Oct 07

Interesting Start To MLB Playoffs; Intriguing World Series Possibilities

It has been an interesting start to the baseball playoffs. The play-in games put a different spin on things, but I’m hearing a lot of criticism of the single game format and it would be fairer to have best two-or-three. It probably would, but MLB doesn’t want to take the chance of playing in November.

A possible solution would be to incorporate at least one day-night doubleheader during the season among division opponents only. You would still have the same number of games, but a doubleheader a month would eliminate six days from the calendar, which would give MLB a week to tinker with the format.

There are a lot of interesting story lines. The one that stands out for me would be the fallout should the Cardinals run the table again like last season. In 2011, it was a special story because of how they came from behind during the season to make the playoffs and how they rallied in the World Series. This year would be an asterisk because of the “Infield Fly Game,” which will forever be a part of baseball lore.

It was predictable the MLB hid behind the “umpire’s judgment” clause and didn’t comment on whether it was a good call or not. With all this technology that showed it was a blown call, it is a shame a team is home possibly because an umpire made a bad call.

The Cardinals face the Nationals, with the first two games in St. Louis. I don’t like this format. The Nationals had the best record and shouldn’t open on the road. Who can’t see the Cardinals winning at home and stealing one on the road? There should be a reward for having the best record.

At the start of the season I predicted the Yankees and Giants in the Series and it could still happen. The Reds stole one in San Francisco despite losing their ace Johnny Cueto. He’s questionable for the rest of the series, but the Reds accomplished what they needed in getting at least a split.

In the American League, the Tigers and Orioles need to protect their home field and win the first two. Should they sweep the first two, I can see them taking one on the road. However, it is far harder to think they’ll win two on the road.

Just playing out some possible World Series scenarios that would be interesting.

ORIOLES vs, NATIONALS: Two teams horrid for so long are poised for prime time. About 50 miles apart, this has the potential to develop into a real interleague rivalry over time. Washington’s manager, Davey Johnson, used to play for the Orioles. Nobody could have forecast them meeting in the Series. The Nationals have a better rotation, but the Orioles have the better pen. Both hit for power.

ATHLETICS vs. GIANTS: Another potential geographical rivalry. They met before in the Earthquake World Series with the Athletics sweeping. The Giants might have the best rotation in the playoffs, but are already down a game.

YANKEES vs. GIANTS/CARDINALS: The Yankees’ power against the Giants’ pitching would be intriguing. Power vs. power. The New York angle for the Giants is long gone. … A Yankees-Cardinals match-up would feature the two winningest World Series teams in history.

Regardless of the World Series pairings, I’ll watch. I always do. Even when it is the Yankees or Phillies.

Oct 06

Ump Holbrook Blows Call To Cost Braves; MLB Needs Replay

Chipper Jones was right, the Braves didn’t lose to the Cardinals in the wild-card play-in game because of umpire Sam Holbrook’s horrendous infield fly call. Then again, it didn’t help and this game will forever be known as the “Infield Fly Rule Game.”

Jones made a critical error and the Braves committed three overall, but they had a chance to overcome them when they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Or so, everybody but Holbrook thought.

Another historic bad call.

Andrelton Simmons lofted a pop-up to left field – measured later at 225 feet from home plate — which landed perhaps ten feet behind retreating shortstop Pete Kozma and incoming left fielder Matt Holliday. Neither could have reached the ball with an all-out dive.

Kozma veered off at the last second, as if Holliday had called him off.

The rule states an infield fly would be called if the defensive player could have made the play with “an ordinary effort,” and must be made in a timely manner to inform the runners of the out and to allow them to advance at their own risk after tagging up.

Kozma’s feet never stopped moving, and when he veered off he actually ran away from the ball. This action alone is enough to show he had no intention of deceiving the runners, who never retreated to their bases.

That Holbrook, the additional umpire down the left field line, made the call directly in front of him should tell you Kozma was so far out that it wasn’t an ordinary play. It should have been the third base umpire’s call, but these guys rarely change a call. They don’t want to show up their partners.

In addition, Holbrook made the call late, with the ball on its downward flight.

All this can be seen on replay.

Later, Holbrook saw the replay and lamely defended the call, saying: “Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort. That’s when the call was made.”

Trouble is, Kozma never established himself. He never stopped moving and his last movement was away from the play.

Don’t know what Holbrook was looking at either time. Other umpires have blown calls and at least had the class to admit they missed the call. Not Holbrook.

The Braves’ appeal to MLB was denied by executive Joe Torre, as was expected. With the expanded playoffs, there’s no time to wait another day to resume play if the appeal was granted. Never mind getting it right.

Torre’s decision was based on that it was a judgment call, but this was bad judgment by Holbrook. Plain and simple, he blew the call and not one analyst said otherwise. In fact, an ESPN poll had 69 percent respond this was an even worse call than the interception at the end of the Seattle-Green Bay game.

That’s hard to believe.

I understand the concept of an umpire’s judgment, but this was bad all around. Holbrook had no sense of what was going on. The rule is designed to not deceive the runners, but both Holliday and Kozma were so far away from the ball they never had the chance. Kozma’s actions alone would dictate this not being a normal call.

The technology is so good today that instant replay should be expanded to allow blown calls not decide playoff games. I’m tired of seeing games decided by incompetence. Not when there’s a vehicle for getting it right.

Play was stopped for 19 minutes as the grounds crew cleared the field of litter thrown from the stands. There’s no excuse for such behavior. There’s also no excuse for such a bad call.

 

Oct 02

Collins and Warthen Want Front Office To Retain Mike Pelfrey

Terry Collins and Dan Warthen would like the front office to retain Mike Pelfrey next season, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.

“I know Terry Collins and I are very hopeful that Mike Pelfrey will come back — whether it be in the bullpen or as a starter,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said.

“We’ve always contended that he would be a great closer and just go out there with a power sinker and a split. I think we’d see 95 to 97 mph almost every night. When it comes to cost, we have to find out what we can afford. But I think we would all love to have Mike back.”

Pelfrey was shutdown after three starts in April and finished with a 2.29 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings pitched.

He underwent Tommy John Surgery on May 1, and most like will not be ready to pitch off a mound again until June or July. In the meantime he’ll be rehabbing and doing his workout with these exercise programs. It’s still a long road and one that could have setbacks as we’ve seen before on the Mets.

Pelfrey signed a one-year, $5.7 million contract with the Mets to avoid arbitration in January. He is eligible for arbitration again this winter and per MLB rules he cannot be offered less than 80% of his current salary.

He will be non-tendered for sure and become a free agent  who can deal with all 30 teams.

There’s a nice upgrade for us, let’s talk about this for a while.  :-)

Seriously, I had issues with Pelfrey when he was healthy, let alone now. Can we just move on already. If you want to take a trip down memory lane go and see what the Marlins want for Reyes or the Cardinals for Beltran. At least I know we’ll be bringing back stars rather than duds.

Sep 25

Davis Reaches Milestone; Can He Do More?

Ike Davis reached the 30 homer milestone. If R.A. Dickey wins his twentieth on Thursday we can put a wrap on the summer and start thinking about Christmas.

Thirty homers from Davis is impressive, especially considering his first half when he hit 12, but his average was .220. Had he hit at least .250 in the first half that would have been enough contact to raise his homer and run production totals.

Terry Collins and the Mets need to be applauded for sticking with Davis, although it must be conceded they didn’t have many other options considering Lucas Duda wasn’t hitting, either, and there was nobody down below worth bringing up.

The last Mets to hit 30 homers were David Wright – which brings up another issue, we’ll discuss later – and Carlos Delgado in 2008. Home run totals have gone down since MLB started cracking down on PED’s, but Davis is strong enough to where he doesn’t need them.

“It’s a cool milestone, I guess,” Davis told reporters last night. “It’s something you can always tell your kids — you hit 30 homers in the big leagues. But, obviously, if I would have hit 29 this year I still would have been happy with the power numbers, for sure.”

Despite his success, there are still holes in Davis’ offensive game, notably the inability to put two halves together and inconsistency against lefties (only eight of his homers were against left-handers). Davis understands that in order to become a real star he needs to be more consistent throughout the season, and last night was nearly apologetic about his first half.

“The difference is I’m just not awful. The first two and a half months I was terrible,” Davis said. “I felt like I had never played baseball before. I kept saying I’m not going to play this bad forever. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to do that. You guys can pick up a stick and do better than I did. But I told you there’s better things to come.

“I don’t know if I’ve had the greatest season of all time, but I definitely made myself feel a little better about this season working through stuff and grinding and seeing you can come from pretty far behind and still have a pretty good year.

“I guess everyone kind of goes through something like that. I’m glad, I guess, that I did. It definitely made me a better baseball player. It was mental strength, for sure. But hopefully I don’t do that again.”

There were published reports earlier having the Mets shopping Davis in the offseason. The club is unwilling to comment on them, but two things are for sure: One, considering what the Mets have, he’d be attractive in the trade market, and two, Davis is worth holding on to and building around.

 

Sep 12

Mets Matters: Bay’s Concussions; Daniel Murphy Scratched

Speaking to the media prior to tonight’s game, manager Terry Collins said Jason Bay’s concussions have contributed to his poor showing at the plate. Bay, who is in tonight’s line-up, is hitting .158 with seven homers and 18 RBI in 198 plate appearances.
“I just think that those concussions take an effect on guys,” Collins said. “There are times when you see everything you thought that he could bring to the table — great defender, a good thrower, power, a tremendous teammate. And then, all of a sudden, there will be some times where he struggles. He has no answers to it. This time in his career, we know it’s still there. Hopefully with the winter recovery, maybe you’ll get something next spring that will really come forward.”
I’m not saying Collins is wrong, but it does raise a couple of questions. The first is, how can the concussions be an issue when Bay was struggling mightily before he was injured? The second is, if the concussions were an issue, then why was Bay cleared to play? If there is a residual effect of the concussions, shouldn’t Bay have been shut down longer.
Another issue, is if the concussions are really the root of Bay’s problems, then shouldn’t the Mets consider releasing him if the contract is insured?
Also:
* Daniel Murphy was scratched from tonight’s game with lower-back stiffness and is day-to-day. Ronny Cedeno will replace him.
Murphy said he woke up sore and doesn’t expect he’ll be out of the line-up for any significant length of time.
When you look back on 2012, Murphy’s development at second base has been one of the positives.
* The 2013 schedule was released today and the geniuses in MLB scheduled the Mets and Yankees to each open their season at home on April 1. The Mets will play San Diego while the Yankees play Boston. Speculation is the Red Sox-Yankees game will be moved to Sunday night to accommodate ESPN. That Sunday falls between the NCAA Final Four and Championship game.
When you come to think about it, MLB should take advantage of that Sunday for Opening Day when the sports schedule is pretty much vacant. Opening Day in baseball used to be a special day when it owned the schedule. Now, only the NFL has an opening night where it corners the market in the schedule.