Archive for March, 2011

2011 MLB Preview

March 31, 2011

Sports Illustrated doesn’t seem to like the Mets chances in this upcoming season, picking New York to finish dead last in the NL East with a projected record of 74-88. Meanwhile, ESPN thinks a little more highly of the Mets, picking New York to finish 3rd (though that may just be the typical “Eastern Sports Preferred Network” way of mildly exciting and deluding a starving fan base of a big market club.

Anyhow, I sit in the middle of the aforementioned. I have Boston overtaking Philadelphia in the World Series. I picked the Giants to win it all last year, but sadly I have no way to prove this. But, if I’m right this year, I’ll have Jason to thank for providing me the forum to show off my incredibly adventurous and risky (sarcasm) picks.

Here we go:

NL EAST >>>

  1. Philadelphia (1)
  2. Atlanta (WC)
  3. Florida
  4. NEW YORK
  5. Washington

NL CENTRAL >>>

  1. Milwaukee (3)
  2. Cincinnati
  3. St. Louis
  4. Chicago
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Houston

NL WEST >>>

  1. San Francisco (2)
  2. San Diego
  3. Colorado
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Arizona

Phillies over Brewers, NLDS // Giants over Braves, NLDS

Phillies over Giants, NLCS


AL EAST >>>

  1. Boston (1)
  2. New York (WC)
  3. Tampa Bay
  4. Toronto
  5. Baltimore

AL CENTRAL >>>

  1. Minnesota (2)
  2. Chicago
  3. Detroit
  4. Cleveland
  5. Kansas City

AL WEST >>>

  1. Oakland (3)
  2. Texas
  3. Los Angeles of Anaheim of Orange County
  4. Seattle

Yankees over Twins, ALDS // Red Sox over A’s, ALDS

Red Sox over Yankees, ALCS

 

RED SOX over PHILLIES, World Series

…Disagree? Let me hear it below in the comments section.

Huh?

March 30, 2011

We’re going to surprise some people….Like they’re going to surprise us.

-Carlos Beltran

I read this quote from Adam Rubin’s Twitter page yesterday. Without knowing the context in which he said this, here are the thoughts that went through my head about this interesting little nugget.

1. Is anyone else leery of people in the Met’s organization talking about surprising people? While I am happy with their confidence (as long as it is genuine), I would prefer they stay under the radar and keep these thoughts to themselves.

2. Is Carlos Beltran going Gary Busey or Charlie Sheen on us? Don’t laugh. Large amounts of time spent on training tables and in doctor’s offices can have this effect on people.

3. Is Carlos Beltran secretly a Jedi Knight? “These are not the droids you are looking for…”

4. Is he simply talking about practical jokes during Spring Training in which the guys are hiding around corners and under tables and jumping out to scare each other? I hear things are quite boring in St. Lucie now that the bowling league is over.

Don’t Turn Beltran Into A Buckner

March 28, 2011

Only in the game of baseball can the cruelty of a perfect pitch thrown at the perfect time over shadow a very productive thirteen year career that includes over 1,600 games played and over 6,000 at bats. It doesn’t seem right does it?

So who’s to blame?

Quite simply put, we are. At least the more pessimistic variety of Mets fans that is. Maybe it is the fact that I live over 700 miles away from the Big Apple. It provides me a unique perspective on all matters Amazin’… I have never been able to understand why our fans are turning Carlos Beltran into our very own version of Bill Buckner.

Yup. That Bill Buckner. The player that in many baseball fans eyes, sadly tragic as it is, gave the New York Mets the 1986 title. He made a single mistake at the worst possible time in a career that lasted 22 seasons, 2,517 games, and over 9,000 at bats. By the way, he has a lifetime average of .289.

Stop. Just stop the silliness. Regardless of how Beltran performs this year, let’s try to regain perspective before it is too late. This man does not deserve Buckner’s fate.

“Beltran deserves it!” you say? Let me guess, you believe this because he doesn’t play hard, is selfish, and flat out doesn’t care. I always like to ask the fans that believe this nonsense how they came to this conclusion. Typically, they resort to “evidence” that would lead you to believe they have an all access pass to the Mets clubhouse.

When they see him on TV, he is quiet and unassuming. This, of course, is proof he doesn’t care. He opted to have surgery on his knee in the 2010 offseason without the consent of the Mets front office (depending on who you ask). Proof he is selfish. He slides feet first into second base and runs in a way that appears almost effortless because he is a natural athlete. Proof he doesn’t play hard.

You don’t have access to the dugout or the clubhouse so you are basing your opinion on thirty second sound bites, ten second highlights, and what you hear from loud mouth radio hosts whose sole goal is to create controversy to boost ratings.

You might be able to convince me if you can find one single teammate that will support your claims. I have yet to read anything close to a negative statement from current or former teammates and coaches that question his effort on the field.

As a matter of fact, Beltran was on his way to joining the large club of Met players that were good, not great. Most players would be very happy with that type of career. You know the kind of guys I’m talking about, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Edgardo Alfonzo, John Olerud, Robin Ventura etc. etc.

Had his knee not deteriorated in 2009, he may have been on his way to becoming one of the Amazin’s best players. He put together three consecutive seasons that many that have worn the orange and blue only dreamed of.

It took some time for him to warm up as a Met, but in 2006 he gave us the best season of his entire career. That season included 38 doubles, 41 home runs, 127 runs scored, an all star appearance, a gold glove, and a silver slugger award.

Leading up to the nastiest curveball ever thrown in the post season, he was having a Carlos Beltranesque series. He hit .278, belted three home runs, and knocked in four runs. It’s not Reggie Jackson, but those numbers fall right in line with what he was providing for the Amazin’s all season. One could argue that there would not be a game seven if he didn’t come up with a home run that was responsible for the only two runs scored in the first game of the series.

The curveball changed everything. The negative rants started to fly. Detractors began saying, “Had he swung his bat, the Mets would most surely have been in the World Series.”

After the curveball, many fans ignored the fact that Beltran followed up 2006 with two more stellar seasons:

2007: .276 batting average, 33 home runs, 112 rbi’s, and his second gold glove
2008: .284 batting average, 27 home runs, 112 rbi’s, and his third gold glove

But the Mets choked in those seasons, right? Not because of Beltran, friends. He hit .310 with 14 home runs in 203 bats during those combined Septembers.

The way in which we have treated Carlos Beltran is shameful. The guy has given everything he could on the field. Proof? How about coming back from one of the worst outfield collisions in franchise history? More proof? I wonder how many games he has played on the degenerative knee before giving in to surgery and other treatment.

Were the results worth the contract he signed? Probably not. However, I can’t fault his effort. Nor can I blame him for signing the contract. There isn’t a single player that has laced up a pair of spikes that would have turned that deal down. When it comes down to it, that is all you can ask from an athlete is to give it their best. Especially in a game in which every player fails far more times than they succeed.

We all had high expectations of him when he signed. It is fair to say he did not live up to these lofty expectations. However, it is not fair to question his toughness and or his effort. Prove to me he somehow caused the degenerative condition in his knee and then I’ll change my mind about whether or not I believe he has given the Mets everything he could.

In the meantime, show the man a little respect, applaud when he gets up to the plate and try to enjoy his last season as a Met. Unfortunately, we are looking at his very last one as there are no realistic scenarios in which he returns. At least not one that I can think of.

Stop using him as an excuse for all that was wrong with the Mets in the highly disappointing 2007-2010 seasons. Maybe we can stop him from becoming our Buckner.

Dear Luis, It’s Not You, It’s Me

March 24, 2011

I really want this to be my last post about Luis Castillo. Sadly, it was too hard to pass up his latest comments to the press in Clearwater, Florida, which strangely enough, sound exactly like the ones he made when he was released.

[Collins] wouldn’t give me a chance to play.

I told him if he didn’t give me the chance to play that I don’t know if I have to be on the team. He decided to release me.

Luis, if you are reading this please take the following advice:

1. Stop commenting on the Mets. Even when you are asked. Just give it the ol’ “I’m not here to talk about the past” routine. It may not have worked for Mark McGwire, but it is very appropriate for you in this situation.

2. It is in your best interest to move on. Consider Collins release as the uncomfortable breakup you had with your high school sweet heart. “It’s not you, it’s me.” “Let’s just be friends.” “Stop texting me.” “The court order says you need to stay at least 300 feet away from me.” Ah, the good old days.

3. Stop trying to paint Terry Collins as the bad guy here. This was very much an organizational decision and he wasn’t the only one pulling the trigger. These comments make you look desperate and just plain silly. Everyone in the continental United States knew this was coming.

Unlike many, I believe you tried your best. Sometimes things just don’t work out. I truly thank you for the effort you gave during your time in New York. It wasn’t the right fit. The night you got injured walking down the dugout stairs should have sold you on that point.

I don’t blame you for signing the foolish contract you were offered. Hell, I would have signed it too. We all would have.

Best of luck,

Jason

Fun In The Sun

March 24, 2011

 

You may or may not have seen this video already. There is one thing that struck me right away when watching it. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a video of anyone in the Mets organization having fun.

Watch it again. Listen to everyone. Beltran yelling “Atta boy! Atta boy!” various coaches, staff, and players laughing and clapping. What a refreshing thing to see. I hope it is a sign of the overall atmosphere in the organization.

I know, I know. How can they possibly be having fun with the huge Madoff Mess hanging over their heads? How can they possibly be having fun with all of the questions surrounding the roster?

I have an idea. It’s a game. It is supposed to be fun. I believe the organization has the right people on the bus in terms of the front office. So I am willing to show some patience and just enjoy watching baseball this year. No expectations. Try it. I dare you. It is extremely liberating.

Hopefully the players, front office, and other members of the organization actually believe what they have been saying for weeks:

They have no control over the lawsuit and nothing has happened to indicate to them they are in trouble financially this year.

This attitude may be trickling down to the blog world. I am beginning to read about how people are sick of the “PessaMets” attitude that has prevailed over fans and the organization the last few years.

Amen brother. I am all aboard.

A Disney Experiment

March 12, 2011

I recently returned from a family vacation to Disney World.  As I attended three separate parks at “The place where dreams come true” I observed two things:

1.  Mickey couldn’t keep his little rodent fingers off my wallet.
2.  Time spent waiting in line and meandering around each park provided an unofficial way to gauge who the public is supporting in the NL East.

Initial Thoughts

On any given day you may encounter over 40,000 people at each park.  Those not drinking the Walt Kool-Aid and sporting their favorite Disney apparel, come dressed in a wide variety of fashions.  Obviously, the baseball fan was represented in this large sample size.

No shocker here, but Yankee apparel seemed to take the top spot in my informal survey.  There were plenty of various jerseys and hats supporting the other New York Franchise.

I even witnessed a gentleman wearing what at first glance appeared to be a Oakland A’s hat.  The yellow bill and green cap were obvious indicators I was approaching an A’s fan.  However, as we got closer to each other I was surprised to see the Yankee logo on the center of this odd hat.

This concept has always baffled me. You have the most recognizable and timeless team cap and you decide to wear a Oakland hat with a Yankee logo on it?

Yankee fans….

NL East

The Disney Survey did not bode well for the Amazin’s.  The fact that I observed more Phillies apparel than any other team did not shock me.  The multitude in which they outranked the other teams initially stupefied  me.

It seemed like I would pass by a Philly fan once an hour, sometimes traveling in hordes.  I chalk it up to the significant increase their bandwagon has had since the Cliff Lee signing.  Their stellar play the last few seasons probably has something to do with it as well.

Needless to say, it made me want to vomit.

The Washington Nationals came in a distant second.  There were a number of Nat hats flying around the home of Donald Duck. Interestingly enough, they all looked brand new.  This may be a sign of how optimistic Washington fans are this year. Spending money tends to have this effect on some fans.

Another surprise was the fact that the Atlanta Braves came in third place.  This is a tad bit surprising based on the fact that they literally play their spring training games at Disney World.  Considering their history of having trouble selling out playoff games I guess this could have been predicted.

This leads us to the Mets.  Excluding me, I encountered a miniscule two other Met fans during my three days at Disney. Three if you count Louis from Long Island, who worked at one of the parks and upon seeing my hat quickly commented, “Let’s Go Mets!  With or without Piazza I will always be a Met fan!”.

On one hand, I was happy to meet another member of the family.  On the other hand, the comment caused me to pause and wonder if Louis hasn’t made it off the reservation since Piazza’s last season as a Met in 2005.  It may come across as a conspiracy theory, but I truly have to wonder what working for the insatiable mouse does to one’s mind if you are there for a prolonged amount of time.

On to the Marlins…

The most melancholy observation during this quasi-experiment was that I didn’t see a single piece of Marlin’s gear.  Come on Florida!  Support your home team.  I know you are full of retirees looking for today’s early bird special from all over our great land, but some of the natives need to step up.  I’m sure Jeffrey Loria has had the same thought countless times.

What Does This Mean For The Mets?

It is just another piece of evidence that the popularity of the Mets has plummeted since 2006.  I am the eternal optimist as there is only one way to go from here.

R.A. Dickey Is Eddie Harris

March 3, 2011

Anyone that has failed to see the movie Major League is clearly not a baseball fan. They are also clearly un-American.

I say this because I wanted to share an observation with you in honor of R.A. Dickey’s performance in spring training today. R.A. Dickey is Eddie Harris.

Tell me when you think about hi-jinks in the clubhouse involving R.A., you don’t picture the following exchange.

How else can we explain Dickey’s effectiveness as a 36 year old?

You know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something about the extra satisfaction I experience when watching R.A. strike out Albert Puljols twice in a game.


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