A Dumb Rule Change

Major League Baseball has solved the age old problem of how to speed up ballgames. It is an ingenious solution and shows us that talented people are working hard behind the scenes and have really been thinking. In case you missed it, the intentional walk is no more. Well, there still will be intentional walks but now, the manager will simply signal to the umpire and the umpire will award the batter first place without the pitching throwing the four pitches. Gee, what took so long?

Actually I hope you can read into my sarcasm. This rule is an abomination and will do little to speed up the game. Ask yourself how many intentional walks there are per game? How many seconds will it actually save? Perhaps it will save a minute or two at the most and probably not even that much in most cases. Plus not having the pitcher throw those four pitches changes the game. It has happened, more than one would think that a batter reaches across the plate and smacks a pitch into right field. It has happened on occasion when a pitcher issues a free pass, he throws a wild pitch that changes the outcome of an inning, perhaps a game. Granted it doesn’t happen often but it does happen occasionally. In fact, when the rule was introduced, the MLB Network showed a montage of unanticipated plays that occurred from unfortunate pitches during intentional walks.

This rule is nonsense and will not solve the problem of speeding up the game. So what could?

How about simply enforcing the strike zone as the rulebook states? A larger strike zone will speed up the game because hitters will feel more compelled to put the ball in play or be called out on strikes more frequently. It will also reduce pitch counts. Don’t expect it to happen because revenue is tied to hitting. Little has been done to help the pitcher in the past twenty-plus years.

How about reducing commercial breaks from three minutes to two? Once the game starts, there are commercial breaks every half inning plus when there are pitching changes. There are seventeen half innings per game if the home team must bat in the bottom of the ninth. That’s a savings of sixteen to seventeen minutes per game. Of course that will never happen. In fact, I could see commercial breaks expanding to four minutes before they are ever reduced to two. The owners will never do anything that would infringe on their ability to pocket more cash. It’s a business, I get it, but don’t put in rules that change the game and will have virtually no effect on the outcome in terms of length. The only way reducing the length of commercial breaks would ever happen is if fans stop showing up and watching on the TV. Again—unlikely.

How about getting rid of replay review? That too is not going to happen but it could certainly be sped up. One way to speed up the play review process would be to have a fifth umpire at each game. He or she would sit in the press box with monitors all around. This would require employing fifteen more umpires, something the umpire’s union would surely embrace. Then we, the fans, would not have to wait for the review team in New York to finish two other plays from other games before they get to the review at hand.

So there are ways to speed up the game without taking away the four pitch intentional walk. Unfortunately if it has to do with curtailing profit, it’s never going to happen.

Here’s another rule change being tested in the Arizona Fall League this coming October. In extra innings, they are going to put a runner on second to start the inning. Just put a runner on second, without earning it. This is a similar concept to college football’s overtime rule of placing the ball on the twenty yard line of the opposing team to start play.

I hate this idea and hope it never reaches the major leagues. Currently the AFL ends games in a tie after ten innings, not to tax the young talented prospects. Hopefully this rule is simply for the AFL and not a testbed for an idea for the majors but we’ll see.

If the average length of a game thirty years ago was two and half hours then there’s got to be a way for that to happen today. The game is still nine innings long, with nine players on each team requiring three outs an inning. Nothing has changed that drastically if at all. But the idea that removing the four pitches of an intentional walk is going to shorten the game is downright silly.

Live Baseball Tonight

Live baseball is on the TV tonight beginning at 9:00PM EST.

It is the championship game of the Caribbean World Series. The AGUILAS (Eagles) de MEXACALI face off against the CRIOLLOS (people of Spanish origin) de CAGUAS in Culiacan Mexico.

The Caribbean World Series has been going on for a very long time. It is the culmination of the Caribbean winter leagues comprised of four leagues from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico. The winners of each of these leagues meet at a neutral site each season, this year in Culiacan, for a ten game round robin first round, single elimination semi-final games and a single elimination championship game.

This year as in the past couple, the Cuban national team has also been invited to play in the CWS. Cuba and Venezuela were eliminated in the semi-final games yesterday paving the way for Mexico to fight for the title tonight on their home turf against Puerto Rico.

The game will be broadcast live in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. Check you cable provider for channel number.  Link here for a recap of the series.

The Blah Off Season

I haven’t written anything in a long time. That’s because I find the baseball offseason boring. I guess I’m not as hardcore a baseball fan as others but when the Mets’ season ends, I halfheartedly follow the rest of the post season and once that ends, I don’t think too much about baseball. That’s not always been the case but it has been in recent years.

One reason for this is likely because the Mets are good right now. They have made the playoffs the last two seasons in a row. The latter with a decimated roster that at least saw the Amazins get an extra game in before packing up their uniforms. The club signed their number one target, Yoenis Cespedes, keeping him around for another four seasons. Their talented pitching staff should be completely healed from various injuries and surgeries for the start of spring training 2017. So other than a crowded outfield that will need to be resolved and another arm or two for the bullpen, what’s all the fuss?

Frankly going into 2017 I have more concerns than just baseball. I am deeply concerned about the giant toddler about to be sworn in as our new president. Perhaps he will be a huge surprise and get things done or the biggest disaster in US presidential history. I don’t claim to know the answer but find my concern for the future of our country outweighing the needs of the New York Mets. I respect your vote for but for me and the father of a beautiful daughter, I can’t get the actions and comments made toward women (among  other vulnerable groups) by our PEOTUS out of my head. And let’s face it; if he throws out the first pitch on opening day, in most stadiums, he will be booed off the field. Cities are blue folks, I don’t care what red state they are in. Enough about politics, this is a baseball site and I intend to keep it that way.

I do believe the Mets are going to have a very good year in 2017. I base this on the fact that the odds are with them to stay healthier than they were in 2016. If the pitching staff stays healthy, the sky is the limit for how well they will throw. Can the Mets possible have as bad an offense as they did last year? I think not, especially if Michael Conforto lives up to his potential and gets over his sophomore jinx. Plus the Mets, most of them, are coming off two winning seasons in the major leagues. That experience alone will help them compete with any club moving into the new season.

It should be interesting to see what final pieces the Mets put in place before the season starts. Until then, I will be content reading, watching a few movies and not thinking about baseball for a few more weeks.

I’ve been watching the AMC Breaking Bad marathon. That has to be the greatest TV show in history. What a fantastic blend of story arc, writing, acting, and cinematography. Truly amazing television.

 

Schedule 2017

Now that the Mets have their big hitter back, let’s talk about 2017.

Do you realize that the first 32 games the Mets will play in 2017 will all be against the National League East?  That means the Mets will play just four teams for over one month of the new season. Every year, I shake my head more and more at how those in charge come up with these schedules.

During the course of the baseball season, a team plays its division opponents 19 times for a total of 76 games. That means by the end of Sunday, May 7, the Mets will have played 42 percent of their intra-divisional schedule. What’s even stranger is by the time April ends, the Mets will have played two separate series with the Braves at Citi Field. During the first week of May, the Mets will play the Braves again, this time at their new home in suburban Atlanta in a four game set. That’s ten games against the Braves and Bartolo Colon for a total of 10 times in the first 32 games. They will also play the Marlins 10 times before finally playing a team outside of the NL East.

While it could be a good thing that the Mets play bad teams so often in the first five weeks of the season, let’s not forget that the Braves had a very good second half of 2016 and they are a young team on the rise. The Marlins have a lot of talent as well so we can’t make any assumptions of how things will go during the early season. In addition to the Braves and Marlins, the Mets will play the Phillies six times and the Nationals six times completing the unusual intra-divisional stretch.

By the All Star break, the Mets will play an additional 16 games against NL East clubs. The bulk of the remaining intra-divisional schedule will occur in September and that’s a good thing, especially if the Mets are fighting for a division title. Again as with 2016, the Mets season will conclude the 2017 slate in Philadelphia.

As far as inter-league play goes for the Mets, the NL East will play the AL West in 2017. That means the Mets will make three trips to the Pacific time zone. The first one is for three games in Phoenix in May. The Mets will make a west coast visit in June to play the Dodgers and Giants before heading to Miami to complete a ten game road trip. At the end of July, the Mets head to San Diego and then north to Seattle before concluding in Colorado for their second ten game road trip of the season.

The Mets will also make two separate trips to Texas, once to play the AL West champion Rangers in June for two games and once to play the Houston Astros in early September.  The Rangers will also play the Mets at Citi Field for a two game set in August. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California of the United States of America of planet Earth and the Oakland Athletics will come to Citi Field this season in May and July respectively. Rounding out the inter-league schedule will be the rivalry home and home series against the Yankees in August, the first two at Yankee Stadium then the next two at Citi. That’s a Monday through Thursday event.

The Mets longest home stand of the season will be ten games when they face the Rockies, Cardinals, and A’s in the middle of July.  The Mets also have two nine game home stands, one in April and one in August.

The world champion Cubs (that’s a weird thing to write) will come to Citi Field in June for a three game set. The Mets will travel to Wrigley Field in the middle of September.

All in all, it’s 162 games, 81 at home and 81 away. With the signing of Yoenis Cespedes and hopefully a healthy pitching staff, the Mets may just make 2017 another fun and exciting season.

Tickets for Mets home games are available at Mets.com.

Collins Snubbed

Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League manager of the year award. What in the world does Terry Collins have to do to be recognized? He managed an injury riddled team, full of call ups, and imports from other teams scrap heaps to get to the post season as the first wild card. There were many times during the season where Terry could have lost the clubhouse but he held it together and managed the team to a streaking conclusion that landed the club in the playoffs. I’m not saying Roberts was not deserving of the award but certainly Collins was as well if not more so.

Mets’ pitching prospects Corey Oswalt and Corey Taylor combined to pitch seven innings yesterday in the Arizona Fall League. Oswalt gave up one run (homerun) on three hits and struck out three in five innings. Taylor pitched two perfect innings and struck out four.

 

 

It’s The Post Season

That was probably the best baseball game to end a world series ever. Perhaps it was better than game six of the 1986 World Series or game six of the 1975 World Series. Those were two of the most unbelievable games in World Series history but neither ended the Series. They could have but in both cases the Red Sox (’75) and the Mets (’86) rallied to tie the series. Last night’s battle between the Cubs and the Indians was winner take all. It was so good that the game required an extra inning to complete.

After 108 years, the Cubs of Chicago are World Champions. GM Theo Epstein has now ended the Curse of the Bambino and the Curse of the Billy Goat. Epstein will one day be in the Hall of Fame for his record of bringing not just one, but two historic baseball franchises to World Series titles after an absence of almost a century in one case and over a century in another. Congratulations to the Cubs organization and to their long suffering fans. Hopefully they can now forget what happened in 1969.

Now that the baseball season has come to an end, what do the Mets learn that could make their future brighter?

One take away that I saw was youth. The Cubs have a lot of young (and very good) players.  On the Cubs World Series roster, there were eight players that were 25 years old or younger, two of whom were 22, 18 that are 30 or younger. So overall the roster is very young and will be competitive for several more seasons.  At the beginning of the 2017 season, the Mets will have only 5 players 25 years old or less. That’s not bad because they have 28 players 30 or under on their 40 man roster. So it’s not like the Mets are a very old team but they don’t have a lot of real young players either. Those of you considering that maybe Michael Conforto is not the real deal, remember he’ll be just 24 for the 2017 season and has the potential to be the kind of player the Cubs seem to have so many of.

Another important aspect of the Cubs was pitching and there again, when healthy the Mets have that covered. But the key is health. If the Mets were so fortunate to have a healthy staff of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Stephen Matz, and Zach Wheeler, well that will go a long way to getting the Mets back to the playoffs, deep into the playoffs.

One of the players on the other side of 30 is Yoenis Cespedes. I know the Mets like him and will likely try to resign him if… err, when he opts out. However, I’m not going to go nuts if he doesn’t resign with the Mets.  There will likely be bigger offers out there and I can’t see the Mets mortgaging years down the road for a player that will be losing his skills and perhaps be a malcontent to boot.  The problem the Mets have is there is no genuine homerun threat on the team without him. Can the Mets really count on Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera to have as productive years as this past one?  They will pick up Jay Bruce’s option so that’s one place the Mets will count on some power. Plus I really feel their needs to be a commitment to Conforto. He should be the everyday left fielder for him to blossom. This guy could be and should be the next David Wright.

The hot stove is just warming up. It’s going to be an interesting winter to see just what the Mets will do before pitchers and catchers report in February.

2016 Mets Report Card

The Mets went through a tumultuous summer in 2016. Five players from the April 3 starting lineup were eventually injured and were lost for the season or most of the season. In total, 46 different players contributed to the Mets season mostly because of trips to the disabled list by so many. However, through all of the adversity, the Mets still were one of the ten teams to make the post season. It was a short stay of just one game, the wildcard game they lost to the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner at Citi Field on October 5. Even so, considering how things went, the Mets have nothing to be ashamed about. Sandy Alderson and his staff did a marvelous job of acquiring players to fill in and in some cases permanently take over roles. Manager Terry Collins should be named manager of the year for being able to keep his team focused through so much turmoil. The Mets managed to finish the season as the number 1 wildcard in second place with a record of 87-75. It was the 11th best record in franchise history tying the 2016 club with the 1989 Mets who did not reach the post season. This is a lengthy post that reviews all forty-six players and how they did during the regular season including their highlight moment and future status.

Here is the cast of the 2016 Mets. The first 10 represent the starting lineup that took the field in Kansas City on opening day. The remaining players appear in order of their appearance during the 2016 season. After their name are their position and their current age in parenthesis.

1– Curtis Granderson RF (35) / One of the few Mets to play wire to wire this season. Curtis played in 150 games in 2016. For most of the season, Curtis was pretty bad, not the player he was in 2016. But in late August and September… (more)2016 Mets Report Card