Aug 15

Upon Further Review, Instant Replay Still Has Gaps

It is a start. That’s where we can begin to analyze Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format, which now includes giving managers up to three video challenges per game, with the final decision rendered in the MLB offices in New York.

Theoretically, this would eliminate the hat-flinging, dirt-kicking, bat-and-base throwing tantrums that elevated Earl Weaver and Billy Martin to folk status. I will miss those. Go ahead, Google Earl Weaver umpire fights, especially those with Ron Luciano.

There’s some good to the new system, but several shortcomings must be mentioned:

NUMBER OF CHALLENGES

The system calls for only one challenge through the first six innings and two for the remainder of the game, regardless of how long it goes. It was said on one radio call-in show this afternoon the intent is to speed the game along, which should never be the primary reason for anything. The primary goal should always be to get it right.

Why not allow one challenge every three innings, regardless of how long the game lasts? There’s a sense of proportion that way.

Technically, to allow for full integrity to the process, replay challenges should be unlimited, because getting it right is the only true goal. However, in leaving unlimited replays on the table, all it would take is one ANGRY manager to challenge every play.

WHAT IS REVIEWABLE AND WHAT IS NOT?

As of now nothing changed, just home runs. Balls and strikes will never be under challenge, but so many types of plays should be reviewable.

Unlike football, where the action can happen anytime and anywhere on the field, that isn’t the case with baseball. So much of what happens on a baseball field does so at a fixed location, such as the foul lines, bases and home plate and the fences. Even trapped balls in the outfield would seem easier than football, because there’s rarely an obstructed view.

Why not include everything but balls and strikes? Get it right, so there will never be another travesty as the botched infield fly rule play in Atlanta during the NLDS?

Major League Baseball, if it wanted, could readily identify where most of the contested plays are, and why. MLB has stats on everything and can pinpoint what plays created the most disputes, and getting back to the innings issue, where they occurred in the game. That’s why keying the bulk of the challenges in the last three innings is a misnomer.

What the makers of this rule don’t get is things can explode any time.

THE UMPIRE ISSUE

This gets us to the umpires, whose union had to be on board for this to happen. Hopefully, this format will diffuse many of the player-umpire confrontations.

I’ve always maintained each umpire should be wired for sound they can’t control. This way we know who said the words to ignite the argument.

The accusation against many umpires is they don’t care to improve. There’s a perception they can be lazy and confrontational.

Hopefully, this format will prove the umpires are more right than wrong, but that isn’t the current perception.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 02

Mets Languish Behind Small Market Royals And Pirates

It wasn’t that long ago when New York Mets’ fans and media criticized the team’s lack of aggressiveness in the free-agent market with the smug comment: “This is New York, we’re not the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates.’’

The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central and might be the season’s best story, while the Royals take a nine-game hitting streak into this oddly-time interleague series – Kansas City’s first trip to Queens since 2002. If the Mets and Royals were in the same division, they would be 6.5 games better than the Mets. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have a 10.5-game lead on the Mets.

The Royals are doing it with great defense, timely hitting sprinkled in amongst a few stars.

Also interesting is left fielder Alex Gordon, who switched from third base and has won a couple of Gold Gloves. My first through was if Gordon can switch position and become solid player, if not a star, then what about Wilmer Flores?

Flores’ roots are at shortstop, a position requiring athletic ability. I don’t know where he fits in, but he hits too much to languish in the minor leagues. Omar Quintanilla has cooled and the organization is far from enamored with Ruben Tejada, so, what’s the harm in trying?

When a player switches positions, it is always easier to move from infield to outfield, than the other way around.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: The Mets limp home from their 3-5 trip no doubt aggravated it could have been 7-1 with some timely hitting – or any hitting at all, for that matter.

The Mets scored 11 against the Nationals in the first game of the trip, but only 15 over the next seven games. Four times they scored only one run or were shutout.

“We don’t drive runs in. There’s no secret,’’ Terry Collins said as the Mets packed up to return home. “If I knew what it was, we’d fix it. Guys don’t drive them in. We’re not driving them in. That’s pretty much the basic line.’’

Collins then went on to say something totally confusing, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with the approach. We’re just not taking good swings on the pitches we can hit.’’

Here’s a bulletin for Collins: They are missing those pitches because the approach is off, whether it be mechanical or mental. Something is not clicking.

It isn’t for Ike Davis, who only had five hits on the trip and stranded six runners Thursday. He’s hitting better than he was prior to going down to Las Vegas, but largely remains unproductive.

WRIGHT HAS TIGHT HAMMY: David Wright has been playing with tightness in his right hamstring. Collins said Wright understands himself better than anybody, but Collins needs to understand him, too.

Wright would try to play if he had an arrow shot through his thigh. This is a man who played nearly a month with a fracture in his lower back.

Wright said he can play, invoking the standard player cliché, that if this were the playoffs it wouldn’t be an issue. But, these aren’t the playoffs.

To risk losing Wright for several weeks or longer if he blows out his hamstring is just plan stupid. Sit him for a couple of games to be sure.

SIX-MAN ROTATION IN JEOPARDY: You knew the Mets weren’t going to go long with a six-man rotation cycle.

Jonathan Niese threw four shutout innings Thursday and said he needs on more start. When he’s ready they certainly won’t go to seven.

Carlos Torres is likely to move to the bullpen.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 01

What Zack Wheeler Brings To Mets

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta BravesZack Wheeler proved why he has the potential to transform the New York Mets into legitimate contenders this week after a sterling pitching performance that saw him take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins.

The 23-year-old has flashed much of the raw ability and plus offerings that have made him one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the game three years running.

As the Mets move closer to becoming a perennial contender built on a foundation of formidable starting pitching, MLB betting fans look to operators like casino tropez online to find the betting odds for the Mets improving much as their fortunes are.

Wheeler is still trying to find consistency within his delivery, but continues to work with pitching coach Dan Warthen after every start as he strives to refine his delivery.

“I just have to figure out my motion,” Wheeler said. “It’s about finding a motion that works for me.”

The key for the young righty will be consistency, and in his last start he delivered perhaps his best and most dominating performance since his promotion. He continues to evolve and as he gets better, so do the betting odds for the Mets.

The Mets can already see the bright futures that await Wheeler and his teammate and ace pitcher Matt Harvey. The two of them have invoked memories of past Mets 1-2 punches like Seaver and Koosman and Gooden and Darling.

The scouts and talent evaluators all agree that the Mets are on the verge of something special. To that end the Mets will play it safe and ensure that they do not overwork their prized young pitchers.

Both of them will have less than ten starts left to the season and their innings pitched will be monitored closely.

They will be protecting their investment by going to a six-man rotation, even if it means playing with a short bench. It’s a risk worth taking and the rewards could come as soon as the 2014 season.

Jul 19

Matt Harvey Spins Into Damage Control

The New York Mets appear to have a prize in Matt Harvey. However, after reading the Men’s Journal story I had to wonder. He couldn’t have meant what he was quoted as saying, could he?

As far a being a Derek Jeter-wannabe, the context was strictly in the pursuing female sense, and as you know, the Yankee shortstop has a bit of a reputation. But, he is Teflon and nothing sticks to him. Harvey doesn’t have that, yet. He may never have it, but at least he’s proving he has the smarts to enter damage control.

HARVEY: Damage control alert.

HARVEY: Damage control alert.

Today, Harvey came out with this tweet: “It really sucks how words get used and completely taken out of context.’’

Yes, it does.

I don’t doubt it is an accurate quote, as these style interviews are usually recorded, but in reading the article there was precious little set-up as to the context of the quote. There didn’t appear to be an effort on the writer’s part to create the scene or ask a follow-up for clarification. It came off as a “money quote,’’ so let’s run with it.

And, if Harvey did try to clarify on the spot, there was no mention there, either.

Harvey isn’t yet a grown man, but he’s getting there. His determination on the mound and work ethic is admirable. It is what franchises want to build around. But, he’s still a young man learning on the fly.

Harvey is having a dream season and appears to love the trappings of being a young star in New York, arguably the best and worst city, in which to be a star. A tip off is having the tabloids chase him around town for photos of him kissing his girlfriend.

Hooray for his model girlfriend, who couldn’t have been happy reading the quotes. Maybe it was after hearing it from her he went into damage control, the way he bears down with runners in scoring position.

I am glad Harvey is trying to rectify things because being a hound isn’t a reputation he really wants. That is, unless he doesn’t mind the whispers or cares about the consequences. If nothing else, if he wants to prowl, at least carry a bullpen in his wallet, or as some athletes and celebrities are doing, carry a pre-sex contract.

It’s Harvey’ love life and he can do what he wants with it, but he would be prudent to calm things down a bit. Harvey isn’t Joe Namath, Walt Frazier or Jeter, for that matter. Not yet, anyway.

NFL great Jim Brown said nothing good happens after midnight, and it is true, especially if one is clubbing in New York. There are those that will always want a part of him, those with a cell phone camera, and athlete-hunting females. Stalking might be a better word.

If somebody on the Mets hasn’t already, they should tell him to tone it down. Somebody always wants a piece of a popular jock, and as composed as he appears on the mound, he’s shown vulnerability off it.

Personally, I don’t care whom Harvey sleeps with or what he drinks. I don’t care as long as it doesn’t interfere with his performance on the mound. So far, it hasn’t. Hopefully, he’s learned something here.

The Jimmy Fallon piece was hilarious, but it won’t be long before that anonymity is lost. And, after midnight is when he’s most likely to lose it.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 15

Terry Collins Spins Into Damage Control

Terry Collins is a smart guy who made some pretty out-of-bounds comments Monday night. Some might even call them stupid.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

I leaned in that direction when I came down on Collins for ripping the fans in his response to a question on if the Mets were leaving Jordany Valdespin out to dry after his actions last weekend.

“I don’t answer to fans,’’ Collins said reporters in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.’’

Collins also went on to say he didn’t care about the perception of the Valdespin incident, ranging from the player celebrating his meaningless home run in a blowout loss, to the manager anticipating the payback plunking, to the player’s dugout tantrum.

There’s no mistaking what Collins meant, but it should be noted this could have been alleviated had he danced around the question and later vented his true feelings in an off-the-record session with the New York traveling media. Had he done so, Collins’ comments wouldn’t have left his Busch Stadium office.

Speaking on WFAN this afternoon, Collins was in full damage control, saying: “The New York fans are maybe the most knowledgeable fans that I’ve ever been around.

“When the question was asked, it pretty much was … Look, as much as I respect everybody’s opinions, it’s my opinion that counts and what’s best for this club. I can’t be influenced by outside people who aren’t here, and that’s pretty much all I meant. Certainly I misused the words. I shouldn’t have said ‘fans.’ I should have just said ‘people.’ ’’

However, what are fans, if not people?

Collins might have meant fans and media lumped together when he said “people,’’ but either way, why take on a foe when you don’t have to?

If you want to give Collins benefit of doubt, which I don’t have a problem with, you have to recognize his frustration and the pressure he’s under. His is not an easy job, made harder by the cards Sandy Alderson dealt him. We can go on item-by-item of all Collins doesn’t have to work with, and then add the headache that is Valdespin.

To understand fully what Collins is dealing with, you have to hear what Valdespin said last night. Valdespin was sent up to pinch-hit in another blowout loss. After taking a couple of pitches, he stepped out of the batter’s box and took a deep breath.

When asked after the game what he was thinking about, Valdespin said what he would do if he hit a homer.

Yeah, after hearing that, I’m willing to give Collins a pass on Monday’s comments. He deserves it for having to deal with Valdespin.