Thursday, May 19, 2005

Real Cap Exchange

The Mets have missed the boat on an excellent PR opportunity. This weekend the first 5,000 fans that attend the Mets-Yankees subway series at Shea can exchange an old Mets cap for a new BLUE Mets Cap. I intend to take advantage of this offer on Sunday as will several members of my family.

However, my son has played little league ball for the past two years and the name of his team is the Yankees. This has cause significant confusion and we’ve collected a few Yankee caps as a result. For example, last week we went out to dinner after one of his games and the chef almost refused to server him a special dish because he was still wearing his Yankee uniform (no kidding). Over the years our children also receive the occasion gift included a few pieces of Yankee branded clothing. “You mean you’re not a Yankee fan?”

With this in mind, I wonder why the Mets didn’t make this offer:

We’ll exchange any Mets or Yankees cap for a new BLUE Mets Cap.” I’d much rather clean out some unwanted Yankee caps (our kids also have Phillies, White Sox, and a Reds cap from previous little league campaigns). More importantly, this would also provide an opportunity for the fence sitting crowd to smoothly make the transition back to the blue and orange (and black).

Imagine if the Mets ran this promotion and then had a contest between the 5th and 6th inning to guess how many Yankee caps had been collected!!!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Pedro and pray – Starting Pitching Early Season Reviews aren’t Encouraging

Remember during the off-season when the Mets starting pitching was projected to be one of the “strengths” of the team? Well it was a nice fantasy while it lasted. After Pedro, the rest of the staff has proven average at best. To put this in perspective, Aaron Heilman’s start last night (3 earned runs in 6 innings) was the best performance in nearly a week. There is no stat that I can share to put a positive spin on this group. Tom Glavine has helped win as many games for the Braves as he has for the Mets. Do you think he’s tipping his pitches and the Braves know what’s coming? Just a thought.

Victor Zambrano isn’t even up pitching as well as he did in Tampa Bay. He was supposed to improve, not regress, coming to pitcher friendly Shea Stadium. Is he’s ready for the Steve Traschel treatment? A couple of years ago when Traschel struggled he was given some tough love and sent down to Triple A. It worked wonders for Steve maybe it’s what Victor needs. Sure it’s encouraging to hear that Kris Benson will return soon. But am I the only one that got the ‘Willies’ that the Mets will rush back Kris Benson before he’s ready?

What can be done? Not much until July. By then we’ll know if Steve Traschel will pitch this year and which other starters are available. Let’s hope that Rick Peterson is a magician because if he’s not, we’ll have to wait to next year for a meaningful game in September.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pitching Woes

It’s hard to believe that 17 games into the season, the Mets are struggling to identify starting pitchers. Currently no starting pitcher has been “announced” for Saturday. Ishii, Benson, and Traschel are all on the disabled list. Tommy Glavine can’t find the strike zone. Aaron Heilman is back to his old (hittable) self and Victor Zambrano is still not making anyone forget a certain lefty going against the Red Sox tonight. Since none of the triple A starters have distinguished themselves, it seems that the best case scenario for tomorrow is a rain out. Oh yeah, Looper has yet to save a game!

With all these pitching problems the Mets are within a game of first place. What does all this mean?

I don’t know, but hopefully Rick Peterson can patch things together. It would be nice for Tommy Glavine to show up tonight with his “stuff.” I know he’s not a #1 or #2 starter anymore but is it asking too much for him to make a few quality starts in a row? That would demonstrate some veteran leadership on a team that desperately needs some stability.

Let’s Go Glavine

Monday, April 11, 2005

Bring the Kiddies and a Jacket

We got to the stadium very late because our normal drive was extended by an amazing amount of traffic. For this home opener I had to park so far away that we needed to take a bus to the stadium. By the time we made our way to our seats we had to chase away some squatters. I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to have to leave a lot earlier for Met games this year.

Andy Pettitte and Tom Glavine were throwing some nasty change-ups and breaking balls. These guys both looked sharp. By the 5th inning shadows from the overhang blocked the sun across all but the closest field level seats. It was cold and windy and the Mets were trailing 1-0. To make matters worse, the new rotating billboard in center field stopped working and the game was delayed for 15 minutes. The wind seemed to have picked up and my youngest son was so cold (he left his jacket in the car!) that I bought him a blanket in the dugout store.

The malfunction must have iced Pettitte because the Mets ran their way to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the 6th. The new Mets “energy” was on display and the fans caught it. Fans in my section began chanting the Mets player names as they came to the plate – ala the bleacher bums at Yankee Stadium. Miguel Cairo was given a rousing cheer when he stepped to the plate for Tom Glavine. BAM – he delivered an RBI hit and the high fives started to fly. Within minutes a new Mets model was on display: SPEED. First, Victor Diaz and Miguel Cairo executed a delayed double steal. Then, Kaz Matsui’s drag bunt and head first slide allowed Diaz to score the go ahead run. Shea was rocking.

As the 7th inning began Manny Aybar came in from the bull pen. My older son asked: “who is Manny Aybar?” I said: “he’s a 30-something pitcher that’s been knocked around the majors and minors.” He was silent. I leaned into to my wife and said, “the bull pen is terrible.” A guy sitting in front of me turned and said: “Aybar hasn’t given up a run in three games.” I said hopefully: “he looked good in the Spring.” That sealed his fate as Manny got pounded. The Astros were hitting ropes. If the ground rule double that was hit over Cliff Floyd’s head had hit the wall instead of bouncing over, it might have made a dent in it.

When the Astros took the lead in the 8th, a good number of fans left along with Tom Glavine's chance for a win. By the time that Roberto Hernandez took the mound, my younger son was pleading that we should leave. He was relentless (and no he wasn't cold). Surprisingly, my wife wanted to stay and we witnessed a memorable bottom of the 8th.

Shea erupted for a second time when the Mets speed was put on display. A great takeout slide and speedy running by Reyes allowed Victor Diaz to score, again. Reyes then stole second and he scored on Matsui’s single. A special Shea Stadium wind had a hold on Ramon Castro’s pop-up and it seemed that Lane and Biggio were having trouble hearing each other. I definitely was with my wife screaming: “miss it, miss it” as the fly ball swirled in the cross-currents. A flood of noise filled the stadium when they collided.

Moments later the clapping gave way to boos as Johnny Franco took the mound. But a new realization took hold of me, Johnny Franco, Floyd’s gonna get a hit. BANG. Cliff Floyd’s shot eliminated a potentially nail biting 9th inning. The crowd thanked Johnny with a serenade of Franc-o… Franc-o…. Franc-o… and boos were replaced by cheers as Franco left the mound, sealing the victory for the Mets.

My son stood up and said: “now can we go?” It was a long happy walk to the car.

WRIGHT NOTES:
Still no David Wright Jerseys in White, Black, or Pinstripes. I went to the clubhouse store at Shea and all they had was a Kaz Matsui home white and a Wright road Grey jersey.

MIKE PIAZZA got some underwhelming applause. It must be his sub-200 BA.

VICTOR DIAZ must be faster than he appears, can hit, but is a liability in the field. He made a terrible relay throw from the right field corner.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

David Wright Jersey is Sold Out

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to purchase a David Wright jersey. I learned the hard way that Modell’s doesn’t stock his jersey and the Mets store is sold out. Of course, my purchase decision predated the “batting order” controversy, or did it cause it?

Mets manager Willie Randolph has made comments about batting David Wright eight in the Mets batting order. Maybe Willie’s trying to lower expectations for David Wright. Or maybe it’s something more. Maybe Willie hasn’t been co-opted by the Mets PR department. Suppose he walked into the manager’s job, like any manager in any other business or situation and says: “Rookie, prove it.” What has David Wright proven as a major league hitter anyway? There’s a big difference between a future star and an all-star.

Last year, I had a hard time listening to Mike Francessa’s opinions regarding a proposed Jose Reyes for Alfonso Soriano trade. Francessa made some solid points that pierced through my inflated expectations of Reyes. I believed that the Mets would be foolish to trade Reyes. As a Mets fan I “believed” that not only would Reyes would become a star – much like I believed that Kazmir would become a star – but that Reyes was already on the verge of stardom. And no, it was only partly because Mike is a Yankee fan and smug that his comments stung. Alfonso Soriano was a solid major league player that had already hit 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases in a year. Jose Reyes hadn’t proven anything, least of all, that he could stay healthy.

I’m glad the Mets didn’t trade Reyes. Yet today, I have the same difficulty evaluating David Wright that I had with Jose Reyes last year. I want David Wright to become a star. I know that he needs time to develop as a player. Yet part of me projects his success as if he’s already an accomplished major league player. Of course, he’s not. He’s a rookie that hasn’t demonstrated that he can play at a consistently high level. The same is true for Reyes. The same was true of Gregg Jeffries and a litany of other Met prospects.

The part of me that recognized the truth of Mike Francessa’s evaluation of Jose Reyes also appreciates Willie Randolph’s treatment of David Wright. I might want to anoint David Wright as the best Met third baseman of all time, but Willie’s job depends on David Wright becoming a solid major league player first. So I’m supportive of Willie’s efforts to bring management techniques back into the organization.

The other part of me still wants to find a David Wright jersey.

David Wright Jersey is Sold Out

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to purchase a David Wright jersey. I learned the hard way that Modell’s doesn’t stock his jersey and the Mets store is sold out. Of course, my purchase decision predated the “batting order” controversy, or did it cause it?

Mets manager Willie Randolph has made comments about batting David Wright eight in the Mets batting order. Maybe Willie’s trying to lower expectations for David Wright. Or maybe it’s something more. Maybe Willie hasn’t been co-opted by the Mets PR department. Suppose he walked into the manager’s job, like any manager in any other business or situation and says: “Rookie, prove it.” What has David Wright proven as a major league hitter anyway? There’s a big difference between a future star and an all-star.

Last year, I had a hard time listening to Mike Francessa’s opinions regarding a proposed Jose Reyes for Alfonso Soriano trade. Francessa made some solid points that pierced through my inflated expectations of Reyes. I believed that the Mets would be foolish to trade Reyes. As a Mets fan I “believed” that not only would Reyes would become a star – much like I believed that Kazmir would become a star – but that Reyes was already on the verge of stardom. And no, it was only partly because Mike is a Yankee fan and smug that his comments stung. Alfonso Soriano was a solid major league player that had already hit 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases in a year. Jose Reyes hadn’t proven anything, least of all, that he could stay healthy.

I’m glad the Mets didn’t trade Reyes. Yet today, I have the same difficulty evaluating David Wright that I had with Jose Reyes last year. I want David Wright to become a star. I know that he needs time to develop as a player. Yet part of me projects his success as if he’s already an accomplished major league player. Of course, he’s not. He’s a rookie that hasn’t demonstrated that he can play at a consistently high level. The same is true for Reyes. The same was true of Gregg Jeffries and a litany of other Met prospects.

The part of me that recognized the truth of Mike Francessa’s evaluation of Jose Reyes also appreciates Willie Randolph’s treatment of David Wright. I might want to anoint David Wright as the best Met third baseman of all time, but Willie’s job depends on David Wright becoming a solid major league player first. So I’m supportive of Willie’s efforts to bring management techniques back into the organization.

The other part of me still wants to find a David Wright jersey.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Leaving the Dead Zone

We’re about to leave the Dead Zone. This is the no news black hole that starts after the first full week of Grapefruit League play. Mike and the Angry Puppy long ago left Port Saint Lonely. A stretch of meaningless games is about to end. With the apparent loss of Steve Trachsel to a back injury, we can ponder the important issues (5th starter and bullpen). Be prepared for trade rumors to begin anew. We leave behind the story lines du joir that kept us warm over the past few weeks. In case you missed it these are the memorable stories:

Daryl Strawberry as a special instructor to the Mets. As part of his media rehabilitation, Daryl is quoted as having spent time in Spring Training in 1997 speaking with Jeter about the pressures of being a young star in New York (Jeter said he spoke to Darly for 15 minutes once). We also learned that Daryl had a big positive impact on Mike Cameron agreeing to stay with the Mets – although Mike denied that Daryl played a big part. Now that Daryl has been welcomed back in the fold, Doc, Nails, and Wally can’t be far behind.

Mike Cameron’s wrist is healing “ahead of schedule.” This news isn't even in reaction to potentially losing the starting job in right field. Is Victor Diaz in Camp? The lack of Victor Diaz stories is a story.

Cliff Floyd is a happy camper. He has a bounce in his step and believes he’ll steal 20-25 bases this year. I’d have Cliff set a goal of 130 games played and no DL time in September.

Carlos Beltran is a fitness freak and has taken Jose Reyes and David Wright under his wing. So much for the rumor that he’s not a team leader.

Mike Piazza is happy and dull. He's married and no longer the center of attention. His only complaint is that all his friends are off the team.

Carlos Delgado chose the Marlins because the Mets made their first offer in Pesos. Carlos also didn't want the distraction of playing in front of a lot of loud fans and answering questions in English and Spanish. His agent’s email address has been added to the spam filter list at most NY newspapers.

Aaron Heilman has been offered to Congress as a witness by the MLB. He’s proof that hitters don’t need steroids to hit home runs.

Cablevision continues it’s slide into sports programming oblivion and tries to sabotage the new Mets network in the process (continuing saga).

Monday, February 21, 2005

Willow Doesn't Sway

New manager Willie Randolph made waves during the first organized practice. His first address to the pitchers and catchers set the early tone of a much more rigorous training camp: “You call yourselves professionals. By the time camp is over you pansies will be in the best shape of your lives. No more walking around. I want to see you sprint to your next assignment. Now get down and give me 50! (Randolph blew his whistle)”

Randolph’s first practice was spirited. “I’ve been waiting all my life for this opportunity.” Mets insiders said that Randolph is in better shape than a few of the players. After watching Kaz Matsui take grounders at second, Randolph commented that “I’ll work the same magic at 2nd with Matsui that I did with Alfonso Soriano.”

After addressing the troops, Randolph had some time to speak with reporters. “I’m just applying the lessons I’ve learned from some of my mentors. For instance, Billy Martin taught me to work hard and play hard. We’re enforcing a 1 AM curfew to toughen the guys up. Anyone that can’t find what they need by then doesn’t deserve to wear the uniform.” In an obvious reference to the steroids scandal, Randolph added: “since it’s not healthy to mix drugs and alcohol, we’re banning all liquor from the clubhouse.”