Author Archive

New York Mets, and Their Fans, Should All Be Like Johan Santana

What Johan Santana did today for the New York Mets was nothing short of amazing, and this is a franchise that knows from amazing.

Much the same way he pitched a gem when the Mets needed a win at the end of the 2008 season, Santana came up huge a day after the Mets saw another eighth-inning lead disappear, only to have their closer, Francisco Rodriguez, arrested for assaulting his father-in-law near the clubhouse after the game.

Do we have a Flushing Zoo on our hands?

Thursday afternoon’s game was an afterthought for many in the media, who took the K-Rod incident and the blown game Wednesday to sharpen their knives and call for the heads of Jerry Manuel, Jeff Wilpon, Fred Wilpon, Omar Minaya, and just about everyone connected with this team short of Mr. Met and the Cowbell Man.

Meanwhile, Santana (who has his own personal issues to worry about) took the ball and went to work. Set-up man? Closer? He didn’t need them. In a game where the Mets desperately needed a win, to win a series and to get back to .500 and keep alive whatever hopes they have of staying in the playoff hunt, Santana did it all. Nine innings, four hits, two walks, 10 strikeouts, 115 pitches. No runs.

It was the Mets’ 17th shutout of the season. Again, as I said yesterday, that a team with 17 shutouts is only .500 tells you all you need to know about how bad the offense has been, especially lately.

But it wasn’t just Johan. Coincidentally, Carlos Beltran went 3-for-3 and had an RBI sac fly. Jose Reyes had two hits and scored a run. And, wouldn’t you know it, the Mets won. Think those factors had anything to do with it?

It was a tremendous win. Beltran showed signs of life. But the big story was K-Rod, who is on the restricted list for two days and could likely be suspended by the team as well.

If there wasn’t blood in the water, it’s crimson now. If people weren’t burying the Mets before, they’re piling on the dirt in spades.

I expect it from the media. Objectivity is a quaint relic these days. It’s all about opinions, second-guessing, bluster and bombast, and who can yell louder than the next guy. It’s about pushing people’s buttons and polls and number of page views and blog comments.

What bugs me the most is how many Mets fans seem to revel in the bad news. It seems that if the Mets aren’t good—and when I say “good,” I mean unquestionably good—these kinds of fans would prefer the Mets to be horrible, so they can freely rage at the organization and its players. Quick to bury them, to dump them, to call for people’s jobs and demand trades.

If the Mets are somewhere in between, like they are now (.500 is the definition of in between), these fans can’t handle it. We can’t revel in the team’s superiority, but the team isn’t awful, either, and with 48 games left, there’s still a chance they can make a run…

Nah…let’s just bury them. It’s simpler that way.

To me, these people aren’t fans. They’re critics. They’re cranks.

I follow the Mets and watch their games to enjoy them. If the team is bad, it’s bad. If it’s great, it’s great. If it’s somewhere in the middle, I watch and root for them to get in the race. I cheer for my team. I boo the opposition.

I can’t see how fans who are so quick to bury and belittle and tear apart this team—their team—get any joy out of being a Mets fan. There’s no belief. No hope against hope. Just miserable people wallowing in their misery. They should all hang out together with Joe Benigno with T-shirts emblazoned with their credo: “Oh, the pain!”

I’m a realist. I understand that it’s a tall order for the Mets to rally back and make a playoff run. This team has holes that management refused to fill. It’s far from perfect. They need a bunch of guys to collectively get their acts together, and soon.

But the Phillies and the Rockies and other teams in recent years have shown that you can make up games in a hurry. Seventeen shutouts gives me hope. Santana gives me hope. The possibility of Reyes, David Wright, Beltran, Angel Pagan, Ike Davis, Josh Thole and (hopefully) Jason Bay finding their groove at the plate together gives me hope.

Quick story: I was a freshman at Boston University when the Mets won it all in 1986. I remember watching Game Six in a friend’s dorm room with a bunch of people, and when Boston took the lead late, the Sox fans—real and bandwagoneers—took off for Kenmore Square to celebrate.

I stayed and watched with my pal Tim, a Sox fan. He anticipated Boston’s first World Series in 69 years. I had nothing but hope.

What a feeling it was to stand outside the elevator doors on our floor later in the evening, after the Mets rallied to win, waiting until those doors opened, to see everyone who ran out to celebrate slinking back. Oh, how good it felt to stick it to those who thought it was over.

That’s kind of how I feel now. It may not happen, but how good will it feel if the Mets somehow do put it together and make the playoffs? To stick it to everyone who said they were done?

Santana isn’t giving up anytime soon. Neither am I.

As for whether we have a Flushing Zoo, you’ll recall there was a Bronx Zoo, where the manager hated the team’s star player, where the star and the captain hated each other, where the owner made as many headlines as the team. That team won two World Series.

I’ve always liked the zoo.

Read more MLB news on

New York Mets By the Numbers: It All Adds Up To Nothing

While Mets fans and media are sure to continue their calls for manager Jerry Manuel to be fired after the Mets’ latest loss — a 6-2 stomach punch delivered by the Colorado Rockies — let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?

15: The number of Mets retired in a row to end the game.

1: The number of hits generated by the Mets after their second batter of the game, Angel Pagan, hit a two-run homer (Jose Reyes singled to lead off the first).

11: Starts this season by Jonathan Niese where he has allowed one run or less. What a waste.

4: Strikeouts by David Wright in this game, in as many at-bats. The only player colder is Carlos Beltran. The two are the 3-4 hitters on this team.

.216: The Mets’ team batting average since the All-Star break.

3: Runs per game the Mets have scored in that stretch, during which they are 8-16.

5: Consecutive scoreless appearances by Manny Acosta entering Wednesday’s night game. So much for Manuel playing the hot hand.

2: Strikes, with no balls and two outs, on Todd Helton against Hisanori Takahashi, with the bases empty in the top of the eighth inning with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead. One strike away from handing the ball to K-Rod. But the Red Sox can tell us all about being one strike away, can’t they?

So tell me again how this is all Jerry’s fault?

You don’t hit, you don’t score runs. You don’t score runs, you waste terrific pitching efforts like this one from Niese. And you don’t win games.

Takahashi, who was terrific the night before in supplying the bridge to K-Rod, couldn’t retire Helton after being ahead 0-2. Helton singled on a 1-2 pitch, bringing up Carlos Gonzalez, another lefty, who waved at a 2-1 slider. But Takahashi threw two more balls, walking Gonzalez.

Jerry brings in the hard-throwing Acosta, who has held hitters to a .200 average and who has been shining lately, and he immediately throws a wild pitch to put the go-ahead run at second. (That’s not exactly what I call good execution.)

That leads to the intentional walk of Tulowitzki, bringing up ex-Met Melvin Mora, who quickly fell behind 0-2. One strike away once again.

A ball. A foul ball. A ball. A grand slam by Mora (which brings up another depressing number, nine, which is the league-leading number of grand slams allowed by the Mets this season). Another run after a walk and two singles.

Two times, one strike away.

How bad is the Mets offense? You can look at all the stats you want, but consider this: The Mets’ pitching leads the league with 16 shutouts. With that kind of starting pitching, your offense must be pretty putrid for your team to struggle to stay above .500.

You want to fire Howard Johnson? I personally don’t think it would matter, but at this point, I guess it wouldn’t hurt because it can’t get any worse on offense. Maybe it shakes things up. Maybe not.

Wednesday night’s loss proved once again that the Mets are where they are because of a lack of production, pure and simple. The bullpen isn’t always in one-run games if the hitters can provide a cushion. The margin for error isn’t always so razor-thin.

It isn’t about bullpen management, or fire in the belly, or heart, or leadership, or guts. It is about the talent on the roster either being able to produce, or not. For the last month, on offense, the Mets have not produced at all. And that has been killing them.

It’s really not that complicated.

Read more MLB news on

New York Mets: Amateur psychiatrists are having a field day

I love when fans say that there’s no life on a baseball team, no sense of urgency. That a team didn’t come to play.

It’s baseball. You either get hits or you don’t. You either make outs or you don’t.

It has nothing to do with fire, or urgency, or chemistry. It’s all about production.

The Mets lost to the Braves Monday night, 4-1. Tim Hudson went six innings, allowed six hits and three walks, and just one run. Then the Braves bullpen of Vetters , Saito , and Wagner shut the door as it has done pretty much all season.

The Mets didn’t hit, and haven’t hit lately. And they lost again. That’s what happened.

But fans love to play amateur psychiatrist, and so did Gary Cohen, a longtime Mets fan himself.

When Matt Diaz took second on a base hit to left-center, he bemoaned the “bad body language” on the team and the lack of urgency on Carlos Beltran’s part. Neither he nor Keith Hernandez noted that Beltran was playing to the right side of center and had to come a long way for that ball. His only mistake was taking an extra step before throwing the ball in, but that’s all Diaz needed. Credit Diaz for hustling.

You want to blame shoddy defense for the three-run first? You’re pinning a loss on a bad exchange on a potential double-play grounder? How about Johan Santana walking Troy Glaus after having him down 0-2. That brought up Ankiel , a lefty, who then singled in two.

When your offense is that bad, and your margin for error is that small that a first-inning fielder’s choice is lamented that much, then you know you’re in trouble.

But that has nothing to do with urgency or fire. What should the Mets do? Start a brawl? Check someone into the boards? Sack the quarterback?

Get hits. Score runs. Pitch well. Win games. The Mets have only pitched well, for the most part. No hits and runs—that’s been the problem. But why?

Because Howard Johnson is a horrible hitting coach, of course! Fire him!

There’s been talk about how the Mets have faced some tough pitching lately, but it’s mostly been lip service. Let’s take a closer look:

Since the All-Star break, the Mets are 5-13, with 12 of those 18 games on the road. They faced 16 different starters in that span (meeting the D-Backs’ Enright and Kennedy twice), and of those 16 starters, 12 have records of .500 or better and six of them with nine wins or more. Their combined record as of Monday’s games is 106-77, a .579 winning percentage.

Here are the same numbers for the Phillies and Braves since the break:

Phillies: 10-8, seven games at home, faced eight starters of .500 or better, four with nine wins or more. Combined record 113-108, .511 winning percentage.

Braves: 8-9, eight games at home, faced 11 starters of .500 or better, three with nine wins or more. Combined record 102-95, .518 winning percentage.

So, since the break, the Mets have had to play two-thirds of their games on the road against starting pitchers who have won 58 percent of their games, including 12 with winning records. The Phillies and Braves, by comparison, faced less winning pitchers whose aggregate winning percentage was about 65 points lower.

Throw in a not-ready-for-prime-time Carlos Beltran, a slumping (and now injured) Jason Bay and Rod Barajas , an ice-cold Jeff Francoeur and Luis Castillo, and a tepid Ike Davis, and you have a struggling offense trying to win games against good pitching, mostly on the road.

And we’re surprised they haven’t won more?

What is Jerry Manuel supposed to do?

He’s trying, with 18 different lineups since the break. Guess who else had a different lineup every day, even when the team was winning? Bobby Valentine, and that drove fans crazy. The same Bobby V Mets fans are pining for now, when they’re not clamoring for Wally Backman , who hasn’t won a major league game but has thrown a lot of bats in the minors .

Oh, right, he was on the ’86 champs. So he must be a good manager.

And he has fire! Like Lou Piniella , whose Cubs are 46-60.

The bottom line is that the Mets hit a stretch where they had to play mostly on the road against good starting pitching at a time when it started to struggle offensively, while trying to work in two players (Beltran and Castillo) coming off fairly long stretches on the DL .

While fans ask the players to show some fire and urgency, what of management and ownership? No deadline deals for any help while the Braves, Phillies, and Dodgers made significant moves.

What message does that send to the team? We believe in you? Or we’re out of it and want to hold on to prospects? Or we can’t spend another dime?

Does that have an effect on a team that has been looking and asking for help down the stretch? Maybe.

The Mets are a .500 team with 56 games left in a season that is slipping away. The only way to turn it around is to start hitting and keep pitching.

They have opportunity to do so with these next five games against the Braves and Phillies, and if they can hang in there, they have 17 of their final 22 games at Citi Field.

Bay, Beltran, and Davis haven’t caught fire all season, and Reyes hasn’t blown up yet, either. There’s still some hope.

But don’t talk about fire.

Read more MLB news on

Meet Me at the …Place…Somewhere on Long Island … Maybe

I’ve been trying to generate some feelings—vitriol, despair, disgust, frustration—over the latest developments concerning the Lighthouse, but I just can’t do it. It’s like trying to light a fire with a wet match and a cinder block. I’m done.

We heard from Chris Botta at Fanhouse that the Wilpons, owners of the Mets, had hired a high-powered project management firm to “work on a feasability study” for a new arena at Willets Point, adjacent to Citi Field. Newsday then followed up with the predictable denials from sources. Our friend B.D. Gallof compared the whole thing to a scene from the movie “M.A.S.H.” which served to plant the theme song from the TV version in my head for a few hours. Thanks, buddy.

For me—and, I suspect, most Islanders fans—the drama has become tiresome. I’m done with the Town of Hempstead, and the politics, and the hand-wringing over whether the Isles are going to move to Queens, or Hartford, or Winnipeg, or Kansas City, or Brooklyn, or Yaphank, or Paris, Texas.

I’d be done with Charles Wang, too, except he hasn’t said a word in months. At least he’s not been annoying.

The Lighthouse Project has been all but disbanded and Hempstead has yet to provide new zoning for the property, or any guidance as to how Wang’s proposal needs to be pared down. The general feeling is that it would have to be cut down considerably. Maybe Wang would be okay with that, maybe not.

Wang still has incentive to stay at the Coliseum. The revised lease agreement gives the Islanders more revenue from games and other events, and you’d think it would be easier for them to stay at that location, in a renovated or new arena, regardless of how much of the other development is eliminated.

While Wang may or may not be investigating other options, like looking to the Wilpons and Queens, at some point the town will present its new parameters for the site, eliminating the oh-so-scary “mini city” that the local politicians love to call the Lighthouse plan. Hopefully that will come soon, maybe this year? This decade? Before the next World Cup?

At that point, Wang will either be in or out, but that day seems to be so far off it is not even on the horizon. So wake me when it comes, okay?

The lease on the Coliseum runs out in 2015. There’s still time to develop a site for a new arena somewhere (good luck with the Iron Triangle, though), but not much.

Part of me would love to see the Islanders find a new site on Long Island and leave Hempstead, stuck with either a casino or just a couple of new big box stores to replace a tenant-less arena. Let the politicians take credit for that.

The other part of me wants to stop hearing, talking, or writing about this for ever more.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress