Nov 26

Who Is The Mets’ True Rival

It was rivalry weekend in college football, and while watching Ohio State-Michigan, I couldn’t help but wonder about the Mets’ greatest rivalry. From Day One, there hasn’t been one team that cause Mets’ fans blood to boil over the decades.

A rival is one where the teams compete for the common prize year after year. Often there is bad blood and geography often plays a role. Sometimes there’s a historical event that triggers the rivalry.

The Yankees and Red Sox are a prime example, with the tensions ignited by Boston selling Babe Ruth to New York. Although the Yankees dominated for decades, there was the element of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. In fact, the two superstars were briefly traded for each other in 1947 during a drinking binge between the two owners one night at Toots Shore’s saloon in Manhattan, but was called off the following morning when Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey called the Yankees’ Dan Topping and backed out.

Yawkey did say he’d go ahead with the if the Yankees threw in their rookie left fielder: Yogi Berra.

New York consistently beat out the Red Sox until the Yankees’ historic collapse in the 2004 ALCS. The rivalry still sizzles today, as does Dodgers-Giants and Cardinals-Cubs.

Nothing the Mets have comes close.

With the Mets’ roots planted from the Dodgers and Giants, I wonder wasn’t the interest primarily about fans of the two teams coming out to Shea Stadium to see their old favorites rather than a disdain for either?

Coming into the National League in 1962 with Houston, one would have thought Mets-Astros would materialize, but the teams were so bad until the Mets came out of nowhere in 1969 to win the World Series. That was the same year Major League Baseball realigned into two divisions.

The Astros were just another stop on the schedule until they played in a dramatic NLCS in 1986, won by the Mets. But the sparks from that series turned to be dying embers.

However, Mets’ rivalries varied by the decade.

In 1969 into the early 1970s it was the Cubs. It was the Cardinals in the 1980s. There was compelling baseball played against the Barry Bonds’ Pirates in the early 1990s, but later in the decade and into the 2000s until now the Braves and Phillies created the most tension.

However, the temperature against the Braves and Phillies mostly depended on who is hot at the time. With all three playing under .500, are you really hooked when they play? The same goes for Washington. It’s been ten years since the NL East went down to the final weekend.

What about the Yankees, you ask?

The Yankees’ “rivalry’’ is a manufactured product created by interleague play. They don’t compete in the same division, just in the same city and for the back pages on the tabloids.

Interleague has run its course. It only matters against the Yankees in the World Series.

Let me ask you: When the schedule comes out which games do you circle?

Nov 01

What History Will Be Written Tonight?

Home runs and extra-inning games don’t necessarily define a great World Series. Those things, plus a tight and compelling Game 7 – which could also have aces Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel working out of the bullpen – could lift the 2017 World Series into the category of classic.

Sometime after midnight, and probably for the sixth time during this Series after the sixth inning, MLB will have a new champion, and the 39th crowned after a Game 7.

“This is the biggest stage, the best stage, an opportunity to win the World Series in Game 7,’’ said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

Hinch’s ace, Justin Verlander, the loser in Game 6 who could be available for a batter or two tonight, said Game 7 was inevitable.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, said the same: “It seems fitting. You’ve got the two best teams in baseball going head to head. Like we’ve talked about from the beginning, these two teams mirror one another. And the compete and fight in both teams is the most important thing I see as similarities.’’

The Dodgers won 104 games this season, while the Astros won 101 games. It is the first time since 1970 – Orioles vs. Reds – that both teams won over 100 games.

This World Series has had just about everything. Outstanding pitching and explosive offense. It has had great defense and crappy defense. It has had stars, both on the field and in the stands – although a few less shots of celebrities would be nice.

There’s been so much to like about this Series. The one thing it hasn’t had is former Mets start Carlos Beltran delivering in the clutch.

Maybe we’ll get that tonight.

Oct 27

Mets Weren’t Going To Get Girardi Anyway

The immediate reaction to hearing the Yankees wouldn’t bring back manager Joe Girardi is the Mets blew it and should have waited on hiring Mickey Callaway. That way, they could’ve made a run at Girardi.

I would have loved Girardi, but don’t blame the Mets. They did exactly what I suggested they do, and that to go about their business and ignore what the Yankees are doing.

GIRARDI: Wouldn't happen. (CBS)

GIRARDI: Wouldn’t happen. (CBS)

The Yankees have their reasons for dumping Girardi, ranging for Brian Cashman’s clichéd comment “it is time for a change,’’ to the manager’s intense personality to his clash with management over using analytics.

Of course, little was made of those things while Girardi was winning 910 games over ten seasons, reaching the playoffs six times and winning the World Series in 2009.

The Mets could have waited to see if the Yankees would have been so arrogant as to fire such a successful manager, but were right to go ahead with their search according to their timetable.

Girardi was a long shot in the first place as I don’t believe the Mets would have given him more than the $4 million annually he made with the Yankees and there would have been the inevitable clash with GM Sandy Alderson over analytics.

If Girardi wants to manage immediately, we could see him in Citi Field soon enough as there are openings in Washington and Philadelphia.

 

Oct 25

Beltran Is Why I Am Rooting For Astros

In games I don’t cover and just watch for fun, I have to take a rooting interest, otherwise why bother? So, it is a no-brainer for me to pull for the Houston Astros, who entered the National League in 1962 with the Mets.

I also worked for the Astros right out of college and still have a lot of friends in Houston. Outside of those links, there are two reasons why I am pulling for the Astros.

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

I understand why but don’t like the Dodgers leaving Curtis Granderson off the World Series roster. We all know how much he brings to a team and clubhouse and how he delivers in the clutch.

Logically, I understand their reasoning. With shortstop Corey Seager now active, Chris Taylor was moved to center field. My argument took a hit when Taylor homered on the game’s first pitch.

Even so, I do have a sentimental bone and love watching Granderson, and this could have been his last chance to play in a World Series.

It would have been sweet if Granderson homered to beat the Yankees in the World Series – at Yankee Stadium, of course.

And, I always liked Justin Turner, who homered again last night. Mickey Callaway said at his press conference that he is going to go out of his way to show the players he cares about them.

Frankly, Turner was run out of town and not appreciated by the Mets. The same applies to Carlos Beltran. This will be Beltran’s last chance to play in a World Series and I can’t help but feel happy for him. Beltran has always been one of my favorite players to cover.

Win or lose, he was always stand-up after games. He always answered questions no matter how he played. He often played hurt, playing with a fractured face from an outfield collision in 2005. Even so, arguably the Mets’ best all-time position player was never truly appreciated by fans of the team, but certainly was in the clubhouse.

I hated how Beltran was treated by the team at the end of his Mets’ tenure when GM Sandy Alderson didn’t appreciate the gravity of Beltran’s knee injury and the player went and had surgery on his own.

My two favorite Beltran plays was a circus catch while running up that ridiculous incline in center field in Houston. And, of course, there was his game-winning homer to beat Philadelphia.

Another thing I’ll always remember was a story I wrote about him recalling his experiences in spring training as a rookie with Kansas City. He spoke about being so lonely to the point that he holed up in his hotel room and cried.

Beltran has come a long way since that troublesome spring in Fort Myers, Fla. He’s gone from lonely rookie to a borderline Hall of Fame career.

I will miss him. Granderson, too.

Oct 20

Mets’ Search Reportedly Down To Acta And Long

According to reports, the Mets’ managerial search is boiling down to hitting coach Kevin Long and Manny Acta. The Mets aren’t interested in talking to Dusty Baker, who was fired today by the Nationals.

A coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph, Acta previously managed the Indians and Washington.

Frankly, I’ve been disappointed in this whole process. My choice is Ron Gardenhire, who was given a three-year deal today by Detroit. I would have thought they’d at least kick the tires on Baker.

If Acta gets the job, the Mets say Long will stay on as a hitting coach. I don’t like this for two reasons, 1) how will Long react if he doesn’t get the job? and 2) how will Acta feel if he’s not allowed to name his own staff?

UNDERSTANDING DE BLASIO: I am not a fan of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, but I do admire his loyalty to the Red Sox.

De Blasio is a Red Sox fan, which is his right, and when asked about rooting for the Yankees, said he couldn’t do it if they reached the World Series.

Hey, the Mets are your team, so I can’t imagine you’d be rooting for them, either.

If you are a fan of a team, you don’t cheer for their archrivals. It’s just not done.