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Cespedes Off To A Rough But No Need To Worry

We live in a what have you done for me lately world and one in which Twitter seems to try to manage the way people should evaluate the sport of baseball. Yoenis Cespedes is off to a rough start and heard displeasure from the fans on a cold night at CItiField .

After the game he took it in stride which is the proper way to handle it. There are some things he can get better at like laying off sliders in 2-0 and 3-1 counts. But Cespedes has proven he is a legitimate RBI machine and a player who can carry a team for weeks as shown last year. I have covered this team since 1984 and I have seen all of the great Met power bats booed by the fans. From Gary Carter to Darryl Strawberry to Mike Piazza to Carlos Beltran to  David Wright they have all heard it and not one of them let it affect them.

To me, Cespedes fits in the mold of those players and will be fine but what would New York Sports be without overreacting? This Met team has an offensive lineup that is pretty balanced and will put up runs. Early in the season, the edge goes to the pitchers and with cold weather like tonight, that edge only grows.

To forget what Yoenis Cespedes did for the Mets last year is mind boggling but it is the persona of The N Y Baseball Fan and that will never change.  He heard very little of it last year but playing a full season here, a chorus of boos will always occur sometime during the year. To do it 4 games into the season is a bit crazy but I assure you those jeers will change to cheers in short order.

The back of his baseball card is all I need to know that. This guy will put up 90-100 RBI's as long as he remains healthy and you can take that to the bank Met fans. You all desperately wanted him to return and rejoiced when he did. 4 games is much too small a sample size. But again I totally understand in a twitter world you are taught to follow the notion of being so negative you'd complain if you hit the lottery because NOW you have to pay taxes.

It is the world we live in but sometimes that world makes absolutely no sense to me. The baseball season is a marathon not a sprint and Yoenis Cespedes is a necessary resource if you are to win that marathon. This season, he will prove that hundreds of times.

 

 

 

 


Neil Walker

Today in Port St Lucie, I had the chance to talk with the new Met Second Basemen Neil Walker who I am sure Met fans are going to gravitate to immediately. This guy is a very good player who has the knack of hitting in the clutch. I watched him play the Mets while he was a Pittsburgh Pirate and he has a great run producing bat coupled with an outstanding knowledge of the game. Defensively, he will be an upgrade for the Mets and he is already fitting in well with this team.

 

 

In our conversation, we talked about:

  • How Clint Hurdle and Terry Collins are such similar managers.
  • He is so glad he no longer has to face Met Pitchers
  • He believes preparation is the key to success
  • Knows this Met clubhouse is a special group
  • Andrew McCutchen  and what he learned from him

Here is that conversation:

30816 Coutinho With Walker

 


A Conversation With The New Met Second Basemen

Neil WalkerToday in Port St Lucie, I had the chance to talk with the new Met Second Basemen Neil Walker who I am sure Met fans are going to gravitate to immediately. This guy is a very good player who has the knack of hitting in the clutch. I watched him play the Mets while he was a Pittsburgh Pirate and he has a great run producing bat coupled with an outstanding knowledge of the game. Defensively, he will be an upgrade for the Mets and he is already fitting in well with this team.

In our conversation, we talked about:

 

  • How Clint Hurdle and Terry Collins are such similar managers.
  • He is so glad he no longer has to face Met Pitchers
  • He believes preparation is the key to success
  • Knows this Met clubhouse is a special group
  • Andrew McCutchen  and what he learned from him

 

Here is that interview:

30816 Coutinho With Walker

 

 


A Conversation With Travis d'arnaud

Download (3)

Today I had a chance to chat with Mets Catcher Travis d'arnaud about a variety of topics including:

  • His admiration for Mike Piazza growing up
  • Greatness of Met Pitching Staff
  • How Familia transformed himself in one of sports best closers
  • The family-like atmosphere inside Mets Organization
  • Recalling his homer off the apple at CitiField in the 2015 post-season
  • How Hard he works on properly framing pitches

Here is that interview:

30816Coutinho With darnaud

 

 


A Conversation With Curtis Granderson

Download (2)Today In Port St Lucie I had a chance to talk with Mets rightfielder Curtis Granderson who chatted with me about a plethora of topics including the expectations we all have about the 2016 Mets. He also chatted about dealing with the NY media and the respect he has for David Wright. If fact, he compared David Wright as a captain to Yankees captain Derek Jeter saying both have very similar personalities. Here is that interview:

 

30716Coutinho With Granderson

 


We Will Never Forget Shannon Dalton Forde

The last few days here in Port St Lucie have felt very strange to me as I cover The Mets Spring Training Games. It is very hard to focus on my job. All I can do is think of Shannon Dalton Forde the Mets PR executive who passed away last week after a long and courageous bout with Stage 4 Breast Cancer.

I have known Shannon since 1994 and every season she made covering the Mets an absolute joy. But beyond that, she was a person that could make you feel good about yourself even if you were having an awful day. She did it with a smile or a joke and immediately made you feel better.

During the past few years as she battled this terrible disease, not one ounce of her personality changed. In fact, she was even more positive about everything. Her courage and determination is something I will never forget and quite frankly has inspired me greatly in the family health issues in my life as cancer has touched all of us.

How can we best remember Shannon? Never forget that breast cancer research is so important and no donation is too small. I spent a part of my career at Lifetime Television and understood early in my life that breast cancer is one of the biggest health concerns in this country. Shannon brought that to the public's eye because of her position with one of the greatest franchises in sports.

And she could have kept her struggles private but together with her family and friends she knew she had a chance to bring this issue to the eye level of all New Yorkers. And in typical Shannon fashion, rather than think about herself she thought of how this terrible situation could lead to research to help others even if she lost her struggle with it.

In today's sports world we overuse the word heroic but it can NEVER be overused when it comes to Shannon. She spent her whole career helping every one in every way she could. And in her biggest struggle, she still illustrated that. To me I will always think of her when I see a beautiful sunrise or a child smile and yes during a dramatic Mets win.

She embodied the spirit of what God intended when he created all of us. A person who would act the way he envisioned all the time. I am a better person for having known her and will miss her. But as the Mets begin the season and have special nights such as Mike Piazza Day or honoring the 86 Mets, I know Shannon will be watching from above smiling down on Citifield making a sunny day seem even brighter and inspiring all to help others.

Thank you Shannon. We will always love you.

 


The Star Power Of Yoenis Cespedes

Nuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sI have been coming down to Port St Lucie since 1988 for spring training and the star power of Yoenis Cespedes is strikingly similar to what I saw from 2 past Met sluggers--Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza. By that I mean when he steps to the plate, fans stop eating, stay in their seats and treat it as a must-see at-bat.

Walking around the stands today you can see it as Met fans know that any individual plate appearance could be one to remember-even in spring training. We all know Cespedes has hit the back pages down here for his choice of cars as well as his purchase of a prized animal but make no mistake about it--his back page appearances will be all about his power which could change a game at the drop of a dime. And that is why his star power reminds me so much of both Strawberry and Piazza.

I was around Cespedes last year and I saw the best of times (his torrid hot streak that put the NL East away and sent the Nats home)  and the tough times (World Series Game 1) and I want to clear up some stuff. This player works so hard at his craft and spends countless hours making himself a more dangerous hitter. That to me has made him a superstar hitter along with tremendous God-given talent.

Yes he does have a very distinct personality but every championship team has individuals with those traits. The bottom line is how does he perform and in this player's case, how does he make hitters around him better? To me, the answer to that is very simple: He can carry a team on his back for weeks and he allows the players in the lineup to excel since the opposition has to navigate through a much stronger lineup.

We must also remember this is a man who had to live in a country where he was NEVER able to express his thoughts freely or do what he wanted to do. That is hard for us to understand but that is living in a prison where your thoughts get hidden so long you eventually toss them aside. Baseball has given Cespedes so much-fame, money, and security but it has also given him the chance to come and go as he pleases and enjoy EVERY moment.

So playing golf on a game day or buying a prize pig as well as purchasing a plethora of cars is all a by-product of being able to live his life the way he wants to live it. I can also tell you that he spends time with players in every corner of the clubhouse. For instance today he joked with Jerry Blevins and despite the language barrier, they both were laughing at something funny Cespedes had said.

There is an It Factor that this player possesses and you simply do not find that in this sport on every street corner. It makes him very valuable but it also forces teams to enter into a game strategy whose main focus is not to let Cespedes beat them. That takes the pressure off everyone else and could help a teammate reach sky high offensive levels by season's end. My prediction is Lucas Duda could be that player-just a hunch.

In any event, get ready for over 500 must see at-bats this season for the first time since a guy named Piazza brought his It Factor to the park every day. Enjoy it Met fans and remember eating that game snack can wait until that Cespedes at-bat becomes a historical fact.