Jun 22

Mets Against Yankees, Interleague As A Whole Ran Its Course

What does interleague play and Roger Clemens have in common?

Both were products of a time when baseball’s management was at war with its players. Management, and that includes commissioner Bud Selig, were so adamant against player salaries rising and free agency, that they were willing to kill the 1994 World Series.

When play stopped late in the summer of 1994 – the Yankees and Montreal Expos were the elite of each league – the gap was so wide that no resolution could be reached and Selig eventually killed the World Series.

It would continue to the spring of 1995 and Selig’s brain-dead proposal of replacement players. Several times the owners were found guilty of collusion and dealing in bad faith by the courts. But, those facts didn’t matter. Baseball was in another work stoppage and the public didn’t care about the wars between millionaires and billionaires, and was rightfully turned off.

Baseball, in dire need of getting back the public, and in turn the taxpayer support to continue building new stadiums across the country was desperate. With the tradition of the World Series already trashed, let’s go the whole route and kill the concept of the leagues, the foundation for nearly a century. That brought us the gimmick of interleague play.

From there, major league baseball and the commissioner stuck their heads in the sand when the balls started flying at record paces in 1998. The home run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated baseball fans, and even brought us the heart warming moment of McGwire embracing Roger Maris’ son the night he broke the single season home run record.

It was steroids that fueled McGwire and Sosa, and other sluggers as well. Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Gonzalez. There have even been whispers about Mike Piazza.

Only, when prying eyes of the media and Congress questioned the pinball scores in the major leagues were steroids seriously discussed. It also took a high school kid dying to fuel the investigations.

Of course, pitchers weren’t immune, and that brings us to Clemens. The sport knew something was going on, but as long as there wasn’t anything in the books, the balls kept flying and people kept filling the seats. MLB didn’t care because it was making back the millions in losses from the strike of 1994.

Interleague play was a gimmick that briefly sparked attendance in some parks, but has waned. During this last week of games, attendance was below its capacity everywhere. The only time this week capacity was reached was in Philadelphia, but that was for a National League game against the Rockies.

The Yankees didn’t sell out for the Mets, the White Sox didn’t sell out for the Cubs, and the Mets haven’t sold out this weekend. Things have run its course.

As for the steroids, that has run its course for several years. The gimmicks and fast fixes are being rejected.

Maybe the commissioner will notice.

 

 

Jun 15

Mets’ Appeal Denied

As it should have been, the MLB denied the Mets’ appeal on R.A. Dickey’s one-hitter. The Mets’ argument was it should have been a no-hitter because they believe David Wright committed an error.

The denial came down shortly before tonight’s game against Cincinnati at Citi Field.

Manager Terry Collins said the process allowed an appeal so he rolled the dice.

“We didn’t win,” Collins said. “We didn’t expect to win it. We gave it a try. If we had won it, we would have had another no-hitter and we wouldn’t have to wait another 50 years.”

It was the proper call by MLB, which would have opened a Pandora’s Box if it allowed the appeal.

 

May 15

Mets Notebook: Josh Thole, Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Terry Collins said this afternoon Josh Thole has been headache-free for several days and is expected to go on a rehab assignment before he’s activated from the disabled list. The Mets haven’t had a drop off defensively and the pitchers like throwing to Mike Nickeas. However, Nickeas isn’t much of an offensive threat.

Lefty reliever Tim Byrdak is on pace to make over 90 appearances which could force the Mets’ hands and have them seeking another lefty reliever.

Terry Collins said Kirk Nieuwenhuis is feeling more comfortable. He feels as if he belongs. As I wrote earlier today, I believe the Mets’ first option is to rotate Nieuwenhuis when Jason Bay is ready to come off the disabled list.

In what is the least guarded secrets, MLB will announce the Mets to get the 2013 All-Star Game.

In scanning the box scores, I wonder how much the Mets now regret not signing pitcher Derek Lowe, who is winning big for Cleveland. You’ll recall the Mets eschewed the chance to sign Lowe and instead gave Oliver Perez $36 million over three years.

The tarp is off the field, and here’s the Mets’ lineup for tonight:

Andres Torres, cf

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, rf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Ike Davis, 1b

Ronny Cedeno, ss

Mike Nickeas, c

Dillon Gee, rhp

 

Apr 23

Mets Doing Wise Thing With Johan Santana

Johan Santana didn’t last two innings in his last start, so did he really need to be pushed back from today’s start?

Absolutely.

Terry Collins said he’d take every opportunity to give Santana extra rest when he could and this was the ideal thing to do simply based on the probability of lousy weather. The forecast is rain throughout the day, so the odds are the Mets might not get in both games of their doubleheader today against the Giants. They might not even get in one game.

However, Collins didn’t want to take the chance of wasting Santana today by having him sit through a long delay and not being able to bring him back. The bonus in pushing back the rotation is it also keeps Mike Pelfrey from pitching against the Marlins, a team that owns him.

The Mets have learned a lot about Santana durning his rehab from shoulder surgery, but what they don’t know is how he’ll respond after starting and his ability to come back from a long delay. And, with the weather also cooler, there’s no sense in taking this risk.

With the Giants not coming in again this season, the doubleheader was the only option. However, if the games get bagged today they’ll have to play one anyway. This is another problem with the unbalanced schedule, which is a byproduct of interleague play.

What I don’t understand is why MLB scheduled the Giants in this early in the first place. The weather is always suspect this time of year, so why schedule a team that won’t come in again, or one that is three time zones away? With fewer and fewer off days in the schedule, there should be more foresight in the scheduling.

Keep April within the division, or no farther away then the Central Time Zone. That way, a team has to travel no more than two hours on an off day to make the game up. Just common sense.

 

Mar 13

Pelfrey ripped again; Tejada injured.

Mike Pelfrey said he felt he was better today against the Cardinals than in his last start. Can you imagine what would have happened if he felt worse?

Pelfrey gave up four runs on six hits – including two homers – in 4 1/3 innings this afternoon. Once again, Pelfrey’s problem was a flat sinker. One of his problems last season was a lack of movement on his pitches, and movement is far more important than velocity.

Another down note was Ruben Tejada scratched with a groin injury. He’ll miss tomorrow’s game, also.

Terry Collins got testy after learning of Tejada’s injury. I brought this up yesterday and it is worthy of another mention … the Mets need to re-evaluate their off-season and pre-game conditioning and warm-up programs.

MLB.com reported 14 of 55 Mets have been on an injury report this spring, which is roughly 25 percent, an unusually high number.