Sep 28

Dickey Relates To Fans The Way Few Have

It is in part because of his tell-all book that revealed both his flaws and his character. It is in part because of the road he has traveled – full of potholes – to get to 20 wins. It is in part because of his exuberance. It is in part because of his honesty.

Maybe, above hall it was the way he hustled down the line after hitting that dribbler down the line – against his manager’s orders. That’s the competitor in R.A. Dickey and why he’s related this year to Mets fans the way few have.

As he came to the plate that final time, the crowd responded by chanting his name. Dickey heard it and it moved him.

“I would hear this kind of growing surge,” he said. “And it was really neat. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that before, and maybe I never will again.”

Neat? Who but a kid at heart would say that? That relates to us on so many levels, greatest of all is the thrill of playing the game we’ve all played in our youth and dreamed of playing at the highest level and hearing in our imagination the chants Dickey heard.

It was why he swung.

“How can you not be motivated to go out there and give the fans and your teammates and yourself all that you have?” Dickey asked.

Dickey said he was gassed after six innings, but at Collins urging – who told him ride with the moment – that he kept going.

“I wanted to give them that gift,” Dickey said of the fans and why he staying in the game.

He wanted to give us a gift? What athlete has said that lately?

The Mets asked him and David Wright to record thank-you messages to the fans. They represent the heart and soul of the Mets and relate to us in a special way.

It is fitting Wright reached the club’s career hit milestone and Dickey won 20 games in this final homestand before the coldness of winter and the snows bury Citi Field and another poor season.

I wrote yesterday how it would have been good theatre for the Mets to announce extensions for them both prior to the finale. It would have generated an incredible buzz and sense of optimism for the future.

After this homestand, and seeing how the fans related to Wright Wednesday and Dickey yesterday, it is now imperative the Mets find a way to sign them both this winter and not drag this out into next season the way they did Jose Reyes.

Don’t play with the heart and soul of your team.

 

Sep 25

What If David Wright Doesn’t Want To Stay?

I keep hearing, “Will the Mets re-sign David Wright?” and “What will it take to keep David Wright?” and “How can the Mets not afford to bring back David Wright?”

All very good, pointed and legitimate questions. Here’s some more: “What if David Wright wants to leave?” and “What’s keeping David Wright tied to the Mets?”

Unquestionably, Wright is the face of this franchise, he’s the most popular, he’s their best player. And, he’s still young enough where the team can build around him. But, what if Wright doesn’t want them to build around him anymore?

Seriously. Mull that over for a moment.

Jose Reyes is gone and so is Carlos Beltran, the latter whom is having a great season. Those were the position-player building blocks the team had around Wright. They are gone and if published reports are to be believed, might Ike Davis be next? Afterall, outside of their young pitching Davis figures to bring back the most in return.

Sandy Alderson has already said not to expect a winter spending spree, so realistically, the 2013 Mets will be vastly similar to this year’s second-half collapse model, with the hope being improvement from within, notably a strong first full season from Matt Harvey. Even so, the Mets are probably two or three years away from serious playoff contention.

Wright will be 33 in three years and perhaps nine years removed from his last playoff appearance (2006). Don’t you think he might be tired of being pitched around, losing and making public relations appearances for a team not going anywhere?

By that time, if not traded or having left as free agents, what will the 2015 Mets look like?

Just last week Wright said there are no moral victories and it is all about making the playoffs. At the same time, R.A. Dickey said “you’re kidding yourself if you think we’re more than one piece away.”

Wright said he wants to remain a Met, but hasn’t said he can’t say he’ll stay a Met regardless. He’d be crazy to say such a thing because it would limit his bargaining power. As it is, Wright won’t come close to hitting 30 homers, a milestone he’s reached several times, most recently in 2008. It has been part injuries, part Citi Field, part being pitched around and part bad habits that have led to Wright’s drop in power.

Wright has an option for next season which the team will undoubtedly pick us as to not risk heading into the ticket-selling offseason without their key player. If the Mets fail to sign him to an extension and then aren’t able to trade him as they didn’t Reyes, Wright will be a free agent and his phone will ring.

And, if the Mets don’t add some pieces around him soon, he’ll listen. He’d be a fool not to.

 

 

Sep 23

Mets Matters: Dickey Closing In On 20

I root for good story lines and people, and that’s R.A. Dickey. I was hoping Terry Collins would let him finish but he was gassed. Winning 20 games has become almost obsolete these days, but Dickey has a chance.
Winning 20 indicates perseverance, talent and a little bit of luck, too. To accomplish it on a team that could almost finish 20 games below .500 makes it even more remarkable.
Switching his turn this weekend will give him a chance to do it at home Thursday in the Citi Field finale. If he does it, that’s a positive send off for the winter.
More Mets Matters:
* Lucas Duda was pulled for not hustling on a pop-up in Friday night’s game, less than 24 hours after Collins intimated the Mets had quit. It was apparent Duda didn’t get the message, so good for Collins to put his foot down.
These guys, even the young ones such as Duda get paid a lot of money to play a game. There’s never any excuse for not hustling. I don’t know how many times a Met failed to hustle this season. Duda certainly wasn’t the first. Ruben Tejada has done it several times, I know. But, for the remainder of this season and next year, Collins must have a kick ass attitude when it comes to not hustling and botching fundamentals.
That’s the only way the culture will change.
* Closer Frank Francisco has elbow tendinitis but is available. Why not shut him down for the rest of the season and do some experimenting the final week? It’s not as if Francisco is going to show us something we don’t already know.
* Jason Bay homered yesterday. Collins said his power and bat speed are still there and they’ll continue to search for answers. It’s been three years and the Mets have gotten nothing from Bay for the $66 million they are paying him. If the Mets are to start fresh next season, releasing him if he has a poor spring training is the best way to go. I like Bay’s hustle and defense, but he’s got to hit.

Sep 21

Terry Collins Throws Mets Under Bus; Himself, Too.

Terry Collins wouldn’t come out and say it, but his clipped answers to pointed questions strongly suggest he believes his team has quit.

As he said several times during the Mets’ second-half collapse, “it’s all about perception.’’

After being blown out 16-1 by the Phillies before published estimates of around 1,000 fans at Citi Field, an exasperated and visibly upset Collins gave short, terse answers to the questions everybody who bothered to watch were asking: Do you think your team has quit?

There’s no more biting question to ask a major league manager.

Collins gave his team the benefit of doubt after more than a few dismal performances this summer. Not last night. Last night, with his words and their tone, Collins threw his team under the bus, and deservedly so.

Asked if the Mets quit, Collins said: “You’ll have to ask them. I have my own opinion. I’m not going to express it publicly.’’

He might as well have screamed “YES.’’

In addition to the score, Collins said, “I saw some things tonight that were unacceptable.’’

When asked to specify, Collins refused, and when pressed if he thought his players were embarrassed, he abruptly said: “You have to ask them. I’m not inside their heads.’’

Normally, when a coach or manager says such a thing, the first reaction is how can he not know what his team is thinking? Doesn’t he have the pulse of this team?

Collins does, but didn’t want to attach his name to the actual quotes. Maybe he thinks by doing so he won’t be able to work with them next year. At least, with those who will be left.

Or, maybe he wouldn’t say they quit because by doing so would be a reflection on him. After all, when a team quits, it means the manager lost the clubhouse. That’s the perception Collins wants to mask.

The Mets have gone 16 straight games having scored three or fewer runs at home. One would think they’d score four by accident. If they didn’t quit, then they are playing uninspired, listless baseball. Collins said letdowns are to be expected, but this is more than a letdown.

“We’ve had a huge letdown in the second half,’’ Collins said. “People paid money to see us tonight. Our fans, not that we wouldn’t have lost 16-1, but not the way we lost. This is the big leagues.

“It’s all about perception. And the perception is tonight after we’re down 8-0 the game was over. No disrespect to Tyler Cloyd. None whatsoever. But three hits? Please. We’re better than that.’’

Well, not lately.

David Wright and Ike Davis refuted the notion the players quit. Both spoke in cliché, saying this is their job and the players work hard in preparation.

Neither was convincing. The only thing convincing about last night were all the empty seats.

Sep 12

Have The Mets Quit?

I always try to look for something when I watch the Mets and last night it was R.A. Dickey. But, let’s be frank, there’s nothing compelling about them right now.

DICKEY: Four more starts.

Terry Collins has often spoken of accountability, fundamentals and playing the game the right way. I can’t see that anywhere in the second half. The Mets have gone 12 straight games at home without scoring more than three runs and have lost 21 of their last 25 at Citi Field. That’s almost impossible to do.

It makes me wonder if they’ve quit on Collins and themselves. When a team packs it in it shows up on offense because players start swinging at garbage – as if to get it over with – and give away at-bats. Bernie Williams said you can’t afford to take a pitch off, let alone a play or an at-bat. Winning entails total concentration and you don’t see that with the Mets.

When they cut it to seven games below .500, silly me, I thought they had a chance to play for something. But, they’ve lost five straight. Meanwhile, the Phillies, who have been behind the Mets in the standings for a good part of the season and were sellers at the trade deadline have reached .500 and are still in the wild-card hunt. That says a lot about them.

The Mets are again closing in on the basement, and with games remaining against Miami and teams with something to play for, how can they not land there?