Feb 14

Forget NBA, Baseball Still Has Best All-Star Game

For all the tinkering Major League Baseball does with its All-Star Game, it remains superior to the other All-Star Games, including the one we’ll see Sunday night.

Of course, all are commercialized to death, but the baseball edition still is played as a sport. They still play the game, unlike basketball and football, where defense is forgotten and it’s mostly showboating.

Those two are basically pick-up games.

I like the baseball game better because performances have to be earned. It’s also that way in hockey, where not much of anything can be predicted. The batter still has to hit the ball, whereas the basketball game can easily be taken over by a singular player.

In football, with no blitzing, there aren’t many quarterbacks who can’t light up a secondary.

This might sound weird, but one of the reasons I like the baseball game better is that players wear their own uniforms. In that, you get a sense of team. You don’t get in the other games, with the exception of football and their helmets.

Another reason is history.

Selected games in all sports have their moments, but there is a history, a tradition, to the baseball game. Ted Williams’ game-winning homer in 1941 in Detroit; Reggie Jackson going off the light tower, also in Detroit; the 15-inning 1967 game in Anaheim, when pitchers actually pitched, with Catfish Hunter going five innings in relief; Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse; Johnny Callison winning the 1964 game at Shea Stadium; how New York buzzed over Matt Harvey two years ago.

There are so many more, but after awhile the dunks all look the same in the NBA game. And, please, the fashion week adds nothing.

Feb 12

Harvey Weighs In On A-Rod. Yanks In His Future?

Future Yankees pitcher Matt Harvey, who grew up in Connecticut cheering for the team in the Bronx, weighed in on Alex Rodriguez’s return.

Harvey told the New York Post this week: “Obviously Alex wants to play, that’s good for him, good for baseball. If he is that dedicated and wants to come back then more power to him for going up to the organization like that, it shows a lot. It will be exciting to see what he can do.’’

Harvey’s affection for the Yankees is well known as is his strong desire of playing in New York. Although he said all the right things a few days ago, it can’t be forgotten about his sparring with Mets’ management about where he would do his rehab and wanting to pitch last year. And, it must remembered he won’t have to move he signed with the Yankees.

What Mets’ fan can forget Harvey being photographed at Yankee Stadium watching Derek Jeter? The Mets bit their tongue on that, but privately they weren’t happy, from the front office to the clubhouse. Perhaps they would have said something had Harvey worn a Yankees’ cap.

Harvey will be under Mets’ control through the 2018 season, but by that time could have gone through several arbitration processes, which can get be tension filled.

If the Mets continue to pinch their pennies until then, who can’t see him moving on, especially with his agent being Scott Boras?

We don’t know what the Mets’ financial landscape will look by then, or even if they’ll be a contender. However, this much we know, Boras usually takes his clients through the free-agent process looking for every last dollar. And, we also know the Yankees, unlike the Mets, aren’t afraid to spend and have the resources to live through a bad contract.

Sure, this is a few years down the road, but Boras operates with a multi-year calendar.

Feb 09

Harvey Arrives In Camp; Says All The Right Things

Matt Harvey didn’t want to see Port St. Lucie last summer during his rehab program, but now he couldn’t be happier to see the place … and answer all those questions.

Harvey reported to spring training ten days ahead of the Mets’ reporting date and was clearly anxious to put last year behind him, telling reporters today he’s excited and on schedule.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

“I’m healthy. I’m right where I need to be, and I’m excited about getting started,’’ Harvey said this afternoon. “The big test will be once hitters get in there and facing them. I’ve been throwing [bullpen sessions], and everything is right where I want it to be. It’s an exciting spring training for me.’’

Last year, Harvey wanted to rehab in New York and not Florida, and also pushed the Mets at every turn about wanting to pitch at the end of the 2014 season.

He expressed no regrets today about how he was handled.

“Looking back on it, I think everybody made the right decision,’’ Harvey said. “I’m in a good place right now.’’

Call it an olive branch. It’s the first day and everybody is optimistic and in a good mood. No need for him to dredge up bad feelings. However, there are details to be ironed out and we’ll eventually see how harmonious things are between Harvey and the Mets.

GM Sandy Alderson is on record as saying Harvey will work with a to-be-determined innings ceiling. As of now, it appears he won’t be the Opening Day starter, but could start the home opener. That’s one missed start, but only a beginning. Will the Mets place him on the disabled list at midseason? Will they limit him to seven innings each start? Will they skip him once a month? Will he even be ready to start the season?

It would be great to have all these answers now, and hopefully this will be determined – and Harvey on board with everything – before the Mets break camp.

As for now, Harvey is saying all the right things.

“My goal is to be ready for Opening Day, regardless of what is decided,’’ Harvey said. “We haven’t really discussed anything. I don’t think anything’s set in stone.’’

The concept of an innings limit became popular in 2012 when Washington shut down Stephen Strasburg in September in his first season following Tommy John surgery and subsequently missed the playoffs. Now, it is in vogue.

Of course, right now it is premature to suggest the playoffs are even in the cards for the Mets, but this much is for certain, there will be no October for them if Harvey is re-injured.

Feb 09

Niese Faces Pivotal Season

Every spring there is that singular player whose career might hang in the balance as is Jonathon Niese’s with the New York Mets.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

It was in 2012 when the Mets signed him to a long-term contract through 2016. They signed him for all the right reasons. He threw hard; is left-handed; the contract provided cost certainty; he had some degree of major league success; and at the time was relatively healthy.

In the three years since, he’s won just 30 games, hadn’t pitched 200 innings in any season, and sustained one form of injury or another every year.

With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard and left-hander Steven Matz waiting in the wings – and let’s not forget Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee remain on the 40-man roster – it doesn’t take much to figure Niese’s value to the Mets is rapidly diminishing, especially since they put him on the block over the winter.

All the reasons why the Mets signed Niese, and why he was coveted by other teams in trade talks, aren’t as prevalent. If 2015 is anything like the last three seasons, next year at this time we might not even be talking about him in the rotation as Matz could supplant him.

Of all the Mets who need a big and healthy season, Niese ranks at the top of my list.

 

Feb 08

Anticipation Growing For Mets’ Harvey

The circus that will soon be the New York Mets’ spring training is days away when Matt Harvey will roll into Port St. Lucie. Then the questions will start, and won’t likely stop any time soon,

How’s your arm feel? When will you throw? Will you be ready for Opening Day? What’s your innings limit this season? How’s your arm feel?

Harvey will be asked about his arm before and after every start. He’ll also be asked how he felt about missing all of last season, and whether he should have been allowed to pitch.

While pitchers-and-catchers report next week, Harvey is expected to arrive early.

“There’s always that question mark,’’ Jonathon Niese, who is already in Port St. Lucie, told reporters. “I know he works his tail off and I know he’ll be ready. I don’t think there’s anybody who wants it more than he does.’’

That is, unless you discount every Mets’ fan who anguished over this team over the past decade.

Harvey spent much of his offseason working out at Citi Field and also training at the compound run by his agent, Scott Boras.

There’s a growing excitement surrounding this Mets’ team and Harvey is a big part of the anticipation. He was the talk of the town two summers ago, and spent a lot of time in the news last year, often complaining about wanting to pitch despite the Mets’ objections.

He’s again the talk of the Mets, and the organization and its fans can’t be any more excited.