Jun 25

Mets Visit Charming Wrigley Field

The Mets will attempt to lick their wounds from losing two of three to the Yankees when they open a three-game series tonight at Wrigley Field, still a charm after all these years.

Built in 1912, the same year as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field remains a captivating place. It’s not an easy venue for a writer to work, but that’s our problem. It’s also not a comfortable place for players with small clubhouses and a cramped dugout.

For the visitors to get to the dugout, they must walk down a couple of flights of stairs and then weave their way through several halls (you could call them tunnels), the last two usually stank and wet.

But, the old time charm is what makes it worthwhile. The ivy on the brick walls, the rooftop seats across the street (a windfall for the building owners and the Cubs), the manually operated scoreboard in center field. All that takes us to a different time.

When you look past the center field bleachers you can see downtown Chicago. But, in that park you’ve escaped the hustle of today to a quieter, gentler time.

The seating for the fans is cramped and often obstructed, but Wrigley Field is still a tradition baseball and the Cubs are not willing to sacrifice. It’s been said in most years if you traded the Cubs roster for the White Sox roster there likely wouldn’t be a dramatic shift in attendance or fan support, because the real star is Wrigley Field.

(This year the Sox are significantly better, so that theory might not apply. But, we’re talking years when the teams have roughly the same record).

The fans are closer to the field than most parks (Fenway is the same), which generates a different feel and ambience. It’s like you’re a part of something. When a 10-year old can actually exchange a hello from a player during the game, that’s special.

In a concession to today’s economic realities of television advertising, the Cubs are playing more night games than ever. Although it has been decades since their last World Series appearance (they last came close in 2003 and would have made it had it not been for Steve Bartman), they have had playoff teams so it’s not an impossible concept.

Even without the luxury boxes other teams deem vital for their survival, the Cubs plod along. Once owned by the chewing gum company and later the syndicate that owns the Chicago Tribune, and now owned by the family trust of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the money is there to spend if they truly wanted.

They don’t jump into the deep end of the salary pool because the main attraction is an ancient stadium that is always filled, so what incentive do the Cubs have to spend more?

They build it and the people came, and they are still coming.

 

Jun 25

Mets Matters: Where’s Tim Byrdak?

For the second straight game, Mets manager did not go to lefty specialist Tim Byrdak against a left-handed hitter in Robinson Cano with the game on the line. I realize the Mets had only one lefty reliever at the time (today they brought up Justin Hampson).

BYRDAK: Not used when it counted.

It’s a nine-inning game, and where is it written the moment-of-decision must come in the ninth inning? It very well could have come down to the ninth inning without a lefty reliever, but I don’t want Miguel Batista to pitch to Robinson Cano.

The Mets have lost two straight games because they withheld using their left specialist. Hoping Terry Collins picks up on that.

Here’s more Mets notes:

* To make room on the roster for Hampson. the Mets designated for assignment Vinny Rottino. No comment from Rottino, but if you’re him and you know you’re the 25th man on the roster you couldn’t feel comfortable seeing the bullpen and knowing they needed to add.

* Frank Francisco’s strained left oblique landed him on the disabled list. I reiterate it is possible he was injured because he was overthrowing Friday night, perhaps to back up his “chickens” comments. Again, so stupid. Why antagonize a team like the Yankees who have the ability to pulverize you without any added incentive?

* Thank goodness the Mets got somebody to take that chicken off their hands. Now I can sleep nights.

* Dickey’s ERA rose to 2.31 after giving up five runs. He’s still a favorite to start the All-Star Game. Another candidate is Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. It is interesting to compare the two. Strasburg is the All-World talent with a golden future, while Dickey is the inspirational underdog.

ON DECK: Wrigley Field.

 

 

Jun 25

R.A. Dickey Not Sharp For Mets Against Yankees

Isn’t it always the way in projected pitching duels? They get thrust into the background. R.A. Dickey’s consecutive scoreless streak was snapped in he got a no-decision in a wild game.

When Dickey gave up that homer to NIck Swisher, I thought it was over, but the Mets weren’t deflated from being down by four runs and battled back. If ever there was a game that could take the air out of their balloon, last night was it.

They didn’t win and lost the the series, but they showed something positive which could pay off for them. Baseball is a funny game when it comes to riding emotions and the Mets’ are still high.

ON DECK: Mets Matters.

 

Jun 24

Mets Have Bullpen Issues; They should have used Tim Byrdak in the Seventh

Terry Collins said he didn’t go with Tim Byrdak in last night’s fateful seventh inning because he wanted to save him for later in the game. I suggested that earlier this morning, but I’m not buying that reasoning.

Oh, I understand it, but the game-on-the-line moment doesn’t always happen in the eighth or ninth innings. Sometimes, it is in the seventh. Had Byrdak been brought in and gotten Raul Ibanez, then maybe there’s not as issue later.

All games have turning points and key stats. Last night the bullpen headlined, but let’s not forget 1-for-14 with RISP. The Mets have been superb with two-out runs and lead the majors, but they didn’t have it last night.

Hell, one or two well-timed hits earlier and the bullpen never is brought into play.

Jun 24

Mets Matters: Frank Francisco Injured

Greetings. One of the things I’d like to try on a regular, if not daily basis, is a Mets’ oriented notebook. There’s so much going on that I don’t want to get by the boards.

* Frank Francisco has a tight left oblique, and Mets fans know what a puzzling and aggravating injury that can be. A player thinks he’s better, then makes a move and is on the DL. Francisco will likely be held out of tonight’s game. Francisco was injured Friday night and it kind of makes me wonder if he hurt himself trying to muscle up on his pitches. Francisco did get into some trouble ┬áin the end and I’m betting he did it by trying to overthrow.

* Tonight’s lineup hasn’t been posted, but I hope Daniel Murphy is in it. He’s struggled, especially against lefties, but I have a feeling about him.

* Ike Davis suffered from food poisoning the other day. Maybe that damn chicken gave him something. He should be available tonight against lefty CC Sabathia.

ON DECK: Bullpen issues.