Oct 05

Just say no to Bobby V.

One of the most interesting things I’ve read lately in the papers and on the blogs has been the slow drumbeat for the return of Bobby Valentine as Mets manager. All these people who should know better, who blast the Mets for repeating their same mistakes over and over again, are clamoring for them to return to the not-too-distant past in bringing back the flawed Valentine.

Why?

Can you really go home again? Can you reheat a souffle? Can a torn relationship be made whole again? Experience tells me probably not. Valentine had his chance, and in 1999 and 2000 had playoff teams that fizzled out. Yes, they reached the World Series in 2000, but after blowing Game 1, they were essentially done.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.


Could Valentine without Steve Phillips work? I doubt it. Valentine is a lightning rod for controversy and in much the degree of Billy Martin, a quick fix. He energizes at first, but then things regress. He does not sustain.

As bad as Jerry Manuel was this year, it must be remembered the team was in first place until injuries sacked the season. We can’t say with certainty the Mets would be in the playoffs had they stayed healthy, but they were headed in that direction.

Manuel definitely has shortcomings, but the season was so hideously fractured by injuries it would have been unfair to not give him another chance. Remember, it wasn’t Manuel’s fault the Mets didn’t have the reserves to bring up from the minor leagues or to make a trade.

Yes, Manuel should have handled some things differently, but the argument can be made many of his mistakes were made because he didn’t have any other options. I’ve not been shy in listing what I didn’t like, but looking at things objectively, I can see his reasoning.

Given the same situation, I don’t believe Valentine would have been any better. I’m not sure anybody could have been any better.

For those wanting Valentine, it must be remembered no championships were won during his tenure, and that reaching the World Series was in large part because they didn’t have to face the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs that season.

From what I remember about the Valentine Era is there was always a controversy. There was always a distraction. Valentine was constantly at odds with somebody, whether it be his general manager, a player or somebody in the media. Valentine liked to play people off of each other and the clubhouse was about taking sides on one issue or another.

Those wanting Valentine either have short and selective memories, an agenda, or don’t know what they are talking about.

In the long run, we’ll need 2010 to see if Manuel is the answer, and odds are he’ll get a short leash because of the impatience that comes from being in New York. But, the Mets have been there and done that with Valentine.

A return to the past would not be good for the Mets’ future.

Oct 05

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

One of the greatest catches in World Series history took place on this date in 1947. It was the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium when Joe DiMaggio launched a long drive to deep left.
GIONFRIDDO: Robs DiMaggio.

GIONFRIDDO: Robs DiMaggio.


With two runners on it was certain the Dodgers’ three-run lead would be erased. However, Al Gionfriddo, acquired from Pittsburgh earlier in the season, closed the gap and reached over the wall to rob DiMaggio. The catch brought a rise out of the normally dour and unemotional DiMaggio, who kicked at the dirt out of frustration.

The Dodgers would hold on to win Game 6, but the Yankees won Game 7 to clinch the series.

TODAY’S SPORTS BIRTHDAY

1937 – Barry Switzer, football coach (Oklahoma).

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They Said It

They Said It

With their season over from a competitive standpoint, there were those – myself included – who believed Carlos Beltran should’ve shut it down for the remainder of the season.

Beltran said he needed to play to prove his health to himself, and yesterday indicated he doesn’t anticipate his knees would become a problem.

Said Beltran: “People asked me, ‘Why are you coming back?’ But, as a player you have to come back and I did. Now I can go in to the off-season feeling good about myself. I can get ready, be in the best condition I can be in, and get ready for spring training.’’

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ON TAP FOR TODAY

Today the lockers at Citi Field start to get cleared out. Players will be drifting in for the next few days. Some who don’t think they’ll be a part of the Mets next season, could come early and leave before the media is brought to the clubhouse.

Manager Jerry Manuel said there could be some announcements regarding his coaching staff. Third base coach Razor Shines, who waved on over 20 runners that were eventually thrown out at the plate, could be gone. Pitching coach Dan Warthen could be dismissed because of a staff that walked over 500 batters, and regressions by Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez.

ELSEWHERE IN SPORTS

The Tigers and Twins will have a one-game playoff tomorrow in the Metrodome. The stadium couldn’t be used tonight because the Packers-Vikings Monday night game is scheduled. ESPN is expecting huge ratings as the game pits Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre against his former team.

THE WEEK AHEAD

In addition to what news comes out of the Mets, I will also be reviewing the season and analyzing who will be available in the free agent market. I will also be handicapping and previewing the Division Series, and, of course, live blogging the playoffs as I did last year. … I also hope you’ll be with me tomorrow night for the Monday night game between Minnesota and Green Bay.

Oct 05

Thank You Friends ….

I received a note yesterday thanking me for the blog and providing a place to hang out and enjoy the Mets’ games.

The truth is I should be thanking you. This has been the hardest year of my life after being laid off, going through a relationship break-up and coping with death of a cherished pet.

I am grateful for your support.

I am grateful for your support.


I didn’t have a great year at the blog early, as a I mostly went through the motions and mostly posted the Mets Chat Rooms, which is the only interactive live blogging during the games done by any New York sportswriter. I am proud of that and have it on my resume.

During periods of frustration and depression, the blog was something I could count on for several hours to take me out of my doldrums. I thank you guys for that.

At the urging of several of you, I believe I did more writing the last two months and also added little tidbits that were common when I blogged for the newspaper.

It is my pledge to you to keep up the blog, which includes the playoffs and World Series, and comprehensive features and analysis with the Hot Stove League.

I am also talking with someone about design changes and the addition of a football blog. I write, that’s what I do, and the blog is a vehicle I hope to ride into another full time position.

Again, I am grateful for your support, as it drives me.

Thank you, friends.

Oct 05

About yesterday …. Figueroa throws a gem in season finale.

The Mets closed one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory with Nelson Figueroa’s 4-0 blanking of the Houston Astros. Figueroa’s gem was the Mets’ third complete game of the season, with all of them thrown by pitchers who won’t be with the team, or don’t figure highly in their plans for next year. That would be Livan Hernandez, Figueroa and Pat Misch.

FIGUEROA: Has moment in sun with blanking of Astros.

FIGUEROA: Has moment in sun with blanking of Astros.


Figueroa is an underdog in every sense of the word and it is comforting to see players like that have their moments in the sun. Still, Figueroa is a journeyman, and the Mets need to upgrade their rotation. He doesn’t figure to be in it, but he could have a chance as a long-man and spot starter.

Yesterday’s season finale also marked a four-hit effort from Angel Pagan as he finished hitting over .300. Pagan fell a homer shy of hitting for the cycle.

Catching prospect Josh Thole, who broke a 1-for-22 slide with a triple Saturday, had two more hits yesterday.

Sweeping the Astros can’t erase all that went wrong for the Mets this year, but for one weekend at least they felt good about themselves.

Oct 04

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #162; A sadness about the day.

In each of the past two seasons, the Mets faced their season finale with hope and a definable tension. The Mets would either extend their season or see it end in a frustrating ball of fire. They flamed out both in 2007 and 2008 to suddenly face the winter.

There’s none of that today.

This afternoon at Citi Field comes the official death of a season long since dead. It is a parent or relative who succumbs after a long illness. There’s almost a sense of relief at the death, that most of the grieving has been done and it is time to for a new chapter.

The end of a sports season marks a passage of time, and like many passages there’s a sadness because it represents unfulfilled dreams and the leaving behind of something special. There’s nothing quite as sad as the death of dream.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.


Despite how each of the last two seasons ended, there was hope and optimism this spring in Port St. Lucie. This was Jerry Manuel’s first full season as Mets manager and with it a return of hope this summer would be different.

There was attention paid to fundamentals, which was to provide a security blanket that even if there would be no power the team would somehow score, and with their pitching that would be enough. Surgery was to have healed John Maine’s aching shoulder and Mike Pelfrey would continue his progress.

Most importantly from a pitching perspective, the bullpen, the Achilles heal the past two years, was fixed and was to be stronger with Francisco Rodriguez than it ever was with Billy Wagner.

PELFREY: He took a step back.

PELFREY: He took a step back.


Offensively, Carlos Delgado was back hitting home runs and Daniel Murphy was to be the answer in left field. David Wright and Jose Reyes, the homegrown part of the core, were to get better. Carlos Beltran would simply produce as usual.

The Mets entered the season with a chip on their collective shoulders after Cole Hamel’s choke comments. Yes, this was to be a turnaround season for the Mets, and it was going to unfold in a brand new home.

It didn’t happen that way.

The seasons of Maine, Pelfrey and Oliver Perez were a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, and injury also caused the unraveling of the bullpen. Bobby Parnell was good and bad in a variety of roles, and it remains to be seen whether his psyche is a permanent casualty. Rodriguez was not as good as advertised, and those who accepted his signing with caution were unfortunately rewarded in perhaps being right. We do not know how healthy he is and who doesn’t anticipate unsettling offseason news?

Of all the injuries, losing Reyes was the most harmful as it took away the team’s offensive catalyst. What should have been a few days on the bench turned into a lost season. It’s still not over for Reyes as he faces surgery and an uncertain recovery program.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.


Beltran and Delgado were lost for large chunks of time, as was Wright’s power stroke in a frustrating twist. Wright was never with us mechanically this season from a run production standpoint, but somehow he managed to hit over .300. He also managed to strike out over 130 times. He faces a long road in trying to become the player he once was. As far as Delgado is concerned, well, we’ll never see him in a Met uniform again.

Unless the Mets hit five home runs today, they will be the only team in the major leagues to hit less than 100 homers this season. And, about those fundamentals that was supposed to keep the team afloat? We didn’t see them and that is a reflection on Manuel.

There have been several crushing defeats this season, with the first being Murphy’s dropped fly ball in Florida that cost Johan Santana a game. It also represented the failure of Murphy as an outfielder. Only after Delgado was injured did Murphy find a defensive home, and even then he was tenuous.

There were others.

Luis Castillo’s return as a productive offensive player was tempered by his poor defense, with the dropped pop-fly at Yankee Stadium the signature loss to this season.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.


The Mets also lost a game on Sean Green’s wild pitch in Philadelphia, a sign the bullpen wasn’t quite fixed. There was also the game in which they blew a five-run lead to Pittsburgh and Rodriguez’s disastrous five-run ninth at Washington. Rodriguez blew seven save opportunities, but was forever pitching on the edge. For good measure, twice in one week the Mets lost games on late-inning grand slams.

No, the bullpen is not fixed.

However, to me, the game that summed up the wreck that was the Summer of 2009 was Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in Los Angeles. Physical errors happen. But, this was a mental thing. Stepping on a base is as simple and fundamental thing a player can do in the sport and the Mets couldn’t even do that right.

All that misery comes to an end this afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets will try to end their season with a sweep with a win. A win in each of the last season finales could have meant October fun. If they get it today, it will be hollow as winter will still come.