Oct 22

Classy Gesture By Cubs To Wright

Every once in awhile you read something that makes you feel good about sports and what they are supposed to be about, and that includes a very classy gesture extended by the Chicago Cubs to Mets captain and third baseman David Wright when they presented him the third base bag used in Game 4 of the NLCS.


Cubs Recognize Wright: FOX Sports

Cubs Recognize Wright: FOX Sports

That was my first thought. The Mets just crushed them in the playoffs, sweeping them without trailing for one moment in the series. Not a second.

They did it because of their respect for Wright and what he’s meant to the sport. They didn’t have to considering what just happened to them.

When a player retires, and this isn’t to suggest that’s what’s going on here, other teams usually present him with gifts. These guys, and that includes Wright, can afford anything they want. Wright once told me he’s embarrassed when he goes out to eat and the restaurant comps his meals.

He can afford to buy the restaurant, much less the meal. He understands why it happens. But getting something like the third base bag from Wrigley Field is something he would cherish more than say, a power boat or television.

The Mets took unfair heat when they made similar gestures to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The pitching rubber from Citi Field meant a lot more to Rivera than anything they could have bought.

I covered the Yankees for a long time and know what meant lot to Rivera. I’ve also been around the Mets since 2006 and know this means to Wright.

This is Wright’s 12th season, but only his second in the playoffs. Who better than the Cubs would appreciate a playoff drought? After all, some of the best players in their history, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams, never played in the postseason with them.

The Cubs understand and should be commended.

I don’t know whose idea this was, whether it was manager Joe Maddon, or Theo Epstein, somebody in marketing, Kris Bryant or one of the concessionaires who sells that terrific deep dish. It doesn’t matter. The bottom line is a classy player was recognized for his class and integrity.

And, someday the Cubs will be rewarded for their class.

Oct 22

2015 NLCS Recap: Mets Never Gave The Cubs A Chance

MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs

There were a several times this season when it didn’t look as if this would be a Mets’ summer. Through injuries, slumps and innings-limit controversies, this was going to be another long season.

However, Wilmer Flores’ tears told us why he wanted to remain a Met and why he loved this team like we do. A few days later GM Sandy Alderson brought in Yoenis Cespedes and the clubhouse was infused with an energy the Mets hadn’t known since 2006, the last time they played meaningful games in October.

“Are you kidding me?’’ said David Wright, who long after the final out in Wednesday night’s 8-3 victory to complete their NLCS sweep of the Cubs, went back to the field to slap hands with Mets’ fans who made the trip to Wrigley Field.

“I can’t describe the emotions going through me. We got tested this year. We were the underdogs against the Dodgers. We were underdogs against the Cubs. But, we made it. I can’t wait for the World Series to begin.’’

Here’s how the Mets reached their fifth World Series in franchise history to become Amazin’ Again.

GAME ONE: Harvey Shines In Opener

There’s something about Matt Harvey that makes you shake your head, then smile and say “I’m so glad he’s a Met.’’ Harvey wasn’t pleased with his Game 3 performance in the NLDS against Los Angeles, but worked into the eighth inning to stifle the Cubs, 4-2, and after the game, said: “I wanted this game bad.’’ Harvey got support from Daniel Murphy, who continued his torrid postseason with another home run.

GAME TWO: Murphy’s Homer Tees Off On Arrieta

Murphy homered in his fourth straight playoff game – who would have thought it? – to back the strong pitching of Noah Syndergaard in a 4-1 victory in a felt-like-snowy night at Citi Field. Murphy’s homer continued his pulverization of the game’s best pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and now Jake Arrieta. “We’re having a whole bunch of fun right now,’’ said Murphy, whose fun would continue in Chicago.

GAME THREE: DeGrom Brilliant Again; Ditto For Murphy

If the Cubs were to get back into the NLCS, it would have to be in the first game at Wrigley Field, but as he did against the Dodgers, Jacob deGrom labored but would not crack in the Mets’ 5-2 victory. The odds of the Cubs coming back 0-3 seemed as long as Murphy hitting another home run, but he did again for the fifth straight game.

GAME FOUR: Mets Dominate In All Phases

It could be said manager Terry Collins gambled this game when he started rookie Steven Matz on the mound and stuck with the slumping Lucas Duda at first base. Collins was rewarded as Matz gave up one run and Duda drove in five runs on three hits in an 8-3 rout. There’s hot, sizzling and Murphy hot, and the much maligned second baseman had four more hits, including a homer for a record sixth straight game and was named the NLCS MVP. Murphy hit 14 homers during the regular season and seven so far in the playoffs. Tyler Clippard called Murphy’s performance other worldly. Unbelievable.

mets win nlcs

Thoughts from Metsmerized Online’s Joe D. 

What began in Spring Training with all the unabashed talk that the team considered themselves pennant contenders that were to be taken seriously, much of it falling on deaf and unbelieving ears, ended on  Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with the team accomplishing what they said they’d do. And now the next stop is the World Series as they await their venue, Kansas City or Toronto.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have beheld it all and witness how they navigated, ever so gracefully, through a maze of adversity, controversy and battling the ghosts of past collapses. To the unbelieving masses, they were never taken seriously, always shrouded in doubt and never getting the accolades early on that they so richly deserved.

While it may appear that the NLCS was won by one man in Daniel Murphy, he would be the first to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. This incredible series win was an all hands on deck effort and there were many who rose to the occasion.

Matt Harvey set the tone in Game 1 when he laid down the gauntlet that would become the recurring theme throughout the series and in many ways it’s defining subplot – and that is the superb pitching performances by all four young flame-throwers that comprised the Mets starting rotation.

Sure the Mets scored 21 runs in the series, but our pitching held the Cubs to just 8 runs in four games. Furthermore, at no point did they ever allow Chicago to play with a lead. Talk about putting the pressure on… The Mets became the first team in NLCS history to sweep a series without ever trailing in a single game. Tremendous.

Another notable hero was closer Jeurys Familia who pitched in all four games and saved a franchise record three of them. In fact, the bullpen as a whole was stupendous. Along with Familia, Bartolo Colon, Addison Reed and Jon Niese combined for 8.0 scoreless innings out of the 36.0 total innings tossed in the series.

And even though the Mets left Eric Young Jr. off the roster, the Mets stole seven bases in this series, more than any other team in the postseason. There was a lot of guts and guile from Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes on the basepaths throughout the series, and some sparkling defense to go with it as well. Superb defensive play from David Wright and Lucas Duda was expected, but standout plays by Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto did not go unnoticed.

In a word, the Mets were relentless. They never let up once and just kept piling on. Joe Maddon and the Cubs never had a chance, This was a total team effort and one for all of us to be proud of. I tip my cap to all 25 players  as well as the manager and his coaches, for an amazing achievement and memorable series that none of us will ever forget. I can hardly wait to see where their journey takes us next. Let’s Go Mets!

2015 world series logo banner

Oct 21

Mets’ Fans And Murphy Should Cherish The Moment

Daniel Murphy has no explanation why he has homered in six straight games during this incredible playoff run by the Mets. He did it again Wednesday night and was named NLCS MVP.

“If I knew, I would have done it six years ago,’’ said Murphy, whose first inclination when asked is to credit his teammates. “I can’t explain it. I’m just going to ride this.”

He’ll ride it into the Mets’ fifth World Series appearance in their history, which begins Tuesday in either Kansas City or Toronto. Nobody really cares where, just that their season will continue.

MURPHY:  Enjoying the moment. (Getty)

MURPHY: Enjoying the moment. (Getty)

I wrote the other day how much I admired Murphy’s attitude, but said it was time he he took a bow after all the static he’s taken for his defense. He deserves this moment in the sun.

With Murphy’s unconscious streak comes the inevitable talk of whether the Mets will sign him long-term or to a qualifying offer. I’ve written it also, but on second thought, what does it matter?

Eventually, I’ll write it again. And, about bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and how he hurt his left shoulder and had to leave the game last night. Or, what’s going on with David Wright’s back. And, what workload the Mets’ starters might have next season. Or, what GM Sandy Alderson will do about rebuilding his bullpen.

There are a lot of things to review about this season, including whether Terry Collins will be named manager of the year. (He should). You guys know me, you know I’ll address them. But, at least for today I don’t want to hear them. I don’t care about next season.

This is a moment to be savored, to be cherished. It is a moment that prompted somebody online to write how he wished he was five-years-old again so he can grow up to be a Mets fan. How precious is that?

“This city deserves it,” said an exuberant Wright, who trusted Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, who promised him good times were within reach.

“This organization deserves it. The players deserve this. … I can’t describe the emotions that are going through me right now.”

The offseason news can wait a few more weeks. The topics will still be there; they aren’t going anywhere.

The last time the Mets were in the World Series was 2000. Before that, it was 1986. Before that, it was 1973 and 1969. Do you sense a trend here?

Wright said this team was a combination of the 1969 Miracle Mets and 1973 Tug McGraw, “Ya Gotta Believe,” team.

When Wright went to the playoffs in 2006, he thought it would be that way every year. However, he learned how fleeting a moment this can be. As Mets followers, we understand that.

We follow the Mets because we love that team. The reasons why, don’t matter. We just do. It is in our DNA.

However, despite the Mets’ young pitching, nothing is a given. Nothing. We don’t know about the future. None of us do.

So, let’s not worry about something beyond our control. Let’s enjoy this, as this is a rare and precious time.

It could be our best time.



Oct 20

DeGrom Does It Again; So Does Murphy

In the end, the ball getting lost in the Wrigley Field ivy turned out to be a footnote. Daniel Murphy homered for the fifth straight game, but even that wasn’t the headliner. But, in the end, as it has been this October, the real story was Jacob deGrom.

The Cubs homered twice off deGrom and had him on the ropes early, but as he did in Game 5 of the NLDS, he would not cave.

DeGROM: Does it again. (GETTY)

DeGROM: Does it again. (GETTY)

DeGrom has won his three postseason starts despite laboring in his last two. However, tonight he closed strong to complete seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts.

After a 29-pitch first inning, deGrom settled in and kept the ball low in the strike zone with his secondary pitches.

“In the first inning I was not locating my fastball,’’ deGrom said. “I made an adjustment early in the game and went to my off-speed pitches.”

In addition to deGrom and Murphy, the Mets manufactured a couple of runs. And, of a potential sign of things to come, David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes each had three hits.

The Mets will take a three-games-to-none series lead and can reach their fifth World Series in franchise history if they wrap it up Wednesday night behind Steven Matz. There have been 34 teams in history to take a 3-0 series lead and only one, the 2004 Yankees, failed to win.

“We’re not worried about that,’’ said Wright. “We’re worried about beating the Cubs tomorrow. … As we have won three games in a row, they can win three in a row. They have a good team over there.’’

It would be advantageous for the Mets to wrap this up tomorrow, as Kansas City has a 3-1 lead over Toronto in the American League. The World Series is scheduled to begin, Oct. 27, in the American League stadium.

The Mets need to put this away tomorrow as it will enable them to rest both deGrom and Matt Harvey, the scheduled Game 5 starter, who has a deep bruise on the back of his throwing arm.

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Oct 20

Mets Lineup, Game 3, NLCS

Here is the Mets’ lineup for Game 3 of the NLCS tonight in Chicago:

Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Michael Conforto – LF
Wilmer Flores – SS
Jacob deGrom – RHP

COMMENTS: Up 2-0, there’s no reason to substantially change anything. … There was some thought as to dropping Wright in the order, but to where?  Keep him second and hope he snaps out of it. And, whatever Murphy is doing keep everything the same. Don’t even change his socks. … They really aren’t doing anything with Cespedes and Duda, are they?

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