Mar 04

Mets Game Thread: Good Start Keyed By Wheeler And Granderson

It’s been a good start for the New York Mets today with three strong innings from Zack Wheeler and two ripped home runs by Curtis Granderson.

Wheeler certainly has the physical stuff to win 20 games, but it goes further than just being able to throw the ball hard. The Mets were impressed with Wheeler’s poise last season, but that was 17 starts. Let’s see 34, and staying healthy for the whole time.

Wheeler was supposed to pitch two innings, but went out for the third because his pitch count was less than 30.

As for Granderson, wrist injuries sapped his strength last year with the Yankees, but he whipped the bat through the hitting zone twice. There was no question about either.

All in all, so far it has been a good start for the Mets.

 

Mar 02

My Favorite Baseball Movies: Field Of Dreams

It’s difficult to make a good baseball movie because of the physical requirements involved from the actors. Quite simply, some of them can’t go through the swinging and throwing motions that make them look realistic.

imgresThere are also unbelievable story lines, historical inaccuracies and the concept of editorial license gone out of control. Even so, in honor of the Academy Awards tonight, I’d like to share with you my top five favorite baseball movies:

FIELD OF DREAMS: It’s the story here matters, plus the bond between fathers and sons, which is the essence behind the film. The acting is superb and the writing terrific. James Earl Jones’ monologue on baseball being woven into the fabric of American history and life is priceless.  Yes, they have Ray Liotta – Shoeless Joe – batting right-handed, which really is unforgivable, like wearing cross trainers in a gladiator movie. Even so, the interaction between Kevin Costner and Jones is terrific, and Burt Lancaster, for a small role, is a driving force in the film. And, the end, when Costner meets his dad, is a powerful scene. “Dad, wanna have a catch?’’

EIGHT MEN OUT: They at least have Shoeless Joe batting left-handed in this one, but it is a realistic telling of a historical story that carries this one for me. The in-game scenes were well done and there doesn’t appear to be the stretching of editorial license, as was the case in *61. Another thing I like in this film is there is no super star actor that diverts your attention from the story. I liked this movie even before Charlie Sheen’s “Two And A Half Men.’’  I liked everything about this movie, and loved the ending when John Cusack was watching a Jackson in a semi-pro game twenty years later.

COBB: Yes, that was Roger Clemens in a bit role. By the way, for his tough guy reputation, had Clemens played in Ty Cobb’s era he would’ve been eaten alive. Cobb would have bunted down the first base line and run up his back. No telling what Cobb would have done if Clemens threw a piece of a broken bat at him. It’s a powerful biography that shows Tommy Lee Jones depicting Cobb in a less than flattering light.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES: Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in a sentimental tearjerker. Of course liberties were taken, but the movie reveals the human and fragile side that was Gehrig. There were times when it was hard to tell whether Cooper was playing Gehrig or Will Kane, the stoic sheriff who stood up to the evil Frank Miller to save the town.

42: The most realistic version of the Jackie Robinson story ever on the screen. The scene when Branch Rickey – played by Harrison Ford – tries to bait Robinson in his office is as good as it gets. “I want a player with the guts not to fight back,’’ Rickey tells Robinson before offering him that historic contract. It’s hard to pull off a historic moment, but they got it right when Pee Wee Reese put his arm around Robinson. One other thing, Chris Merloni plays a good Leo Durocher, put I still see him as Detective Elliot Stabler.

 

MISSING THE CUT

Bull Durham: Fun movie, but too many clichés. Did love the scene on the mound when they were figuring out what to wedding present to get. Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh just didn’t look like a pitcher.

For the Love of the Game: Another with Kevin Costner. They lost me when Costner’s catcher wore his Tigers cap outside the stadium. That just doesn’t happen.

Bang the Drum Slowly: Sorry, too sappy. Plus, Robert DeNiro is a gangster.

The Natural: I know what they were trying to get at, but hitters don’t carry homemade bats in a violin case and knock the cover off the ball.

I would love to know your favorites.

Feb 27

Syndergaard Stars In Intrasquad Game; Mets Shouldn’t Get Carried Away

The cheers were great, the performance was scintillating, but the New York Mets – and their often-frustrated fan base – shouldn’t get carried away and read too much into Noah Syndergaard’s performance in Thursday’s intrasquad game.

SYNDERGAARD: Big showing. (MLB.com)

SYNDERGAARD: Big showing. (MLB.com)

In Syndergaard’s first performance in the Mets’ camp, Syndergaard, throwing what manager Terry Collins calls “the hook from hell,’’ struck out five in two innings. He also gave up a run on four hits, but with no walks.

Not only was Syndergaard’s curveball working in fall-off-the-table fashion, but his 97 mph., fastball was sizzling.

“I felt pretty good out there. I kind of shocked myself a little bit,’’ Syndergaard told reporters Thursday in Port St. Lucie. “I wasn’t expecting that my first time out there.’’

Nor should the Mets expect that from him in Monday’s start against Atlanta; every time out at Triple-A Las Vegas; or when he finally is brought up in June. He’ll need time to develop into all what is expected of him.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the start, first of all,” Syndergaard said of Monday. “I’m excited, a little nervous at the same time. It’s the first time facing a real big-league lineup. I’m going to go out there and do what I can. It’s still a game. They’re still playing baseball out there.’’

Which is true, but baseball is also a game of emotions. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, despite their youth, have been able to keep their emotions in check. The Mets would like to see the same from Syndergaard.

That will be easier, of course, if he’s throwing that fastball in the upper 90s.

“How can you not like what you saw?’’ Collins said. “For heaven’s sake, I don’t know how hard he threw, but it was firm. Even in a game like this, you better get to the heater, because you don’t want to try to hit that curveball.

“Certainly everything you heard, you saw. You heard, ‘What a great arm.’ You got it. You heard, ‘He’s got a great presence,’ that he pounds the strike zone. He did that.’’

Of course, should Syndergaard cut down the Braves as he did his minor league teammates, there will be rumblings about cracking the rotation.

However, Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson should a turn a deaf ear and continue with the same plan they had last season for Wheeler.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

Feb 27

Mets Today: Niese’s MRI Results; Intrasquad Game; Injury Updates

Just as I close each day with the post “Wrapping The Day,’’ today I will start my daily coverage of the New York Mets with the post “Mets Today.”

Potentially, the most important thing that might come out of Mets’ camp today will be the reading of Jonathon Niese’s shoulder MRI.

Niese returned to New York Wednesday for a MRI on his sore shoulder, which he described as having “a dead arm.’’

The MRI results should give us an idea when Niese will pitch again. He was scheduled to pitch two innings in the March 4 exhibition against Houston, but that’s doubtful.

In addition:

* Today’s intrasquad pitchers include on one team: Dillon Gee, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Jose Valverde. The other team will have: Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia and Joel Carreno.

* Bartolo Colon, who missed yesterday’s workout with tightness in his calf, had been scheduled to pitch in the intrasquad game. He could return today and do some light work. He spent much of Wednesday on the stationary bike.

* Eric Young has tightness in his side and could be held out of practice for a second day.

* Matt den Dekker, who was bothered by a stomach ailment, is expected to return to practice.

ON DECK:  Time for Wilmer Flores to shine.

Oct 25

Time To Let Things Pass For Carlos Beltran

If you thought for a minute Carlos Beltran’s bruised ribs would have kept him out of Game 2, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Beltran bruised his ribs robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam homer in Game 1, and while being treated in a Boston hospital that night began to doubt he’d be back in Fenway Park for Thursday’s game. Constant treatment helped him return, and with nearly two full days of treatment since, he will be in the lineup for Game 3 Saturday in St. Louis.

BELTRAN: A great Met scorned.

BELTRAN: A great Met scorned.

That’s because Beltran, as quiet as he is, is extremely tough. It would take a lot more than bruised ribs to keep him out of the World Series he’s waited 16 years to play in.

“I wanted to be in the lineup,’’ Beltran said. “I worked so hard to get to this point. Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to get out of the lineup.’’

Don’t forget, Beltran refused to sit after suffering facial fractures in an outfield collision with Mark Cameron in 2005, his first season with the Mets. Beltran played with several injuries during his Mets’ tenure, but unfortunately there’s a sizable segment of their fan base that prefers to remember him for taking Adam Wainwright’s nasty curveball that froze him to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, their last time they played in October.

The Mets collapsed at the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and this summer was their fifth five straight losing year. Unfairly, Beltran became a symbol of their long fall because of that pitch.

I heard on talk-radio today one caller say he hopes the Cardinals and Beltran will lose based on that pitch. That’s beyond ignorant.

Just get over it, will you?

Nobody could have hit that pitch. Odds are had he swung he would have missed or hit a weak popup because he was greatly overmatched.

Beltran is arguably one of the most talented players in Mets’ history and for him to be castigated years later is blatantly unfair and ignorant.

New York sports fans like to believe they are the most sophisticated in the country. If that is so, then prove it and leave Beltran alone and join us in 2013.

It doesn’t matter who you favor in the World Series. Everybody has their reasons why they root for or against a team. But, to root against the Cardinals because of that pitch Beltran took years ago makes no sense.

To blame one player for the ills of the past seven years is beyond stupid.