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.

Jun 21

Jason Bay Injury Could Benefit Mets

Nobody wants to see a player injured, and despite his lack of production I haven’t heard anybody say a negative thing about Jason Bay.

However, in the wake of his latest concussion, which could keep him out indefinitely, this could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to the Mets.

If Bay was hitting as they hoped, things would be different. However, this is a young team that is winning and developing a chemistry. They’ve stumbled at times, but find themselves over .500 heading into the Yankees’ series.

Having an unproductive Bay in the lineup, just puts a damper on things. And, at his salary they’ll play him and keep somebody more deserving on the bench (Kirk Nieuwenhuis?).

These Mets, with the mediocrity of the National League and wild card) has a chance to compete. And, should they not win, they have shown the mettle to remain competitive.

If Bay can’t earn his keep, then I’m for letting this team develop without him and continue to build.

Jun 21

Mets Sweep Orioles: Dillon Gee Shines

What, you expected three straight shutouts? Well, truth be told, as the game – and Dillon Gee – rolled on, so did I.

GEE: Terrific.

Gee was terrific, giving the Mets yet another strong start, and extended their scoreless streak to 29, until surrendering a homer in the eighth. The bullpen took over and didn’t exactly cruise over the finish line.

There was a bases loaded walk to force in a run, but even so, it was good to see Frank Francisco struggle and work himself out of trouble. Not all saves can be cruise jobs.

With the sweep, the Mets have now swept two and been swept twice in their last four series. Not the kind of consistency Terry Collins is looking for, I am sure.

The Yankees are up next, but I’m doubting a sweep this time. There’s a buzz at Citi Field and will be this weekend. Here’s the probables:

Jon Niese (4-3, 3.82 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.77) on Friday, followed by Chris Young (1-1, 3.06) against right-hander Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.32) on Saturday. Sunday is prime time with  R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00) going againt CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.55).