Sep 06

Mets Finally See Scott Kazmir Pitch

It is September 6, do you know where your New York Mets are?

They are in Cleveland, Ohio, not on a traffic layover, but for the start of a three-game series against the playoff-minded Indians. The Mets long ago lost those aspirations.

KAZMIR: In the day.

KAZMIR: In the day.

This is nothing against Cleveland, where I spent many afternoons in that monstrous stadium watching the Indians flail into mediocrity and freeze during Browns’ games in December.

Of course, that’s when they were the real Browns, not the fake Browns who were thrashed by Denver last night. Fake Browns II will be playing Sunday.

But, that’s another issue in the tales of: “What’s Wrong With Sports?’’

This could be my last chance of the year to rail against interleague play, which I will never grasp. I loved it in spring training where at a time it was unique, but hated it with the first pitch – I don’t care if Dave Mlicki did throw a shutout against the Yankees that day – and continue to loathe it to this moment.

I’ll watch because it is the Mets, and because I don’t get to see the Indians that much anymore, but the sporting essence of the concept is wrong.

The essence of baseball is the regular season, one in which every team used to run the same race from April until October. There was no variation to the schedule, totally balanced. With interleague play and the unbalanced schedule, schedules can be measured by degree of difficulty, much like college basketball and football, the latter being the only high-end sport without a legitimate championship process.

That’s another issue.

I understand Bud Selig’s economic reasoning, but Major League Baseball is a multi-billion-dollar industry and would still be without interleague play. If interleague play had a purpose, it is gone.

Tonight the Red Sox are in the Bronx in a match-up with teeth. The only other series this weekend with a real playoff sizzle is the Pirates and Cardinals.

The other match-ups have the playoff implications of the manufactured wild-card, but save those two series the schedule is barren of playoff race games. As if the National Football League didn’t have it easy enough in its opening weekend, there’s little playoff tension for a distraction.

And, about your Mets, Scott Kazmir is the opposing attraction against Zack Wheeler. A former “pitcher of the future,’’ against a current “pitcher of the future.’’

Kazmir was dealt at the trade deadline for Victor Zambrano, in at the time was considered a controversial, then horrendous trade, from a Mets’ perspective. But, as these fade over time, the feelings softened as Kazmir’s career was derailed by injuries.

However, in a two-year span of 2007 and 2008, when the Mets’ collapsed down the stretch and were nosed from the playoffs on the season’s final day, Kazmir was winning 13 and 12 games, respectively, for Tampa Bay.

Those were the only times where it really was, “what could have been.’’

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 05

Mets Should Already Have Several 2014 Answers In Place

The New York Mets say they are using September to gather information for their 2014 preparation.

All clubs not printing playoff tickets are doing the same. However, if the Mets were truly honest, you must believe they already have several answers:

Terry Collins: Quit the suspense, just announce it already that he’s returning. Based on what he’s been given, he’ll get another year. Maybe two.

COLLINS: He's coming back.

COLLINS: He’s coming back.

Ike Davis: After several years of non-production, interrupted by last season’s strong second half, and power drought following his return from Las Vegas, the Mets must know what direction they are leaning. GM Sandy Alderson said the roundtable discussions pertaining to Davis would occur after the season, but they must know the strapping first baseman will not be tendered a contract.

Daniel Murphy: Despite their posturing with Wilmer Flores and others, the Mets know replacing Murphy is not high on their priority list. The Mets’ needs far outweigh finding another second baseman.

Ruben Tejada: They’ll bring him to spring training, but if they were smart it would be with a one-strike policy. It’s one thing to have a poor season, but it’s another to have an “I don’t care,’’ attitude to go along with it. If Tejada doesn’t care, than neither should the Mets.

Wilmer Flores: With his shortstop range suspect, but how would we really know, since they never tried him there, what’s up with Flores? The organization has to know first base is where he should land.

Travis d’Arnaud: They got a picture of their future catcher, but it was a postcard, not a panoramic view. However, it was large enough for them to trade John Buck. Even so, they’ll likely bring in a veteran catcher.

Eric Young: He solved their leadoff spot vacancy, and that’s reason enough to bring him back. The team never looked so alive as when Young was running the bases.

Juan Lagares: In the absence of signing a power bat in the outfield, Lagares will start next season. The question is whether center or right? Matt den Dekker is better defensively in center, but him, Lagares and Young produce little power. Outside of Young, the only outfield certainty is it won’t include Lucas Duda.

Matt Harvey: Despite Harvey’s wishful thinking, the Mets know he won’t be in their rotation. They can’t push Harvey to surgery because that would be bad form, but deep down they know.

Zack Wheeler: They know they got a good one in Wheeler. Presumably, they already know they will monitor his innings. Unlike how they handled Harvey, they should already have a plan in place, and it should be to skip one start a month. That puts him at 28 for the season and a potential savings of 54 innings.

The rotation: Adding a veteran starter or two is essential. Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be an option. They should also have a tentative timetable in place to promote Rafael Montero. They had one for Harvey and Wheeler; Montero will be the same.

Jenrry Mejia: Considering his effectiveness as a starter, and now the void in that role, Mejia needs to go back to starting after he’s recovered from surgery.

The bullpen: Again, they know there will be an overhaul as LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison and perhaps Pedro Feliciano won’t be back.

It will be another long winter, but the Mets should already have their plan in place.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 03

Mets Could Bring New Traditions To Citi Field

I spent Labor Day in Boston, a city steeped in tradition, and somehow over a bowl of clam chowder that got me thinking about the New York Mets.

The Red Sox were home and their game days start outside Fenway Park on Yawkey Way with the food vendors and souvenir stores on the other side of the street.

Now this is a stadium built in 1912 within the confines of the city, which accounts for its unique configuration. It also account for people milling around before the gates open. Fenway’s history can’t be replicated anywhere, but the Mets could do a few things to make their game days experience unique before and after games.

Something could be done in that vast area between the subway and Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Yes, I get the idea of the Ebbets Field replica being the grand entrance, but off to the side, funneling into rotunda they could do so much more.

Why not have a row of food vendors to have the fans getting started early? No beer for obvious reasons. There’s always somebody that didn’t get that last hot dog, so why not have some vendors open for an hour after game time? Remember, this is the city that never sleeps.

Let’s go big on the souvenirs with the construction of a small stand-alone shop. For all those shaking their hands lamenting, “I wish I’d gotten that jersey,’’ well here’s their chance.

There could be unique vendors other than jersey’s and hats.

Topps is a Mets’ sponsor; so let’s have the company open a booth to sell baseball cards of that season and sets from previous years. But, if their pricing is $800 for the 1962 set, well, that defeats the fun purpose. But, couldn’t the company make far cheaper replica sets? People would still buy them, just not the fanatical collectors.

How about a booth for bobble head dolls? Let’s go big and include bobble head dolls for players from other teams. If there’s coin involved for the other teams and sponsors of their dolls, then it’s possible.

There could be a Mets ticket booth for future sales, or if not, keep the one at Citi Field open after the games. If you’re thinking baseball, and the Mets just won a tight one, then you might be thinking of when’s the next time you’ll come back.

Keep them thinking baseball before and after games.

How about one of those carnival games where your speed gets timed on a radar gun?

Of course, that day’s line-up would be posted everywhere you look. However, let’s get away from today for a moment and get into Mets’ history and tradition.

Let’s do something along the nature of clinics and autograph booth with retired players. Or maybe an outdoor theatre featuring highlights. The Mets could easily make a 15-minute short film that could run on a loop.

It might cost the club something to bring the players in. I’d like for something every day to make each game day special, but if not, perhaps once or twice a homestand. Just make it more often than SNY brings in Ralph Kiner.

As far as present day players are concerned, they can sign balls, cards and photos for the club to sell. But, of course, that likely might have to come after approval with the Players Association. But, what if the proceeds from player’s autographs alone were to go to charity. Perhaps a “charity of the day.’’

There could be autographs from retired players with the proceeds going to BAT, an organization that helps players down on their luck.

The Mets are as giving as any sports team to groups in their city. But, here something that separates them from the Yankees, Giants and Rangers.

Of course, the autographs would have to be written in such a way as to deter collectors. Perhaps, if they were to be stamped, “Have a great day at Citi Field,’’ with the autograph underneath, that might work.

On special days, say Mother’s Day, the players – save that day’s starting pitcher – could be at the entrances giving roses to women entering the park. The Orioles did it one year with rave reviews, except for Randy Myers who refused to participate.

Maybe some of these ideas would work. Maybe some won’t, but the could add some juice to Citi Field gamedays.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 31

Tom Seaver Partially Correct On Treatment Of Pitchers

Tom Seaver, the best player to ever wear a New York Mets uniform, has forgotten more about pitching than any of us will ever know.

So, in explaining Matt Harvey’s injury, I am buying into his argument pitchers of today are babied. Up to a point.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today's pitchers.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today’s pitchers.

We will never again see the likes of pitchers such as Seaver, who 11 times threw over 250 innings. Or Juan Marichal, who threw 30 complete games one season and 27 the next. Think about that for a moment. Fifty-seven complete games in two years is more than a pitcher starting his career today will likely have by the time he retires.

From the high school to college to the minor leagues to the majors, pitchers today are babied. They are handled with kid gloves. God forbid somebody throws over 100 pitches or works past the seventh inning.

They are babied in part because that’s the thinking of today’s managers and pitching coaches, who believe they are protecting their future assets.

That’s the key word – assets.

Look who’s protected and who is not.

High-profile picks Harvey and Zack Wheeler are protected not just because they represent the Mets’ future, but because the club already sunk a considerable amount of money into their future. They are an investment, and as such, they are to be protected.

Like a fine car, artwork, jewelry or cash, they are to be handled carefully as to not squander the investment. You aren’t careless with china or porcelain; teams aren’t careless with pitchers.

I believe Seaver is correct in saying these guys must be built up instead of being held in reserve and “babied.’’

As a part of the body, the arm, elbow and shoulder gets stronger the more it is worked, not the less it is exercised.

It used to be pitchers threw, and threw, and threw. Today everything is monitored, from the innings to the pitches, to the type of pitches thrown. Some teams even monitor and count warm-up pitches.

While the word from above is to be careful with these guys because of the investment made, something else must also be taken into consideration.

A bulk of today’s pitchers are athletes. They are strong, fast and powerful, and as such they throw with incredible violence and torque that pitchers didn’t necessarily have in Seaver’s era, but if they did they were protected by their high volume of throwing.

Seaver is correct, but he didn’t get into the main points, that today’s pitchers are babied because of the investment made in them, and so strong that they outmuscle their mechanics.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 30

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee Continues Hot Pitching

The projected leader in victories for the New York Mets was, of course, Matt Harvey, with the second choice Jon Niese. Dillon Gee might have been the third choice at best.

After Harvey cooled, Gee has easily been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher as he picked up a team high 10th victory tonight against Washington in a 3-2 win.

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

Gee continued his impressive run by giving up two runs on 7.2 innings, and received support in the form of a two-run homer from Ike Davis.

In 17 starts since May 30, Gee is ranked fifth in the majors with a 2.49 ERA, trailing Jose Fernandez (1.52), Clayton Kershaw (1.75), Bartolo Colon, (2.39) and Yu Darvish (2.40).

Gee’s reputation has been one of dependability and consistency, and in the absence of Harvey’s early-season domination because of injury and Niese’s erratic season in part from a shoulder injury, Gee is assumed the role as Mets’ ace.

Who would have guessed?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos