the Cincinnati Reds, winning the 2015 Home Run Derby.
While this the Home Run Derby we all know and love (at least some of us), watching players like Yoenis Cespedes launch homers into the Citi Field stands under a bracket format is not in congruence with the original concept. In fact, the original Home Run Derby was quite different.
Under the original format, sluggers would face off against each other in a nine inning game. The game was very much akin to a baseball game with nine innings and three outs per inning. Under the construct of the game, anything not hit for a homer was an out, and if a batter did not swing at a strike, it was an out.
Re-watching those games/episodes, you’ll notice they were played at an empty Wrigley Field. No, not the Wrigley Field in Chicago, but the old one in Los Angeles. The venue was selected for a myriad of reasons including it being supposedly neutral to right and left-handed hitters.
In this series, we saw some of the greatest sluggers of all-time face off against once another. Perhaps, it should come as little surprise Hank Aaron had the best record in the show’s history. The only other two hitters with a winning record were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, two Hall of Famers who are also members of the 500 home run club.
Conceptually, pulling off this version of the Home Run Derby could be accomplished with the outbreak of COVID19. As we know a pitcher stands 60’6″ away from the batter. The two batters can stay in their own dugouts, and they only come out after the other batter has cleared the playing surface.
In lieu of a catcher or umpire, we can just let balls go to the backstop, and we can let technology determine if it was a strike or ball. If nothing else, it would be a good test of the technology MLB wants to eventually introduce to the Major Leagues.
With the announcer up in the broadcast booth, there would be social distancing of much more than six feet between everyone. At least in theory, this makes the set-up of a Home Run Derby possible, at least conceptually. In reality, that may not be realistic, at least not yet.
Frankly, there is too much inter-personal contact necessary to set up the event. Someone is going to have to set up cameras, microphones, and handle the baseballs. There are many more things which would need to be done to allow this to happen, which, given the current state, would make this event impractical.
That’s at least right now. Hopefully, there will be a point where we will be able to have expanded testing efforts, which could permit individuals and players who have tested negative to have this event in an empty ballpark. Potentially, baseball could do this during the time period between people getting cleared on a widescale basis and everyone being able to return to work/baseball.
At this moment, it’s just an idea, but it may be a worthwhile idea to pursue. After all, the Home Run Derby is one of the more popular events of not just the All-Star festivities, but the entire season. If possible, it would give us a live sporting event until games can return.
With no sports available to be broadcast, NBC Sports Washington is taking a novel approach. Instead of replaying a classic game, they’re going to play simulated games for the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards.
Monumental Sports Network and NBC Sports Washington will present one-hour video game simulations of previously scheduled @WashWizards (NBA) and @Capitals (NHL) games beginning this weekend.#ALLCAPS https://t.co/CFJuOVtUOv
— Caps Gaming (@capsgaming) March 20, 2020
These video game simulations are using EA Sports games. So, instead of seeing actual games, we’re seeing machines play games. It’s like e-Sports meets Real Steel.
It’s certainly worth trying for a sports starved country.
For Mets fans, what would be better? Watching Johan Santana‘s no-hitter for the umpteenth time, or seeing a video game simulation of Pete Alonso hitting home runs and having crazy home run celebrations?
This Pete Alonso bat flip from @MLBTheShow is a thing of beauty 🤣
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 22, 2019
Perhaps you can find a way for MLB to work with teams and RSN’s to broadcast the games simultaneously. If they could do that, could you imagine how much fun Gary, Keith, and Ron would have broadcasting these games?
Listening to Keith’s bemusement of this while he’s sitting home on Skype (or some other device) while Hadji is running around would be reason enough to watch.
As for baseball, they could have some fun with it keeping records and standings. We can get Harold Reynolds and other MLB Network personalities trying to break it down, or simply having a breakdown about how computers have once again ruined the game.
If done well, this could be fun and give baseball fans something to watch until we get games. If done poorly, well, it’s still better than nothing.
In any event, NBC Sports Washington is taking the first crack at this. Hopefully, it is a success, and it brings us closer to having something to watch to bridge the gap.
As baseball fans, we are starved for baseball. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no possible way to watch the sport we love because every league has been shut down due to COVID19. That means it is nothing but classic games and begging for different regional networks to come up with some creative programming which includes broadcasting old seasons.
As bad as things are for fans, it is more difficult for players. They were in Spring Training ramping up for the 2020 season, and now they are shut down with no idea when or if they are ever going to play games again. Keep in mind, this isn’t just their job. The vast majority of Major League players love the sport, and they are itching to play. Some are seemingly willing to throw caution to the wind to do it:
Any pro guys in Tampa want to get together and play some pick up games?
— Pete Alonso (@Pete_Alonso20) March 17, 2020
Making baseball fun again. 🗑 pic.twitter.com/QFqCJyKJmv
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) March 15, 2020
While you can understand why Pete Alonso and Trevor Bauer may want to play games, they just can’t. That is even the case with Bauer setting up a Go Fund Me in conjunction with his “sandlot” games in order to help out stadium workers. While noble, it increases the risk of the spread of this disease, and to a certain extent, may endanger the very people he looks to help.
On another note, with MLB teams pledging over $30 million, the hope is Bauer’s efforts may not be as necessary. Of course, what happens when that fund runs out is anyone’s guess.
Again, the CDC is telling us to socially isolate for at least 15 days in order to help stop the spread of the disease and help flatten the curve. By doing that, we help protect those who may be the most endanger of dying from the disease, and we also help lessen the burden on what is an increasing over-burdened hospital system.
As we see, professional athletes are not immune to this disease. The first reported case was Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, and the second was his teammate Donovan Mitchell. The Brooklyn Nets just had four reported cases.
It is not just an NBA problem. The Yankees have two reported cases, and there are bound to be more. We are also seen NHL players begin to contract the disease.
In the end, it is great to see Alonso and Bauer love playing baseball. It is even better they are using their platform to raise money. However, it is just not responsible. They need to do what the vast majority of us are doing and socially isolate to help stop spreading COVID19.
Maybe seeing how players want to play so much, perhaps teams will rethink closing down their Spring Training facilities. After all, those players were in a socially isolated environment and were only subjecting themselves to the same people everyday. Releasing them now to all parts of the world just seems all the more irresponsible now, and it is seemingly counter-productive.
No matter what the case, we see both Alonso and Bauer need to stop their efforts to have these games, and they need to follow everyone’s direction by socially isolating.
According to reports from MLB, while there is hope to resume the baseball season in May and play all 162 games, there are indications the baseball season may not be able to start until July. Overall, the optimistic view is Memorial Day weekend, and the pessimistic view is Fourth of July or All-Star Weekend.
Actually, the pessimistic view is no 2020 season, but we’ll address that at some other time.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume baseball cannot resume during the month of May, and there is going to need to be some form of Spring Training in June before baseball can begin anew. At that time, even the most casual of baseball fans will be baseball starved, and they will want to see any form of baseball as soon as they can.
Now, the later the season goes, the chances of the All Star Game actually being played become increasingly more remote. That’s problematic for the Los Angeles Dodgers who were awarded the game, and they cannot get the game back until 2022.
When you think about it, there is no reason for the Dodgers to lose the All-Star Game. After all, it is just an exhibition designed to give fans baseball at at time players are getting a mid-season break. On a related note, it is an event baseball wishes they could garner more interest leaving them to try different things like “making the game count” or miking up players in the field.
In some ways, COVID19 presents a real opportunity for MLB to get as much possible interest in the All-Star Game. If MLB were to start the 2020 season with the game, instead of using it as the midway point of the season, a baseball craved fanbase and sports starved world will likely tune it to watch at record numbers.
If you think about it for a second, the All Star Game is well suited for Spring Training anyway. Pitchers can only pitch a maximum of two innings. Position players play a couple of innings. There’s light workouts mostly generated in getting fan attention. In essence, the All-Star Game is really just a hyped Spring Training Game.
If it’s really just a Spring Training game with really good players, let’s make it a Spring Training All-Star Game, at least this one year. After all, it is not unprecedented to begin a professional sports season with a marquee event. For example, NASCAR begins their season with the Daytona 500, an event they deem their “Super Bowl.”
Seeing how this is fan driven event with each team getting a representative, allow the fans to pick the representative from their team. It’s a fun way to do it too. We can see Jacob deGrom and Pete Alonso squre off. Maybe this could lead to another video of Alonso and Jeff McNeil to make their case as to why it should be Alonso.
Other teams can have similar fun and interesting debates. For Yankee fans, is your guy Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres, or are you already star struck by Gerrit Cole? Do Dodgers fans love Clayton Kershaw that much, or is Cody Bellinger their guy now? Like Yankees fans, maybe it is the new guy Mookie Betts.
There are fun possibilities, and honestly, it gives baseball fans something to argue and debate leading up to the start of the season. If people are searching for things to talk about now, just wait until there are no sports in March, April, and May. Fighting over who should and should not be an All-Star will be at a fevered pitch, at least that’s the hope.
Once there are 15 players selected by the fans for each squad, the players can fill out the rest of the 34 man roster. After all 34 players are named, the fans can then vote who from the pool of players should be starters in the All-Star Game.
Again, the concept here is to get fans engaged with something to discuss and to give people baseball even when MLB can’t give them baseball. Then, finally, when MLB can give them baseball, they will start the abbreviated season with a must-see event with the best players in the game taking the field.
Overall, it allows us to have the All-Star Game, and it gives us something to look forward to, which at a time like this is something we really need.
Just like the rest of us, Major League Baseball is at home. Players, agents, and executives are at home staring at their cell phones and laptops just itching for things to do.
Sure, there are logistics which needs to take place. Baseball executives need to work out when the season can begin. They need to ensure facilities are being properly cleaned. Players need to be tested and quarantined. There is also other matters which may need to be addressed like the draft, World Baseball Classic, and other events.
Mostly, they are going to be sitting there and waiting. After all, the things which would normally preoccupy their time during the season won’t be there. Those day-to-day tasks are really going to be left for another day. That frees up time for baseball executives and agents to start getting idle hands, and they may be itching to do things.
If you are someone like Jerry DiPoto, who is a trade proposal a minute during the offseason, you are giving him a lot of time on his hands to attempt to make more deals. It also gives teams an opportunity to discuss extensions with their players.
To a certain extent, we are starting to see it in other sports. For the NFL, it is natural as their league year began, and they are beginning the process of getting under the salary cap and looking to build their 2020 rosters. In the NHL, the New York Rangers acted to sign defenseman K’Andre Miller.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) March 15, 2020
For the Mets, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents after the 2020 season. While it would be difficult to see extending Porcello right after giving him a one-year deal, the Mets may look to extend Stroman, especially after parting with Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to obtain him.
After the 2020 season, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto will have one more season before becoming free agents after the 2021 season. Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents the season after that. This is a significant group of players who are soon becoming free agents.
Perhaps, it would make sense to begin discussions with those players. Maybe it would make sense to talk to Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil to sign them to a deal buying out some of their arbitration years. After all, the Mets just bought some good will with Alonso with this pre-arbitration raise.
As noted, at this moment, there are some logistics Major League Baseball needs to handle with respect to the disruption and postponement of the 2020 season. Once that fog begins to clear, we’re going to be left with baseball executives with not much to do.
Sooner or later, they may get bored or antsy. As we saw with the famed story of how Joe DiMaggio was almost traded for Ted Williams, you get a bored General Manager knocking back a few scotches, and anything is possible. Very soon, every GM in baseball may find themselves in this position making everything very interesting.
With all of pro sports being shut down, the attention has shifted to how are the hourly employees going to earn a living when they can’t show up for work to earn a paycheck.
We’ve seen a number of people step up to try to help those people. In the NBA, Zion Williamson is donating $100,000. This is a gesture matched by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Love.
NBA owners Mark Cuban (Mavericks), Dan Gilbert (Cavaliers), and Joe Tsai (Nets) will cover the wages for all stadium employees. The New Jersey Devils have done the same. Yahoo has a larger list of NHL teams paying their employees, and Sports Illustrated has the NBA list.
This is far from an exhaustive list especially when you consider the players who are making contributions. Right now, MLB teams are starting to make that assessment themselves.
Naturally, considering how Cuban, perhaps the most famous owner in sports, has stepped up to ensure employees will be paid, this is an issue at the forefront of reporters minds. More than that, it’s on the minds of those workers who desperately need their paychecks and are now not guaranteed to receive them.
Again, it needs to be highlighted this is an extremely important issue, and it’s one at the forefront of everyone’s minds at a time when there are no games being played.
I asked Brodie Van Wagenen if the Mets would be helping their hourly stadium employees with lost compensation because of the delayed season.
He said he did not have that information on hand because his focus has been the health of players, his staff, media, etc.
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) March 14, 2020
When Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen was asked about it, he said it was not one of the things which has his focus. Specifically, he said:
I don’t have that information at hand. My focus, as you might imagine, has been on our players, our staff and our front office operation here, as well as the fans and the media’s safety here in the immediate term.
There was a world of things Van Wagenen could’ve said.
He could’ve said it’s something they’re discussing internally. He could’ve said he’s aware of the issue, and the Mets aren’t ready to discuss that yet. Really, there are a myriad of viable things Van Wagenen could’ve said.
In the end, Van Wagenen went with he’s not focused on the issue of Mets employees potential problems keeping a roof over their head and food on their table.
Better yet, he said his immediate concern was fan safety. Notably, fans have already been banned from Clover Park. But somehow the safety of people who can’t access the ballpark is a bigger issue than employees paychecks.
Maybe, he and the Mets are just hoping Pete Alonso bails them out again like he did with the 9/11 cleats by pledging a significant portion of money akin to what Zion and Love did. Maybe, he just doesn’t care.
After all, it’s apparently not an important enough issue to garner his attention. Not even to the extent for him to get information to answer a question on the topic; a question anyone with a clue knew would be asked.