Nov 02

Collins Falls On Sword For Harvey

There are plenty of fingers to he pointed in defeat, but the only thing I can blame Terry Collins for was not following his gut. He wanted to pull Matt Harvey; he wanted to give the ball to his snake bit closer Jeurys Familia with a clean inning.

“No way,’’ Harvey screamed at the manager who tried to protect him all year. And in defeat, Collins trusted him again.

“He said, `I want this game. I want it bad,’ ’’ Collins said. “I let my heart get in the way of my gut. … It was inexcusable.’’

HARVEY: ``No way.'' Yes, way. (Getty)

HARVEY: “No way.” Yes, way. (Getty)

If Collins stayed with his gut and the Mets bullpen blew it, he would have been vilified. If Collins pulled Harvey after the walk and the bullpen blew it then, he would have been roasted for that.

“If you’re going to send him out there for one hitter, you shouldn’t sent him out there at all,’’ Collins said.

But, it wasn’t just that decision. The Mets’ defense played poorly; the bullpen was always on shaky ground; and the offense, well, it didn’t exist. Four hits tonight were not going to get it done.

Collins accepted responsibility, but there were others to share blame.

In the end, nobody expected the Mets to get this far, and I’m talking about more than reaching the World Series. Entering the season, the goal was to get to .500. They lapped that expectation.

As the Royals celebrated in the middle of the infield and Citi Field grew quiet, the TV cameras focused on David Wright, who stared blankly to the field.

All I could think about was how empty he felt, and I hoped he would feel that way for a long time as it is a feeling to build on.


Oct 31

Mets’ Future Free Agents Do In Team

It was there for the taking, but the Mets wouldn’t have anything to do with victory and let Game 4 of the World Series slip away from them like a ground ball under Daniel Murphy’s glove.

Oh, wait, that actually did happen.

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

“You can’t give a good team extra outs,’’ said dumbfounded Mets manager Terry Collins, who also contributed to the late-inning collapse in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals, the team that won’t die.

In the end, the likely end to the Mets’ 2015 postseason came down to three players who probably won’t be here next season for not making the plays when they needed to most.

Tyler Clippard, Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes did nothing to endear themselves to Mets’ fans and GM Sandy Alderson.

However, let’s first start with Collins, who pulled Bartolo Colon before going with hot reliever Addison Reed in the seventh. You go with your hot hand and Collins should have stayed with Colon and ride him until he gave up a base runner before going to Reed.

Reed was terrific, but the template backfired on Collins when Clippard walked two in the eighth. First of all, Collins should have gone with Jeurys Familia for a two-inning save. Only trouble is Collins was reluctant to go with Familia because he had worked an inning Friday night in a blowout win in Game 3. That was lame. This time of year, your closer has to work two, maybe three nights in a row.

So, not having Familia in there falls on Collins. Also falling on Collins is not pulling Clippard after the first walk. At this stage, Clippard gets one runner before he’s pulled.

Then came a grounder to Murphy. The snake of a grounder slithered under his glove and the game was tied. Then it totally slipped away from the Mets.

“Jeurys did his job, I didn’t do mine,’’ said the always stand-up Murphy. “I misplayed it. There’s no excuse for it. We lost the ballgame because of it.’’

The Mets put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Cespedes was doubled off first on a soft liner to third baseman Michael Moustakas. Despite a runner on base ahead of him, Cespedes was running.

Where was he going? What was he thinking?

Later, he offered the lame excuse. “I thought it was going to touch the grass,’’ Cespedes said. “I didn’t think it would be a double play.’’

I don’t blame Murphy as errors happen. I don’t really blame Clippard because wildness happens. However, neither Collins nor Cespedes had their heads in the game when they needed to most.

That’s why the Mets are 27 outs from winter.

Oct 30

Mets Have No Hesitation In Matz For Game 4

Like Noah Syndergaard Friday, Steven Matz is another young, stud pitcher the Mets wanted to delay bringing up, but instead is now in position to take this World Series into November. Syndergaard overcame early threats to strike out six in six innings and backed by two-run homers from David Wright and Curtis Granderson, the Mets stuffed Kansas City, 9-3, to make this a Series again.

Growing up in Long Island, Matz loved the Mets and dreamed of moments like Game 4 Saturday night. He just never thought he’d commute from his parents’ home to Citi Field to pitch in front of a raucous crowd and nationwide television audience with a chance to pull the Mets even.

MATZ:  Mets to ride him Saturday. (Getty)

MATZ: Mets to ride him Saturday. (Getty)

After all, when you’re 24, single and a pro ballplayer in New York, the mindset is having a bachelor apartment in Manhattan: See: Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Derek Jeter.

“I always thought about it,’’ said Matz, who made his major league debut with a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati and finished 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA.

“I didn’t know it was actually going to come to truth or whatever. It’s actually amazing. It’s pretty big blessing being here, especially my first year being a part of this team.’’

The Mets will try to get back into the Series with a left-hander who made only six starts. So confident the Mets are in Matz they chose him over Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese, or to bring back Matt Harvey on short rest.

“Matz will pitch Game 4, no matter what,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Matz, like the others in the Mets rotation, throws hard, which could play into the hands of the Royals’ hitters, whose rep is to put the ball into play against mid-90s fastballs. Matz said he won’t try to fool the Royals with his secondary pitches, but go with his heater.

“I think we all look at every team we face and we have a game plan. That’s what we’re going to do,’’ Matz said. “We’re not going to change anything as far as that. We’re going to sit down and study the hitters and attack the hitters the way we believe we can get them out. So that’s what we’re going to do.’’

If he does, we could be in for a great ride.



Oct 30

In Noah, The Mets Do Trust

It’s funny how things worked out for the Mets. They were reluctant to bring up Noah Syndergaard in May, but now in October they are counting on him to extend their dream season. Down two games to Kansas City, Syndergaard will take his 100 mph., fastball to the mound tonight at Citi Field.

“We’ve got great confidence in him,” said manager Terry Collins. “I think as much as you’d like to go to that crusty, veteran guy who’s been here, who’s done it, to help bail you out of the hole you’re in, we’re not asking that. We’re asking this kid to go out and pitch his game, and his stuff should play.”

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

The Mets entered the World Series with a decided edge in starting pitching, but Matt Harvey (6) and Jacob deGrom (5) gave them a combined 11 innings in the first two games. Syndergaard must give them at least seven innings to keep the Royals away from the Mets’ bullpen.

Along with the Mets’ starters, another story line was the Royals’ hitters ability to make contact, especially against fastballs over 95 mph. Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA and spoke as if he has this playoff thing down pat.

The question has always been posed to pitchers for years: Does he pitch to his strength, even if it is the hitter’s strength as well?

Syndergaard knows a pitcher never wants to get beat with his secondary pitches; if he goes down it will be with his best.

“My main focus is to pitch to my strengths and being able to execute all my pitches, and just focus on winning one pitch at a time,” said Syndergaard, speaking like the veteran he isn’t.

It’s funny how things work. The Mets didn’t want to bring up Syndergaard in May to delay his arbitration and free-agent years to have him conveniently locked up for the future. The Mets singled out their young pitching as the foundation for their future, but the future is now for the Mets.

It is tonight.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 30

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Still Win

The Mets are down two games in the World Series, but I am here to give you five reasons why they can come back and win this thing. Never mind the odds, the beautiful thing about sports is anything can happen, including a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Here’s how it can happen:

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

TERRY COLLINS: Let’s start with the basics. You need to win four games to win a World Series and the Royals have only won two. The Royals haven’t won anything yet and they know it.

Manager Terry Collins will make that his first point when he talks to his players today. He must stress the Mets need to win just one game. They win Friday and go to work Saturday. One game at a time is a cliché, but a cliché becomes a cliché because it is true.

As long as the Mets have the mindset all they need to do is concentrate on that day’s game they will be fine. Sure, they are in a hole. If they think it’s a big hole they are in trouble. If they look at it as a matter of one game they can win. (See: 1986 Mets; 2004 Red Sox).

For the most part, Collins pushed the right buttons this year. He knows his team, knows its temperament and knows how to pull them out of funks. He lost a couple of gambles in the first two games, but made them for the right reasons.

Collins made a good decision Thursday when he made the workout optional. Collins knew his team was fatigued and the questions they would be asked. He knew his team needed a breather.

That’s a manager having the pulse of his team.

THIS CAN’T LAST: The Mets played maybe their worst game in a month in Game 2. We have seen them bounce back from bad games numerous times this year to play well.

These Mets have put bad moments behind them and responded with wins. That’s a quality you don’t forget and I expect them to do the same starting Friday.

Teams go into slumps, and the Mets are no different. They got here because they played well and I believe they will snap out of it.

I’m counting on it.

THEY STILL HAVE THAT PITCHING: The main storyline going in was the Mets’ rotation. Just because they didn’t win with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean they went away for good. That advantage still exists.

Remember, both pitched with a lead, but were victimized by a bad inning. They could each get another start, with Harvey getting Game 5 at home and deGrom Game 6 on the road.

It’s hard to remember them pitching poorly in back-to-back starts. In case you’re wondering about fatigue, neither pitched deep into their games and that will work in their favor.

Noah Syndergaard goes Friday and has done well at home.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe Jeurys Familia will be scarred by Game 1. You don’t save that many games by letting things bother you.

SPEAKING OF HOME: The 2-3-2 format works in the Mets’ favor. Three straight games at Citi Field with that rocking crowd can turn the tone of the Series.

The Mets won 60 percent of their Citi Field games this season and definitely have a home field advantage. I would bet on the Mets returning to Kansas City.

A player who thrives at Citi Field is Lucas Duda, who hit 19 of his 27 home runs in the direction of the Pepsi Porch.

A HOT BAT WILL SURFACE: Whether it be David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Duda, or Curtis Granderson, I expect one or more to snap out of it.

The Royals seemed to have solved Daniel Murphy, but he’s getting hits. If Murphy is to be a player of the ages we thought a week ago, he’ll need another spurt.

The Mets have struck out a lot, but this is something that can be addressed with patience. They’ve snapped out of it before and have the ability to do it again. A little hit-and-run, a little stealing has a way of jumpstarting an offense.

Remember, they didn’t win 90 games by accident. Strat-O-Matic believes that. The game we played as kids – before such things as Fantasy Leagues – projected the Royals to win the first two games.

And, for the Mets winning the next four.