Oct 30

Mets World Series Game 3 Lineups

Down by two games, the Mets will opt for greater offense in Game 3 tonight by starting Michael Conforto in left field and sit Juan Lagares. Here’s tonight’s lineups:

Curtis Granderson – RF

David Wright – 3B

Daniel Murphy – 2B

Yoenis Cespedes – CF

Lucas Duda – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Michael Conforto – LF

Wilmer Flores – SS

Noah Syndergaard – RHP

COMMENTS: Other than Conforto, there are no surprises tonight from manager Terry Collins. At this point of the season there’s no reason for switching things up on a major scale. … The issue isn’t where they hit in the lineup, but if they’ll start hitting. So far, Lucas Duda is the hottest. There’s been no show of power, but plenty of strikeouts.

Oct 29

It’s Baby Steps Now For Mets

My headline last night was, “Mets Routed; In Huge Hole.” There’s no denying it, but a huge hole doesn’t mean they can’t climb out of it, despite the odds of 80 percent against them. That’s just a number. The Mets sent out on Twitter today that despite the 0-2 hole they are not giving up.

I wouldn’t expect it any other way from a team whose foundation this year was resiliency. Would you?

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

Through injuries, losing streaks, bullpen lapses and hitting slumps the Mets found their way to Game 3 of the World Series. Of course, all of you would have signed up for being in a 0-2 hole in the Series at the start of the season.

Don’t lie, of course you would.

However, the mistake is thinking of this as a 0-2 hole. The Series is tied is the message manager Terry Collins must give his team. Before the Mets can win the World Series, they must first win a game.

I don’t want to hear how Noah Syndergaard’s future is great. I don’t care how great he’ll be in 2017. I only care about him being great Friday night.

And, let’s not worry about sending an inexperienced Steven Matz out for Game 4, or whether they might move Matt Harvey up on short rest. Game 4 doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is Game 3.

I covered arguably the greatest collapse in baseball history, the Yankees blowing a 3-and-0 lead to the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Players from that Boston team said they never looked at the hole, but only that day’s game. That was the only thing that mattered. As long as they won that day, they were fine.

That’s the attitude the Mets had in 1986, when they lost the first two games to the Red Sox – at home – yet came back to win. Of course, several things had to happen – “the ball gets by Buckner’’ – but before the miracles happened, they had to claw back into the Series. Baby steps.

The percentages say different, but remember, in 2004, NO team ever came back from down three games to win. That’s why they play the games. The beauty of sports is you never no what can happen.

The Series is not over until one team wins four games, which hasn’t happened. Can the Mets win four of five games? Damn straight they can, but before they do, they must win Friday.

That’s the only game that matters.




Oct 28

Mets Routed; In Huge Hole

When you don’t hit, don’t pitch and don’t catch the ball, you’re not going to win. See, this game isn’t that complicated after all. Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto had no problem figuring out the Mets hitters, and Royals’ hitters solved Jacob deGrom pretty quickly.

The Mets gave deGrom a run, but as we’ve been told all along, the Royals would eventually peck away. That came in the fifth inning as the Royals strung together hit after hit against deGrom as Jon Niese warmed in the bullpen.

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

The cameras focused on Mets manager Terry Collins, who stared blankly into space as if hit in the head with a bat. It probably was a Mets’ bat because they certainly weren’t doing anything against Cueto, who went the distance in the 7-1 rout.

Collins never went to the pen until it was too late, but it was easy to understand his hesitancy. Niese gave Collins two solid innings the night before and you could understand doubting he’d get an encore. Collins was riding his horse, deGrom, and hoping for the best.

It never came, and by the time the inning was over, the Mets were down, 4-1, and with the way they were facing Cueto, they had no chance.

DeGrom labored in his previous two playoff starts. Collins said he was fatigued; deGrom said he wasn’t. Either way, both agreed deGrom’s command was off. It wasn’t that way for the first four innings, but come the fifth, the game was over, and likely, the Mets’ chances in this World Series.

Teams winning the first two games go on to win the World Series 80 percent of the time. An exception was the 1986 Mets, but that was a different team in a different era.

We can list all the things the Mets didn’t do Wednesday night, but Game 2 was all about the things the Royals did right. The Royals don’t strike out. They put the ball in play. They attack strikes when they get one. They catch the ball. They do the right things and they do them consistently.

They play the game the way it is supposed to be played, and that style – while not sexy – is about to win them a championship.


Oct 28

Vulnerable Side Of Mets Exposed

OK, the Mets lost last night and Game 2 is now the most important start of Jacob deGrom’s blossoming career. How he persevered over the Dodgers on the road in Game 5 of the NLDS showed us he has the grit and guile needed to win.

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

That much we know. What we don’t know is how much gas is left in his tank. Manager Terry Collins and deGrom differ as to the pitcher’s fatigue level, but whatever the cause, his command isn’t right.

There are other things not right, either. I know, as Mets fans, you want to hear nothing but positive, but that can’t always be the case. On the plus side, middle relievers Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard – considered a question going in – pitched well.

The flip side is if Matt Harvey is the stud the Mets – and he proclaims to be – he has to give them more than 80 pitches over six innings. Aces who demand the ball need to give more than what Harvey showed.

Secondly, and perhaps this is as a slap in the face to the Mets, is Jeurys Familia being taken deep to tie the game in the ninth. His perception of invincibility is gone.

Defense hasn’t always been a Mets’ mainstay this season, and Yoenis Cespedes’ misplay in left center last night in left center lead to him starting in left tonight with Juan Lagares playing center. That puts Michael Conforto as the DH, which is the way it should have been from the start.

I don’t know what it is, but Cespedes has been in a funk lately. He’s not the same player who captivated us in August.

There was also David Wright’s wild throw to start the 14th inning. It happens, but when runs are at a premium, they can’t afford to give away outs.

The offense was terrible last night, and starting pitching isn’t the Royals’ forte.

The Mets can lose tonight and still win the World Series, but the odds are long. A lot of things had to break right for the Mets to win, and now even more.

It begins with deGrom.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 22

Classy Gesture By Cubs To Wright

Every once in awhile you read something that makes you feel good about sports and what they are supposed to be about, and that includes a very classy gesture extended by the Chicago Cubs to Mets captain and third baseman David Wright when they presented him the third base bag used in Game 4 of the NLCS.


Cubs Recognize Wright: FOX Sports

Cubs Recognize Wright: FOX Sports

That was my first thought. The Mets just crushed them in the playoffs, sweeping them without trailing for one moment in the series. Not a second.

They did it because of their respect for Wright and what he’s meant to the sport. They didn’t have to considering what just happened to them.

When a player retires, and this isn’t to suggest that’s what’s going on here, other teams usually present him with gifts. These guys, and that includes Wright, can afford anything they want. Wright once told me he’s embarrassed when he goes out to eat and the restaurant comps his meals.

He can afford to buy the restaurant, much less the meal. He understands why it happens. But getting something like the third base bag from Wrigley Field is something he would cherish more than say, a power boat or television.

The Mets took unfair heat when they made similar gestures to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The pitching rubber from Citi Field meant a lot more to Rivera than anything they could have bought.

I covered the Yankees for a long time and know what meant lot to Rivera. I’ve also been around the Mets since 2006 and know this means to Wright.

This is Wright’s 12th season, but only his second in the playoffs. Who better than the Cubs would appreciate a playoff drought? After all, some of the best players in their history, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams, never played in the postseason with them.

The Cubs understand and should be commended.

I don’t know whose idea this was, whether it was manager Joe Maddon, or Theo Epstein, somebody in marketing, Kris Bryant or one of the concessionaires who sells that terrific deep dish. It doesn’t matter. The bottom line is a classy player was recognized for his class and integrity.

And, someday the Cubs will be rewarded for their class.