Oct 04

Mets’ Salute To Fans Enduring Image To Season

One by one the Mets drifted from their dugout after wrapping up their 90th victory of the season on a cool and crisp afternoon at Citi Field. Manager Terry Collins, who finally tasted a winning season with the Mets, was followed by David Wright, who missed nearly five months with a back injury and wondered if he’d ever play again, let alone see another playoffs.

There was Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, who represent the future on this franchise. There was Yoenis Cespedes, who came here at the trade deadline and for over a month carried the Mets by the scruff of their neck. Daniel Murphy, whose future with the team could be in question.

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

There was Wilmer Flores, whose tears of anguish with the thought of being traded tugged at our hearts because he showed how much cared about being here and playing for us. That snapshot of Flores’ tears, along with Wright’s fist pump after scoring the winning run against the Nationals in early September, became the images of the season.

You can now add the Mets – in a unified group as they have been all season – slowly walking around the outer reaches of Citi Field. Out to right field they sauntered, saluting those in the bleachers in right and then left center, and finally down the left field line.

Collins shook hands with fans along the third base line. Then Flores. No tears this time; just the broadest, brightest smile you would ever see.

The cheering didn’t stop. Then Wright took a microphone and faced the crowd behind the Mets’ dugout.

“You guys are the best in the game, no doubt. Thanks for coming out,’’ Wright told the crowd that refused to let go of the moment. “Now, let’s go beat L.A.’’

Beating the Dodgers will be harder than just saying it, as the Mets, who scored just two runs in their last 44 innings, will face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Los Angeles twilight in Games 1 and 2 next weekend. However, for now the Mets will savor winning 90 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Studying scouting reports, figuring out the playoff roster and rotation will wait.

The Mets wanted to savor and sip this moment as if a fine wine.

“I sat here last October told our fan base that their patience will be rewarded,’’ Collins said. “I wanted to go around and thank everybody. Let them know we appreciated their support. Ninety wins is a huge step for us. We accomplished something. I just talked with Yoenis and he said, `the fun has just started,’ and he’s right. Yeah, we had a tough week, but we are ready.’’

So are we.

Jul 25

Collins Issues Ultimatum; Mets Respond To Rout Dodgers

Timing is everything for the Mets, so it shouldn’t be shocking on the night manager Terry Collins issued an ultimatum his players better hit or take to the bench, the offense exploded for season-highs in runs (15) and (21).

“They’ve been put on notice it’s time to pick it up,’’ Collins said.

And, picked it up they did to make it an easy night of it for Matt Harvey, who coasted to his ninth victory in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers. It was one of those games that made you scurry to the record books.

So much happened for the Mets, who had scored 21 runs in their previous eight games since the All-Star break:

* Kelly Johnson had two hits, including a homer in his first game as a Met.

* Rookie Michael Conforto, making his second start, slashed four hits and walked.

* Lucas Duda, the Met who has struggled more than any other Met, ripped two homers.

* Kirk Nieuwenhuis, starting in place of Juan Lagares, ripped four hits and walked.

* Ruben Tejada has three hits and scored three runs.

* Daniel Murphy homered.

* Harvey helped his own cause with two hits and two RBI.

“If you want to stay in the lineup, you’ve got to start hitting,’’ Collins said. “Our pitching is good enough to keep us in any game. … I’ll tell you what: Whoever is swinging the bat is going to play. It’s about scoring some runs right now.’’

In the baseball vernacular, games like tonight are called laughers, and laugh they did. It has been a long time coming.

Of course, it’s baseball, and there’s no telling what can happen the next day. Tomorrow, the Mets face Zack Greinke.

Jul 04

Collins Gets Confidence Vote; Pressure Squarely On Alderson Now

Mets GM Sandy Alderson gave beleaguered manager Terry Collins a “vote of confidence,’’ which traditionally is rarely a good sign. If the clock hadn’t been ticking on Collins yet, it is now.

Traditionally, that’s how these things go.

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

What winning Friday accomplished was give the Mets a winning record (41-40) at the halfway point, and for one night at least alleviated some of the pressure Collins spoke about Thursday.

The Mets flew into Los Angeles with speculation – on this site, also – they would lose to Clayton Kershaw Friday and Zack Greinke Saturday. At least, that’s how smart money had it.

The Mets have had an unprecedented number of injuries this season, beginning in spring training with the loss of Zack Wheeler and as now nobody knows when David Wright will return. Currently nine Mets are on the disabled list.

The injuries, coupled with absolutely little offensive production – they’ve scored one or fewer runs 21 times and have been shut out nine times – have put a tremendous strain on the young pitching staff.

“I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair,’’ Alderson said. “We’re a .500 team. We haven’t been moving in the right direction. I understand that. We’ve had a lot of people hurt for long periods of time.

“We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have had to try to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair. So from that standpoint, there’s absolutely no consideration of that.

“This is not a Terry Collins watch. … As I said, I think it’s very unfair to put a lot of the way we’ve played over the last few weeks on Terry.’’

We all know Collins can’t hit or field for his players. The pressure shifts to Alderson to give the Mets’ impotent offense a new bat or two.

It would have been good for Alderson to say: “The pressure is on me to give this team some offensive help. It’s up to me to give Terry and our pitchers some help.’’

But, Alderson didn’t say that … he didn’t need to because that’s what everybody is thinking.

 

Apr 29

Dillon Gee and His Amazing Streak

DILLON GEE, RHP

There might not be any starting pitcher in the game who is more underrated than the Mets’ Dillon Gee. The righthander delivered his best effort of the season on Sunday, tossing eight shutout innings against the Miami Marlins to help the Mets take the series two games to one.

Gee, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, struck out five and confounded the Marlins with his signature changeup and a slider that’s become a great out pitch for him. Whenever he’s on the mound, he gives the team a chance to win and the baseball odds at Allpro confirm it.

“It was one of those good days,” Gee said. “I just try to go out there each time it’s my turn and do the best I can and get as deep as I can, and give us a chance to win. As long as we win at the end of the day, I’m a happy guy.”

Despite having thrown 110 pitches, Gee wanted to pitch the ninth, but was told no by manager Terry Collins.

Opponents are now hitting .193 against Gee this season. He has an 0.86 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in his last three starts, in which he’s allowed only two extra-base hits.

“He got us to where we wanted to get to,” Collins said, “That was pretty much the end.”

Gee’s remarkable stretch that began last season when he struck out 12 Yankees on May 30, has him among the game’s elite. The Mets righty has a 2.75 ERA over his last 28 starts, topped only by Clayton KershawZack GreinkeYu DarvishJulio TeheranMax Scherzer and Adam Wainwright. among pitchers with 20 or more starts in that span.

For the season, Gee’s ERA stands at a pristine 2.88 with a 1.043 WHIP. Better yet, over his last three starts he’s 2-1 with a 0.86 ERA.

It might be time to start talking about an extension with Gee, who has become the most reliable starter in the Mets rotation and one of the top arms in the NL.

Apr 16

Reflections Before Mets Play In The Snow

Just because the Mets haven’t played since Saturday, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to talk about in baseball and the sporting world.

Supporting Boston …

Who isn’t disgusted with what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon? I’ve had my computer bag searched so many times I’ve lost track. Deep down I couldn’t believe the cowards would attack a sporting event. That’s changed, and as with the travel industry, probably forever.

TRAGEDY IN BOSTON (Tweet from Evan Hill)

TRAGEDY IN BOSTON (Tweet from Evan Hill)

Many Boston athletes announced prayers, good wishes and an intent to donate money almost immediately. That’s not surprising, because for all the heat athletes get for operating in a vacuum, most of them are very aware, and willing, to donate their efforts to the communities in which they play.

Among my first thoughts in watching the horrible video, were flashbacks to September 11. I was covering the Yankees at the time and remember how they and the Mets responded.

I remember a sign in Chicago that simply read: “Hate the Yankees, but love New York.’’ I also remember Bobby Valentine managing relief efforts in the parking lot at Shea Stadium.

Of course, who doesn’t remember Mike Piazza’s homer against the Braves in the first sporting event in New York after the attacks.

Boston supported New York after 9/11, and New York should do the same for Boston. Donate blood to the Red Cross earmarked for Boston. Wear a Celtics T-Shirt and Red Sox some time this week, which is a simple acknowledgement of what our fellow Americans are experiencing.

Root against the Red Sox, but love Boston. It is a tremendous city.

Go after Alex Rodriguez

Mets fans should be grateful their team didn’t sign Rodriguez after the 2000 season. They should be happy he is the Yankees’ problem.

Rodriguez admitted using steroids, but only for a three-year period in Texas. That was difficult to believe then, and impossible now.

To me, that Rodriguez attempted to buy the documents from Biogenesis containing his name is as damning as a positive test.

Ryan Braun got off on a technicality and Major League Baseball was embarrassed and has come across as vindictive. Enter Biogenesis, which also has Braun’s name, and an ugly scenario has unfolded.

If Major League Baseball is serious about cleaning up its PED problem, it has to be doubly cautious as to not get stung on a technicality again. And, if they have the evidence, they need to go after him hard.

For the money MLB has made, Bud Selig’s legacy is the steroid scandal. The cheaters are being snubbed at the Hall of Fame entrance, but MLB needs to place an asterisk next the names of the cheaters in the record books.

Doing that, plus working with the Players Association on more severe punishment is a start. That is, if it is really serious.

Eight games not enough …

A common complaint of umpires is not taking into consideration the game circumstances when ejecting pitchers and managers after bean ball incidents.

That should also apply to players in meting out suspensions after rushing the mall.

First of all, Zack Greinke was not throwing at Carlos Quentin last week. Quentin has a tendency of leaning out over the plate and will get plunked. A pitcher does not throw at a hitter on a 3-and-2 count in a close game.

No way was Greinke throwing at Quentin. At least, no one with a sense of an understanding of the game, which Quentin obviously does not. Eight games is not nearly enough. His suspension should last as long as Greinke is injured an unable to pitch.

The weather outside is frightful …

It is currently 34 degrees in Denver with a wind chill of 25. There is a 50 percent chance of rain and 30 percent chance of snow for tonight.

Yet, they will attempt to play the summer game.

There is no way Major League Baseball could have forecast the severity of this weather in Denver, but it should have been aware of the likelihood of it being nasty.

A point I brought up last week bears repeating, and that is April should be reserved for divisional play where make up games can be easily rescheduled as part of double-headers later in the season.

Non-divisional games, like the Yankees in Cleveland and the Mets this week, and interleague games such as the Mets in Denver, is pushing the envelope in the wrong direction.