Yesterday, Chase Utley had a press conference to announce he was going to retire from baseball at the end of the season. As a Mets fan, this probably should make you elated.
After all, back from his days in Philadelphia, he has been nothing but a dirty player, and he has been a villain. For proof of that look no further than that tackle which not only broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg, but it really ruined his career. Just remember that as people write and talk about Utley being a hard-nosed player who “played the game the right way.”
Utley is also the guy who completely embarrassed Noah Syndergaard and the Mets. Really, Shawn Estes‘ message to Roger Clemens was more heartful, and really much closer, than the message Syndergaard tried to send that night. As a bonus, we did get that great Terry Collins‘ ejection video.
If you’ve been a Mets fan long enough, there are many, many, many more Utley moments which will instantly spring to mind.
So yeah, in a sense it’s good for the Mets that Utley is gone much in the same way it was good to see players like Chipper Jones retire.
However, the Mets and their fans are nowhere near a position to celebrate the retirement like Utley, even if he was a coward ducking the Mets and and their fans during the NLDS.
Ulitmately, it’s really hard to care when the Mets not only chose to employ the 35 year old Jose Reyes, but they also play him over Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, and really any player who could hit better than .164/.246/.227.
So, people can go ahead and celebrate Utley’s retirement and pretend like the bad guy is gone. It’s not true.
The real bad guy, the one who is a Met right now because he threw his wife through a glass door, is still with the Mets, and he’s become a major impediment to the Mets organization moving forward and improving for the future.
So congrats on a great career to Utley. He may have been dirty and ruined careers, but at least he didn’t beat his wife and complain to the press to help take playing time away from players he was supposed to mentor.
Well, the baseball season was less than a week old before we got our first violation of the unwritten rules of baseball. Down 7-0 and with one out in the ninth, Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco had the audacity to bunt against the shift to get on base. Trying to win a game where they were getting blown out was taken as an affront by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who said, “When they didn’t hold our runner on [earlier in the blowout], they conceded to the fact they didn’t want us to steal, so we didn’t steal. We could have very easily stolen and put up more runs, so therefore in return, you don’t bunt. That’s what everybody is missing in this whole thing.” (ESPN)
Apparently, everyone is missing what he was saying because Dozier has been roundly mocked, but his rant does bring up another round of discussion on the unwritten rules of baseball. Seemingly, there is a chasm among fans whether these rules should be followed. No matter what side of the fence you are on, you are bound to have an unwritten rule or two you particularly don’t like.
So in the spirit of Dozier inventing unwritten rules, the Mets Blogger Roundtable now tackles the subject of which unwritten rules we want to see abolished:
Celebrations have become part of the fabric of the game, like it or not. And as long as the sport continues to celebrate these celebrations, be it during their broadcasts or in social media, we have to except that as an adaptation to the game. Personally, there are far bigger issues with the game than what people consider over-the-top celebrations.
Shawn Estes missed Roger Clemens. Estes later homered off of him and nobody seemed to care. Noah Syndergaard got ejected and he didn’t even hit Chase Utley. The unwritten rule that you have to hit a dude because that dude’s teammate plunked a teammate of yours, intentionally or not, is pretty dumb, and the Mets can’t seem to get it right. Also, some of us are not neanderthals. If you want revenge, you do it right. Ruin Chase Utley’s credit. Convince him to try a fake diet that actually makes you fat. Post his postseason stats from the last few seasons on the scoreboard while he’s batting. Recite them over the PA during his batting practice. Spoil his favorite TV shows while you’re at it. Steal his XBox. Sign him up for all of the spam mail. Donate $50,000 to NAMBLA on his behalf and let Reddit do it’s thing. Hitting him once? With a baseball? That’s just lazy.
I want more unwritten rules, except what Dozier said; that’s a millennial unwritten rule.
The bat flipping and mic drop antics deserve an up and in dusting.
The entire keep the celebrations to a minimum after hitting a homer is ridiculous. Let them have some fun and instead of focusing on hitting them at their next at bat, why not just try hitting more homers in return. I think it’s slowly changing to be accepted more, at least among Hispanic players.
Celebrating may have changed forms, but let’s not act like this is something that didn’t happen in the past. I wonder how many time Rickey Henderson got dusted.
It’s ridiculous to head hunt over a celebration.
The one unwritten rule I find particularly dopey is the one that says swinging on three-and-oh is some sort of affront to the pitcher.
The one unwritten rule that I wish to see enforced is pitchers ought to tip their caps to the fans if they are receiving applause upon leaving the mound. Perhaps it’s been forgotten, perhaps these guys are super-focused, but c’mon. It’s just good manners.
The one unwritten rule I never quite understood was you’re not allowed to bunt when the opposing pitcher has a no-hitter going. Throwing a no-hitter is supposed to be extremely rare and difficult. Heck, it took the Mets 50 years to get one. Before Johan Santana‘s, I’ve seen the Mets lose no-hitters in the most excruciating ways possible.
One that immediately comes to mind is how David Cone once lost a no-hitter to what amounted to a swinging bunt. Sure, the batter attempted to swing rather than bunt. However, was that oopsie base hit more virtuous than a batter coming to the plate with an idea of what he wanted to do and executing.
As John Sterling would say between self aggrandizing and incoherent in multiple languages home run calls, “That’s baseball, Suzyn.”
In some sense, it is strange a group of people who spend their document writing everything about the Mets down and publishing it on various mediums offer an opinion on unwritten rules. What isn’t strange is the thoughtful and honest answers they provided to this question. Hopefully, it will encourage you to click their links and read their work.
After some time has passed, I’ve had some time to think about this play:
Here are some quick thoughts:
1. This Is What MLB Wants
Despite, the 1986 team being there, it’s no longer 1986. For those of us who grew up with that style of ball, Noah Syndergaard getting tossed was an absolute joke. With that said, baseball supposedly wants this out of the sport, and as such, maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised at the ejection.
2. Thor’s Ejection Was Still Unusual
With that said, as Ken Rosenthal pointed out, throwing at someone, absent warnings, does not lead to ejections even in today’s modern game. There are many examples where Syndergaard’s pitch doesn’t lead to a quick hook. Syndergaard’s ejection was the outlier.
3. Thor Is to Blame for the Ejection
Syndergaard threw the ball in an area where it wouldn’t hit or injure Chase Utley. In many ways, that’s more responsible than drilling someone. However, it’s also proof that Syndergaard was unequivocally throwing at Utley. He put a minor league umpire in a position where he could eject Syndergaard. So yes, as absurd as it sounds, the better course of action would’ve been to hit Utley where there could have been some ambiguity.
4. Thor’s Pitch Was Weak
This was shades of Shawn Estes. Utley broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg, so you make sure you don’t hit him? This isn’t some 22 year old rookie who pimped a homerun. You’re not looking to send a message. No, you’re looking to get your pound of flesh as retaliation. You either plunk Utley, or you don’t bother. Instead, Utley knew that not even the enforcer of the Mets rotation wouldn’t hit him, and he went off with a two homerun (one grandslam) five RBI game.
5. The Timing Was Odd
This was the sixth and penultimate game between these two teams. This was Syndergaard’s second start against the Dodgers. There were plenty of chances to hit Utley. Why now? Did a member of the 86 Mets get in Syndergaard’s ear? Was Syndergaard waiting to do it in front of the home crowd? Did Terry Collins finally give the go-ahead? Perhaps, we will never know.
At this point, the only thing we know is nothing was accomplished. Nothing was resolved. Bad blood still remains. Utley is laughing at the Mets. Despite the feeble attempt to intimidate Utley, Syndergaard most likely maintains his mystique as a pitcher who will not be afraid to knock you down. The umpires in baseball still think we pay to watch them instead of players like Syndergaard.
The Mets have an important decision to make. With them starting a series tonight against the Dodgers, they will have to decide if they want to retaliate against Chase Utley or not.
With Ruben Tejada playing for the Cardinals now, it’s not a clear cut decision. The Mets don’t have to stand up for their teammate. Tejada’s long gone. Still, they may want to send Utley and the rest of the National League a message that they will not tolerate dirty play. They will stand up for their guys no matter where they play. Either direction the Mets go, there’s no wrong answer.
The only thing the Mets can’t do is pull a Shawn Estes. If you’re going to hit him, you have to hit him.
The Mets don’t appear weak if they decide not to hit Utley. They appear weak if they go to hit Utley, and they miss him. If Utley plays tonight, Steven Matz either has to stick one in his rear end or move on. If Utley sits, the decision will fall on Jacob deGrom‘s shoulders. If Utley pinch hits tonight, the game situation will have to dictate matters. Utley already cost the Mets one game. He’s not worth another one.
No matter what happens, the Mets just need to be decisive about it. Hit Utley, don’t hit Utley. Just don’t miss him. This Mets team is intimidating. The Mets can little afford to take some of that intimidation factor away by missing Utley.
There’s a moment that will forever live in Mets infamy:
After all the garbage with Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza, the Mets finally had a chance to get revenge. Clemens came to Shea and finally had to stand in the batter’s box to answer for all his sins. Then Shawn Estes, who wasn’t a Met when everything happened, just missed. Missed!
There were discussions on whether it was fair to put Estes in that spot. I always disregarded them. Estes was Piazza’s teammate. You stand up for your teammates. The Mets will have that opportunity again with that coward re-signing with the Dodgers. After the World Series, the hope is it’s Noah Syndergaard standing 60’6″ away from Chase Utley.
After Utley’s dirty slide, the Mets have an opportunity to exact revenge. It will be all the more important if Ruben Tejada remains on the team. Assuming the rotation is the same set-up as in the World Series, the Mets re-set the rotation after the first two games of the season, and the Mets having a full five man rotation from that point forward the job will fall to Steven Matz. If the Mets don’t reset the rotation, the job will fall to Jacob deGrom.
In some ways, the task will be easier for whoever the pitcher is because they were on the team when it happened. On the other hand, the situation is more difficult because the pitcher will have to do it in Los Angeles.
Whomever it is, they need to actually plunk Utley. For the psyche of the team and the fan base, that pitcher can’t miss.
Let me start with the preface that the Mets are going to win the NL East, and they may still get homefield advantage in the NLDS against the Dodgers. However, doesn’t September losses to the Marlins just seem bigger?
It just seemed like this was another poor start for Jacob deGrom in what not too long ago seemed like a potential cyGrom season. Tonight, he gave up 10 hits and six earned in only five innings. deGrom is the key to a Mets possible World Series run, and it appears like he’s falling apart at the seams. I checked Twitter during the game, and I found out he really wasn’t:
First time deGrom has allowed double-digit hits this season and just the second time in his career. (12 last year vs. Cardinals).
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) September 16, 2015
Jacob deGrom has allowed more than 5 runs for only the 2nd time since May. Mets trail the Marlins, 6-1. pic.twitter.com/oCre0FCmU0
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) September 16, 2015
However, I still felt like Chicken Little, so I checked Baseball Reference. Aha! deGrom has been worse in the second half. He was a superhuman deGrominator going 9-6 with a 2.14 ERA, 0.924 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in the first half. Coming into tonight, he was 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9 in the second half. So yeah, he’s been pretty much the same pitcher in both halves of the season.
That’s the thing with losses like tonight. You tend to overreact. You make deGrom’s outing out to be worse than it was. You focus on another poor Eric O’Flaherty outing. You miss things like David Wright hitting an RBI double and going 1-2 with two walks, a run scored, and an RBI. You miss Michael Conforto going 2-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. You grumbled when Bobby Parnell came into the game while neglecting the fact that he had a good, scoreless inning.
The Mets won eight straight. They were due for a clunker. That was tonight. It seemed like they could do nothing right, including but not limited to Erik Goeddel pulling a Shawn Estes when he seemingly was trying to plunk Tom Koehler as retaliation for him plunking Yoenis Cespedes. This was further compounded with my man, Dario Alvarez limping off the field after allowing a Dee Gordon homerun.
The Mets just need to put this ugly 9-3 loss behind them. I know I’ll forget about it by tomorrow morning.