Archive for the '2015 Mets' Category

The Grind of a Major League Baseball Player

Michael Cuddyer retired on Friday. He still had one year left on his two year contract he signed last fall to play left field for the Mets.

Cuddyer did not have a stellar year on the field by any means. He played hurt but provided a very positive veteran influence in the clubhouse. Current left fielder and star in the making, Michael Conforto praised Cuddyer for his help and support. Instead of being bitter as a young player took his job, Cuddyer went out of his way to help Conforto adjust to life in the Show.

In retiring, Cuddyer leaves roughly twelve millions bucks on the table. That’s some serious cash to walk away from. Now granted, it’s not like Cuddyer does not have a lot of money. He played fifteen years in the Bigs and I’m sure he squirreled away a lot of money. So why retire now, why not play out one last year and collect what’s left on his deal?

It appears Cuddyer has had enough. The wear and tear on his body reached the breaking point. He recently underwent surgery to repair a core muscle that he apparently struggled with all season long and likely contributed to him having a subpar campaign. In his statement, Cuddyer said “…after 15 years, the toll on my body has finally caught up to me.” What? What toll? It’s baseball. Everyone knows baseball is a lazy man’s sport. It’s not like football where athletes take a beating during every play. It’s not like basketball or hockey where the action never stops. What in the world is he talking about?

Of course I am being flippant. What Michael Cuddyer is talking about is the grueling schedule of a professional baseball player. No other sport requires their athletes to compete on a daily bases the way baseball does. Too often, baseball gets labeled as slow or not a very athletic game. That’s because of the obvious comparisons to other sports where action is more dramatic. Yes, there is a lot of standing around in baseball. However, with that requires tremendous focus because it is unclear when the action will begin and players need to be ready for when it does. Any pitch could be the beginning of a play that will require different baseball skillsets to come into play. They include running, throwing, diving, sliding, and even colliding into other players or barriers like outfield walls or into the stands trying to catch a foul ball.  And let’s not forget having to hit a round hard ball with a round wooden bat, one of the most difficult skills in all of sport. That ball is coming at the hitter in excess of 90 miles per hour in most cases, often curving into or away from the hitter. Sometimes a hitter gets hit by the ball causing serious injury with the only consolation being awarded first base. The changing speed of the pitch keeps hitters off guard, trying to adjust their timing in order at a shot of hitting the ball. Baseball is easy? Not when failing seven out of ten times gets you into the Hall of Fame. It’s that hard! It is a game of failure requiring tremendous competitive skills.

Baseball is also a sport that requires all team members, for the most part, to possess the same skills. With the exception the pitcher in the American League’s, everyone on the field must take a turn at bat. Everyone in the field must be able to throw and catch the ball. In football, there are positions where it is against the rules to catch or throw the ball. In baseball everyone is expected to run around the bases as fast as possible, a distance equivalent to running the length of a football field from end zone to end zone (90 feet x 4 = 360 feet, 120 yards).

Granted, football is physically demanding. The NFL regular season is 16 games with each team getting one week off. The NHL and NBA play around 80 games, or two to three times a week. Major League baseball teams play 162 games (sometimes 2 games in one day) over a sixth month period with just 20 days off including the four day all-star break. There is also a month and a half of spring training that includes around 30 games and if a player is lucky enough to play deep into the post season, add another month of play to the schedule. No professional athlete travels more often than an MLB player. Show me another sport where a team plays a game in the afternoon or even at night because of national TV demands then has to travel across the country to play a game the next day. You will not find that to be true in any of the other three major sports. (And that’s something that really needs to be looked into by the Players Association in the next round of negotiations.)

The point is baseball is a grueling game that requires athletes to be in tip top shape. Today’s ballplayers work out constantly on top of a ridiculous schedule. In a game where there are literally millions of dollars on the line for athletes that have no guarantee of a long playing career, it is in their best interest to be in the best physical condition as possible. Long gone are the days of Babe Ruth famously downing a few hot dogs during the course of a game or even a Keith Hernandez sneaking in a smoke in the corner of the dugout. Players know what’s at stake if failure becomes routine. With a farm system second to no other professional sport, there are many players ready and willing to take the place of a falling star.

Some players stay too long. It’s hard for them to quit. It’s not just the money or fame that comes with being a major league ballplayer. It’s the need to compete. They have known it all their lives from when they were stars in Little League. Professional baseball, like any sport, is not something you pick up after you receive a degree from college. You need to start young and dedicate your life to it. In most professions, people can stay until their sixties or even older. If you are 36 years old in professional sports, you are considered a dinosaur. Players like Alex Rodriguez and Bartolo Colon who are in their 40s are the exception.

In reading Cuddyer’s statement, it’s clear he struggled with the decision to retire. However, I give him credit for not extending what would surely be less of a performance than where his numbers dictate what kind of player he should be. He’s won a batting championship and has been on the all-star team twice. He’s been to the post season seven times. He made it to the playoffs six times with the Minnesota Twins, getting as far as the league championship series in 2002. His only trip to the World Series was with the Mets in October. He leaves baseball a league champion, not a bad way to go out.

I felt that Cuddyer would have had a better season in 2016 considering his injury issues this past season. Apparently he knew better than to come back knowing he would not be able to give it his all. It’s really a noble thing he is doing because the money he will not be paid now will help the front office get a player or two that will help this club as they try to get back to the World Series next season.

Cuddyer is an example of what the grind of baseball can do to a player over the course of a career. So let’s not think for a minute that baseball is a sport that doesn’t require an athlete to be tough. It also requires skill, dedication, and perseverance. We assume many players have had long careers because we tend to focus on the stars of the game. But in most cases, it’s rare that a player makes it to 15 years in the big leagues. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Good luck in the future Michael and enjoy your retirement.

 

Predicting the Past

Here are some predictions that were made for the Mets prior to the season beginning.

From Bill Price, New York Daily News:

“The Mets will make the playoffs. I have been on the other side of this all winter, and when things look too good for the Mets, I usually look at that as a sign something is about to go bad. But this year will be different. The Mets will make the playoffs due to a few factors: 1. Matt Harvey says they will make it. 2. They play in a division with one great team (that is severely banged up), one up-and-coming team and two of the worst teams in baseball. 3. They have depth in the starting rotation and a lineup that should be good enough to win some games. 4. You are taking a 79-win team and adding an actual left fielder, a No. 1 ace, a healthy David Wright and a full season from Jacob deGrom. The division may actually be in reach, but a wild-card spot is there for the taking.”

Well not bad. Bill was correct, the division was in reach and the Mets took it and then some. He was wrong about a healthy David Wright though but in fairness, no one saw that coming.

Here’s one from Athlon Sports and Life website.

“Teams often follow years of losing with a transition year in which they contend for a while but ultimately fall short, absorbing the lessons of a pennant race and applying them the next season. This could easily happen for the Mets in 2015, and if so, it would ultimately be an improvement over the last few years. But their goals are higher than that, and they should be. This team features a playoff-caliber rotation, and the offense showed real signs of life last season. The Mets will be a legitimate factor in the chase for a spot in the postseason.”

Not too committal but they were correct in that the Mets should have contended.

ESPN’s voting by committee said…

“The Washington Nationals led the way as our pick to win the World Series, receiving 42 percent (37 of the 88 votes) of the vote from our panel of experts. The Los Angeles Dodgers came in second, getting 19 percent (17 votes) of the vote… In the National League East, the Nationals were the overwhelming winners (85 votes) followed by the Miami Marlins (2) and New York Mets (1).”

Hey, I’d like to know who the one guy that voted for the Mets was. Give him a promotion. What I love about this one is the Mets took care of both of ESPN’s darling picks, Nationals and the Dodgers.

The Sporting News in conclusion of their prediction:

“The Mets will sweep the Braves at home in late September to edge within two games of the wild card, and will have to like their chances as they hit the road to woebegone Cincinnati and Philadelphia before wrapping up the season at home with the already-clinched Nationals. Their winning record will be assured, but the Mets will go 2-4 against inferior competition on that last road trip, rendering the final games of the season meaningless. It will be a good season for a team that has been downtrodden for so long, but an unsatisfying finish.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Mets didn’t sweep the Braves. In fact they lost the series winning only the first game. Not sure how the Mets could go 2-4 on their last road trip since it was a seven game road trip but they did go 4-3 sweeping the Reds in a four game set, clinching the NL East in the third game. The Sporting news was correct however that the final home stand of the season against the Nationals would be meaningless and that there would be an unsatisfying ending. Just not in the way they thought.

BleacherReport.com predicted the Mets to finish 82-80, 18 games back of the division champion Nationals. Hey, back then I might have felt okay about that. Sports Illustrated also predicted the Mets to win 82 games in 2015 and to finish in third place. I guess that was a safe bet. But here’s an interesting note that SI added:

“He (Daniel Murphy) doesn’t get mentioned enough as one of the better second basemen in the National League, but he should. He’s never going to win a Gold Glove, but the guy just hits. I agree with Kevin Long, who said that Murphy could win a batting title someday. He took his hitting to another level last year.”

Well Murph’s performance in the NLDS and the NLCS lived up to the praise that SI poured upon Murphy, that’s for sure. But it’s doubtful the Mets think of Murphy as highly as SI does when it comes to the future at second base or even on the Mets.

It’s fun to look back to see what the writers thought. And this coming spring it will be just as interesting when they make much bolder predictions of fortunes for the Mets. If you look back at all the twists and turns the Mets season took, it’s a wonder that anyone really comes close. And this article at Sportnaut.com kind of sums up why it is so ridiculous to make predictions as to who is going to win and who is not.

 

 

 

Light Up the Stove

The Mets only have 60 million guaranteed on the books for 2016 but including the players under their control that they will have to pays, the number is more like 90 million. How the Mets will be constructed next year will first depend on their own players that have now become free agents.

Here is a list of the National League Champion Mets that filed for free agency on Monday.

  • Yoenis Cespedes OF
  • Bartolo Colon RHP
  • Juan Uribe 3B, 2B
  • Tyler Clippard RHP
  • Daniel Murphy 2B (3B, 1B)
  • Bobby Parnell RHP
  • Jerry Blevins RHP
  • Kelly Johnson 2B, 3B

It is very possible that none of them come back.

Yoenis Cespedes – I think we have seen enough of what Yoenis Cespedes has to offer. When NL pitching wasn’t quite sure what to make of him, Cespedes tore up the league helping to propel the Mets to the NL East title. There is no question he brought much to a meager lineup. But once he was figured out, his offense went cold. He swings for the fences with every pitch, not able to lay off the high fastball that he is unable to hit. He appears to have difficulty adjusting to pitches elevated in the strike zone. Stay out of his wheel house, low and in, and you pretty much control his game. In the NLCS he hit a home run in Los Angeles and bomb of a home run against the Dodgers at Citi Field but not much else. During the post season, his bat was really absent especially in the World Series. Cespedes is going to want a ton of money and I can’t see this player development centric front office giving a huge dollar and long contract to him. Frankly I agree. This would be a bad signing.

Bartolo Colon – There is probably no room for Bartolo Colon on this pitching staff, or is there?

It’s dangerous to assume that Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz will have no issues through an entire campaign. Both Harvey and deGrom will be coming off of seasons that had them throw more innings than ever before. Harvey did it in the first year back after Tommy John surgery.  Zach Wheeler is expected back mid-season but realistically it will not be clear on how much he can be counted on. Colon offers some protection in the rotation and in the bullpen as he proved in the post season. He’s a fan favorite and clearly appeared to enjoy his time in New York. He’ll be 43 years old next May so it’s unlikely anyone will offer him a multi-year deal. Would the Mets be willing to offer a one year deal with an option? I would.

Juan Uribe is another player like Colon. He’s great in the clubhouse, and very serviceable at the plate and in the field. The Mets are going to need a guy like this, especially to fill in for Wright when he needs a blow. I would offer Uribe a year but no more because there will be other players out there that can do the same thing. He just seems like a good fit.

Jerry Blevins – Unfortunately the Mets traded outfielder Matt den Decker to the Washington Nationals prior to the season for right handed pitcher Jerry Blevins. The right hander was very effective early on but suffered a broken forearm off of a line drive and never returned. If he signs elsewhere, den Decker was traded for nothing. Blevins, if healthy could be a nice piece for the 2016 pen if he can return to form. He only made 2.4 million in 2015 and might not cost much more to keep him around. With his limited playing time in ’15, can’t see too many clubs fighting over Blevins. I would offer him a one year deal. He has something to prove and might feel motivated seeing what happened in Flushing this past season.

Tyler Clippard – He is gone, you can be sure. However, I don’t think he was managed quite well. Terry Collins could not seem to shake the idea that Clippard had to be the eighth inning guy. Clippard’s tendency to allow base runners on during the World Series, especially via the walk, certainly was one of the many things that went wrong. Plus when he screwed up, Collins would bring in Familia early to clean up, messing up his usual routine as well. Clippard could be effective again but I think it’s unlikely the way Collins manages the bullpen and since Terry is returning, I doubt Clippard will be.

What to do about Daniel Murphy?

Update 11/6/2015 – The Mets made Murphy a one year qualifying offer assuring the club of a sandwich pick in the June 2016 amateur draft.

Original Post – Look if money were not part of this equation, I would say keep him as a super-sub, fill in for David at third, pinch-hit, and play DH during interleague games kind of guy. There is no question of Murph’s value as a hitter even without his Herculean performance in the NLDS and NLCS. But the problem with Murphy is his defense. He’s just not a second baseman. For the sake of this young, fine starting pitching staff, the Mets must play better defense up the middle. It’s true that Murphy sometime makes spectacular plays but they are generally offset by blundering miscues.  The word on the street is the Mets will offer Murphy a qualifying offer of 15 million so they can receive a sandwich pick in next June’s amateur free agent draft. But the Mets might be afraid that Murphy just might take it.

Bobby Parnell – is an interesting case. He likely needs more time as he struggled through much of the season after coming back from having Tommy John surgery. But with all the young arms in the organization, I can’t see the Mets bringing him back unless it’s on a minor league contract. It might just be better for Parnell if he gave himself another shot with a different organization. Some new scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.

Kelly Johnson – I like Kelly Johnson off the bench. He’s got some home run pop and is adequate defensively and clearly a positive influence in the clubhouse. I would not mind seeing him back but there will likely be competitive offers out there for the veteran and the Mets will not over spend for Johnson’s services.

In addition to these free agents, the Mets will have eleven players eligible for arbitration. The more prominent ones include Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, and Addison Reed. It’s going to be a nice payday for Harvey and especially Familia who had a break out season. Certainly Duda and Tejada will get nominal raises.

Other arbitration eligible players are Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin who will be coming back from TJ surgery, Eric Young, Buddy Carlyle, Anthony Recker, and Jenrry Mejia who will still be serving a suspension. Out of this group I could see the Mets holding on to Torres and Edgin, and perhaps catcher Recker for defensive purposes. The Mets will likely cut ties with the rest.

Back next year, unless traded over the off season, will be David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, Jonathan Niese, and Juan Lagares. All have guaranteed contracts. Under control, pre arbitration players include Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Wilmer  Flores, Eric Campbell, Rafael Montero, Erik Goeddel, Dilson Herrera, Dario Alvarez, Johnny Monell, Sean Gilmartin, and Wilfredo Tovar.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, arbitration eligible Mets will cost around 43.2 million for 2016. Other players under control will likely cost the Mets around 6 million. Add it all up and the Mets will already have a payroll of roughly 109 million dollars. One would assume that coming off of a National League championship season that saw Citi Field attendance and TV revenues rise that the Mets are poised to raise that payroll if the right players can be found through free agencies and trades.

We have waited for a long time for the Mets to get to the place they are now. They have a core of fine young players but will most certainly need a boost from the outside of the organization in terms of bullpen and offensive help. It should be a very interesting hot stove.

The Plays That Made All the Difference

Of the five World Series the Mets have been in over the past forty-six years, the 2015 Series was the worst.

Of course I am referring to how the Mets played. To me, it seemed clear the Mets pressed the entire time, and defensively they were simply atrocious. With crisper play, the Mets could have led the series three games to one heading into last night’s game, even with scoring so few runs except for in Game Three.

Here are the plays that if had been made, the Mets might have won their third world championship instead of losing.

The first miscue was on the very first pitch of Game One. Yoenis Cespedes should have made the catch that turned into an inside the park home run. And after watching the replay several times, I am convinced Cespedes was attempting a nonchalant if not a hotdog backhand catch. I give Michael Conforto credit for taking the blame protecting his teammate but that ball simply had to be caught, plain and simple. And clearly Juan Lagares would have made the catch.

Now of course, if Cespedes does make the catch, we have no assuredness that the game continues the same path. However, the homerun given up by Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the ninth would have made the score 4-3 instead of 4-4. The Mets should have and could have won Game One.

Game Two goes to the Royals. They beat the Mets in all facets of the game by a score of 7-1. So the Mets returned home 0-2 instead of 1-1. That was a huge difference regardless of the Mets heading home to play in front of their home crowd at Citi Field.

The Mets best game clearly was Game 3 when they defeated Kansas City handedly by a 9-3 score.  Noah Syndergaard turned in the Mets’ best pitching performance up to that point. David Wright had his signature World Series moment driving in four runs including a first inning bomb into the left field stands. Game three had all the earmarks of the August through September Mets. Unfortunately the first two and the final two games were much more reminiscent of the May through July Mets.

For much of game four, it looked like the Mets were going to tie the series. Steven Matz did a great job considering his age and inexperience. But the Mets were again incapable of tacking on runs and the two walks by Tyler Clippard and the error made by Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning broke the Mets back and gave Familia an undeserved blown save. If Murph makes the play, there are two outs with runners on second and third. Certainly Familia would have had a good chance of getting out of the inning. Instead the roof collapsed with Familia giving up two more runs with the Royals taking a 5-3 lead. Instead of the series tied 2-2 the Mets were in a big hole trailing three games to one.

In game five, Matt Harvey pitched the game of his life pitching through eight innings protecting a 2-0 lead. Then confusion set in. Terry Collins wanted to remove him for the ninth but Harvey insisted he stay in. The pitcher won the battle in the dugout then walked Lorenzo Cain, the first batter he faced. Collins elected not to remove Harvey which certainly could be questioned. After Cain stole second, Eric Hosmer’s double over Michael Conforto’s head made it a 2-1 game and knocked out Harvey. Familia came into the game in another difficult situation. Jeurys got a ground out that moved Hosmer to third. A ground ball to third caused ultimate confusion. Wright should have run to third. The ball was headed right for Wilmer Flores at short. Wright cut it off and threw to first for the out but with no one covering third, Hosmer broke from home and Duda’s wild throw allowed Hosmer to score the tying run. If Wright covered third and kept Hosmer close, the run doesn’t score. If Duda makes an accurate throw to home, Hosmer would have been out, the Mets win and it’s off to Game Six.

Once Game Five was tied, every Mets fan at Citi Field and all watching on TV knew the inevitable. It would only be a matter of time for the Royals to pounce on a lesser bullpen while Mets hitters tried to hit one out to win because at some point during the offseason, the Mets offense became incapable of rallying for a run.

It was a tough way for the series to end but it was fitting considering how the five games went. Murphy made another error in the twelfth drawing boos from the Mets faithful. That error led to more runs being scored after the Royals had already taken the lead off of an ineffective Addison Reed. Clearly the magic Murph enjoyed in the first two rounds left him In the Series.

Today it stings, not because they lost but how they lost. This was a team that played so well during the LDS and the LCS. It was as if the intensity level got turned down and the Mets simply felt good about being there. I’m sure that’s not true but that’s what it looked like.

I will feel better in a few days when I look back on this season. But for now, the way the Mets played in three of the five games is pretty tough to swallow.

 

It’s A Long Uphill Climb Now

The Mets now trail the 2015 World Series three games to one.

It’s rare that a team comes back and wins three in a row to win a World Series. Ironically, the last time it happened during the Fall Classic was in 1985 when the Royals won games five, six, and seven against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, the Royals were home for games 6 and 7. The Mets must win Game 5 Sunday evening at Citi Field’s last game of 2015. Then they must sweep two at Kaufmann Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday evening. That may very well be an insurmountable task.

The Mets must pin there hopes on Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Three pitchers who have never thrown the amount of innings like this in their career. Plus these will be very pressure packed innings. And Yoenis Cespedes must wake up from his month and a half long slumber. I have seen enough of the slugger now to really wonder if it will be in the Mets best interest moving forward to sign this guy. Maybe we are seeing why he has been on four teams in two years.

We will have lots of time to discuss these issues during the off season. But for now, the Mets have at least one game left. And btw, tomorrow evening will be the first time the Mets ever played a game in November. Including spring training, baseball is now a ten month sport.

The History of World Series First Games at NY Ballparks

Tonight’s Game 3 of the 2015 World Series will mark the first World Series game in Citi Field’s history. There have been 567 regular season games played at the ballpark that honors Ebbet’s Field since it opened. And with the Mets reaching the post season, they have already played four playoff games at Citi Field. The Mets are 3-1 in the post season at home having split two with the Dodgers in the League Division series and winning both home games in the League Championship series against the Cubs.

How long did it take for teams to play a World Series game in other New York ballparks over the years?

Here’s a recap of World Series firsts in New York…

The oldest ballpark in New York was the Polo Grounds. The original ballpark was located at the northern tip of Central Park and not in the location most think of when harking back to the glory days of the New York Giants or the first two seasons when the expansion Mets played there. In fact, there were three different versions of the Polo Grounds before the fourth iteration made of concrete was opened at Coogan’s Bluff in 1911. In its first year of operation, the Giants won the pennant but lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in six games.

The very first World Series game was played at the Polo Grounds on October 14, 1911 with the Giants defeating the A’s by a score of 2-1. Christie Mathewson pitched a complete game giving up the one run on six hits. Oddly, each game alternated between Philadelphia and New York instead of the 2-3-2 schedule used today.

Two years after the “modern” Polo Grounds opened, another ballpark made its debut in the borough of Brooklyn.  That of course would be the famed Ebbets Field named after the Brooklyn franchise owner Charles Ebbets.

Ebbets Field was home of the beloved Dodgers who would play there until the conclusion of the 1957 season before the team moved to Los Angeles. But in 1913, the Dodgers had been known as the Superbas then the Robins the following season. In 1916, Ebbets Field hosted its very first World Series game on October 10 with the Robins defeating the Red Sox in game 3 by a score of 4-3.

The win was the first of the series for Brooklyn who lost the first two at Fenway Park.  Brooklyn went on to lose the series in five games. Oh, the Robins officially took on the name of Dodgers in 1932. But for years they were affectionately known by their faithful as the Trolley Dodgers because fans had to dodge the many trolleys on Brooklyn streets to get to the ballpark.

The New York Yankees shared the Polo Grounds with the Giants. But when the Yanks got really good, Giants ownership evicted them. In 1923, the Yanks moved across the East River into their new ballpark in the Bronx, the likes of which no one had ever scene. In fact, it was the first baseball facility whose name included the word Stadium as opposed to Park or Field. Yankee Stadium was a three tiered structure, the largest ballpark built at that time.

It did not take the Yankees long to have a World Series played at their new home. It happened in their first year in the Bronx as they defeated the Giants in six games. The very first game at Yankee Stadium was Game 1 on October 10, 1923. The Giants defeated the Yankees that day 5-4, scoring the deciding run in the top of the ninth inning. And like earlier World Series, each game alternated between the two New York clubs’ ballparks.

It would be another 41 years before a new ballpark would go up in New York. After the exodus of the Dodgers and Giants to the west coast in 1958, the city began to search for a new team. When the National League agreed to expand to ten teams in 1962, they awarded New York a franchise. The Mets would need a place to play. So it was rather ironic that the Mets would open Shea Stadium in 1964 on the exact location the city wanted to build the Dodgers a new home in the 1950s. It would be in Shea’s sixth year of operation before the World Series would arrive.

On October 14, 1969, the Mets and Baltimore Orioles played the first World Series game in Shea Stadium’s history. With the teams even at a game apiece, the Mets, led by pitcher Gary Gentry, shut out the Orioles 5-0. That game saw two of the greatest catches ever in a World Series, both by center fielder Tommy Agee. The Mets would win the next two days at Shea to secure their first World Series victory in only their eighth season of play. That was a record at the time for an expansion franchise.

In 1974 and 1975, the Yankees made their home at Shea while Yankee Stadium was gutted and rebuilt. The Stadium reopened in 1976 to mixed reviews. Gone were the columns that obstructed many seats but so was the famous frieze that rung the outfield roof.  A facsimile of the frieze was put in the outfield above the new electronic scoreboard over the bleachers.  While the outside façade remained intact for all practical purposes, Yankee Stadium was a brand new ballpark.

And like the original that opened in 1923, the Yankees got to play a World Series the first year the new version was opened. Trailing two games to none to the Cincinnati Reds, the renovated Stadium hosted its first World Series matchup on October 19, 1976. The Reds defeated the Yanks that evening 6-2 on their way to a four game sweep.

The rebuilt Yankee Stadium would last 32 more years and so would Shea Stadium. In 2006, the city began construction on two brand new ballparks, a new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, right next to the older facilities respectively. Both ballparks opened in 2009 and for a third time in their history, the Yankees would reopen Yankee Stadium with a World Series appearance.

On Wednesday, October 28th, 2009, the Yankees hosted the Philadelphia Phillies for game one of the World Series. The defending world champion Phillies won the opener by a score of 6-1. But the Yanks would prevail winning the Series in six games.

The Mets in Citi Field were not as fortunate as the Yankees. The Amazins and their fans suffered through six losing seasons before tonight’s World Series debut at the new ballpark in Queens. So on this evening of October 30, 2015, a night before Halloween, the New York Mets will host the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series. And while it will be an exciting (and expensive) evening for the loyal fan base wearing orange and blue, the Metsies have their work cut out for themselves, trailing the Royals two games to none.

Game time is at 8:07PM with Noah Syndergaard on the hill for the Mets. Tickets are still available, starting at over 600 dollars for standing room. The Mets need at least a win to insure that all three home games are played. Two wins gets the Mets a plane ticket back to Kansas City.

Keep the faith and Let’s Go Mets!

 

Slim Hopes but a Bright Future

It is rare that a team loses the first two games of a seven game series then wins four out of the next five to win. The last time it happened was in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox lost the first three then took four in a row from the New York Yankees during the 2004 ALCS. Before that, the Yankees won the World Series in 1996 losing the first two in Atlanta then winning four in a row. Before that was the 1986 Mets who lost the first two games of the World Series at Shea Stadium then won four out of five.  In 1985, in the two LCSs and the World Series, all three winning teams lost the first two then won. But you can see that this is a rare thing to happen. Since 1985, winning after losing the first two has occurred only six times. That’s six out of 87 best of seven series since ’85. If we do the math, it means the New York Mets, now down two games to zero, have a 6.9 percent chance of winning the 2015 World Series.

When you look at the performance of both clubs in the first two games, it seems evident to me that the Mets odds are even lower. The Royals hitters have neutralized the first two starters, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. For once good hitting has stopped good pitching. The Mets woes may also stem from the pitching staff working on fumes and an approach at the plate diametrically opposed to that of the Royals. The Mets seem to swing for the fences or swing and miss while the Royals single the opposition to death.  Kansas City hitters just don’t miss the baseball.

Of course the Mets host the next three (if it goes that far) at Citi Field and that’s a good thing. They will at least have the benefit of 45,000 supportive fans making a thunderous racket. Hopefully it will help the Mets get motivated to at least make a series out of this thing. But we are asking two rookie pitchers, with loads of talent, to steer the ship away from the iceberg ahead. That’s a tall order for both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, regardless of their great ability.

So what if bad things happens and the Mets lose? Is it the end of the world? Does it mean this wonderful season was a total waste of time? Do we hide our Mets ski caps for the winter and bow our heads in shame? To listen to some of the talking knuckleheads in the sports media, you would think so.

This is what I so despise about sports these days. At some point in sports during the last several decades, disappointment has been replaced with anger and vitriol. I have said many times, if the only pleasure one can gain from baseball (or any sport) is for their team to win it all, they will be a very, very disappointed person. I would not even bother to follow a team if that were really the case. What the Mets have accomplished this season is simply remarkable. And the good news is that this season was not a miracle or an aberration. This season was not about an Ed Charles at third base in his last hoorah or shoe polish on a baseball or black cats in front of the opposing dugout. This Mets team is made up from a young core that will be competing and wearing the orange and blue for a long time. Like the Royals, this group of Mets will get another shot at winning it all, perhaps several shots.

I thoroughly expect the Mets to be a contender next year, the year after that and the year after that. In fact I now expect the Mets to contend every season because the pieces are in place to sustain success for many years ahead. This is not to say that there will be no moves to be made. Clearly there will be. Some will come from within while other moves will occur through trades or free agents. There is a bright future ahead and I have the utmost confidence that the front office has the Mets positioned for success moving forward.

So while I still hold out hope that the Mets can get back into this thing, I am content with what this team has accomplished this season. This has truly been one of the ten best seasons the Mets have ever had regardless of how the World Series will wind up. And folks, there is no shame or disgrace in losing the World Series.  There are fan bases of twenty-eight other major league baseball teams who wish their favorite team was down two games to none in the World Series.