Robin Ventura

Mets Set To Do Impossible – Beat Braves

For the 10th time in New York Mets history, the team is going to the postseason. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and it is a credit to Steve Cohen for his ability to quickly turnaround this franchise after the Wilpon disaster. Mostly, it is a credit to each and every one of the players on the field.

For a franchise who has double the amount of 90+ loss seasons than postseason appearances, this is a historic time in Mets history. It was worthy of celebration, and thankfully, the players were able to appreciate what they accomplished.

Unfortunately, the work is not done. Not by a long shot. At the moment, the Mets are still a game up in the division and tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves. That leaves this Mets team in a position where they have to do what no Mets team has done before – beat the Braves.

Yes, the Mets have actually beat the Braves en route to a World Series. Back in 1969, in the inaugural NLCS, the Amazin’s swept the NL West Champion Braves who featured future Hall of Famers in Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, and Phil Niekro. However, since the Wild Card format, which put the Braves in the NL East, the Mets have never been able to overcome the Braves as an obstacle.

It really first began in 1998. We talk about the collapse of 2007, but this one might have been worse. All the Mets had to do was just win one of their final five games to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. The Braves swept them the final series of the season despite not having anything to play for.

In 1999, the Braves appeared to leave the Mets in the dust taking two out of three putting the Mets behind the Cincinnati Reds heading into the final series of the season. The Braves truly thought they left the Mets in the dust with Chipper Jones boasting that the Mets fans could now go into their closets and get their New York Yankees gear.

The Mets survived, and they fought back from an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. John Olerud had the RBI single in the eighth inning in Game Four. Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single ending Game Five. In Game Six, Mike Piazza hit the game tying homer off John Smoltz in the seventh capping a comeback from 7-0.

After Melvin Mora singled home Benny Agbayani in the eighth, it looked like there was going to be a Game Seven. However, John Franco blew it in the eighth. After Todd Pratt‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th, again, it looked like a Game Seven before Armando Benitez blew the save (this was before we knew Benitez couldn’t handle these spots). Finally, in the 11th, Kenny Rogers just blew it.

In 2000, the Mets could not beat the Braves for the division title. They did win the pennant, but the Braves had already been taken out by the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2001, the Mets seemed poised to do the impossible. They were a team who was playing out the string, but they appeared galvanized fighting for their city after 9/11. The dreams of the Mets returning to the postseason were dashed when again Benitez and Franco couldn’t get the job done. A Mets 5-1 ninth inning lead went by the wayside as Brian Jordan hit a walk-off grand slam.

From there, the Mets and Braves were never good again at the same time. Yes, the Mets would end the Braves tyranny atop the division in 2006, but the Braves were a distant third that season.

It would not be until 2021 until the Mets and Braves would clash for the division again. The Mets had spent 103 days in first place. The Braves charged, and they tied the Mets atop the division on August 6. The following day, they took control of the division and never relinquished it as the Mets went in MLB infamy for being the team with the most days in first place to finish the season with a losing record.

This Mets team has squandered a 10.5 game lead and a 3.0 game lead to start the month. Yes, the Braves have been playing incredible baseball. That certainly explains the lead shrinking by 6.5 games entering September. However, if the Mets had only taken care of business at the beginning of this month, they would be on firmer footing.

Right now, none of that matters. What matters is that there is the division. The Mets have 13 games remaining to prove they are the best team in the division. So long as they don’t get swept in Atlanta, they will own the tiebreakers. Really, all the Mets have to do is win games.

Put another way, this Mets team has to do what no other Mets team has done. They have to beat the Braves. If this happens, they will have accomplished what no Mets team has ever done. They will prove this team is different. They will show this team has what it takes to win the World Series.

Mets Neon Moment Of The Week: The Co-No

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It took the New York Mets 50 years to throw their first no-hitter. When Johan Santana did it, no one ever expected the Mets would ever do it. After all, Tom Seaver had come too close, and the franchise seemed cursed after trading away Nolan Ryan.

In many ways, we never quite expected the Mets doing it again. After all, Jacob deGrom has never really come all that close to it, and he has just about the most unhittable stuff there is. in some ways, there is irony that the no-hitter came from deGrom’s spot in the rotation.

Tylor Megill was dominant over five innings, but with his pitch count already at 88 pitches, he left Buck Showalter with no choice but to lift his young starter. Part of the reason there were no hits was a great diving play made by Brandon Nimmo. Little did we know at the time that it would be THE PLAY like we see with all no-hitters.

Showalter then went to his second best (or even best) reliever in Drew Smith. Smith went 1.1 innings before getting relieved by Joely Rodriguez. After Rodriguez got Alec Bohm to hit into an inning ending double play, the moment became all the more real despite their only being one Mets pitcher on the day who would have a clue the Mets actually had a no-hitter going.

That includes Seth Lugo who relieved Rodriguez after he issued a walk. Lugo would prove to pitch the least of the group with his 0.2 innings serving as a bridge to Edwin Diaz for this most important appearance of his career.

This was easily the best Diaz and his slider ever looked. He would face three terrific hitters in Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, and J.T. Realmuto, and they would have absolutely no chance against him. With all three striking out, the Mets would have the second no-hitter in team history. It was a moment none of us saw coming (well, almost none of us), and it is a moment that will forever last in Mets history.

As an aside, it happened in the black jerseys. Many of the absolute best moments in Mets history have happened in those jerseys. The most famous was Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single, but we have many more with this being one of the top moments in franchise history.

With this Mets franchise pitching a no-hitter for just the second time in team history, this is obviously the Mets Neon Moment of the Week!

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20/20 Hindsight: Mets Co-No And More Team History

For the seventh time in seven tries this season, the New York Mets won a series. For the second time in team history, they did the impossible:

1. The co-no will forever be one of the greatest moments in Mets history. Tylor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz will forever have a special place in Mets fans hearts.

2. I don’t get everything right, but I got this one (# 55) in my preseason predictions.

3. Between that co-no, the Robin Ventura, Grand Slam Single, and all things Mike Piazza, black is forever a Mets color, and that debate needs to end.

4. It’s somewhat interesting that no-hitter came from Jacob deGrom‘s spot in the rotation when deGrom can never seem to get that close himself despite his unhittable stuff.

5. The next game was a letdown, but it was hilarious the Mets were up 1-0 at one point scoring a run on no hits.

6. In that no-hitter, Kyle Schwarber was walked in all three plate appearances. Seeing him the rest of this series (and his career), this is a very smart strategy.

7. The Mets finally started playing Dominic Smith, and guess what? He had a 4-for-4 game. Shocking, I know.

8. You can’t send him down after that game. In fact, it only reaffirms he’s your everyday 1B/DH.

9. Francisco Lindor and his teammates have said they’d be upset if Robinson Canó is the one cut, but let’s be honest. The team will be upset with any of the position player choices.

10. We don’t talk enough about the possibility J.D. Davis could be the guy. Really, the only thing which keeps him up is he’s the only right-handed bat on the bench.

11. The injury is preventing Sean Reid-Foley from being DFA’d, but it’s a damn shame it was a torn UCL which prevented it.

12. Say what you want about James McCann, but he’s had a big impact this year with his work behind the plate. That co-no was the latest example.

13. Taijuan Walker coming off the IL and pitching like that was just what the Mets needed. It shows just how deep that rotation is, and with a rotation that deep, this team can win a World Series, and that’s before you even account for deGrom.

14. The Mets best player has arguably been Jeff McNeil. He’s not back to his 2019 form because he’s a much better version of that now.

15. There is something wrong with Pete Alonso. It’s difficult to know what it is at the moment, but this is just not the same player right now.

16. David Cone was criticized, but he was right. When the Mets are good, fans come out of the woodwork. That’s obvious because those fairweather fans flock over from the Bronx to Queens when the Mets are good. We know those fans exist in New York. Let’s not pretend they don’t.

17. That ESPN booth was brutal, which was odd because Cone and Eduardo Perez are great. Perhaps, it is because Karl Ravech is not a play-by-play guy who brings his color analysts into the conversation. Also, Buster Olney calling Ronald Acuna Jr. this generation’s Willie Mays was just about the dumbest thing he ever uttered. He should have had his mike cut and sent home.

18. The wave is an indelible part of Mets history as it was a big part of the 1980s celebrations. There is a place for it in the game, and at times, we should do it. However, doing it in the late innings of a close game is a blatant violation of the wave rules, and we should not stand for it (pun intended).

19. The Mets have won seven straight series. To do that at any point of the year is a phenomenal feat. With the Atlanta Braves coming to town, they absolutely have to make a statement and make it eight in a row. Do what the 1986 Mets did to the St. Louis Cardinals and let the Braves know this division race is over before it began.

20. As Ron Darling said after the co-no, that was one of the special moments you get after a special season.

Finally An Apple Mets Fans Don’t Want To See

Ever since the 1980 season, New York Mets fans have loved the Home Run Apple. That Apple has become synonymous with the monster homers from Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza. For one evening, it actually rose for a single, well, it was Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single.

It should come as no surprise the Wilpons didn’t understand how much Mets fans loved that Home Run Apple. In fact, it left them scrambling before the opening of Citi Field to install a new one in center field. After not knowing where to put the old one, they finally found a fitting spot outside the main entrance leading into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Mets fans absolutely can not get enough of the Apple. Sure enough, Rob Manfred found a way to get Mets fans to no longer want it.

We discovered Apple TV purchased the rights to a Friday Night Game of the Week which will be streamed exclusively on their network. That means when Max Scherzer makes his Mets debut against his former Washington Nationals team, we will not get to hear GKR on the call.

As an aside, this must also be terrible for Nationals fans. As soon as he retires, Scherzer will likely have his number retired. More than that, he will one day become the first Nationals player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead of a hometown crew for the call, they get the national broadcasters.

In some ways, this is a good thing for Major League Baseball. We are seeing more and more people move to streaming services, and this is a way to reach a more national audience. Also, if you are doing this you are going to want to showcase things like Scherzer returning to Washington because it is a major story line.

That said, this isn’t great for fans. We all have our plans to watch the Mets whether that is an SNY or MLB TV subscription. Games over the first 12 weeks will be free. That means Friday’s game as well as the Mets June 10 game at the Los Angeles Angles will be free. However, this is a seven year deal. Eventually, if you are a fan who wants to watch 162 games, you need to eventually pay for Apple TV, which is right now $5/month with fees likely to rise in the future.

To make matters worse, there is also a Peacock TV deal. They are getting an exclusive Sunday morning game. Right now, the Mets will be featured in their June 26 game against the Miami Marlins. Peacock TV is an additional $5/month. Combined with Apple TV, that’s $10 per month or $120 per year. Of course, that is in addition to what you already pay to watch the Mets.

This is one of those things were it is good business for MLB, but it is bad business for fans. They’re removing games from local markets and charging the fans more. They’re gambling you’ll pay more or won’t care. In the end, this is the type of deal which may backfire in terms of generating fan interest, but in the end, MLB will have the revenue they want, so they won’t care.

Buck Showalter Showing Shades Of Bobby Valentine

During Spring Training, Buck Showalter has made it a point to bring Keith Hernandez down to the field. In fact, as reported by Bob Klapisch of nj.com, Showalter removed the old rule which banned Hernandez from the batting cages. Showalter made it a point to get rid of the dumb rule (which was explained away because Hernandez was a part of SNY).

Specifically, Showalter noted, “I wanted people to notice Keith next to me and it wasn’t by coincidence. To me, Keith Hernandez is Mets royalty. He can go wherever he wants around here. This is his team.”

Showalter is exactly right here. After all, Hernandez was the first captain in team history. That 1986 team constantly talks about how much Hernandez meant to that team in terms of his leadership and defense. To keep that away from the team is pure and utter Wilpon nonsense. Well, the Wilpons are gone and so is much of their stupidity.

This was something Bobby Valentine had done so well during his Mets tenure. We didn’t just see the Mets greats pass through Spring Training for a photo op and media attention. That is something we will see this Spring with Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, David Wright, and others passing through and working with the players for a day or so.

Valentine had taken it a step further than that. Valentine put Mookie Wilson on his coaching staff. We also saw it with him having Al Jackson, an original Met just inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, on his coaching staff. There many be many reasons why Valentine did that, and it could very well be because Davey Johnson once did the same thing with him and Bud Harrelson on the Mets coaching staff.

Being a Met is different than being a part of any other team. It’s being the big market target while sitting in the shadow of the Yankees. It’s having a fan base who clings to Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe!” who also expects Tom Glavine to implode completing the collapse. We know Gary Carter is going to start an improbable rally while fully expecting Lucas Duda to throw it nowhere near Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets are the most unique team in all of sports, and they have the fanbase to match. Each and every player who has come through here fully understands it. After all, Carlos Beltran went from reviled while playing here to a standing ovation at the All Star Game wearing the enemy St. Louis Cardinals uniform and fans who cheered him as a conquering hero when he was brought back as the manager.

Valentine knew all of this, and he had a coaching staff reflect that. Showalter seems to get that as well, and he wants the former Mets to be a part of this team both in Spring Training and beyond. He understands the team history, and in the end, Showalter just implicitly gets it.

When the Mets have a manager who gets what being a New York Met is all about, magic happens. We saw it in 1986 and 1999. Mookie brought home Ray Knight. Robin Ventura hit a grand slam single. Seeing how Showalter is managing this team, Mets fans should be ready to see what is coming next.

Fun Former Mets Who Need To Return

With the return of the Old Timer’s Day, we are going to see some of the most beloved Mets in history return and play a game in front of adoring fans. We will once again get to see beloved players like Cliff Floyd, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura return for the day. It is going to be a great and emotional experience.

Those are players forever in Mets lore. We will always love them for what they did on the field. Not all of them had the biggest personalities. There are, however, some Mets who had the innate ability to become fan favorites without so much as dominating.

One player all over the baseball news is Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The formet Met was hired as the manager of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Sorry, as Shinjo says, he isn’t the manager, but he is rather the “Big Boss.” This is just Shinjo being Shinjo. No one has better understand the great theatre baseball can be in the moments outside of the action. After all, he used to name his homers and orchestrated his own epic retirement ceremony

Baseball needs that type of theatre, and the Mets are the perfect frachise to embrace it. Shinjo can create a spectacle which could garner attention and interest. Really, teams pay a lot of money to hire people who try to figure out the things Shinjo just does on his own, and it comes naturally to him. Whether as a part of the coaching staff, televsion, or just as a team ambassador, Shinjo would make Mets games that much more entertaining.

In recent history, Mets games have probably not been as much fun as they were in 2015. A large part of that was the Mets winning the pennant. Another component of that was the force of nature that was Juan Uribe.

Uribe was the perfect addition to that Mets team. First and foremost, he was the real stopgap third baseman the team needed. He would quickly ingratiate himself to Mets fans with a walk-off hit in his second game with the team. He would then become a larger than life character for needling David Wright, objecting to football being played on TV, and for declaring he doesn’t wear a cup in the field because there isn’t one big enough for him.

Uribe was great in the clubhouse keeping the team on an even keel and upbeat during their first real pennant race. He was also a leader who helped the team reach their full potential that season. In some ways, his presence was missed the following season as he helped a Cleveland team get to the next level. Certainly, you want to believe there is room for him to do the same again for the Mets in some capacity.

Finally, there is Curtis Granderson. Aside possibly being the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform, Granderson was as fun a player as there was. He was not just terrific on the field, but he was also the genius behind the We Follow Lucas Duda Instagram account. Granderson didn’t just understand how to make baseball fun on the field, he knew how to do it off the field as well. The fact he is a great person on top of it makes it all the more important to get him to return in some capacity.

Overall, the Mets franchise has had a number of colorful characters. From Roger McDowell to the hot foots to Pete Alonso with the fake hitting coaches, you need a certain personality to handle and thrive in New York. While the Mets do need to honor their greats, they also need to find a way to better incorporate those players who made the Mets the fun team they are and hopefully always will be.

Mets Need Carlos Beltran To Return For Old Timers Day

The New York Mets made the announcement they are officially bringing back Old Timer’s Day. So far, it has been announced Mets greats Cliff Floyd, Howard Johnson, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura will be there. We are undoubtedly going to see many other greats.

As we work through the list of players which will undoubtedly include Mike Piazza and David Wright, the most important player would be Carlos Beltran. This would set the perfect stage and opportunity for the best free agent signing and center fielder in team history to return.

The saga of Beltran and the Mets is in many ways a story still unfolding. During his playing days, he was never fully appreciated by the fans. Part of that was his very disappointing first year in Flushing, and then in 2006, when he was everything and more the fans expected, he would strikeout looking to end the NLCS. After that, while Beltran was great, he was part of the Mets teams who collapsed in consecutive seasons.

From there, he was a bit injury prone. Lost in everything was the Wilpons interference with his ability to get the treatments he needed. There was also the fact he graciously accepted a move to right field because it was what was best for the team. After his departure, it did seem Beltran was better received by Mets fans as evidenced by the ovation at the 2013 All-Star Game.

Of course, we know all too well Beltarn was initially hired to replace Mickey Callaway. He wouldn’t get the chance to manage one game because of his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. To date, he is the only player to face any discipline as the callow Wilpons fired him.

Sadly, it wasn’t the Mets who gave Beltran his path back into baseball. That would be the Yankees. Much like how Beltran began his post playing career working in the Yankees front office, he will be part of the Yankees’ YES studio shows. It is something the Mets could’ve potentially done with SNY, but it should be noted the Wilpons still owned the network, and as such, Steve Cohen didn’t have the chance.

This is now Cohen’s opportunity. He can reach out to Beltran and bring him back for a big ovation at Citi Field. He can remember him of all that was great during his time, and that Beltran will go to Cooperstown largely because of his time with the Mets.

Remember, Beltran will be on the ballot for the first time next season. Looking through his career, Beltran will likely have three choices for his Hall of Fame cap: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) blank. Beltran played more games for the Mets than any other team. He also accumulated his highest WAR, all three of his Gold Gloves, both of his Silver Sluggers, and five of his nine All-Star appearances with the Mets.

Fact is, Beltran will go to the Hall of Fame because of what he did in a Mets uniform. He belongs in Cooperstown as a Met, and his 15 should be retired. However, there is evidently still some healing which needs to occur to secure Beltran wearing that Mets cap. That should begin with Old Timer’s Day. It’s an excellent opportunity for a first step, and hopefully, it will be a big step in what can be a journey for Beltran emerging as a great former Mets ambassador for years to come.

Mets Black Jerseys Are Back

There has been a real push from players like Marcus Stroman and Pete Alonso for the New York Mets to bring back the black jerseys. For a limited time basis, it will happen in 2021.

This seems to be the right time to do this as the current Mets team does have strong 1999 vibes to it. After all, they did bring Mike Piazza back to the fold (at least in a more meaningful fashion), and they’re looking to take down the Atlanta Braves.

It’s also important to remember when Steve Cohen bought the franchise he said the Mets were going to honor the team’s history. That’s more than just Old Timer’s Day. It is also the black jerseys.

It’s the jersey the Mets wore for so many big moments in team history. Robin Ventura wore it when he hit the Grand Slam Single. Mike Hampton wore it when he pitched the Mets to their last pennant at Shea Stadium.

It was the jersey Piazza wore for most of his Mets highlights. That includes the homer against the Braves capping the improbable comeback and his passing Johnny Bench for most homers by a catcher.

It’s also the jersey the 2006 Mets wore when they clinched the NL East. David Wright would wear it again when he hit the first Mets homer at Citi Field.

There are a number of highlights and important moments with the Mets wearing those jerseys. In fact, the Mets wore them for the best stretches in team history after their last World Series.

The black jerseys always have a place in Mets history, and they should be around for a limited basis (as should the racing stripes). It’s a good thing they’re back, and we should be all eager to see the next great Mets moment that comes in these uniforms.

Brandon Nimmo Looks And Sounds Serious About Winning

When you think of Brandon Nimmo, you think of a player who is always smiling, hustling, and just seems to have an “aww shucks” mentality. That’s not to say he doesn’t come to beat you.

Nimmo is one of the toughest outs there is in the game, and he makes the pitcher work like few others. He’s also had a penchant for the big hit or key defensive play. That said, he just doesn’t have that “look” of a steely resolve of a player who just comes to beat you.

That was actually a hallmark of that 1999 Mets team. Whatever it is, we saw that with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rickey Henderson, Al Leiter, John Olerud, Mike Piazza, Rick Reed, Robin Ventura, and really, the entire team. It was just a mentality and attitude they had.

Looking at the current Mets team, Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard seems to be the only Mets players who truly have that mentality. Judging from his interview during Spring Training, Nimmo may be finding it as well.

This shows this Mets team knows it’s good. It’s really good. They know they have a target on their backs, and like that 1999 team, they’re coming after the Atlanta Braves and all of baseball.

Before a pitch is thrown, this Mets team is already developing a swagger and a quiet confidence. They’re coming prepared, and they’re not letting anyone get in their way.

Seeing Nimmo there is yet another reason to believe in this team. During the course of the season, we’ll find 162 more.

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.