Jul 22

Mets Swept By Dodgers In Ugly Weekend

There probably have been worse weekends, and uglier stretches in Mets’ history. Perhaps, during the collapse of 2007. However, their current freefall is gathering momentum in its brutality.

Three games against the Dodgers; three comebacks that fell short. Today’s took them 12 innings before the Dodgers stopped fooling around and hit the Mets’ pen with a five spot.

The Mets have lost nine of ten games with the Nationals coming into Citi Field for a three-game series tomorrow. Then, they are off to the West Coast to continue a stretch of 20 straight games without a day off.

Evidently, MLB uses the same schedulers as the NBA.

The Mets face this stretch with Johan Santana on the DL – not that it matters – and a stop-gap starter for Wednesday. David Wright is starting to cool, and Jason Bay has never thawed. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are also struggling.

The Mets are hitting the icy patch in their schedule as expected. For three months they more than held serve. Actually, they might have played over their heads, although that’s something they’ll vehemently deny.

What they can’t deny, after dipping below .500 for the first time this season, is things are slipping away and it won’t be soon before adding help will become a moot point.

Jul 10

Five Ways To Fix The All-Star Game

When I was growing up I used to love the All-Star Game. The game meant something to me because it was clear it meant something to the players. When two of my favorite players – Pete Rose and Ray Fosse – met at the plate during the 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, it was clear it was not just another game. At least to those two.

FOSSE/ROSE: When the stars played with passion.

At one time they played two All-Star Games. These days there’s not too much of a game at all. It stopped being special when the vote was returned to the fans – ironically, in 1970 – because that’s when it became a popularity contest. Any election where a person can cast an indefinite amount of times is a farce by definition.

As far as I’m concerned, the game officially jumped the shark with interleague play. Soon after, MLB did away with the league offices and merged the umpires. And, of course, let’s not forget the farce of having the two leagues play with different rules regarding the DH.

Baseball’s All-Star Game is by far superior to other sports, but that doesn’t mean changes aren’t necessary. It doesn’t need tinkering, but an overhaul of serious proportions.

Here’s what I would do:

1. It is a pipe dream, I know, but the first thing would be to eliminate interleague play, thereby creating a distinction between the leagues. The leagues will always be blurred to some extent because of free agency and movement of players. Interleague play is a gimmick that has taken luster from the All-Star Game and World Series.

2. Knowing MLB will keep interleague play as long as Bud Selig is around, the next step would be to cut the nonsense about the winning league having home field in the World Series. As long as the fans vote and it is a popularity contest, having it have such an impact in the postseason is a contradiction. The notion of a fan vote, having each team represented and trying to play everybody is the opposite in essence of having the winner determine the Game 7 site of the World Series.

3. Take away the fan vote. Another pipe dream, but I’d rather eliminate the popularity contest angle. Maybe the managers and coaches, or players, or scouts, or media. The stipulation being you can’t vote for your own players.

4. Why should every team be represented? It’s like everybody getting a trophy in the second grade. The only caveat being the host city having a player on the team. Assuring each team being represented often ends up having a deserving player being snubbed.

5. Expand the rosters to include a lifetime achievement participant. If a player is at the end of his career and has been a perennial All-Star but is having a sub-par year, include him on the team. For example, had Chipper Jones had not made it as a late entry, then a spot should have been reserved for him. Give the public a chance to say good-bye.

Jun 30

Mets Matters: No Rest For Johan Santana

Johan Santana (5-4, 3.00 ERA) tries to up the Mets’ winning streak to four when he opposes right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (0-4, 4.04) at 7:15 p.m. ET today at Dodger Stadium.

The Mets aren’t planning on shutting down Santana for the remainder of the first half following tonight’s start. It sounds like a good idea, Terry Collins said there’s no need as the left hander has held up well physically. There was concern after the 134-pitch no-hitter, but that has dissipated as Santana rebounded after a rocky start against the Yankees.

* Rueben Tejada continues to play well since coming off the disabled list. Last night he reached base a career-high five times.

* Ike Davis was fined $750 for inadvertently touching umpire Manny Gonzalez with this glove Tuesday in Chicago. There will be no suspension. It was good to see MLB go in that direction. In viewing the replay it was clear there no deliberate contact. Davis apologized to Gonzalez and the umpire acknowledged the contact was accidental.

* Jason Bay will attempt to run this afternoon. With the All-Star Game a week away, shutting Bay down for the rest of the first half would be good idea.

Jun 26

Terry Collins Saw It Coming; Calls Mets “Flat”

Terry Collins has been around the block more than a few times. He can see things others can’t and yesterday sensed a lack of energy from the Mets. Getting into Chicago at 4 a.m., after their adrenalin-sapping series with the Yankees can do that to a team.

WOOD: Mows down Mets (AP)

Offensively, Ike Davis’ two-out homer in the ninth averted a shutout. They couldn’t touch Travis Wood. Defensively, David Wright committed a crucial error that opened the door to a four-run Cubs seventh.

There was nothing good about the night.

“We were a little flat,” Collins said. “They’re human beings and the adrenaline knock out for a while, and the fact that they got about probably five or six hours of sleep didn’t help either.”

It was only one game, but how the Mets respond the rest of the series will be important. Contending teams, which the Mets now consider themselves, must be able to beat up on losing teams and the Cubs are MLB’s worst, now 23 games under .500.

ON DECK: Parnell gets closer job … again.

 

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.