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New York Mets: Avoiding Irrelevance

Three years ago, I couldn’t watch a single pitch of playoff baseball. The sting of the Mets collapse was too much for me. Observing other teams pursue a world championship (especially the Phillies), caused me to think about all of the “what ifs”.

What if Tom Glavine didn’t blow up in the final game?

What if the Mets won just one or two more games during season?

What if, what if, what if……….

Flash forward to the present day. Not only can I watch playoff baseball, but I don’t have that nasty bile taste in my mouth when the Phillies or Yankees are on television. I have come to accept the fact that the teams I dislike the most (hate is such a strong word), are good and my beloved Mets are not.

Shane Victorino no longer invokes thoughts of me flying out to Philadelphia, deplaning, driving over to Citizens Bank Ballpark, entering the clubhouse and kicking him in the shins (really hard).

Gone are the thoughts of me boarding another plane, entering the Yankees’ clubhouse and smacking the smug look off of Alex Rodriguez’s face with a white glove a.k.a duel style.

Don’t get me wrong, I have and will continue to root against the Phillies and Yankees. The Reds and Twins failed, so now I will be pulling for the Giants and Rangers. I still snicker and jeer every time I hear the phrase “H2O”, due to its complete lameness.

What’s my point?

This transition in my thoughts towards playoff baseball is a sign that the Mets have become irrelevant once again. Unfortunately, as a life long fan, it is a fact that I have experienced during the vast majority of my fandom.

I imagine this is a realization that many fellow Metropolitan (Midwestropolitans or not) fans have had. Don’t believe me? Go back and check the attendance numbers this year. I’m pretty sure ownership has noticed.

The solution?

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New York Mets Should Consider Lee Mazzilli

As I awoke to the splash of reality and the realization that Lee Mazzilli was not managing the Mets, flanked by Keith Hernandez as hitting coach and Ron Darling as pitching coach, I groaned and turned off my alarm.

Once the cobwebs cleared from my brain, so did the visions of Wally Backman coaching third, Tim Teufel coaching first, and Howard Johnson filling the role of bench coach.

My one thought was, “where is Ray Knight?”

What? What’s wrong with a dreaming of a 25th anniversary reunion tour in 2011? We just need Mookie Wilson roving spring training as a special base running coach and Mets fans are in Heaven. 

I can guarantee you one thing, losses would not be met with music blaring from the clubhouse. In fact, some of those fancy stereo boxes would stand a good chance of meeting the wrong end of a bat.

That group of guys would immediately instill a winning attitude and an expectation that players will play the game hard. That means running everything out, even though you think the ball will go foul.

Backman is the name du jour for becoming the new Mets manager. I love the idea of it, but I’m not sure it’s the right move right now; Bobby Valentine is the sentimental favorite, but I think his shine has more to do with the state of despair Mets fans are in and less to do with a genuine desire to have a sequel.

In both cases, I think the manager will be more the focus than the team, and I think the organization needs to realize it’s about the team. That’s not to say, I don’t want them— I’d welcome either one with open arms.

If Hernandez or Darling wanted to manage the team, I’d give them a shot in a heartbeat, but why would they give up such a good gig with SNY? I’m not really expecting Jeff Wilpon to call me and ask for advice but since I’m in a dream state in this post, I’ll pretend my phone is ringing.

My choice is Lee Mazzilli.

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Francisco Rodriguez of New York Mets Faces More Charges

I really hate to do this. The story has died, and thankfully so. By now, everyone involved is moving forward, which makes us all better off.

However, I feel it is necessary to reference the Tiger Woods controversy based on breaking news today about Francisco Rodriguez.

I truly believed many would learn from the Tiger Woods text fiasco from a few months ago. My modesty/morals prohibit me from posting a link to the hundreds of articles that printed the excerpts of messages between him and one of his mistresses.

The point is, I figured professional athletes would take note and think twice before sending text messages that could incriminate them in any way.

This is not the case for Francisco Rodriguez.

He is now in more trouble (Who knew that could even be possible?) for assaulting his girlfriend’s father a number of weeks ago. is reporting that K-Rod is now facing criminal contempt charges for sending text messages to his estranged girlfriend.

Does anyone feel a little paranoid over this? Big Brotherish? Think about all of the text messages you have ever sent to your buddies or significant others. What if someone took them and released them to the press?

Personally, I’m not too worried that would ever happen to me.

1. I don’t plan on getting arrested for anything.

2. My messages are as controversial as the ingredients on a box of Cheerios.

Here are a few examples of the incriminating messages and some accompanying thoughts:


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New York Mets: It’s Scapegoat Time for Carlos Beltran

Yesterday, reaction to all but three Mets visiting the Walter Reed Medical Center to meet with wounded military personnel was abundant.

Many communicated their disappointment towards Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo—some rather vehemently.

My initial reaction was one very similar to my colleague, friend, and fellow editor, Frank Gray. After the initial reaction passed, my thoughts on the matter started down a different path.

I couldn’t help but think how relevant their absence was in reality.

Personally, if I was on the team, you wouldn’t have had to ask me twice to go—that’s the point. It was a personal decision.

When a team makes an event optional, why do some feel it necessary to judge players that decide not to go?

How do we know what they already had planned? Let’s not pretend we understand what it is like to participate in the 162-game grind that is the MLB season. My guess is the grind is the main reason for the visit being optional in the first place.

I am the first to admit that Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are not my favorite players; their answers to why they did not attend didn’t exactly help their cause. However, I am not surprised, nor do I feel it is relevant to the team’s performance.

I particularly have an issue with the venom spat towards Carlos Beltran.


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New York Mets: Can Bobby Parnell Develop an Edge?

What makes a premier closer in Major League Baseball?

Let’s start with a simple, but elusive attribute. Control. As entertaining as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn was in the movie Major League, a guy that fails to pin point his pitches is murder on the nerves of fans. A Mr. Francisco Rodriguez comes to mind here.

Most closers only have two pitches. Having the ability to control where those pitches wind up is paramount to success.

Having control is only the start. Premier closers need to have one of two things to combine with control in order to be the best of the best.

They need to have mastered a pitch so much that it is almost unhittable, or they need to have an edge. Allow me to elaborate.

Closers that have developed a mastery of a particular pitch have the uncanny ability to be able to fool players with this pitch even though they know it is coming. Examples of these types of closers are Bruce Sutter in the 70’s and 80’s with his split finger fastball and Mariano Rivera with his cutter.

The second attribute is a little more abstract. I like to think of it as a pitcher that has a presence or edge about them. This edge has the hitters doubting their chances before the pitcher even sets foot on the mound. Lee Smith and his silent but rather intimidating presence on the hill in the 80’s is a primary example of this. As much as it pains me to say it, Heath Bell also possesses this quality.

These pitchers typically have overpowering stuff, but you really can’t define one pitch in terms of mastery.

Why do I bring this up?

Bobby Parnell has the potential to become one of these types of closers. However, he is on the edge of never realizing that potential.


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New York Mets Should Bring On Wally Backman

To me, the Mets being irrelevant in August is no laughing matter. Being an afterthought while the Yankees are thriving across town isn’t a joke. Being laughed at by Phillies fans instead of respected and hated isn’t a knee slapping good time for me, or any Mets fan that I know who cares about the team.

In my opinion, it’s time for sweeping changes. But no change should or will be more important this offseason than the seemingly inevitable managerial change. This team needs to hear a new voice, listen to a new message, look at a new face. Jerry Manuel is a holdover from the collapses of 2007 and 2008. It’s time for that era to go, and he must go with it.

I dare to dream, but if I were given the responsibility of hand picking Manuel’s replacement, I’d look no further than Coney Island.

At one time I sat at the front of the Bobby Valentine bandwagon, hoping against hope that the narrow minded Wilpons would look past personal issues and rehire one of the best baseball minds to ever wear a Mets uniform. I’ve changed my mind. I love Bobby V, but I don’t think he’s the right man to lead what looks to be a youth movement of sorts.

The right man is Wally Backman, and as far as I’m concerned there isn’t even a close second.

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What Can We Expect From Carlos Beltran?

The much anticipated return of Carlos Beltran is only a day away. The Mets, their fans, and their manager are hoping that he can contribute immediately.

Is that realistic?

Normally, I don’t have a problem giving a definitive opinion to a Mets related question. This one isn’t that easy though.

On one hand, I completely understand everyone’s hopes that he will be the Carlos Beltran of old. He is being paid quite a bit of money and he has been out for a long period of time. It seems reasonable enough to expect that he contributes in the second half of the season now that he is healthy enough to play.

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New York Mets Should Not Permit Jose Reyes To Play in All-Star Game

There is nothing more exciting in baseball than a Jose Reyes triple. He has earned a reputation over the years as a catalyst, spark plug, and major source of energy for the New York Mets.

His inclusion in this year’ s All-Star Game, along with David Wright, is something fans of the Amazin’s needed after last year’s injury laden affair.

It is  safe to assume that Jose himself is chomping at the bit to show the world he is back.

Watching David Wright and Jose Reyes play in this year’s All-Star Game was something I was looking forward to.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is in the Mets best interest to have Jose sit this one out. Call me conservative, but I just don’t think it is wise to risk him getting injured. 

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Are the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds Facing the Man in the Mirror?

During his pre-game interview on Tuesday, Dusty Baker made the statement that the Reds and Mets are very similar ball clubs.

He elaborated by saying both clubs have the ability to score a lot of runs in a hurry.

They also play “all 27 outs.” This took me a second to realize he was actually speaking about an entire series, which I felt was a nice compliment.

I can’t believe I am actually going to write this, but Dusty actually made me stop and think for a second.

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New York Mets Fans, Hold Your Horses: Carlos Beltran Isn’t Back Yet

How much playing time will Angel Pagan get now that Beltran is back?

Should Beltran play in right field leaving Jeff Francoeur the odd man out?

Jason Bay isn’t hitting for power, so should he become the fourth outfielder?

Shouldn’t the Mets trade one of their outfielders for a starting pitcher?

Whoa people. Slow down a bit.

The news that Carlos Beltran will start his rehab assignment on Thursday has kicked off a great deal of speculation about playing time in the Mets’ outfield.

Although I think this is great news, I’m not ready to discuss the playing time topic yet.

Neither should you.

You see, there is still a long road before we see Beltran roaming center field at Citi Field.

Beltran has a number of steps to go before he gets called up.  It is not impossible for there to be a setback during anyone of these steps. Keep in mind—he still runs with a limp.

Mets’ officials tell us it’s because of his knee brace.  Truthfully, I am not sure if I buy that line 100 percent.

First, Beltran has to test his knee during game situations for a while.

Don’t fool yourself if you think the extended spring training games were going to satisfy this step.  They served as a very controlled way to keep him active until he was ready for a minor-league assignment.

Once Carlos demonstrates that his knee can handle real game situations, he will have to establish the fact that he can play day-to-day for an extended period of time.

This step should take several weeks.  The worst thing the Mets can do is rush his return.

We saw what happened with Jose Reyes in terms of trying to get his feet underneath him while playing in major league games.  The Mets are contending for the pennant and control their own destiny.  They can ill afford Beltran “rehabbing” with the big league club.

It has been made very clear that Carlos will be playing center field when he returns.  So demonstrating that he is ready means showing that he can track down balls in the gap as well as Pagan does now—another reason this limp means we still have some time to go.

Make no mistake, Beltran will play when he returns.  One of the other three outfielders will be the odd man out.  The Mets just need to make sure he is ready.

Keep this in mind; we don’t know what will happen with Bay, Pagan, or Francoeur in the near future.  Baseball is a funny game.

One of these players could get injured (knock on wood),  or in the immortal words of Jeff Francoeur, one of them could wind up “flat-out sucking.”

So let’s slow down a little and see what happens before we start trying to figure out playing time in the outfield.  There is still quite a bit of baseball to be played until any decisions need to be made.

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