Ron Darling

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Dodgers

The New York Mets traveled to Los Angeles with a depleted pitching staff to face-off against the Dodgers. In the end, this was a split with people’s emotions going through the gamut.

1.  For those who panicked after the second game or wanted a litmus test, just stop. Regardless of how this trip goes, this is a very good Mets team who is a World Series front runner. This series only served to prove that.

2.  This was Buck Showalter‘s best managing of the season. Lifting David Peterson during an at-bat and using Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning against the Dodgers best hitters was inspired and absolutely the right call in each circumstance.

3.  Colin Holderman got his first career win, and Adonis Medina recorded his first career save. This team is just built different.

4.  The Mets might’ve lost Holderman if a Rule 5 Draft was held. Medina was obtained after he was designated from assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Going deeper, Stephen Nogosek has an ERA under 1.00, and the Mets had previously designated him for assignment. Not enough is being talked about with how great Jeremy Hefner has been.

5.  Ron Darling was wrong. They’re not getting contributions from all 26 players. We’re hovering around 35+ right now.

6.  Pete Alonso just owns the Dodgers and destroys pitching at Dodger Stadium, so much so that he left Brusdar Graterol befuddled. Just name him the front runner for the NLCS MVP.

7.  Eduardo Escobar is coming out of his funk and starting his June hot streak on schedule. While the homer was great, that 10 pitch sacrifice fly was one of the team’s best at-bats all season.

8.  Tomas Nido might just be the best hitter in the majors with two outs and RISP. He is actually slashing .455/.500/.636 in those spots. Maybe someone can hypnotize him into thinking every plate appearance is two outs with RISP?

9.  How was no one ejected over that snafu where Dave Roberts tried to use Zach McKinstry against the rules? It was a complete and utter joke, and it further confirms CB Bucknor is a bad umpire.

10. Chris Bassitt is really struggling right now. He’s had a 6.35 ERA over his past four starts with opposing batters hitting .261/.327/.544 off of him with a dipping strikeout rate. The Mets need him now, and he’s faltering.

11. Jeff McNeil is struggling to the point Showalter pulled him from a game and gave him a breather. Hopefully, it’s just a blip because the Mets need him.

12. You can argue no Mets player has stepped up like Trevor Williams has this year. He’s gone from complete afterthought to pitching five strong innings against the best offense in baseball.

13. The Mets bullpen was underrated entering the season, and it is all the more so during the season. Case-in-point, this bullpen is undefeated in extra inning games.

14. While we all understand why Nick Plummer is up with this team right now, if the Mets see him as a real player going forward having him as a little used fourth outfielder is doing him a great disservice right now.

15. Luis Guillorme was bound to cool off. The hope is this is a blip and not a complete regression. As he’s never been truly given this chance, no one can definitely state either way even if all indications are he will be fine. Regardless of those struggles at the plate, his defense remains great.

16. At some point, you have to wonder if Brandon Nimmo needs to go on the IL to let his wrist heal. He is just not hitting at the moment.

17. After a small cold streak, Francisco Lindor is hitting and playing elite defense again. Also, he now has the highest WAR among MLB shortstops. It’s as if he’s a future Hall of Famer in the prime of his career.

18. Tylor Megill‘s rehab stint should not be rushed. Give him the time he needs as this is a marathon, not a sprint. When he’s ready, it looks like it’s Peterson who will need to be sent down.

19. The discovery the Mets are using the same pitching machine the San Francisco Giants used for their resurgence may have more of an impact on this team’s offense than anything Eric Chavez is credited with doing.

20. Let’s be honest here. The NL East race is over. It is now just about the Mets getting ready for the postseason.

Mets McCann Beat Good Teams On Road

When you have a staff like the New York Mets have, all the offense needs to do is score a couple of runs. When they didn’t for Max Scherzer last night, they needed late inning heroics.

Tonight, the Mets got runs for Chris Bassitt, and it seemed like everything was in cruise control. Again, Bassitt was terrific.

Bassitt did have to navigate through the first inning, but it was relatively smooth sailing from there. He was working well up in the zone much to the consternation of the St. Louis Cardinals.

He pitched so well Paul DeJong didn’t even have a hit. When things are going good, they’re going good.

On the other side, the Cardinals started Jordan Hicks getting the start. He was the only Cardinals pitcher to give up runs.

The Mets opened the scoring in the third on back-to-back doubles from Jeff McNeil and James McCann. McCann had a three hit game and is apparently heating up.

After Brandon Nimmo walked, Hicks left the game with an injury. Starling Marte greeted Andre Pallante with an RBI single.

The Mets were up 2-0 with two on and no outs, and they appeared poised to blow it open. After Francisco Lindor grounded into a double play, that was it for the scoring in the inning.

One thing that was noticeable was how the ball wasn’t carrying. It was a cool night in St. Louis, but this has been a much talked about issue in baseball this season. That said, this was seemingly the first time it was truly noticeable in a Mets game.

While there wasn’t much in terms of threats after that third inning, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama. In the eighth, Cardinals reliever Kodi Whitley hit Pete Alonso in the helmet.

Alonso and the Mets were furious, and the benches cleared. Intentional or not, Alonso was hit in the head for the second time this season.

The Mets wouldn’t make the Cardinals pay in the eighth, but they would in the ninth.

Mark Canha hit a one out single, and Travis Jankowski pinch ran for him. Jankowski went first to third on a McNeil single.

After McCann struck out, Nimmo had a typical tough at-bat where he drew a walk. That brought up Marte who was hit by a pitch forcing home a run.

Marte wasn’t happy, but a run scored showing it was unintentional.

An interesting aside here is after Alonso was hit by the pitch, warnings were issued. Despite that Adam Ottavino plunked Tommy Edman in the eighth. Marte was plunked by Aaron Brooks in the ninth.

With no intention adjudged, neither Ottavino nor Brooks were ejected.

Drew Smith had pitched a scoreless seventh in front of Ottavino’s scoreless eighth. Even with Seth Lugo also warming, Buck Showalter went with Edwin Diaz in the ninth.

Traditionally, Diaz isn’t good on a second straight day. After a leadoff walk, it seemed like he was in for trouble again. However, he’d settle down and record the save.

With that, the Mets secured their fourth shutout of the season. It’s also the first time in franchise history they won the first six series to open the season.

Game Notes: Mets batters have been hit 18 times which is the most in the majors. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were unavailable leading to Todd Zeile to join Gary Cohen.

SNY App Sucks

If you have been trying to watch the Mets on the SNY App, good luck. All over Twitter and the internet there are complaints about the app. For those using Roku, Fire TV, or an ipad, there are many instances where they need to constantly reload the app. Often times, this is multiple times an inning.

This makes watching Mets games on the app next to impossible. You lose chunks of the game just trying to restart the app. There’s also the matter of how far delayed it is from the actual broadcast. Another issue is even if you are a paid cable subscriber, it will not permit you to watch the Mets games on the app when you, yourself, are out of your home thereby defeating one of the features which would make the app desirable.

It’s beyond frustrating when the app crashes only for you to have to watch two commercials to get back to the action. Yes, that is the norm for loading any app, but it is all the more problematic when you wind up spending more of your time rewatching the same commercials over and over again than you do watching the actual game.

Another issue is how the app did not cut the audio from Gary Cohen when SNY cut to highlights. Fortunately, there was no Nick Castellanos moment, but rather, Cohen complaining about why SNY is showing Yankees highlights while Ron Darling was trying to alert Cohen to the issue.

Of course, what makes this all the more frustrating is this Mets team is really good and has a real chance to win the World Series. As a fan, you don’t want to miss a moment, and yet, you’re forced to miss many.

Given the Wilpons own SNY, we shouldn’t be all that surprised. After all, this was a family who set out every year to make the Mets unwatchable. Now that they don’t have the power to do so with their personnel decisions, they are setting forth and doing it with their app.

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.

Keith Hernandez Mets Impact Second Only To Tom Seaver

The New York Mets made the announcement Keith Hernandez will have his number 17 retired during the 2022 season. After the Mets opted to break with tradition and retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36, there is no doubt it was Hernandez’s number which needed to be retired next.

Really, even if the Mets kept to the old standard, Hernandez’s number should have been retired eventually. When you break it down, Hernandez had a Hall of Fame worthy career. He was the best fielding first baseman of all-time, and he had a better career than first baseman already in the Hall of Fame. Chances are, Hernandez would go in the Hall of Fame with the Mets, but to be fair, that is probably wishful Mets fan thinking.

That said, the standards have changed. Now, it seems to be impact on the franchise. When you look at the Mets franchise as a whole, Tom Seaver undoubtedly had the biggest impact. After all, he was given the moniker The Franchise. He has been and always will be the best player in franchise history. After Seaver, there is no question Hernandez has had the biggest impact in franchise history.

It began in 1983. Hernandez was shockingly available, and Frank Cashen made a shrewd trade not just to obtain him but to give him a contract extension. There are many ways you can define his leadership and what he brought to the Mets. It could be the streak from 1984 – 1989 where they averaged 96 wins winning two division titles and the 1986 World Series. There are the five Gold Gloves, three All-Stars, three top 10 MVP finishes, and the Silver Slugger.

It was more than that. It was what the Mets players told you. They told you it was Hernandez who taught that young but extremely talented team how to win. He then showed them how to do it with his clutch hitting and otherworldly defense. It was the reason why he was named the first captain in Mets history. In many ways, it was Hernandez who ushered in and led the Mets to the greatest run in franchise history.

If that was all Hernandez did, you could make the case Hernandez had the second most impactful career in Mets history. However, Hernandez would prove to be more than that. Hernandez has become part of the beloved Gary, Keith, and Ron. Gary Cohen is the best in the business, and it was Darling whose terrific work which would lead to him getting national broadcasts. However, it is Hernandez who is the reason fans stay watching.

There are the guffaws and the adoration of players. He’s become the beloved uncle who comes into our homes on the SNY broadcasts. Really, dating back to when he was first acquired by the Mets, he has been the beloved uncle of the franchise. He’s been the adult in the room to show us all how things are done, and now, he is the one who has stuck around to tell us how great things are and used to be.

Overall, throughout the history of the Mets franchise, Hernandez has left an indelible mark. He was a great player and a great broadcaster. Much of what we know love about the Mets is all because of him. He deserves his number retired and far more than that.

ESPN Opted For Worst Thing Imaginable Over Nerdcast

To a certain degree, every baseball fan complains about national broadcasts. Part of it is the nature of the nearly daily regional broadcasts where there is a more intimate nature of the relationship between the broadcast, team, and fans. That goes double when you’re a New York Mets fan and you get the pleasure and privilege of hearing Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling every night.

While national broadcasts have generally been derided, baseball fans were very complimentary of the self dubbed Nerdcasts. With Jason Benetti, Eduardo Perez and Mike Petriello, baseball fans were treated to a different type of broadcast. The terrific play-by-play work of Benetti was complemented by the advanced stats which are currently driving the game (and really all sports). It was informative and fun.

Really, ESPN hit on something perfect. They presented the alternate broadcast everyone wanted, so naturally, as is typical with ESPN with their complete mishandling of all things baseball, it’s gone.

Part of the reason why is Perez was promoted to the regular Sunday Night Baseball booth. That’s a deserved reward for him, and it will certainly make that telecast ever better. If they also hire David Cone, even better. Now, you could argue with Perez and Cone, they’re going to bring that Nerdcast to the regular booth, and if so, kudos to ESPN.. Still, it remains to be seen just how much they do it.

The other reason ESPN is moving on from the Nerdcast is the success of the Manningcast, and they want to try to replicate it for baseball.

There are many reasons why the Manningcast works so well. The first is there are two Super Bowl winning and future Hall of Fame brothers. That brings a certain gravitas. They also both have this amazingly interesting and impossibly difficult to replicate seriousness and irreverence to the telecast. To a certain degree, they don’t find themselves beholden to traditional television rules, and yet, they are very serious about the game.

In many ways, that’s the problem with TV, especially with sports. Instead, of acknowledging there is something so unique and perfect and enjoying it, they keep going out and trying to replicate it. The more and more this happens, the more and more we learn there was only one John Madden. There is only one Manningcast. And yes, there is really only one Gary, Keith, and Ron.

That hasn’t stopped YES from trying. They brought on Cone and Paul O’Neill to join Michael Kay try to replicate what the Mets have. Of course, the biggest issue is Kay is Cohen. Another big problem is no one is Keith Hernandez. Mostly, Gary, Keith, and Ron is really something you can only do with the Mets franchise because everything about it is so thoroughly Mets.

Of course, ESPN doesn’t realize this. They’re taking Kay and meshing him with Alex Rodriguez to try to create a Manningcast. It’s just about the dumbest idea possible.

One of the reasons for the Sunday Night Baseball booth shakeup was everyone tired of A-Rod. While he was initially a success in the booth, everyone tired of him over nine innings. What was once promising turned out to be terrible. For some reason, they thought it best to pair him with Michael Kay to try to create a Manningcast.

There is just no way this makes any sense. Who is the market for this? No one wanted A-Rod anymore on Sunday Night Baseball, and of all the play-by-play broadcasters, they choose Michael Kay. It’s almost like they’re challenging Mets and Red Sox fans to never tune in and watch.

Then again, isn’t what ESPN is doing? Instead of taking a very successful Nerdcast broadcast and building that,they’re making something horrible which no one wants. As is usually the case with ESPN, baseball fans deserve better.

Long Ending To Mets Season

After Taijuan Walker got knocked out by the Boston Red Sox, you knew it was going to be another long night for the New York Mets. When you’re as bad as the Mets are, that’s just the case.

Since the trade deadline, the Mets are 17-31. Since the All-Star Break, they’re 25 -39. They can’t beat good teams or much of anyone.

Seeing all the one run losses and same mistakes over and over again, it’s as if this is Groundhog Day. Time just stands still.

As it turns out, it basically is. As Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions points out, the Mets have played 10 straight games exceeding three hours 30 minutes.

To make matters worse, the Mets are 2-8. In that time we’ve seen the Mets postseason hopes go from plausible to needing an act of God to essentially dead. It’s now at the point where even Pete Alonso admits defeat.

The Mets are not a good team right now. They’re uninteresting. Worse yet, they’re borderline unwatchable. Aside from Gary, Keith, and Ron, it’s hard to find a reason to hang on in for a blowout loss taking nearly four hours.

Each and every one of these games are long and drawn out. It’s punishment for the fans. It’s just a long drawn out funeral while we try to figure out what went wrong.

Mets Need To Give Something Extra In Big Win

Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.

This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.

In the first, Lane Thomas failed to retouch second on a flyout leading to him getting doubled off. In the third, after Luis Garcia doubled, Hill would pick Garcia off second.

Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning

As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.

Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.

In the second. Javier Báez had a hustle double on a ball hit to Soto. He’d score on a frightening moment where Conforto lined one off of Washington Nationals starter Sean Nolin.

Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.

Kevin Pillar followed with a double putting runners on second and third. The runs would not score with Chance Sisco and Hill being unable to deliver a hit.

In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.

The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.

These are the situations which come to haunt you. We saw Aaron Loup and Seth Lugo handle it. Unfortunately, Edwin Diaz couldn’t.

First, Soto got a measure of revenge with a lead-off homer. After a strikeout, Diaz walked Ryan Zimmerman, who was replaced by the pinch runner Andrew Stevenson.

This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.

On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.

Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.

Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.

With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.

This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.

That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.

Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.

Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.

Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.

Mets Loss Was For The Birds

The New York Mets couldn’t have gotten off to a better start against the Baltimore Orioles. Before David Peterson took the mound, the Mets had a 2-0 lead off a Pete Alonso two run homer:

There were a number of problems from there. Up first was umpiring and replay. Again, the state of umpiring is poor, and the replay system needs to be scrapped.

Ryan Mountcastle hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Francisco Lindor‘s throw beat him. James McCann‘s foot was on the bag. Somehow, not only was Mountcastle called safe, but it was upheld on replay. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling justifiably blasted the whole thing:

https://twitter.com/snytv/status/1402408375112110084?s=21

Regardless of the horribly blown call, Peterson escaped the inning unscathed. That wouldn’t be the case in the second when the Orioles scored three or when he was knocked out in the third.

It’s the second straight start Peterson didn’t last three innings. He’s now the sixth time in his 11 starts he failed to go five. His ERA is now 6.32.

While Robert Gsellman stepped up the last time this happened to Peterson, he didn’t here. He allowed four over his 2.1 innings.

At that point, it was 8-2 entering the sixth, and it was all but over. Jacob Barnes and Drew Smith each allowed a run, and Alonso hit another homer in the ninth.

All told, this was a 10-3 loss where just about everything went wrong. That includes the replay. It’s probably just best to forget about it and move on to the next game.

Game Notes: Alonso was the DH with McCann back at first. The last Mets pitcher who failed to go three in consecutive starts was Steven Matz.

Mets Fought To The End

An undermanned New York Mets lineup became all the more so when Jose Peraza was unavailable. Suffice it to say, this lineup had more trouble scoring than usual.

Fortunately for the Mets, the pitching and defense were again terrific.

Joey Lucchesi was great through the four scoreless innings allowing just hit while striking out eight. While Ron Darling and many fans were perplexed, given Lucchesi’s year and his career numbers, the Mets went to the bullpen.

Sean Reid-Foley was again terrific. Through his first two innings, he didn’t allow a run while striking out three. Unfortunately, the Miami Marlins got to him with consecutive one out singles putting runners at the corners.

Aaron Loup came into the game to get the left-handed Corey Dickerson out to maybe induce a ground ball double play. Instead, Dickerson hit a fly to medium left.

Cameron Maybin made a terrific throw, and at first glance, it looked like he nailed Brian Anderson at the plate. Just as the home plate umpire was about to ring him up, Tomas Nido dropped the ball. It was 1-0 Marlins, and it looked like the Mets would need a near miracle to tie.

Well, they got it.

The Mets had very limited opportunities in this game, and they squandered them all. That began in the first when Wildredo Tovar struck out with the bases loaded.

In the fourth, Johneshwy Fargas hit a two out double, and he’d be stranded. The Mets would’ve have another base runner until the eighth, and that was courtesy of Anthony Bass.

Bass lost the strike zone issuing a lead-off walk to the pinch hitter Peraza. He’d then issue a one out walk to Francisco Lindor. After Maybin struck out, Don Mattingly brought in Richard Bleier to get out Dominic Smith.

For a split second, it appeared Bleier did his job. However, home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez called what should’ve been strike three a ball. Smith took advantage of the new life hitting the next pitch for an RBI single tying the score.

Wayne Randazzo, who was filling in for Gary Cohen, would not shut up about the blown call. What was odd about his chirping was Marquez was very inconsistent on the low and away pitches all game. It was not at all a surprise he missed that pitch.

From there, the Mets defense did all they could do to help the Mets win. The first great play was in the eighth Smith diving in the hole to get Miguel Rojas.

The next came in the bottom of the ninth. Jesus Aguilar hit what should’ve been a lead-off double. Instead, Fargas make a diving snow cone catch to turn it into an out.

Unfortunately, the Mets magic ran out. With two outs, Anderson hit a ball Smith couldn’t get to with his dive. Then, Drew Smith would wind up taking the loss when Garrett Cooper hit a walk-off two run homer giving the Marlins a 3-2 win.

It was a tough loss for the Mets, but when you’re this injured, it’s going to be difficult to win games like these. Despite all that, the Mets remain in first place.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo said he’s dealing with a nerve issue in his finger. Smith is 9 for his last 14 with RISP.