Mar 06

Why Utley’s Suspension Was Dropped

Mets’ fans won’t be pleased with this, but Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension was dropped by Major League Baseball. Utley was suspended for his aggressive take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg.

Baseball’s policeman, Joe Torre, called the slide illegal for being a “rolling block” occurring away from the base. The suspension resulted from an outcry by Mets’ fans and New York media, and I believe was issued to avoid an ugly scene when the NLDS moved to Citi Field.

Utley appealed – as was his right – and didn’t play in the games in New York.

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

Here’s why I think the suspension was dropped:

* The umpire’s have discretion to eject a player if they deem it to be a dirty play and they did not.

* There was a take-out rule already in place dictating the runner must be able to reach the bag with his foot or hand and apparently the umpires believed this to be the case with Utley. (watch video)

* Replays showed Wilmer Flores‘ throw put Tejada in an awkward position, one in which he turned into Utley’s slide. This was not the runner’s fault.

* That Utley did not play in the two New York games could be viewed as a de facto suspension.

* Reaction among those in MLB is mixed between dirty and just aggressive. There was hardly a consensus in either position.

* MLB adopted a new rule on break-up slides.

When asked about the suspension Sunday, Tejada told reporters: “I don’t care really. I don’t care. I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. So I don’t care about what’s going to happen there or what’s the decision they take there.”

Said Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The most important thing is that the rule was changed.”

 

 

Mar 01

Today In Mets History: Seaver Begins Holdout

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

This date in 1976 was a sign of things to come, and they weren’t good as ace Tom Seaver began a spring training holdout. With it, Seaver’s golden stature with the Mets began to tarnish and the frayed relationship culminated with him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977.

“If Seaver wants to play somewhere other than New York, I’ll oblige him,’’ said then-Mets GM Joe McDonald. “I’ll trade him if he wishes to be traded. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to be with us.”

Seaver’s response was he wanted to play with the Mets, “but not at the expense of making far less money than I can make someplace else.’’

Seaver eventually signed a three-year contract that paid him $200,000 annually, but that didn’t prevent the Mets from making the trade the franchise still regrets.

Feb 28

Piazza Ideal Influence For Cespedes

After carrying the Mets to the World Series, Yoenis Cespedes was rewarded with a $75-million contract, and with it, likely 75 million tons of pressure. Expectations are high for the Mets, but there’s no better person to help Cespedes deal with them than Mike Piazza, who’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes.  (Mets)

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes. (Mets)

Unquestionably, the Mets picked the right time to invite Piazza to spring training as a guest instructor. While Travis d’Arnaud is eager to pick Piazza’s brain about the finer points of catching, Cespedes is the Met most likely to gain from his presence.

“I told him that when I talk to him, I’m going to tell him that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him this year,” Piazza told reporters today. “He’s going to be expected to do a lot. And, I have a little bit of experience knowing that pressure. And, I hope he’s able to discipline himself and really define his strike zone and realize that when the pitchers are not pitching to him, he’s got to take his walks.”

That is Piazza’s assessment from watching the Mets in the postseason last fall. Piazza said Cespedes has a tendency to try to do too much and crush the ball with every swing.

There are some who think Cespedes is enjoying the trappings of his contract and being a New York start when he showed up in camp with a different car six days in a row. And, these weren’t a Camry and Honda Civic, but high-end wheels.

“I don’t care what you drive as long as you drive in runs,” Piazza said. “That’s the key. But, I think he’s going to fine. I think he’s so talented.”

The expectations are high for Cespedes, and the hopes are also high Piazza’s message will get through.

Feb 21

All About Cespedes Today

There’s been nothing but good signs for the Mets in the opening days of spring training, and Sunday was no exception with the early arrival of Yoenis Cespedes three days ahead of schedule for position players. There were many who doubted Cespedes would even play for the Mets again, much less report three days early.

CESPEDES: Reporting early is great sign.  (Getty)

CESPEDES: Reporting early is great sign. (Getty)

Cespedes signed a three-year, $75-million contract with the Mets several weeks ago. The deal contains an opt-out after 2016, in which he’ll get $27.5 million. Naturally, the opt-out led to speculation Cespedes “settled” for a return to the Mets and didn’t want to really come back to Queens.

Today refuted that notion, said manager Terry Collins. And yes, that’s a good sign. How can it not be looked at any other way?

“Certainly with all of the conversations and all the contracts we saw out there, we weren’t sure he was going to return,” Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I really, really salute him. He’s one of the few guys that went to where he wanted to go to. It wasn’t just the money that lured him. He wanted to play in New York. He loves New York. He loves the fans. I salute him for coming back.

“And now he shows up early. I told him today, ‘That’s the sign of a real pro and a guy who wants to be huge in our clubhouse.’ I just think it’s a great step for him.”

The Mets wouldn’t have reached the World Series if not for Cespedes, who came over from Detroit at the end of July and hit .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI in 230 at-bats for the Mets. That stretch earned him the big bucks. It can turn out to be even bigger bucks with the opt-out, but Cespedes insists that’s not on his radar.

“I know I can be a free agent next year, but that has never passed through my mind,” Cespedes told reporters. “I came here to play my three years with the Mets, and I hope God will give me the opportunity for them to re-sign after that.

“I had several offers, but sincerely, I just wanted to come back to the Mets. … I just want to be with this team. Hopefully, at the end of my three years I will have performed very well and they will give me an extension. I love it here.”

 

Jan 25

Mets To Retire Piazza’s No. 31

Falling under the category – “It’s About Time” – the Mets announced this afternoon they will retire Mike Piazza‘s No. 31 as part of a ceremonial weekend, July 29-31. Piazza, of course, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer.

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

The weekend includes:

Friday, July 29, 7:10 p.m.: All fans receive a Piazza replica jersey.

Saturday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.: On-field retirement ceremony.

Sunday, July 31,1:10 p.m.: First 15,000 fans receive Piazza bobblehead doll.

“It is such a tremendous honor to have my number retired alongside the great Tom Seaver,” Piazza said in a statement released by the team. “My time as a Met was truly special and I want to thank Fred (Wilpon), Saul (Katz)  and Jeff (Wilpon) and the entire organization for this incredible gesture.”

During his parts of eight seasons in New York, Piazza hit .296, with 220 homers and 655 RBI. He twice led them to the NLCS and to the 2000 World Series.

Piazza will become the fourth Met to have his number retired, joining Seaver (41), Gil Hodges (14) and Casey Stengel (37). Jackie Robinson‘s No. 42 is retired by every team. No has worn No. 31 since Piazza left the club in 2005.