Oct 29

It’s Baby Steps Now For Mets

My headline last night was, “Mets Routed; In Huge Hole.” There’s no denying it, but a huge hole doesn’t mean they can’t climb out of it, despite the odds of 80 percent against them. That’s just a number. The Mets sent out on Twitter today that despite the 0-2 hole they are not giving up.

I wouldn’t expect it any other way from a team whose foundation this year was resiliency. Would you?

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

Through injuries, losing streaks, bullpen lapses and hitting slumps the Mets found their way to Game 3 of the World Series. Of course, all of you would have signed up for being in a 0-2 hole in the Series at the start of the season.

Don’t lie, of course you would.

However, the mistake is thinking of this as a 0-2 hole. The Series is tied is the message manager Terry Collins must give his team. Before the Mets can win the World Series, they must first win a game.

I don’t want to hear how Noah Syndergaard’s future is great. I don’t care how great he’ll be in 2017. I only care about him being great Friday night.

And, let’s not worry about sending an inexperienced Steven Matz out for Game 4, or whether they might move Matt Harvey up on short rest. Game 4 doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is Game 3.

I covered arguably the greatest collapse in baseball history, the Yankees blowing a 3-and-0 lead to the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Players from that Boston team said they never looked at the hole, but only that day’s game. That was the only thing that mattered. As long as they won that day, they were fine.

That’s the attitude the Mets had in 1986, when they lost the first two games to the Red Sox – at home – yet came back to win. Of course, several things had to happen – “the ball gets by Buckner’’ – but before the miracles happened, they had to claw back into the Series. Baby steps.

The percentages say different, but remember, in 2004, NO team ever came back from down three games to win. That’s why they play the games. The beauty of sports is you never no what can happen.

The Series is not over until one team wins four games, which hasn’t happened. Can the Mets win four of five games? Damn straight they can, but before they do, they must win Friday.

That’s the only game that matters.




Oct 28

Mets Routed; In Huge Hole

When you don’t hit, don’t pitch and don’t catch the ball, you’re not going to win. See, this game isn’t that complicated after all. Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto had no problem figuring out the Mets hitters, and Royals’ hitters solved Jacob deGrom pretty quickly.

The Mets gave deGrom a run, but as we’ve been told all along, the Royals would eventually peck away. That came in the fifth inning as the Royals strung together hit after hit against deGrom as Jon Niese warmed in the bullpen.

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

The cameras focused on Mets manager Terry Collins, who stared blankly into space as if hit in the head with a bat. It probably was a Mets’ bat because they certainly weren’t doing anything against Cueto, who went the distance in the 7-1 rout.

Collins never went to the pen until it was too late, but it was easy to understand his hesitancy. Niese gave Collins two solid innings the night before and you could understand doubting he’d get an encore. Collins was riding his horse, deGrom, and hoping for the best.

It never came, and by the time the inning was over, the Mets were down, 4-1, and with the way they were facing Cueto, they had no chance.

DeGrom labored in his previous two playoff starts. Collins said he was fatigued; deGrom said he wasn’t. Either way, both agreed deGrom’s command was off. It wasn’t that way for the first four innings, but come the fifth, the game was over, and likely, the Mets’ chances in this World Series.

Teams winning the first two games go on to win the World Series 80 percent of the time. An exception was the 1986 Mets, but that was a different team in a different era.

We can list all the things the Mets didn’t do Wednesday night, but Game 2 was all about the things the Royals did right. The Royals don’t strike out. They put the ball in play. They attack strikes when they get one. They catch the ball. They do the right things and they do them consistently.

They play the game the way it is supposed to be played, and that style – while not sexy – is about to win them a championship.


Oct 28

Vulnerable Side Of Mets Exposed

OK, the Mets lost last night and Game 2 is now the most important start of Jacob deGrom’s blossoming career. How he persevered over the Dodgers on the road in Game 5 of the NLDS showed us he has the grit and guile needed to win.

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

That much we know. What we don’t know is how much gas is left in his tank. Manager Terry Collins and deGrom differ as to the pitcher’s fatigue level, but whatever the cause, his command isn’t right.

There are other things not right, either. I know, as Mets fans, you want to hear nothing but positive, but that can’t always be the case. On the plus side, middle relievers Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard – considered a question going in – pitched well.

The flip side is if Matt Harvey is the stud the Mets – and he proclaims to be – he has to give them more than 80 pitches over six innings. Aces who demand the ball need to give more than what Harvey showed.

Secondly, and perhaps this is as a slap in the face to the Mets, is Jeurys Familia being taken deep to tie the game in the ninth. His perception of invincibility is gone.

Defense hasn’t always been a Mets’ mainstay this season, and Yoenis Cespedes’ misplay in left center last night in left center lead to him starting in left tonight with Juan Lagares playing center. That puts Michael Conforto as the DH, which is the way it should have been from the start.

I don’t know what it is, but Cespedes has been in a funk lately. He’s not the same player who captivated us in August.

There was also David Wright’s wild throw to start the 14th inning. It happens, but when runs are at a premium, they can’t afford to give away outs.

The offense was terrible last night, and starting pitching isn’t the Royals’ forte.

The Mets can lose tonight and still win the World Series, but the odds are long. A lot of things had to break right for the Mets to win, and now even more.

It begins with deGrom.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 28

Mets’ DeGrom In Must-Win Game Tonight

Nobody can say for certain what big games Jacob deGrom might have later in his career that could carve legacy, but there’s no doubt the Mets’ run during these playoffs is contingent on him showing up large in Game 2 tonight against Johnny Cueto.

No deGrom; no World Series title.

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

The Mets’ best pitcher this season must fight through fatigue for his team to take this Series back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece. The must regain the command he lost in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Cubs.

Those teams couldn’t come up with the big hit to put deGrom and the Mets away. The Mets aren’t even here without his second start against the Dodgers in which he stranded five runners in scoring position.

Such grit rarely works against the Royals, who came from behind twice last night to beat the Mets.

“One of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out. We’ve got to put them away,” manager Terry Collins said after Kansas City survived 14 innings last night, and to do so needed to overcome Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

That begins with scoring early and often against Cueto, and deGrom becoming overpowering again.

“They’re going to battle you,’’ deGrom said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down.

“I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.’’

Against the fastball-hitting Cubs, deGrom said he had to temper his approach with more off-speed pitches and relied on his change-up. Much has been made of Kansas City’s ability to put fastballs in play, so that might be his formula tonight.

“There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game,’’ deGrom said. “I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.’’

And, recognizing it quickly because if he doesn’t the game can get away very fast.

Oct 26

Five Keys For Mets To Win

It is the day before the start of the World Series and who would have guessed I’d be previewing the Mets? I certainly wouldn’t have, but damn, isn’t this great?



This is the Mets’ fifth trip to the World Series, and they’ve only been favored once, in 1986 against Boston. This time they are a pick `em against the Royals.

If the following are answered in the positive, there could be another parade down the Canyon of Heroes:

Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom go in the first two games and should be well rested. Sure, the Mets can lose both and come back to win, but those odds would be long. One of them has to win if the Mets are to win.

A Murphy-type stretch is needed: If not Daniel Murphy, then somebody needs to get hot. Nobody knows how the layoff will affect Murphy. Maybe it will be Lucas Duda, or David Wright, or Wilmer Flores. Whoever it is, somebody must turn it on.

Overcoming the aches and pains: Harvey has a bruise in the back of his throwing arm; Curtis Granderson has a jammed thumb; Yoenis Cespedes has a strained shoulder.

Building the bullpen bridge: The Mets have had to use Bartolo Colon to get to Jeurys Familia. The bullpen bridge from the starters to the closer hasn’t been strong. The Mets’ bullpen is not as strong as Kansas City’s and that will undoubtedly come into play. If the Royals are winning by the sixth inning that will be difficult for the Mets to overcome.

Shutting down the Royals early: Much has been made of Kansas City’s speed, ability to put the ball into play, and, of course, hit the long ball. The Royals’ offense is more balanced than Chicago’s, and their hitters aren’t intimidated by the Mets’ hard throwers.

There other variables, such as adjusting on the fly to an injury; coming from behind, which they never had to do against the Cubs; dealing with poor weather and bad calls; how nerves will come into play; and what happens when a key player goes cold.

The Mets have been a team of resiliency all season. They need to be that way just four more times.