Apr 07

Mets Matters: Players Get Rings

The Mets received their 2015 NL Championship rings this afternoon in a low profile ceremony at Citi Field.

Mike Cuddyer came to New York at David Wright‘s invitation – the team should have made the offer – and the club flew up Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin from Port St. Lucie.

Wright told reporters: “All of us will wear that proudly. But at the same time, it’s time to move on. After we get the rings, it’s officially last year. We need to start worrying about this year. So, I think, it’s a nice cherry on the top.
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“Obviously, we could spend all day reflecting on the success that we had last year and the run and how much fun we had on the baseball field. But I think the flip side of that is it gives you a little motivation. That second-place ring is not what anybody in here wants. It’s that’s first-place ring. So I think it reminds you that you’re still working for that.”

DeGROM STILL IN LINE TO START

Jacob deGrom is still on for starting Friday’s home opener against Philadelphia because his wife, Stacey, still hasn’t delivered.

The baby was due Tuesday when the Mets were in Kansas City.

If deGrom makes it, it will be his second straight home-opener start. He will be followed by Bartolo Colon, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz Monday against Miami.

If deGrom returns to Florida, Colon will start.

PIAZZA’S DAD WANTS JERSEY

Mike Piazza’s father, Vince, told The York Post his family might buy back the jersey at auction and will donate it to the Hall of Fame.

“My God, it’s not right what is going on here,’’ Vince Piazza said. “That thing belongs in the Hall of Fame. It belongs to all the fans of baseball. That home run was so important, not only for New York, but for the entire country.

“When Mike hit that home run, it lit the whole city up again. The city was dark, and that turned the lights on again. It’s a historic home run, and I know how much it means to Mike.’’

Too bad the Mets didn’t when they let it get away.

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Apr 07

Mets Made Huge Mistake With Piazza Jersey

When you hear of things like this with the Mets, what immediately comes to mind is: How the hell could happen in the first place?

The jersey Mike Piazza wore during the first game back after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is up for auction, and not by the team. Ten days later, Piazza authored one of the most dramatic events in franchise history that night with game-winning home run that beat the Atlanta Braves.

PIAZZA: Post 9-11 history. (AP)

PIAZZA: Post 9-11 history. (AP)

That jersey, which should have immediately been offered to the Baseball Hall of Fame, or at least placed in the Mets’ trophy case, somehow found its way to a memorabilia collector.

The jersey is now available – for a hefty price, of course – as it will be put up for auction, April 30, by Goldin Auctions.

We all know the Mets have been under financial duress in recent years, but I refuse to believe Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon sold it on his own, but the confirmed the jersey being sold.

“We made a mistake in selling the jersey, and Jeff called Mike to express our regret in so doing,” reported The New York Post.

However, that admission doesn’t get the jersey back and Piazza isn’t pleased.

“I’m very disappointed with the situation regarding my game jersey from Sept. 21, 2001,” Piazza told The Post. “I’ve expressed my feelings to [chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] and the Mets. And while it never should have left Citi Field, they have assured me that contact with the seller has been made and they are making a concerted effort to get the jersey back.

“I’m hopeful that an agreement can be reached and we can give back to the fans and all New Yorkers a piece of that evening that was more than just a game.”

If nothing else, Piazza should buy it back himself and donate the jersey to the Hall of Fame and write it off his taxes.

The Mets have long been accused of not honoring their history and this is another example. Citi Field should have been designed with a team museum in its confines, but that only happened after the first year when there was an outcry from Mets’ fans about the franchise forgetting its history.

It should be noted Mets owner Fred Wilpon grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan and the front of Citi Field resembles Ebbets Field and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda was part of the original design while a Mets museum wasn’t.

The Mets have to make this right by buying back the jersey. It will cost them a lot of money, but it is the right thing to do. When they get it back, it must go to either, Piazza, the Hall of Fame, or the Mets Museum.

That’s the only way to make it right.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Mets Notebook

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Apr 07

This Day In Mets’ History: Gooden Makes Debut

On this date in 1984, it began for Dwight Gooden who gave up one run in five innings to beat Houston, 3-2, in his major league debut at 19.

Franchise lore has it Gooden was so amped up for his start he had to jump a fence to get into a locked Astrodome.

GOODEN: Made debut  this day in 1984. (Getty)

GOODEN: Made debut this day in 1984. (Getty)

Gooden was a four-time All-Star during his 16-year career, but not after his fifth season.

Gooden finished his first season 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA over 31 starts. He worked 218 innings and was the Rookie of the Year by virtue of leading the league in strikeouts (276), WHIP (1.073) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.4).

The following season was Gooden’s best as he won the Cy Young Award and finished fourth in the MVP voting by going 24-4 (his only 20-win season) with a league-leading 1.53 ERA. He also lead the league in innings (276.2) and strikeouts (268).

While Gooden had some good seasons, his problem with drugs denied him of the greatness many projected.

Gooden left the Mets after a 3-4 record in 1994, his third straight losing season. After sitting out the 1995 season with a drug suspension, Gooden went on to play for the Yankees (he pitched a no-hitter for them in 1996), Cleveland, Houston, Tampa Bay and a second stint in the Bronx in 2000, which was his final season.

Gooden was 157-85 with a 3.10 ERA in 11 seasons with the Mets.

While Gooden will always be regarded as an iconic Met, the organization has never been inclined to retire his number.

ON DECK:  Piazza jersey fiasco.

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Apr 05

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stifles Royals

GAME #2:  Mets 2, at Kansas City 0.  Record: 1-1.

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard dominated with nine strikeouts in six innings and was backed by Neil Walker‘s two-run homer in the fourth. … The bullpen was flawless as it retired nine straight Royals to end the game. Jeurys Familia, who blew three save opportunities in the World Series, registered the save.

KEY MOMENT: Alcides Escobar tripled to lead off the game, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three hitters. Syndergaard also stranded runners in scoring position to end the fifth and sixth innings.

THOR DROPS HAMMER: Syndergaard was on his game as he struck out nine and gave up three hits with one walk in six scoreless innings. What he did in the first inning illustrated why he has Cy Young potential.

WALKER STRIKES EARLY: Walker had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. Walker also drove in a run Sunday night.

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: Reports of his demise could be premature. David Wright walked twice, singled to right and stole two bases. He was also flawless in the field.

THUMBS UP: The bullpen was solid again. In his Mets’ debut, Jim Henderson struck out two in the seventh. … Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto, who reached base four times Sunday night, was hitless in four at-bats. … Three strikeouts by Curtis Granderson. … The Mets stranded three runners in the seventh and two in the eighth.

QUOTEBOOK: “He took a deep breath and realized he had to take it pitch-by-pitch.” – Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Syndergaard’s mindset after Escobar’s leadoff triple in the first.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: strikeouts by Mets’ pitchers.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Wednesday and will face the Phillies in their home opener Friday.

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Apr 05

Why Syndergaard Retaliation Was Off From The Start

Updated after Syndergaard’s performance Wednesday afternoon.

Not for a second did I buy into the idea the Royals planned retaliation against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard for his buzz job past Alcides Escobar in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Escobar has a reputation of going after the first pitch, and Syndergaard didn’t want him digging in and getting too comfortable.

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

The Royals did a lot of screaming from the dugout, and after the game Syndergaard said if they had a problem with him they knew where to find him, which is 60 feet, 6 inches, from the plate.

That was another brushback pitch.

Syndergaard brushed back the Royals entirely in Tuesday’s 2-0 stuffing as he struck out nine in six innings.

The game’s turning point came in the first inning when Escobar tripled to lead off, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three. It seemed whenever Syndergaard was in any trouble, he responded with heat. He struck out Kendrys Morales to end the sixth with a runner in scoring position.

Syndergaard was locked in all day, much the way he was focused when he faced Escobar in the World Series.

In March, a Newsday report stated the Royals were planning payback, which was off on two counts: 1) Escobar wasn’t hit, so there was nothing to retaliate against, and 2) if the Royals did have it in for Syndergaard, they certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to announce it ahead of time.

Syndergaard recently said as much: “I don’t think they’re too fond of me, but as far as retaliation goes, I really don’t know what they’re going to retaliate against. All I did was establish the inner part of the plate. So I don’t know what this whole retaliation talk is all about. But it’s going to be an interesting time. … I simply threw a pitch on the inside corner. Elevated. A purpose pitch. I don’t really see how any retaliation could be made.”

It was during spring training. It was a slow news day. And, it was an interesting, juicy thought. But it simply didn’t make sense.

I’ll tell you why there is a buzz about this story. What Syndergaard did, trying to establish the inside part of the plate, is an old school concept, something people these days can’t grasp. Catchers get run over and hard slides take out infielders, so rules have to be changed.

Bryce Harper, a marvelous talent, but also clueless at times, said baseball needs life and has no problems with players expressing themselves with bat flips and celebrations. Another generation would respond to a bat flip with a knockdown pitch, something the current generation doesn’t understand.

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