Mar 04

Is Terry Collins In Charge Or Is Johan Santana?

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Or worse, a desire not to communicate.

SANTANA: Shouldn't take a bow for Sunday's stunt.

SANTANA: Shouldn’t take a bow for Sunday’s stunt.

Apparently, unbeknownst to manager Terry Collins, his veteran left-hander Johan Santana threw off the mound Sunday when the Mets earlier indicated it could be at least ten days before he would do so.

ESPN reported this dialogue:

Collins: “What did you get on the mound for?”

Santana: “Because I felt good.”

Collins: “It was unnecessary. … The last thing I need is to have you wake up tomorrow stiff and then we take a huge step backward because you wanted to show everybody you’re OK. I understand what you’re doing, but once in a while you’ve just got to let stuff slide away. You’ve just got to let it roll off your back and move on and get yourself ready.”

From that exchange, Collins was in the dark when Santana took the mound. And, Santana apparently didn’t care enough to follow the rest plan or to tell his manager.

This was amazingly ridiculous on the part of both.

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Aug 09

Last night is why we watch

It was a habit I picked up as a Little Leaguer, and that is to hang around until the last out. As a reporter, I had no choice, but as a casual viewer there were times I shut things down when the game got out of hand, which has happened more than a few times in recent seasons.

The Mets: Primetime entertainment last night reminds us of what's good.

But, not so much this year, and definitely not last night.

There’s a resiliency about these Mets that make up for their void in talent. There is a likable quality to this team because they overachieve. They hustle where previous Mets teams did not.

Mike Pelfrey was frustrating as he squandered a three-run lead, and then the bullpen blew up. Normally, that would be the story line, but this time the offense – which had been stagnant – responded and thankfully made us forget about Pelfrey.

Normally, when the Mets get hit with a four-spot in the eighth, it is time to look away, but they quickly put two on with one out, and there was the curiosity factor with Mike Baxter coming up.

Of course, I wanted to see the local kid. He’s a good story, and I always root for good stories. His double and Ronny Paulino’s sacrifice fly made it a two run game. They made it worthwhile to keep watching.

I thought about Scott Hairston’s homer in Washington, and Lucas Duda’s ninth-inning, game-tying homer the other day. OK, they still lost, but the situation was there again and it made me wonder.

Jason Pridie singled, and one out later, so did Justin Turner, who is becoming one of my favorite players to watch this year. He hung in on Heath Bell’s breaking ball and dumped it into left. It was a pitch that could easily have eaten him up.

David Wright singled in a run, and all of a sudden the winning run was on second after another wild pitch by Bell.

Up again was Duda, who for some reason reminds me of Lucas McCain of The Rifleman TV series. There’s the name, Lucas, of course, but Duda is bull strong like the McCain character. Connors, by the way, played briefly for the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Dodgers before turning to acting.

The Mets are counting on Duda for power, but it was great to see him go with the pitch and take it up the middle. Professional hitting at its best.

It has been a summer with a growing injury list, the saga of the Mets’ finances and the future of Jose Reyes and where he’ll take his tender hammy next year.

But, for one night at least it was good to get away from all that and watch the Mets show their heart.

After all, games like last night is why we watch, and maybe it was the first game for somebody who became hooked on your ball club.

Last night was a game that reminded us why we are baseball fans and that the baseball clock ticks in outs, not minutes.

And, when outs remain, so does hope.

 

 

Jun 17

Out of the ashes.

No matter how you slice a baseball season, a team figures to win 60 games and lose 60 games regardless. The remaining 42 determines the success or failure of that season.

Some losses, of course, hurt more than others and last night’s 9-8 balk-off heartbreaker in 10 innings could be one of those games if the Mets cave into the negative expectations thought of them coming out of spring training.

CARRASCO: Balks in the winning run.

However, I don’t look at sweeping the Braves in Atlanta as much a sign of progress as I do how they bounce back from last night.

It was clear R.A. Dickey was off his game and for much of the night it appeared they would simply go down at the hands of Chipper Jones – the real owner of the Mets. However, Jason Bay got a couple of hits and drove in a run and Scott Hairston tied the game with a homer.

All of a sudden, we were looking at a new Mets team, one of grit and fight. Amazingly, the Mets were going to sweep, but Francisco Rodriguez coughed up the lead, and well, you know the rest.

To lose on D.J. Carrasco’s balk was one of those things you never saw coming, yet something not surprising with how things have gone the past few years. Right, typical Mets.

OK, what next?

They could either look at last night as devastating, and now that they are below .500 again, slide into obscurity and take the summer with them. Or, they could demonstrate the resiliency they’ve shown the past three weeks and regroup.

Baseball teams aren’t often fueled by emotions as teams in football and basketball, but the Mets have an opportunity as they come home to feed off the anger and disappointment from last night and continue their building. The season is far from over, but for the Mets the season will be defined by the next six weeks.

If they stumble, management could pull the plug and begin the fire sale. In the back of our minds, that’s something we’ve anticipated all along. Even now, with Jose Reyes playing so well, half the fan base is waiting for him to be traded.

However, should they recover and play well, this team could stay intact and try to make a run at a wild card. No, there doesn’t figure to be any serious acquisitions because of the Wilpon’s legal and financial issues, but there could be enough tinkering to make this an interesting, enjoyable and unexpected summer.

 

Mar 01

No need to make move on Perez now

PEREZ: Still holding on.

OK, Oliver Perez was dreadful in his first spring training appearance, but don’t expect the Mets to cut him loose already, despite what most fans might want.

Nobody gets demoted or cut after one appearance, especially somebody who is scheduled to make $12 million this season. Nor should he be.

As much as Perez wants to make the team as a starter, his best chance – slim as it is – will be coming out of the bullpen. The Mets will run Perez out there several more times and won’t make a decision until they are absolutely sure he w0n’t make the team.

That means they could keep him late until March. The Mets’ hope is, as far-fetched as it is, will be for Perez to turn it around to the point where he could attract interest. That’s not likely to happen because a team won’t give up something if it believes Perez will eventually be waived.

As tight as the Mets’ money situation is, they are obligated to pay Perez $12 million this season and are hoping the long shot comes through and he’ll be able to contribute something. I know you’ve heard that before, but nothing has changed, even with that putrid first outing.

Nov 06

New York Mets notebook

A lot of things happening with the Mets right now, beginning with the managerial interviews:

1) BACKMAN INTERVIEWS TODAY: Sandy Alderson will interview Wally Backman in California today and it is not a courtesy interview as the general manager doesn’t have time to waste. I’ve been hearing the Wilpons have some apprehensions concerning Backman, but nothing specific other than his lack of major league experience has come to light.

I’m still wary about Backman because of the experience factor, believing there are others that bring more immediately to the table.

2) COLLINS THE FRONTRUNNER: I don’t see how anybody can come to the conclusion Terry Collins is the frontrunner without all the interviews being conducted. The Mets do like Collins in his current role working with the minor leagues and could prefer him to stay in that role. Don’t forget, if Collins is reassigned then the Mets will need somebody else for the minor league job.

3) TAKAHASHI GONE: The Mets did not bring back reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The difference in gap  isn’t $1 million as people have suggested, but closer to $10 million if what has been reported is close. At 36, three years is a long time to give to a reliever with only one year in the major leagues.

4) CHARLIE SAMUELS: What was he thinking? The gifts Samuels received from the players is irrelevant. It’s the position he had and the betrayal factor. How much he bet on baseball, or if he bet on the Mets, is uncertain. The argument if he bet on baseball it would be OK if he wagered on the Mets doesn’t make it because of the message it sends if he didn’t bet on the Mets. Why?

I’ve always liked Charlie, but investigations like this don’t happen if there isn’t some degree of truth to the claims.

Too bad.