Nov 08

Mets Hope Shortening Outfield Walls at Citi Will Prove Succesful

Citi-Field-New-Fences-2014

For the second time since moving into their new home in 2009, the New York Mets will be moving the outfield walls at Citi Field, reportedly bringing the right field wall closer to home plate, in an effort to help boost their overall homerun production, particularly power hitters such as David Wright and Curtis Granderson.

Following the 2011 MLB season, the Mets made significant changes to the ballpark dimensions at Citi Field, bringing in the left field wall by as much as 13 feet and right center field by 17 feet, and lowering the wall height to eight feet throughout the outfield.

In 2012, the first season played in their modified home, the Mets’ homerun production jumped from 108, 26th overall in the majors, to 139, with the biggest beneficiary being lefty first baseman Ike Davis, who hit a career-high 32 dingers to lead the team.

Although the Mets, who are pegged as 40/1 longshots to win the 2015 World Series in MLB Betting at sportsbooks available through www.bettingsports.com, have yet to comment on any planned modifications to the ball park, recently published aerial pics indicate that significant work on the outfield wall is already underway with the primary focus on the right center field area.

The upcoming changes are expected to be formally unveiled by the ball club in late November, and should provide a boost to the Mets’ power production, once again among the lowest in MLB in 2014, 20th overall with just 125 total. But shortening the porch also means changes are likely in store for the Mets’ pitching staff.

Veteran hurler Bartolo Colon and right hander Dillon Gee, who gave up 18 home runs in 22 appearances for the Mets this season will likely be moving on due to their susceptibility to give up long fly balls, many of which would carry as homers in the newly modified park. But with young hurlers Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, both ground ball pitchers, looking ready to take on bigger roles in Queens, the timing could not be better for the Mets.

New York is not the only ball club that has modified its ballpark’s dimensions in recent years in an effort to increase power production.

The Seattle Mariners significantly shortened the left field wall at Safeco Field prior to the 2013 MLB season, from 390 feet to 378 feet, while the right field fence was shortened by 11 feet as part of a major renovation at the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park.

The moves produced immediate dividends for both west coast clubs with the Padres jumping from a MLB third-worst 121 dingers in 2012 to 146 in 2013, while the M’s jumped from a middling 149 long balls in 2012 to 188, second best in the majors in 2013.

Oct 29

Who Really Cares About The Ratings?

Word is the ratings for this World Series have been among the lowest ever. Probably because San Francisco and Kansas City aren’t marquee franchises.

Funny, but hasn’t Major League Baseball’s biggest argument for revenue sharing was to give the “small market’’ teams a chance at being competitive?

The Bay Area is a substantial market, but the Giants aren’t the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Red Sox, the so called glamour teams.

All along, MLB has been clamoring for competitive balance and when they get it, the gripe is nobody is watching.

Major League Baseball isn’t happy about this pairing, and FOX Sports isn’t happy. And, the fans of tomorrow and the elderly fans aren’t happy because the games are on too late.

Hopefully, somebody is enjoying this Series. Ratings? I don’t care about ratings. All I know is I am watching.

Oct 09

Are The Games Really Too Long?

As one of his last acts as baseball commissioner, Bud Selig wants to add “speeding up the game,’’ to his legacy.

A seven-member committee appointed by Selig to study the issue includes Mets GM Sandy Alderson, but no active players. MLB union director Tony Clark was designated to speak on behalf of the players.

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

TRACHSEL: Slow and painful. (AP)

After years of collaborative efforts between management and the players, it smacks of the early “bad old days’’ under Selig in which the owners acted unilaterally and strong-armed the players.

That led to bad blood and several work stoppages that included the sacking of the 1994 World Series. That too, in addition to the money MLB is making, is part of Selig’s legacy.

“It’s just important for us to have a say,’’ Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson told ESPN. “It doesn’t need to be all 750 of us. It’s just important to have three or four players who can say, ‘Hey, we’ve noticed this, and we feel this way.’ ’’

It is puzzling, and some might suggest hypocritical, that the sport without a clock is trying to speed up the pace of the game by forcing pitchers to work faster and hitters keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times.

During those lulls is when the players compose their thoughts and re-focus. Forcing the hitter back into the box or rushing the pitcher to throw could lead to mistakes and perhaps the outcome of the game.

At the best, they might shave three or four minutes off a game. Nobody has offered what else could be done in those four minutes.

The bottom line is if a game is played crisply and isn’t sloppy, nobody will complain about the length of the game. Who was complaining after the Giants-Nationals 18-inning playoff game?

Now, don’t go saying, “well, it’s the playoffs, it’s different.’’ It is different in one respect as there was no shortage of commercials between innings.

Unquestionably, the primary reason games might run long are the numerous commercial breaks between innings. However, don’t ask MLB to ask the networks for shorter commercials. If speeding up the game is that important, cut the commercial time. The networks demand the time so they can charge more and consequently pay the large rights fees.

No doubt some pitchers could stand to work faster as it would make them more efficient. I also grumbled at the likes of Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez who were excruciating if not painful to watch.

Part of the problem, management says, is the hitters take too many pitches. Isn’t that what Alderson wants his hitters to do? He’s been quoted numerous times as wanting his hitters to be more selective.

As for Joe Torre, his Yankee teams won four World Series in large part because of their ability to work the count and drive up the opposing pitcher’s pitch count. One of the most memorable moments of the 2000 Subway World Series was Paul O’Neill’s ninth-inning 10-pitch at-bat against Armando Benitez after falling behind 1-and-2 in the count.

That’s what those Yankee teams did. That’s what the Mets should do now. I’d much rather see Juan Lagares work the at-bat to eight pitches and draw a walk then swing at garbage and pop up.

Hey, if Ike Davis had bothered to learn that, he might still be with the Mets instead of wondering what happened to his career.

By its nature, baseball is an ebb-and-flow game, with lulls followed by bursts of action. When the hitter steps out, that’s when fathers and sons talk and bond. In the NBA and NFL, lulls are met with video clips and loud music. People don’t talk at those games.

Those conversations are how the game is passed from generation to generation, along with watching the playoffs on television, which is another topic.

This is another example that the caretakers of the game don’t understand their own product. Yes, there are games that last too long. If that’s the case and you are bored, turn the channel or get up and leave.

However, if the game is interesting, close and compelling, odds are you’ll use that time when the manager goes out to visit the pitcher to catch your breath.

Sep 15

Harvey Throws Simulated Game; Mets To Be Commended For Handling Difficult Injury

It wasn’t what he had in mind, but Matt Harvey did get on Citi Field’s mound in 2014.

Several times during the season Harvey chirped about wanting to return in September, and the Mets are to be commended for not giving in to his ardent posturing.

For a team hurting at the gate and playing better than expected, it could have been tempting to acquiesce to Harvey, who made things difficult for the organization, beginning with initially not wanting surgery.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

Not only did Harvey challenge the Mets’ timetable, but also where he’d rehab. Even so, the Mets realized Harvey’s potential and didn’t cave.

Harvey consistently touched the radar gun at 95 mph., in a simulated game this afternoon. It marked the first time he was clocked since last October’s Tommy John surgery. GM Sandy Alderson said Harvey’s workload in spring training would be like any other starter.

“Everything we were trying to accomplish this season has been accomplished,’’ Alderson told reporters today. “From our standpoint, we want to make sure he was physically back to a level that would ensure he wasn’t behind in spring training.

“And then, secondly, he needed to be back to a state mentally where he felt comfortable going into next season and the uncertainty has been eliminated. We feel we’re at that point.’’

Alderson expressed no regret to how the team handled Harvey’s rehab.

“He hasn’t thrown against hitters,’’ Alderson said. “He hasn’t thrown in games. But, given the schedule and the natural healing process and everything else, we felt this was the right place for him to stop and rest and pick it up next season.’’

Because of the potential for strain on the elbow, the only pitch Harvey did not throw today was his slider. Alderson admitted there’s a strong chance Harvey will be on a strict innings count in 2015, the year the Mets have pointed to when they’ll swim in competitive waters.

The Mets have frequently been criticized for their handling of injuries, but not this time.

Jul 27

Glavine Gets Inducted Into Hall of Fame

glavine-739958The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct its 2014 class today in Cooperstown, NY and standing among them will be two former Mets. Joe Torre, who was elected by the Veterans Committee, played for the Mets from 1975-1977, where he hit .267 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in 254 games. Torre began his managerial career with the Mets in 1977 and skippered the team through 1981, going 286-420. LHP?Tom Glavine will also be enshrined today. Glavine was 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA?in five seasons (2004-2007) with New York.

To baseball fans, Glavine was one of the best pitchers of his generation.  He won 305 games over his 22-year career, including five 20-win seasons.  He finished in the top three in Cy Young Award balloting six times, while winning the award twice (1991, 1998).

Mets fans might remember him for something different.  Some will remember Glavine for picking up his 300th career victory in 2007 as a member of the Mets. Others will remember his outstanding 2006 campaign; a year in which he finished with a 15-7 record in the regular season and followed that up with two more victories in the postseason, which included a sparkling 1.59 ERA in three starts.

Some of us will only remember Glavine for his final appearance in a Mets uniform…

On September 30, 2007, just one day after John Maine pitched his near no-hitter against the Marlins to help the Mets tie the Phillies in the standings going into the regular season finale, Glavine was only able to record one out against Florida in what would be the worst start of his career.

The veteran southpaw was tagged hard for seven runs – all earned – by the Marlins that day in a devastating 8-1 loss.  Coupled with Philadelphia’s victory over the Washington Nationals, the Mets failed to repeat as division champions in 2007 and the late-season collapse was etched in stone. With a seven-game division lead on September 12, the Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games in what is regarded as one of the worst collapses in MLB history.

If his poor performance against the Marlins wasn’t enough to enrage Mets fans, his post-game comments surely managed to do the trick when Glavine told reporters he was disappointed but not devastated.

“I spent a pretty big hunk of my career in New York. And I know at first I was just a guy coming in. But after a while, I became comfortable, and I think I was accepted. Winning the National League East in 2006 made it better, and then I won my 300th with the Mets. I felt I had the city behind me. If we had beaten the Marlins in the last game, I don’t think I would have lost any standing. But the way it worked out wasn’t as good as it could have been.”

As a baseball fan, I appreciate what Tom Glavine did on the baseball field.  While I rooted for him everyday as a Met. for some reason I never quite looked at him as a Met. Whenever I saw him I saw Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox. The Tomahawk Chop would be playing in my head. He’ll be joining his teammate Maddux this afternoon on that podium.

I want to congratulate Glavine, who was always a class act on and off the field. He was a great competitor, a quality postseason pitcher, and he was always a plus in the clubhouse.

However, as a Mets fan, every time I think of the final 17 games of the 2007 season, I think of Tom Glavine. In many ways we are still trying to recover from that historic collapse.

Congratulations on your Hall of Fame enshrinement, Mr. Glavine.

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