Jul 10

Leave Keith Alone

If you spent any time on the Internet today, then you know this season is over for the Mets. Instead of talking about trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the buzz was Keith Hernandez’s refusal to sign an autograph last night after his clinic for T-ballers.

Nobody was even bitching about Yoenis Cespedes. It was all about Hernandez not signing for a kid.

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

Hernandez was on the clock last night. Hernandez giving batting tips was part of an in-game feature and after the inning, he had to get back to the booth.

It’s his job and Hernandez, who, I’ve seen is very willing to sign, but doesn’t like to be bothered when he’s working.

The Mets or SNY should have had guides down there to escort Hernandez to the agent and ward off fans. There should have been an announcement no autographs would be signed.

If Hernandez signed one, he had to sign two, then three, then four, then when does it end?

The kid, unlike many I’ve seen, wasn’t obnoxious, and neither was Hernandez when he refused. Getting an autograph at Citi Field isn’t easy to do as you’re muscling your way into the position with other fans and there’s a shortage of time.

It pays to be polite, say please and thank you. I’ve seen fans stand behind the dugout and scream, “Hey Jeter, come here and sign this.’’ I’ve seen others who weren’t as polite when the player ignored them.

Don’t forget, when players are taking batting practice, they are working. Respect that.

The best way to get an autograph is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your photo or baseball card.

I wouldn’t send baseballs, bats, T-shirts or anything other than a flat photo. And, don’t bother with a long letter as it won’t get read and will be trashed.

I’ve seen plenty of players sit in front of their lockers to sign photos and cards. Most of them take this seriously and will likely respond.

But, if you send more than one item to be signed you’ll likely be mistaken as a trader and be ignored. If you have two items, send two envelopes.

Keith is usually kind and accommodating. He was working last night, so give him a break.

May 16

Keith Tried To Help Harvey

Speaking on WFAN Wednesday morning, Keith Hernandez said he spoke with Matt Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, in an attempt to reign in the former Met’s behavior.

mets-matters logo“I called Scott, I said, ‘Scott, you gotta pull the reins on this guy, because he’s gonna make it tough on himself,’ ” said Hernandez. “He goes, ‘Keith, I can’t, he’s gonna do — he’s his own guy — he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do.’

“He made a lot of enemies.  He was confrontational with Sandy — with Sandy Alderson. They had a tough relationship. Matt was arrogant and, you know what, you meet the same people on the way up, you meet ’em on the way down, too.’’

It was a nice effort by Hernandez, but Boras was right, Harvey was going to do what he wanted, whenever he wanted.

That’s why he’s an ex-Met.

Cespedes Goes On DL: The Mets finally did what they should have done a week ago, which was place Yoenis Cespedes on the 10-day disabled week.

“The decision was pretty clear that we needed to get him on the DL, and get him back to where he needs to be,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said. “He was improving while he was playing, and that kind of stopped. So, let’s take a different route and make sure we’re cautious with him and get him back to the Cespedes he can be sooner.

“It’s like any injury. Nobody can predict that. The information I have is that we can get this resolved with some rest. He could’ve continued to gut it out, and continued to play. We were hoping with the off-days, and things like that, the progression of it would be where at some point maybe this would go away while he was playing.’’

Wheeler Rocked: Zack Wheeler’s pattern of following a respectable start with a stinker continued in today’s 12-1 loss. In his worst start of the season, Wheeler gave up six earned runs in four-plus innings.

“It’s tough, because you do see both sides, how brilliant he can be and you see how things can unravel at times,’’ Callaway said.

Wheeler was sharp for the first three innings, but unraveled following an 18-minute delay with the Mets batting in the third, as the grounds crew spread drying agent on the soaked field.

 

Mar 29

A Sad Day As Rusty Staub Passes

I woke up this morning with snow on the ground and immediately thought it’s way too early for Opening Day. I turned on the TV and was hit with the news of the passing of Rusty Staub and thought it’s too sad a day for Opening Day.

How can a day meant for new beginnings be overshadowed by such a sad event?

DZdPUxGXUAEX_kII wrote about Staub several weeks ago and recalled how gracious he was to me when I introduced myself to him at an airport, and it was heartwarming to hear of the remembrances of him from Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling today.

Hernandez spoke of Staub’s influence wihen he joined the Mets and helping him get acclimated to New York. Darling said Staub taught him how to be a better person.

Fighting back tears, Hernandez said: “He was a great, great  friend, and he’s in a better place.”

It is almost cliché to say he was a better person than player, but in his case, it could be true when you hear of his philanthropic gestures, most notably the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund.

“Rusty started more than just a charity – he started a family,’’ wrote chairman Stephen Dannhauser. “While many admire Rusty for his impressive record as a baseball player, it is his work off the field that truly made him one of the greats.  We will miss his laughter, friendship, and leadership, but we will work to carry on his mission through our continued stewardship of the charity he founded.’’

I urge you to log onto to the charity’s website, answerthecall.org for information on how to donate. Increments of $4 or $10, Staub’s numbers, would be a nice touch.

I know you all have your favorite Staub memories and ask you share them.

 

Oct 27

Today In Mets’ History: Knight Named MVP To Complete Series Win Over Boston

While we all remember the ball that got by Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, but sometimes we forget Game 7 also produced a memorable comeback.

Ray Knight's Homer Wins World Ser

                 Ray Knight’s Homer Lead Mets

Perhaps it is because after Game 6 winning the title seemed a foregone conclusion. The Mets steamrolled through the regular season – coming out of spring training manager Davey Johnson said they would dominate – much the way the Cubs did this year.

The Red Sox hardly seemed devastated from their meltdown as they took a 3-0 lead in the second against Ron Darling on back-to-back homers to lead off the inning by Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman, and Wade Boggs’ RBI single.

Meanwhile, Red Sox left-hander Bruce Hurst was on his way to being named Series MVP until the sixth, when the Mets pulled within 3-2 on Keith Hernandez’s RBI single and Gary Carter’s run-producing groundout.

Ray Knight tied the game, 3-3, when he lead off the seventh with a homer off Calvin Schiraldi. The Mets increased their lead to 6-3 later that inning on Rafael Santana’s RBI single and Hernandez’s sacrifice fly.

However, the Red Sox pecked away for two runs in the eighth, but the Mets responded in their half of the inning on Darryl Strawberry’s homer and Jesse Orosco’s RBI single.

While the Mets were tormenting Boston’s bullpen, one question hung over Shea Stadium, and that was why the Red Sox didn’t go to their Game 6 starter, Roger Clemens, for an inning or two?

It might have been pushing things, but Schiraldi spit the bit in Game 6, as did Bob Stanley. Boston used five relievers in the last two innings, so it really never had a chance.

Knight, who drove in five runs and hit .391 (9-for-23), was named Series MVP.

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Jul 03

A Master Plan For Flores

FLORES: A plan for him. (AP)

FLORES: A plan for him. (AP)

As they were with Daniel Murphy, the Mets never seem pleased with Wilmer Flores, who carved a place in club lore last July when he was brought to tears on the field after thinking he had been traded to Milwaukee.

A couple of days later, he hit a walk-off homer to beat the Nationals to jumpstart the Mets’ pennant push. Perhaps the Mets’ 2016 pennant push began with this weekend’s four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field, capped off by today’s 14-3 rout in which Flores tied a franchise record – Edgardo Alfonzo – with six hits, including two homers.

Yeah, six-for-six. Riding a 0-for-14 slide entering the game, there was a school of thought Flores might get sent down when Jose Reyes is brought up.

“Players aren’t naive,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “They read the papers. They know what’s going on. I don’t think there’s any question he hasn’t heard Reyes is coming.”

What’s going on is Flores is on the cusp of losing his job as the Mets, in search of an offensive spark, reached into their past. And, outside of a wild few days last summer, the Mets’ past didn’t include Flores.

A starter for much of last season in the second half at shortstop, Flores started this year on the bench following the winter acquisitions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Theoretically, Flores was to serve as the back-up at third for David Wright and first for Lucas Duda.

Flores assumed the starter’s role at third when Wright went down, but now the Mets seemed poised to replace him with a player who has never played third. Reyes is coming, make no mistake, but what should be done with Flores?

Under no circumstances should they option him to Triple-A to make room for Reyes, an idea Keith Hernandez floated on SNY. First of all, there are no assurances Reyes will take to third. They should also not relegate him full time to the bench.

“It’s experience and reps. you have to get him out there,” Collins said to give the impression Flores’ best position is batter. “You have to get him 500 at-bats. In order to have an idea of what a player is capable of doing you have to play him.”

There’s the rub. One of the things I find annoying about Collins is how he uses his bench. All too often he’ll ride his starters while the role players collect rust, which seemed to be the case with Flores before Wright was hurt. There never seemed to be a regular resting format for Wright. There was no third-to-first rotation with Flores to start the season as he sat in ten games and only had 28 at-bats in April.

Flores was on a 0-for-14 skid before Sunday’s once-in-a-lifetime game.

“I thought I was swinging the bat well, I just wasn’t lucky,” was how Flores described his mini-slump, and of his turnaround, added, “I was looking to be aggressive.”

Whatever the Mets had in mind for Flores, he’s always been the good soldier. Genuinely hurt last year when he thought he had been traded, he seemed annoyed when the Reyes issue was raised Sunday.

“It’s not my choice,” Flores curtly said. “I’m here to play.”

But where?

Like a six-year-old child who ignores his favorite toy when presented with a new one, I fear Collins might bury Flores on the bench.

Collins has proven he doesn’t always follow through with a plan. From batting Juan Lagares leadoff last season to starting the year with Curtis Granderson hitting first; to an innings limit for Matt Harvey; to juggling his lineup; to how to handle Michael Conforto, Collins is quick to abandon a plan.

I get it, Reyes will play third base, but Flores must be used. He should start at least four games a week to keep his bat sharp. One game at third, one at shortstop, one at second and one at first. Have him be a super sub on a regular rotation. If the Mets make a run, Collins can’t afford to drive Cabrera and Walker into the ground, and James Loney needs a breather at first.

Flores is hitting and the Mets must keep it that way.