Jun 23

Mets Matters: Daniel Murphy Expected To Start Today

* After sitting last night against Andy Pettitte, Daniel Murphy is expected to start today against the Yankees’ Ivan Nova tonight. Depending how he does will determine if he’ll start tomorrow against CC Sabathia. Murphy has been in a tailspin for weeks, especially against left-handers. For awhile, Terry Collins stuck with him, but the Mets have been getting mileage from their bench. Last night Justin Turner delivered a two-run single off Pettitte in the first.

MURPHY: Should start tonight.

* Speaking of Turner, he’s been adept at delivering with two outs. He’s more than a serviceable player. What I’d like to see from him is to drop the tired act of a whipped cream pie to the face of a player being interviewed. Like the Gatorade bath, it has run its course. The who thing was designed as a way to haze rookies, but to smear RA Dickey after a one-hitter is ridiculous. It’s a Little League stunt.

* National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa said Dickey is in line to start the All-Star Game in Kansas City. One of the interesting things to look forward to at the Game will be the response to Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, who began his career with the Royals. He was welcomed last night and had good things to say about his career in Kansas City.

* The Mets had some fun with Frank Francisco regarding his Yankees’ “chickens” comments. A lot of it was sophomoric, but it does show a good and tight chemistry in that clubhouse. For a long time it has been a divided room, but that’s not the case this year.

* Chris Young, who is recovering from the same type of shoulder surgery as Johan Santana, will start tonight against Nova. Young has pitched well since returning to the rotation in what was Mike Pelfrey’s spot. If he just keeps giving the Mets five or six innings until he’s fully recovered they should be in good shape.

* Another strong inning for Bobby Parnell last night. He’s been consistent in his bridge role. Not to rush things, because we’ve been here before, but if he continues like this the closer role might eventually become his.

* Word is Jason Bay is making progress in his recovery from another concussion. There’s no need to rush him with the bench playing so well.

* Jon Niese pitched out of trouble in both the first and second innings last night, which was a key to the victory. So many times with the Mets – even after being staked to a lead- we’ve seen Niese and others give it right back to the Yankees.

Jun 23

Ike Davis Comes Up Big For Mets

Yes, I know, Frank Francisco got the save last night and backed up his boast, but not before getting into trouble. Fact is, he’ll blow a key save opportunity soon enough.

The biggest thing that came out of last night was Ike Davis’ homer in the first against lefty Andy Pettitte. I wrote earlier how that match up would be key in this series.

Davis delivered last night and that was the difference and supported Jon Niese. You have to give credit to Terry Collins for sticking with him when Davis was struggling.

Jun 22

What Was Frank Francisco Thinking?

What was Frank Francisco thinking when he called the Yankees chickens? Evidently, not too much.

Inciting the opposition makes no sense, and he wasn’t backing down this afternoon.

Francisco called the Yankees chronic complainers – MLB’s Miami Heat? – and laid into them again.

“I made a simple comment because, you know, they complain a lot — for every call, for everything,” Francisco said. “I thought it was funny. But I didn’t expect to make a big deal. Whatever.

“Now I’ve got to apologize to everybody. I mean the whole Yankee team. … No, I’m kidding. … I said what I said, and I’m not sorry. That’s what I think. I think they complain too much for everything. You guys haven’t watched the games? You guys don’t see it? Every game.”

No, it doesn’t make sense to aggravate the opposition, but you have to admire Francisco for not backing down and standing up to his comments.

Jun 22

Mets Against Yankees, Interleague As A Whole Ran Its Course

What does interleague play and Roger Clemens have in common?

Both were products of a time when baseball’s management was at war with its players. Management, and that includes commissioner Bud Selig, were so adamant against player salaries rising and free agency, that they were willing to kill the 1994 World Series.

When play stopped late in the summer of 1994 – the Yankees and Montreal Expos were the elite of each league – the gap was so wide that no resolution could be reached and Selig eventually killed the World Series.

It would continue to the spring of 1995 and Selig’s brain-dead proposal of replacement players. Several times the owners were found guilty of collusion and dealing in bad faith by the courts. But, those facts didn’t matter. Baseball was in another work stoppage and the public didn’t care about the wars between millionaires and billionaires, and was rightfully turned off.

Baseball, in dire need of getting back the public, and in turn the taxpayer support to continue building new stadiums across the country was desperate. With the tradition of the World Series already trashed, let’s go the whole route and kill the concept of the leagues, the foundation for nearly a century. That brought us the gimmick of interleague play.

From there, major league baseball and the commissioner stuck their heads in the sand when the balls started flying at record paces in 1998. The home run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated baseball fans, and even brought us the heart warming moment of McGwire embracing Roger Maris’ son the night he broke the single season home run record.

It was steroids that fueled McGwire and Sosa, and other sluggers as well. Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Gonzalez. There have even been whispers about Mike Piazza.

Only, when prying eyes of the media and Congress questioned the pinball scores in the major leagues were steroids seriously discussed. It also took a high school kid dying to fuel the investigations.

Of course, pitchers weren’t immune, and that brings us to Clemens. The sport knew something was going on, but as long as there wasn’t anything in the books, the balls kept flying and people kept filling the seats. MLB didn’t care because it was making back the millions in losses from the strike of 1994.

Interleague play was a gimmick that briefly sparked attendance in some parks, but has waned. During this last week of games, attendance was below its capacity everywhere. The only time this week capacity was reached was in Philadelphia, but that was for a National League game against the Rockies.

The Yankees didn’t sell out for the Mets, the White Sox didn’t sell out for the Cubs, and the Mets haven’t sold out this weekend. Things have run its course.

As for the steroids, that has run its course for several years. The gimmicks and fast fixes are being rejected.

Maybe the commissioner will notice.

 

 

Jun 22

Yankees Represent Challenge For Lucas Duda and Ike Davis

There are several things I’d like to see happen for the Mets this weekend. If recent history is any indicator, they will be swept by the Yankees. Trading sweeps is not a way to make the kind of progress Terry Collins needs.

We’ve seen it before with the Mets. They’d come into the Yankees’ series on a roll and get dumped on. And, at home, too. That needs to stop, and here’s what we need to see.

* With the Yankees throwing left handers Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda (tight hammy) need to have a good series. Raking would be nice, but don’t get stuffed. It is easy to envision them getting shut down, but their development requires standing in against tough lefties.

* The bullpen bridge to Frank Francisco must produce. And, the sometimes shaky closer needs to show his mettle. Of course, the best thing would be to get quality innings from the starters.

* The RA Dickey success is no fluke, but the Yankees have a way of cutting down hot pitchers a notch. A strong game on national TV Sunday night against Sabathia would be a great way to start a long road trip.

There are other things I’d like to see, but if the Mets produce the above three, it should be a successful weekend.

ON DECK: Interleague play.