May 02

Mets win, NY wins, US wins.

I woke up around 6 , turned on the TV and he was still dead.

The flag endures.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and it will be one of those moments that  you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. For those who learned on ESPN last night, it was reminiscent of hearing John Lennon was murdered while watching Monday Football.

I was home channel surfing when I heard. I called a few friends and became mesmerized by the images on the screen. Just like when watching the Japan earthquake, Katrina, Columbine, and, of course, September 11. There is no script to history. It just relentless attacks us and grabs us by the scruff of the neck and shakes. It shook me to about 4 in the morning.

Flipping back to the Mets game, where it was tied in the ninth, 1-1 — 9-1-1. You don’t find irony or symbolism like that too often. It was  inspiring to hear the crowd spontaneously chanting, U-S-A, U-S-A. Sometimes the chant sounds forced and cliche. Not last night.

“I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right,” said David Wright when asked about the chanting.

Yes, the Mets won, but the crowd reaction is what we’ll remember and take with us, much as we do the images of that day.

I was covering the Yankees at the time and took the weekend off to move to New York from Maryland. I was on the Jersey Turnpike just north of the Philadelphia exit when the planes hit the towers. Because all the bridges were closed what was normally a five-hour trip became 11. My movers were volunteer firefighters. My furniture didn’t arrive for several more days.

That week was spent covering workouts at Yankee Stadium and watching the Shea Stadium parking lot used for a staging ground for the EMS workers. It was inspiring to see Bobby Valentine and his Mets, in uniform, help the workers load trucks.

And, when the games finally resumed, we witnessed one of the most memorable home runs in New York history, Mike Piazza’s drive that beat the Braves. The Mets and Braves were mortal enemies at the time, and their display of unity that night was another memory. It was another example of how sports can be unifying.

So much has happened in the ten years since, and we’ve changed personally and as a nation in so many ways, and for a baseball writer it goes well beyond the joys of traveling, from the pat downs to the long lines to the general uneasiness of strangers.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, and the fallout hits here, too.

What small town doesn’t have a 9-1-1 Memorial? Who among us doesn’t know someone lost in the attacks and the subsequent military actions in the Middle East? The failing economy is a byproduct of that day, and with it the foreclosure signs, layoffs and stress of trying to make ends meet. Who among us doesn’t cringe when filling up our tanks and wonder when things will ever get back to normal.

Or, is this normal?

I hope you’ll share with us what you were doing that day.

Sep 12

New Chat Room; time for second guessing.

What was written then is coming to pass, the back end of Johan Santana’s contract appears to be choking the Mets. It was widely written, by me and others, that six years is too long a deal for a pitcher who had already accumulated a lot of innings.

Santana’s velocity has been in decline, and now he faces shoulder surgery that ESPN is reporting could keep him out for up to two years. This is a tough surgery with a long and arduous rehab program. It won’t be easy for Santana and there are no guarantees on the back end.

That said, the Mets will likely come to regret the $77 million balance on the contract, but they knew going in that was a strong possibility for the final two years, OK, now it could be three.

The Mets overpaid because both the Red Sox and Yankees backed out, but the circumstances of the times must be realized. The Mets, having lost in 2006 and collapsed in 2007, were in dire need of starting pitching.

The Mets needed an ace and Santana came back to them, and Santana has pitched like the ace he was portrayed to be.

Where the Mets failed or miscalculated is not in signing Santana, but not giving him the adequate run support. Had Santana pitched for the Yankees instead of the Mets, with their superior run support and Mariano Rivera, he might have won a Cy Young or won 20 games.

Santana has more than carried his share of the load since coming here. Injuries are always a risk, but he has more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

To access the New Chat Room, click on to the Chat Room icon to the left. Enjoy Jon Niese as you channel surf to the NFL games.

Jul 17

Mets trying to deal Perez.

PEREZ: On the block; no takers.

ESPN reported the Mets talked to Kansas City about an Oliver Perez for Gil Meche deal. Meche, it should be noted has been on the DL since May 25 with a shoulder injury.  Kind of tells you all you need to know about the Mets’ regard these days for Perez.

Meche is in the fourth season of a five-year, $55-million deal, and the remaining $18 million owed him is similar to what the Mets must pay Perez.

Meche is no bargain, but the Mets are tired of the headaches caused by Perez. He’s been so aggravating that they are willing to spent nearly $20 million on a guy with a bum shoulder.



Jun 08

Mets Chat Room: Wright takes hot bat into SD series.

Game #58 vs. Padres

A strikeout machine for much of this season, David Wright enters tonight’s game against the San Diego Padres on a big-time tear, with 13 hits in his last 25 at-bats – most of them scalded.

During that span Wright only struck out four times, three of them last Wednesday at San Diego. He did not strike out during the Florida series.

Wright said he was all over the place earlier this season, but has become more selective over the past week not chasing the sliders away. He’s also been quicker with the bat and getting to the inside fastball.

Continue reading

May 11

May 11.10: Wright’s woes and tonight’s line-up

David Wright was hitting .324 in 426 at-bats prior to his beaning last season and is batting .253 in 217 at-bats since. (Source: ESPN)

He’s also striking out a lot more times.

Wright is batting .277 on 31 hits in 112 at-bats with 42 strikeouts. If those numbers were reversed and he had 42 hits with 31 strikeouts, his average would be .375. Another way of saying it is he’s striking out 37 percent of the time.

In his first full four years, Wright struck out an average of 115 times a season. Last season, Wright struck out 140 times and he is on pace to strike out 188 times this year.

Last season, Wright exceeded his career average by 25 times. If he keeps his pace, he would exceed his pre-2009 career average by 73.

A strikeout is a wasted at bat.

That’s 73 less times he put the ball in play. In keeping with his career average, that would be 23 more hits. And, what about those other 50 at-bats? That’s 50 less chances of a productive at-bat, such as a sacrifice fly, chance to advance the runner into scoring position, chance for a walk, or chance to reach on an error.

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Ryota Igarashi is close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment on his left hamstring, said assistant general manager John Ricco.

Igarahsi is threw off the mound without discomfort Monday.

Igarashi had a 1.35 ERA in seven appearances prior to the injury and was moving into the eighth-inning set-up role.

Significantly, getting a healthy Igarashi back would reduce the work loads of Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano.

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Tonight’s line-up

No changes, so it is safe to assume Jerry Manuel doesn’t believe the offense has hit rock bottom, yet.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Jon Niese, LP