Mar 02

Trying To Understand The World Baseball Classic; David Wright Departs

David Cone once told me there could never be a true World Series after the real one because there are only so many pitches in an arm.

It just wouldn’t be practical for one to put his career in jeopardy for a mythical world tournament. Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander – neither of whom are in the World Baseball Classic – instead remain in their spring training camps preparing to pitch for teams that pay them.

WRIGHT: Playing for USA

WRIGHT: Playing for USA (AP)

Make no mistake, the World Baseball Classic is about two clashing financial perspectives. First, there is the noble objective of trying to promote baseball globally, and yes, that means selling even more Yankees and Dodgers caps in countries where the $20 to buy such a hat could more than feed a family for a week.

The other financial viewpoint is from the athletes who are training for their jobs. Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the sport last year, isn’t playing. There are dozens of others staying home.

David Wright is going. This is important to him.

However, baseball is not like soccer or basketball, sports that can be played in a tournament format. Excellence in baseball takes a month in the United States, with three levels of competition. And, that’s with ten teams.

To do a baseball justice on a world stage would require at least two months, not the two weeks they are trying to jam this in.

And, can it be a true tournament if many of the best players in the major leagues aren’t present? Another thing I find puzzling is why don’t the major leaguers – who represent teams in the United States – not play just for the United States. There is not even a masking of their loyalties.

Johan Santana wanted to play for Venezuela, his native country and not for the United States, the home of his employer who will pay him $31 million this season whether he throws a pitch or not.

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Dec 17

All That’s Left For Dickey Deal Is Mets’ Fans Crying

All R.A. Dickey must do is turn his head and cough and he’ll be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s appropriate to Mets fans because they are the ones with the hernia from bearing the heavy weight of the promises the organization made them in recent years.

DICKEY: Going, going ... gone.

It is done and Dickey is gone after agreeing to a two-year, $25-million extension with the Blue Jays, which ironically is less than he sought from the Mets. If the Mets don’t feel a twinge of embarrassment in that they should.

Some of the money, along with his $5 million salary – when the Mets picked up the option they said they hoped to extend his contract – will be paid immediately of offset the tax difference between the United States and Canada. The exact dollar figure to be front-loaded is still being negotiated.

The Mets will receive catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, whose 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury, and Class A pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. The teams are also swapping catchers, Josh Thole and John Buck, to give Dickey his old batterymate.

Toronto is including an undisclosed amount of cash to help pay Buck’s $6 million salary, further indication the Mets’ financial problems are far from over.

So, the Mets are giving their Cy Young Award winner and one of their few 2012 positives for two prospects – one injured – which are nothing more than wishes in the wind. The Mets are gambling the prospects will make it, but don’t know for sure. Nobody does.

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Mar 28

Traditions keep slip sliding away

One by one the traditions of the sport fade and disappear. Some, like all day games, travel by train and fielders leaving their gloves in the field after each inning naturally became outdated and obsolete, and no longer create a sense of longing.

Others, such as interleague play, day baseball during the World Series, alignment  and the designated hitter can still strike a chord and to some remain hot-button issues.

I was reminded today of another of baseball’s passing traditions, and that is Opening Day. The first game of the season was always played in Cincinnati, then Washington. That’s the way it was for decades. I’ll always remember the President of the United States throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

For one day each spring, the sporting world belonged to baseball and Opening Day. The NCAA Tournament had passed and the NFL draft was weeks away. The NBA and NHL were playing out there seasons, but for one day in early April it was nothing but baseball.

The sport was center stage with no competition.

However, Major League Baseball, in its marketing greed has given that away. Now, the real opening day belongs to the NFL, with a Thursday night national game and the rest of the schedule on Sunday.

Not so baseball anymore. It gave up its spot on center stage when it opted to open in late March with games in Japan. I don’t care if a team wants to go over there during spring training, or even play a series during the season, but Opening Day?

After your fans have been waiting all winter for the renewal of the new season, the first games are played half-way across the world. Even more ridiculous, is that regular season games are played the same time spring training games are still in session.

Why doesn’t Major League Baseball reclaim center stage by making Opening Day on the Tuesday after the NCAA title game, or perhaps the Sunday after the Final Four. And, play the games in the United States.

Baseball still claims itself our national pasttime, but it makes for a weak argument when it plays Opening Day on the other side of the ocean.

 

Mar 12

March 12.10: Have to wonder about Reyes.

Let’s do the math. Two weeks from today puts us a week before spring training. Then Reyes has to start over, because they aren’t going to push him and certainly don’t want to rush him considering his hamstring. That puts us at the middle of April. And, since nothing with the Mets ever goes as planned, and there is no such thing as a best-case scenario, we’re not going to see Reyes before May.

Is anybody to blame for this or is it simply just another case of bad luck for the Mets?

Just because Reyes can’t eat seafood doesn’t automatically mean his overactive thyroid resulted by diet. Is it diet, heredity or some other external factor that caused the spike in Reyes’ thyroid levels?

The elephant in the room is HGH.

Reyes was treated Dr. Anthony Galea, who is under investigation after being charged with attempting to HGH into the United States. Reyes denies taking the stuff, that he only had the blood-spinning treatment. Who knows? Maybe it was the blood-spinning treatment that’s the cause.

Even so, MLB doesn’t test for HGH and since there is a correlation between HGH and thyroid levels (an excellent article this week in the Daily News), we can’t dismiss it out of hand. Would you really be surprised?

Maybe we’ll never know the cause. Hopefully, his levels will stabilize and this won’t be an issue again. But, for now there is speculation.

What is known is that the Mets are again a team with its core on the sideline. Don’t count on seeing Reyes or Beltran in April, and if the pitching doesn’t come around they could be in serious trouble before either returns.

The Mets spent the offseason counting on their injured returning and their pitching would improve. Well, half of that wish hasn’t been answered. It remains to be seen about the other half.

Sep 01

Mets Notebook: Wright ready for tonight.

Third baseman David Wright will be activated from the disabled list today and be in the line-up against Colorado. Manager Jerry Manuel said Wright would play tonight and tomorrow, then rest Thursday before the team’s series against the Chicago Cubs. Wright will be wearing the new ultra-protective batting helmets.

WRIGHT: To play tonight.

WRIGHT: To play tonight.


Johan Santana and Oliver Perez underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan. Santana had bone chips removed from his left elbow and Perez had scar tissue removed from the patella tendon of his right knee. The team said both should be ready for spring training. That they had surgery with a month remaining is in their favor, unlike Jose Reyes, whose agent said surgery might not be until the end of the month. Santana was 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts; Perez was 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA in 14 starts.
BELTRAN: Rehab begins tomorrow.

BELTRAN: Rehab begins tomorrow.

Carlos Beltran was re-examined by Dr. David Altchek today and cleared to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow at Brooklyn. Beltran is on the disabled list with a bruised right knee and reports are he could be facing microfracture surgery in the off-season. If letting Beltran play again this season for the first time this season since June 22 is for his own peace of mind, then go for it. But, it this is just to trot him out there in an attempt to win a few games then I think it’s not a good plan and they explore the surgery and get that done quickly.

Today is when rosters can be expanded up to 40, but the Mets aren’t planning much immediately, with only 22-year-old catcher Josh Thole joining the team in Denver. With free-agent-to-be Brian Schneider not expected to return, Thole could the laying the groundwork for next spring.

First base prospect Ike Davis was added to the United States’ roster for the World Cup, Sept. 9-27, in Europe. Davis, 22, was hitting .307 with a .386 OBP, 26 extra base hits and 41 RBI in 54 games at Double-A. After the World Cup, Davis will play in the Arizona Fall League.