Sep 29

Mets To Enter Winter Honoring Mike Piazza

There will be a twinge of sadness in the air for the New York Mets this afternoon at Citi Field, as the final day of the season means dreams and hopes long forgotten.

It means the expectations of spring have died, that there is no more time, that precious little – if anything – can be salvaged, and soon the plush green of the outfield will be covered by bitter snow.

PIAZZA: Mets Hall of Famer.

PIAZZA: Mets Hall of Famer.

Once again, the goal of this game – to compete in October – will go unfulfilled for the Mets as they succumbed to injuries, thin talent and long stretches of mediocrity to limp through a fifth straight losing season.

Yes, there will be sadness today at Citi Field, but also moments of reflection and perhaps optimism.

Today also includes the honoring of Mike Piazza, who will be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Gary Carter. Someday, Piazza could graduate from the Mets’ Hall of Fame by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to the Hall in Cooperstown.

It would be fitting for the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history, and one of the central figures when the franchise last saw October.

The Mets will celebrate Piazza’s career with the Mets, the team he said he would like to honor by having the interlocking “NY’’ on the cap in his Hall of Fame plaque, that is if enough voters can see their way through the PED accusations and accompanying stigma.

There will be speakers lauding of Piazza’s brilliant career against the backdrop of photos of him in action. When it is over there will be another long deserved standing ovation before attention is turned to the Mets, who will try to avoid sliding into the offseason with a four-game losing streak.

Despite another disappointing season, which saw the promise of Matt Harvey shut down with an elbow injury that could prevent him from pitching before 2015, the Mets are expected to announce the extension of manager Terry Collins’ contract.

Extensions are given with the promise of better days to come, and for the Mets, with the contract of Johan Santana off the books, that should mean money spent on talented players.

Those players might not have the career of a Piazza, but there’s always hope, which is the essence of baseball, even after another long season.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 25

Mets’ Collins Can’t Say Goodbye To Summer With Matsuzaka

Terry Collins has been endorsed by this blog several times to come back to manage the New York Mets next season, but only if that is a multi-year contract. Collins should tell the Mets “no thanks,’’ and walk away if the contract offer is for one year or one plus an option. Anything else puts him in lame duck status and that’s not fair.

Collins doesn’t have many “serious’’ choices left season, excluding the naming of his lineup. In that regard, Collins would be absolutely foolish to start Daisuke Matsuzaka as the starter in the season finale Sunday at Citi Field.

NIESE: Want to see him one more time. (AP)

NIESE: Want to see him one more time. (AP)

“I’ll probably go with Daisuke,’’ Collins told reporters in Cincinnati prior to today’s game. “He’s one of those guys who loves to pitch. He could throw 125 pitches in a game and be ready to go three days later without being the worse for wear.’’

I don’t give a damn if he loves to pitch. And, regardless of how many pitches he throws he won’t have another game three days later. Based on his performance for the Mets, he might not get a spring training invite to Port St. Lucie. He should only get one if the Mets are thin on starters, definitely not on merit.

So, why bother starting him? The ball has to go to Jon Niese, and if the reasons aren’t obvious to Collins, allow me the liberty to point them out.

Matsuzaka’s body of work with the Mets has been slightly above that of bad. It is the last day of another loss season, so why would you want to leave the fan base of that as the season’s last memory? Why give them a foul taste?

It is reminiscent of Jerry Manuel’s decision to pitch Oliver Perez in the final game of the 2010 season. Perez had been a cancer, both on the mound and in the clubhouse, that year yet Manuel decided to leave that image. Maybe, and I don’t discount this, he was sticking it to the Mets, whom he knew wouldn’t bring him back.

Maybe he was telling the fans who continually booed him to go to hell. Who knows? We haven’t heard from Manuel since.

In contrast, the Mets are negotiating to bring back Collins, so why, on a day the franchise is honoring Mike Piazza, will he want to leave Matsuzaka as the “good-bye to 2013’’ image?

Just not smart.

The start has to go to Niese, who will be part of the franchise’s future. Don’t chance injury by taxing him, although it will be on short rest. Give him five innings max and turn it over to the relievers who have a chance to make next year’s team: Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, LaTroy Hawkins.

If the Mets had a sense of imagination, they would have had Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard throwing all this time and had them pitch in the season finale, only if for an inning or two. Say good-bye for the summer with a real look at the future.

I know, I know, it never would have happened because it would have meant tinkering with the 40-man roster. That’s a rule that should be modified so a team can showcase it’s minor league talent for one game in September, but only if has been eliminated.

But, it would have been a way of giving their frustrated fan base a glimpse into spring training.

And, one more thing, since David Wright is back, I don’t want to hear anything about resting him for a day this weekend.

If you’ve hung around this summer and you’re buying a ticket for this weekend, you deserve a chance to see him play.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 23

If Mets Want Terry Collins Back They Should Make Move Immediately

The New York Mets already know their plans for manager Terry Collins moving forward. Any meetings this week in Cincinnati between Collins and GM Sandy Alderson is for show. The Mets know if they want to retain Collins – indications are they do – and should have already expressed their intent regarding years and money to him.

It would be ridiculous if they have not.

Alderson (L) should not delay in making Collins (R) announcement.

Alderson (L) should not delay in making Collins (R) announcement.

Based on Collins’ job with little talent the past three years, and glut of injuries the past two summers, he merits an opportunity to stay on to benefit from the fruits of their upcoming winter spending.

From his perspective, Collins should know what he wants to do, and probably knows he’s not a hot ticket and likely wouldn’t hear the phone ring too often if he didn’t return to the Mets. He should also know is response should be a “no thank you,” if the offer is for one year.

If the Mets don’t want Collins, they must consider the pool of available managers and realize they won’t pay a loaded contract to Tony La Russa or Jim Leyland, if the latter would leave the Tigers. It’s been suggested the Mets want a “yes man,” and if that’s Collins, so be it.

Quite simply, the Mets can’t afford a maverick, and Alderson probably doesn’t want to work with one.

Ron Gardenhire’s contract expires after this season, but based on media reports, there’s no reason to believe the Minnesota won’t get an extension from general manager Terry Ryan. The Twins have had an awful few years after an impressive run. The Twins are about doing things on a tight budget, which would make him perfect for the Mets.

However, the Twins are also about consistency, which explains their run of success with Gardenhire.

If not Gardenhire, my choices would be either Charlie Manuel, who got a raw deal in Philadelphia, or going through another era of Davey Johnson, who clearly does not want to retire from the Washington Nationals. Johnson, of course, won’t come cheaply.

Please, let’s not hear anything about being too old. Both are sharp and still have considerable to teach and fire left in the tank.

However, since neither would happen we’re back to Collins.

For all the talk about the Mets being a big-market club, they really aren’t in their mentality and actions.

This is especially evident in their off-season spending habits and that in the 13 seasons since their 2000 World Series appearance, they have had four general managers and five managers. That’s a little over three years average per general manager and roughly 2.5 years per manager.

There’s no stability in that, and considering Collins knew most of these players from his time in the Mets’ minor league system, he comes off as the best choice.

They are building a foundation and culture with Collins, who stuck with the Mets in the bad times, and now deserves to stay with the future looking promising.

There’s no reason to delay announcing Collins’ extension.

Normally, I’d say the last day of the season, but that’s reserved for Mike Piazza. The Mets should make the announcement prior to the first game of the Milwaukee series, and if not, the day after the season ends.

There’s no reasonable explanation for not making an immediate announcement, because by now both sides should know their thinking.

A delay gives the perception of confusion and indecision, and haven’t the Mets had enough of that label?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 11

Bobby Valentine Off Base In Criticism Of Yankees’ 9-11 Presence

Bobby Valentine was a loose cannon when he managed the New York Mets and not much has changed.

VALENTINE: Off base in comments.

VALENTINE: Off base in comments.

Today, one that should be about reflection and remembrance of those lost their lives, do we really need Valentine to open old wounds and accentuate pettiness?

That’s exactly what Valentine did while speaking on WFAN, the soon to be ex-flagship station of the Mets. The former manager who doesn’t always have a filter between brain and mouth, was at it again. The only thing missing were the fake glasses and mustache.

The Mets, as I wrote earlier, should be commended for their actions following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Mets were certainly visible as Shea Stadium was used as a staging ground for trucks unloading supplies.

Valentine and his players, in uniform, maintained a high profile helping unload those supply trucks. The Mets also made numerous public appearances to police and fire stations, as well as visiting the injured. And, with the Mike Piazza homer, no single post September 11 baseball moment was as emotional and unifying.

The Mets were to be commended, but Valentine came off as petty, not to mention wrong, when he fired a shot at the Yankees 12 years later.

“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were [not around],’’ Valentine said. “You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7.’’

What did he have to gain by saying this?

Let it be said Valentine is totally wrong and came off as reminding us why, in large part, he lost his job managing the Mets. Valentine, quite simply, has a tendency of rubbing people the wrong way. As knowledgeable he is as an analyst, he’s way off base on this one, and today was not the day to inflame old wounds.

The old Yankee Stadium, because of logistics, wasn’t ideal for a staging ground, but I covered the Yankees then, and I know they made their share of appearances to fire and police stations. Roger Clemens, as creature of habit as there is for a pitcher, made appearances on the day he started.

As if Valentine couldn’t get his foot in his mouth any deeper, he sure tried.

“Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault,’’ Valentine said. “And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we [the Mets] so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’’

The way it sounds coming from Valentine, it does seem about credit. When you do something, volunteer as the Mets did, you do it without fanfare. It sounds as if Valentine is seeking a pat on the back. It comes off sounding like the Mets made all those appearances for the public relations impact. I know this isn’t true because the Mets are as generous any New York team when it comes to giving back to the community, but Valentine’s comments come off as craving acknowledgement.

If it really is about doing the right thing, Valentine should extend a formal apology to the Yankees, because he’s wrong. The Yankees got credit for bringing baseball back because they played in an emotional World Series that season, and let’s face it, they are more high-profile nationally than the Mets.

The Mets?

They were 82-80 in 2001 and largely irrelevant after Piazza’s ball cleared the wall. That’s something Valentine conveniently forgot, but when you operate without a filter, that happens.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 11

Mets To Remember September 11

Whatever they have in mind, the New York Mets will have a tasteful display tonight in honor of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It will be emotional, especially for the first responders who lost family and friends, it won’t reach the level of the night when baseball returned to New York at Shea Stadium and Mike Piazza permanently reached folk hero status.

Nothing can duplicate that night because nerves were still frayed raw and lower Manhattan was continuing to smolder.

Every year we remember, as we should, and the events of that day will simply be identified by the date, similar to December 7 and June 6.

Americans died then, and sadly, there are fewer and fewer who remember. September 11 will stay fresh for a long time, especially since Americans are still dying in the Middle East, one of the ramifications of that day.

Like all of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing at the time. I’ll never forget, and don’t need a slogan to help me remember.

My wife and I were on the New Jersey Turnpike, just having passed the exit to Philadelphia, when I heard the news on the radio. At first it was one plane and details were sketchy. Then it was two and all the world knew it was no accident.

We were moving to New York from Maryland. Our movers were volunteer firemen from New York. They left our stuff at one of the rest stops and hustled back into the city before the bridges were closed.

We had to drive north through New Jersey and circle back down into Connecticut to get to our new home. There was no television hook-up, but I was transfixed by the radio coverage, like America was on December 7 and June 6.

I was covering the Yankees at the time, and they were to open a series with the Chicago White Sox that night. I suppose the White Sox got home by bus, passing the volunteers heading the opposite direction into New York.

Both the Mets and Yankees were commendable in their efforts to comfort, but sadly some shots were fired across the bow as to which organization did more. The Mets were in the forefront because the Shea Stadium parking lot was used as a staging area, and there were countless photos of Bobby Valentine and his players loading supplies.

Both teams visited hospitals and fire houses in the city, as the Mets did yesterday.

I never felt safer on an airplane than when play resumed and the Yankees traveled to Chicago. “We hate the Yankees, but love New York,’’ read several banners.

It was an odd feeling to watch baseball again, but as the game progressed, it became more comfortable.

But not normal. Never normal again.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos