Games

The New York Mets Can Take Over This Town

Nuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sThere is a plethora of bold talk coming from the New York Mets these days and sports in this town needs it. Aside from the fact that the NY Rangers and NY Islanders seemed to have revived an old rivalry this year, NY Sports has been as unexciting as I can ever remember it being.

Even the New York Yankees who seem to always get the headlines are having trouble appearing in our line of vision unless we are reading a handwritten apology or perhaps retiring every uniform number in their history. And then there are the New York Mets who have been down for so long that twitter followers have developed an art form criticizing them for everything from snowy weather to original sin.

But make no mistake--The New York Mets are the best chance New York has right now of reclaiming the national sports spotlight. That's right I said the Mets. Why? Pitching, Pitching, Pitching combined with the fact that 2 Wild Card teams gain entrance into the MLB's 2015 post-season party makes them a team that could win the hearts of New Yorkers in a time where NY sports fans have plenty of room in their hearts to adopt a team.

In the past weeks, the Mets have not run from the fact they have a chance to win NY. In fact they have boldly spoken that this is their time. Young pitchers like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler along with a bullpen that brings out hard throwers by the handful with no fear and a winning attitude have been very clear with their message to Met fans that meaningful games in September are not enough for them--they want games in mid to late October.

Even though I believe pitching is 75% of this game, you have to have offense too and the team did add Michael Cuddyer who along with Lucas Duda, a healthy David Wright, and a Curtis Granderson who is hell bent on being the old Curtis Granderson form the middle of the lineup. Daniel Murphy, Travis d'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares round out a lineup that will never be confused with the '27 Yankees. But I will say this--it is better than it has been in the last 4 years.

You can debate the Mets should have done more or spent more but this team as presently constituted is a playoff caliber team. I can't say that about the team in the Bronx and we all know in this town if Met fans get a small taste of success they will hop on the bandwagon.

A bandwagon that currently only has the Rangers and Islanders on it and a vehicle that always has room for baseball fans. It is a great opportunity for a franchise that has sit in the shadows of the Yankees for quite a few years. If you don't think it could happen, you don't know NY baseball history. Twice in my life (late 60's to early 70's and 84-90) the Mets owned this town and that team that plays in the Bronx played second fiddle.

They had personalities that people gravitated to like Gooden, Seaver, Strawberry, Carter, and Hernandez. Matt Harvey fits that personality mold as he backs down from nobody and takes on everybody much in the way the Mets I just mentioned did. Think about this--those 80's Yankee teams had stars like Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Ricky Henderson, and Dave Righetti and nobody put them ahead of the guys who worked at Shea Stadium.

History in baseball repeats itself more than you think--Sandy Alderson's plans may have taken longer than he wanted them to but the time is now and the players inside that Met locker room know it. You can say the Mets need this or need that but recent baseball history has proven you could find offense to get to the playoffs but pitching is precious which was never better illustrated than in MLB's 2014 post-season.

It was also illustrated that division winners and wild card winners can flip report cards in a NY second. Ask the Dodgers about that one. Or more importantly ask the World Champion Giants or the pennant winning Kansas City Royals.


What Can Mets Expect From Jason Bay?

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For Jason Bay, 2010 was a year he'd like to forget.  In fact after crashing into the wall at Dodger Stadium and suffering post-concussion syndrome, he might have been forced to forget alot of it.  It was not supposed to be that way for Bay who signed a multi-year contract with the Mets amid speculation he really did not want to sign here.  That was a notion Bay later refuted but the sense was there the Mets were not his first choice.  And talking to Bay in spring training last year, he really felt there was talent on the Mets and thought the team could surprise.

And the team did surprise in the season's first half topping out at 11 games over .500 at one point before the second half meltdown after the All Star break.  But Bay never seemed to get untracked offensively while ironically proving to be a much better defensive player than advertised.  You also got the sense Bay got a little spooked by the dimensions of CitiField as his power numbers were not up to snuff.  He was starting to feel better at the plate by mid-season but then that fateful day in Los Angeles ended his season prematurely.

Bay spoke to me at the end of last season and expressed regret that he got to play so little alongside Carlos Beltran.  "We were like ships passing in the night this year-just when he got back I got hurt and so I do not think we ever got a chance to get things going.  I still feel in 2011 with myself, Beltran, and Pagan we have a real good trio of outfielders."

If the truth be told, there may not be a better trio in the league if they are all healthy and producing.  The back of Bay's baseball card indicates the Mets can expect big things from him in Year 2.  In fact, a middle of the lineup featuring Beltran, Wright, Bay and youngster Ike Davis could be pretty productive even in the spacious alleys of CitiField.

My thought is Bay will return to his 90-100 RBI efforts of seasons past and 2010 will just be a speed bump for him.  If that is the case, the Met offense could have a much different look than it did in 2010.

 

Tomorrow: Beltran and Reyes in Contract Years--Good Or Bad For The Mets?


Are The Wilpons Getting A Fair Shake From The Media?

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I know all about the media in this town as I have both been a New Yorker all my life and have covered the Mets for over 20 years but it must be said the hatchet job being done on the Wilpons is both unfair and misguided.  I can not say I am surprised but enough is enough already.

Is it so hard to understand that a lawyer in a lawsuit brought against the Wilpons would try to exert pressure by leaking details of the lawsuit in order to either extract a settlement or a much richer one?  Yet, until this morning no one in the media even entertained that notion.  I know very little about the legalties of this case but it would be hard for me to believe that the Wilpons would get a fair shake in court if those sealed documents were released on February 9.  They are high profile public figures and as such, it would be hard to try this case in court after it has been litigated in the "court of public opinion."

So, the question remains why would Wilpons offer to settle here?  Simply put, these stories are damaging their ability to do business because of all the negative publicity.  It stands to reason this has hurt their ability to pursue players, sell tickets, and even generate revenue for advertising both inside the stadium and on SNY.  I am sure they want this resolved for those reasons and a variety of others including the care and concern for families affected by this.

The offer to pursue minority ownership is to defray the cost settling these cases might have on the Mets ability to conduct business in the way a New York franchise should.  While we are on that topic, lets be clear that the Met payroll is still one of the highest in baseball and while you may quibble on how they spent it, make no mistake their payroll levels are more than enough to win.  This notion that the Wilpons do not invest in their team is pure nonsense fabricated by people who never let facts get in the way of a good story or have an ax to grind with either the Wilpons or the past general manager who was treated very unfairly in many corners of the media as well.

My sense is the Mets tactic of letting a new general manager advocating a wait and see approach once he can truly evaluate his players is a sound strategy.  And more to the point, it is a strategy that would have been employed whether the Madoff case wreaked its ugly head or not.  But if you hear the media tell it, the case has been tried and completed before we even have all of the facts.

I wrote in this blog just a few days ago that we should all take a wait and see approach whichever side of the fence we sit on and let the evidence guide you once it comes out.  You can not do that when info about the case is leaked to the media by a lawyer who has a hidden agenda and because of that, so much is being assumed before we know all the facts.

And that is just flat out wrong.