Mar 06

Why Utley’s Suspension Was Dropped

Mets’ fans won’t be pleased with this, but Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension was dropped by Major League Baseball. Utley was suspended for his aggressive take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg.

Baseball’s policeman, Joe Torre, called the slide illegal for being a “rolling block” occurring away from the base. The suspension resulted from an outcry by Mets’ fans and New York media, and I believe was issued to avoid an ugly scene when the NLDS moved to Citi Field.

Utley appealed – as was his right – and didn’t play in the games in New York.

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

Here’s why I think the suspension was dropped:

* The umpire’s have discretion to eject a player if they deem it to be a dirty play and they did not.

* There was a take-out rule already in place dictating the runner must be able to reach the bag with his foot or hand and apparently the umpires believed this to be the case with Utley. (watch video)

* Replays showed Wilmer Flores‘ throw put Tejada in an awkward position, one in which he turned into Utley’s slide. This was not the runner’s fault.

* That Utley did not play in the two New York games could be viewed as a de facto suspension.

* Reaction among those in MLB is mixed between dirty and just aggressive. There was hardly a consensus in either position.

* MLB adopted a new rule on break-up slides.

When asked about the suspension Sunday, Tejada told reporters: “I don’t care really. I don’t care. I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. So I don’t care about what’s going to happen there or what’s the decision they take there.”

Said Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The most important thing is that the rule was changed.”

 

 

Feb 16

Tejada Should Move On From Utley Play

Ruben Tejada is already in Port St. Lucie, but his mind isn’t there. His mind is nearly 3,000 miles to the west, in particular Los Angeles. Specifically, he’s back on Dodger Stadium lying in the dirt near the second base bag where Chase Utley mangled his right leg on an ultra-aggressive take-out slide last October.

TEJADA: Should move on from Utley. (AP)

TEJADA: Should move on from Utley. (AP)

Not surprisingly, he’s in favor of a proposed rule change designed to protect middle infielders, and told The Post’s Kevin Kernan he’s hoping to get an apology from Utley.

“I know it’s part of the game, but not like that,” Tejada said. “I would never do that to another infielder. That is the position I play and I would never want to hurt another player that plays that position like that.

“It would have been different if some other position player, a corner infielder or an outfielder had done that to me, but he is a middle infielder, he should know better.”

Tejada said Utley reached out to him and sent a gift, but wouldn’t elaborate. I’m sure it wasn’t an autographed photo of the play. But, Utley didn’t send what Tejada really wants.

“I would like to hear an apology,” Tejada said.

He won’t get it, and should stop thinking about it. Tejada should concentrate on moving on and not going back to that play. The umpires have the discretion to eject a player for something they consider a “dirty” play, but did nothing against Utley.

Only after an outcry from Mets’ fans and media about the play, and with MLB wanting to avoid an ugly scene when the series moved back to Citi Field, was Ultey suspended for two games. He is waiting for his appeal, which is one reason there hasn’t been an apology. An apology is an admission of guilt and there’s no way Utley would do that prior to the appeal.

Personally, I’m not so sure it was a blatantly dirty play. The throw from shortstop Wilmer Flores put Tejada out of position to make a play and directly into Utley’s path. So many things went into that play to the point where we can’t assume intent on Utley hurting Tejada. Actually, I’m betting the suspension will be reduced to one game.

Utley’s intent was to break up the double play and keep the inning alive, which he did. Doing so enabled the Dodgers to win the game and stay alive in the NLDS.

Tejada’s focus should be getting himself ready to play. As of now, he already lost his starting job to Asdrubal Cabrera and will enter the season as a bench player. His career has deviated sharply from when he was groomed to be Jose Reyes‘ replacement. One can easily envision Tejada being an ex-Met after this season and no apology can prevent that from happening.

Tejada has other things to focus on instead of holding out for an apology that might not even be warranted.

Nov 04

Alderson Holds Court Before Fainting

Before GM Sandy Alderson passed out at the press conference today at Citi Field, he offered these nuggets:

* Said he anticipates the 2016 Opening Day payroll to exceed the $103 million it was this season. “We ended up higher than the $103 [million] because of the additions we made at the [trade] deadline,’’ Alderson said. “So my hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll – I don’t know exactly what that will be – than we started [at] last year. And we’ll have room at the deadline to make acquisitions, as we did this year.’’

The key addition was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit. Whether of not the Mets can retain the free-agent-to-be, Alderson said the trade was a success.

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

* Despite their glut in starting pitching, Alderson said the Mets were open to re-signing free-agent Bartolo Colon to a bullpen role.

At 42, Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 194 2/3 regular-season innings, but went to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ Alderson said. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

* Said the probability was small of trading one of their young starters – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz – for offensive help, despite the long odds of re-signing Cespedes.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

Even so, don’t forget the Mets agreed to a deal at the deadline what would have sent Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for outfield Carlos Gomez.

* Said the Mets were undecided as to whether they will extend a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy.

Alderson, as he frequently does, danced around the issue: “Take it out of the Murphy context. I think you have to start with whether you want the player back. If you decide the answer is yes, then it’s easy to make a qualifying offer.

“If you decide no, then you get to the question of, for gamesmanship purposes, whether making a qualifying offer is a good idea. Murph has been a great player for us over the years. He’s been a Met over his entire career. So we’re going to make that decision a little later this week.’’

Alderson fainted because he had not eaten breakfast and was dehydrated. He was examined by a Mets trainer and deemed all right.

 

 

Nov 02

Collins Falls On Sword For Harvey

There are plenty of fingers to he pointed in defeat, but the only thing I can blame Terry Collins for was not following his gut. He wanted to pull Matt Harvey; he wanted to give the ball to his snake bit closer Jeurys Familia with a clean inning.

“No way,’’ Harvey screamed at the manager who tried to protect him all year. And in defeat, Collins trusted him again.

“He said, `I want this game. I want it bad,’ ’’ Collins said. “I let my heart get in the way of my gut. … It was inexcusable.’’

HARVEY: ``No way.'' Yes, way. (Getty)

HARVEY: “No way.” Yes, way. (Getty)

If Collins stayed with his gut and the Mets bullpen blew it, he would have been vilified. If Collins pulled Harvey after the walk and the bullpen blew it then, he would have been roasted for that.

“If you’re going to send him out there for one hitter, you shouldn’t sent him out there at all,’’ Collins said.

But, it wasn’t just that decision. The Mets’ defense played poorly; the bullpen was always on shaky ground; and the offense, well, it didn’t exist. Four hits tonight were not going to get it done.

Collins accepted responsibility, but there were others to share blame.

In the end, nobody expected the Mets to get this far, and I’m talking about more than reaching the World Series. Entering the season, the goal was to get to .500. They lapped that expectation.

As the Royals celebrated in the middle of the infield and Citi Field grew quiet, the TV cameras focused on David Wright, who stared blankly to the field.

All I could think about was how empty he felt, and I hoped he would feel that way for a long time as it is a feeling to build on.

 

Nov 01

Toast Murphy Tonight; Don’t Boo Him

It should be wild tonight at Citi Field as we say good bye to the Mets for the season. No matter what happens, we won’t see the Mets at home again until next April. By definition, a great World Series needs to go seven and we aren’t there, yet.

Hopefully, we’ll have another couple of nights of watching them on television.

Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have won three straight before this season, and for that season to continue, they must do so again. However, before they can win three straight, they need to win one, and that’s Harvey.

MURPHY: Toast him; don't boo him. (Getty)

MURPHY: Toast him; don’t boo him. (Getty)

It’s fitting that perhaps the final game of the season should come down to Harvey, because in many ways, this whole year is about him. Will he be able to pitch? If so, how many innings will he pitch? He likes to portray himself as a Super Hero pitcher, but let’s face it, he has a long way to go before he can be thought of in that light.

His legacy has yet to be written, but a victory tonight would be a good chapter.

Daniel Murphy, however, is what he is, which is a hard working player who has enjoyed a storybook postseason until last night. He’s played four different positions out of necessity for the Mets, but his best is batter, and he even has limitations at that one.

It is believed the Mets will give him a qualifying offer this winter, but there are no guarantees. I want him back, but would not be surprised if the Mets pass on him. If their decision was based on last night that would be totally unfair, but baseball is not always fair.

So, if you’re at Citi Field tonight, don’t boo him because of last night. Instead drink a toast to his work ethic, personality and what he’s meant to the Mets, and us, over the last few years.

He deserves that.