Oct 25

Time To Let Things Pass For Carlos Beltran

If you thought for a minute Carlos Beltran’s bruised ribs would have kept him out of Game 2, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Beltran bruised his ribs robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam homer in Game 1, and while being treated in a Boston hospital that night began to doubt he’d be back in Fenway Park for Thursday’s game. Constant treatment helped him return, and with nearly two full days of treatment since, he will be in the lineup for Game 3 Saturday in St. Louis.

BELTRAN: A great Met scorned.

BELTRAN: A great Met scorned.

That’s because Beltran, as quiet as he is, is extremely tough. It would take a lot more than bruised ribs to keep him out of the World Series he’s waited 16 years to play in.

“I wanted to be in the lineup,’’ Beltran said. “I worked so hard to get to this point. Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to get out of the lineup.’’

Don’t forget, Beltran refused to sit after suffering facial fractures in an outfield collision with Mark Cameron in 2005, his first season with the Mets. Beltran played with several injuries during his Mets’ tenure, but unfortunately there’s a sizable segment of their fan base that prefers to remember him for taking Adam Wainwright’s nasty curveball that froze him to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, their last time they played in October.

The Mets collapsed at the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and this summer was their fifth five straight losing year. Unfairly, Beltran became a symbol of their long fall because of that pitch.

I heard on talk-radio today one caller say he hopes the Cardinals and Beltran will lose based on that pitch. That’s beyond ignorant.

Just get over it, will you?

Nobody could have hit that pitch. Odds are had he swung he would have missed or hit a weak popup because he was greatly overmatched.

Beltran is arguably one of the most talented players in Mets’ history and for him to be castigated years later is blatantly unfair and ignorant.

New York sports fans like to believe they are the most sophisticated in the country. If that is so, then prove it and leave Beltran alone and join us in 2013.

It doesn’t matter who you favor in the World Series. Everybody has their reasons why they root for or against a team. But, to root against the Cardinals because of that pitch Beltran took years ago makes no sense.

To blame one player for the ills of the past seven years is beyond stupid.

 

Oct 24

Game 1 Of World Series Overcomes Bad Call, But Raises Issues

Maybe Jon Lester cheated in Game 1; maybe he did not. It makes for an interesting fodder and falls in line as to what is reviewable and what is not regarding expanded instant replay beginning next season.

Overturning a call by replay such as Dana DeMuth’s horrible one last night is not allowable within the current structure, and the Cardinals would have a legitimate beef had the umpires convened to watch the replay on a monitor.

Getting it right. (Getty)

Getting it right. (Getty)

However, one umpire – in this case, five – overturning a bad call is permitted and the umpires absolutely handled it properly in agreeing with Boston manager John Farrell for DeMuth to get a second opinion. Umpires should be applauded for seeking help. They shouldn’t think they are being shown up, but that the crew is working in concert.

Raised from last night’s first inning is the method of a manager challenging a call. Currently, the challenges are limited, but that’s not an efficient or fair format.

Whether a central monitoring system established in New York similar to how the NHL’s format is in Toronto, or have a fifth umpire in the press box who can buzz down to the crew chief seems preferable than the manager challenging from the dugout.

For one thing, an executive monitoring upstairs has an immediate picture of the play and can contact the crew chief. The manager, in this case Farrell, instantly knew it was a bad decision and bolted from the dugout as if he had a jetpack.

All plays won’t be that way and it is easy to envision a manager challenging based on his player’s reaction to the call. Players aren’t always right, they often go by emotion, and challenges could be wasted early. Presumably, this could be offset with a direct link to the dugout from the press box, similar to how a NFL coach is buzzed to throw the challenge flag.

Having an immediate set of fifth eyes would likely take less time and improve the flow of the game. Major League Baseball is always moaning about game length and this method is better. Presumably, under the new system everything but balls and strikes would be under review, which is the way to go.

Today’s umpiring is flawed, but I don’t know if it is any worse than what we had 10, 20 years ago. However, the technology is so much better and points out things missed in earlier decades. That should lead to a system that in the interest of fairness, the camera/review format should be the same for a Tuesday night June game in Milwaukee as it is in the World Series. Granted, there are more cameras for the Series, but having a designated number of cameras in specific locations can alleviate this.

More cameras and establishing a better review system costs money, but I don’t want to hear it. This is a multi-billion a year industry. There’s plenty of money to invest in getting it right.

What would have been fascinating was to mike the umpires the way FOX did Joe West in the ALCS. To hear that conversation between the five umpires in Game 1 would have been priceless television.

Fortunately, they got the call right, which is the ultimate objective. I can only imagine DeMuth assumed Pete Kozma made the transfer and was only watching his feet. That leads to a fair criticism about umpiring and assuming the outcome of a play. DeMuth was in position and looking at the call; he just didn’t make the proper decision.

If the intent is to get the play right, then why is there such thing as a neighborhood play, which surfaced earlier in the playoffs? If it is allowed in the interest of player safety, then modify the sliding rules. We also see too many instances of a runner called out simply because a throw beat him to the bag. These calls frequently show an umpire out of position.

But, and this is most important: Baseball is more black-and-white than other sports. Either a player is safe or he is out; it is either a strike or it is not.

That purity should be emphasized in spring training as it is in the World Series. I’m tired of hearing the phrase, “you just don’t make that call in the World Series,’’ just as I was Sunday when I heard “you don’t make that call in overtime on a 56-yard field goal attempt.”

Why the hell not? Out or safe; fair or foul. Just get it right. If it is a rule, then apply it equally regardless of situation.

That should also include balls and strikes, as the idea of each umpire having his own interpretation of the rules is ridiculous. This isn’t figure skating in the Olympics when the Russian judge screws the American skater with prejudice. The rulebook lists a definition of what is a strike. Just get it right.

Luckily, regardless of how the play was ruled, Mike Napoli doubled in enough runs to where it wouldn’t matter to the helpless Cardinals. The Cardinals played a terrible game, and fortunately for all involved, DeMuth’s call added drama but did not decide the outcome.

As for whether Lester used a substance on the ball or not won’t be known. Under expanded replay we could only hope the observer in the press box would have the authority to order the crew chief to examine a pitcher’s glove if he sees something on the monitor. Presumably, the umpires will have their eyes on Lester when he pitches next in St. Louis.

The fans have the right to believe what they see on the field is legitimate, which is why MLB has such stiff penalties on gambling and performance-enhancing-drugs. There should be a similarity when it comes to on-the-field cheating. Doctoring the ball isn’t gamesmanship, it is cheating and the penalty should be severe.

 

 

 

 

Oct 23

Bloomberg: Mets Valued At $2.1 Billion

Nobody in Major League Baseball, much less commissioner Bud Selig, can be happy about this news. According to “The Daily Ticker,’’ an Internet website that focuses on financial issues, Bloomberg Billionaires is reporting ten teams are worth more than $1 billion, including your New York Mets, who are tied for second with the Dodgers and Red Sox at $2.1 billion.

The Yankees, not surprisingly, are first at $3.1 billion.

imgresThe report was announced as Game 1 of the World Series approached, which has to make MLB executives steaming because their stance has been to always cry poverty. The numbers are 35 percent higher than the annual Forbes figures, which MLB never confirms nor deny. Matt Miller, editor of Bloomberg, said the Dodgers’ sale changed the landscape of how franchises are valued.

“ … You have to value all of the assets when it comes to the teams, you can’t just do revenue from ticket sales, concessions and stadium-type deals and merchandising,’’ Miller said. “Really the driver of this is regional sports networks.’’

That brings us to the Yankees’ YES Network and the Mets’ SNY, whose ratings were down by a reported 31.6 percent. However, it is more about than just the number of people who tune in to watch Gary, Keith and Ron. What the Bloomberg report did not reveal was the formula in which a franchise is valued. It is also hard to come up with a number because the news outlet does not have access to the Mets’ books.

Also reportedly worth over a billion are the Cubs ($1.3 billion), Giants ($1.2 billion), Orioles ($1.1 billion), Angels ($1.1 billion), Philadelphia ($1 billion) and Rangers ($1 billion). With the exception of the Red Sox and Cubs, all play in new stadiums. The Angels play in a refurbished stadium, plus in weather-friendly Southern California.

We’re talking about real estate.

The Dodgers’ sale includes the vast acreage for parking outside the stadium, which is what part of the original attraction was for owner Walter O’Malley when he moved the franchise from Brooklyn.

The Yankees’ value, in addition to YES and the new stadium, is the brand, which includes 27 World Series titles and a relationship with Manchester United, arguably one of the world’s most popular soccer teams. The Yankees also have a marketing relationship with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Mets have SNY, Citi Field and the land surrounding the park. There are plans to rid the area of the auto repair shops across the street and replace them with hotels, restaurants and a shopping center. While those plans are on an architects’ drawing pad, they exist and presumably there is value in that, in addition to the proximity of a major subway stop, highway and LaGuardia Airport. When you are listed as an attraction, being close to transportation outlets enhances your value.

The first question is undoubtedly, if they are worth that much, then why don’t they spend more money? It is a logical question, but it must be noted the worth is not simply liquid, and there are different sectors other than the baseball operations where the Mets can’t dip into for player acquisition. It also must be remembered there’s the intangible value of being a professional sports franchise in New York City.

Oct 23

Minaya Hopes To See Beltran Get That Ring

Carlos = Beltran

Omar Minaya is rooting hard for Carlos Beltran to get that World Series Ring, Reports Bob Klapisch of The Record.

“I feel great for Carlos, because I still think he was the best center fielder of his time,” Minaya said by telephone Tuesday. “I’ve known him since high school in Puerto Rico and he’s always been that same person: not just a great ballplayer, but a great human being. When people like that get to the World Series, it makes you feel proud.”

Minaya has no hard feeling towards the Wilpons, whom he said had little choice but to fire him and Jerry Manuel after the collapse in Flushing was beyond repair.

“We did have a great thing going, but in New York, you have to win. I get that,” Minaya said. “We had a great season in ’06, but to lose the way we did in ’07 and ’08 at the very end … when you go out like that two years in a row, changes have to be made.”

I’m amazed at how many Met fans still define Beltran’s career by that one at-bat, seemingly ignoring the fact he carried the Mets to that Game 7 of the NLCS with a tremendous regular season and post season performance.

As Klapisch points out, Beltran was in the wrong place at the wrong time, expecting a fastball with a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth.

So to any Mets fan who still feels Beltran hasn’t fully paid his debts for 2006, consider the journey. He knows about pain, although there’s never been a hint of his suffering. Beltran is baseball’s equivalent of Mr. Spock – neutral and unruffled are in his genetic coding. He told The New York Times recently, “For me, being able to get so close and never being able to get to the World Series, all that has done is give me motivation to come every year, work hard, prepare myself and try to get there.”

Clearly, the commitment has paid a monster dividend: In two seasons with the Cardinals, Beltran has hit .282 with 56 home runs, and, just as importantly, hasn’t spent any time on the disabled list. His trade to the Giants in 2011 also netted the Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, which means, in all fairness, the account is paid in full.

As for what’s next as Beltran heads into the offseason, it’s becoming painfully clear that future Hall of Famer could be heading to the Bronx according to what baseball people are telling Klapisch.

It would suck to see him come to New York and play for the other team.

Sep 30

Did Collins Deserve A New Contract?

mlb_a_collins_gb2_600

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson will address the media at 12 p.m. on Monday, September 30 in the Citi Field Press Conference Room.

He is expected to announce a two-year contract extension for Terry Collins to remain the manager of the Mets. The deal is reportedly valued at $1 million per season and includes an option for  2016.

A fourth straight losing season; another fourth-place finish in the NL East and another .400 something-or-other win percentage – the Mets have not improved this year.

In fact, the majority of MLB betting fans would argue we’ve devolved since 2008, the club becoming preoccupied in the huge vanity project that is Citi Field and the problems we’ve had filling it.

Overseeing three of these four disappointing seasons is Terry Collins, who has not exactly been the revelation we expected when GM Sandy Anderson promoted him in November 2010:

“We were not looking for someone who was an extension of us,” Alderson said back in 2010. “We were looking for someone who was going to be complementary to us. I think that’s what we’re getting.”

Sadly, we haven’t got that. Instead of a complimentary manager that develops the team, Collins has seen players leave, newcomers fail and win percentages drop. The general trend of underperforming year on year has set into the Mets locker room and something must change soon to correct this.

While the Mets played out a meaningless series with Milwaukee this weekend, the top brass thrashed out a new deal for Collins – despite his 224-260 record (by Saturday). The new two-year contract is effectively a 12-month one, for if we don’t improve in 2014 Collins is out the door.

But do we trust him to progress this raw team and save his job – and do we even want him to? Another year is a long time to realize you’ve made a mistake hiring the same guy and, as respected as he is in the majors, Collins has proven he cannot get this team fighting on all fronts.