The fact of the matter is Ohtani doesn’t want to come to New York. He doesn’t want the media attention and responsibility that comes along with New York.
Certainly, Ohtani has spent his entire life in the limelight. He gets more attention than just about any baseball player. He understands the responsibilities that comes with being the best player in the game.
And yet, he’s being a bit short-sighted here, and thus, is making a mistake.
Frankly, the Mets history is replete with players who didn’t want to deal with New York. Even worse, it’s full of players who just don’t want the Mets.
However, for the most part, when they come here, they love it here.
The classic example was Keith Hernandez. He was devastated about the trade to the Mets. He was persuaded to stay, and it led to his being a beloved player with his number retired.
Time and again, Darryl Strawberry has said he regrets leaving the Mets. Players like Cliff Floyd and Billy Wagner were at one point skeptical of being a Met only to sign in free agents and cherish being a part of this team.
Mike Piazza was shockingly traded to the Mets. Even more of a shock, he’d get booed by the fans. Despite that, he signed a deal on the eve of free agency, became one of the most beloved players, and dons a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
There was Curtis Granderson who came to the Mets in free agency after his New York Yankees tenure. He talked about how he heard Mets fans were real fans and later said Mets fans were louder.
Even a player like Carlos Beltran keeps finding his way back to the Mets. He didn’t initially want to come. The Wilpons made him want to leave, and yet he’s returned twice.
Point is there’s something special about being a Met. Even the most reluctant end up loving the experience and want to forever be a part of the franchise.
Ohtani is passing on that partially because he doesn’t want the New York media scrutiny and attention. Being fair here, that’s about to follow him anywhere he goes.
He’s also missing out on a city that would allow him to live somewhat in obscurity. After all, this is a city where Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino live. Harry Potter lives there. Hell, Spike Lee not only lives there, but he’s at every New York Knicks game.
New York comes with attention, but it also allows for a somewhat normal life. Being fair, Ohtani gets the same with Los Angeles.
With the Mets, Ohtani would get Steve Cohen who is not afraid to spend. He’s also an owner who wants his players to feel welcome and be like family.
There’s an adoring fanbase desperate to embrace him.
That’s not to say the Mets are the best fit for Ohtani. In the end, only Ohtani can figure that out for himself. To some degree, he has and is nearing a decision.
It’s just unfortunate he’s ruling out a team that could change his life for the better. Yes, the Mets need Ohtani, and he doesn’t need the Mets. That still doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great experience for him.
In the end, Ohtani should’ve given it more of a chance, and that is mostly why he’s making a mistake.
Right now, it is irresponsible to speculate if there was anything that could have been done to prevent Damar Hamlin from suffering cardiac arrest after that collision. Certainly, manufacturers are going to go back to the drawing board, and they are indeed going to look to see if they could do anything to prevent that awful moment from every happening again on the field.
Obviously, everyone is going to look at this as an NFL issue. With football being an inherently violent sport, you just assume this is going to happen in football more than any other sport. However, no other sport is immune to these types of tragedies, and this should be a wake up call for all sports to review their safety equipment and protocols.
Look at the New York Mets this past season. They were hit by pitches more than any other team in baseball. There were multiple scary moments with fastballs going up-and-in at the batters, and remember, these pitches are now traveling around or above 100 MPH at times. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor having the C-flaps on their helmets prevented each of them from more significant and potentially catastrophic injury.
Lindor just got beamed in the face (saved by helmet flap).
Dugouts & bullpens cleared, near brawl 👀
— 4_sumthin_24 (@ace_1985) April 9, 2022
Even with that happening, not everyone on the Mets wears the c-flap. Part of the reason is the c-flap is not currently mandated by Major League Baseball. To a certain extent, the players are to blame because they are always resistant to different changes like that. For example, go back to the 1986 World Series, you’ll see players like Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez not wear the ear flaps on their batting helmets.
At some point, the league and the union has to save the players from themselves. For baseball, this goes beyond just the batting helmets.
There are heart protective shirts available to help protect the heart after a direct impact from a hard hit ball. Baseball doesn’t mandate that despite batted balls screaming towards the pitcher at speeds well in excess of 100 MPH. The same goes for infielders who are actively taught to take the ball off the chest when there is a bad hop. Mandating these shirts could prevent an injury or other catastrophic incident.
Former Met Cliff Floyd has invested in protective liners in caps to protect against line drives taken to a fielder’s head. This would be of real importance to pitchers who are vulnerable with line drives screaming back at the mound. We have all seen at least one incident where a pitcher is hit with a line drive and is left bloodied on the mound.
It is possible Floyd’s product is not ready for MLB use, but we also don’t hear or see MLB investing in it or a similar product. More than that, we never really hear MLB or players speak out about the need for protective equipment like this at the Major League or youth recreational levels.
What we do know is all sports are inherently dangerous. It takes an incident in the sport to mandate changes, and even with those incidents, players are typically dragged along instead of willing participants.
Whatever the case, we saw Damar Hamlin almost die on the field after what was a routine play. While the NFL has been criticized for its immediate response, the one thing they got right was the medical training and protocols for their medical professionals at the games. That saved a life, and it is something each and every sport should be investigating and emulating at the moment.
Make no mistake, what happened to Hamlin could happen in any sport. The goal for each sport right now is to immediately assess their safety equipment and protocols. They need to see what changes they can make to stop whatever trauma they can, and they need to make sure their medical policies and procedures match what the NFL had in place which ultimately saved Hamlin’s life.
With the institution of the universal DH, MLB has officially killed off National League Baseball. As such, the only real difference between the two leagues is their names. One just happens to be the American League, and the other just happens to be the National. Why are we even bothering anymore?
It’s not like changing up divisions and leagues is unheard of in this sport. Tom Seaver led the Mets to the first ever NL East title in 1969. Prior to that, there were no divisions in either league. Fast forward to 1994, and the Montreal Expos would have won the division led by players like Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, and Pedro Martinez. Of course, that season didn’t reach completion because of the strike.
As a result, the first World Series with a Wild Card in the postseason was won by the Atlanta Braves with Tom Glavine taking home World Series MVP honors. The Braves would win the NL East as part of their journey. An interesting fact here is the Braves won the first ever NL West title, and they actually played the Mets in the inaugural NLCS.
Baseball has moved and changed teams and divisional structures as they have seen fit. When baseball expanded in 1998 to include the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Milwaukee Brewers were moved from the AL Central to the NL Central. In 2013, the Houston Astros, who were an expansion team the same season as the Mets, were switched from the NL Central to the AL West because baseball wanted six five team divisions.
Things change according to the random whims of the commissioner. We see that has happened with the institution of the universal DH, and we are likely going to see it again with MLB trying to increase the amount of postseason teams from the current five per league to seven per league. That is again completely radical, and it cries for the need for another correlative move.
Before delving further, one of the reasons for the push for an expanded postseason is increased revenues. It should also be noted the reason for revenue sharing and compensation systems is to address the (laughable) assertions owning an MLB franchise isn’t profitable and costs need to be reduced. One major cost which can be cut is travel fees.
To do that, you can more geographically align the divisions of baseball like it is done in the NBA and NHL. After all, we see MLB trying to more align their sport like those, so why not take a look at what that would look like:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Washington Nationals
- Atlanta Braves
- Cincinnati Reds
- Houston Astros
- Miami Marlins
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Texas Rangers
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cleveland Guardians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Minnesota Twins
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Colorado Rockies
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
Yes, this does call for the inclusion of two expansion teams. Let’s face it. It is well past time for MLB to expand. If the NHL can support 32 teams, MLB certainly can. There are markets in the United States and Canada which have been relatively untapped, and to a certain extent, the minor league retraction has created a void in many communities for baseball. At least geographically, the southeast with cities like Raleigh and Nashville makes sense, but MLB can look elsewhere and align differently if it makes more financial sense.
As for the blowing up of some rivalries, well, that’s a consequence. That said, it wasn’t a concern when the Brewers and Astros changed leagues. There is also the important consideration the geographical rivalries will be off the charts, and there will certainly be the development of new rivalries.
Now, the next step is especially radical, but then again, so was the death of National League baseball. Before delving further, we first need to acknowledge baseball’s crown jewel is the World Series. Baseball needs to do all it can endeavor to create the best possible World Series matchups to generate more fan interest. The best way to do that is to actually set up the best possible match-ups in the World Series.
For that, just eliminate the AL and NL in its entirety. Instead, just have the four divisions. If you want to keep an AL and NL for nostalgia stake and create new names for the other two divisions, fine. That said, the World Series should abandon the concept of the AL against the NL. Instead, it should be the two best postseason teams.
This is where MLB can borrow a bit from the NHL. Since MLB wants an expanded postseason, they can have the top three teams in each division make the postseason. After that, the next eight non-automatic qualifying teams, regardless of division and division rank, can play a one game Wild Card Game to qualify for the Division Series. The World Series will instantly become increasingly more interesting.
The potential match-ups can radically change. For example, one year, the Mets and Cardinals could meet in the World Series, and the next, they could meet in the Championship Series. As a bit of added intrigue, under this format, MLB could get their biggest dream to come true with a Yankees-Red Sox World Series. The ratings and revenues from that may set records never before seen.
Overall, MLB has been forever changed with the death of National League baseball. As a result, instead of trying to hold onto some vestiges of the NL, it is time to just let it go away entirely and focus on what would create the most interesting and exciting baseball. Creating a four league format would be refreshing, and it would create the best possible postseasons. From there, genuine interest (and associated revenues) would grow putting baseball in the best footing it has been in a century.
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.
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.
On January 6, 2022, high school sophomore Teddy Balkind suffered a fatal injury. During a collision, a skate sliced his neck causing him to bleed to death.
At this point, we don’t know if he was wearing a neck guard or not. What we do know is two things: (1) they’re designed to prevent tragedies like this one; and (2) they’re not mandated by USA Hockey.
The second point is a massive problem. When you don’t mandate it, you allow children (and sometimes parents) to get lax with pieces of safety equipment. Moreover, when you don’t introduce it and/or enforce it with young players, they become less inclined to wear it as they age.
It’s more than that. There needs to be appropriate minimum standards. If you’ve seen hockey necks guards, they run the gamut. There’s the it’s a neck guard to say you have a neck guard to actual Kevlar.
Governing bodies need to not only set standards, they need to lead studies. More than that, they need to inform.
Most parents are decades removed from playing the sport. That’s even if they played the sport. Parents are only guessing what’s the correct and most up to date equipment.
There is equipment out there. However, most parents don’t know about it, and worse yet, it’s not mandated. All of this needs to change. Teddy shouldn’t have died, and we can’t sit around and wait for the next tragedy.
With the New York Mets failing to make the postseason, and worse yet, with their collapse, the narrative has become this core hasn’t been good enough to win a World Series. Sandy Alderson seemed to echo that sentiment a bit when he said there were going to be changes to the core this offseason. Of course, with free agency and the like, that was probably going to happen anyway.
Before Steve Cohen purchased the team, the Mets core could probably be defined as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Noah Syndergaard. At least, that was the homegrown core. In that core, you had two ace level pitchers, two All-Star level first baseman (yes, Smith was that in 2020), two All-Star level outfielders, and a jack-of-all trades All-Star.
When you add Francisco Lindor, who joins deGrom as a future Hall of Famer, you’d be hard pressed to find much better cores in all of baseball. This level of talent should be the envy of the other 29 teams in the league. That begs the question what went wrong in 2021.
On the one hand, this was a team which was 3.5 games in first place at the trade deadline. Their high water mark was 5.5 games up on June 16. As we know, this team had the bottom completely fall out as they finished eight games under .500 and 11.5 games back of a mediocre Atlanta Braves team for the division.
The narratives emerged. Luis Rojas was in over his head. The ReplaceMets got them the division lead, but the regulars couldn’t seal the deal. This team had no heart, no will to win, no killer instinct, etc. Basically, chose your narrative and apply it to this team.
In many ways, that’s what people said about the 2007-2008 Mets. As we all learned, firing Willie Randolph wasn’t a solution. Switching out leaders like Cliff Floyd was a mistake. Really, making change for its own sake proved to be a complete and utter disaster. Certainly, so was the Wilpons involvement in a Ponzi Scheme. That said, the level of dissatisfaction with “the core” rather than a real analysis of what was the problem led to the demise of that team.
The real issue with that Mets team was injuries and pitching. During the back-to-back collapses, the pitching completely fell apart at the end. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon playing doctor played a massive role in that happening. In some ways, we’re seeing the same thing happen but with a completely new regime.
Let’s take a look at the 2021 Mets. The first thing which should jump off the page is the team went into the season without a real third baseman or a left fielder. We all knew by Opening Day J.D. Davis could not handle the position, but there he was. Behind him was Luis Guillorme, who was as good a glove in the middle infield as they come, but he was a poor third baseman. After that was Jonathan Villar, but he has never been a good fielder.
As for left field, it’s the Mets mistake as old as time. You cannot just throw anyone in left field and expect it to work. Todd Hundley wasn’t a left fielder. Lucas Duda wasn’t a left fielder. Sticking a good bat in the outfield just never works, and oft times, we see diminishing returns for that player at the plate. While Smith did an admirable job, he again proved he couldn’t play left field.
Of course, the Mets could have gone with McNeil at either position as he’s played both positions well. Instead, the Mets were obstinate he was a second baseman because that was the belief Sandy Alderson stubbornly held during his first stint with the Mets.
This speaks to a real problem with the Mets and how it colored how the core was viewed. Players were asked to do things they shouldn’t have been asked to do. For example, remember Conforto in center field? It’s been an organizational approach to just plug bats everywhere. The end result was the team suffering as players failed to reach their ceilings as they struggled out of position, and we also saw the defense lag.
Now, the defense wasn’t really the problem in 2021. With the analytics and Rojas at the helm, the defense was much improved. However, to a certain extent, the damage had already been done. Steven Matz, who struggled in large part due to the absence of defense and analytics, was cast off for relievers who pitched poorly. We had already seen pitchers like Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald cast off. There’s more.
Really, the issue isn’t the core, but what the Mets did with it and how they built around it. For years, we knew Alonso and Smith were both first baseman, but they Mets absolutely refused to make the tough decision and pick just one of them and try to move the other to address a need. It’s a decision which has held this team back for three years now. As for the justification of the anticipation of the universal DH, that’s no reason to throw away three seasons, especially with Alonso and Smith is going to a free agency after the 2024 season.
Looking deeper, this was a team really harmed by injuries. Really, you can make the argument if deGrom was healthy, they don’t collapse. If Carlos Carrasco isn’t hurt in Spring Training, they don’t collapse. If Syndergaard returns when anticipated, they don’t collapse. However, that happened. That’s more of a sign of a snake bit team than it is a problem with the core.
Really, despite the flaws in roster building, this team was good enough. We actually saw it with this team being in first place despite the injuries and the odds. If you’re being honest in your assessment, you should be saying the Mets need to get a real third baseman and left fielder, and this team will be primed to win a World Series. After all, this team with a relatively shallow pitching staff and being plagued by injuries was on the precipice.
That brings us to the next issue. The front office didn’t try to go for it. There was the opportunity, and they chose not to get the pitching this team needed. There’s no good explanation why they didn’t.
As a result, the people who failed at supplementing a very good core is now going to call it an eroding one. They’re going to allow people to falsely accuse this core of not being good enough to win. It’s complete and utter nonsense, and it completely obfuscates what the real problem is – how this organization has approached building rosters.
Overall, if the Mets bring back this same exact roster replacing Davis at third with a real third baseman and putting McNeil in left field, they will be the best team in baseball. There should be absolutely no doubts about that.
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.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
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:
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.
All over the internet yesterday was video of Endy Chavez‘s miraculous catch robbing Scott Rolen of a go-ahead homer in the top of the sixth inning of a tied Game 7. It was one of, if not the, greatest catch ever made, and it came against a hated rival with the pennant on the line.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 19, 2020
For 14 straight years, this catch is celebrated. We should all agree there should not be a 15th year.
After that catch, neither Jose Valentin nor Chavez could deliver on what was a bases loaded one out situation.
All told, this ranks as one of the most frustrating and depressing losses in Mets history. This loss was further exacerbated by collapses the following two seasons, and the complete and utter failure which was the first version of Citi Field.
That’s nothing to say about the Wilpons getting caught up in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme only for them to be needlessly propped up by Major League Baseball.
After that Chavez catch, everything just kept getting worse for the Mets and their fans. Frankly, after that catch is was a nightmare which lasted for nearly a decade. Much of the reason for that was the meddlesome ways of the clueless Jeff Wilpon who kept finding new ways to embarrass this franchise we all adore.
Every Mets fan should love Chavez for this catch and for all he gave the Mets. We can and should love the players from that era who were a mixture of snakebit and not quite fully supported by ownership never ready to go all-in on winning, and that’s even when they had the financial capacity to do that.
Still, we should all fall short of celebrating the mile. We can all acknowledge it was perhaps the greatest catch ever made. However, in the end, the Mets lost in the most excruciating way possible, and no Mets fan anywhere should really look to celebrate a moment which is intrinsically tied to the loss.
If you think this is too far or it’s too far, consider this. There is not a Red Sox fan alive who celebrates Dave Henderson‘s homer off Rick Aguilera. That is among the pantheon of the most clutch homers ever hit, and no one cares because the Red Sox lost that game and series in the most excruciating way possible.
Celebrating Chavez’s catch is really no different than celebrating Henderson’s homer. That’s why it’s time to stop and turn the page. With Steve Cohen at the helm, we instead need to look forward to celebrating big moments like the Mets winning the World Series.
The Mets finally got rid of Rickey Henderson. The Mets finally had enough of his lack of hustle and his attitude. According to Bobby Valentine, it wasn’t just him, but the players as well. Combine that with his threatening a reporter, and the Mets finally got rid of the future Hall of Famer. Given how he has been purported to be the issue with the team, you’d think they’d right the ship immediately.
The Mets are really running out of excuses as to why they are playing as terribly as they are. A team who was once six games over .500 is now at .500, and they have lost four out of the five games they have played against the Marlins. This is the same Marlins team who lost 98 games last year and 108 the previous season.
The Mets had a 2-0 first inning lead in this game. Derek Bell hit a one out homer, and then later in the inning, Todd Zeile hit an RBI single. At that time, the Mets had runners in the corner with one out, but the rally ended there when Benny Agbayani hit into an inning ending double play.
As an aside, Agbayani is one of the players who should benefit from Henderson’s release. Agbayani went from coming THIS close to beginning the year in the minors to being on the cusp of an everyday role. Others who may benefit include Joe McEwing, who made his Mets debut starting in center before moving around the field.
That Mets lead grew to 3-0 in the third. Bell hit a lead-off single, and he’d steal second. Paul Bako‘s throw was wild allowing Bell to go to third on the play. He would score an unearned run on Robin Ventura‘s RBI ground out.
Unfortunately, this 3-0 was not enough for Pat Mahomes to protect. With the injury to Bobby Jones, and the complete ineffectiveness of Bill Pulsipher, Mahomes was again thrust into a starting role. For the first three innings, he kept the Marlins off the board. Starting in the fourth, they’d begin to hit him hard.
Preston Wilson, who is starting to wear out the Mets, led off the inning with a double. He’d then score on a Kevin Millar two run homer. Mahomes would get that run back with an RBI double off opposing pitcher Vladimir Nunez in the bottom of the inning to extend the Mets lead to 4-1. He’d then pitch a scoreless fifth, thanks in part, to an inning ending double play after Luis Castillo reached on an error.
In the sixth, the trouble started for Mahomes the way it usually does for any pitcher – the lead-off walk. Cliff Floyd walked to start the inning, and he stole second. That allowed him to score easily on Wilson’s second double of the game. Turk Wendell would relieve Mahomes, but he would allow the inherited runner to score making this a tied 4-4 game.
When Zeile homered off of Ron Mahay to lead off the bottom of the sixth, that’s where the Mets should have put this game away. That gave the Mets a 5-4 lead late in the game. That meant the Mets bullpen, which is supposedly superior to the Marlins’, would be able to close this one out. They didn’t.
Again, it was Wilson who killed the Mets. Dennis Cook started the seventh, and he was didn’t have control. Castillo had reached on a lead-off single. He’d then plunk Floyd with one out. That put two on in front of Wilson who hit a three run homer to give the Marlins a 7-5 lead.
Not wanting to lose this game, Valentine went to Armando Benitez. Benitez got the last five outs of the game which gave the Mets a chance. They would have their chances, but they failed to capitalize.
In the eighth, Todd Pratt, who started this day game after the night game, hit a two out single. Sensing his chance to get the win, Valentine sent Mike Piazza up as a pinch hitter for Kurt Abbott against Braden Looper. Instead of Piazza hitting the game tying blast, he struck out. Then, Valentine pinch hit Jon Nunnally for Jay Payton. Despite Looper not being good against left-handed batters, Nunnally struck out to end the inning.
It should be noted at that point, Valentine had emptied out his bench completely. Actually, there was one bat left, but that bat was Rey Ordonez, who is injured and unavailable. That meant Valentine was going to have to use a pitcher in the ninth as a pinch hitter. It is really difficult to defend that complete lack of foresight and decision making.
You could say it cost the Mets.
McEwing led off the ninth with a double against Antonio Alfonseca, and he’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo RBI single. Now, instead of having Piazza to bat here or even Nunnally, the Mets had Mike Hampton. For a second, Valentine looked like a genius when Hampton got a hold of one, and he appeared to hit a game winning two run homer. Instead, it went foul, and Hampton would wind up striking out in the at-bat.
With two outs, Zeile kept the rally alive with a single pushing Alfonzo into scoring position. That’s where Alfonzo would stay as Matt Franco grounded out meekly to Alfonseca to end the game.
With the loss, the Mets are at .500, and they look like a team completely lost. They are getting beat up by the Marlins, and they are trying to use interchangeable parts in their outfield and rotation. For now, the only thing they can hope for is Hampton to once again play the role of stopper and get the Mets back on track tomorrow.
Game Notes: McEwing was up because Melvin Mora was placed on the DL. He had busted up his index finger and needed stitches on a bunt attempt on Friday. This will put the shortstop duties squarely on Abbott until Ordonez feels healthy enough to play again.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.t