Top Banner Ads
When I was the host of my first call-in radio talk show, I had a caller who said, “I think the rules in baseball are dumb.” And I asked, “What do you mean?” The caller responded, “Well, in baseball they say that if you have four balls you walk, right?” I said, “Yes.” The caller said, “Well that is dumb. How can anybody walk with four balls?”
Regardless that that caller was a crank caller…and he was just trying to get me off my game…which he did as I was unable to maintain my composure for some time afterwards…all these years later…he would be right. The rules have become somewhat odd, to the point where it is hard to recognize the national pastime.
I once wrote a paper in high school titled “What’s Wrong with the Mets?” My 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Baumann, was not happy about it, but she gave me a pass and permitted me to write about a subject that was apparently so important to me.
What I remember most about that project was reading everything I could get my hands on about the Mets. In those days, it was books and newspaper clippings. The books were great and I ended up with a nice little collection after it was all over. For the newspaper clippings, I had to have my mom drive me to the local daily newspaper – The News Tribune in Woodbridge, NJ – so that I could look at microfilm.
There was so much to look through and I was quickly scanning past most of the old papers, watching it fly past on the big screens in front of me. What I didn’t realize was that my mother also had her eyes fixated on the screens and, apparently, it got her dizzy because I suddenly heard a loud THUD from behind me. I turned to see two big guys tending to her, helping her to her feet.
I don’t why that story always makes me laugh. But what I learned over the years about my lovable Mets, was not really funny at all.
And if you are wondering what is actually WRONG with the New York Mets, you have to look a lot further than Michael Conforto having a horrible season, than Edwin Diaz not living up to expectations, than Jacob deGrom becoming a fragile commodity, and a rookie manager seemingly in way over his head. That is a reason for a bad season…a bad record. It is not even scratching the surface of what is so very wrong with this organization.
Fans love to scream about spending money and focus on that. Heck, it ain't about that. It is so much more. Because everything they do is just not normal.
Not even 24 hours after the final out of the final game of the 2021 New York Mets season, when the misery finally ended, manager Luis Rojas was cut loose…finally put out of his own misery. It is of little surprise, and even less consequence that Rojas didn’t survive this debacle of a season.
And, yes, it was a debacle. The team was brutal. Every player performed well below…WELL below…the expectations. Were the expectations unrealistic? Probably. Most of the expectations were for players who have had less than three years of providing evidence of their expected level of performance. So you have to wonder whether these players are actually CAPABLE of consistent high level performances year in and year out…or are these guys a team of “Super Joe” Charboneaus? Yeah…that’s right…you gotta go look that name up.
I have two tickets for the Friday night game on September 10 for the next Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees at Citifield. Mets-Yankees. I can’t go because it’s my birthday and I had an opportunity to head to Miami and spend my birthday in South Florida and attend a University of Miami Hurricanes football game. So I have tried to hand the tickets off to friends. Mets-Yankees. Not a single person will take these tickets. Not a one…nay…nay…nay.
And you wanna know why? Because the team is just plain awful. It’s not that they don’t have talented players…because they absolutely do. This team has a roster loaded with talent. But they just haven’t performed very well. It’s that simple. Then to add insult to injury…or rather…injury to insult… the team was, and has been, operating at less than full strength for the entire season.
They were going to be the best rotation the Mets ever had. They were going to be the best rotation in Major League history. Flamethrowers…long, flowing hair…superhero nicknames…and now…not a single one is in the Mets starting rotation.
That’s right…with the announcement that Jacob deGrom has been placed on the Injured List with right side inflammation (that’s the current diagnosis), it means that the best rotation the Mets were ever going to have took the path of the last staff to garner that moniker – Generation K. The rotation of deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz, Harvey…has seemingly turned into Isringhausen, Pulsipher, Wilson, and Jones.
In fact, the next one of the recent five to start at CitiField? The Dark Knight returns to Gotham in the black and orange of the Baltimore Orioles. Harvey, of course, was the first one to be cast off in 2018, after 2 ½ seasons of an inability to recover from the devasting loss in the 2015 World Series. He had returned from Tommy John surgery to be effective during the 2015 season before pushing the limit of his innings allowance and then was never showing any resemblance of his former self from the onset of the 2016 season.
The Mets have been victims of the pandemic…and the epidemic. The Mets had the start of their season postponed due to the effects of the pandemic hitting their opponent, the Washington Nationals. And it seems that the Mets have now been hit by the very same epidemic of poor hitting that has affected most of the rest of the Major Leagues thus far this season.
The Mets came into the season with questions about the pitching staff but the one “sure thing” was the power-packed offense that would be taking the field every day. However, other than the start of Brandon Nimmo, the Mets offense has been dreadful.
While the Mets were embarrassingly being swept by the Chicago Cubs, Ron Darling told the story of a comment Kris Bryant made during a pre-game press conference prior to his very first game at Wrigley Field in 2015: “My goal every game is to go out there and hit the ball in the air four times.” Not a single coach I had, and I had some pretty good ones over the years, ever said to me, “Hey Alan, try to hit the ball in the air.” Line drives were the ultimate goal. But with my speed, especially when I was hitting from the left side of the plate, I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and get it on the ground and through the holes.
As Darling said in a follow up to the quote of Bryant, the game has since changed. But has it been for the better?
Sometimes it all comes together. You have a favorite player wearing your favorite number on their uniform jersey. I have loved, absolutely loved, Francisco Lindor since he began his career with the Cleveland Indians. And for the longest time I truly believed he would be yet another one of those opposing players who I would watch and root for, and dream of him playing for the Mets someday. So when the Mets pulled the trigger and brought Lindor to Queens, it was certainly gratifying. And to have him wearing my favorite number on top of that…well…no fan could be happier.
I actually came to love the No. 12, believe it or not, because I really liked the way it looked in the full block style on the old Mets road uniforms when I saw Ken Boswell wearing it. Boswell was not my favorite player, but he was one of my favorites. It bothered me to see it assigned to a guy like Jack Heidemann (I know, who is he?) when he came to the Mets. And I got excited when Lee Mazzilli came up and wore it his first year, and then was disappointed when he swapped numbers with John Stearns and took the No. 16. Some very obscure players wore my No. 12 over the years, although there were some really good players like Tommy Davis, Stearns, Ron Darling, Willie Randolph and Roberto Alomar. Even Cleon Jones, who will forever be associated with No. 21, wore it, after first wearing the No. 34, believe it or not.
So I decided to take a look at the top player at each position who wore No. 12 during his Mets career:
Trade Pete Alonso.
I love the guy. I am a loyal University of Miami Hurricane with deep ties to Hurricanes baseball. And I am a self-proclaimed Gator Hater. So that could put the Kibosh on loving Pete Alonso right there. But I have been able to look past all that Hurricanes vs. Gators rivalry crap enough to truly love and appreciate the guy…as a player and as a person. His hard work and hard-nosed play with passion is a truly welcome vision in a time when most players are brimming with self-entitlement. His engagement with the media and the fans…mature well beyond his years. He is a true darling in every sense of the word.
But let’s face it, the team is constructed poorly. It has been for quite some time. The team has had horrible up the middle defense for years. The Mets best centerfielder – Juan Lagares - has never been able to hit enough to play every day. And while they have tried a number of others who were cast offs from other teams, nobody was able to play well enough to enter the equation as a solution to the centerfield problem.
The ridiculous comments started before the final word even came in. The suspense was killing some, not all, but it was enough to have Twitter going wild especially when one reporter – Bob Nightengale – Tweeted that it was a done deal and the Mets were the benefactors and another reporter – Mark Feinsand – at virtually the same time Tweeted that it was NOT a done deal.
For me, personally, the suspense was more wrapped up in hoping that the Mets would not spend “stupid money” on a pitcher who, in reality, is not a frontline pitcher, not in line with a Jacob deGrom anyway. But to pay the guy almost double what deGrom is getting would be stupid. He ain’t that good and he is a bit nuts. But I’ll come back to that.
I am more amazed at the stupid comments about how the team is still operating in “same old, same old” mode and refusing to spend money. I feel like I have been down this road before…because I have.
Just when you think things are looking up, you are pulled right back down. We seem to have been down this road before. A year ago, one of my favorite players ever, Carlos Beltran, was hired to be the new Mets manager. Hailed as a smart baseball person, Carlos Beltran jumped on board without any prior managerial experience. Before even getting to spring training, Beltran was fired amidst the exposure of the Houston Astros alleged sign stealing cheating scandal.
New ownership. New philosophy. New ethics. Old-school Marine Sandy Alderson is brought back to take the reigns and steer the team into a new era. A young upstart is brought in to be the team’s general manager after stints with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Arizona Diamondbacks learning under the tutelage of Theo Epstein. And before even getting to his first spring training…fired.
Jared Porter, considered to be a young upstart in the field at 41 years old, with an understanding of the new methods in baseball…like sabermetrics and computer analytics…apparently didn’t have an understanding of baseball’s (and society’s) emergence from the dark ages. I have warned my kids, and the students I taught in college communications classes about posting on the internet, texting, and other forms of communication that are not appropriate and, once out there, can come back to bite you. But even before this modern age of communication, we were supposed to have all learned that “no” meant “no.”