Sports Beat “Self-absorbed Matt”

In yet another dreary Mets season Matt Harvey gave Mets fans a number of thrills this season such as pitching two scoreless innings as the starting pitcher in the 2013 All-Star Game played at Citi Field this past July. You would have to go back nearly 30 years to Dwight Gooden’s heyday to find a Mets pitcher who could dominate opposing hitters at will.

He was such a big story that Jimmy Fallon used him for a hilarious “man in the street” bit to see how many New Yorkers could recognize him. ESPN Magazine put him on the cover in the buff for its July “body issue” while Men’s Journal ran a feature on him that made it clear that he was thoroughly enjoying the trappings of being a handsome, young New York celebrity.

Last month Mets fans’ collective spirits took a dive when it was diagnosed that Harvey’s pitching elbow suffered a tear and that it was probable that he would miss the 2014 season. It would be a certainty if he elected to have surgery something that he understandably is hoping to avoid although it seems inevitable that he will need a procedure.

Given that Harvey has been a hero to beleaguered Mets fans, combined with the fact that his future is clearly in jeopardy, many of the media who cover the team have been reticent to report that he has been rather unapproachable in the clubhouse for a good chunk of the season and that you were lucky to get a one-word response to questions if he did deign to talk to you.

Harvey’s arrogance would certainly have gone unreported by me had he not made a jerk out of himself last Wednesday when he agreed to be a guest on Dan Patrick’s NBC Sports Network Show. Instead of answering Patrick’s questions about his pitching arm issues, Harvey insisted on shilling, rather inarticulately I might add, for the cellular telephone chip manufacturer, Qualcomm. Dan understandably skewered him after the interview was over.

In contrast, McDonald’s did things right last Tuesday when it brought in Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz for a press event at their Times Square restaurant to promote their new Mighty Wings snack. Cruz is a commercial endorser for McDonald’s but he gamely took questions about the Giants’ 0-2 start from the attending press.

The personable Cruz is one of the few Hispanic sports to land a bevy of national endorsement deals. He has done TV and magazine ads for Time Warner Cable, Gillette, and Advil as well as raking in big bucks from Nike for wearing their apparel. Even the great Mariano Rivera never landed the lucrative corporate contracts that Victor Cruz has.

New York City’s official tourism bureau, NYC and Company, owes  MLB scheduling committee and the good folks from the Bay Area a lot of thanks. Thousands of visitors from Northern California came to New York this past week for the sole purpose of seeing the Giants play the Mets at Citi Field (the Mets’ accounting department was delighted since the place would have been a ghost town otherwise) and the Yankees in the Bronx.

The Queens Economic Development Council, which had a booth at the US Open, to inform visitors of what Queens has to offer, should do the same in front of Citi Field. Queens has terrific restaurants that are just as good, if not better, and far less expensive than those in Manhattan. Yet the vast majority of out-of-town visitors attending a sporting event don’t know that. If nothing else, the QEDC should be visible when the Phillies come into play the Mets next year because a lot of fans drive in from Philadelphia and its suburbs to see their team at Citi Field. They have already paid the high parking charges so they might as well get their money’s worth by walking over the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge to Flushing and try one of its many fine dining establishments.

It wasn’t that long ago that the San Francisco Giants drew even fewer fans than the Mets do for a game. A great deal of the credit for the turnaround has to go to the team’s CEO, Lawrence Baer, who was instrumental in getting AT& T Park built in San Francisco and then putting together a team that won two World Series in the last three years. Baer is the rare baseball executive who enjoys schmoozing with the media and with fans. Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon could learn a lot by observing him. Perhaps Jeff’s dad, Mets owner Fred Wilpon, could make a call to Baer to arrange for Jeff to have an internship with him.

I asked Baer about the team that plays across San Francisco Bay from his, the Oakland Athletics, and their quest to get a new stadium. Baer and the Giants are not happy that the A’s want to move south to San Jose where the Giants have a minor league team there and they consider it to be their territory. The city of San Jose is suing Major League Baseball for their attempts to prevent the A’s from moving there.

Baer could not comment on this pending litigation but he did not disagree with my assessment that the A’s would be better off building a new ballpark on Oakland’s sizable waterfront that is well-served by mass transit. The A’s would be rolling the dice moving 50 miles from their current home in the hopes of tapping into the Silicon Valley corporate world.

The Mets’ cable outlet, SNY, made a big deal in advance of Jerry Seinfeld’s guest analyst gig last Tuesday night that lasted a paltry four innings. Except for one joke about surgeon to star athletes Dr. James Andrews who gets a lot of press attention even when he just offers an opinion, Jerry did not bring much to the table. Seinfeld, a  Queens College alum, did not meet with the media and his bodyguards got him out of Citi Field as quickly as possible by interacting with as few people as possible.

Under Armour, the Baltimore-based sports apparel company, continues to chip away at Nike’s dominance in the marketplace. St. John’s University announced this week that Under

Armour will be the official supplier of uniforms for its sports teams for the next six years.

With both leisure time and disposable income becoming increasingly more difficult for Americans, destination and resorts are competing harder for attention. California’s San Luis Obispo County took out a booth at the GBK Lounge in Manhattan’s Empire Hotel during Fashion Week while the Puerto Rico Tourism Company did the same at the US Open. Last Monday, the Blue Lagoon Resort in Iceland, the European country located closest to the USA, held a reception for travel agents and the press in midtown Manhattan.

The weather is still warm and sunny but we all know that the cold weather isn’t far behind. Ski Vermont, the private consortium that markets that state’s many ski resorts, was in town Thursday week to promote the fact that nearly all of the resorts there will be offering bargain lodging and ski lessons in January to beginners. Many ski lodges, including Killington and Stowe Mountain will be making their own snow as early as November. Sugarbush is offering an unlimited ski pass without any blackout dates to those under 30 for $299. The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe (yes, the same von Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame) still offers the best in cross-country skiing and they are opening an Austrian lager brewery. They hope to ship can and bottles to retailers all over the world by next year.

Consumer Reports is great when it comes to comparing high ticket items such as cars, computers, and refrigerators, and on occasion they touch smaller priced items. If you want to find out the best-rated in everyday items such as snacks, paper goods, soaps, oral care products, and cleaning supplies, log onto www.productoftheyearusa.com . A research company, TNS, surveys a scientific sampling of 50,000 consumers to get the results.

Posted under Cellular Telephone, Chip Manufacturer, Dwight Gooden, Heyday, Lloyd Carroll, Man In The Street, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Qualcomm, Scoreless Innings, Shilling, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Trappings, Word Response

Sports Beat “Matt wins the big matchups”

It’s unlikely that the Mets will be playing meaningful games this coming September but starting pitcher Matt Harvey has singlehandedly given the Flushing faithful a commodity that they have lacked for a long time–hope.

Harvey was the Mets’ top pick (seventh overall) in the 2010 Major League baseball amateur draft. Of course given the Mets’ checkered history with “can’t miss prospects” it’s understandable to take a wait-and-see attitude. He came up for the proverbial cup of coffee with the Mets in August 2012 and was far more impressive than his three-win, five-loss record showed.

When it became clear that Johan Santana would be lost for the 2013 season it was imperative for Mets management that Matt Harvey succeed . He has delivered so far beyond even the most optimistic Mets’ fans wildest dreams as this month he has beaten two of baseball’s best pitchers, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and Washington Nationals’ phenomenon, Stephen Strasburg. It was the first time that I could recall the Mets winning a game against either pitcher.

A bonus for the Mets is that Matt Harvey is not a wimp in the batter’s box. He is arguably the best hitting pitcher that they have had in ages.

San Diego may have the best year-round climate in the US as it never gets cold in the winter nor hot and humid in the summer. New York baseball fans may want to consider taking lengthy August vacations there as the Yankees will play the Padres the weekend of August 2-4 while the Mets come into Petco Park exactly two weeks later.

There are a lot of great hotels that provide a lot of amenities at reasonable rates and have friendly staff to boot. The West Inn & Suites located in the North San Diego town of Carlsbad is a new boutique hotel that is a short walk from the Pacific Ocean. Its two fine dining restaurants, Bistro West and West Steak And Seafood, are as  popular with the locals as they are with hotel guests.

The historic  Grande Colonial in the La Jolla Village section of San Diego is celebrating its centennial this year. It’s located two blocks from La Jolla Cove where the sea lions and seals like to reside. The Grande Colonial’s 910 Restaurant has won numerous culinary awards for it California cuisine. All of its rooms are quite spacious.

A third option is the Hyatt Regency La Jolla located just off I-5 in the hip University Town Center neighborhood. Its central location, Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool, and relaxing concierge lounge make it one of my favorite chain hotels.

*****

Mets players are probably still thawing out from their first road trip of the season that included stops in frigid Minneapolis and snowy Denver. Mets relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins played the first seven years of his big league career for the Twins but they played in a dome stadium back then instead of their current outdoor ballpark, Target Field. “I would never have lasted if I had to play outdoors in April with them!” he told me.

Dillon Gee couldn’t have picked a better time to come up with a big game than last Sunday when he threw nearly six innings of shutout ball against the very potent lineup of the Washington Nationals as the Mets would go on to win 2-0. Gee had been roughed up in his first three starts of the season but it should be noted that he pitched in some very brutal weather.

The annual ESPN Day at the Tribeca Film Festival will take place this Saturday. Among the sports documentaries that will be screened at the Tribeca Cinemas are “Big Shot,” a film about former Islanders owner John Spano who bought the team in 1996 despite having few assets to his name, and “Lenny Cooke,” which recounts the sad tale of the Brooklyn native hoops star who many scouts felt had more natural talent than either LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Amar’e Stoudemire when he declared himself eligible for the 2002 NBA Draft. He was not selected by an NBA team that night and he forfeited a college career in the process.

It had been a foregone conclusion that the Jets were going to trade their All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis but getting back only a first-round pick (the thirteenth overall) in Thursday’s NFL Draft as well as a fourth round pick next year from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers does not strike me as a good return for new Jets general manager John Idzik.

The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League will have some name former major leaguers playing for them this summer. One of the best hitters over the last 20 years, Vladimir Guerrero, will be trying to make a career comeback as will pitcher Dontrelle Willis and former Mets catcher Ramon Castro.

Pat Summerall’s stentorian voice and no-nonsense erudite play-by-play broadcast style disproved the myth that former athletes could only be used in limited game analyst or pre and post-game roles. He was also the first sports anchor on WCBS-AM when that station switched in 1967 from music to the all-news format that continues to this day. Pat had been in declining health in recent years so his passing last week was not unexpected. Nonetheless he will be missed.

The Rangers have been a disappointment in this shortened NHL season but they may be turning things around at the most important time. They looked quite sharp Sunday in defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Garden which eliminated the team from Newark from the playoffs. The Blueshirts are holding on to the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference as they head into the final weekend of the regular season.

The media will understandably remind all of us about what happened in Boston last week when the New York Marathon comes around next November. There is no way that safety can be guaranteed against psychopaths on a 26.2 mile outdoor route. Law enforcement officials will do their best and we should do ours as well by not cowering in fear and living our lives to the fullest extent.

Hot cereals such as oatmeal tend to be eaten more in the winter than other times of the year. Nonetheless the cardiovascular benefits that come from quality organic oatmeal from brands as Better Oats and One Degree should not be forgotten about in warmer weather. Both Starbucks and Jamba Juice sell oatmeal in their stores if you are out of the house.

As a kid I loved  Cheez Doodles. It is still a guilty junk food pleasure. A cleverly named company from Connecticut however, Sneaky Snacks, has created a healthier alternative with its White Cheddar Baked Super Puffs that are lower in calories and contain more fiber and protein.

Even well-known liquor companies are realizing that more of us are watching our weight. Smirnoff has introduced a Sorbet Light of fruit-flavored vodkas that it is touting as “reduced calorie.” I guess if you can have light beer than why not reduced calorie vodka?

BET, the leading African-American cable television network introduced its fall programming last week to media and advertisers last week. To promote its fledgling Centric Network, which you can think of as a soulful VH-1Classic, BET executives brought out legendary singer Chaka Khan who can still hit the high notes to “Tell Me Something Good” as if it were still 1975.

A new show, “Strive To Thrive,” starring the attractive husband and wife team of Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, will try to educate the public on how to live healthier lives through proper nutrition and realistic exercise ideas. Kodjoe is one of the stars on BET”s biggest hit, “The Real Husbands of Hollywood,” that brilliant parodies the Bravo Network’s endless “Real Wives” franchise.

Posted under Baseball Amateur Draft, Baseball Fans, Checkered History, Cold In The Winter, Cup Of Coffee, Fine Dining Restaurants, Hotel Guests, Johan Santana, Lloyd Carroll, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Roy Halladay, Starting Pitcher, Time Hope, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wildest Dreams, York Baseball

One out away from a Mets home win but they kept Phillies in the race

New York – Before their game with the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night at Cit Field, New York Mets manager Terry Collins was again discussing how things went right in the first half and what went wrong in the second half of another dismal season in Flushing.

With rookie pitcher Matt Harvey on the mound for his final start, the right hander was a topic. Collins was pleased with the first round 2010 draft pick. Again, Harvey had a superb outing, but did not figure in the decision as the Phillies came from behind and scored two runs in the eighth inning on a Ryan Howard two run homer for a 3-2 win.

Harvey wanted the win and it appeared New York was on their way to getting their first win at home since August 26th against the Houston Astros.

But another rookie out of the pen, Josh Edgin with two outs in the ninth threw what he said was a “meatball,” a- 93-mile fastball that went to the Pepsi Porch in right. The Phillies got their third win when trailing after eight innings and kept pace for one of two wild card spots in the National League.

Edgin  (1-2) filled in for Frank Francisco, who is bothered with shoulder tendinitis and is day-to-day. He walked Chase Utley on a full count, Howard connected, Jonathon Pabelbon got his 36th save, and the Mets extended their home losing streak to eight games, 4-23 in the second half.

The runs charged to Edgin were his first earned in his last 16 appearances. “

“That’s the Howard we are accustomed to,” commented Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels who struck out 10, in six innings. Monday night, Cliff Lee also fanned 10- Mets in the opening game of three in eight innings.

So with eight games remaining at Citi Field, with the Mets concluding their schedule on the road, they hope to not establish a baseball record with the least wins at home in the second half. And they continued to be effortless when it comes to scoring runs at home

New York extended their franchise record by scoring three runs or less in 15 consecutive home games.

David Wright hit his first home run since August 24th off Hamels in the sixth inning, now with two home runs and 12 RBI since July 28th. Daniel Murphy knocked in another run with an RBI tying single to left center in the third that scored Ruben Tejada who got to second on a steal.

Tejada went 3-for-5, including two hits of Hamels and helped Harvey with some more outstanding plays at shortstop with two double plays.

Harvey would allow one hit in seven innings, a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins in the first inning, and he became the first Mets pitcher to allow a leadoff home run as his only hit over seven innings.

In ten starts Harvey finished 3-5, with a 2.73 ERA. He had 70 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings with 42 hits and 26 walks.

“There was definitely some excitement,” he said. Collins and the Mets project him to be in the starting rotation next season and he could be an eventual ace of the staff. “I had some tingles. It was kind of a sad moment, I guess, because I knew I was done. It was a good experience.”

He walked three and threw a career high 112 pitches, receiving a standing ovation from the slim Citi Field crowd of 21,741.

Said Harvey,” I left it all out there. Part of the reason I don’t want to stop pitching is because I have so much fun with these guys. Even though we’re struggling right now it’s still a big league ballclub. Being up here for the first time and getting to see how everyone plays the game every day, it’s been the biggest excitement for me. I’m going to miss it. The last two weeks are going to be tough.”

It was tough for Collins also to see his rookie pitcher conclude. He has seen Harvey pitch as a minor league instructor before taking over managerial duties. However, Collins knows the Mets have a future ace and expects big things ahead for the youngster.

“I wish we would have got a win for him,” said Collins. “But Matt Harvey ought to spend the winter feeling pretty good about himself and the way he’s handled everything up here, the way he’s pitched.”

With that, Collins will continue to look at his other youngsters on the pitching staff as the Mets get closer to finishing their fourth straight losing season after a 46-40 first half.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Baseball Record, Cole Hamels, Dismal Season, Eighth Inning, Fastball, Franchise Rec, Houston Astros, Losing Streak, Meatball, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Right Hander, Rookie Pitcher, Ryan Howard, Shoulder Tendinitis, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 20, 2012

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Mets Starter Collin McHugh Makes a Superlative Major League Debut, but Mets Lose to Rockies, 1-0

The Mets have been in a downward slide since the All-Star break. The most recent debacles were the shutting down of starter Johan Santana for the remainder of the season and being swept in a four game series to the woeful and also injury ridden Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.

The only positive for a losing team in the final weeks of a season is being able to bring up minor league players for the opportunity to test their skills at the major league level during regular season games. Thursday’s starting pitcher for the Mets, Collin McHugh, was making his big league debut in place of Santana.

The 25 year-old hurler’s official journey to the majors began in 2008, when he was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft. He slowly moved up in class since his draft. During the 2012 season, he made 12 starts for Binghamton in AA and then moved up to make 12 additional starts for Buffalo in AAA.

McHugh’s pre-September call-up to start on Thursday afternoon was caused by Santana’s injury that prevented him from making his scheduled start. Thus, one can understand from this situation that one man’s curse can be another man’s blessing.

After the contest ended, Met’s manager Terry Collins spoke about this type of happenstance all season, “When our starting pitching went down, you have to start looking at the younger guys.”

After 2012 Olympic gymnast gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch, McHugh threw his first pitch of the game at 1:11 pm. The first Colorado batter, Charlie Blackmon, doubled to left. The rookie then retired the next three batters, fanning Jordan Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez.

The neophyte continued his excellent work during the next six innings. In his seven frames, McHugh only surrendered two hits. He walked one batter, Gonzalez, and struck out nine. The high level of his performance was very rare. He was the first Met making his debut in the majors since Masato Yoshii on April 5, 1998, to pitch seven scoreless innings. He is only the third hurler making his Major League debut to pitch at least seven innings, give up two hits and strike out nine.

Catcher Josh Thole said of his rookie batterymate’s performance, “He was outstanding today. He hammered the strike zone.”

McHugh described his feelings on the mound, “I felt great. I felt real comfortable out there…My goal was to go out there and give this team a chance to win. This is my debut, but I hope to have a lot more.”

The young pitcher expressed joy in the presence of his immediate family and close friends being in the park to see him perform well, “[Present were] mom, dad, wife, sister, brother, cousin, and a couple of friends that could be family. The Lord has really blessed me more than I deserve.”

McHugh’s outstanding outing did not lead to a Mets win due to the club’s lack of effective offense and the usual ineffective bullpen work. Met batters went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, lowering the club’s clutch output to 25 for 143, a batting average below .180 during the month of August.

The Mets bullpen in the person of Bobby Parnell gave up the only run of the game very quickly in the eighth. Pacheco tripled over the head of Jordany Valdespin in center. Collins admitted of the misplay by the converted infielder, “You have to be careful of putting guys out of position. It’s [a mistake] going to happen at the wrong time.” The next batter, Chris Nelson, singled to score Pacheco. The loss was the 25th by a Mets reliever this year. The Mets bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors.

In contrast to the Mets bullpen, Colorado’s relievers held the Mets scoreless for six innings. Reliever Rex Brothers, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings, earned his seventh straight win.

The Mets have yet to score a run off Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood. The 22 year old has blanked New York for 10 innings of work, giving up only seven hits. He left the game on Thursday after only three innings.

The two teams are moving in opposite directions. The Rockies, although in last place in the N.L. West, have been victorious in 9 of their last 11 contests while the Mets have only won 4 of their most recent 17 games.

Collins spoke very openly of the current play of his team, “We can’t execute. We left 12 guys on base today.” Speaking of the sweep by the Rockies, he admitted, “They [Rockies] got big hits. They just played better.”

The Mets will next play a weekend series with the team with the worst record in the majors, the Houston Astros. Houston, making its final appearances as a National League team at Citi Field, will start Jordan Lyles (2-10) on Friday night. The Mets starter will be Jonathon Niese (10-6).

 

Posted under Batters, Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, Downward Slide, Gabrielle, Game Series, Gold Medalist, Happenstance, Johan Santana, League Debut, Losing Team, Mchugh, New York Mets, Olympic Gymnast, Pacheco, Regular Season Games, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on August 24, 2012

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Reyes return overshadowed by Mets injuries and Johan Santana

New York – Jose Reyes was supposed to be the storyline at Citi Field Tuesday evening returning to New York for the first time since signing the lucrative off-season deal with the Miami Marlins. However, that was overshadowed by the outstanding pitching of Johan Santana and the Mets placing outfielder Jason Bay and starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list.

Reyes would go hitless in four appearances at the plate. It was due to the sharp pitching of Santana who went 6.2 innings, striking out eleven Marlins. But once again, Santana, in his fourth outing failed to get run support.

He did not figure in the decision as the Mets got a deciding run in the eighth inning and won the first game of a three-game series, 2-1.

Reyes had a pre game meeting with the media in the Marlins dugout. He was excited to be back in New York, met with his old teammates, and the Mets paid tribute to one of their former franchise players with a brief tribute on the video board before the first pitch.

As expected the small crowd that gathered to their seats gave him resounding boos, though there were those who gave him a nice welcome when they stood and cheered his name. When he stepped to the plate, for his first at bat leading off the game the displeasure of Reyes leaving for greener pastures to Miami were heard from the announced crowd of 20,192.

“It was kind of weird for me a little bit but after the third inning everything goes away and you just focus on playing baseball,” he said. Off to a slow start, Reyes would almost get an extra base hit leading off. The pitch from Santana looked like it would go out of the ballpark, but center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis made a leaping catch at the fence.

Reyes said, “It is good to get it out of the way. Tomorrow I’ll have a better idea. But it’s good to see my buddies over there. I played for them for a long time.”

However, Mets fans may never forgive the National league batting champion and homegrown product from leaving. It was a matter of another year and a few million more that that Mets did not offer to keep Reyes in a Mets uniform. He signed the $106 million, six-year contract with the Marlins, a team expected to contend and favored over the Mets in the NL East.

Santana went about his business and rebounded from his last start in Atlanta. Last week he gave up six runs in the first inning, eight overall in 4.1 innings. The fastball and changeup were sharp and he had great command. But once again he failed to get a single run of support.

Marlins starter Josh Johnson, also working on six days of rest was just as effective going 6 2-3 innings, charged with one run and three hits.

“I put that one out of the way,” he said about the loss to Atlanta. “I still have a long way to go but it is good to have an outing like this. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

He struck out two in each of the first five innings and had his most strikeouts since the 11 against the Braves on August 2, 2010. In nine previous starts against the Marlins, Santana was 6-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He gave up a one-out single in the first, and did not give up another hit until a Giancarlo Stanton two-out single in the seventh. He was removed after throwing 105 pitches.

On facing Reyes for the first time, he said, “I didn’t do anything different. Everything we do here is professional and we went about our business.”

Lucas Duda hit a tie-breaking single in the eighth that came off the finger of Marlins reliever Edward Mujica that scored the deciding run. Jon Rauch (3-0) picked up the win and Frank Francisco with a hitless ninth got his fourth save.

But the Mets win was also overshadowed by their continued bad streak of injuries. Bay, injured fielding a ball in left, in the second game of a twin bill Monday against the Giants, sustained a broken rib and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Bay will return, but the Mets will be cautious as he is once again is hindered by an injury coming after missing a significant amount of games last year.

The injury to Pelfrey is more of a concern. The right hander, without a win in three starts, was also placed on the 15-day DL with swelling of his pitching elbow. There were reports circulating at the ballpark, not confirmed, that Pelfrey would be shut down for the season and undergo Tommy John Surgery.

Mets manager Terry Collins would not confirm that report about Pelfrey as the Mets suddenly have a rash of injuries that prompted them to call up youngsters from their AAA affiliate Buffalo and Binghamton AA team.

The Reyes return to New York is over. The Mets have moved on as Ruben Tejada, the heir apparent at shortstop has assumed the role and handled the job well in the early going.

As Tejada said about Reyes, “He was a good teammate. Nothing is different. We got the win.” But the manager Terry Collins has to do without Pelfrey and Bay and that seems to have not changed for the Mets, the injuries that continue to plague this team.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring7886@aol.com

Posted under Batting Champion, Boos, Center Fielder, Citi, Displeasure, Eighth Inning, First Game, Franchise Players, Game Series, Greener Pastures, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Marlins Dugout, Mets Fans, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Outfielder, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Video Board

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 25, 2012

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Phillies push Mets further back; Reyes expected back on Tuesday

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey knew he threw a bad pitch to Michael Martinez, the 28-year old rookie of the NL east division leading Philadelphia Phillies. He got hold of a Pelfrey fastball in the fifth inning, a three-run shot for his first career home run.

“I made a mistake, it was supposed to be fast and down,” said Pelfrey about the home run to right off a 2-0 pitch. It was enough for the Phillies to take two of three from the Mets with an 8-5 win at Citi Field Sunday afternoon. Pelfrey (5-9) went five innings, gave up four runs and the home run to Martinez was the 16th he gave up this season. When Pelfrey gives up the home run ball, as seems to be a frequent part of his game this season, the right hander has obvious control issues.

“The long ball is what is killing him,” said Mets Manager Terry Collins about his ace starter. Pelfrey has assumed that role more with Johan Santana not slated to return to the rotation anytime soon. Consistency has been an issue for Pelfrey who is 0-2 and with a 9.47 ERA against the Phillies this season. “He’s our guy,” added Collins who saw Pelfrey have two other good outings this month.

Martinez, in for the injured all-star third baseman Placido Polanco, would finish with a career best four RBI game. The Rule-5 pick from the Washington Nationals and native of Santo Domingo DR, said through a translator, “it was worth the wait. I am not a power hitter so I am surprised it left the yard.”

But it was not just Pelfrey that continued to put the Mets further back to the Phillies in the standings, and to the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild card standings. The Mets did make a game of it scoring three runs in the eighth and one run in the ninth, but went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position. They scored one run off Phils starter and winner Kyle Kendrick (5-4) a,nd three runs off a battered Philadelphia pen, including a run scoring triple by Lucas Duda in the ninth off closer Antonio Bastardo who got his sixth save.

It is obvious, with the Phillies not throwing starters Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, a combined 20 wins between the two, that to beat them you need to have good pitching. Pelfrey and Collins know that they have a lineup of potent hitters. “I thought the guys fought hard today,” said Collins. “We just didn’t pitch today. That was the difference. You have to hold these guys down to keep them from scoring because they have a good pitching staff.”

In the three game series, New York went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position. Part of that could be attributed to the absence of Carlos Beltran from the lineup the past two games. Beltran has been sidelined with a severe flu, and Collins said, the weakened Beltran would not be available Monday night when the Mets host the Florida Marlins in a makeup game that was postponed by rain on May 17th.

Philadelphia opened the game with a three-run eighth inning when Jason Bay in left came in on a Ryan Howard liner and the ball hit off the top of his glove for an error. The Citi Field crowd booed Bay again, as he also went 0-for-4 at the plate.

“I missed it,” commented Bay when asked about the play. “It’s one of those things where I missed it. And with Scott Hairston driving in another run with a pinch hit single in the seventh, hitting .375 with two home runs and 10 RBI over his last 10 games, Bay was asked if he was concerned about losing his spot in the lineup.

To that Bay said, “It’s not my job, not my decision to make. Before the break started I had the momentum going.” Bay was on a streak before the all-star break and the Mets lineup seemed to click with Beltran hitting also, even without the injured Jose Reyes out of the lineup.

“When you saw Jason swing the bat last week, thought he was coming out of it,” said Collins. “When we get Carlos (Beltran) back, that should help.” However Beltran left the ballpark after receiving another IV treatment for loss of fluids because of the flu, and Collins said he was almost sure the outfielder will miss another game.

Leaving 11 men on base did not help. And Collins did have another chance to mix and match out of the bullpen, but did not use Bobby Parnell as the closer with the now traded Francisco Rodriguez now in Milwaukee.  One with Florida Monday night, and then three with the St. Louis Cardinals and he can only hope that Beltran returns to the lineup.

NOTES: Chris Capuano (8-8) gets the start against the Marlins who came to New York Sunday night after a Sunday game in Chicago. After the game Florida will go home and play San Diego for three, and the Mets for three more…Duda with two more hits  upped his average to .328 with nine RBI in his last 19 games…Daniel Murphy with a single in the first extended his hitting streak to seven games…

It was the fourth series loss for the Mets against the Phillies this season…Now the good news. Jose Reyes ran before the game and tested the injured hamstring. He is slated to start Monday afternoon for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the Penn league and if all goes well Reyes could come off the DL and start Tuesday night at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Fastball, Fifth Inning, Johan Santana, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Philadelphia Phillies, Power Hitter, Right Hander, Runners, Santo Domingo Dr, Star Third Baseman, Starting Pitcher, Sunday Afternoon, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wild Card

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 18, 2011

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Bin Laden’s Death Unites Fans of Bitter NL East Rivals

There normally exists a strong, mutual dislike, and even hatred, between fans of the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, especially when their teams are playing each other.

But, on Sunday night, during the Mets’ 2-1, 14-inning victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, fans of each of those clubs were briefly united behind the same team, as Americans first.

That’s when chants of “U! S! A!” broke out as the Mets batted in the top of the ninth inning, shortly before United States’ president and commander-in-chief Barack Obama later addressed the nation on television with news of the successful capture and death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“I got chills hearing that,” said Mets’ starting pitcher, Chris Young.

In the age of smart phones and instant information, fans at the ballpark didn’t need to wait for the announcement after the game. As soon as the news broke everywhere else, it likewise permeated the stands, linking Met and Phillie fans in something much bigger than baseball.

Perhaps due to its timeless nature, as a game played without a clock, with more of a focus on individual heroes as much as on teams, baseball, seemingly more than any other sport, has often been connected to and remembered in that way with historical events occurring outside of the sport.

Such was the case on Sunday night.

Appropriately, while President Obama broke the news from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, the only major league game of what used to be (or perhaps still is) America’s past time, was being played within the state of Pennsylvania.

And, in some sense, it was even more fitting to have a team from New York play a team from Pennsylvania while the President spoke from the nation’s capitol about the death of bin Laden, who claimed ultimate responsibility for the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil, on September 11, 2001.

On that horrific and fateful day almost a decade ago, two hijacked planes took down the famed Twin Towers in the city from which the Mets hail, while another plane struck the Pentagon not far from the site of president Obama’s White House speech on Sunday night, and a fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylanvia.

Thus, as before, baseball on Sunday night was again tied at least in some small way to an historic moment in U.S. history.

As for something of far less significance, the last-place Mets (12-16) avoided a three-game sweep in Philadelphia against the first-place Phillies (18-9), to end a three-game losing streak while snapping Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak.

Young (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7K) and Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee (7 IP, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K) were locked in a pitcher’s duel and each team’s bullpen, for the most part, continued to shut down their opposing teams’ lineups.

New York right-fielder Carlos Beltran gave the Mets a 1-0 lead on an RBI double to right-center field as third baseman David Wright singled before racing home from first on Beltran’s hit.

After Young exited, reliever Jason Isringhausen allowed a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter John Mayberry to start the bottom of the eighth inning.

Mayberry was sacrificed to second base but Isringhausen induced a pop out from third baseman Placido Polanco for the second out.

Pitcher Tim Byrdak then relieved Isringhausen and allowed a shallow single to left field by first baseman Ryan Howard. Mayberry beat a throw home on the hit to even the score, 1-1.

The game stayed that way until Wright led off the top of the 14th inning with a single to shallow left field before moving to third base with two outs, after a one-out single by leftfielder Jason Bay and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Ike Davis.

Catcher Ronny Paulino, who had a career-high five hits in seven at-bats while making his first start as a Met, sent Wright home with a game-winning, RBI double to left field off of pitcher Kyle Kendrick (who fell to 1-2).

Reliever Taylor Bucholz (1-0) pitched a perfect bottom of the 14th inning to post his first win as a Met in the third game to last as many as fourteen innings in the majors this year.

That bit of history along with Paulino recording the most hits of any player while making an initial start for the franchise made it a momentous night for the Mets.

However, for the Mets’ city, that of their opponent, and for the rest of the world, it was a night in which Bucholz, Paulino, and the Mets didn’t mind being overshadowed.

Posted under Barack Obama, Fateful Day, Historical Events, Inning Victory, Instant Information, Mutual Dislike, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Nl East, Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia Phillies, September 11 2001, Starting Pitcher, State Of Pennsylvania, Timeless Nature, Top Story, Worst Terrorist Attack

This post was written by Jon Wagner on May 2, 2011

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Names May Have Changed But The Met Bullpen Is The Same

FLUSHING, NY – Terry Collins has now managed seven games for the New York Mets. Friday in the opening home game loss to the Washington Nationals he said frustration was not an issue this early in the season. Perhaps he is thinking differently now after an 11-inning 7-3 loss to Washington Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

Frustration though won’t come from Collins, at least this early. But his bullpen may change the mood fast after they spoiled a terrific second outing for starting pitcher Chris Young.  After Young was removed after seven innings, giving up one run, the pen and a defensive miscue opened the door for Washington to take the rubber game.

“He got us to where we wanted to go,” said Collins about his starter who retired 15 of 21 on fly balls. “He got us to the eighth inning and we couldn’t hold it for him. It’s a shame, but he pitched great.”  But the pen did not, and that may be leading to early season frustration for the news Mets manager.

An outfield error for the second straight game also gave this one to the Nationals in the eighth inning. Lucas Duda misjudged a ball by leadoff hitter Ivan Rodriguez that led to a double. D.J. Carrasco then gave up a walk and a single. That would tie the game at 3-3.

From there the Mets pen took it from there, maybe more horrific than the pen that blew so many games in 2010 at Citi Field. And it wasn’t Frankie Rodriguez who retired one batter. It was Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, and Blaine Boyer who added to the pen woes of the Mets that gave up 11 walks and 10 hits in 11 innings in the three-game series.

Four runs in the 11th including a tie breaking single by Rodriguez, and a three-run homer from Laynce Nix off the loser, Boyer( 0-2) made Young’s outing a short term memory. And most of the 35,157 fans left in the ballpark headed for the exits, changes were made on the roster, and Collins offered some frustration.

Duda was optioned to Triple- A Buffalo after the game and changes were made in the pen. Pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Jason Isringhausen, the 38-year old home grown Met, signed to a spring training contract will be at Citi Field Monday evening when the Mets begin a four-game series with Colorado.

“I guess you’ve got to convince them that they got to get beat by somebody swinging the bat,” commented Collins. After seven games, the (3-4) Mets have plenty of time to find a way to get the outs in late innings. Carrasco has been doing the job, so has Bobby Parnell for the most part.

Bur Collins said he avoided using Parnell after two straight appearances out of the pen.  On using Rodriguez to get an out in the eighth, Collins said, “We are not going to wear Frankie out.”  Not using K-Rod has nothing to do with the new performance clause in his revamped contract of innings pitched.

“This is the big leagues and they’ve got to be able to land some pitches,” offered Collins when asked about concern of the Mets pen not able to pick up a win for Young.  “I’m not saying you’re never going to walk somebody, but we’re walking at too high a rate right now.”

Young who spent most of last season with San Diego on the disabled list, due to a sore right shoulder, had a second outing with his new team in his first start at Citi Field, “It was a great experience to be out there,” he said about the crowd and view of the ballpark.

His shoulder felt fine on another cold day at Citi Field, but Collins opted for his pen, going to Carrasco, after Young threw 108 pitches. “You have to have a short memory and it’s something to build on,” he said about the day.

But Collins also was concerned about the defense. Daniel Murphy is still learning how to handle second base. He replaced Brad Emaus and Rodriguez got a hit past him in that 11th inning. Said Carrasco, “Its horrible man to just come in there and give the game away like that is very frustrating.”

Frustrating right now is the word for the Mets after seven games. Collins won’t say it, but if things don’t get better this week against the Rockies you get the feeling the Mets manager will also be using that word more often.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

Posted under Bullpen, Eighth Inning, Fly Balls, Game Loss, Game Series, Home Game, Leadoff Hitter, Miscue, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Rubber Game, Seven Games, Short Term Memory, Starting Pitcher, Straight Game, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 10, 2011

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Home Is Not Sweet For The Mets

FLUSHING, NY – Maybe the first New York Mets home opener on a Friday since the 1995 season would make a difference. The 50th home opener, third at Citi Field, had the same result as the season closer last October, a loss to the Washington Nationals. The 6-2 loss to the Nationals Friday reminded many in the chilled sold out crowd of 41,075 that this could be a long season.

A reminder because the Mets did not hit, and pitch and that was so reminiscent of what was seen often at Citi Field in 2010.  The debut of new manager Terry Collins got off to a good start with a warm welcome from fans in pre-game introductions. The loudest ovations went to new pitcher Chris Young and for Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ralph Kiner who threw the ceremonial first pitch.

And starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (1-1) got a loud ovation. But that changed because his knuckleball was not effective after he split a nail on his index finger in the first inning.  Dickey was one of the bright spots for New York last season, but in his two starts he has walked eight batters in 11 innings including the five he issued against the Nationals.

“I’m not going to say the split nail led to the every walk,” commented Dickey. He walked a run in the fifth after the Nationals loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out singles. The fifth walk was a career high for Dickey. “It was just very tough to get the feel,” he said about the control issue due to the nail that he claims will not hinder his next start.

But Dickey was not the only issue the Mets encountered in their season debut at home. What bothered fans, as was so often the case last season was the Mets ineffective ability to drive in runs. Coming off a season opening 3-3 road trip, the Mets have lost three straight, the pitching staff has given up 27 runs, and in the last two games they are 1-17 with runners in scoring position including the ten they stranded Friday.

Frustrating for the fans in the early going, but not for the new manager who commented, “I am a long way from being frustrated.” But on opening day, an unusual 4pm start that lasted into evening, this was not what Collins would have wanted especially coming off an 11-0 loss to the Phillies on the last game of their trip the day before.

When Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-run single to right that broke his season beginning 0-12 start, off Mets reliever Bobby Parnell that was followed by an RBI ground ball from Ian Desmond, the remaining crowd that had enough of the chill decided to call it a night. That was the deciding blow, the three-run eighth that ruined a season opener.

“We have to shake it off and do better than that,” said Collins. It is so early to be in a panic mode but if Collins does not see his team bounce back in the next few days then it could get frustrating. There was a point in the game when Collins and the fans loved a rejuvenated Jose Reyes. He dived to his left in the fifth inning and started an inning ending double play with the bases loaded that kept the game close.

Though few people give the Mets a chance to be competitive this season, a bright spot could be Reyes who may not be around by September. The financially strapped Mets may not be able to afford a new contract for their home grown shortstop and he could be traded depending on where the Mets are situated by late July.

But that is another issue for a later date. The focus will now be how resilient this team is with an early season losing streak of three games. And to forget about a home opener that took away optimism for any type of respectable season. The Mets fell to 31-19 in their home openers, 1-2 at Citi Field.

“We’ll score some runs and those guys will get on base,” said Collins about Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Ike Davis who went a combined 2-for 15 at the plate. Washington starter Jordan Zimmerman (1-1) coming off Tommy John surgery in 2009 gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Nationals pen then closed the door with the committee role manager Jim Riggleman is using.

“We walked to many guys that put us in a hole,” said Collins.  He added his team will get better. His predecessor Jerry Manuel always said they would get better. But as every Mets fan knows, it did not get better.

A fresh start at Citi Field that did not get better in the later innings and when Dickey left the game it led to many questions for the next day. “Nobody in here is hitting the panic button,” said Dickey. “We are going to stay focused.”

But the question is will Mets fans stay focused if this first home stint of 2011 does not go their way?

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Batters, Hall Of Fame, Index Finger, Knuckleball, Loud Ovation, Mets Home Opener, New York Mets, Opening 3, Ovations, Ralph Kiner, Rich Mancuso, Road Trip, Runners, Season Debut, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Two Games, Warm Welcome, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2011

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Long Day At The Park For The Mets

NEW YORK – There were perhaps less than 1,000 fans in the seats at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon when New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathan Niese threw the first pitch to Milwaukee Brewers leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks at 4:10pm. It was a rare twin bill of baseball in New York City courtesy of a Monday evening rain out that required two games.

Even if the games meant nothing towards post season implications, they had to be played. The Mets are finishing up another dismal campaign, third in the NL east, and the Brewers sitting fourth in the NL central also playing out the string and ready to pack their bags for the winter

Because net receipts from the gate and concessions are so important to the teams, the schedule must be played out. Even if there is a rain out the makeup game gets on the schedule if agreed by the teams this late in the season. With concession stands closed in the upper decks at Citi Field, and the noticeable empty seats it was time to play ball.

When the first pitch was thrown, and for a good part of the first game, fans in the stands and media in the press box could hear sounds of the game. A crack of the bat, fastball in the catcher’s mitt, and even players on the field heard saying “got it” or “go to first.”

“Rather play one game because as a player you are used to preparing for one,” said the Mets Chris Carter.  He would single and drive in two runs in the Mets two-run third inning of the first game. Those in the slim crowd could be heard, as the Mets started to cut the deficit after Niese surrendered six runs in the Milwaukee top of the inning.

That was one perspective of a long afternoon that went into the late evening in Flushing Queens.  The Mets would lose the first game of the double dip, 8-7. Niese (9-10) would throw 2.2 innings, on 10 hits and six runs, The Mets would battle back scoring five more runs in the fourth.

So what about those loyal fans who have once again witnessed another losing season at Citi Field? Carter, a first year Met loves their loyalty. “I love New York fans,” he said. “They’re tough, they know what to expect. I really appreciate the fans. As a player you block out the fact that there is nobody in the stands,” he said.

David Wright would hit a two-run homer in that fourth, his 28th and third game in a row with a homer, done four other times in his career and now the fifth time he has 100 or more ruins batted in, But he failed to connect in the nightcap when the Mets could not score runs, could only get 5 hits in a 3-1 second game loss.

It was not the 13 hits they had in the first game. Starter R.A. Dickey concluded a successful first season in New York. A surprise who was signed after spring training, Dickey (11-8) was talking about coming back next season. The 35-year old right hander has earned a role to start with a knuckleball that has revived his career.

“Feel I have a lot to offer and age is no consequence,” commented Dickey who gave up six hits in seven innings. “Priority number one was the ability and consistency to throw strikes.” The fans saw what Dickey offered and many times showed their appreciation.

It was a storybook season for a pitcher who got a role when Oliver Perez and John Maine left the rotation, “I feel this is what I can offer over the next five or six years of my career,” said Dickey who certainly can hang around more with a knuckleball that has consistency.

“What impressed me the most was his consistency,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel who may not be making a decision about Dickey’s role with every expectation that Sunday will be his last game at the helm. “Every time he took the ball, he gave us a chance to win.”

When the first game was over, about 7:40pm, Manuel had used eight pitchers which tied a franchise record for a nine inning game.  The supposed 28,284 in attendance, more about tickets sold, than who showed, made as much noise as they could as the Mets staged another comeback in the eighth inning that once again failed short.

And when the second game began, a half hour later at 8:16PM, many of those empty seats were still visible and another Mets player Carlos Beltran was shut down for the final four games.  Beltran would say the mild inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee would require what the doctor ordered,

“I’m happy, actually the knee’s better, I’m happy for that part” said Beltran who was having a strong September which provided optimism for next season, that is, if the Mets don’t decide to trade him in what would be the final year of a $119 million dollar contract.

“The part that I’m not happy about is just that I wanted to finish the season playing but by the recommendation by the doctor they don’t want me to play.”

Ninth inning of game two and the Mets have one last chance to make this worthwhile in another meaningless game.  The “Cowbell Man” Ed Bison was doing his usual thing in a now almost desolate Citi Field, urging fans for one last push. You would think those doing the chanting were in a late season pennant race with their team.

They did cheer for Pedro Feliciano who pitched in both ends of the doubleheader. The lefthander has 91 appearances this season which extended his franchise record that he established the night before.  And they gave Angel Pagan his usual applause when he swiped his 37th base of the season in the first inning of game two, becoming the first Mets outfielder with that many since Rickey Henderson and Roger Cedeno in 1999.

Trevor Hoffman the career saves leader got number 601 for the Brewers and Mets fans went home seeing a double dip loss.  New York, (77-81) needs to win their last four games to avoid their second consecutive losing season. Count four, when including the collapses of 2007, 2008, and of course the injury plagued Mets of 2009.

A long day at the ballpark and there are those loyal Mets fans who are willing to be patient about winning again. And the good thing about it, they have a team that knows they are around to give them support even when ballgames mean nothing in late September.

e-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chris Carter, Double Dip, Evening Rain, Fastball, First Game, Game Fans, Late Evening, Leadoff Hitter, Losing Season, Loyal Fans, Makeup Game, Mets New York, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Niese, Nl Central, Nl East, Starting Pitcher, Top Of The Inning, Top Story, Upper Decks

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 30, 2010