Sep 26

Three Mets’ Storylines: Marlins Won Emotional Battle From Start

Unquestionably, the Miami Marlins played – and won – the emotional card Monday night in beating the Mets. The pre-game ceremonies honoring Jose Fernandez were touching and emotional; not a dry eye in the house.

The trumpet solo of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,’’ was beyond belief. Who would have expected that? Then there was the emotional meeting of the Mets and Marlins at the pitcher’s mound, reminiscent of the night of Mike Piazza’s homer when the Mets and Braves embraced.

“This is bigger than baseball,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “This kid touched a lot of people. They jumped on us early and took the air out of the balloon.”



While it had to be tough for them, the Mets’ players conducted themselves with class and dignity and understood the anguish of the Marlins and let them have their moment.

“This team is first class,” Collins said of his players. “Our organization is first class. … They respected the night.”

None of that can be planned. That has to come from the heart.

“There’s no script for this,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

Dee Gordon immediately captured the hearts of the crowd by leading off the game with a home run. He first honored Fernandez by taking the pitcher’s right-handed stance and wearing his helmet. After one pitch, he switched to his normal left-handed stance and homered and broke down in tears when he reached the plate.

The game was emotionally over then, but the Marlins put a nice touch on the night when they circled the mound and left their caps on the rubber that was Fernandez’s domain.

Collins understood the emotion of the night, that didn’t but didn’t share the fans’ enthusiasm with the Marlins’ 7-3 victory.

“It’s hard,’’ Collins said. “It’s always for Jose, but I like to win. … I said yesterday I would be glad when this day is over, and I’m glad it is over.’’

Through it all, the Mets caught a break when Cincinnati routed the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Emotions, of course, was the main storyline. The others were Bartolo Colon’s short night and the Mets’ listless offense.

COLON DIDN’T HAVE IT: Colon flexed his legs that made us wonder if something is physically wrong with the Mets’ only remaining healthy pitcher.

Colon gave ups seven runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings. He hadn’t had a start this poor since only four innings, Aug. 15, in Arizona.

“He didn’t have his good stuff tonight,’’ Collins said, adding he hopes it is different Saturday in Philadelphia.

Collins thought something was wrong with Colon’s calf, but said the pitcher is fine.

THE OFFENSE DISAPPEARED: The Mets scored 44 runs in their four games against the Phillies, but came up empty tonight.

The Mets produced only seven hits against nine Marlins pitchers.

Jay Bruce started again and got another hit. Perhaps he’s turned it around.

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Oct 16

Collins Needs To Be Extended

Terry Collins‘ post NLDS handshake with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was great to see. It was a great example of sportsmanship, especially after a tense, hard-fought series in which one of Collins’ players was lost to injury on an overtly aggressive play. They do it in other sports and I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t done in baseball.

Hopefully, it will become a tradition, like the Mets being a regular guest to the party.

COLLINS: Reward him. (LA Times)

COLLINS: Reward him. (LA Times)

I would like to see the Mets reward Collins with a multi-year extension, not just for what he did this year, but for what he has had to endure in the past. During his tenure, Collins had to manage through injuries; with a lack of talent because management wouldn’t spend; and having been undercut by management. From finding out his general manager had no faith in him in that GM’s biography to the Matt Harvey innings mess, Collins was put on the spot.

Still, through it all, Collins kept his honor and did things the way he believed was right. Night after night, he answered the same questions and rarely did he lose his composure. Then Thursday night, with the nation watching, Collins managed with his gut and made three gambles, all of which paid off. Collins stuck with starter Jacob deGrom on faith; he went with other starter, Noah Syndergaard, in relief because he bullpen was shaky; and finally, he went with closer Jeurys Familia with a two-inning save.

Collins gambled and won, and now the newcomer to the playoff party gets to advance. The Mets were lucky to have him this year, and they would be wise to reward him. He deserves it.

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Oct 12

Utley Not In Lineup; Rollins Playing

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly cited “baseball reasons,” for not starting Chase Utley in Game 3 tonight against Matt Harvey. However, Jimmy Rollins will start at shortstop. Mattingly said Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke starting Games 4 and 5.

It is surprising Utley isn’t starting considering he has a career .333 (6-for-18) against Harvey.


Jul 25

No Question, Alderson Blew It With Turner

There have been numerous personnel mistakes made by Mets GM Sandy Alderson, and at the top includes the decision to cast away Justin Turner after the 2013 season in which he hit .280 with a .319 on-base percentage in 86 games in a reserve role.

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

Reportedly, the Mets – Alderson and manager Terry Collins – thought Turner didn’t hustle, but none of his teammates thought so.

Turner ripped the Mets and Jon Niese for two doubles and a homer Friday night, but he would not gloat, although he had every right.

“I mean, I don’t think I need to prove anything to them,’’ Turner told reporters after the game. “I don’t play for them anymore. I play for these guys, and I’m trying to prove it to my teammates and my coaching staff and the organization that I deserve the opportunity that I’m in.’’

The Mets traded two pitching prospects to Atlanta for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, but Turner’s .327 average and 43 RBI would lead the Mets, and his 13 homers would be second.

The Mets could have kept Turner for $800,000 last season, but are now paying over $3 million for Johnson and Uribe.

Turner hit seven homers with 43 RBI while batting .340 with a .404 on-base percentage in 109 games last year and was rewarded with a $2.5 contract for this year.

Turner clicked with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. For whatever reason, Turner figured it out in Los Angeles and is batting third. Alderson claims to like reclamation projects, but Turner is clearly better than Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.

It is safe to say, Alderson missed on this decision. Big time.

Jul 21

Looking At The Pennant Races Heading Into Second Half

By rights the most intriguing storyline of the second half should be the pennant races, as that is the essence of the sport. No matter how hard Major League Baseball tries to screw up the integrity of the regular season schedule, we’re still there watching at the end to see who is left standing.

The New York Mets are one of nine teams at least ten games out of first place in their respective divisions. That puts 21 teams within reach, if you define that reach as the ability to pick up one game a week.

Mathematically, the  “best’’ race is the National League West, where nobody is more than 7.5 games out. Trouble is, three of the five are under .500, including the defending champion Giants. Do you remember when they wanted to get rid of Don Mattingly in Los Angeles? Well, the Dodgers are a mere half-game out.

Another compelling race is the National League Central, where the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds are bunched up under a four-game tent. Considering the mediocrity of the rest of the league, all three should qualify, as nobody else is close to becoming a wild-card contender. That would mean the first winning season in Pittsburgh in two decades, or since before Barry Bonds juiced himself out of the Hall of Fame running.

The Washington Nationals, the team supposed to get a pass into the World Series, is floundering and Stephen Strasburg is just 5-7. Not disappointed here, as the arrogance the Nationals showed last year by saving Strasburg under the assumption they will be a playoff fixture might not come to pass.

Once again, that leaves us with the American League East with the most compelling race. Boston, a team given no chance at the start, is in first followed by Tampa Bay, Baltimore and the Yankees, who are some how six games back without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and mediocre years from C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Joe Girardi, to me, is the AL Manager of the Year.

There’s the chance for a compelling race in five of the six divisions. The worst? That would be the NL East.

A lot of things play off the pennant races, including the trade deadline. Every year it is the same, but with each team gearing up for a run there seems another about to unravel and call it a season. The manufactured excitement of the wild card in some cities is often off-set by the resignation summer is over by the first of August in others.

The Phillies are in town this weekend playing the Mets. Take a close look at them as they might break up that group. They are claiming they won’t trade Cliff Lee, but it’s another July and who wouldn’t be surprised to see him check out of one city and into another? It isn’t also hard to see Chase Utley traded.

Minnesota, both Chicago teams, Milwaukee, Miami with the Giancarlo Stanton Watch and perhaps the Angels all could undergo personnel facelifts in early preparation for spring training. The Angels won’t say it, but they’d love to be out from under Albert Pujols‘s contract. Probably the same goes with Josh Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the Mets are saying they won’t be sellers, but we’ve heard that before.

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