Oct 12

No Hearing Today; Utley To Play

Multiple media outlets are reporting Major League Baseball will not conduct an appeals hearing today, thereby enabling Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley to play in tonight’s NLDS Game 3 against the Mets.

Utley was suspended for Games 3 and 4 following his take-out slide that left Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada with a broken right leg,

In a statement, Utley said: “The players’ association and my agent are handling the appeals process. I have nothing more to say other than to reiterate that I feel terrible about Ruben’s injury. Now my teammates and I are focused on Game 3 and doing everything we can to win this series.”

Oct 04

Mets’ Salute To Fans Enduring Image To Season

One by one the Mets drifted from their dugout after wrapping up their 90th victory of the season on a cool and crisp afternoon at Citi Field. Manager Terry Collins, who finally tasted a winning season with the Mets, was followed by David Wright, who missed nearly five months with a back injury and wondered if he’d ever play again, let alone see another playoffs.

There was Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, who represent the future on this franchise. There was Yoenis Cespedes, who came here at the trade deadline and for over a month carried the Mets by the scruff of their neck. Daniel Murphy, whose future with the team could be in question.

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

There was Wilmer Flores, whose tears of anguish with the thought of being traded tugged at our hearts because he showed how much cared about being here and playing for us. That snapshot of Flores’ tears, along with Wright’s fist pump after scoring the winning run against the Nationals in early September, became the images of the season.

You can now add the Mets – in a unified group as they have been all season – slowly walking around the outer reaches of Citi Field. Out to right field they sauntered, saluting those in the bleachers in right and then left center, and finally down the left field line.

Collins shook hands with fans along the third base line. Then Flores. No tears this time; just the broadest, brightest smile you would ever see.

The cheering didn’t stop. Then Wright took a microphone and faced the crowd behind the Mets’ dugout.

“You guys are the best in the game, no doubt. Thanks for coming out,’’ Wright told the crowd that refused to let go of the moment. “Now, let’s go beat L.A.’’

Beating the Dodgers will be harder than just saying it, as the Mets, who scored just two runs in their last 44 innings, will face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Los Angeles twilight in Games 1 and 2 next weekend. However, for now the Mets will savor winning 90 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Studying scouting reports, figuring out the playoff roster and rotation will wait.

The Mets wanted to savor and sip this moment as if a fine wine.

“I sat here last October told our fan base that their patience will be rewarded,’’ Collins said. “I wanted to go around and thank everybody. Let them know we appreciated their support. Ninety wins is a huge step for us. We accomplished something. I just talked with Yoenis and he said, `the fun has just started,’ and he’s right. Yeah, we had a tough week, but we are ready.’’

So are we.

Oct 09

Are The Games Really Too Long?

As one of his last acts as baseball commissioner, Bud Selig wants to add “speeding up the game,’’ to his legacy.

A seven-member committee appointed by Selig to study the issue includes Mets GM Sandy Alderson, but no active players. MLB union director Tony Clark was designated to speak on behalf of the players.

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

After years of collaborative efforts between management and the players, it smacks of the early “bad old days’’ under Selig in which the owners acted unilaterally and strong-armed the players.

That led to bad blood and several work stoppages that included the sacking of the 1994 World Series. That too, in addition to the money MLB is making, is part of Selig’s legacy.

“It’s just important for us to have a say,’’ Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson told ESPN. “It doesn’t need to be all 750 of us. It’s just important to have three or four players who can say, ‘Hey, we’ve noticed this, and we feel this way.’ ’’

It is puzzling, and some might suggest hypocritical, that the sport without a clock is trying to speed up the pace of the game by forcing pitchers to work faster and hitters keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times.

During those lulls is when the players compose their thoughts and re-focus. Forcing the hitter back into the box or rushing the pitcher to throw could lead to mistakes and perhaps the outcome of the game.

At the best, they might shave three or four minutes off a game. Nobody has offered what else could be done in those four minutes.

The bottom line is if a game is played crisply and isn’t sloppy, nobody will complain about the length of the game. Who was complaining after the Giants-Nationals 18-inning playoff game?

Now, don’t go saying, “well, it’s the playoffs, it’s different.’’ It is different in one respect as there was no shortage of commercials between innings.

Unquestionably, the primary reason games might run long are the numerous commercial breaks between innings. However, don’t ask MLB to ask the networks for shorter commercials. If speeding up the game is that important, cut the commercial time. The networks demand the time so they can charge more and consequently pay the large rights fees.

No doubt some pitchers could stand to work faster as it would make them more efficient. I also grumbled at the likes of Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez who were excruciating if not painful to watch.

Part of the problem, management says, is the hitters take too many pitches. Isn’t that what Alderson wants his hitters to do? He’s been quoted numerous times as wanting his hitters to be more selective.

As for Joe Torre, his Yankee teams won four World Series in large part because of their ability to work the count and drive up the opposing pitcher’s pitch count. One of the most memorable moments of the 2000 Subway World Series was Paul O’Neill’s ninth-inning 10-pitch at-bat against Armando Benitez after falling behind 1-and-2 in the count.

That’s what those Yankee teams did. That’s what the Mets should do now. I’d much rather see Juan Lagares work the at-bat to eight pitches and draw a walk then swing at garbage and pop up.

Hey, if Ike Davis had bothered to learn that, he might still be with the Mets instead of wondering what happened to his career.

By its nature, baseball is an ebb-and-flow game, with lulls followed by bursts of action. When the hitter steps out, that’s when fathers and sons talk and bond. In the NBA and NFL, lulls are met with video clips and loud music. People don’t talk at those games.

Those conversations are how the game is passed from generation to generation, along with watching the playoffs on television, which is another topic.

This is another example that the caretakers of the game don’t understand their own product. Yes, there are games that last too long. If that’s the case and you are bored, turn the channel or get up and leave.

However, if the game is interesting, close and compelling, odds are you’ll use that time when the manager goes out to visit the pitcher to catch your breath.

Feb 13

Howie Rose And Josh Lewin To Return; Spring Training Radio Games

In what hardly constitutes a surprise, the New York Mets officially announced the return of broadcasters Howie Rose and Josh Lewin as play-by-play announcers on new flagship station, WOR 710-AM.

The following spring training games will be broadcast:

Date                            Team                                      Location                     Time

Fri. Feb. 28                 Washington Nationals            Port St. Lucie                1:10 p.m.

Sun. March 2              St. Louis Cardinals                Jupiter                           1:05 p.m.

Mon., March 3            Atlanta Braves                       Disney                          1:05 p.m.

Wed., March 5            Washington Nationals (SS)   Viera                             1:05 p.m.

Sun., March 9             Atlanta Braves                       Port St. Lucie               1:10 p.m.

Tue., March 11           St. Louis Cardinals                 Jupiter                          1:05 p.m.

Fri., March 14             Miami Marlins                        Jupiter                           7:05 p.m.

Sat., March 15            Minnesota Twins (SS)           Port St. Lucie                1:10 p.m.

Sun., March 16           St. Louis Cardinals (SS)        Jupiter                           1:05 p.m.

Mon., March 17          Miami Marlins                        Jupiter                           1:05 p.m.

Sat., March 22            Miami Marlins                        Jupiter                           1:05 p.m.

Sun,, March 23           Washington Nationals (SS)   Port St. Lucie                1:10 p.m.

Wed., March 26          Houston Astros                      Kissimmee                    6:05 p.m.

Fri., March 28             Toronto Blue Jays                  Montreal                        7:05 p.m.

Sat., March 29            Toronto Blue Jays                  Montreal                       1:05 p.m.

Oct 10

Numbers That Defined The Mets’ Season

There were a lot of statistics that added up to give the Mets their second straight 74-88 record in 2013. Here are some of the more notable, some good, some bad and some down right ugly. I am sure there are more and would love to hear your suggestions:

2: Home games sold out.

2-4: Matt Harvey’s record after 7-1 start.

4: Grand slams by Mets hitters, none who were with the team at the end of the season (John Buck, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin).

4: National League teams Mets had winning records against (Arizona, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco).

7-15-5: Record in home series.

7: Number of hitting streaks of 10 or more by hitters Mets’ hitters, led by Daniel Murphy, who had three.

8: Walk-off hits by David Wright to lead team.

8: Mets hitters who struck out at least 70 times, including three – Byrd, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis – with over 100.

8: Games pitched in by Frank Francisco, who made $6.5 million.

8-8: Jon Niese record, a drop of five victories from a career high 13 in 2012.

9: Homers by Davis, 23 fewer than in 2012.

9-12: Record in extra-inning games. Successful teams win these types of games. Overall, the Mets played 57 extra innings, the equivalent of just over six extra games.

10: Different hitters used in the leadoff spot, a void filled by Eric Young.

11-61: Record when trailing after six innings.

11-9: Interleague record, including 4-0 vs. Yankees.

12: No decisions in games started by Harvey.

13: Different pitchers used to start a game.

14-25: Record vs. NL playoff teams.

15-12: Record in July, their only month with a winning record.

15: Outfield assists by Juan Lagares, most by a rookie and tied for third in the majors.

15: Different hitters used in the sixth spot in the order.

18: Different hitters used in the seventh spot in the order.

18: Home runs by Wright to lead the team (Byrd had 21 before he was traded to Pittsburgh).

20: Quality starts by Harvey.

22-73: Record when bullpen gives up a run.

25: Percentage of potential base stealers thrown out by Mets catchers.

26: Victories by the bullpen.

26-59: Record when opponents scored first.

29-28: Record in one-run games.

31: Come-from-behind victories. This is after trailing at any point in the game.

33-48: Record at home.

34: Two-out RBI by Murphy, most on the team.

34-42: Record vs. National League East. (9-10 vs. Atlanta; 8-11 vs. Miami; 10-9 vs. Philadelphia; 7-12 vs. Washington).

46: Stolen bases by Young to lead National League.

55-38: Record when getting a quality start.

112: Games played by Wright.

130: Mets homers; opponents hit 152.

131: Different lineups used.

.147: Duda average with runners in scoring position.

188: Hits by Murphy, second in the National League.

.242: Mets’ average with runners in scoring position. The Mets had close to 3,000 runners in scoring position and only 441 of them scored. Mets’ hitters struck out 315 times in this situation and grounded into 26 double plays.

.265: Opponent’s average with runners in scoring position. Opponent’s scored 529 runs in this situation, aided greatly by 35 home runs.

.306: Team on-base percentage, 25th in the majors.

504: Innings pitched by the bullpen, just over three a game.

619: Runs scored, 684 runs allowed for a -65 run differential.

1,384: Strikeouts by Mets hitters, most in the National League, which is the equivalent of 51 games played without hitting a ball other than a foul.

2,135,657: Total attendance, their lowest since drawing 1.77 in 1997 at Shea Stadium.