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World Series

Mets Take The Series In DC Behind Matz and Familia

 

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For the first time in his career, Steven Matz faced the Washington Nationals and they got a first-hand view of why this southpaw will make life very difficult for them in 2016 and beyond. He is super talented but what I like most about him is a 2 word phrase- NEVER AFRAID.

That was best illustrated in the 8th inning as he faced Bryce Harper with the game on the line and fell behind the reigning MVP 2-0. No problem-Matz threw a strike and then induced him to hit an inning ending groundout completing 8 innings of scoreless baseball in the rubber game of this 3 game set in DC.

He is now 11-1 in 14 regular season games as a major league pitcher and after that disastrous first start of the season his ERA has dipped to an attractive 2.36.  He is 7-1 on the season leading all major league rookies in that category. But more than that it is his quiet confidence that he brings to the mound that is so impressive. "I think in NY he has fallen under the radar", says Met third basemen David Wright, "but make no mistake-this guy can be so dominant on the hill."

This has been a very interesting 3 days for this team-losing Lucas Duda followed by the Matt Harvey hysteria of yesterday but Matz seemed to calm down all those choppy waters with an outstanding performance against a very talented Washington National lineup.

The Mets now sit even in the loss column with the Nats but upon further review (yes that is now a baseball term) they have played far more games inside the division than the Mets. The reigning NL champs have played 21 games inside the division while the Nats have played 31. In fact, Dusty Baker's squad has not played one game against the NL West all season while the Mets have already played 14 versus that division.

To me the message is clear: despite the inconsistencies of Matt Harvey, this Met pitching staff is loaded and by the way, armed with the best closer in the National League in Jeurys Familia. To me that is gloom and doom for the rest of the league even the Chicago Cubs who after a great start, everyone has anointed as the team to beat. That's hard for me to fathom since the Mets swept them in the NLCS in 2015. That's why we play the games.  

For now, the Mets go home to celebrate the 86 championship team this weekend and at the same time, show the baseball world that very much like that team of 30 years ago, this 2016 team has home run bats coupled with the deepest pitching staff in baseball.  

 


Matt Harvey Just Making Things Harder For Himself

 

 

Those of you who follow me know I am the first to give the player EVENuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sRY benefit of the doubt because I respect their talent level and understand dealing with the media could be a tough task. But Matt Harvey not talking to the media is wrong on so many levels.

Forget about us--we will always pull an audible and get quotes from others but this is so unfair to his fellow Met teammates. Kevin Plawecki was forced to answer questions and by the look on his face you can see he was perturbed. And not because of any reason other than he had no idea how Harvey wanted him to answer the questions. But he did it because he is a good foot soldier.

I have covered this team for over 30 years and have interviewed Met pitchers after their toughest moments-like Doc Gooden & Ron Darling  after the 88 NLCS or Johan Santana as he struggled to stay on the mound or John Franco after a tough blown save and every time they faced the music.  The answers were not profound or dramatic but they did what they had to do. They answered the questions so their fellow teammates were not forced to be put in an impossible position.

They also did it so the fans who follow them day after day can hear from them and lets not forget--ultimately the fans pay the salaries of these players by both attending the games and watching on SNY. It is just a part of the job and one that honestly most players fulfill even if they are not in love with doing it on a day by day basis.

Just ask Jeurys Familia.  He stood by his locker after the World Series taking questions about 3 blown saves and afterwards I asked him how tough that was. He said, "Rich you can't just talk after great times--you guys are just doing your jobs."

I believe in giving players every benefit of the doubt but after a secretive workout on Saturday (although some of us watched it)and this latest incident I am sure Met players are not happy. That is why to me he does not need to apologize to anyone but his teammates. In the media, we are used to this at times but I am wondering if there will be a fallout in the Met clubhouse which has such a solid foundation.

This is an incident Harvey can solve immediately. He merely needs to ask himself what would our Captain David Wright do and as #5 has struggled through the early season, he has never ducked a tough question EVER. That's all I'm saying.

 

 

 

 


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 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

 


Tom Seaver: Greatest Starting Pitcher In NY Baseball History: You Better Believe It

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Was Tom Seaver the best starting pitcher in NY baseball history? Well, The Hall Of Fame voters certainly think so as he received the highest percentage of Hall Of Fame votes ever. Tom is a very special man and I want young Met fans to understand that so I am posting an old one on one interview I did with The Franchise back in 2008 on the last day Shea Stadium was open to the public. It was a tough day for all Met fans but share the greatness of Tom Seaver with every young Met fan you can.

 

Coutinho Wth Seaver

 


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.


Why Doesn't Anyone Care About The World Series?

BaseballI walk around the streets of New York and nobody cares about the World Series.
It is sad to see, because if you love baseball, you have to love this series. I know the Mets had a rotten year and the Yankees made a quick exit in the first round but this Texas/St. Louis series has some juice. It is a shame New Yorkers don't see it.
You know we all say the New York baseball fan is smarter and more perceptive than any other fans in the country, but if the truth be told we're as provincial as any of those other fans. When our baseball teams are out, we shut down and I guess what that means is we are really not baseball fans. The NY football fan still had interest in the Super Bowl after the Jets were bumped by the Steelers and the NY NBA fans were certainly mesmerized by Heat/Mavericks last year, but if we don't see Yanks, Mets or Phils or Red Sox (only because we hate those last two teams) we shut down.
But this is an interesting series and one that will go the distance. It features a team that had to inch their way into the post-season party and one who is returning to the Fall Classic in a year most thought the Yanks, Red Sox, Rays, and even the Verlander-led Tigers were better bets than then they were. The Texas Rangers are an interesting case because Nolan Ryan had to endure losing Cliff Lee to the Phillies and instead of brooding about it, they went out and signed Adrian Beltre - making an awesome lineup deeper. When you consider that the core bats of Beltre, Cruz, Hamilton, Young, and Kinsler are tough enough, try pitching against a lineup that features a sixth bat in Mike Napoli that crushed 30 homers. Quite simply, it is the most potent lineup in baseball and has the Rangers on the brink of their first-ever World Championship. Texas could actually get by with less starting pitching because of their high-octane offense coupled with a very efficient bullpen that was heavily reinforced with the addition of Mike Adams at the trading deadline.
Standing in their way is the St. Louis Cardinals who also endured losing their ace when Adam Wainwright got hurt in spring training. Couple that with a bullpen that stumbled through most of the summer, the Cardinals were put to bed by the experts in early August, but a slumping Braves team left the door open a crack which the Redbirds kicked in during the season's final week. And oh by the way, they had to beat Cliff Lee in Game 2 and then Roy Halladay in a Game 5 do or die matchup in Philly and then proceeded to take 2-of-3 in Milwaukee where the Brewers were nearly unbeatable this year. And like the Rangers, the Cardinals made some under the radar moves at the deadline obtaining both Rafael Furcal (who saved Game 5 with a defensive gem) and Octavio Dotel who got some real big outs for Tony LaRussa in the ALCS.
A series like this is good for baseball -- it is nice to see different teams in the mix who really had to fight to get here. So why the indifference by fans? What they tell me is it has no juice -- there is no yapping by the players, no wild predictions, these teams respect each other too much.
Is that the world we live in?
The game is not enough anymore -- the back story complete with nasty tweeting is what sells. For me, the game has always been enough and this series is a great matchup of 2 teams that have struggled to get here and that is what sports is all about -- the games that have everything on the line. Not how many twitter followers you have.