Apr 24

What It Would Take For The Mets To Own New York

Here we are again, interleague play for the Mets as they are in the Bronx tonight to face the Yankees, Of course, the papers and Internet are flooded with columns about this is “the time for the Mets to take New York City from the Yankees.”

Time to step up/

Time to step up/

I checked the calendar and didn’t notice such a date; I mean it wasn’t circled like Thanksgiving and Christmas. When you come to think about it, why is this the time? Just because the first-place Mets have ridden an 11-game winning streak into this series?

Using the essence from the phrase, “time to take New York,” no team can ever own this city completely. Mets fans root for the Mets and Yankees fans root for the Yankees. Owning New York isn’t about drawing those straddling the fence, but from winning.

This year shouldn’t be like any other. Both teams are hot, which is fun, but the proof could come in July at the trade deadline. The Mets have stockpiled young pitching which puts them in good position, but recent history tells us they are reluctant to make a big splash after clearing the debts from Johan Santana and Jason Bay.

The Mets could have “owned” New York had it responded differently following the defeat to the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, but more importantly, in rebounding from the late season collapses in 2007 and 2008.

The Mets panicked then and unlike the Yankees, couldn’t spend their way out of trouble. That’s the real difference in the two franchises – if it doesn’t work, the Yankees will throw good money after bad. For example, the Mets were handcuffed after Santana was injured.

The Yankees will always be viable because their mission statement is to win. Nothing but a championship satisfies that franchise, and that’s because of George Steinbrenner and now his sons. They currently “own” New York because they’ve won more recently. Not all of their moves have been smart, but they have been bold. When a move must be made the Yankees do something. They will spend the money, because that’s what they do.

The Mets are sizzling. Most of their moves have been successful and they’ve been remarkably resilient in overcoming injuries. The Mets did little last offseason – the acquisitions of Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. have been positive – but I want to see how they respond when there’s pressure to do something at the deadline.

When they are at the top, or near the top, of the NL East standings, will they prove to us they want to win as much as they say they do? They haven’t in the past.

Terry Collins said rough times will come as they always do in a baseball season, but this team will show no panic. However, when the hours start dwindling at the trade deadline, what will the Mets do? Will they spend? Will they be bold? Will they make a move?

What they do to claim the back pages of the tabloids will determine owning the town.

If they can do those things and continue to win, this could be their summer for being New York’s primary baseball story. The issue of owning the town will be made by ownership and Sandy Alderson.

That’s when we can say the Mets “own” New York City, not from what happens this weekend.

 

 

Apr 22

Harvey Will Pitch With Slight Ankle Sprain

Here’s why the New York Mets – despite winning ten straight games – can make you want to beat your head against a cement wall.

The person: Matt Harvey.

The issue: An injury.

The event: Harvey went to see a doctor Wednesday afternoon for consultation on a lingering foot injury.

The diagnosis: The doctors said it was a mild left ankle sprain, but before that manager Terry Collins, who apparently received his medical degree in an online medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, said, “he’s fine, it’s nothing.’’

Collins also said Harvey pitched with it for a month and will make his start Saturday against the Yankees. After Wednesday’s 3-2 over the Braves, Collins said he didn’t even know about it until two days ago. How is that possible? How does the manager not know his best pitcher has a sprained ankle? For him to admit that is admitting he doesn’t know what is going on with his team.

Incomprehensible.

Collins also said Harvey dismissed the idea of skipping the start. Of course he did, because Harvey is the one who makes those decisions. Collins never should have said Harvey would start prior to the exam, and even after should have said he would see later.

After the game Collins called it mild, but leg injuries are critical to a pitcher because it can alter mechanics and put stress on the arm, not a good thing for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

How would Collins know it is “nothing?’’ It was obvious something enough to where Harvey had to see a doctor, which, whether it was his decision or somebody else’s, was the proper move.

When it comes to injuries, never trust management’s assertion “it is nothing,’’ and for projected missed time always bet the over.

And, for those who say they are long-time Mets fans, remember this is an area where management hasn’t done well. Don’t believe me?

That’s your choice, but kindly remember David Wright, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Ryan Church, Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and well, need I say more?

Apr 14

Note To Mets Fans: Wilpons Not Selling And Stop The Roll Call

Without question, Mets fans are among the most passionate and loyal around. I know that from this blog, from talking to many of you at spring training and at the ballpark.

Their passion was on display yesterday in several forms.

The first was the billboards directed at the Wilpons telling them to sell. That passion came at the cost of $6,000, which prompted manager Terry Collins to say: “You want to spend $6,000? Go feed the homeless.’’

Not the answer you wanted, but you got his attention. That the Wilpons would not comment also tells you they were aware.

However, I assure you being aware and responding the way you want are two different things. They know their fan base is discouraged and frustrated, but they will not sell. They are weathering the storm of the Madoff scandal, and if they didn’t sell then, they won’t sell know. It won’t happen.

They have an idea of how they want to run this team, and it doesn’t include wild spending anymore. What Sandy Alderson has done the past few years is how things will go.

Now, for the other display of passion yesterday, who couldn’t notice the roll call chants from center field?

That must stop. The roll call is a Yankees tradition and yesterday was a cheap imitation. How can any self-respecting Mets fan adopt a Yankees fan tradition?

Mets fans are better than that, so please … no more roll call. Do something original. Do something Metsian. Just don’t imitate the Yankees.

Apr 09

Memo To Harvey: Quit Whining And Just Pitch

Matt Harvey is pitching today, and with this event comes the question: Is he more interested in being a New York media darling or a Mets’ star?

It seems that way..

Like everybody else, I was enamored with the possibility of what Harvey could bring to the Mets and whether he could help them become a viable franchise again.

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

The operative word is “help,’’ because not one player can do it by himself, which I say because Harvey seems to be separating himself from the “common folk,’’ who are his teammates.

However, he comes off as someone not interested in the collaborative effort – that he knows best – but who rather marches to his own beat. So be it when you have the track record to back it up, but he has only 12 victories in the major leagues.

He is “potential over proven commodity,’’ which makes his threat for people to judge him by his pitching and not his off-the-field life laughable.

That’s hard to do because Harvey throws his off-the-field life into our faces on a regular basis, whether it be posing nude for ESPN; arguing with the front office where to do his rehab; letting himself be photographed in public kissing models or taking them to see the Rangers; or disregarding the perception of being seen at a Yankees game to watch Derek Jeter.

That didn’t go over well with management and some of his teammates, but he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t acknowledge his own recklessness of trying to pitch through obvious pain and not reporting the discomfort in his forearm could have contributed to his elbow injury.

Apparently, making that start in the All-Star Game was more important than anything else.

Take a look at his smirk in the accompanying photograph. Who, but somebody with a huge ego would allow himself to be photographed that way?

No, we don’t see the effort behind-the-scenes of his workouts and conditioning, but we do hear about his off-the-field exploits of wanting to bed as many women as Jeter and his clubbing and drinking.

Good for him. Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Mickey Mantle were New York media icons, but had the accomplishments to back it up. Harvey has won 12 games.

In the end, the nightlife killed Mantle and destroyed the playing careers of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. It is also part of why the Mets didn’t bring back Jose Reyes.

However, Harvey is young and walks with the attitude “it won’t happen to me.’’

But, it can. The questions are “when’’ and “where.’’ Will it be in Queens or the Bronx as a Yankee? Crosstown, it seems, is where he really wants to be.

At least, that’s the perception, not that he wants to be a star with the Mets, who by the way, are his employers who have the right to judge him.

Sure, I’m all for honoring Harvey’s diva-like demand to judge him on his pitching. OK,  then just shut up and pitch and don’t distract us with the other stuff.

 

Apr 08

Today In Mets History: Seaver Wins Behind Kingman, Torre

On this date in 1975, backed by Dave Kingman’s first homer as a Met and Joe Torre’s RBI single, Tom Seaver out-dueled Steve Carlton to defeat Philadelphia, 2-1, on Opening Day at Shea Stadium.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

Felix Milan lead off the ninth with a single to right, moved to second on a walk to John Milner and scored on Torre’s single to left.

You know about Seaver, the greatest player in franchise history and a Hall of Famer with 311 career victories, with 198 coming as a Met. He also pitched for Cincinnati (acquired in a 1977 trade from the Mets), the White Sox and Boston.

Hard to believe Tom Terrific is 70 years old.

Torre played three seasons for the Mets (1975-77) and become their manager in 1977. He played 18 years in the majors and finished with 2,324 hits and a .297 average.

Torre managed five seasons with the Mets (winning 286 games), three with Atlanta, six with the Cardinals, three with Los Angeles, and 12 with the Yankees, where his teams won 1,173 games, six pennants and four World Series titles. Those numbers with Yankees sent him into the Hall of Fame.

As for Kingman, the overall No. 1 pick with the Giants, played six years for the Mets, with whom he hit 154 of his 442 career homers. He also played for San Francisco, Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, California Angels and Yankees before retiring after the 1986 season.

While Seaver and Torre are in Cooperstown, it would have been interesting to see if Kingman would have made it had he hit 500 home runs.

BOX SCORE

ON DECK: Previewing Jacob deGrom‘s first start.