Jul 04

Fourth Of July Good Omen For Mets

History dictates that whoever is leading on July 4th will make the playoffs. That’s a good omen for the Mets, who lead in the wild-card chase. By the end of the month, if there are trades, then the Mets will be buyers.

Their top priority is the bullpen as they have enough offense, despite limited power, to get the job done.

Let’s look at the other playoff contenders.

Washington has the best record in the National League and with its pitching could sustain it into the playoffs. The question here is what will happen if, and when, they shut down Stephen Strasburg.

Atlanta could make a run, but the Marlins and Phillies have too many issues.

In the Central, it would be nice to see Pittsburgh hold on, but the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers are still close. This division should be a scramble until the end.

In the West, it is the Dodgers and Giants, with Arizona 5.5 games out.

Things seem more definitive in the American League. I expect the current leaders to hold on, with Tampa Bay, Detroit and the Angels the prime wild card contenders.

Jun 21

Jason Bay Injury Could Benefit Mets

Nobody wants to see a player injured, and despite his lack of production I haven’t heard anybody say a negative thing about Jason Bay.

However, in the wake of his latest concussion, which could keep him out indefinitely, this could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to the Mets.

If Bay was hitting as they hoped, things would be different. However, this is a young team that is winning and developing a chemistry. They’ve stumbled at times, but find themselves over .500 heading into the Yankees’ series.

Having an unproductive Bay in the lineup, just puts a damper on things. And, at his salary they’ll play him and keep somebody more deserving on the bench (Kirk Nieuwenhuis?).

These Mets, with the mediocrity of the National League and wild card) has a chance to compete. And, should they not win, they have shown the mettle to remain competitive.

If Bay can’t earn his keep, then I’m for letting this team develop without him and continue to build.

May 18

David Wright Continues To Shine

National League fans have known for years how exciting a player David Wright can be. This weekend, Toronto gets to see the National League’s best third baseman, and arguably the best in the majors.

WRIGHT: On fire. (AP)

At least this year he has been. Another day, another key hit by Wright, who is in one of the hottest stretches of his career. His average is over .400 and his on-base percentage is over .500. Terry Collins wasn’t just blowing smoke when he compared Wright to Barry Bonds.

While Wright hasn’t hit with Bonds’ power, he is displaying the a similar plate presence and patience. Wright is laying off the down and outside pitch; he’s going the opposite way when he needs to; and he’s yanking the inside pitch down the line. And, when the pitch isn’t to his liking, he’s taking the walk.

Today, he had three of them in reaching base five times.

I watched a SNY special last night on the 50 greatest Mets. Wright was in the top ten, ahead of Jose Reyes. Before his career is over, and I’m betting he’ll finish it in Flushing, he could be second or third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.

 

May 01

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Move Might Have Cost Mets

Of course, it crossed my mind. Left field in Houston is a tough place to play, perhaps one of the toughest in the National League. So, when Jed Lowrie’s pop up fell between Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada, it immediately raised the inevitable speculation the Mets’ newest left fielder felt awkward because it was his first time in left on this level.

As a centerfielder, Nieuwenhuis played aggressively, but on this play he appeared tentative.

“It was just a ‘tweener’ ball that I should have caught,” Nieuwenhuis said. “It dropped, and that’s unfortunate. (R.A. Dickey) was pitching a great game and I just made a mistake.”

Neither Nieuwenhuis nor manager Terry Collins blamed the mistake on the former playing a new position, but it’s on the table. There is always an adjustment period in playing a different position.

Nieuwenhuis stayed in the leadoff spot and delivered a game-tying, two-run single, but his offensive night was mixed because he was also picked off first base.

ON DECK: Reviewing April’s fast start.

Jan 10

Larkin one of the last non-controversial inductees?

Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin could be one of the last non-controversial Hall of Fame inductees. With 85 percent of the vote, he entered without the shadow of PEDs. For the near future, those on the ballot will have been linked to PEDs, or might have their induction chances enhanced because they will be going up against the scorned.

Larkin had a stellar career, one without suspicion. He was deserving in every sense.

In Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, we have our test cases for those linked to steroids for the Hall voters, of which I am one. If a player tests positive for steroids or other PEDs, or has been linked to the drugs, he won’t get my vote.

My thinking for guys under suspicion is to withhold my vote until there is more information. Is it fair? No, but I’d rather hold the vote and give it to the player later because once the vote is cast and he’s inducted it can’t be rescinded.

Next year’s ballot is disturbingly loaded with those accused of steroid use or suspected. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza among them.

For Bonds, Clemens and Piazza, it is argued they compiled Hall of Fame numbers before being linked to steroids. For Sosa, it is suggested the stretch of his career where his noteworthy stats were compiled was all steroid related. In addition, not only did Sosa cheat with drugs, but also used a corked bat.

The simple take on steroids is it enables a hitter to hit the ball further. In reality, the issue isn’t whether PEDs add an additional 50 feet to a fly ball, but the extra five that enables it to clear the wall.

Steroids enable the user to continue training during the long, hot days of summer when he otherwise might not. This continued training didn’t make the hitter stronger as much as it increases his bat speed, and this is what generates the power.

Some argue the player still has to hit the ball, which is true, but increased bat speed can turn a normal fly ball into one that barely clears the wall. It is an unfair advantage. It is cheating.

Some apologists for the steroid user claim baseball didn’t have a defined anti-drug policy until recently. While this is true, use without a doctor’s prescription is against the law. It doesn’t matter MLB didn’t have a policy in place at the time Bonds was torching National League pitching.

With the holdovers from this year’s ballot, coupled with those next year who are clean, the pickings are slim, both in terms of PEDs and career numbers, of those qualified who’ll get in as did Larkin.

I have not, and will not vote for a player connected to PEDs. It is cheating and I don’t believe that should be rewarded. Fans should watch games confident in the knowledge what they are seeing to real, but that isn’t the case with drugs.

Not only won’t they get my vote, but I believe their statistics should come with an asterisk they were compiled under suspicion of PED use. This should also be noted on their plaque if they get the necessary votes.

Under the present voting guidelines, I can’t see it any other way.