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October 6th, 2016 by Lou
The first team to make a mistake would be the team to lose the game. Unfortunately the first mistake was a pitch high in the strike zone from Jeurys Familia that Conner Gillaspie hit over the right field fence to give the Giants a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning. Madison Bumgarner was still in the game. You knew the game was over and it was. So was the Mets’ season.
The Blame Game:
Well if we want to go down this road, we certainly can although I am not a fan of doing so. Obviously the main culprit is Familia who had a dreadful outing. He looked to be overthrowing which he does on occasion. Then of course he made the big mistake pitch and immediately was given the moniker of someone who can’t get it done in the post season. Terry Collins made a great point in his postgame interview. He said “We don’t get here without him”. Him meaning Familia, here meaning the post season because Jeurys did save 51 games.
We could blame the offense and in particular Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets managed just four hits and never got a runner to third base. Cespedes, who might have played his last game with the Mets, went 0 for 4 as Bumgarner pitched him brilliantly. The problem with the offense was simple. They had to face Bumgarner—enough said.
We could blame Collins for not letting Noah Syndergaard go further. I think he should have let Noah, who was as brilliant if not as efficient as Bumgarner, at least start the eighth inning. But when Addison Reed and Familia have been so dependable are we really going to fault the manager? I think not.
Really it became apparent early on that the only way the Mets could win this game would be for them to wait out Bumgarner, in other words in extra innings. Once the Giants scored three in the 9th, the Mets were beat. There was no way they could come back in the bottom of the ninth and score three runs off of Bumgarner. In fact, there was no team in baseball that would have come back from that deficit and beat that monster on the hill for San Francisco.
Let’s clear up some things about Familia. First off it was not a save situation. I’m not saying that should make a difference but it often does. Secondly, his numbers in the post season aren’t great but they are a long way from being abysmal. In the post season that includes last year, he’s given up 5 runs on 5 hits and blew three saves. Realize that 3 of those runs were from last night. Let’s go back to last post season to see how Familia performed.
Familia got a four out save in game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers giving up no runs. He pitched the last inning of a blowout win at Citi Field in game 3 and gave up nothing. He pitched another inning in a game 4 loss and gave up no runs then he saved the biggest game of his career in game 5 sending the Mets to the NLCS. It was his second save of the post season. Then Familia had another 4 out save in game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs, and two more saves in game 2 and 3. Then finally he closed out game 4 in a non-save situation helping to complete the four game sweep to clinch the NL pennant. Up to the World Series, Familia saved 5 games in the post season and allowed no runs on 3 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks in 9.2 innings.
Things did change for Familia in the World Series. He blew the save in game 1, a game the Mets led 4-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth and ended up losing in extra innings. It was a tough loss that the Mets really never recovered from. Familia pitched a scoreless inning of a Mets 9-3 blowout in game 3 before blowing the save in game 4, allowing 2 unearned and 1 earned runs to score. In game 5, Familia gave up the tying run in the ninth inning but the run was charged to Matt Harvey. We don’t know what might have happened had Collins stuck to his guns and brought in Familia to start the ninth opposed to letting Harvey try to complete the game. Never the less it was Familia’s third blown save of the World Series and that’s a reputation maker, especially when it happens in the clincher.
So all in all, Familia’s record in the post season is 15.2 innings pitched with 5 saves and 3 blown saves. His ERA is 2.30 with 5 runs allowed, 4 runs earned, 3 walks and 10 strikeouts. Could Familia’s record be better, of course it could but it’s not horrible. And while we can complain about him contributing to a World Series loss and now a wildcard game loss, to Terry’s point—the Mets are not in the post season without him.
Here’s some more food for thought regarding the Mets closer. Remember a closer by the name of Mariano Rivera? I may be wrong but I think he will be a unanimous first ballot entrant into the Hall of Fame and deservedly so. Ask Yankee fans about Mariano’s ninth inning in game seven of the 2001 World Series in Arizona and the ninth inning of game four of the 2004 ALCS in Boston. Watch them throw up in their mouths a little bit. The point is closers blow games, even the great ones. There were a lot of reasons the Mets lost the wildcard game last night, not just Familia’s obvious poor performance.
It has been a full ten years since the Mets got to celebrate on home turf. The last time the Mets poured champagne at home was when they clinched the NL East division title on September 18, 2006 at Shea Stadium against the Marlins. Since then, the Cardinals celebrated at Shea (2006 NLCS), the Royals celebrated at Citi Field (2015 World Series), and now the Giants (last night’s wildcard winner). The home team Mets has been relegated to watching a party they were not invited to on their home field. However, the Mets did celebrate over the last two seasons at Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Often what goes around comes around.
With a lot of rest and healing now that the off season has begun, I have a feeling the Mets will get to the post season again and perhaps as soon as next year. The home field party for the home team will happen and it will happen relatively soon.
Today it stings but we will look back on the 2016 season and remember a team decimated by injuries to key players. We’ll remember players that did not perform up to their expectations. We will wonder how in the world Terry Collins did not get fired when the Mets fell to two games under .500 in August (a recent report suggest he almost was). But mostly we’ll remember a gallant try by players from the farm system and from other organizations that pulled it together and won 27 of their last 40 games to clinch the top wildcard spot.
A shout out to T.J. Rivera, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, James Loney, Rene Rivera, Fernando Salas, Jay Bruce (yes, Jay Bruce who had some big at-bats in Philadelphia), Josh Smoker, Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, Ty Kelly, Justin Ruggiano, and the welcome return of Jose Reyes. No one would have ever guessed that these players would be a part of this team let alone contribute to its success. And let’s not forget the regulars who managed to not go down that included Curtis Granderson, the aged wonder Bartolo Colon, Yoenis Cespedes, the undisputed ace of the staff Noah Syndergaard, and in my opinion, the Mets MVP Asdrubal Cabrera.
All you can hope at the beginning of the season is that your team makes it to the tournament in October. And that’s what the post season has become. The top third of teams in baseball get in, that’s 10 teams. They fight it out for a month based on seeded record and the last one standing gets the trophy. It really is a crapshoot that any team can win. And if I were the Cubs that blew the field away during the regular season, I would be very leery of having to face the Giants.
The cold winter in the northeast beckons. The Citi Field turf will be covered by snow soon enough as the front office toils and calculates the best bets moving forward. Winter will turn to spring and once again we will hear the cry of “Play Ball” from Port St. Lucie, Florida. It’s only a short five months away.
October 4th, 2016 by Lou
It is the ninth time in Mets history that they will go to the post season, the third time as a wildcard. It is the first time the Mets will be a wildcard in the era of the two wildcards and a one game elimination. Therefore, this season’s post season appearance could be the shortest in Mets’ history if they fail to defeat the San Francisco Giants tomorrow night at Citi Field.
To this point, the shortest post season the Mets ever had was in 1988 when they lost the NL League Division Series (LDS) to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. That was in the era prior to the wildcard and the League Division Series (LDS). In all other cases besides 1988, the Mets had always advanced past the first round. In 1969, 1973, and 1986, the Mets advanced to the World Series after winning the LCS. Then in 1999 and 2000 the Mets won the LDS and advanced to the LCS. In 2000, they went all the way to the World Series. In 2006, the Mets won the LDS and advanced to the LCS ultimately losing to the Cardinals in game seven. Last year the Mets made it to the World Series.
So in eight post season appearances, the Mets have enjoyed longevity, a minimum of seven games in 1988. Tomorrow night the Mets face the possibility of playing in one post season game then going home. And for me, considering this unlikely of seasons where so many were injured and lost for the duration, I won’t be terribly upset if the Mets do not advance. Of course I will be disappointed but I already consider this season a successful one for the Mets. For it demonstrated how strong the organization is that they could bring up so many prospects and continue to compete. The club has heart and a lot of it. When you consider the pitchers that should be back healthy next season, the Mets look to be have a bright future.
As much as Terry Collins can drive me crazy with his in-game moves and use of the bullpen, he has to get credit for keeping this ship on course. The Mets could have easily fallen apart back in August but they kept it together. Once they got the top of the order back in the lineup, the Mets took off on an improbable 27-13 run to end the season. They were five and half games back of the second wild card and made up six and a half games to host the NL Wildcard game—truly remarkable. If Terry Collins is not manager of the year then they should dispose of the award.
Facing Madison Bumgarner is not going to be a picnic tomorrow evening. And the Giants will have Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto on the roster to compensate for a bullpen that is not so good. Looking at those pitchers, it’s hard to think the Mets can prevail. But for some reason, my gut is telling me the Mets are going to win this game. Certainly I may be wrong and I’m not predicting the Mets will win. It’s just a feeling I have that they will. Every time this season when you think the Mets are done, they surprise and bounce back so why not in this game? But again, whether they do or not, for me, this has been an enjoyable season. The Mets will have nothing to be ashamed of if they come up short and do not progress past Wednesday. Considering what this team went through in 2016, it’s amazing they are in the post season. But I guess that is why they are called the Amazins.
I have railed a number of times about the Mets not making the post season in back to back seasons save once. So in fairness I have to acknowledge that they’ve done it again if even only for the second time. The real possibility exists that the Mets may actually be able to go to the post season for three consecutive seasons. But that’s a long way off. For now, it’s a one game season. If the Mets win it’s off to Chicago for a rematch with last year’s opponent in the NLCS. The Mets swept the Cubs in four straight, clinching their fifth National League pennant. If the Mets lose tomorrow, then it will be time to access what the club does moving forward into 2017.
Regardless of the outcome of the NL Wildcard game, it will be exciting and Citi Field will be one rocking ballpark for a few hours at least.
October 1st, 2016 by Lou
Update – The Mets took care of business this afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. Bartolo Colon pitched five innings and got the win as the Mets defeated the Phillies by a score of 5-3. The win clinches the top wild card spot regardless of what the Cardinals or Giants do this afternoon or tomorrow. It is the second time in franchise history that the Mets will go to the post season in back to back seasons. No tie breakers will be necessary. The National League wildcard game will be at Citi Field Wednesday night at 8PM. Terry Collins becomes the Mets’ third manager to take the Mets to the playoffs twice. Davey Johnson (1986, 1988) and Bobby Valentine (1999, 2000) were the other two skippers to do it.
Considering how this team was devastated with setbacks all season long, regardless of what happens in the one and done game on Wednesday- this Mets team has to be consider one of the best in franchise history. They are certainly the team with the most heart.
Original Post – By hook or crook, the Mets will play ball after Sunday. Now it could be a play-in game on Monday or even a play-in game on Monday and Tuesday. Or it might be the National League Wildcard game on Wednesday. But the fact is they did it. In spite of all the injuries, many that were season ending, and others that required extended stays on the disabled list, these New York Mets made a remarkable rebound since the end of August and are one win away, or one St. Louis loss away, to becoming the top wildcard.
I hope the Mets are not counting on the Giants and/or the Cardinals to give them any help. The Mets have the ultimate power in these final two games. Win just one and they control their destiny. With one win, they would host the wildcard game at Citi Field on Wednesday. They’ve come too far to have this come down to play-in game scenarios. The team seems focused and is ready to get this done. Okay so here are today’s scenarios.
Because all three teams, left with life in the NL wildcard race, won last evening, they are all separated by three games. The Mets on top, a game ahead of the Giants, two games ahead of the Cardinals. If the Mets win this afternoon, they would clinch the number one wildcard. If the Mets were to lose this afternoon, and both the Giants and Cardinals win, the worst scenario, then nothing would be clinched. In this case, the Giants and Mets would be tied for the wildcard with the Cardinals still a game behind. If the Cardinals and Mets lose and the Giants win, then the Cardinals would be eliminated with the two other teams tied. Both the Mets and Giants would be the wildcard winners but seeding will not be clear until after tomorrow’s games. If only the Cardinals win today, they would be tied with the Giants for the second wild card with the Mets still in the top position. This scenario would set up the possibility of a three way tie after Sunday’s games.
There is a lot of complication here. The Mets can eliminate all of this by winning this afternoon’s game. Bartolo Colon has the task of getting it done. I’m sure he’s excited about getting the opportunity to finish things up today. There is no more experienced pitcher on the Mets staff than Bartolo. He always remains calm regardless of the pressure. The Mets can feel it and I’m sure they are chomping at the bit to get on the field this afternoon. Let’s Go Mets!
September 29th, 2016 by Lou
Being a Mets fan all of my life, I have one question. How can the Mets actually blow this thing?
The good news is there is only one scenario for the Mets to completely lose out on baseball after Sunday. If the Mets lose the last three games in Philadelphia and both the Giants and Cardinals win their remaining four games, the Giants would win wildcard 1 with an 87-75 record. The Cardinals would be wildcard 2 with an 86-76 record. The Mets with a record of 85-77 would then go back to Citi Field and clean out their lockers. Again, that’s the only scenario where the Mets would be done for the season after Sunday.
Suppose the Mets manage to win one game this weekend?
If that were to happen, the Mets would finish the season with an 86-76 record. Not enough to win wild card 1 if the Giants and Cardinals win out. But it would tie them with St. Louis for wildcard 2 while the Giants would be wildcard 1. In this scenario, the Mets would play the Cardinals either in St. Louis or New York on Monday to determine wild card 2. The location would depend on the second tie breaker. The first tie breaker, head to head, both clubs are even with three victories each. The second tie breaker is their intra-divisional record. Currently the Cardinals are 38-34 within the NL Central while the Mets are 38-35 in the NL East. Both teams finish the season within their respective divisions. The winner would then head to AT&T Park for the NL wildcard game on Wednesday.
Hopefully the Mets will win the series in Philly, at least two games to one. This is the best scenario in the event that both San Francisco and St. Louis win their last four. If the Mets were to win two games, it would eliminate the Cardinals even if they won four in a row. The Giants would tie the Mets with both teams having an 87-75 record. However, the Mets would be declared the wildcard 1 winner because of the head to head tie breaker. The Mets won four of seven games against San Francisco during the regular season. The wildcard game would then be played next Wednesday, October 4, 8:00PM at Citi Field.
Of course all of these scenarios presume the Cardinals and Giants are not going to lose between now and Sunday. Both clubs are in action tonight while the Mets are idle. The Giants conclude their series with Colorado at home before the Dodgers go to San Francisco for the final series. The Dodgers still have incentive to win. At the moment, the Dodgers are the third seed and will play Washington in the first round. The Nats lead LA by two for home field advantage so you know the Dodgers will be trying their best. Plus there’s the Dodgers-Giants rivalry. There is nothing the Dodgers would like more than to knock the Giants out of the playoffs.
The Cardinals finish their four game set with Cincinnati this evening before the Pirates travel to Busch Stadium. The Bucs have been eliminated so they have nothing to play for. But because the Cardinals do and Pittsburgh is a division rival, I would hope the Pirates try hard to be a spoiler.
As for the Mets, well they go to Philadelphia to play a team that has been awful over the last week. The Mets had that dramatic come from behind win on Asdrubal Cabrera’s walk off three run homer a week ago. Then beat them 10-5 the next night before the Phillies almost blew a 10-0 lead on Saturday. The Mets destroyed the Phils on Sunday 17-0. Now the Phillies have lost the first two to Atlanta in a three game set that concludes tonight.
Clearly the Mets are in control of their destiny and have to be odds on favorite to win a wildcard if not the top wildcard. But given the history of this club to blow things (1998, 2007, and 2008 come to mind), what Met fan can relax until the numbers truly indicate a post season berth?
The difference this season though is the roster. This group has really turned it up a notch since September began. In fact, September has been the Mets’ best month of the season with 16 wins with one more to play before the calendar roles over to October. Jay Bruce has started to hit now. Cabrera continues to rake and Jose Reyes has been more than anyone could have imagined. Where would this team have been without Reyes? Even Michael Conforto seems to have sanded the rust off and has contributed when given an opportunity. Also, what a gift for the Mets to get back Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares before the end of the regular season. Then there’s the pitching. Can you imagine what we would have said if we were told back on April 3 that the rotation heading into the final crucial series of the season would be Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman? Who? Yet these pitchers have performed brilliantly.
I’m fighting my instincts and am going to work hard to be positive. Regardless of the outcome, with all the injuries and lost players of this season, for the Mets to be at the precipice of the post season is truly remarkable. Let’s enjoy this.
September 28th, 2016 by Lou
Tonight’s game is an important one for the Mets.
The current NL wildcard standings:
The Mets are off tomorrow. If the Mets lose tonight they will be 84-75. That gives the Cardinals and Giants two opportunities to gain on the Mets because the Mets have an off day tomorrow. Both the Giants and Cardinals have games on Thursday. If they both win tonight and tomorrow, the Mets head into Friday night’s game in Philadelphia tied with St. Louis for the second wild card.
If the Mets win this evening, they would remain the number one wildcard even if both San Fran and St. Louis wins over the next two days.
Because of their better head to head record, the Mets would be the first wildcard even if tied with San Francisco. So anyway it shakes out, heading into Philly on Friday night, the Mets worst case scenario would be in a tie with St. Louis for the second wildcard. I honestly believe this thing is going to go right down to Sunday afternoon and even into Monday and perhaps Tuesday.
Exciting times ahead, we hope.
September 27th, 2016 by Lou
Perhaps it was the pressure of having to perform in such an emotional game last evening that cost Bartolo Colon early on. And to be honest, given the circumstance, the evening felt right that the Marlins, led by Dee Gordon, won the game.
Yes it was only a game but if it gave the slightest comfort to those mourning the loss of ace right hander Jose Fernandez, then it was right and just for the game to go the way that it did. I was not bothered by the loss and I’m sure most Mets fans were not either. In fact, it was moving to see the Mets players embrace their rivals and do what they could to comfort the Marlin players. The Marlins after the game surrounded the pitcher’s mound in what was one of the more moving tributes I have ever seen. The pennant race and everything associated with the game of baseball paled in comparison to what was happening in the center of the diamond. Everyone was touched and it gave all in attendance and watching on TV a moment of perspective.
So if I can be so bold as to get back to baseball, where do the Mets stand in the race for the wildcard?
The Mets have an 83-74 record after last night’s loss. Realistically a win total of 86 should capture one of the two wildcards. With five games left, the Mets will need to go 3-2 to achieve an 86-76 record. If the Mets are unable to do that, there is a very good chance they will sit out the post season and deservedly so.
The St. Louis Cardinals also lost last evening, a 15-2 drubbing by the Reds. For St. Louis to tie or beat an 86 win total, they will need to go 6-0 or 5-1 respectively with their six remaining games. Running the table would give the Cardinals an 87-75 record and likely the wildcard one title. A 5-1 record would land them at 86 wins and would also give them wildcard one since their intra-division record is better than the Mets. It is not inconceivable for St. Louis to do this considering their competition. The Reds are bad and the Pirates are virtually out of the race now, and the Cardinals are well… simply the Cardinals. They always seem to figure out how to win.
The Giants who were idle last night will need to go 5-1 or 4-2 over their last six games to get to 87 or 86 wins respectively. They are playing the Rockies at home then the Dodgers who are still striving for the best overall record for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Clearly the Mets are in the driver’s seat but that’s what scares me. Sorry but it brings up bad emotions from the end of 2007 when I kept hearing that all the Mets need to do… and guess what, they weren’t able to do anything and they ended up suffering the worst collapse in baseball history. Now no one is going to accuse the Mets of a major collapse this season, not with all they went through on the injury front and with Sandy Alderson having to rebuild the roster almost on a daily basis. But to get this close to the post season and not make it with a handful of games left would be difficult to swallow.
Tonight, the Mets will need to get back on track or they will face a tremendously pressure packed weekend in Philadelphia. The last thing the Mets will want is to have to depend on the Giants or Cardinals losing games.
Obviously we need to keep in my mind how our hopes of the Mets making the post season is dwarfed by the horrendous event over the weekend in the water near Miami. But we all move forward and so does baseball, exactly the way Jose would have wanted it.
September 26th, 2016 by Lou
We live and die with each game. How silly that seems right now.
It’s a game, baseball that is. It has rules. The rules were made up a long time ago. The teams play by the rules. It became a huge business surrounded by talent, a huge fan base, and inordinate sums of money. But make no mistake that it is a game.
The results of any baseball game, no matter how great or bad, never started a war, caused the stock market to crash, or created famine. All these games do is make us feel good or feel bad. It gives us a platform to scream to the moon or shed tears of joy. But ultimately the games fade away to memories and numbers in a record book. The games really don’t mean a hill of beans in the grand scheme of the cosmos.
Yesterday, anyone who’s a baseball fan, anyone who appreciates decent people who help others, anyone who finds it compelling that a very decent young man defected from a communist country, made it to American and became a citizen paused and realized that baseball is just a game.
Yesterday we learned the horrible news that twenty-four year old Jose Fernandez, the ace right handed pitcher of the Miami Marlins was killed in a boating accident. If that doesn’t make anyone realize how insignificant sports truly are, I don’t know what will. Sure, sports are an important part of the American fabric, especially baseball. But it comes from the toy store of life. It puts no food on the table for the fans of the game. And while I will continue to watch the Mets as they attempt to gain a wildcard spot, I will do so with some perspective.
If I could choose between the reality of what happened early Sunday morning or Jose Fernandez pitching a perfect game against the Mets tonight, I would gladly chose the latter. Unfortunately I can’t. None of us can. That’s how permanent the situation is. It’s a reminder that professional athletes are simply human who possess tremendous talent, talents we can only dream of having. But they are just as vulnerable and subject to illness and death as the rest of us.
A tragedy of yesterday’s proportion reminds us all of what is important in life. We need sports. We need baseball. But it is just a game and we all need to keep that in perspective.