The first Subway Series was 1997, and it had all of New York enthralled. There was the upstart New York Mets led by Lance Johnson, Bernard Gilkey, and Todd Hundley, against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.
The first Subway Series did something rare in sports. It exceeded the hype. Dave Mlicki is still a Mets legend for the complete game shutout to open the series culminated with striking out Derek Jeter to end the game.
The Mets would spoil a David Cone no-hit bid in the series finale and almost pull out a win. While the concept of the Mets and Yankees being rivals was a bit forced at the outset, we did see the beginnings of a rivalry.
The rivalry reached its apex in the 2000 World Series and with all the drama surrounding Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens. There was a lot more to it like former Mets greats like Cone, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry returning to Shea.
Mostly, it was Bobby Valentine who knew the Mets underdog status. He embraced it, and he treated those games like they were must win. Typically, they were for him as it was usually a marker for how the Mets were performing that season.
Since 2000, we have seen the series go through ebbs and flows. There have been moments like the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball or Carlos Delgado‘s power display. Of course, there was the Shawn Estes/Clemens drama.
All that said, this series has never been the same since 2000. In reality, this series has never been at a lower point than it is right now.
The Yankees are in third place and nine games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, but they do have a half-game lead in the Wild Card race. The Mets are in fourth place, are four games under .500, and they trail by three games in the Wild Card race.
The Yankees are without Aaron Judge. The Mets are without Pete Alonso. The ticket prices are through the roof, and Citi Field still has not sold out the game. It’s also a two game set making the possibility of the teams walking away with a somewhat uninteresting split.
On the bright side, we are going to see Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. The Baby Mets of Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos will get their first taste of this series, and more importantly, put their stamp on this series.
We may very well see competitive games with a number of storylines emerge. However, in the past, the storylines were already written because of all the intrigue surrounding the series. That intrigue is seemingly gone for now.
There is a real case to be made here for Bobby Bonilla as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. Through all of the negatives associated with him and his career, by wRC+, he is the Mets 10th best hitter. He was a two time All-Star in his first four year stint with the Mets. He did what the team needed him to do whether that was playing right field or third base.
No, Bonilla was never popular, and things go continually worse. There is far too much negative associated with him now whether it was him playing cards with Rickey Henderson during Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS or his deferred payments which are made to be an annual fiasco.
However, none of those reasons are why he wasn’t selected as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. No, the reason why he wasn’t selected was because Pedro Feliciano is the greatest LOOGY in Mets history.
Feliciano first came to the Mets in 2002 when they were looking for a taker for Shawn Estes. When Estes didn’t hit Roger Clemens and with the Mets having a terrible year, it was time to move on from him. Not quite knowing what they had in him, the Mets first waived Feliciano to make room on the 40 man roster only to sign him as a free agent after the Tigers first claimed then released him.
That began what was a very interesting subplot to Feliciano’s career. This was the first time in his career Feliciano left the Mets organization. He would do it again in 2005, 2011, and 2014. Despite that, in Feliciano’s nine year Major League career, he would only wear a Mets uniform.
In his first stint, he was a middling reliever who had to go to Japan to hone his craft. As noted by Michael Mayer of MMO, Feliciano altered his throwing program, and the smaller strike zone helping him hone is command. This improvement helped him secure a minor league deal to help him return to the Mets. Back with the Mets, he worked with Rick Peterson to drop his arm angle. From that point forward, he became a great LOOGY.
Arguably, that 2006 Mets bullpen was the best bullpen in team history. Notably, in a bullpen with Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver, it was Feliciano who led that bullpen in ERA+. He’d accomplish that feat with the Mets again in 2009.
In that 2006 season, left-handed batters would only hit .231/.272/.316 off of him. He’d strike out 44 left-handed batters while only walking five. That equates to him striking out a whopping 34.6% of left-handed batters that season. He would then get some big outs that postseason.
In Game 1 of the NLDS, he relieved John Maine in the fifth, and he struck out Kenny Lofton with runners on first and second with no outs. In Game 3, he retired Nomar Garciaparra with the bases loaded, and when the Mets took the lead in the top of the sixth, he would be the winner of the game clinching victory.
Overall, that postseason, Feliciano made six appearances, and he pitched to a 1.93 ERA. Ultimately, in that disappointing postseason which fell just one hit short of the World Series, Feliciano did his job. That was a theme for Feliciano, he came in and did his job.
Beginning in 2008, Feliciano would lead the league in appearances. He would lead the league in appearances in each of the ensuing two seasons. His constantly appearing in games led Gary Cohen to dub him Perpetual Pedro. He would be used so frequently, Feliciano would achieve the very rare feat of appearing in over 90 games in the 2010 season.
When making that 90th appearance, Feliciano became the first left-handed reliever in Major League history to appear in 90 games. When he broke the single-season mark for a left-handed reliever held by Steve Kline and Paul Quantrill.
In appearing in 92 games in 2010, he made more appearances over a two year span than any left-handed reliever in history. In fact, in Major League history, only Mike Marshall and Kent Tekulve have made more appearances in back-to-back seasons, and they did that in the 1970s.
Since the turn of the century, Feliciano is the only reliever to appear in 85+ games not only in two seasons in a row but three season in a row. In fact, from 2006 – 2010, Feliciano would appear in 19 more games than any other reliever, and he would appear in 50 more games than any other left-handed reliever.
Through it all, Feliciano would appear in 484 games as a member of the Mets. Only John Franco would appear in more games as a Mets reliever. Among Mets relievers, his .212 batting average against and .263 wOBA against left-handed batters is the best, and both are by significant margins.
Taking everything into account, Feliciano is the best LOOGY in Mets history, and it is by a very wide margin. When you are ultimately the best at what you do than anyone else in the 58 year history of your franchise, you should be considered the best to ever wear your number.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
Going from Coors Field to PacBell is like traveling into another dimension. At Coors, check swings go for 500 foot homers, and at PacBell, you could hit a ball harder than anyone has ever hit in the history of baseball, and it would die on the warning track. A bit of hyperbole for sure, but it does underscore just how completely different these two NL West parks are.
As bizarre as that travel was, it might’ve been equally bizarre seeing Bill Pulsipher on the mound for the Mets again.
With Bobby Jones on the DL, Dennis Springer‘s ineffectiveness, and the heavy use of the bullpen, Pat Mahomes included, the Mets opted to give the ball to a member of Generation K. For a brief moment during 13 pitch 1-2-3 first inning, it seemed like Pulsipher might surprise us all and pitch like the pitcher we all expected him to be.
Then, in the second, Pulsipher’s former teammate, Jeff Kent homered off of him to begin the second. Yes, that is how long ago there was hope and hype around Generation K. Kent was the everyday second baseman for the Mets. While Pulsipher settled down, it all fell apart in the third.
The only out Pulsipher recorded in that inning was on a Felipe Crespo sacrifice bunt. Otherwise, he walked three batters, hit another, and allowed two singles. In the end, he lasted just 3.1 innings allowing four runs on three hits. Things could’ve been worse, but Mahomes got him out of the jam.
While things didn’t get worse for Pulsipher, things got worse for the Mets. Todd Pratt hurt his knee during that third inning rally when J.T. Snow slid home on a Calvin Murray fielder’s choice. Todd Zeile got the ball home in time, but there was no double play attempt with Snow coming in hard.
Pratt took exception and started jawing at Snow. The benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. While Pratt was hobbled, the Mets had little choice but to leave him in the game. Mike Piazza is still dealing with the wrist/elbow issues from his own home plate collision in Colorado, and the Mets sent down Vance Wilson to allow them to call up Pulsipher for the start.
For seemingly his first time as a Met, Mahomes didn’t quite have it allowing two in the fifth to balloon the Giants lead to 6-0. Things devolved from there when the Mets went to Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez just hasn’t been all the good this year being largely miscast in a long man/mop-up role. Today was no different, and he would have the indignity of being the first ever pitcher to allow a splash down homer at PacBell.
Overall, this was just an ugly 10-3 loss with the Mets offense being dominated by Shawn Estes. There was a brief moment in the second where the Mets could have made this a game against him, but Rey Ordonez lined into a double play stranding Jay Payton and Pratt.
The Mets wouldn’t do anything against Estes again until the seventh when Zeile homered, but at that point it was 9-1.
In the end, if you’re looking at bright spots, Edgardo Alfonzo remained red hot going 3-for-4 with an RBI. In fact, Fonzie would have three of the Mets seven hits. Another bright note was Payton robbing Bill Mueller of a homer in the third. Other than that, this was just about as bad for the Mets as you could imagine.
Game Notes: This was the Mets first game at PacBell. At Candlestick, the Mets were 104-139 (.428). Rickey Henderson is mired in a deep slump. Over his last six games, he is just 2-for-16, and he is hitting just .194 on the season.
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.
Mets fans were so angry over Roger Clemens hitting Mike Piazza in the head in 2000, and the subsequent bat throwing incident, they wanted blood when Clemens was finally pitching in Shea Stadium two years later. It didn’t matter that Shawn Estes wasn’t a teammate in 2000. What mattered was Clemens needed justice.
Anytime a pitcher throws a ball near a players head, there is going to be a visceral reaction from fans, and there should be. It is a dirty play.
On Tuesday, Drew Anderson went up and in twice on Michael Conforto. Anderson did control it a bit, and while it brushed Conforto back, he was not getting hit in the helmet by the pitch. But if he was hit in the head, Mets fans would want blood. They would want him suspended, and Major League Baseball would have been well within their rights to suspend him.
So far this year, the Phillies have hit three Mets batters. There is already animosity between the teams, and in this particular game, we saw that animosity grow.
So when Jacob Rhame takes the mound and throws one behind Rhys Hoskins back, he earned a suspension. When Rhame knocks Hoskins back twice, he earned the suspension. When Rhame goes up and in FOUR TIMES, he earns a suspension.Again, if you switch the names, there’s not one Mets fans saying Rhame shouldn’t be suspended.
The counter-argument is Rhame didn’t have intent. The basis behind this claim is Rhame is a bad pitcher with poor control, and as a result, he wasn’t really throwing at Hoskins. Rather, he’s just terrible.
Assume for a second this is correct. Why should this matter? Why should we allow pitchers to recklessly throw at batters? Why should Hoskins be hit in the helmet and suffer an injury just because Rhame is an awful pitcher? Shouldn’t we penalize those pitchers who go inside knowing they don’t have the ability or control to go inside?
Really, when you break it down, pitchers should not be allowed to throw near a batter’s head, intentional or otherwise. Sure, sometimes a pitch gets away. It happens. No one is suggesting you should penalize a pitcher for one errant pitch. However, when you go inside FOUR TIMES and brush a batter off the plate TWICE, you need to be suspended.
If you did it on purpose, you earned the suspension. If you are terrible, and you can’t handle throwing inside and you didn’t anyway thereby risking a severe injury to a better, you earned the suspension.
If you are a Mets fan, instead of questioning why Rhame was suspended, the question is why Anderson wasn’t. After all, he purposefully threw in hard to Conforto with what looked like clear intent.
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.
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.