Apr 11

Mets No Longer Lovable Losers

Well, you didn’t expect perfection, did you?

POLO GROUNDS: Where it began for the Mets.

The Mets gained the reputation as “Lovable Losers” in their infancy, which began 50 years ago today with a decisive loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night was also decisive, but there was nothing lovable about it as the Mets started the night with news their often-injured third baseman, David Wright, had a fractured right pinkie and is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

Then, I suppose in a page taken from the original Mets, Dillon Gee gave up a game-opening home run to Ian Desmond. We knew the Mets would eventually lose, but defeat was certain and ugly, containing butchered plays by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, two defensive liabilities to begin with, but not with the Marvelous Marv flair.

Gee was roughed up and the offense disappeared and their first defeat of the season was in the books. There will be others, but defeat in 2012 will be different than defeat in 1962.

Back then, New York was happy to have National League baseball back in the city and embraced the rag-tag group of veteran rejects managed by circus barker Casey Stengel. Defeat was often and came in various forms and with the Stengel proclamation: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Well, at one time, they did. At one time, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and Richie Ashburn could really play. However, 50 years ago, they represented memories in flannels.

Today’s Mets, while undermanned, have a core of young and talented players, with more on the way up. Had the original Mets taken to start with youth before veterans, who knows how the history of the franchise would have changed?

Perhaps, we might have had the Miracle Mets before 1969. Then again, the karma would have been altered. Like much about baseball, there’s fun and beauty in speculation.

The Mets celebrate 50 years this season, and we all have our memories and special moments. Mine is different than yours, but they are all special. I don’t know how this year will wind up, but it will be special in its own right because it will contain a new set of memories.

It began with a sprint out of the gate with four exciting and well-played victories, but sputtered last night with bad pitching, spotty defense and no hitting, just like it was 50 years ago.

But, it’s not 1962 anymore. The Mets have a new stadium and aren’t playing in the rundown Polo Grounds. Those Mets weren’t expected to be good, or even compete. Today’s Mets must compete, and in New York, that means winning.

 

Feb 01

A blast from the past for Mets this summer.

One of the mainstays of a Mets’ summer will be returning this year, the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

BANNER DAY: Back again,

Banner Day will return May 27 to give you an opportunity to express your affection to your favorite players and memories, and yes, also a chance to editorialize on the direction of the team. Undoubtedly, there will be some censorship involved.

With the way things have been going, how can there not be?

However, I like the premise. Beginning at the Polo Grounds in 1963, and from 1964-96 at Shea Stadium, Banner Day was a Mets’ staple. So too, was Old Timers’ Day,

Maybe, the thinking is to do something for a day to spike the attendance, but it is a great day. It was an event cherished by the fans and the players got a kick out of it, also. The idea is for this year, but let’s hope it takes off.

 

Jun 07

Today in Mets History: Remembering the Duke.

It’s always interesting to look back at some of the old Mets. Some great players made a cameo in New York at the end of their careers.

SNIDER; One last moment in the Polo Grounds.

For example, Duke Snider, who hit a three-run homer on this date in 1962 off Diomedes Olivio in the ninth inning to give the Mets a 3-2 victory over St. Louis in the Polo Grounds. It wasn’t quite the Dodgers and Giants in the 1950’s, but for one day there was a Golden Age flashback in New York.

Interesting story about when Snider first joined the Mets.  Charlie Neal had No. 4, but wouldn’t give it up to Snider. Snider eventually got the number when Neal was traded.

Snider was popular with Mets’ fans who still held an emotional connection to the Dodgers – no doubt, Fred Wilpon fell into this category. Of course, what makes the Mets unique is their roots are found in two other teams, which has caused the franchise to constantly seek its own identity.

That hasn’t always been easy, and the team took considerable heat in the opening of Citi Field, which featured the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and had little acknowledgement of the Mets’ own history.

The following season, in what really was an ironic and sad turn, Snider was traded to the Giants and retired after that year.

SNIDER’S CAREER NUMBERS

 

Apr 21

Your passion lives even if the Mets don’t.

R.A. Dickey throws a knuckleball, and last night he pitched well, but not good enough to win against the Houston Astros. After the game, Dickey threw high heat, not only at himself, but his teammates.

“We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are. We can’t just keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be.’’

There has not been a better analysis of the Mets this season. Maybe not for a long time.

So, let’s be brutally honest.

Their pitching, both in the rotation and out of the bullpen is not good enough to win with in the National League. It might not even be good enough to win with in Triple-A.

Fundamentals, which was supposed to be their upside, has been poor in all aspects. They have not hit for power or in the clutch. They’ve given away too many at-bats both at the plate and in the field.

And last night on the bases was atrocious, from Angel Pagan’s slide at the plate to Jose Reyes being doubled off first in the ninth inning.

It does me no joy to write this, but it is the truth. I don’t see where Jason Bay’s return will provide immediate help.

However, we all knew this heading into spring training. This was supposed to be a bridge year until payroll was cleared the Mets could be able to spend next year.

Payroll will be cleared, but probably nothing significant by the trade deadline, so let’s not expect any flashes at mid-season. Major League Baseball has taken over control of the Dodgers, and who is to say the Mets aren’t next? Who is to say the handpicked selection of Sandy Alderson as general manager isn’t close to the same thing?

Ownership is in a state of crisis, and until that is resolved things will continue to be bleak for the Mets and the crowds thin at Citi Field, where they are a dismal 1-8 for the worst home start in franchise history.

Hell, the 1962 Mets did better than that at the Polo Grounds.

Three weeks into the season and the Mets have five victories to show for their efforts. The Angels’ Jered Weaver has that many by himself.

But, this is your team. You’ve cheered for them in gloomy times before and will pull for them again. That’s what loyal fans do.

All you Mets fans on this blog and the dozens of others that follow your team. All of you who watch on SNY and tune into WFAN, and to those who read the papers every morning. You do so because the Mets are your passion.

And, they are lucky to have you.