Mar 28

Traditions keep slip sliding away

One by one the traditions of the sport fade and disappear. Some, like all day games, travel by train and fielders leaving their gloves in the field after each inning naturally became outdated and obsolete, and no longer create a sense of longing.

Others, such as interleague play, day baseball during the World Series, alignment  and the designated hitter can still strike a chord and to some remain hot-button issues.

I was reminded today of another of baseball’s passing traditions, and that is Opening Day. The first game of the season was always played in Cincinnati, then Washington. That’s the way it was for decades. I’ll always remember the President of the United States throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

For one day each spring, the sporting world belonged to baseball and Opening Day. The NCAA Tournament had passed and the NFL draft was weeks away. The NBA and NHL were playing out there seasons, but for one day in early April it was nothing but baseball.

The sport was center stage with no competition.

However, Major League Baseball, in its marketing greed has given that away. Now, the real opening day belongs to the NFL, with a Thursday night national game and the rest of the schedule on Sunday.

Not so baseball anymore. It gave up its spot on center stage when it opted to open in late March with games in Japan. I don’t care if a team wants to go over there during spring training, or even play a series during the season, but Opening Day?

After your fans have been waiting all winter for the renewal of the new season, the first games are played half-way across the world. Even more ridiculous, is that regular season games are played the same time spring training games are still in session.

Why doesn’t Major League Baseball reclaim center stage by making Opening Day on the Tuesday after the NCAA title game, or perhaps the Sunday after the Final Four. And, play the games in the United States.

Baseball still claims itself our national pasttime, but it makes for a weak argument when it plays Opening Day on the other side of the ocean.

 

Jan 04

Mets face difficult start.

It won’t take long to figure out the 2012 Mets.

The team entering spring training without expectations – at least positive ones – face a difficult schedule despite 13 games at Citi Field and ten on the road. That includes everybody in their division, so we’ll have an idea of how they’ll stack up against the NL East.

I looked at their schedule this afternoon and if things play out as expected, they could be done before the weather gets warm. It isn’t hard to imagine interest in the baseball season being done in Flushing before the kids are done with school.

They open with a pair of three-game series at home against the Braves, who always give them a hard time, and the new-and-improved Washington Nationals (80-81 last year), who are talking with Prince Fielder.

Then they have consecutive three-game series at Philly and Atlanta before coming home for four games against San Francisco and three with Miami.

The Nationals and Marlins were sub-.500 last season, but both played the Mets tough and are expected to be better this year, perhaps to the point of wild-card contention.

They close out the month with three at Colorado and one in Houston, places where they have struggled.

Following two more at Houston, the Mets play Arizona, at Philadelphia and Miami, and home to Milwaukee and Cincinnati before May 18.

Think there’s a chance they could be ten games under or more by then? You bet.

It is not productive for a team to look too far ahead, but with all that’s going on with the Mets, it isn’t hard.

Nov 23

2011 Player Review: Justin Turner

JUSTIN TURNER

THE SKINNY: With second base a black hole last season when Brad Emaus didn’t make it and Daniel Murphy was hurt, Turner played more than anticipated. His playing time also increased when Jose Reyes twice went on the disabled list and Tejada played shortstop.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: In the minor leagues, where he had been since 2006 with the Cincinnati and Baltimore organizations. The Mets would keep an eye on him because of his ability to play multiple positions (second, third and shortstop).

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Turner quickly got his opportunity with the Mets and made the most of it with his hustle, timely hitting and defensive versatility. However, just because Turner can play multiple positions doesn’t mean he can play them all well as 12 errors indicates.

JOHN’S TAKE: Murphy is the better hitter and should get the first chance at second base, assuming Reyes leaves and Tejada takes over shortstop. The Mets will need bench players and it is better to stay with Turner than take somebody else’s reject off the waiver wire this winter.

JOE’S TAKE: Ultimately I don’t see Justin Turner as an everyday player. With sporadic playing time Turner was a hitting machine at the plate. He had a drive and intensity that almost made him an intimidating presence at the plate, and his focus and approach at the plate were spot on. But when he got regular playing time the results suffered which was a shame. I’ll tell you one thing though about this kid, there’s no Mets player including David Wright, that I’d want up at the plate with runners on base. Turner may be the best situational hitter on the team, and his presence on the bench is a big plus for the Mets.

Sep 14

Mets’ 2012 schedule

It’s always fun to look at next year’s schedule, especially with this one all but gone.

The Mets open at home against Atlanta and Washington.

Their interleague opponents are Toronto (on the road in May, which seems odd), the Yankees (first at the Stadium in June then at Citi Field in July), at Tampa Bay and home to Baltimore.

Playing Toronto in May is awkward, as is having two road series to Philadelphia by May 10. Also quirky is a Cubs-Dodgers road trip in June, and three series against the Marlins the last month of the season (and first three days of October).

 

METS 2012 SCHEDULE

April

5, 7, 8 vs. Atlanta

9, 10, 11 vs. Washington

13, 14, 15 at Philadelphia

16, 17, 18 at Atlanta

20, 21, 22, 23 vs. San Francisco

24, 25, 26 vs. Florida

27, 28, 29 at Colorado

30 at Houston

May

1, 2 at Houston

4, 5, 6 vs. Arizona

7, 8, 9 at Philadelphia

11, 12, 13 at Florida

14, 15 vs. Milwaukee

16, 17 vs. Cincinnati

18, 19, 20 at Toronto

21, 22, 23 at Pittsburgh

24, 25, 26, 27 vs. San Diego

28, 29, 30 vs. Philadelphia

June

1, 2, 3, 4 vs. St. Louis

5, 6, 7, at Washington

8, 9, 10 at Yankees

12, 13, 14 at Tampa Bay

15, 16, 17 vs. Cincinnati

18, 19, 20 vs. Baltimore

22, 23, 24 vs. Yankees

25, 26, 27 at Chicago (NL)

28, 29, 30 at Los Angeles (NL)

July

1 at Los Angeles (NL)

3, 4, 5 vs. Philadelphia

6, 7, 8 vs. Chicago (NL)

13, 14, 15 at Atlanta

17, 18, 19 at Washington

20, 21, 22 vs. Los Angeles (NL)

23, 24, 25 vs. Washington

26, 27, 28, 29 at Arizona

30, 31 at San Francisco

August

1, 2 at San Francisco

3, 4, 5 at San Diego

7, 8, 9 vs. Florida

10, 11, 12 vs. Atlanta

14, 15, 16 at Cincinnati

17, 18, 19 at Washington

20, 21, 22,23 vs. Colorado

24, 25, 26 vs. Houston

28, 29, 30 at Philadelphia

31 at Florida

September

1, 2 at Florida

3, 4, 5 at St. Louis

7, 8, 9 vs. Atlanta

10, 11, 12 vs. Washington

14, 15, 16 at Milwaukee

17, 18, 19 vs. Philadelphia

21, 22, 23 vs. Florida

24, 25, 26, 27 vs. Pittsburgh

28, 29, 30 at Atlanta

October

1, 2, 3 at Florida