Oct 27

Pedro gets the ball in Game #2

There wasn’t much surprise to the announcement when you consider some of the variables. Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 in New York because, 1) he’s pitched better than Cole Hamels recently, 2) he used to pitching in hostile Yankee Stadium, and 3) Hamels pitches better at home than on the road.

Martinez pitched seven shutout innings in a no-decision to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. He is 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 regular-season starts and 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two postseason starts at Yankee Stadium while with Boston. The most memorable of those games was Game 7 in 2003 when Grady Little stuck with him in the eighth inning with a three-run lead. The Yankees tied it and eventually won on Aaron Boone’s homer.

MARTINEZ: Money pitcher gets the ball in Game 2.

MARTINEZ: Money pitcher gets the ball in Game 2.

Undoubtedly, there will be the “who’s your daddy chants,” in reference to a statement Martinez made about the Yankees being his daddy.

Martinez vs. the Yankees is one of the more intriguing storylines of this World Series, made so because the veteran pitcher is a grinder and the expectations are of a close game. And, in the Series, you’ll always take close because you never know what might happen. Back then, the Red Sox were snake bit by the Yankees with the Curse and all, but there’s none of that with the Phillies.

“He’s been in the big moment, and I think that his performance the other day in Dodger Stadium, how good he pitched, he deserves another chance to go back out there,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Martinez. “I think he’s still got quite a bit left. I was watching those playoff games that he pitched in [for the Red Sox]. I noticed his velocity on his fastball was sitting at like 87 to 91 mph.

“He was even better than that over there at Dodger Stadium. He knows how to pitch. He uses all of his pitches. His command is absolutely outstanding. He doesn’t rely on throwing the ball by people anymore. He’s a pitcher.”

While it is true Martinez has pitched well for Philadelphia, it must not be overlooked he’s worked a minimum of innings and is fresher than he normally would be this late in the season. To look at Martinez’s success it is easy to say the Mets made a mistake, but it must be remembered, 1) he did have an injury history with the Mets, 2) Martinez did not want to come back in the secondary role he eventually settled with in Philly, and 3) the Mets had expectations from their rotation that never materialized.

I thought the Mets did the right thing with Martinez in not bringing him back. It was time to move younger, but who knew Maine, Pelfrey and Perez would all hit the skids for one reason or another?

As well as he pitched for the Phillies, the full season work load will still be a question when he goes on the free-agent market this winter. Martinez has given indications he wants to continue, but should he pitch well in the playoffs and the Phillies win, he might find it a good time to call it quits when he’s on top.

Oct 26

Mets’ nightmare comes true ….

The worst case scenario for Mets’ fans of a World Series between their two greatest rivals – the Yankees and Phillies – has reached fruition.

The Mets were left eating the dust of both, and they don’t appear to be in position to challenge either any time soon.

New York City, which some have argued is a National League town, belongs totally to the Yankees, who are in their 40th World Series seeking their 27th championship. Four World Series; two titles for the Mets.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.

The National League, for the second straight season, is owned by Philadelphia, seeking to become the first repeat champion since the Yankees, 1998-2000.

Many fans I speak to say they won’t watch, saying they don’t know whom to hate more. Selfishly, that’s not good news for me and the blog. Hopefully, the “baseball fan” in them will tune in.

However, the Mets and their fans, instead of lamenting their closed window, which slammed shut after a second straight September collapse in 2008, should step back and learn from their two tormentors.

The Mets, and probably nobody else, will match the October success the Yankees built over the last century. So what? What’s important is now.

Both teams opened new stadiums this summer, but the Yankees brought with them a revamped and retooled team. The Yankees took care of multiple needs last winter and added power in Mark Teixeira and pitching in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. The Mets, also having multiple needs, but addressed only the bullpen with the belief things will get better with a veteran closer.

Rarely does it work that way, as building one area of a team doesn’t address the other voids. Watch, win or lose over the next week, the Yankees will address their team aggressively in the offseason. They know they don’t have enough starting pitching; they know there are bullpen questions; the outfield is an issue with the possible departures of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets is that the team in the Bronx has a mission statement every season of WINNING the World Series. Getting there is not enough. And, please, let’s not hear about the Yankees’ unlimited resources. The Mets’ payroll is also formidable, but their approach is not nearly as aggressive.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.

As for the Phillies, they’ve also been more aggressive in filling holes than the Mets. The Phillies have a home grown core (Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins) as do the Mets (David Wright and Jose Reyes), but Philadelphia has been superior in filling its holes (Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Cliff Lee).

The Phillies will not stand still, even should they repeat. Unlike the Mets, the Phillies have the minor league resources to package should they decide to pursue Roy Halladay. The Yankees, of course, have always been known to be willing to part with minor league talent to win immediately.

Compounding the Mets’ dilemma with the Phillies, is that they aren’t their only competition in the National League East. Both Florida and Atlanta improved this season to overtake the Mets.

Both the Phillies and Mets, from the front office to the dugout, have a mindset beyond that of the Mets’ thinking, which gives the appearance of settling to become competitive.

The Mets had a good year at the gate, drawing 3.1 million (averaging 38,000), which was seventh in the majors (the Yankees and Phillies finished 2-3). However, rave reviews for Citi Field aren’t what’s important in the big picture. To keep drawing, and even increasing attendance is dependent on the quality of the product on the field.

Eventually, Citi Field will stop becoming a fan magnet, which is what happened in Baltimore and Cleveland when the Orioles and Indians hit the skids. Citi Field is too expensive, and New York City offers so many other diversions, for fans to keep coming out of curiosity.

Right now, Mets’ fans should only be curious about one thing: What is their team going to do to close the gap on the Phillies and Yankees?

Oct 23

Mets talking Chapman ….

When you’re young, left-handed, and can throw a ball 100 mph., you’re going to get the attention of major league scouts. And, because he escaped the attention of those assigned to guard him, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, is starting to make the rounds.

He’s talking with the Mets today.

CHAPMAN: Fishing for a ML deal.

CHAPMAN: Fishing for a ML deal.

Edwin Mejia, Chapman’s agent, says his client has a two and four-seam fastball, curve, slider, change and forkball. That’s a hefty scouting report, but until we get the same report from major league scouts take it with a grain of salt.

It has also been reported Chapman will get a contract up to $50 million, which is a lot for somebody who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the major leagues. Let’s also not forget he has left behind a wife and daughter, parents and sisters. Who is to say he won’t be distracted by being away from them. Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras had separation pangs.

It’s reported he’s 21, but there’s no real assurances yet, of that. Latin players are notorious for lying about their age. Hey, Hernandez still is.

While there’s no disputing there’s a wealth of talent in Cuba, remember it is not major league talent. We do not know what Chapman is capable of against major league hitters. We also don’t know how he’ll deal with the pressures and anxieties of living away from home.

If he’s the real deal, the Mets should be interested. But there are a lot of variables, so buyer beware.

Oct 22

Slogan stealing ….

Yes, Tug McGraw coined “Ya Gotta Believe,” during the 1973 pennant race. And, yes, the Phillies are using it now.

Question: Who cares?



Yes, that was a part of Mets Lore, a part in which a team barely over .500 snuck into the World Series. But, it was a Series they lost (yes, Yogi started the wrong guy in the end). However, I don’t recall either McGraw or the Mets copywriting the slogan. Fact is, McGraw re-used the slogan in 1980 while with the Phillies.

So what if Phillies’ fans are using it? Isn’t imitation the most sincerest form of flattery?

I find it puzzling Mets’ fans would be upset by this. Afterall, we’re talking about a slogan nearly 40 years old. In that span, the Phillies have won two World Series and the Mets only one.

I believe Mets fans should be more upset the Phillies have the superior team rather than them using a tired slogan.

Oct 22

Enough with the Valentine mourning ….

I am so bored with this Bobby Valentine talk and those lamenting him interviewing with Cleveland because they want him back with the Mets. Cleveland might not happen, but neither will Mets, The Sequel.

VALENTINE: Wrong number with Mets.

VALENTINE: Wrong number with Mets.

Valentine had his run with the Mets and fizzled out. Maybe it was the Valentine-Phillips chemistry, who knows? But, the Mets got as far as they were going to go with the Valentine and then regressed.

It’s not that I dislike Valentine, but when it comes to baseball, love the second time doesn’t always work. The expectations are too high and rarely attainable.

I don’t know if Jerry Manuel with a healthy team will put the franchise back into contention, but we will find out. In the interim, good luck to Bobby in his interview with Cleveland and wish him well. But, give up the ghost already, he’s not coming back so stop living in the past, which by the way, was ringless.