Archive for the '2015 World Series' Category

The Baseball Gods and the New York Mets

Maybe it’s just the way it was meant to be, that the Mets will never be a perennial winner. The Mets were supposed to get back to the World Series this season after falling four games to one in last season’s fall classic. Like the Royals, their Series counterpart, the Mets were supposed to get back and win the whole thing this time. Alas the Mets sit in third place a game over .500 with realistically no shot at winning the division and a fading chance at making it as a wild card. But really, what did you expect?

It doesn’t matter the reasons. Sure the Mets have had a ton of injuries and it sure seems like every hard hit ball finds a glove. The pitching that was supposed to be so dominant hasn’t been. The hitting with runners in scoring position is the worst in baseball. But really I think there is far more going on here than meets the eye. Somewhere in the Cosmos the gods of baseball simply have decreed that the Mets will never be that team, that team like the other New York team. That team that wins constantly, that team that provides its fans with gratification year in and year out. Nope, it’s not in the cards for us, we Mets fans.

Just look at our history. From the beginning in 1962 we were loveable losers until the magical season of 1969, who could forget it unless you weren’t born yet. With a pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, and Nolan Ryan, how could that team not win the next two to three World Series that followed? Well they didn’t. After winning 100 games in ’69, the Mets immediately fell to mediocrity finishing in third place with an 83-79 record in 1970. The identical record followed in 1971 before the Mets got off to a fantastic start in 1972. But devastating injuries curtailed Mets hopes as they finished in third place yet again.

Then the Mets got somewhat lucky in that the entire eastern division floundered in 1973. It gave the Mets the opportunity to win an improbable division title on the last day of the season followed by an even more improbable win in the NLCS over the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati.  They fell a game short in the World Series but there were high hopes for the future. After all, the Mets still had a pitching staff featuring Seaver, Koosman, and Jon Matlack. How could there not be winning seasons to follow.

But of course there wasn’t as the Mets slid into their worst period in history. Mets management failed to embrace free agency, traded Tom Seaver, and neglected the fan base as attendance reached an all-time low. Shea Stadium became dilapidated and was known as Grant’s Tomb in honor of the nefarious M. Donald Grant, cheapskate chairman of the board. Meanwhile the Yankees stole New York’s baseball hearts by signing top free agents and winning two worlds series and participating in four over the next several years.

Under new management, the Mets rebounded in the 80s with seven consecutive contending seasons. But even with those powerhouse clubs, the Mets were still unable to reach the playoffs in back to back seasons. The critics agreed the roster the Mets fielded at that time should have won three World Series. Yet they won just one that required a miracle finish in game six. In fact the team of that era only made the post season one other time but failed to get out of the NLCS. However, the mid to late 1980s remain the Mets most successful period in Mets’ history.

After another draught, finally manager Bobby Valentine with the help of Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza got the Mets to the post season in back to back seasons as the wild card. That happened in 1999 and 2000, the latter culminating in a World Series loss to the mighty Yankees, still the kings of New York. What followed the success of ’00 was of course another several years of sub .500 play.

Under new general manager Omar Minaya, the Mets made another quick assent to the division title in 2006 but lost a heart breaking game seven in the NLCS to the Cardinals. Poised to repeat division titles in back to back seasons for the first time in 2007, the Mets suffer the worst collapse in baseball history with a seven game lead and just seventeen games to play. It took until last season to get back to the post season.

I have been patient with the regime of Sandy Alderson. I knew he was rebuilding the farm, stockpiling great pitching. That includes the pitchers here now as well as ones traded to get the offensive help the Mets so desperately needed to make their run. So after the Mets came so close to a world championship last season, with all that is in their history, how can we really be surprised that it looks like the team is headed into mediocrity yet once again?

Sure, there are lots of reasons as I indicated but never the less, here we are. While the Mets were supposed to have all the great prospects, it’s the Yankees who look more ready to contend with their call ups of Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Aaron Judge. Plus they will get Greg Byrd back next season. The Mets offensive prospects remain suspects. Is Michael Conforto the player he was last season during the playoff run or is he another broken promise based on his performance this season?  Brandon Nimmo was Sandy’s first round pick back in 2012. He looks to be a nice player but not like Judge looks to be for the Yanks. Travis d’Arnaud was supposed to be the Mets answer behind the plate for years to come. It appears that opportunity looks more and more tarnished. And front office favorite Keven Plawecki (“he can flat out hit”) remains an enigma at Las Vegas. We heard that Dilson Herrera was a star in the making at second base. Well if that’s true he will be staring in Cincinnati now that he was traded for Jay Bruce who has been very disappointing so far.

For whatever the reasons are, bad decisions, bad luck, or simply the galactic plan of the baseball gods, the Mets franchise simply has not been able to sustain success. If history is a guide then we know that the Mets are going to be in the post season roughly once a decade. If that’s true then we received our most recent allotment of post season play last year. Boy I can’t wait for the 2020s.

 

Minaya vs. Alderson

The Mets are the reigning National League Champions. 2015 marked the first time the Mets reached the World Series since 2000. Since then the Mets also played in the post season in 2006 but failed to make it to the World Series, losing game 7 of the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The general manager at that time was Omar Minaya. He was given the reigns of the Mets following the 2004 season. He stayed as the head of baseball operations until the fall of 2010. After Minaya was let go, Sandy Alderson was hired to right the ship.

I bring this up today because of some of the feedback I read from Mets fans unhappy with the 2015 offseason so far. The apparent expectation was that since the Mets came within a breath of winning a World Series, the front office would be more proactive in going out and signing some big time free agents. The Mets have made moves, some good moves, but have not made any blockbuster deals. Apparently only a team making huge signings is a serious contender. Or is it?

To a faction of Mets fans, even after winning the pennant, the only thing that will make them feel the Mets are legitimate is for Alderson to sign a big player or two to contracts for way too much money and way too many years. Let’s look back at the two most recent GMs and contrast their styles to determine if the current Mets are on the right track or not.

At the time Omar was hired, he said many things that made Mets fans feel warm and fuzzy. From the moment of his hiring, he talked of signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, the two biggest names on the market at that time. This was not your father’s Mets’ GM. This guy was a true breath of fresh air to Mets fans that long waited for a GM to talk big in a town dominated for years by the Yankees.

Minaya convinced Mets ownership to open up the checkbook. In the winter of 2004-2005, Minaya backed up his words and signed Beltran and Martinez. He also brought in less noteworthy but solid players in Ramon Castro, Chris Woodward, Miguel Cairo, and Marlon Anderson.  In 2005, the Mets contended for a while but ultimately finished only a couple of games above .500. It was however, the first winning season since 2001. There were a lot of good feelings heading into the winter.

During the offseason, the Mets traded with the Florida Marlins for Carlos Delgado. Also via trade, Minaya brought in outfielder Xavier Nady and also acquired catcher Paul LoDuca to replace future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. Omar signed free agent Billy Wagner to be the closer and side-arm righty Chad Bradford to be the setup man. Another free agent signing brought in outfield defensive wizard Endy Chavez. The 2006 Mets did not disappoint as they cruised to a division title, their first since 1988. In the post season, the Mets swept the Dodgers in the NLDS then took the NLCS to the seventh game before losing with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

By then, Mets fans were insatiable when it came to the spectacle of the off season transaction. The Amazin’s became the champions of winter with the many blockbuster signings and trades made during this era. After 2006, Mets fans were convinced the signing and trading for big time players was the way to go, regardless of the cost. There was little concern for home grown talent. Being so close to the World Series, we all wondered what Minaya would do to give us the championship in 2007.

Minaya brought in free agent Moises Alou. It was a gamble because Alou could still hit but his health was an issue. Heath Bell and Royce Ring, two useful Mets bullpen arms were traded to San Diego for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson. The Mets also singed Damion Easily who was with the Diamondbacks. Minaya let Bradford get away as he signed with the Orioles and Chris Woodward signed with the Braves. These were two players who could have helped the Mets in ’07, especially Bradford.  Minaya spent even more money signing Jorge Sosa, Scott Schoenweis, Aaron Seile, Robinson Cancel, Jesus Feliciano, Sandy Alomar Jr., Fernando Tatis, and pitcher Chan Ho Park.  With all these players signed, the Mets were positioned to repeat as division champions. If so, it would be the first time in Mets history to ever accomplish such a feat.

You know what happened. It all fell apart. The Mets did not have a great starting staff. The bullpen was taxed beyond belief. With a seven game lead in September with seventeen left to play, the Mets suffered one of the worst collapses in baseball history. At the time, the Mets had the third highest payroll in major league baseball, only behind the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Prior to 2008, Omar Minaya spent again, this time by trading Carlos Gomez and Phillip Humber for Cy Young award lefty Johan Santana then signing him to a new multi-year deal. Also in 2008, the Mets jumped into second place in payroll behind the Yanks. With a total of 137.8 million dollars, the Mets failed to make the playoffs on the last day of the season for the second consecutive season. Shea Stadium closed for good after that depressing game ended with Mets fans left wondering what it would take to get this team back to the playoffs.

Prior to the 2009 season, the first at Citi Field, money was again used to hopefully solve the Mets woes. Minaya signed free agent Francisco Rodriguez to be the new closer. He also signed Livan Hernandez to bolster the starting rotation and an aging Gary Sheffield to hopefully supply some punch in the batting order. In ‘09, the Mets still with the second highest payroll in baseball fell below .500 at 70-92, their first losing season (record wise) of Minaya’s tenure. Only the Washington Nationals had a worse record in the NL East as they quietly were working on building their farm system. Livan Hernandez was released by the end of August. Minaya also traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox. The Mets began to dump many players that simply did not work out. Needless to say, the Mets were in complete disarray.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So was it fair to say Minaya was insane when prior to 2010, he signed Jason Bay to a three year deal worth over 60 million dollars or even a year earlier when he resigned Oliver Perez to a three year 36 million dollar deal when no one else was making an offer. Neither ever panned out and the Mets continued to lose. The Mets payroll had dropped to 5th highest in the majors but still at 132.7 million, very high for a team that could not even play .500 ball.

2010 was Minaya’s last as Mets general manager. He was fired in October and eventually replaced with Sandy Alderson. Minaya, for a short time, brought back respectability to the Mets organization. He instantly turned them into a winning club, making one playoff appearance. But he could not recover from the collapses of ’07 and ’08, continually attempting to spend his way out of trouble.

Alderson was tasked with bringing the Mets back to respectability once again. But unlike Minaya’s propensity to spend money like a drunken sailor, Alderson would be methodical, rebuilding the organization from bottom to top. It was said that Alderson just shook his head when he saw the money the Mets owed to talent that was not very good. His goal was simple and stated from the outset. He would rebuild the farm system and spend little and as wisely as possible at the major league level attempting to lower the payroll to create more flexibility. He talked of making the Mets competitive but any smart fan could read between the lines. The Mets were going to suck for a few years while a new foundation to the organization would be built.

This is not what the fan base wanted to hear. You would think that after all the failed seasons that followed 2006, fans would be more patient and realize that Alderson’s approach is what the organization needed to get back to a contending level. But no, off-season after off-season, we continued to hear and read the complaints of a cheap organization only out to make money and not spend to make the team better.

Then came the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. That really threw a monkey wrench into the works. But in retrospect that mess could not have happened at a better time. In fact it may have actually aided Alderson in that it appeared that not spending was not his fault. However, I don’t think Alderson would have spent the money anyway unless it was on the draft and the future of the team. And in regard to the draft, while fans complained of not spending, it was Alderson who convinced ownership to spend above slot in the amateur draft to acquire the higher profile prospects.

Sandy’s plan was to rebuild the farm, have a manageable payroll for maximum flexibility, and make smart free agent signings and trades. It all paid off in 2015. The Mets young starting staff that had been given time to develop in a completely retooled system blossomed and performed at exceptional levels. With the help of mid-season deals (there’s that flexibility), the Mets pushed on and won the NL Pennant.

So here we are today, the end of 2015. The Mets lost the World Series. If you were able to go back in time to a year ago and tell fans what was in store for 2015, they all would have signed on the dotted line. However, now that the Mets have not signed a big star, we hear the same complaints about the cheap front office yet again.

We saw what Minaya’s approach accomplished. It was one trip to the post season followed by seasons of frustration. Alderson’s approach continued the frustration but all the while underneath the covers, he and his staff were building something sustainable. Now it would be unfair to coronate Alderson just yet. He like Minaya has taken the Mets to the post season only once. And like Minaya, has a shot at back to back division titles, an elusive goal in the history of this organization. So we will see if the smart but non-spectacular moves pan out as the Mets head into the 2016 season.

It would have been easy for Alderson to resign Yoenis Cespedes to quell the ire of the masses, even if he did struggle mightily in the post season. But the Mets front office continues to keep their wits about themselves and not give in to media and fan pressure. It strikes me odd that I will listen to someone like the Daily News’ John Harper who in one breath thinks Cespedes is not worth the money but in the next says the Mets should sign some big time player to appease the fans. Is that what it’s about, winning the winter?

Let’s not forget that Alderson did sign one big star player to a huge contract a couple of years ago. That would be David Wright and as much as we all love David, you can see by his recent struggles with health how risky these types of deals can be.

The big spenders last off-season was the San Diego Padres. How’d that work out? The Marlins were also the darlings of the media for the moves they made. They were awful too. The problem today is that baseball is a twelve month season with each team’s media fighting for stories. However, keep in mind no games of significance are played from November through March. I stopped caring about the offseason. I keep abreast of what is going on during the hot-stove but I no longer get anxious about it. We’ve seen far too many teams spending big only to not have a winning season. And we have seen teams like the Royals, the Giants, the Cardinals, and now the Mets, not make the spectacular move and do just fine.

The Mets are the NL Champs. That goes a long way for me giving Alderson the benefit of the doubt. Unlike Minaya’s teams, this one is filled with many young players loaded with potential. With the crop of talent on the major league roster and the many prospects in the lower levels, the Mets are poised to be a very good team for many years to come. I will continue to believe in Sandy’s plan until proven otherwise.

Note: I probably come across as a real Minaya basher here. Understand I really like Omar and as mentioned he gave the Mets instant cred when he took over. He’s sincere, loyal, and I would love to sit down with him and talk baseball. From all accounts, Omar is simply a downright nice guy. His fault was his inability to manage an entire baseball operation. He also did not have enough backbone to stand up to the front office or the media. Minaya’s best ability is of talent evaluator. It’s easy to give Alderson and his front office lots of credit for the Mets success last year. But realize many players that made it happen were brought in by Minaya. They include Daniel Murphy ‘06, Ruben Tejada ‘06, Lucus Duda ’07, Dillon Gee ’07, Jeurys Familia ’07, Wilmer Flores ’07, Jenrry Mejia ’07, Kirk Nieuwenhuis ’08, Hansel Robles ’08, Steven Matz ’09, R. A. Dickey ’09, who Alderson used to get Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud from Toronto,  Matt Harvey ’10, Josh Edgin ’10, Jacob deGrom ’10, Erik Goedell ’10, and Matt den Dekker who was traded to Washington to get Jerry Blevins. And let’s not forget Minaya’s biggest signing as GM, Carlos Beltran who became the greatest Mets centerfielder of all time. He was traded by the new regime to San Francisco for Zach Wheeler who will hopefully be back from elbow surgery this coming season.

No one organization can be built by one person’s vision. Minaya with all his faults as GM left the Mets with a fine corps of prospects, many of whom have panned out. But also give credit to Alderson’s regime for developing those players they inherited as well as drafting their own crop of talented young players.

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.

 

Okay, So How have the Mets Done in Game 2s?

It was a great game but also a game of missed opportunities. The first pitch of the game should have been caught. That’s one run. Eight innings later, Familia throws a flat fastball that doesn’t sink. That’s another run they’d like back. Wright’s throwing error—oy vey.

This game was so eerily similar to Game 1 against the Yankees fifteen years ago. Blowing a one run lead in the ninth then losing it in extras, this time 14 innings. Wow! Yes it was an intense and great game. It’s just that the good guys lost.

First pitch from Matt Harvey ends up being an inside the park home run. Really? This could only happen in a game where one of the teams is the Mets. Obviously it’s of much more consequence if the Mets lose the game 1-0 but still.

I had the thought I may drive up to Canada and watch the games from there. I like MLB’s international broadcast better than Fox. Don’t you love the way the second the commercial is over, the first pitch is being thrown? Maximize those advertisements folks.

All in all, the Mets played well considering a) their very first World Series game, b) in a hostile environment with a packed house, and c) Daniel Murphy not hitting a home run.

How about that Jon Niese and the way he pitched on his 29th birthday. Not quite sure why Terry took him out after two innings. Not that Colon did badly. He was great too. The way I see it, this game began to unravel in the eighth when once again Tyler Clippard could not have a clean inning. Who knows how the game might have gone had Clippard got through the eighth and Familia started fresh in the ninth. Well that’s baseball Susyn, who can predict it?

So the Mets are down 1-0. And you can’t say for sure that the Royals bullpen beat the Mets bullpen. If Wright doesn’t make the throwing error, well we don’t know what might have happened. The teams look very well matched and should prove to be a very exciting series. Of course if each game goes the way of Game 1, the Mets could lose a very exciting four game sweep.

Oh… I nearly forgot. So how have the Mets done in game 2s in their World Series history?

They are 2-2. Down 0-1 in 1969, Jerry Koosman pitched an absolute gem, a complete game 2-1 victory that evened the series before the Mets and Orioles moved over to Flushing. The Mets won Game 2 in 1973 in Oakland. With the game tied 6-6, the Mets scored 4 in the top of the ninth and ultimately defeated the A’s 10-7. The Mets lost Game 2 in 1986 and 2000. Against Boston, Dwight Gooden just did not have it in his World Series debut, giving up six runs on eight hits in five innings. We now know the likely reason why Gooden struggled. Such a shame what happened to Doc. So glad to see he’s finally straightened out his life. Still one of the greatest Mets of all time.

Anyway, the Sox clobbered the Mets 8-6 putting the Amazins in an 0-2 hole. Same thing fourteen years later when the Yanks won Game 2 6-5. It wasn’t as close as the score indicates but it was exciting when the Mets scored five runs in the top of the ninth when trailing 6-0 entering the inning. The Mets won in ’86 after being down 0-2 but lost in 2000.

Don’t cut your hair just yet Jacob deGrom. We need it for tonight.

Did anyone notice that when Yoenis Cespedes was introduced before the game, he was nowhere to be found? I thought that was odd.