Oct 30

Were You Up Last Night?

Last night was the kind of game that if the casual observer were to tune in, they might get hooked on baseball. The same might be said of kids, that is if they were up at that hour.

Five-hour games are an aberration, and this isn’t about speeding up the pace. It’s about starting games at a reasonable hour. If a game starts at 8:30 p.m., it stands to reason the game will end close to, if not after, midnight.

Is this any way to cultivate the next generation of baseball fans, not to mention, ticket buyers?

Of course, that doesn’t seem to be on Commissioner Rob Manfred’s agenda, much like it wasn’t on Bud Selig’s. A commissioner’s obligation is to act in the best long-term interest of baseball, and this doesn’t necessarily mean the best short-term financial interest.

Baseball’s lifeblood is in its network television contracts, first FOX, followed by separate cable deals. The Division Series and League Championship Series were shown on FOX, FS1, TBS and its own MLB Network. None of these networks can draw the ratings that really brings in the advertising revenue.

That these games are traditionally shown at hours that virtually eliminate East Coast viewers after 11 p.m., but that’s all right because it gets the Pacific Coast from start to finish.

How MLB determines the first two hours on the West Coast are more valuable than 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the East Coast is beyond me.

What is most aggravating about MLB’s network alliances is how baseball has given the television networks carte blanche to schedule games as it wants with no regard to the public or to the sport. What MLB mostly means to the networks is a vehicle to promote its primetime schedule.

MLB is letting its product get shortchanged just for the money. It’s why World Series games are no longer telecast during the day. It has been that way for decades and doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

Quite simply, it is because FOX doesn’t want to bump its football coverage, both college and pro. The networks value football over baseball, but as long as baseball gets its money it doesn’t care being second best.

Is that any way to market a sport, or anything else, by accepting being No. 2?

 

Feb 20

Yanks’ Betances-Levine Feud Has Mets’ Remifications

I preface this with an apology for not posting recently. Many of you know I was severely injured in an accident several years ago and have had mobility problems since, including having to teach myself how to walk again. I had back surgery at the end of last week and haven’t posted the past few days because of sleeping most of the weekend. It’s one of those things I’ll have to deal with.

REED:  Don't limit him. (AP)

REED: Don’t limit him. (AP)

However, I have kept tabs on our team and MLB, and something occurred over the weekend I find pertinent to the Mets. That was Yankees president Randy Levine’s touchdown spike after the Dellin Betances arbitration hearing.

The two were $2 million apart and why they couldn’t meet in the middle is beyond me. It does illustrate how the Mets are better than most in handling the arbitration process. Rarely do the Mets engage in the spitting contest of a hearing where the player has to listen to the team trash him, then expects him to play as if nothing happened.

Levine said Betances couldn’t get closer-like bucks because he isn’t a closer, and he won’t get many opportunities this year because the Yankees have Aroldis Chapman. So, how does this impact the Mets?

While awaiting news on Jeurys Familia‘s suspension, the Mets don’t appear concerned because they have Addison Reed. But, if the Mets were paying attention to last year’s playoffs, they should recall Andrew Miller and how the Indians used him during game-in-the-balance moments that weren’t in the ninth inning.

Too often, the pivotal moment of a game is in the seventh or eighth inning, which is when Cleveland went with Miller. Since Reed is presumably the Mets’ best reliever, why can’t they use him in that situation instead of waiting until the ninth, when more often than not he’ll enter into a clean game to get three outs?

What’s wrong with using Reed when they really need him, instead of watching Hansel Robles kick away the game?

Baseball is held hostage by such statistics as saves and righty-lefty match-ups rather than letting players just play. For a recent reminder consider Miller and Daniel Murphy. For a long time the Mets didn’t want Murphy bat against left-handers. However, the Washington Nationals had no problem letting him bat against lefties.

There’s just too much over thinking in baseball and I’m afraid the Mets will fall into that trap with Reed until Familia returns.

 

 

 

Sep 19

Syndergaard Spits Bit; Owns Responsibility

Let’s put the brakes on this conversation about the Mets having a cupcake schedule, and while we’re at it, Noah Syndergaard being a Cy Young Award candidate. All games are vital at this point, and the last thing the Mets need is for their best pitcher to respond as poorly as Syndergaard did Monday night in a game they had to win – and with him getting an extra day of rest.

SYNDERGAARD: Doesn't have it. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Doesn’t have it. (AP)

“It stings a little bit,” said a dejected Syndergaard. “These last two weeks, every win is critical. It’s a disappointment. I didn’t go out there and get my job done.”

I love that. No excuses. Pointing a finger only at himself.

Syndergaard asked for the day and produced the third-shortest start of his career, giving up five runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings in the 7-3 loss to Atlanta. You knew Syndergaard and the Mets were in trouble with his 35-pitch second inning. He encored that with 29 more in the third. Syndergaard finished with 99, of which 26 were foul balls.

“I lost control of my fastball and couldn’t get my slider over,” said Syndergaard. “Baseball is s funny game. Once you think you have it figured out, it knocks you down.”

After a rough stretch in midseason where his pitch count mounted, Syndergaard had been very good over the past month, giving up four runs in his previous five starts and going 4-1 in his last five decisions.

His location had been better, as was his slider. He was pitching the way an ace is supposed to pitch.

“He’s our guy,” manager Terry Collins said. “Certainly [Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman] have stepped up and done a great job, but you’re going to go into the playoffs looking at Noah Syndergaard as the guy. If there’s a big game to be pitched, he’s the guy you’re going to turn to.”

Syndergaard is lined up to start the wild-card game, as is San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw and St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez. At this point, all might be slotted ahead of Syndergaard as a Cy Young favorite.

We saw all the foul balls again tonight, an indication he didn’t have sharp movement on his pitches and couldn’t put away hitters.

Collins said Syndergaard was throwing in the high 90s, but again, velocity isn’t nearly as important and movement and location. And, no, nothing was bothering him physically.That wasn’t the case,” Collins said. “He wasn’t making any pitches.”

“That wasn’t the case,” Collins said. “He wasn’t making any pitches.”

With the way the schedule pans out, Syndergaard will get two more starts. He can’t afford to let one more get away.

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May 06

Today In Mets’ History: Happy Birthday Willie Mays

In 1969, the 100th Anniversary of Baseball, Joe DiMaggio was voted the game’s greatest player. That was wrong then and certainly was for the next 30 years of DiMaggio’s career. The voters slighted Mays.

You could make valid arguments for Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron. You might also lobby on behalf of Willie Mays, who on this day in 1931 was born in Westfield, Ala.

My vote goes to Babe Ruth as the greatest player in history, with Mays second. In addition to his prodigious power and five tools, Mays will always be remembered for his catch in the 1954 World Series (video) against Cleveland.

Mays’ professional career began in 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. His major league in 1951, the year DiMaggio retired. They faced each other in the World Series that season.

Mays is first, and foremost, a Giant. He became a Met in 1972 when he was traded for Charlie Williams (perhaps the ultimate trivia question answer) and $50,000 in cash. The driving force behind the trade was, of course, money.

MAYS: Not the best memory. (AP)

MAYS: Not the best memory. (AP)

Giants owner Horace Stoneham, who moved the Giants to San Francisco, was operating a team hemorrhaging money. Mays was nearing retirement and the Giants could not guarantee a job when he stopped playing. The Mets could and brought the icon back to New York.

/a>Mays played a year-and-a-half with the Mets, appearing in only 133 games, but played in the 1973 World Series, in which in went 2-for-7, but is best remembered for falling down in the outfield and his plea after being called out at the plate.

Mays looked like he was playing hurt, and later said, “growing old is a helpless hurt.’’

Mays’ last at-bat was grounding into a force play in Game 3. He retired after the season with a career .302 average with 660 home runs. He appeared in a record 24 All-Star Games. He was a 12-time Gold Glover and three-time MVP.

Mays was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year of his eligibility, but amazingly didn’t appear on 23 ballots.

Dec 08

Hodges Falls Short Of Hall Again

What you and I both expected came to fruition when Gil Hodges was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee; in fact, no players from the Golden Era were elected.

An eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Hodges was instrumental in leading the Dodgers to seven NL pennants and two World Series titles.

To Mets’ fans, he’ll always be the recalled as the manager who guided the team to the 1969 World Series championship.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough for the voters. Damn.