Oct 11

With Mets Out, Who Do You Root For?

With the Mets hibernating for the winter, who do you root for in the playoffs? When covering a game or team, I try to be very analytical. But when watching a game where I don’t have a reporting interest, I find myself taking sides. I’ll find a storyline, or a player, or something that makes me pull for one team over another.

What about these playoffs?

Well, two teams – Boston and Texas – are done. Just as well. There’s nothing really compelling about the Rangers, and the Red Sox, frankly, have are boring at times. When they were losing every year, they were the frustrated losers you felt sorry for. However, after winning three World Series, their fans have become insufferable, like they have a sense of entitlement. What other teams does that remind you of?

Let’s look at the field and find that nugget:

Giants: Yes, they’ve won three World Series since 2010, more than most teams have won in a lifetime. The Mets have won only two. But, it is how they play that is attractive. If you were up to 3 in the morning watching Game 3 of their NLDS with the Cubs. They aren’t star based – outside of workhorse Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey – but play as a collective unit. They play baseball the right way, with an attention to fundamentals and hustle. My best friend is a Giants’ fan and I like watching the games with him. They have won ten straight elimination games which is truly amazing. I would like them to send the Series back to Chicago, if for nothing else, to see the panic from Cubs fans.

Cubs: I know their story; they haven’t won the World Series since 1908. I get it, but it isn’t as if this group has been playing for nearly a century. After Steve Bartman, if is hard to empathize with their fan base. On the flip side, I do admire their organization for giving David Wright the third base bag last year after the NLCS. Very classy. But, it’s almost like a badge of honor in how their fan base takes defeat. Outside of Wrigley Field, where is their identity outside of losing. Actually, I think it would be a very cool thing for them not to win until 2018, which would be 110 years between titles.

Dodgers: I’m pulling for a Giants-Dodgers NLCS. That would be historic. That would be run. One of the greatest rivalries in sport highlighted in a Championship series. I’ve met Vin Scully, but he’s not calling the games anymore. Their arrive late-leave early fan base in annoying, but it’s Southern California. What can you do? The Dodgers have some great players to watch, like Clayton Kershaw. Would like to see him break his postseason funk. He’s going today. Of course, you could always root for Chase Utley.

Nationals: You can always root for Daniel Murphy, and I see nothing wrong with that. The Mets have had so many rivals through the years and the Nationals are the current team on their dislike radar. To me, there’s nothing compelling either way that would make me want to either cheer or boo them. Not even Bryce Harper.

Indians: I grew up an Indians fan and watched them struggle for years. This truly is a frustrated fan base. I have a good friend who works for the Indians, plus I have all those years going to that big, empty stadium. I still have the boxscore from the first game my dad took me to, plus that memory of he taking me and my brother out of school for Opening Day. I used to take a tape recorder and sit in the upper deck and do play-by-play.  Often I had an entire section to myself. Rocky Colavito, Sam McDowell, Ray Fosse, Sonny Siebert, Luis Tiant. Those were my guys. Plus, Cleveland Stadium had the world’s greatest mustard. Like the Giants, they also have a lot of players under the radar who play the right way. Credit Terry Francona. It’s good to see him back in the playoffs after he was unfairly run out of Boston.

Blue Jays: When I covered the Orioles and Yankees, Toronto was one of my favorite spots on the tour. Love that city. And, they are the only franchise I know that has their own song that they play during the seventh-inning stretch. The Canadian version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”  Nice fans, except for the moron who threw the beer can. How can any team sell beer in cans these days with the high jackass factor? The Blue Jays are a fun team to watch. Their World Series teams in 1992 and 1993 were underrated on the all-time greatness meter. This is a very good team with a lot of great players. Could either Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista be future Mets if Yoenis Cespedes leaves?

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Feb 03

Alderson Done Shopping

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said this afternoon the team is done shopping for the winter, but that doesn’t mean something won’t get done during spring training. Let’s hope so, because I’m not convinced the bullpen still doesn’t need some work.

Toward that end, Alderson’s decree means Tyler Clippard won’t be signed to a major league contract. Clippard wants a two-year deal.

For the Mets, a major league deal means someone must come off the 40-man roster. The acquisitions of left reliever Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes cost the Mets reliever Carlos Torres (cleared waivers and became a free agent) and Darrell Ceciliani (designated for assignment and traded to Toronto for cash).

“We just lost Ceciliani because we had to make a roster spot,” Alderson told ESPN.  “We’re at the point now where we have to balance what we might lose player-wise on the 40-man with what we might gain. … Giving a major league contract, you lose some flexibility – the ability to move people in and out. You almost make a commitment that I’m not sure we’re prepared to make right now with what’s on the market.”

For now, it is just as well the Mets are done. Like I said, it doesn’t mean things might not happen in spring training. As Opening Day gets closer and teams trim their rosters, there’s a new wave of free agents to hit the market. Who knows? If Clippard isn’t signed he might be available and willing to take one year.

Or, maybe there will be somebody better than Clippard.



Dec 17

All That’s Left For Dickey Deal Is Mets’ Fans Crying

All R.A. Dickey must do is turn his head and cough and he’ll be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s appropriate to Mets fans because they are the ones with the hernia from bearing the heavy weight of the promises the organization made them in recent years.

DICKEY: Going, going ... gone.

It is done and Dickey is gone after agreeing to a two-year, $25-million extension with the Blue Jays, which ironically is less than he sought from the Mets. If the Mets don’t feel a twinge of embarrassment in that they should.

Some of the money, along with his $5 million salary – when the Mets picked up the option they said they hoped to extend his contract – will be paid immediately of offset the tax difference between the United States and Canada. The exact dollar figure to be front-loaded is still being negotiated.

The Mets will receive catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, whose 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury, and Class A pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. The teams are also swapping catchers, Josh Thole and John Buck, to give Dickey his old batterymate.

Toronto is including an undisclosed amount of cash to help pay Buck’s $6 million salary, further indication the Mets’ financial problems are far from over.

So, the Mets are giving their Cy Young Award winner and one of their few 2012 positives for two prospects – one injured – which are nothing more than wishes in the wind. The Mets are gambling the prospects will make it, but don’t know for sure. Nobody does.

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Dec 16

Trade Awaits Extension For Dickey

My, that was an impressive showing this afternoon from the Giants. A complete meltdown, reminiscent in one game what we saw in the second half this summer from the Mets – a total zero.

The Mets did have something to cheer about in the second half, that being their soon-to-be former Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. What Mets fans hoped wouldn’t happen, but probably secretly knew would, is within hours of fruition.

No more than 72 hours to be exact, the negotiating window the Mets will give the Toronto Blue Jays to work out an extension. If Dickey accepts what he was willing to take from the Mets, that being two years and $26 million on top of the $5-million option for 2013, this will be a slam dunk.

But, Dickey wanted to stay in New York and was willing to give the Wilpons a home team discount as a thank you for giving him the opportunity to salvage his career. Dickey, of course, owes nothing to the Blue Jays. With the Mets obviously not wanting him, Dickey could accept what the Blue Jays offer to get this over with, or, with no incentive to make things easier for GM Sandy Alderson, he could just play hardball.

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Dec 15

Mets Nearing Trade With Toronto For Dickey

At least the Mets will have the good sense to deal R.A. Dickey to the American League, where he won’t have the chance to stick it to them several times a summer.

If the trade of Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays does happen, it will end one the most stubborn and stupid phases in franchise history, one where there have been numerous stubborn and stupid moments.

Numerous reports have Dickey, a project who turned into a Cy Young Award winner, on his way to the Blue Jays for a package that could include catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, so say good-bye soon to Josh Thole.

Talks appear to be serious, although they haven’t yet reached the stage where Dickey’s agent to talking to the Blue Jays about an extension or he’s being asked to take a physical.

Dickey underwent surgery after the season to repair an abdominal tear, an ailment that did not prevent him from winning 20 games.

The Texas Rangers were also in the hunt for Dickey, but apparently backed out because the Mets’ demands were too high.

The Mets exercised a $5 million option for 2013 on Dickey with the stated intent of working on an extension. On top of the $5 million option, Dickey wanted two more years for $26 million. Meanwhile, the Mets were offering two years at $20 million.

So, it boils down to the Mets losing one of their few bright spots on the field, plus one of their most popular players for just $6 million.

That’s chump change by today’s standards.

The Mets were peeved when Dickey used the club’s holiday party as a forum to express his displeasure at the pace of the negotiations.

Dickey said: “In the context of the market, you want what you think is fair. I feel like we’re asking for less than what’s fair because that’s how it’s been for me.

“There is a surprise sometimes when things don’t get done quickly and you already think you’re extending the olive branch. At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to. I don’t know those numbers. And, I try not to take it personally.’’

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