Jun 09

Meet The New Mets: Never Bad Idea To Take Pitching

There are no guarantees in the baseball draft, but selecting power arms is generally a good idea, which was the Mets’ thinking when they used their first two picks to take junior pitchers Justin Dunn of Boston College with the 19th overall selection, and left-hander Anthony Kay of Connecticut 12 picks later.

You might wonder why a team struggling offensively and pitching rich would go after more pitching. Quite simply, we’re talking about Dunn and Kay not being ready for up to three more years, and a lot can happen in that span.

(05/31/2016 Chestnut Hill, MA) Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn throws in the bullpen as the BC baseball team prepares for the NCAA tournament  at  practice at Shea Field on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Photo by Matt West.

(05/31/2016 Chestnut Hill, MA) Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn throws in the bullpen as the BC baseball team prepares for the NCAA tournament at practice at Shea Field on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Photo by Matt West.

From the Mets’ current staff, there are injuries and trades, not to mention free agency. Of course, the way things have been going for him, you could exclude from that mix Bartolo Colon, who gave up one run in seven innings Thursday in Milwaukee.

Also, as the Mets proved with Yoenis Cespedes last year, hitting is generally more easily obtainable.

The 6-2, 184-pound Dunn started the college season in the bullpen, but his 90-mph., plus fastball and power curveball were moved into the rotation in April and went 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in eight starts.

However, what the Mets should really love is he struck out 49 and walked just 13 in 47 innings.

“I try to pitch in the range of 90-92,” Dunn told The Boston Globe. “That’s where mentally I’d like to think I’m pitching. If it comes out harder than that, it comes out harder than that. Lately, it has been, which is a blessing. I feel pretty confident in all four pitches. That’s what makes it so hard for hitters. A hitter in a 1-and-2 count can’t eliminate one.”

Dunn throws a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Dunn, who is from Long Island, will be pitching this weekend to send the Eagles into the College World Series.

Kay is also from Long Island and from the same high school that produced Steven Matz.

KAY: Following Matz to Queens. (UCONN)

KAY: Following Matz to Queens. (UCONN)

Kay throws in the low 90s and throws a fastball, changeup and curve.

UConn coach Jim Penders says Kay has a Long Island swagger, and you know what he means by that when you watch Matz.

“`It has kind of grown since I left Long Island,” Kay told The Hartford Courant. “It means you don’t care what anybody thinks about you – you just go out and do your job and get it done the best you can.”

Kay was 5-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.

The Mets drafted Kay in 2013 and made him a six-figure offer, but he opted for college. They got a second chance Thursday.

 

 

 

Apr 06

Why Doesn’t Baseball Make Opening Day Special Again?

It is Opening Day damn it, it should be one of the best days – if not the very best – of every sports year. Then how come it isn’t? It’s because the people running the sport have no concept of the treasure they possess.

None.

Inside the grocery store in my town, there’s a little bank that posts a trivia question every week. The current question is: When is Opening Day for baseball? And, it listed five choices.

Now, if that doesn’t tell you about the state of the game, then what does?

Opening Day used to mean something. For years it opened in Cincinnati, home of the Reds, baseball’s oldest team, and in Washington, the nation’s capital. You never know when it is from year to year.

There’s always Internet chatter at making the Monday after the Super Bowl a holiday. Why? So people can sleep off their hangovers?

Tell me, what are the best days in sports? The Super Bowl is one, a monster for sure. How about the NFL championship game Sunday? Or the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament?

The NFL has its Opening Weekend down pat with the Super Bowl champ starting on the Thursday before the first Sunday. Baseball’s start used to be in the nation’s spotlight, but it foolishly gave away that day, which is also part of Bud Selig’s legacy.

We’ve had the first game of the baseball season start several times in Japan, with those teams returning to the United States for more spring training games. Yeah, they had the think tank working overtime for that one.

Baseball 2015 started Easter Sunday night in frigid Chicago at the construction site known as Wrigley Field, where there were only two restrooms on the main concourse. Nobody thought to order portable restrooms, of course. Did anybody notice those photos of cups of urine lined up?

It would have been great to get a comment from new commissioner Rob Manfred. Maybe he’ll have something to say on the time of the game, which was over three hours.

The game, by the way, was broadcast on MLB Network, which much of the country doesn’t have. Today’s games include an interleague match-up with the Red Sox in Philadelphia. Interleague play is tough to stomach already, but under no circumstances should there be interleague games on Opening Day.

There are also three games that start at, or after, 7 p.m., EDT, that would be in conflict with the NCAA Championship. Two are to be telecast on ESPN. Who is the marketing genius behind that one?

Sports will conflict with each other, but can’t anybody look at a calendar to see what they are up against? Why not give the NCAA the first Monday, and let baseball have Tuesday? Go wall-to-wall games starting at noon and running to midnight. Now, that should be a national holiday.

Baseball talks about the need to market itself better, especially for the next generation, but it doesn’t get it. This little tweak can spark the imaginations of kids across the country.

My late father understood it on April 7, 1970, when he took my brother and I out of school for the day to watch the Indians on Opening Day against Baltimore. Dave McNally against Sam McDowell.

Despite his note, the school did not approve, but he took us out anyway. He reasoned we would take more from being at that game than anything we would have learned that day in class.

He was right. Baseball was very big in our home, and it still is in our family. That’s how you cultivate the fans of tomorrow.

Looking back, he was right, and it is one of my fondest memories of him.

My dad got it 45 years ago. I wonder how many fathers around the country got it today, and will get it next Monday and take their kids to Citi Field.

What I do know, is the people running Major League Baseball don’t get it.

ON DECK: What is with the Opening Day lineup?

Feb 20

David Wright Part Of MLB Promotion

New York Mets third baseman and captain David Wright is one of eight finalists of the MLB Network’s annual Face of MLB contest.

The promotion is to determine a player who best represents the sport on and off the field. Wright, named team captain last year, has always been one of the best ambassadors of the sport, not only with his talent on the field, but his generosity off it in donating his time and efforts to numerous charitable events, plus his longtime, easy-going interactive nature with the club’s fans.

In the NCAA-type format, Wright defeated Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera last week and from tomorrow until Monday is paired against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

If you have a Twitter account, the Mets are asking if you could encourage your followers to tweet using #DavidWright and #FaceOfMLB. RTing your tweets also count as a vote.

There is a limit of 25 votes for each Twitter handle.

 

Mar 28

Traditions keep slip sliding away

One by one the traditions of the sport fade and disappear. Some, like all day games, travel by train and fielders leaving their gloves in the field after each inning naturally became outdated and obsolete, and no longer create a sense of longing.

Others, such as interleague play, day baseball during the World Series, alignment  and the designated hitter can still strike a chord and to some remain hot-button issues.

I was reminded today of another of baseball’s passing traditions, and that is Opening Day. The first game of the season was always played in Cincinnati, then Washington. That’s the way it was for decades. I’ll always remember the President of the United States throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

For one day each spring, the sporting world belonged to baseball and Opening Day. The NCAA Tournament had passed and the NFL draft was weeks away. The NBA and NHL were playing out there seasons, but for one day in early April it was nothing but baseball.

The sport was center stage with no competition.

However, Major League Baseball, in its marketing greed has given that away. Now, the real opening day belongs to the NFL, with a Thursday night national game and the rest of the schedule on Sunday.

Not so baseball anymore. It gave up its spot on center stage when it opted to open in late March with games in Japan. I don’t care if a team wants to go over there during spring training, or even play a series during the season, but Opening Day?

After your fans have been waiting all winter for the renewal of the new season, the first games are played half-way across the world. Even more ridiculous, is that regular season games are played the same time spring training games are still in session.

Why doesn’t Major League Baseball reclaim center stage by making Opening Day on the Tuesday after the NCAA title game, or perhaps the Sunday after the Final Four. And, play the games in the United States.

Baseball still claims itself our national pasttime, but it makes for a weak argument when it plays Opening Day on the other side of the ocean.