May 29

After The Bad And Ugly, Mets Show Us The Good

Nobody knows what will happen from here, but the New York Mets have given us a show the past three nights. They have given us a respite of thrills with three straight comeback victories in what has been a lifeless spring.

DUDA; Joyous moment.

                           DUDA: Joyous moment.

Let’s not be foolish enough to think the Mets will suddenly turn it on, reel off a 20-of-24 tear and cruise into the All-Star break as a contender. We can’t think that way because there still exist numerous holes and they’ve toyed with our emotions too many times for us to buy into it again.

They are my high school girlfriend, the ultimate tease.

However, the beauty of sports is its power to generate dreams and hope, and that forces us to ask this question about the past three nights: Why can’t they play like this all the time?

Even David Wright wonders from time to time.

“To win the last couple of games the way we have – coming back from behind – I think it gives everybody a little bit of confidence moving forward, especially against one of the upper-tier teams and against the best closer to ever do it. It means a lot,” said Wright, who for the second straight game drove in the tying run in the late innings.

Wright, the best the Mets have to offer, is having a superb season with a realistic chance to start an All-Star Game in his home park.

Although, Tuesday night had its blemishes, Matt Harvey – with Dwight Gooden looking on – gave us a juxtaposition of the Mets’ past and future, and a pretty damned good view of the present.

Harvey made one give-me-that-back pitch to Lyle Overbay, otherwise he could have pitched a shutout. He was that good; good enough for us to imagine him joining Wright in the All-Star Game.

Even so, Harvey was on the hook for his first loss when the Mets came to bat against Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Normally, Rivera might throw, say, nine pitches in a one-two-three night.

Rivera threw nine last night, but it was a double by Daniel Murphy, who again played a huge role, game-tying single by Wright, who advanced to second on an error by Brett Gardner, and scored on a broken bat single by Lucas Duda.

Terry Collins has preached aggressive base running, which is a way for an undermanned team to gain an edge. Wright hustled into scoring position on the error and pushed the envelope on Duda’s hit. Too many runners might have held up and waited for the ball to drop, but Wright got a tremendous jump.

Funny thing, as Wright slid home and Duda waived his teammates onto the field, I couldn’t help but think that would have been Ike Davis’ spot in the order. But, that’s a negative thought, and last night, the past three nights, are to be savored.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 26

From One Miserable Week To Another For Mets

It was a rough week for your Mets and the upcoming week doesn’t figure to get any easier.

Whatever good feelings developed at Wrigley Field quickly evaporated when they returned home to be swept by Cincinnati. They followed that with losing their first two against the Braves, with once again Dillon Gee running into that one buzz saw inning that shredded him. They conclude their series at Citi Field with Atlanta today behind 0-5 Shaun Marcum on the mound.

No, he’s not one to inspire Matt Harvey-like confidence.

If there was a Game of the Week, it was Harvey’s no-decision Wednesday, in which they took him off the hook to keep him unbeaten.

The Met most in focus this week was Ike Davis, whose .148 average has him on the verge of being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas since before the Pittsburgh series. Davis can’t hit the high heat or low-and-slow breaking pitches. He’s lost at the plate and carried his funk out to the field.

Pitchers on this level give no quarter, and despite Davis’ proclamation he needs to learn to hit on this level, it is obvious this isn’t the place, not with quality arms against him and the cascading boos. That the Mets have waited this long is indication of their thin minor league system and lack of faith in those players down below.

The Mets escape the National League this week for the Subway Series, this time under the new format of two games each in Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are always a formidable obstacle for the Mets, but despite a bulk of their multi-million dollar talent on the disabled list, the Yankees are sizzling. It is sobering the Yankees’ minor leaguers and retreads are better than the Mets’ starters.

Jon Niese and Harvey start Monday and Tuesday, respectively, at Citi Field, where tickets – and plenty of them – are available. They can also be had at Yankee Stadium, an indication the interleague gimmick is cooling.

Interleague play has never appealed to me, but since it isn’t going away, this is a better Mets-Yankees format. Have the games dominate the week and be done with them. Four games are right while six is too many.

Everywhere he goes in his farewell tour Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera visits with a selected group of fans and honored by the opposition. When the Yankees were in Cleveland, the home of Rock ‘n Roll, the Indians presented him a framed gold record of “Enter Sandman’’ his take-the-mound music as a gift. The Mets presented Chipper Jones with artwork of Shea Stadium.

The Mets will honor Rivera on Tuesday.

Noted for breaking bats with his fierce cutter, one of the best gift ideas I heard speculated was to presented him an autographed cracked bat from the opposition. It is such a novel idea.

I hope he gets one from David Wright. It is piling on, but I can’t help it, he won’t get one from Davis as that would mean making contact.

Yes, yes, that’s cruel. However, there is an element of truth to it, right?

The week ends in Miami for a series against the anonymous Marlins, whose lone reason for watching, Giancarlo Stanton, was injured when the teams last played.

Niese and Harvey are scheduled to go Saturday and Sunday.

Then comes June, but the good news is they can’t swoon any more than they already have.

Can they?

May 25

Ike Davis Needs The Minor Leagues Now

The Mets said they need more time to get an understanding of what’s going on with Ike Davis in order to make a decision on what to do with him

From Sandy Alderson on down these are professional baseball people with decades of experience. How can they not know Davis isn’t giving them anything; that he’s in a horrendous slump with shattered confidence?

DAVIS: One of four walks back to the dugout.

DAVIS: One of four walks back to the dugout.

Manager Terry Collins doesn’t know how much longer the Mets can live with Davis’ non-production, especially since they are getting little elsewhere.

“I know it’s wearing on him,’’ Collins told reporters Friday night. “I talk to these guys every day. I know it’s wearing on him.’’

It’s not as Davis isn’t working hard. Perhaps too hard.

“He took batting practice when they stopped the game.’’ Collins said. “He got in the cage. So I know it’s wearing on him. These players get to the big leagues because they’re very talented guys. They haven’t had to deal with much failure in their whole lives. When you deal with what he’s going through right now, it’s pretty hard to take it, because you’ve never been there before.’’

Davis said he needs to figure it out on this level and won’t get anything out of playing in the minor leagues. This is his primary problem. Like an alcoholic won’t get better until he admits to a problem, Davis won’t improve until he admits he needs reconstructive hitting surgery.

Major League pitchers, even mediocre ones, smell a hitter’s weaknesses and Davis has plenty. He’s vulnerable to fastballs high and breaking pitches low and away, meaning unless Davis gets a grooved fastball down the middle he’s not going to do anything. He didn’t get anything Friday night, striking out all four times. It was his third four-strikeout game this season, and has fallen to .143 in a 1-for-42 slide.

Slumps such Davis’ can make or break a player. Mickey Mantle slumped early in his career and considered quitting before his father lectured him. Mantle figured it out in the minor leagues and developed into one of the game’s greatest players.

Davis is on pace to strike out 195 times, but give the Mets only 15 homers, and worse, just 33 RBI. He already has 53 strikeouts compared to a combined 37 hits and walks. In just 1,318 career at-bats in 382 games, he has a staggering 363 strikeouts.

By contrast, Joe DiMaggio is known for his 56-game hitting streak, but nearly almost impressive in his 13-year career are just 369 strikeouts with 361 home runs.

Yes, the game has changed since DiMaggio’s time. There’s no longer a stigma to striking out, but it is as if Davis doesn’t care. Here is where he and other players today are simply wrong in their approach and aren’t being trained properly in developing a sound hitting plan. Despite today’s huge individual contracts, this remains a team sport. Strikeouts are a wasted at bat, where so many potential things can happen – including more hits, homers and RBI – when a ball is put into play.

I don’t care if it is Zach Lutz, or Josh Satin, who is not on the 40-man roster, or Wilmer Flores, who is no getting a start at first base at Triple-A Las Vegas, but somebody has to play first base for the Mets until Davis gets his head, and swing, straight.

This is long overdue, as the right time was over a month ago.

 

May 23

Apocalypse Now? Mets Down, Ticket Sales Down, SNY Viewership Down

Last season, with an Ike Davis that was as woeful as he is now, the New York Mets were still eight games above .500 on June 8. Here it is, three weeks into May, and the Mets are already ten games below .500.

That 2012 team lost 88 games, how many will this year’s version lose? Shockingly, this team, now in the third year of the Sandy Alderson era, is on pace to lose 101 games.

I used ESPN’s Attendance Tracker and the team is bleeding not only money – but fans…

Average Attendance

2010 – 32,401

2011 – 30,108

2012 – 28,035

2013 – 25,895

The Mets are down an average of 6,905 fans per game since the 2010 season. That equates to over a half-million fans that are unwilling to buy tickets to see the current product on the field.

Remember how hot Subway Series tickets used to be?

In a recent article by Mark LaMonica of Newsday, he reported that the Mets are so bad and unwatchable, even Subway Series ticket sales, which at one time were sold-out in hours – are very available and selling for less than the exorbitant prices they used to go for.

The combined average price for the four-game Subway Series (May 27-30) this year is $133 as of Monday, according to TiqIQ.com, a ticket reseller that aggregates ticket prices across multiple secondary markets. That’s down 13 percent from 2012, 19 percent from 2011 and 34 percent from 2010.

Don’t think it’s the on-field performance alone. This team suffers from a severe lack of star power, and I would hate to think how much worse things would be if not for a holdover by the name of Matt Harvey. He alone is hauling in over 5,000 more fans per game than when anyone else starts.

Think those fans who opted out of buying tickets are staying home and watching instead?

Think again…

According to this Daily News article, the SNY viewership numbers are even worse and almost double the percentage of decline in attendance from last season.

The Mets on SNY are averaging a household rating of 1.91, down 22% from the same point in 2012. Among men 25-54, the key demographic, the Mets are averaging a 1.05 rating, down 15% from 2012.

Things have gotten so bad that most games are now a two-man booth. It’s no longer Gary, Keith and Ron and more like Gary, Keith or Ron.

Every minute of each telecast is a non-stop barrage of Cholula Hot Sauce and MetsBlog promos. Even the score bug has drop down ads every half inning.

It’s not just the team on the field that is sinking (and stinking)  – it’s everything on down including ticket sales and worst of all, SNY viewership.

Everything is being sponsored by someone whether it’s the game broadcast and even the posts on MetsBlog themselves. The Wilpons are trying to squeeze every penny they can and in anyway they can to stay above water. The SNY broadcast and editorial content on their blog network are both working in step with ownership on everything.

I think most Met fans are just sick of everything being done on the cheap – so they don’t pay to watch the team play, and many more don’t even bother to tune in and watch either. Except when Matt Harvey is pitching.

I don’t know how much longer they can stay in this, ummm, whatever you want to call this mode… But I do know this… It’s starting to feel a lot like 1978 around here.

Who is burried in Grant's Tomb

GRANT’S TOMB

May 22

Time For Collins To Stop Making Excuses For Ike Davis

Ike sad

Ike Davis has lost his way. Not just at the plate, but in the field too. Terry Collins said after the game today, that the first baseman’s slump at the plate has not affected his play on the field. I beg to differ.

Maybe Terry feels a desperate need to defend his players, but to say that his last few miscues on the field are unrelated to what Davis is going through at the plate doesn’t ring true.

We’ve all seen Ike Davis at his best and have all marveled as fans over his gold glove caliber defense. But that was then and this is now. His instincts at first base are deteriorating and I believe it’s because he has something else eating at his mind. Davis is so unfocused and frequently looks like he’s in a daze.

During the 2010 through 2012 seasons, Ike Davis makes that play today down the first base line rather than just staring at it. The same can be said about his faux pas two days earlier when he stood in front of the runner on the basepath like a zombie and got called for obstruction.

Why can’t Terry Collins see what is so apparent to the few thousand fans who still go to the game? There’s a good reason why Davis is absorbing all the boos at the plate and now in the field. This isn’t the same player we grew to love almost from the first moment he made his debut three years ago. Remember how excited we were? Who didn’t think Ike Davis was a core player right from the start?

We want that Ike Davis back again. The only way that happens is by doing the right thing and sending him to Triple-A where he can sort out his problems and rediscover his stroke, his glove, and more importantly his confidence that is evidently shattered.

I’m not mad at Davis, I’m really not. But I am angry at Terry Collins who constantly makes excuses for bad baseball. There seems to be no more accountability on this team, only a boatload of excuses after each game. I guess that’s what I’m most concerned about. I want a manager who gets pissed off when he sees a breakdown in baseball fundamentals and not cover for his players.

Maybe Ike Davis’ biggest problem is Terry Collins who seems to have become his enabler… I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist, but it sure looks that way…

Davis is a very likable guy and I still believe he has a world of talent. But it’s time for the Mets to save him… It’s time for the Mets to try and get Davis back on track and that’s not going to happen in the major leagues. Just do the right for crying out loud…