Jun 23

Disappointed Gee Not Claimed

Part of my DNA is a penchant for rooting in most part for the underdog, which is why I was a little disappointed Dillon Gee cleared waivers and will be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Most likely there were no takers because there is $3.1 million remaining on his contract.

That’s also why there was no interest in the trade market. It is also why Gee did not refuse the assignment outright and declare free-agency.

I was hoping Gee would have hooked on with another team and pitched it into the playoffs, but that’s because he’s a good guy and I want good things to happen to good people. With little more than half a season remaining, most any other player would have done the same. Gee’s best option is to suck it up and pitch as well as he can in hope of attracting a team.

Hopefully, it won’t be the Mets because he won’t get a real chance here.

Jun 23

Playing The Blame Game With Mets’ Hitting

Once ten games over .500, the Mets are a team dangerously close to having an even ledger should they lose tonight to Milwaukee, a team they should have pushed around in Citi Field, but did not.

Eleven-game winning streaks are to be built on, not used as a safe haven to play mediocre ball. For a team unable to score runs, Jon Niese is not the guy you want on the mound tonight.

The Mets have blown two 1-0 starts from Matt Harvey and one from Jacob deGrom. They have lost 16 of their 35 games by two runs or less. Had they won half those games they would be 44-27, good for first in the NL East and with the second best record in baseball behind the computer-hacking St. Louis Cardinals.

Hitting coach Kevin Long is basically saying, “these things happen and we just have to break out of it.’’

If you think that’s an oversimplification, it is not.

There’s no help coming from the minors; they won’t trade any of their young starting pitching for a big bat; the pitchers they would trade, Dillon Gee, Niese and Bartolo Colon, nobody really wants, at least not now; and they don’t have any position players to deal.

You can blame the Wilpons for not opening their check book last winter, or you can blame Sandy Alderson for not doing anything significant in the offseason. You can certainly blame the hitters for not producing. You can also blame Terry Collins, because after all, blaming the manager always seems like the easy option.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but precious little hope right now.

Jun 22

Willie Randolph Deserved Better From Mets

It was nice to see the Yankees honor Willie Randolph, but it was also a reminder of how shabbily he was treated by the Mets during his short tenure as manager. Randolph’s lifetime 302-253 record is the third highest record among Mets’ managers, behind Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine.

RANDOLPH: Back stabbed in the end. (AP)

RANDOLPH: Back stabbed in the end. (AP)

The Mets were on the verge of becoming a National League power when they last made the playoffs in 2006. Their payroll was over $140 million, and this team could hit with a healthy David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.

Hitting was no problem, with the primary issues being the back end of the rotation and bullpen, which was exposed in 2007 when the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining. The Mets also coughed up the NL East on the final weekend in 2008.

The Mets’ pitching began to decline at this time because of injuries and ineffectiveness, and as the team started to lose Randolph found himself unfairly in the crosshairs in 2008. Johan Santana was injured; Mike Pelfrey failed to reach his potential; and Oliver Perez was a mess. In 2008, Randolph’s last season, the Mets used 24 pitchers.

Randolph’s tenure was also sabotaged by the front office, which made increasingly bad acquisitions, but worse spied on the manager as assistant general manager Tony Bernazard was a constant presence in the clubhouse. There were also reports Delgado, who was not a Randolph fan, ripped the manager to Jose Reyes.

So much was going on behind Randolph’s back and he was powerless. That he was fired shortly after midnight after a game in Anaheim – 3 in the morning in New York – was an inevitability.

Too bad, because the last time the Mets were formidable was under Randolph.

 

Jun 21

Happy Fathers Day My Friends

To those in my blogging family, I wish you all a very happy Father’s Day. You have the greatest job in the world and I hope for you all the best on this day and every day.

I was up late last night, tossing and turning and clicked on the television for a little company. I was not about to see a replay of the Mets lose again to Atlanta. I stumbled upon a channel and watched a couple of classic Westerns: The Rifleman and Bonanza. The common thread for these programs was a single man raising a family on his own in the harshness of the Old West.

Ben Cartwright had it better as a wealthy rancher with three strapping sons on the Ponderosa. It was a little more stressful on The Rifleman, where Lucas McCain lived with his young son on a small ranch in rural Kansas.

These programs were broadcast in the last 1950s and early 1960s, and our country’s culture has considerably changed since, including, unfortunately, the devaluation of the American male and father, in particular, by Hollywood.

There are countless stories about single mothers and that’s all good. There are also stories of little Susie having two mothers and not needing a father figure in her life. Fine, that’s the way Hollywood wants it, but Hollywood is not my moral compass.

Men in TV and movies are often portrayed as bumbling buffoons and idiots with no value to society outside of being a punchline. Archie Bunker was written as a bigot, but was a man who left high school to support his family, then went off to war, and finally settled down to raise a family of his own.

He didn’t like or respect his son-in-law, a prototypical liberal who valued everybody and everything except those holding traditional values. Yet, his daughter loved him so Archie let him stay under his roof and helped him through school. And, Archie held a job on the loading dock at the warehouse and then drove a cab to support his family.

Why? Because that’s what fathers did.

I grew up siding with Michael politically, but as I got older developed a respect and admiration for what Archie stood for. Despite Archie’s political and ethnic resentments, he was far more a man than Michael could ever hope to be.

My father was nondescript in a lot of ways in the sense of today’s media, but was a good and decent man who loved and provided for his family. He took me to countless games, including out of school to see the Indians on Opening Day. He took me to a Browns playoff game where we had standing room only tickets and stood in freezing weather. I got my love of baseball from him and he was my Little League coach.

I was pretty good in Little League, but in a testament to his sense of fair play, I didn’t always get to play the entire game, or even start them all, because his rule was everybody got to play.

He did countless things for his family for which I will always remain grateful. He wasn’t a fan of the Rolling Stones, but once took me to see a midnight movie of a Stones concert. How great is that?

I remember him trying in vain to teach me algebra and geometry, and later having “the talk.” As fathers and sons often do, we clashed, but could always talk about baseball and World War II history. When he died, I hope he knew I respected and loved him.

There are a lot of friends in my life who are fathers, including my brother, who is a great dad. I always wonder what kind of father I would have been, and because it is something that will never happen for me, it is a regret.

So Cheers to those in my world who are fathers. You are very lucky.