Oct 18

Playoff Scheduling Needs Fixing

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the experience of coming from two games down to beat Cleveland in the Division Series helped them in coming back from two games down to take a three-games-to-two series lead over the Astros with the ALCS heading back to Houston.

While it could have a contributing factor, I think it is secondary to Major League Baseball’s inane playoff scheduling of 2-3-2, which in this case rewards the wild-card team of having three straight games at home.

Such a format neutralizes the home field advantage the Astros earned by winning 101 games during the regular season compared to the Yankees winning 91 games.

Isn’t having the best record supposed to stand for something?

The fairest playoff format in all sports for a seven-game playoff series is 2-2-1-1-1. Baseball doesn’t do it that way, saying it wants to cut down on cross-country travel. Seriously? In October it wants to cut down on the travel?

Beginning with the wild-card games, why do they have to be played on different dates? That’s because MLB cares more about playing as many games as possible in primetime.

Normally, that would carry some weight if we were talking about the major networks broadcasting the games. But, instead there were games telecast on four networks: FOX, FX1, TBS and MLB Network.

I wonder how much of the country missed out on some games?

For the ALCS and NLCS rounds, only four times was each league scheduled on the same date. That’s ridiculous scheduling.

It’s bad enough that if the World Series goes seven games, Game 7 will be played Nov. 1.  I know things will never go back to the way it was, and I know MLB – like all sports – cares more about placating television than the fans in the stands, but c’mon, you have to do better than this.

With some creative scheduling during the regular season, MLB could easily cut a week off the calendar and start the playoffs earlier.

For example, since we have the unbalanced schedule thanks to interleague play, have at least once a month have teams play day-night doubleheaders within the division. Three home; three away.

That would cut six days off the schedule, it would make for more off days during the season, and enable the playoffs to start a week earlier.

C’mon Manfred, be a commissioner for the game and not just the owners.

 

Oct 17

Mets’ Managerial Search Remains Slow

A show of hands please: How many of you are enthralled with the Mets’ managerial search? I’m not either.

Today came word former Mets coach Manny Acta, who managed Washington and Cleveland, will interview later this week. Astros coach Alex Cora, who reportedly is a frontrunner in Boston after his interview Sunday, interviewed today.

The cynic in me suggests the Mets waited until the Astros were in town for the ALCS so they could save on airfare.

Joe McEwing is scheduled to interview Wednesday along with Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

Mets hitting coach Kevin Long met with GM Sandy Alderson last week. Former Detroit manager Brad Ausmus rejected the Mets, while Bob Geren, one of the first names mentioned, hasn’t even been contacted. Robin Ventura and Chip Hale were also brought up early, but that was nearly three weeks ago.

Long’s managerial experience is restricted to Single-A.

Again, the most experienced candidate out there is former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, but his name hasn’t been mentioned.

Alderson is waiting for something. I just wish I knew what it was.

NOT BANKING ON FRAZIER: The Mets had their chances at third baseman Todd Frazier in previous winters. They’ll have a chance again this offseason, but it’s not going to happen.

The 31-year-old Frazier made $12 million this season, and can you really expect the Mets to surpass that next year?

You know as well as I do that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

At his age, Frazier has one more big payday left and I’m thinking he’ll want three years, and he won’t get it from the Mets.

Oct 13

Why Won’t Alderson Consider Gardenhire?

Reportedly, Ron Gardenhire is one of three finalists for the recently-vacant Boston managerial position, the obvious question must be posed: Where is he on the Mets’ radar?

Of the ten or so mostly non-descript names mentioned to replace Terry Collins – whom the Boston media also lists as a candidate – Gardenhire is clearly the most experienced and qualified possibility.

GARDENHIRE: Should be the one. (AP)

GARDENHIRE: Should be the one. (AP)

Gardenhire, a former Mets infielder, led the Minnesota Twins to six division titles, and five times won at least 90 games. His kryptonite was the Yankees.

I find it incredulous Gardenhire’s name has not been linked to the Mets, despite GM Sandy Alderson stating leadership was the prime factor he valued in a manager.

The Mets knew months ago they were moving on from Collins, and yet they aren’t any closer to hiring a manager than they were when they announced he wasn’t coming back. John Farrell was fired as Red Sox manager Wednesday, yet not two days later The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Gardenhire was a finalist.

Gardenhire is a fundamentalist, and his teams always played the game the right way, played hard and rarely beat themselves. He has been described as old-school, yet a teacher who can relate to young players. He is respected by players and opposing managers and executives.

So, why won’t Alderson give him the time of day? Is it because he’s old-school? Is it the money? Is it a losing record in the playoffs? Is Alderson afraid of a high-profile manager? Doesn’t Alderson want to win?

If Alderson is truly committed to returning the Mets to contending status, he is doing ownership, his players and New York fans a disservice by not putting a call into Gardenhire.

I’m sure he can get the number.

Oct 12

ALDS Highlight Many Differences Between Mets And Yankees

With Cleveland – and with it, Jay Bruce – eliminated from the playoffs, I’m guessing the worst possible World Series scenario for Mets fans would be the Yankees against the Nationals.

Mets fans clearly hate the Yankees for reasons we can all understand and embrace, and which was reinforced by their ALDS win over the Indians and define the differences of the franchises:

NO QUIT MENTALITY: After losing the first two games to Cleveland, the Yankees rallied to win the next three. Yes, 2015 was a magical year, but outside of that season that’s a characteristic we haven’t often seen from the Mets. We certainly didn’t see it in 2017.

FRONT OFFICE AGGRESSIVENESS: Despite already exceeding expectations at the deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rest on the presumption it was already a successful season. The Yankees might have gotten by not doing anything at the deadline, but Cashman brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Cashman also added Sonny Gray, although the early returns haven’t been good. You don’t need to be reminded what Mets GM Sandy Alderson did.

SUPPORTING THE MANAGER: Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an awful time in Game 2, but his team rallied behind him and he said “they had my back.’’ Nobody can say the Mets had Terry Collins’ back, especially Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey and all those unnamed sources in the Newsday article.

THE BULLPEN: The difference in the Yankees’ bullpen compared to that of the Mets is roughly the same separation of that between Ohio State and Rutgers. The Yankees might have the best pen remaining in the playoffs and could translate into another title.

YOUNG STUDS: Michael Conforto is the best the Mets have to offer, while Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are unproven. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ farm system has produced Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Judge struck out 16 times in 24 plate appearances against the Indians, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be much better against the Astros.

STARTING PITCHING: Can we officially dismiss the notion the Mets have the best rotation – young or otherwise – in baseball? The Mets don’t even have the best rotation in New York, although I’m taking Jacob deGrom before any Big Apple pitcher.

REPLACING ICONS: Not long after Derek Jeter retired the Yankees made the aggressive trade for Didi Gregorius, who homered twice against Corey Kluber in Game 5. Meanwhile, David Wright has played in only 75 games over the past three years. The Mets’ contingency plan is Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

VETERAN PRESENCE: They are called the Baby Bombers, but the Yankees might not be here without Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia. The Mets’ veterans? Well, Wright is recovering from surgery and the other vets were dealt at the deadline for a handful of non-descript pitching prospects.

OWNERSHIP: George is gone, but the Steinbrenner family is far more aggressive than Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Not even close.

If they were in the same division, the Mets would be 20 games behind the Yankees. That means Alderson has a lot of work ahead of him.

Oct 10

Mets Matters: Good Minor League News; Don’t Count On Girardi

Call it good news that the Mets purchased the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, and in two years they will become their new Triple-A affiliate.

That leaves two more years of flying prospects to and from Las Vegas, which they have been doing since 2013. Prior to that, they were affiliated with Buffalo for four seasons, but that relationship soured because the Mets didn’t do enough promotions, such as playing exhibition games there.

Before Buffalo, the Mets were affiliated with New Orleans for two years, and prior to that with Norfolk/Tidewater since 1969.

GIRARDI NOT COMING: Of course, hiring Joe Girardi would be a no-brainer should the Yankees be foolish enough to fire him after the playoffs.

Girardi’s four-year contract expires at the end of this season.

Girardi is everything the Mets would want in a manager, but the same applies to the Yankees.

Of course, the Yankees could low-ball Girardi the way they did Joe Torre and he could walk away.

The Yankees have overachieved this year and by most accounts are one to two years ahead of schedule. So, regardless of what happens tomorrow night in Cleveland, why wouldn’t the Yankees want him back?

NO PROBLEMS WITH NATIONALS WINNING: I have no problems with the Nationals reaching the World Series. Actually, that would be in the best interest of the Mets.

Should the Nationals get to the Series it would be a wake-up call to GM Sandy Alderson as to how far the Mets have to go.