Sports Beat “WFAN Boots Mets”

There has been a lot of guessing as to which station will broadcast the Mets next year with the ESPN or WOR being the most likely suitors. While either outlet would probably pay the Mets the $6-$7 million that WFAN was, there may be a more profitable alternative for the team.

Mets executives should look into buying broadcast time on WBBR (1130 AM) which has a strong 50,000-watt signal. Local sports fans have gotten to know WBBR as the place to hear their favorite team if there is a conflict such as when ESPN is broadcasting a Knicks game and there is a Rangers game taking place as well or when WFAN is broadcasting a Devils game and the Nets are playing simultaneously.

By purchasing the time from WBBR, the Mets can keep all of the advertising revenue that they can generate. It would also help if they could have a winning season for a change.

In a season full of low points, the Mets may have reached a new low on Sunday in a game that they wound up winning. The Mets’ offense was its usual anemic self against the Miami Marlins who have a far worse record than the Mets. There was no score going into the bottom of the twelfth inning.

Shockingly, the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out. Certainly even they would find a way to finally get a run across. That quickly appeared to be wishful thinking as Zach Lutz hit into a weak force play at the plate and the following batter, Andrew Brown, did the same. Instead of boos there was derisive laughter coming from the stands. I have heard many sarcastic  Bronx cheers at a ballpark but I can’t remember hearing so many fans laughing at their favorite team as if they were watching a Mel Brooks movie. Fortunately catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a ground ball that snuck past the shortstop’s glove for a game-winning single to spare the Mets further humiliation.

After the game I asked manager Terry Collins if his team’s offensive ineptitude and the fans’ chuckling was dispiriting. “Well, we had four rookies in the lineup today and you have to look at the process. For example, if they are working the count and swinging at good pitches,” he said. It is hard to blame Collins for setting the bar as low as possible given the talent that he has at his disposal.

Davey Johnson, who was the manager when the Mets won their second and last World Series championship in 1986, and is currently the Washington Nationals manager will be leaving from that post at the end of the season. Although he is 70, Johnson insists that he is not retiring and would like to manage in the Australia. “I have always been intrigued by Australia and I have never been there,” he told me.

Johnson was an early adapter of using computers to assist in making strategic baseball decisions. “I studied those old programming languages FORTRAN and COBOL,” said Davey who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity University. He offered a sympathetic laugh when I told him of the frustrations that I had with those old keypunch input cards that FORTRAN required back in the late 1970s.

PBS broadcast a superb documentary last week on Billie Jean King to coincide with the 40th anniversary of her “battle of the sexes” match against 55 year-old Bobby Riggs that was held at the Astrodome in Houston. The United States Tennis Association had a terrific exhibit on the match that truly put women’s tennis on the map at the American Express pavilion at the recent US Open.

It is a long season so Giants fans should not despair that their team lost the Manning Bowl last Sunday and are now 0-2. Now if they lose next week in Charlotte to the Carolina Panthers I give Big Blue fans permission to start panicking.

The general consensus was that the Buffalo Bills, who have more serious quarterback issues than even the Jets do, would be the one team in the AFC East that the Jets would finish ahead of in the standings.

The Bills are not going to be pushovers when the Jets face them at MetLife Stadium this Sunday. Like the Jets, they lost a close one to the New England Patriots and this past Sunday they edged out Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, 24-23.

Jets QB, rookie Geno Smith, by very definition, is a work in progress. He is going to have to get more receptions from wide receivers Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates, neither of whom has proven to be a big playmaker. It would also help if Santonio Holmes’ foot was healthy this Sunday.

The annual New York Bar & Restaurant Show held at the Javits Center, always one of my favorite trade shows to attend, rebranded itself with a new name this year, the Holiday Buying Show. The majority of exhibitors are small spirits companies that are looking to make a name for themselves such as a Greek liquer company, Ya Mastiha, and a Minnesota- based alcohol manufacturer, Phillips Distilling.

There was no shortage of vodka companies. Golia, a vodka made in little-known Mongolia, is trying to establish name recognition by having lounges at both the Prudential Center for New Jersey Devils games and at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center for Flyers and 76ers contests. My favorite-named liquor company was Balls Vodka whose owner, Yoav Sisley prides himself on being a big sports fan.

Every year it seems like New York Fashion Week is less about clothing and more about celebrities and lifestyle products. For example, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who is one of the NBA’s elite players, was visible at a number of runway shoes. While he may sincerely enjoy the world of fashion my guess is that he wants to raise his profile for corporate endorsement consideration before the NBA season gets underway. He is well aware that he is at a disadvantage playing his home games in the NBA’s smallest market.

Among the other companies that set up splashy booths around town during Fashion Week were Pilot Pens who showed off their erasable gel rollers, Ebay; Pinch Me, a company that purports to send free samples to those who give them data over the Internet; Birchbox, a subscription service that delivers a monthly surprise box of products for men and women; and Skinny Girl, one of many low calorie energy health bars that try to get recognition at Fashion Week. And of course, as per tradition, Mercedes-Benz showed its latest models at Lincoln Center.

New York Fashion Week is normally the kickoff of autumn festivals in New York. Coming up next week is Advertising Week. That will be followed by New York City Wine & Food Festival, the CMJ Music Festival, New York Comic Con (which is not related to the famous summer San Diego entertainment confab although like its West Coast counterpart does cover a lot of pop culture), and a pair of television festivals, Paley Fest and the New York Television Festival.

Posted under Advertising Revenue, Broadcast Time, Force Play, Lloyd Carroll, Mel Brooks, Mets, New York Mets, Rookies, Shortstop, Top Story, Watt Signal, Weak Force, Wor

Mets Sweep Gives Team Hope

New York – A prevailing mood in the New York Mets clubhouse is that they can win and have an impact in the National League East. And after completing a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Citi Field over the division rival Atlanta Braves, 7-5, there is every reason to put things in another perspective.

Winning ballgames, and more than the experts predicted has put a different perspective on what is expected to be another dismal season in Flushing. This was the first time in a 50 –year history of the club when a Mets team started the season with a three- game sweep over a division rival.

At 3-0, and with the cross- town Yankees off to a 0-3 start, this is something the organization is hoping will regenerate some interest. More so, if the wins can continue in the next three games at home with the Washington Nationals, getting a good start out of the gate is what will convince fans that this may not be dismal as was expected.

“This means everything,” said Manager Terry Collins when asked about the three games against Atlanta that saw his team pitch effectively, use the long ball, and also get the timely hit. “We’ve done a lot of talk in spring training about getting ready to compete. I told those guys in the first meeting ‘you’re professional baseball players and there are expectations in this town and in this clubhouse.’”

Numerous times last season, his first, Collins reiterated about expectation but the message did not carry into wins. A second half finish saw New York finish fourth in the division with 77 wins, and then losing Jose Reyes to free agency, now with the Miami Marlins, made the outlook look more dismal for 2012.

However, Reyes, for the moment has quickly not been a topic at Citi Field. His replacement, 22-year old shortstop Ruben Tejada, had a career day Sunday with a career high four hits with two doubles, driving in two runs.

“We have to keep working hard every day,” commented Tejada. “We play hard and together as a team,” he said.

And that was a prevailing attitude of this Mets team after the season opening series sweep Sunday afternoon. They believe in themselves as a team and despite what the prognosticators say, they have no intention of making this a dismal season.

And if the Mets get good starting pitching, as they did Sunday from Jonathon Niese, Saturday from R.A. Dickey, and in the opener Thursday, five strong innings from Johan Santana, well this could become a special season. But will the pitching stay consistent? Can Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee, who start the first two games with the Nationals Monday and Tuesday, be just as good?

“You can’t ask for better than that,” said Collins about the starts that have put the Mets at 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they won their first four. “We saw that in spring training even though our starters did not go deep. We like our rotation,” he said also referring to Gee and Pelfrey.

Niese, in particular, who signed a long term contract Saturday, struggled often last year.  At times there were doubts he could be a quality starting pitcher. The return of Santana has inspired the pitching staff, and according to guys in the clubhouse the entire roster.

“They want to compete and do what he does,” said Collins. “He creates a great atmosphere. It spreads.

Niese flirted with a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Freddie Freeman singled to right field with no outs.  He would allow four runs, two earned, seven strikeouts and two walks. He lasted two more batters after the hit by Freeman. Atlanta scored four runs in the seventh. Lucas Duda lost a ball in the sun, and Jason Howard had a two-run double.

“It would have been hard to take me out,” said Niese who had a 93 mile fastball and control that was rare last season. The Mets after 7,911 games still remain one of four teams in baseball that have never had a no-hitter pitched. “We have a staff that likes to compete with each other and that is a good thing,” said Niese.

And this start has also been attributed to a revamped bullpen. Frank Francisco closed his third consecutive game becoming the first player in franchise history to save his first three games. Prior to a Brian McCann home run in the eighth inning it was the first Mets run surrendered by the pen. In three games the pen has allowed  one earned run in 10.0 innings.

“We have to pitch,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a long way to go.  All we want to do is stay competitive.”

They have come out of the gate with this good start. That is what every Mets fan needed to see, and this team believes it will continue. David Wright is hitting with authority and showing signs of his old self. Daniel Murphy picked up a couple of hits and two RBI, including a two-run double in the three-run Mets sixth.

Now they need Ike Davis to get it going as well as Jason Bay, two silent bats in the first three games. But they feel like everyone else in the Mets clubhouse. It will come.

“I’m just a little off right now, I’m not worried,” said Davis. His feeling is the hits will come and go five for his next ten, and there will be no reason for concern. “It’s only three games,” he says about going hitless in his first eleven times at the plate.

Last season that would have been a concern. But for now, with the three- game sweep coming out of the gate, there is not one player in that Mets clubhouse who will think otherwise. Winning and a different perspective of what they are capable of doing is here to stay,

Jose Thole the rookie catcher said in that clubhouse Sunday, “We have a team that can win and we will continue to do it.”  And for the first three games the Mets have certainly proved they can be competitive.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Career Day, Cross Town, Different Perspective, Dismal Season, Division Rival, Game Sweep, Hope New York, Jose Reyes, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Team, National League East, New York Mets, Professional Baseball Players, Rich Mancuso, Shortstop, Spring Training, Team Hope, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2012

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Long day for Mets in Twin Bill Loss to Rockies

The four-game series for the New York Mets at Citi Field with the Colorado Rockies is one that could epitomize where the season is going. New York had leads of two runs in all four that would not last long which contributed to a Colorado sweep.

And the Mets are glad they won’t see Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki until the two teams meet again at Coors Field next month. He homered in four consecutive games at Citi Field, a record at the three-year old park for a visiting or home player. The 26 year old finished the series with a .625 batting average (10-16) with five runs scored, one double, four walks and eight runs batted in.

That was one of the contributing factors that led to New York dropping a twin bill to the Rockies concluding a losing first home stand of the season. They have lost eight of nine, including five straight.  Pitching and defense has not been what manager Terry Collins envisioned as the team embarked on a brief three-game road series in Atlanta.

“We are going to Atlanta and think about what needs to be addressed,” said Collins after a long day at Citi Field .The Mets dropped the first game 6-5, and the nightcap 9-4. The second game was in reach after another two run lead. Then a chopped ground ball to Brad Emas at second, one he could not handle allowed a run to score.

That would lead to more opportunity for the Rockies, who managed to get many of them in the series because of costly miscues by the Mets. Dexter Fowler got a single giving Colorado the 5-4 lead, starter Chris Capuano (1-1) was lifted. And then Taylor Buchholz allowed Jonathan Herrera to hit a three-run homer to right, second of his career.

So the first seven home games at Citi Field have had a recurring theme. The bullpen leaves a lot to be desired, and on the field the Mets are making too many costly mistakes that allowed the opposing team to score and get the win. Earlier this week, Collins admitted it was frustrating. It got worse when he was asked about the losing streak, and how his team played before the home fans the past week after starting the season with a 3-3 road trip at Florida and Philadelphia.

“Depressing,” was the word now used by Collins. “We’re better than this and we’ll play better than this. I still believe we are going to straighten this out. We showed too much promise in spring training. This is not or how we wanted to show our fans.”

However there were some positives in an otherwise dismal Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a fourth inning two-run single to center field in the second game. He had two triples in the series and is getting on base with the extra base hit.

“We need to play better baseball,” said Reyes when asked if there was any sign of panic with the Mets heading to Atlanta with a 4-9 mark. “We have a better team. A loss is a loss. We need to turn this around.”

The four-game home run streak tied the longest stretch of Tulowitzki’s career. He had a similar streak from September 15-19 in 2009. “I definitely had a good series,” he said. The Rockies doubleheader win extended their best 12 game start (10-2) in franchise history and it was their first road series win on the road against the Mets since May of 2002.

“A lot of times you come on the road, you get down late, sixth, seventh inning,” commented Tulowitzki, “and you shut it down, get ready to go home. This team does not do that at all. We’re a bunch of guys who don’t quit.”

“When he gets hot, he’s a very talented player,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy about Tulowitzki.  Reyes and the Mets also know that Tulowitzki is a talented player who can make an impact as three of the four games were lost by one run.

New York lost the opener Thursday afternoon, a game that opened the twin bill caused by a Tuesday rain out that was supposed to open the series. In that game Reyes homered closing the gap to 6-3, but Huston Street closed the win for Colorado as R.A. Dickey dropped his second consecutive start after going six innings.

For the Mets, now it is frustration and according to Collins,” We can win 10 in a row, five in a row. That’s baseball. The object is to play better, that’s my job.” It has to get better soon or quickly in April this season will be meaningless come June.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring766@aol.com

Posted under Bullpen, Colorado Rockies, Consecutive Games, Coors, Coors Field, Costly Mistakes, Dexter, Emas, First Game, Game Road, Game Series, Home Games, Miscues, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Second Game, Shortstop, Starter Chris Capuano, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 15, 2011

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Second Shutout for Mets Starters leads to 1-0 Victory over Phillies

New York – If a doctor were to sit down and write out a prescription for the Mets it would read like this: “A shutout a day will keep the losing streak at bay.”  The New York Mets (58-57) were able to do just that behind a very strong starting performance from knuckleball specialist R. A. Dickey to blank the Philadelphia Phillies (64-51), by the score of 1-0 in Friday night baseball at Citi Field.

The Mets now have had back-to-back complete game shutouts as Santana and Dickey became the first pair of Mets pitchers to post shutouts since Pedro Astacio and Jeff D’Amico went the distance in consecutive two-hitters on May 14-15, 2002 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Notching their major league-leading 18th shutout this evening, the Mets have had their last four victories all come in shutouts.

Dickey (8-5) was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets in throwing a complete-game shutout against the National League East Rival Phillies. The righty was able to baffle the Phillies batters, striking out seven while only giving up one walk and one hit. The lone hit for Philadelphia came from opposing pitcher Cole Hamels, who laced a single to right field. Hamels (7-9) went eight innings for Philadelphia in a fine start, striking out eight Mets hitters. What hurt the lefty were the five hits that he gave up to the Mets with four of them falling in for extra base hits.

In speaking about his starter Mets manager Jerry Manuel had this to say, “Today he (Dickey) was very impressive for us. He is very much a competitor and he knew what he needed to do and he did it.”

After the game Manuel continued to say how he felt that pitching and defense was also a part of that Mets prescription for leading them to victories in the rest of the 2010 season. Well the Mets got plenty of great defensive plays in the game as in the first two innings shortstop Jose Reyes made two very nice diving plays for New York.

“We put an emphasis on pitching and defense, and we think that is our formula to win games,” Manuel said after the game, “Guys have responded very well to that formula so far.”

Mike Hessman also had two very nice defensive plays for the Mets, both coming in the bottom of the second inning taking care of two very hit ground balls and was able to make the outs against two very speedy runners. Hessman also recorded his first major league triple in the bottom of the fifth inning, but not without help of instant replay.

It seemed as if the rookie was able to hit a first pitch changeup into the crowd in left field which fell for what was originally called a home run.  That call was immediately protested by the Phillies players and manager Charlie Manuel as a fan interference play. In doing the right thing the umpiring crew immediately went into the replay booth inside of Citi Field to make the correct call. The umpires came out after a six minute delay to tell the rookie that he was going to get a triple. After the umpires call was made the 35,440 in attendance very upset immediately voicing their displeasure at the reversed call.

“The umpiring crew went to Major League Baseball for the official ruling,” Manuel explained of the overturned call. “They look at all of the different angels and they made that determination.” Hessman was awarded third base because, “When the ball hit the wall, Mike was already past second base and on his way to third; so I thought it was the right call for us.”

New York wasn’t able to cash in on that extra base hit as Hamels worked out of trouble. It would not stay that way for the Philadelphia starter as consecutive doubles in the bottom of the sixth inning by David Wright (29) and Carlos Beltran (6) was all the Mets needed to win the game.

“Having Beltran and Wright get hits tonight for us was a huge boost to our offense,” Manuel said after the game. “If we can get them both going at the same time it will be a positive thing for us offensively.”

Also contributing to the Mets offense was left fielder Angel Pagan who out hustled a very strong throw by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Pagan continued to show off his speed by stealing second and third base (28). Catcher Henry Blanco was another part of the Mets offense in the bottom of the seventh inning, when scorched a ball down the left-field line for a ground-rule double (5).

The Mets will try to continue to ride this shutout momentum, and keep to the doctor’s prescription in game two against the Phillies on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Philadelphia will send out their own doctor in Roy “Doc” Halladay (14-8, 2.34 ERA) takes on Pat Misch. The 28-year-old lefty was 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo will be called up to make the first start of the 2010 season. Mish had a taste of action with the Mets last season posting a 4.12 ERA in 59 innings.

Posted under Amico, Batters, Cole Hamels, Complete Game, Defensive Plays, Game Shutout, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Lefty, Los Angeles Dodgers, Losing Streak, Major League, National League East, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pedro Astacio, Philadelphia Phillies, Pitchers, Santana, Shortstop, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 14, 2010