Jun 28

Mets Messing With Matz

I recently read something pretty funny about Mets pitcher Steven Matz. Actually, not so much funny as it was maddening. Matz, scratched from Wednesday’s start in Washington because of pain in his elbow caused by a bone spur, will now go Thursday against the Cubs.

That’s not the funny part. The punchline is the Mets say they have been assured by team doctors Matz can’t hurt himself any further, at least not to his elbow. How can that be? Are these some kind of special doctors who can see into the future?

MATZ: Doctors can't guarantee anything.  (Getty)

MATZ: Doctors can’t guarantee anything. (Getty)

There are no guarantees in life, especially when it comes to health and medicine. No doctor can project the future with an injury like this. Perhaps the weekend warrior or country club tennis player, can get by being treated with anti-inflammatories, rest or a cortisone injection.

However, Matz is a baseball pitcher, and what he does requires an incredible amount of tension and torque on the elbow.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s definition, a bone spur is when bony projections develop on the surface of the bone. They can cause swelling, pain and depending what rubs against it, tearing of tissue or tendons or ligaments. Reports are Matz’s MRI showed the spurs aren’t in an area where they can imminently rub against a ligament. But, who is to say that can’t change with a violent twist of the elbow?

GM Sandy Alderson described Matz’s condition as a matter of pain tolerance, which is comforting if you’re not named Steven Matz.

“At this point, it’s a function of whether he can tolerate the discomfort while continuing to pitch,” Alderson told reporters. “What we will do is monitor that level of discomfort.”

However, history is full of examples of pitchers who overcompensate for one injury by creating another. Pain in one’s elbow can cause a pitcher to subtly alter his mechanics to where it might impact his shoulder or elsewhere in the elbow.

No doctor can guarantee Matz won’t change his mechanics. Perhaps, the change is so slight nobody will notice, and Matz might not feel anything. At first.

Maybe Matz can give us a John Wayne and pitch through this initially, but it could prohibit him from effectively throwing his breaking balls or prevent him from dialing up his fastball.

There have already been reports Matz might require surgery this winter, so this is far from being nothing. And, considering the Mets’ history in handling injuries, from the Alderson administration to Omar MInaya’s to Steve Phillips, I’m not buying this “it can’t get worse,” theory. There have been too many cases of things going wrong.

Matz won’t pitch Wednesday, but pushing him back one day hardly will make much of a difference. Matz’s career has already been sidetracked by Tommy John surgery, so it’s beyond me why he’d even fool around with this.

Jul 14

Today in Mets’ History: Bobby V. wins 1,000th game as manager.

I never covered him full time, but always recognized Bobby Valentine held a special place with Mets’ fans.

VALENTINE: A fixture in Mets lore.

Maybe it had nothing to do with the fake moustache, but perhaps that act is what endeared him to the Shea partisans. It was spontaneous, funny and above all, human. We all know ejected managers hide in the runway or somehow send messages to the dugout. Valentine was just brash in his approach.

Valentine guided the Mets to the playoffs and World Series in 2000, but his teams ran out of steam and his feud with then general manager Steve Phillips became draining.

On this date in 1971, Valentine registered his 1,000th career victory when Glendon Rusch and Armando Benitez combined to throw a one-hit shutout of the Red Sox, 2-0.


Valentine managed Texas and the Mets, as well as two stints in Japan. He currently works for ESPN, but is constantly being mentioned when managerial openings occur.


Oct 05

Just say no to Bobby V.

One of the most interesting things I’ve read lately in the papers and on the blogs has been the slow drumbeat for the return of Bobby Valentine as Mets manager. All these people who should know better, who blast the Mets for repeating their same mistakes over and over again, are clamoring for them to return to the not-too-distant past in bringing back the flawed Valentine.


Can you really go home again? Can you reheat a souffle? Can a torn relationship be made whole again? Experience tells me probably not. Valentine had his chance, and in 1999 and 2000 had playoff teams that fizzled out. Yes, they reached the World Series in 2000, but after blowing Game 1, they were essentially done.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.

Could Valentine without Steve Phillips work? I doubt it. Valentine is a lightning rod for controversy and in much the degree of Billy Martin, a quick fix. He energizes at first, but then things regress. He does not sustain.

As bad as Jerry Manuel was this year, it must be remembered the team was in first place until injuries sacked the season. We can’t say with certainty the Mets would be in the playoffs had they stayed healthy, but they were headed in that direction.

Manuel definitely has shortcomings, but the season was so hideously fractured by injuries it would have been unfair to not give him another chance. Remember, it wasn’t Manuel’s fault the Mets didn’t have the reserves to bring up from the minor leagues or to make a trade.

Yes, Manuel should have handled some things differently, but the argument can be made many of his mistakes were made because he didn’t have any other options. I’ve not been shy in listing what I didn’t like, but looking at things objectively, I can see his reasoning.

Given the same situation, I don’t believe Valentine would have been any better. I’m not sure anybody could have been any better.

For those wanting Valentine, it must be remembered no championships were won during his tenure, and that reaching the World Series was in large part because they didn’t have to face the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs that season.

From what I remember about the Valentine Era is there was always a controversy. There was always a distraction. Valentine was constantly at odds with somebody, whether it be his general manager, a player or somebody in the media. Valentine liked to play people off of each other and the clubhouse was about taking sides on one issue or another.

Those wanting Valentine either have short and selective memories, an agenda, or don’t know what they are talking about.

In the long run, we’ll need 2010 to see if Manuel is the answer, and odds are he’ll get a short leash because of the impatience that comes from being in New York. But, the Mets have been there and done that with Valentine.

A return to the past would not be good for the Mets’ future.