Jul 04

Jon Niese: One Of The Untouchable Mets

Sometimes it is better to hold a pat hand, which is what the Mets have done with Jonathan Niese over the past few years. More than a few times we heard Niese’s name mentioned in a possible trade.

NIESE: Untouchable (AP)

Whom the Mets would have received in return would not have lifted them from their 2007-2011 funk. At least, not as much as Niese is lifting them now. He’s 7-3 after last night’s 11-1 rout of the Phillies.

The players the Mets might have received could have given them a temporary spark, but they were in need of a deep rebuilding with their pitching and that begins with a stud left-hander, and Niese certainly fits that mold.

Niese was dominant last night with all his pitches, working quickly and staying ahead in the count. Give him a few runs and he’s golden. Last night he had more than he needed.

Niese is a major reason why the Mets, if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs. There’s nobody that could have predicted. Nobody.

At one time the Mets were eight games over .500 and poised to go on a roll. Instead, they faltered and threatened to go below .500. However, this has been a resilient team – perhaps its best attribute and they are seven over with two more games against the Phillies and three against the Cubs. Ten over by the break is very possible.

The Mets are doing what they should be doing against the reeling Phillies, and that is to beat up on them. When facing a down team go for the throat. While they are hurting, the Phillies still have that strong rotation and Ryan Howard due back. The season is not over for them. Other teams have made up more ground in less time, so putting as much space between them is essential for the Mets.

 

Jun 26

Terry Collins Saw It Coming; Calls Mets “Flat”

Terry Collins has been around the block more than a few times. He can see things others can’t and yesterday sensed a lack of energy from the Mets. Getting into Chicago at 4 a.m., after their adrenalin-sapping series with the Yankees can do that to a team.

WOOD: Mows down Mets (AP)

Offensively, Ike Davis’ two-out homer in the ninth averted a shutout. They couldn’t touch Travis Wood. Defensively, David Wright committed a crucial error that opened the door to a four-run Cubs seventh.

There was nothing good about the night.

“We were a little flat,” Collins said. “They’re human beings and the adrenaline knock out for a while, and the fact that they got about probably five or six hours of sleep didn’t help either.”

It was only one game, but how the Mets respond the rest of the series will be important. Contending teams, which the Mets now consider themselves, must be able to beat up on losing teams and the Cubs are MLB’s worst, now 23 games under .500.

ON DECK: Parnell gets closer job … again.

 

Jun 25

Mets Visit Charming Wrigley Field

The Mets will attempt to lick their wounds from losing two of three to the Yankees when they open a three-game series tonight at Wrigley Field, still a charm after all these years.

Built in 1912, the same year as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field remains a captivating place. It’s not an easy venue for a writer to work, but that’s our problem. It’s also not a comfortable place for players with small clubhouses and a cramped dugout.

For the visitors to get to the dugout, they must walk down a couple of flights of stairs and then weave their way through several halls (you could call them tunnels), the last two usually stank and wet.

But, the old time charm is what makes it worthwhile. The ivy on the brick walls, the rooftop seats across the street (a windfall for the building owners and the Cubs), the manually operated scoreboard in center field. All that takes us to a different time.

When you look past the center field bleachers you can see downtown Chicago. But, in that park you’ve escaped the hustle of today to a quieter, gentler time.

The seating for the fans is cramped and often obstructed, but Wrigley Field is still a tradition baseball and the Cubs are not willing to sacrifice. It’s been said in most years if you traded the Cubs roster for the White Sox roster there likely wouldn’t be a dramatic shift in attendance or fan support, because the real star is Wrigley Field.

(This year the Sox are significantly better, so that theory might not apply. But, we’re talking years when the teams have roughly the same record).

The fans are closer to the field than most parks (Fenway is the same), which generates a different feel and ambience. It’s like you’re a part of something. When a 10-year old can actually exchange a hello from a player during the game, that’s special.

In a concession to today’s economic realities of television advertising, the Cubs are playing more night games than ever. Although it has been decades since their last World Series appearance (they last came close in 2003 and would have made it had it not been for Steve Bartman), they have had playoff teams so it’s not an impossible concept.

Even without the luxury boxes other teams deem vital for their survival, the Cubs plod along. Once owned by the chewing gum company and later the syndicate that owns the Chicago Tribune, and now owned by the family trust of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the money is there to spend if they truly wanted.

They don’t jump into the deep end of the salary pool because the main attraction is an ancient stadium that is always filled, so what incentive do the Cubs have to spend more?

They build it and the people came, and they are still coming.

 

Jan 03

Nationals reportedly in it for Fielder.

Depending on whom you read, the Nationals are either in it or don’t have an interest in Prince Fielder. I’m thinking they’ll make an offer, but only if they’ll give him an out clause similar to that the Yankees had in contracts with CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.

FIELDER: Prince goes to Washington?

The Nationals have worked well with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, who had the out in the Rodriguez deal. It would be a win-win for all.

For Fielder, it would be a chance to repeat the process and make more money. For the Nationals, if Fielder turns out to be a bust, isn’t in shape, or they aren’t winning, it would be a chance to walk away.

Let’s assume the Nationals get Fielder and he posts big numbers. That should offer protection for Jayson Werth and possibly put them in wild-card contention. Of course, it comes down to pitching, which is what we’ve said for years about the Mets.

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Sep 10

Today in Mets’ History: “Look who’s in first place.”

The scoreboard said it all: “Look who’s in first place.’’ From trailing Chicago by ten games on Aug. 13, the Mets made it all the way back, plus one, after a doubleheader sweep of the Montreal Expos, 3-2 in 12 innings in the opener and 7-1 in the second game, coupled with the Cubs losing to Philadelphia.

Jim McAndrew gave up two runs on four hits in 11 innings in the first game and Ken Boswell drove in the game-winner with a single in the 12th innings off Bill Stoneman.

It was all Nolan Ryan in the second game as he gave up a run on three hits.

Imagine that, three pitchers worked 21 innings that day for the Mets.

FIRST GAME

SECOND GAME