Jun 09

Don’t Blame No-Hit Pitch Count For Johan Santana’s Bad Start

There’s a lot of reasons to like Terry Collins, and falling on the sword last night for Johan Santana’s bad outing is another one of them. Collins lamented all week of running up Santana’s pitch count.

SANTANA: Didn't have it.

He did it again after the Yankees shelled Santana last night, saying all those home runs was the result of rust.

“I am responsible for the way he pitched,” Collins said. “He was rusty. The command of his stuff was not as sharp as it’s been the past three or four or five starts. It was my doing tonight. … We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us the game.”

The Mets lost 9-1, so there were a lot of reasons why they lost. It was admirable of Collins to take the blame – other Mets managers failed to do so – but it wasn’t needed.

Collins attributed Santana’s rust to pushing him back two days after the lefty ace’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins said he did it out of caution. Remember, this was a $20-million pitcher coming off shoulder surgery. Collins was in a no-win situation last week. He either kept Santana in the game and possibly risk injury or pull him and the no-hitter is gone.

Santana said he could have gone on regular rest, but also said he was on board with Collins’ decision. Santana said last night was just one of those things and there’s no other way to think of it.

Santana had been of a sharp roll, so maybe he was due. Santana’s command was off, but his velocity was there and that’s one way to judge his shoulder was fine.

There’s no telling when a pitcher’s arm will give out. Nolan Ryan’s lasted for over 20 years, then one day something went. It happens, and it happens in a variety of ways.

Right now, Santana is pitching well for the most part and is healthy. He could remain this way for the rest of his career, or next month could run into problems. We’re after the fact now; he’s pitched since the 134-pitch game. If something happens in the future it would be impossible to pin it on the no-hitter.

Just enjoy Santana now for what he’s done, and also be grateful for a guy like Collins, who continually shows he’s the right guy for the job.

 

 

Jun 08

The Great Mets, Yankees And Fan Debate

I was debating what to write about Mets-Yankees this weekend and was coming up dry. I despise interleague play, but you already knew that. It is unfair, and I’ll get into that later.

I thought about writing this weekend being a make-or-break series for the Mets, but the other day I mentioned its importance as part of a longer stretch of games, and didn’t want to run those bases again. Afterall, it is only three games, and unless they were playing the Yankees the last weekend of the season to get into the playoffs, what is the use?

Basically, that last one is of several fundamental flaws of interleague play. I’d rather watch Mets-Padres, Mets-Reds or Mets-Nationals than Mets-Yankees. Afterall, those games somehow matter more when it comes to sorting out who gets into the playoffs.

I recently had surgery so I’m pretty much still confined to the house, and with daytime TV being one of the Eight Miserable Wonders of the World (however, I would like to see a re-run of the Odd Couple, Get Smart or WKRP in Cincinnati) I thought I’d scan the Internet.

Went on the ESPN site and started to read this article on whether who has it better, Mets or Yankees fans? Lame with no real answer. OK, if the criteria was World Series titles or Hall of Famers, it is no contest. There is none because the Mets have been around half as long as the Yankees.

Then again, what does a team’s success or failures have anything to do with its fans? It’s not like two neighbors deciding to join different country clubs, with one clearly having the better pool.

Everybody has their reasons why they cheer one team over another. When you start pulling for a team when you’re eight years old, I doubt history has much to do with it. There’s logistics, growing up in the same area as your team. Maybe it was a player you started to follow. It could be anything. Perhaps your father liked that team, so you did the same.

Then again, if your dad followed the Yankees, maybe you cheered for the Red Sox. Of course, those could be deeper issues.

There aren’t any stedfast rules to cheering, but here’s one that seems pretty safe: You can’t cheer for both the Yankees and Mets. I don’t put much stock into cheering for both because you cheer for New York. Much like you can’t pull for the Celtics and Lakers, or the Steelers and Ravens. It doesn’t seem right.

A Mets fan is a Mets fans for a myriad of reasons and you have your own reasons why you cheer for them. Same thing for being a Yankees fans. There are Yankees fans of all ages, and yes those of you started following them from 1995 on could get points off for being front runners. You do get bonus points if you saw Horace Clark played.

If you are a Mets fan, you know disappointment, but that doesn’t always translate to being a “deeper,” or “greater” fan. I never bought into the saying as being a “diehard,” or “long-suffering,” Mets fan. If you’re a true fan, you don’t die with your team because die denotes permanence.

True fans are those who hung around with the Celtics being blown out last night and chanting “Let’s go Celtics.” If was an inspiring moment. And, long-suffering doesn’t cut it, either, because while there’s disappointment, if you really suffered, you wouldn’t be a fan of that team in the first place.

Only a masochist would choose to suffer.

I don’t know how this season, or this weekend for that matter, will turn out. But, a third of the way through this summer being a fan of the Mets has been rewarding and fun.

And, I’m happy for you.

 

 

 

 

Jun 07

R.A. Dickey Shows Mettle Again; Warrants Extension

The Mets entered today’s game having lost three straight and on the verge of being swept in Washington then heading to the play the Yankees and Tampa Bay.

Who didn’t think they were heading for a slide?

Evidently, not R.A. Dickey,

Dickey became the majors’ first nine-game winner this afternoon in beating the Nationals, and in the process extended his career-high scoreless streak to 24.2 innings.

Dickey received home-run support from Lucas Duda, who is becoming the power hitter the organization hoped and the Mets salvaged the series with a 3-1 victory.

Dickey might have done more than just salvaged a series, he might have put the brakes on something that could have been bad. Dickey said he’d like to remain with the Mets and would welcome an extension.

He underscored that desire today.

 

Jun 04

Mets Handling Johan Santana, Jason Bay The Right Way

Terry Collins has been sweating out these days following Johan Santana’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins pushed the envelop with Santana and he knew it at the time. Pulling a pitcher during a no-hitter is never an easy thing to do, and Collins had a multitude of variables to consider in a short period of time. It isn’t as if he had this all mapped out, because afterall, who anticipates a no-hitter?

Chris Young will be activated from the disabled list to start in place of Santana in Washington, buying the no-hit ace extra rest. A smart thing to do. Santana’s next start will be against the Yankees this weekend.

It is also smart not to rush back Bay from the DL. He’s still not 100 percent, so what is the point to rush? The Mets have played well without Bay, and if he’s not ready, his presence can only do more harm than good.

An emerging concern is Jon Niese’s irregular heart beat. He’ll have a procedure during the All-Star break, and I’m wondering why not now? I know the Mets aren’t fooling around with Niese, but anytime you hear about the heart you have to think.

But, I concede that might be too much thinking for now. The Mets just closed a memorable home stand. Now they are about to start an interesting road trip, including the Nationals and Yankees. Can’t wait to check it out.

 

 

 

Jun 03

Johan Santana No-Hitter Fallout

Much like Red Sox fans who said, “now I can die and go to heaven (although that might be a bit presumptuous),’’ after their team finally won the World Series, so too are Mets fans saying the same thing after Johan Santana’s no-hitter Friday night.

SANTANA: Taking another bow yesterday. (AP)

You’ll start reading stories about long-time Mets fans who missed the event, just like there will be those who saw history in their first game watching the team. It’s all part of the fate when it comes to baseball. You just never know.

It does remind me of when I started covering the Yankees in 1998. I worked a month straight before my first day off – which turned out to be David Wells’ perfect game.

It’s all part of the maddening charm that is baseball.

R.A. Dickey said following Santana would be a tough act to follow, but a shutout isn’t a bad way to do it.  Dickey’s gem yesterday is part of the fallout of the no-hitter:

* The Hall of Fame will be collecting items from the game for display in Cooperstown. Sadly, he won’t be using it for a while, but a nice touch would be to show Mike Baxter’s glove. We knew Baxter was injured selling out to make that spectacular catch, but he’ll be gone at least six weeks. Ouch. Baxter’s absence hurts the Mets on several levels in that he played good defense but was also a pinch-hitting savant.

 

* From the “It Can Only Happen To the Mets Department,’’ reliever Ramon Ramirez strained a hamstring running in from the bullpen for the post-game celebration. He went from sitting for three hours to a full sprint, so it isn’t all that hard to imagine.

* Manager Terry Collins is considering bumping up Chris Young’s return date next weekend to give Santana extra rest. Wise move. Pitchers are a creature of habit, so it will be interesting to note if Santana changes his routine at all this week.

* Speaking of Collins, imagine the pressure he was under in deliberating keeping Santana in the game. The human part of him wanted to extend Santana so he’d get the no-hitter. Then, there was part of him that wanted to protect his pitcher. Coming off surgery, it was a gamble, one in which we might not know the outcome for awhile as it isn’t always the next start in which the 134 pitch-count could come into play in a negative way. Here’s hoping it never does.

Finally, a classy comment from Carlos Beltran, who had a extra-base hit taken away by a blown call from umpire Adrian Johnson, saying he was happy for Santana and was being rewarded for all his hard work in his rehab.