Oct 09

Are The Games Really Too Long?

As one of his last acts as baseball commissioner, Bud Selig wants to add “speeding up the game,’’ to his legacy.

A seven-member committee appointed by Selig to study the issue includes Mets GM Sandy Alderson, but no active players. MLB union director Tony Clark was designated to speak on behalf of the players.

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

After years of collaborative efforts between management and the players, it smacks of the early “bad old days’’ under Selig in which the owners acted unilaterally and strong-armed the players.

That led to bad blood and several work stoppages that included the sacking of the 1994 World Series. That too, in addition to the money MLB is making, is part of Selig’s legacy.

“It’s just important for us to have a say,’’ Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson told ESPN. “It doesn’t need to be all 750 of us. It’s just important to have three or four players who can say, ‘Hey, we’ve noticed this, and we feel this way.’ ’’

It is puzzling, and some might suggest hypocritical, that the sport without a clock is trying to speed up the pace of the game by forcing pitchers to work faster and hitters keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times.

During those lulls is when the players compose their thoughts and re-focus. Forcing the hitter back into the box or rushing the pitcher to throw could lead to mistakes and perhaps the outcome of the game.

At the best, they might shave three or four minutes off a game. Nobody has offered what else could be done in those four minutes.

The bottom line is if a game is played crisply and isn’t sloppy, nobody will complain about the length of the game. Who was complaining after the Giants-Nationals 18-inning playoff game?

Now, don’t go saying, “well, it’s the playoffs, it’s different.’’ It is different in one respect as there was no shortage of commercials between innings.

Unquestionably, the primary reason games might run long are the numerous commercial breaks between innings. However, don’t ask MLB to ask the networks for shorter commercials. If speeding up the game is that important, cut the commercial time. The networks demand the time so they can charge more and consequently pay the large rights fees.

No doubt some pitchers could stand to work faster as it would make them more efficient. I also grumbled at the likes of Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez who were excruciating if not painful to watch.

Part of the problem, management says, is the hitters take too many pitches. Isn’t that what Alderson wants his hitters to do? He’s been quoted numerous times as wanting his hitters to be more selective.

As for Joe Torre, his Yankee teams won four World Series in large part because of their ability to work the count and drive up the opposing pitcher’s pitch count. One of the most memorable moments of the 2000 Subway World Series was Paul O’Neill’s ninth-inning 10-pitch at-bat against Armando Benitez after falling behind 1-and-2 in the count.

That’s what those Yankee teams did. That’s what the Mets should do now. I’d much rather see Juan Lagares work the at-bat to eight pitches and draw a walk then swing at garbage and pop up.

Hey, if Ike Davis had bothered to learn that, he might still be with the Mets instead of wondering what happened to his career.

By its nature, baseball is an ebb-and-flow game, with lulls followed by bursts of action. When the hitter steps out, that’s when fathers and sons talk and bond. In the NBA and NFL, lulls are met with video clips and loud music. People don’t talk at those games.

Those conversations are how the game is passed from generation to generation, along with watching the playoffs on television, which is another topic.

This is another example that the caretakers of the game don’t understand their own product. Yes, there are games that last too long. If that’s the case and you are bored, turn the channel or get up and leave.

However, if the game is interesting, close and compelling, odds are you’ll use that time when the manager goes out to visit the pitcher to catch your breath.

Sep 27

It’s Clear Harvey Doesn’t Respect You Or Mets

Matt Harvey said respect is why he attended Derek Jeter’s last game in the Bronx. One thing for sure, Harvey doesn’t have respect for his teammates and Mets’ fans.

HARVEY: Disses Mets.

HARVEY: Disses Mets.

How could he, when he prefers to watch the Mets’ most hated rival instead of his own team? Who cares that the Mets were in Washington instead of Citi Field? That’s irrelevant. Had he wanted to be with his teammates, there’s no way they would have prevented him.

None.

Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams might have talked with them, but in the end both said they couldn’t have played for the rival Red Sox. It just wouldn’t feel right, they claimed.

Still, Harvey had no problem sitting right up front for the New York sports world to see. I’m not the only who was critical of Harvey’s decision, but Harvey doesn’t care what I think. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks.

The guarded reactions from GM Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins and several of his teammates, clearly indicated they were uncomfortable with what Harvey did.

For all of 12 major league victories, Harvey’s ego and sense of entitlement is out of control. Many have written Harvey will be out of here first chance he gets, likely signing with the Yankees.

Why wait?

It’s clear he doesn’t want to be here and even clearer that he couldn’t care less with what you feel or think. Why not bring him back for 2015, see how healthy he is, and then trade him?

It’s not as if he wants to be a Met.

Sep 25

Alderson: Swing And A Miss

Yesterday, I looked at GM Sandy Alderson’s best moves with the Mets. Today, I’ll examine some of his worst decisions, of which there have been more than a few.

Not every decision will work, but here are his swings-and-misses:

INACTIVITIY IN THE OFFSEASON AND TRADE DEADLINE: Several big names have come and gone without Alderson taking a whiff during his tenure. However, it must be remembered the decision not to spend big bucks came from the Wilpons. Quite simply, for the most part he was following instructions. Still, there have been several middle-tier free agents that might have helped such as Jason Marquis.

ALDERSON: Not everything went perfectly.

ALDERSON: Not everything went perfectly.

FAILURE TO BUILD BULLPEN: Alderson’s primary building objective since his arrival was to build a bullpen. It hasn’t worked out, although this year’s pen – if kept intact – has the potential to be good. They finally settled on a role for Jenrry Mejia and he’s developed into a quality closer.

Arguably, one of Alderson’s best pick-ups – and I should have mentioned this yesterday – is Carlos Torres. Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Rafael Montero and Josh Edgin comprise a quality core with a lot of potential. Still, it took up to three years for Alderson to get the bullpen going in the right direction.

THE OUTFIELD:  Remember when Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin were in the outfield? Players have come and gone but Alderson has never put together a good outfield. At least, for the next few years he’ll have Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson. But, there’s still a hole in left field.

CHRIS YOUNG: Paying $7.25 million for one year for a .200 hitter. Yes, that’s what he did. He was hoping to strike lightning in a bottle, but he could have taken that gamble for half that amount.

IKE DAVIS: Alderson tried the patience route far long with first baseman Ike Davis. Last season never should have happened.

JORDANY VALDESPIN: Alderson finally did the right thing, but Alderson should have cut ties with him last summer. You don’t let that kind of that distraction fester on a team trying to adapt a new culture.

NOT PUSHING THE ENVELOPE WITH THE INJURED: Matt Harvey and David Wright, to name two, were those who played while injured and subsequently missed the rest of the season. Particularly Wright has persisted and play through injuries.

 

Sep 23

It’s Official: Alderson And Collins To Return

The news many Mets fans didn’t want to hear – a three-year extension for GM Sandy Alderson and with it a new contract for manager Terry Collins – was announced this afternoon.

And, that’s a good thing.

“We are excited about the direction the team is headed and look forward to Sandy continuing his efforts to build the Mets into a postseason contender,’’ Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said in a conference call. “Sandy and his staff have built our minor league system into one of the best in baseball, and will continue to balance player development along with making key additions that will help us reach our goals.’’

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

The minor league system has been greatly improved with the drafting of Zach Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and trades for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. (Note: Matt Harvey was drafted in the Omar Minaya regime).

Alderson, hired after the 2010 season, is signed through 2017 while Collins’ option for 2015 was picked up. Alderson hired Collins at that time.

“Terry Collins has done an excellent job for us this season,’’ Alderson said. “The team has played hard throughout the year and this is a reflection of Terry’s energy and his passion for the game and for the Mets. We look forward to his leadership again next season.’’

Both were given “Get out of jail free’’ cards after the news Matt Harvey would miss the season. Despite that, a weak offense and myriad of other issues, the Mets are 76-80 this season after 156 games compared to 71-85 at the same time in 2013, an improvement of five games.

If they finish .500 by winning five of their remaining six games, it would be the first time in the Alderson-Collins tenure.

Just how could the Mets not bring them back, especially considering their mantra has been to make improvement?

There have been the usual grumblings of not spending – they had an $85-million payroll this season – but that’s better than the wasted money spent on the contracts for Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

Alderson rid the Mets’ of the clubhouse cancers Perez and Castillo; traded Carlos Beltran for Wheeler; and R.A. Dickey for Syndergaard and d’Arnaud.

On the downside, there were the free-agent signings of Chris Young ($7.25 million over one year); Frank Francisco (two years, $12 million) and right-hander Shaun Marcum (one year, $4 million plus incentives).

Nonetheless, despite not breaking the bank, Alderson has the Mets in better position than when he was hired.

Collins does make some head-scratching comments, such as suggesting New York isn’t that far from Washington, which only makes sense if your measuring stick is miles and not player talent.

The Mets surpassed Philadelphia and Miami in the NL East and enter tonight’s game tied with Atlanta for second.

Be honest, you would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if that were offered coming out of spring training. The Mets still have a lot of issues after this season, but they aren’t the hopeless mess they used to be, even with their murky financial picture.

 

Sep 23

Mets To Extend Alderson; Collins To Follow

The news many Mets’ don’t want to hear – a reported three-year extension for general manager Sandy Alderson – is expected to come down later this afternoon.

Not long after will come the anticipated return of manager Terry Collins.

ALDERSON: To be extended.

ALDERSON: To be extended.

After floundering much of the season between ten games under and five games over .500, the prevailing winds had many Mets’ fans howling for a change at the upper management.

Barring a complete collapse I never thought it would happen, and I still don’t.

Both were given “Get out of jail free’’ cards after the news Matt Harvey would miss the season. Despite that, a weak offense and myriad of other issues, the Mets are 76-80 this season after 156 games compared to 71-85 at the same time in 2013, an improvement of five games.

Just how could the Mets not bring them back, especially considering their mantra has been to make improvement?

Sure, there are grumblings about Alderson not spending – that’s ownership’s edict – and Collins’ in-game managing, but you can only do so much with limited resources.

For the most part, Alderson has the Mets in a better state than when he took over with potentially a strong core of starting pitching. Also for the most part, the Mets play hard for Collins.

I’m not always crazy about Alderson’s lack of aggressiveness in the free-agent market, and some of his decisions – particularly Chris Young and Frank Francisco in recent winters. However, I applaud him not being seduced by overpaying for the big fish.

Collins does make some head-scratching comments, such as suggesting New York isn’t that far from Washington, which only makes sense if your measuring stick is miles and not player talent.

The Mets have surpassed Philadelphia and Miami in the NL East and enter tonight’s game tied with Atlanta for second. Be honest, you would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if it was offered coming out of spring training.

The Mets still have a lot of issues after this season, but they aren’t the hopeless mess they used to be, even with their murky financial picture.