2 GUYS TALKING: “Dear Nation of Readers, We’re Turning Off the Lights, Shutting Down Our Blog.”

Jimmy:

Well, Mike, good buddy, I guess all good things come to an end.

Mike:

Including blogs and baseball seasons.

Jimmy:

emmapeelI’m still melancholy over the cancellation of Emma Peel in “The Avengers.” Endings are hard on me, I guess. But it’s fitting that we close our doors now, as baseball is about to embark on the postseason.

Mike:

Yes, that is not a time for a New York Mets blog these days.

Jimmy:

I’ve been happy with our blogging experience, and proud of what we’ve put out into the world through this site. We don’t control most of what happens after we hit “publish,” and one thing was clear to us from the beginning: we weren’t going “chase hits.” We didn’t have a lot of interest in, or knowledge of, SEO keywords and such. We simply tried to write the best we could in the hope that readers would find us along the way. And some did. We can be grateful for that.

Mike:

There were topics that I blogged about that were very important to me, including some personal ones. I am grateful that I had the platform to share many of them, and offer sincere thanks to everyone who stopped by to read.

Jimmy:

For me, personally, I have two reasons for shutting down the blog. The primary one is that blogging is a time-consuming endeavor. Yet I still have a real job, still need to earn a living. The “2 Guys” blog felt like it might be soaking up too much of my attention, too many of my (purportedly) productive hours.

Quick plug here: Since we started this blog, I published 5 books in the "Scary Tales" series and wrote another, plus a hardcover that comes out next Fall, 2015. I'll keep that blog going over at jamespreller.com.

Quick plug here: Since we started “2 Guys” in October, 2012, I published 5 children’s books in the “Scary Tales” series and wrote another, plus a more serious hardcover that comes out next July, 2015, titled THE FALL. I’ll keep my professional blog going over at jamespreller.com.

 

Secondly, yes, it’s also this damn, dispiriting Wilpon mess. I’ve grown to hate those creeps. As much as I love the game, and remain a loyal fan of the team, sometimes I feel like it’s crazy for me to give and care as much as I do. I think I just want to root, root, root for the home team, like a pig after scraps.

Mike:

The fact is we are only two guys, and it has been two years. I have really enjoyed the experience but it is time to move on to other things.

Jimmy:

I know you still dream of becoming a catwalk model.

Mike:

One can always dream. It’s the life of a Mets fan.

Jimmy:

imagesAllow me to take a brief jaunt down memory lane. I met you, Mike, on an early AOL Mets message board back in 1994. We were just screen names to each other back then, and remained so for a number of years. One thing I quickly realized was that you knew this team inside and out, much of it from first-hand experience at Shea (as that photo in our header of you and Casey Stengel illustrates so well). Anyway, not to get sappy here, but I think you are one of the most insightful guys about the game of baseball I’ve ever known — particularly when it comes to the Mets and the business side of the franchise.

I’ll miss reading you on this blog.

Mike:

Thank you very much. I do think it is hard for anyone to really understand baseball, and I’m not sure how much of a handle I actually have on the sport. The beauty of the game is how unpredictable it can be. We have seen this in 2014 with Jake deGrom.

And if anyone really misses me I will be doing a bi-monthly Mets Podcast with the Blue and Orange Nation that will start sometime this winter. I fully expect you to guest, Jimmy, so we can have a night where we are literally “2 Guys Talking.”

Jimmy:

I get paid by the verb.

Mike:

As long as we have gotten sappy today, let me join in. You were the driving force behind starting this blog and your accomplished writing ability added an element of class to the joint from Day One. And a lot happened in two years, but one thing did not. Our friendship remained intact.

And, well, look at that: I’ve got nothing else to say. Except this.

Let’s Go Mets!

Jimmy:

To our readers, especially the regulars (you know who you are), thanks for your time. We really do appreciate it. I was down at the Princeton Book Festival last weekend, signing books for young readers, and I met a kid who told me he read almost all of the books from my “Jigsaw Jones” mystery series. That’s a lot, since there are 40 of them. I said, “Almost? WTF?!” No, in truth, I said: “Writers like me . . . are nothing . . . without readers like you,” and I thanked him. It’s absolutely true. Writing is simply not as rewarding without readers. The comments, the likes, the retweets. I’m also grateful to all the bloggers whose work and opinions informed, inspired, and irritated me, in particular: Greg Prince, Steve Keane, Mack Ade, Matt Cerrone, Joe Janish, Brian Joura, Joe D, Shannon Shark, and the always mysterious Metstradamus.

Let’s go, Mets.

 

 

 

 

 

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News and Views: GM Extensions and Firings, Jake!, and Today’s Conspiracy Theory

Looking under rocksThe season is winding down, and it is getting harder and harder to find any news regarding the Mets. But I don’t want to let our faithful readers down, so I looked under every rock I could and came up with a few items.

– The idea of the Mets heading down to Turner field and sweeping the Braves was so shocking in Atlanta that they fired their GM. And it was so shocking to the Mets that they quickly announced a Sandy Alderson extension. Funny, it all felt like three meaningless games to me. Live and learn.

– What has been so fascinating about Jake deGrom is that he showed up and exceeded every ones expectations from the day he was called up. Then, as soon as we all started giving him credit he took it up a notch and promptly began exceeding the new expectations. Well, that’s it for me, I see no reason to try to figure Jake out at all. I will just enjoy the ride.

– Dilson Herrara is injured and might not play again. Wilmer Flores was immediately shifted to second base. At the same time the words “Wilmer Flores everyday shortstop” have started surfacing around the team. If that is even a remote possibility, why was he moved this week? These games are meaningless, and Tejada knows how to play second. I see three potential motives, and all are nasty.

1. The team is pulling out all the stops to stagger into second and try to sell it as “progress.”

2. The best way to sell Wilmer Flores to the fans as a viable major league shortstop is to get him away from the position.

3. Murphy is a surefire goner, and with Herrara and Wright down, let’s look at next years DP combo.

I hate to go all conspiracy theory again, but I can’t come up with an actual positive reason to do this. Again, if Tejada is now the guy to play, he can play second.

– Sandy Alderson has joined a committee that will evaluate ways to speed up the game. Now, I have been vehement that this is a true issue, and I am happy MLB has finally recognized it as one. But Sandy Alderson? This guy is the most ponderous, slow-moving executive in baseball. Looking to dinosaurs for change doesn’t work well.

change-deming-quote

 

 

 

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An Enjoyable Baseball September

 

tomseaver

When I celebrated July 9, 1969, this year I brought up the fact that until that day there had always been two kinds of baseball for Mets fans.

“Growing up in the early 60s left me following two types of baseball. There were the important games, between teams such as the Giants and Dodgers, the Tigers and Twins, the Cardinals for sure, and for a few of the foggier years, the Yankees. It was exciting to watch these games from time to time on the Game of the Week, and to read about them in the Daily News. The culmination of this baseball season, of course, was the annual World Series, where I watched great players such as Willie Mays, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax, Willie McCovey, and well, I could go on for a while here. It was interesting to follow.

Then there were my Mets. I could watch them on WOR every day, and better yet, we went out to the park all the time. Sometimes, depending on whom the Mets were playing, you got to see some of the players above. But the Mets were not part of this pennant race world, they were so bad and so far removed from it you didn’t even consider it. You knew from Day One of the season it was all about just enjoying the game for its own sake, and that the day you watched might just be a good contest. Nothing else than that was within reach.”

What is old can always become new again, and sadly, ever since Jeff Wilpon reassured us that Bernie Madoff would have no effect on the Mets operations we have entered this world again. Pulse rising, pennant race baseball is not part of following the Mets any more.

So sure, the Mets have had a good September and other than the Nationals, the rest of Terrythe NL East has gone completely in the tank. Suddenly, second place seems in reach. The thing is, .500 still seems out of reach. In other words, coming in second place when there are three divisions is not much of an indicator. This Mets team never really entered a playoff race that was not difficult to enter. At some point we have to accept reality, that the Mets are not interested in being part of that world. If you need proof, just keep in mind that Terry Collins is returning as manager and Wilmer Flores is getting talked about as some sort of solution at shortstop.

But no matter the circumstances I enjoyed kicking the Braves around. In fact, doing so when they are down has proven quite fun this weekend. As a Mets fans, with the big moments off the table for the foreseeable future I embrace the small ones. I’ve also been enjoying September baseball overall. As I did in the 60’s, I am following the real contenders, and there are a lot of races going my way.

First of all the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to win the NL West. I became a Dodgers fan for the first time in my life the day the team was sold by Frank McCourt. Every successful season from L.A. is another reminder of how quickly a major market team can turn with committed owners. And repudiation for any nonsense from Bud Selig or any other Wilpon apologist about doing things “the right way.” The right way is whatever you can do within the rules, and L.A. is not going against the collective bargaining agreement. Go Dodgers, I hope you get all the way to the World Series.

My dream World Series would have L.A. playing Detroit. The Tigers also have no issues investing in the product, and they have not won since 1984. In fact I would root for Detroit in my dream match-up. This weekend was a good one for the Tigers, as they took two out of three from the Royals. With a soft schedule in the week ahead they are positioned nicely.

Tigers

More good news for me has been going on in the AL West, where the large market Angels have sprinted past the A’s. Better yet, Oakland is completely collapsing and might not even get a Wild Card bid. A Billy Beane-less October sounds great to me. Even sweeter is that the team poised to take them out is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle, remember, spent hard and fast all winter, with a massive contract to Robinson Cano being the signature move of their offseason. Good for them.

Baltimore doesn’t do much for me, but there is a major bright side to their winning the AL East, as it ends the Derek Jeter circus. It’s also hard to get too hyped up for the Nationals, and another October of “the Cardinal Way” will be rough. Hopefully St. Louis exits fast. I’ve got no issue with the Giants, who are never afraid to invest or make a gutsy trade kansas-city-royals-fanwhen needed. Rounding things out,  Pittsburgh and Kansas City are hoping to sneak in for a one game playoff appearance each. Expanding the playoffs was the only way to get these teams back in, as they couldn’t do it for 20 years under the old format. Good for them, I guess, but neither team is going to even win 90 games. Mostly these two teams are proof of how it is not that hard to make the playoffs in this cheapened format.

Anyway, Cleveland could still get in, but it would take a lot, and Milwaukee is as good as dead. October is taking shape, and it will be another year without the participation of the New York Mets.

For them, The Lost Decade continues.

 

 

 

 

 

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In Wake of Adrian Peterson, Ex-Met Carl Everett Remembered: A Look at MLB’s Inadequate Child Abuse Policy

While news of Adrian Peterson’s child-abuse offenses continue to ripple through the internet, complete with heartbreaking photos, I remembered a time when a New York Met faced similar charges. It wasn’t so long ago, just 1997, yet it feels like a world away. Let me refresh your memory.

carl-everett-autographed-baseball-card-new-york-mets-1998-fleer-ultra-10-1127-t1243386-500During that summer of ’97, child-care workers in the Mets family room facility at Shea Stadium noticed bruises and welts on Everett’s five-year-old daughter, Shawna. Officials were notified. A call went out to the child-abuse hot line. According to Family Court judge Richard M. Berman, the initial phone call transcript went like this: ”Shawna is covered with bruises, and she is black and blue. She has welts that appear to be sustained from being hit with a belt.”

The Mets organization stood firmly behind Carl Everett. In a moment he might now regret, manager Bobby Valentine publicly questioned the credibility of a report that she was “hit excessively hard on the face.” Commented Jay Horowitz: ”It’s a personal family matter. We’re standing behind Carl and his family.”

Everett continued to play for the Mets without any disciplinary action. Upon Everett’s first start after the allegations, The New York Times reported:

He batted seventh in last night’s game and received a normal response from fans during his first at-bat, with no audible booing. For the game, he was hitless in four at-bats. Asked beforehand if he would be able to concentrate on baseball, he said, ”Of course I can.”

Almost a year later, in a June 29, 1998, Sports Illustrated article, “The People v. Carl Everett,” Grant Wahl added this summation:

8655697_f260Mets officials were alarmed enough to contact the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, which took custody of Shawna as well as Carl IV, Everett’s five-year-old son. Everett and his wife, Linda, were charged in family court with child abuse. Judge Richard Berman ultimately found the couple guilty of child neglect, ruling that Linda had inflicted “excessive corporal punishment” and that her husband had failed to stop her. Shawna and Carl IV were placed in foster care, and Everett — whose wife admitted in court that she and her husband had disciplined the children with a belt — became the center of a New York tabloid storm.

That is, by ruling in this manner, Judge Berman dismissed the more serious charge of child abuse.

EDIT, 9/22: In a comment below,ostensibly made by Judge Berman himself — I can’t confirm his identity, though I believe it to be true — he offered this clarification:

Your description of the Everett case in 1997 omits several important facts . First, a criminal child abuse prosecution was dropped by the District Attorney not by the Family Court. Second, the Family Court abuse/neglect cae –which is a civil proceeding resulted,soon after the trial began, in the Everetts entering a ” no contest” plea. Under the Family Court Act, the strongest available sentence is removal of the children from their parents care for up to one year. That is the sentence which I imposed, after ordering and reviewing an in depth psychological exam of the Everett family, along with mandatory psychological counseling, parenting skills, and supervised visitation. Richard M. Berman, USDJ.

 

For the 1997 season, Everett played in 142 games for the Mets, slashing .248/.308/.420 with 14 HR and 17 SB. He was traded that winter to Houston in exchange for the immortal John Hudek. So that trade represented, in fact, the Mets official response: We don’t need this headache. Houston took it on. MLB did nothing.

As a Mets fan, and father at the time, I followed those events with increasing repulsion. No one in MLB had a response to the charges, it was positioned as a family matter, a legal matter for the courts. Interestingly, at least according to the Times report quoted above, there was no outcry from the fans. My personal take was that Carl Everett was almost certainly a dirtbag. A player I did not like, the creep who stood in RF for the Mets game after game after game.

Should MLB have done more? In the land of innocent-until-proven-guilty, what is the fair and appropriate response? Due process is not something that should be discarded lightly. And as far as I am aware, this isn’t New Zealand or, for that matter, most European countries; it is not illegal in this land of ours to hit your child with a belt. However, you are not allowed to “injure” your child. It’s a murky distinction, a legal minefield, and woefully inadequate.

2001-09-17-inside-everett

Everett went on to have a checkered career, filled with a long list of ugly incidents and violent outbursts. Yet in 2005, he helped the Chicago White Sox win the World Series. He’s probably still wearing the diamond-studded championship ring.

In 2007 and 2008, Everett played for the Long Island Ducks, before moving on to the Newark Bears in 2009. As recently as 2011, Everett was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon for putting a gun to his wife’s head. (Yes, Carl was still with lovable Linda, then in their 18th year of marriage.) In September of that same year, in Texas, Carl was arrested for assaulting a family member. And the hits kept coming.

allosaurus-toy-dinosaurEverett also had rather interesting personal beliefs. He doubted the Apollo Moon Landing, questioning one reporter, “Were you on the moon with him? He may have just gone to the desert and walked on some dried-out dirt.” He also denied the existence of dinosaurs: “God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve eating apples. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex.”

That’s how bad it is: Even the folks who whip their children with belts are a little bit embarrassed by Carl Everett.

I don’t know that I have much more to add to this. I guess I can reflect on how times have changed. And that maybe, perhaps, we are lurching awkwardly toward something called progress.

I read the other day that during Bud Selig’s time as commissioner of baseball, there have been 18 reported cases of domestic violence and not a single suspension. And until the court of public opinion is heard — or, at least, the big-money advertisers get involved — those in the position of power and responsibility refuse to act. They just keep selling tickets to the show.

Speak louder. Bud can't hear you.

Speak louder. Bud can’t hear you.

 

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk wrote a strong piece the other day, leading with a quote from Bud Selig, who has made something of a career out of turning a blind eye (see: steroids, Wilpons, etc.), that he “couldn’t remember the last domestic violence incident” in Major League Baseball.

Using that quote as a jumping-off point, Calcaterra went on to enumerate the long sordid list of domestic violence incidents that Bud Selig could not possibly remember. Many of them quite recent.

I think it’s past time for MLB to do better.

Child Abuse-thumb-250x140-4263

Writes Mike Bates in this post titled, “MLB’s record on domestic violence worse than NFL’s”:

child-abuse-images-51101-300x297Baseball is a sport that prides itself on being part of the fabric of who we are. It’s the national pastime. It “stands up to cancer.” It swings pink bats on Mothers Day. It’s not enough. One of the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves is that we are better than our rivals. Smarter, stronger, morally superior. Part of being morally superior is actually being moral. Baseball doesn’t currently have a responsibility to police its players off the field, but they absolutely should take on that responsibility, because of how egregiously wrong domestic abuse is and how it runs counter to what a sport predicated on fair play is about.

In response to public backlash — the PC police, some might call it — Selig has been forced into doing something. Officials from MLB and the Player’s Association are meeting with the intent of amending the Basic Agreement with policy to deal with domestic violence. Until now, domestic violence has been dealt with on a case-by-case basis. In other words, there’s been no actual policy. But in a recent statement, Selig admits to sniffing the winds of change:

images“I am proud that baseball disciplinary standards have changed over time, as is evidenced by our drug program, to ensure we are handling such situations sensitively and firmly in the manner expected by our fans, while at the same time providing due process to those accused of wrongdoing. We are meeting with the Players Association this week to thoroughly discuss the issue of domestic violence, and how it should be addressed under our Basic Agreement going forward. Domestic violence is one of the one worst forms of societal conduct. We understand the responsibility of baseball to quickly and firmly address off-field conduct by our players, even potentially in situations in which the criminal justice system does not do so.”

Times change. Often the process is ugly, contentious, and disturbing. And yet sometimes, amazingly, small things do change for the better.

Let’s hope.

I almost typed, “We can only hope.” But no, that won’t suffice. Only hoping isn’t good enough anymore. Maybe the next time a guy like Carl Everett steps to the plate, more of us will stand up and be heard.

I keep coming back to those helpless children. Somehow we’ve got to do better than this.

childabuse-640x300

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Expect Mets Payroll to Remain Low in 2015 and 2016

Here is a picture, via MetsPolice of what the stands at Citi Field looked like last week.

 


This is not news, we know that Citi Field has been a ghost town all year. We also know that Sandy Alderson has said many times that the Mets putrid payroll has no chance of going up in any meaningful way unless that changes. So, we can all just set our expectations accordingly for 2015 and 2016. That’s right 2016. Because what Sandy Alderson must know, even if he is not saying it, is that tickets purchased lags behind performance. Recently, when Ned Yost couldn’t understand why his in-the-race Royals team wasn’t drawing better, Joe Posnaski explained it well.

1. A large percentage of tickets sold are season tickets – those were sold way back in the offseason and are unaffected by the Royals recent surge.

2. A large percentage of tickets sold are bought well in advance – that’s why certain nights of the week do way better than other nights. Tuesday night games tend to be some of the smallest crowds of the week for obvious reasons. Bill James, years ago, wrote about the myth that Nolan Ryan drew significantly more fans to the ballpark. People, for the most part, don’t say “Hey, Nolan Ryan’s pitching tomorrow night, let’s all go out.” They say, “Hey, we’re free next Friday night, let’s go to the game.”

3. Families build their plans around their children’s schedules – and school started this week. I wouldn’t take my kids to a night ballgame on the first week of school if Lou Gehrig and Satchel Paige came back to play. Well, MAYBE if Lou Gehrig and Satchel Paige came back – but for a late August Royals-Twins game? Are you bleepin’ kidding me? Again, the question was not why there were empty seats. The question was why anyone at all showed up.

So when it comes to the Mets, if you believe that as long as the Wilpons are in charge the chicken must come first, without the benefit of an egg, than that means expect very low payrolls in 2015 and 2016. And I believe that with every fiber of my being. That means the Mets only real hope for 2015 is that Sandy rolls high in the casino. Which was the 2014 Plan, and I believe is “The Plan.” Wish and hope, and with a lot of teams making the playoffs every year, one year we might get lucky. I hoped it would be 2014, hey, maybe it will be 2015.

Sandy, tell J.P. to blow on the dice!

J.P.-Ricciardi

 

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Bryan Cranston Performs One-Man MLB Show Celebrating Playoffs: Mets Fans Confused By It All

Former star of “Malcolm in the Middle,” Bryan Cranston, performed a hilarious one-man show honoring major league baseball. Kind of.

The impetus for the show is to promote the postseason. For Mets fans, let me explain, since it’s a foreign concept that may be unfamiliar to many of you. After the regular season ends, a select number of the teams with the best records go on to play in even more baseball games, called “the playoffs.” Reportedly it’s a lot of fun.

Hmmm. How to explain this? It’s sort of like vodka, I guess: odorless, colorless. Mets fans haven’t so much as sniffed the playoffs in years, but we are vaguely aware that the games exist.

Oh, yes, Cranston was in another show that was pretty good. The name escapes me.

Try to enjoy it, despite the facts that as Mets fans we really have no idea what he’s talking about.

 

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Jake deGrom ROY, Big Bartolo, Mejia’s Antics, Montero in the Pen, and the EY Jr. Farewell Tour

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

Overall, I do not find these games very interesting, even the “big” 8-2 stretch. Talk about too little too late. But there are individual items of interest, and so a few quick hits from the last few days.

– About a week ago I wrote about some nice individual stories from 2014 and didn’t mention Jake deGrom. The fact is deGrom is not a nice story from 2014 he is the big story of the year. Last night he added to it with a dominating performance for six innings against the Marlins. Sadly he was nicked up literally and figuratively in the seventh, but hopefully he continued to garner national attention. The numbers are piling up for Jake and they are very impressive. Rookie of the Year impressive.

– Bartolo Colon is old and getting older every day. We are getting close to the end of the year and his season has been, in a word, fine. Not special, not terrible by any means. But when you look at his salary for 2015, combined with the age, I don’t see him as much of a commodity this winter. I expect Colon back, which is okay, but it would be a lot more okay if this team had a larger payroll. When Colon was signed I compared it to when Omar Minaya signed Orlando Hernandez, as a signing that made sense for a big market team trying to win right away.

el duque

It’s funny, Omar Minaya used to get killed (understandably) for giving extra years to players when the market didn’t dictate doing so. Sandy Alderson has a reputation for being prudent because he doesn’t spend money that he doesn’t have, but when he had a few bucks he did two “Omar type” deals with Colon and Granderson.

– Mejia’s antics, which got some ink this weekend, aren’t for me. Honest emotion in a huge ChoreographyDesignProject2013bspot is one thing, but clearly this is not that, it is choreography. But I also know we live in a “check me out” world and it’s not going back. So, I’m not outraged or anything when Jenrry does his thing, and if Bryce Harper was, well, that’s just silly. I just think the coolest guy is the one who walks off the mound like it was nothing special, because he has so much confidence he expects to blow everyone away. It’s all a matter of taste.

– Eric Young Jr. was dusted off and used for a few days. The thing is, den Dekker was out with an injury, and the rules state you must play three outfielders. Is it really important whether Kirk Niewenhuis, 27 years old, gets a few more at bats? And Eric Campbell, seriously, what do you think he is? Just let Terry, or Sandy, or Jeff, or Saul, or whoever is making out the lineup card have this one. Life is way too short to get upset about it. I can’t make a compelling argument that any of the above gives the team a better chance to win. As for 2015, this is how it is going to go down. Young is due to make more than the league minimum, and Kirk is out of options and only due the league minimum. So Kirk will be on the 2015 roster, and EY needs to be working on his resume. Just ask Justin Turner.

– Rafael Montero was moved to the bullpen. I hope he sees some work there, which is not a new point of view for me.

– Vic Black might be done for 2014 with a fatigued shoulder.  Hopefully it is nothing serious, but all the more reason to look at Rafael in the pen. We might really need another arm or two out there next year, and do any of us really want to see the 2015 versions of Farnsworth and Valverde?

kyle-farnsworth-getty

 

 

 

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When Travis d’Arnaud Stopped Listening . . . and Started to Hit

Travis d'ArnaudJimmy:

Want to hear my half-baked theory on Travis d’Arnaud, Mike?

Mike:

Hey, I’ve heard so many by now, what’s one more?

Jimmy:

I offer only conjecture. I am not, you are aware, “in the know.” Yet I deserve some leeway on this topic since I correctly predicted the path of d’Arnaud’s season thus far. I was so right even the great Metstradamus was impressed. Back on March 30th, I made two predictions about d’Arnaud:

1) Travis d’Arnaud spends too much time with Dave Hudgens, begins to look tentative and confused at the plate, at which point Hudgens sagely nods and says, “Exactly, grasshopper!”

2) After struggles and bad stretches, Travis d’Arnaud establishes himself as a quality major league catcher, hits above .280 in second-half of the season.

You have to admit, at least I got that one right.

Mike:

Blind squirrel syndrome!

blind squirrelJimmy:

Yes, and that nut was delicious! So this is what I think happened to Travis. He hit all his career, always could hit. Then he got into the Mets system and got an earful of talk about the “right” approach, deep counts and hunting strikes. When he finally reached Flushing, and the challenge of Major League hitting, he became confused. We saw it ourselves. So many bad at-bats, where he took fastballs down the plate. He seemed far too passive to me.

I truly believe that he thought himself into paralysis — aided and abetted by the Mets’ emphasis on the approach. Only swinging at the ripest pitches.

Well, it didn’t work. Travis was a mess, and a failure. At a certain point, after his demotion to AAA, he must have realized that his entire career was at stake.

The dream was slipping away.

And at the point, Travis said to myself, “Screw listening to those guys, I’m going to be myself.”

Mike:

Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens

Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens

It’s also worth noting that his previous “hitting” instructor, Dave Hudgens, was not in Las Vegas, and is no longer in New York.

Jimmy:

Travis decided, in other words, that if he was going to go down, he’d go down swinging.

To me, that’s the biggest change in his game. He’s the aggressor now. I saw a game in Cincinnati when he swung at the first pitch in three straight at-bats. This isn’t a guy trying to please his coaches anymore. No, he’s trying to get base hits.

Mike:

And I checked, those are still good, too.

Jimmy:

There are other narratives. That he finally “got comfortable” and so on. I’m sure there’s been a variety of factors. But I really believe he needed to embrace the “see ball, hit ball” concept. It worked for Piazza! Importantly, his power has come, and that makes perfect sense. We’ve exposed the myth of the deep count, in terms of power. Slugging percentages plummet after a hitter gets two strikes. We’ve seen that slugging goes up early in the count, particularly on the first pitch. We saw this with Duda, too, and I wrote about it.

Mike:

lucas-duda-5-baronWhen it comes to Duda, I am surprised that being more aggressive has fit him this well. When you look at Lucas the idea fits his stature, but his personality is so mild mannered that I wondered if he was a player who meshed well with the Mets “approach.” Also, I did think he was pretty good to begin with. I guess I didn’t want to paint Lucas with my old Frank Thomas brush and assume he needed to be an aggressive hitter just because he was a big guy. In my own way, I was also affected by his size. But you know me, at my core I want big guys hacking! I love this version of Duda.

Jimmy:

And it’s not like he’s a hacker. With the exception of breaking pitches down and in, his eye is extremely good. The biggest difference in Duda, beyond the fact that he’s letting it fly more often, is that he’s got an everyday job. He’s not fumbling in RF, falling down in LF. He’s playing where he belongs, every day. His AB and OBA are not far off his career numbers. Where he’s made the big jump is in his slugging. That’s where he had to make his mark. It wasn’t going to be his ability to go first to third on a single to right-center. It had to be by hitting the ball over the wall. And you don’t do that when nursing a two-strike count. The facts prove it. Statistically, the longer the AB lasts, the less likely he’s going to hit for power.

This is from my July 3rd post:

When Lucas Duda swings at the first pitch (and puts it into play, presumably), which he has done 28 times this season, his slash line is .464/.464/.893.

Got that? An OPS of 1.357.

Yet this is the guy we like because he works deep counts? That’s so wrong.

Up 1-0 in the count, he has swung and put the ball into play only 13 times, with this result: .538/.538/1.462.

Down 0-1, he’s swung 23 times: .435/.458/.522. Again, amazingly productive early in the AB.

Swing the bat, Lucas.

For stark comparison, look at this:

  • AFTER 1-1: .171/.290/.324
  • AFTER 2-1: .197/.345/.352
  • AFTER 3-1: .217/.471/.391
  • AFTER 0-2: .233/.353/.395
  • AFTER 1-2: .145/.268/.261
  • AFTER 2-2: .136/.313/.182

Mike:

That’s two nuts in one post, so I have to relent and admit you at least have impaired vision. Seriously, good stuff.

That point you made up above about it also helping Duda, a sensitive guy, to stop being publicly humiliated in the outfield, that should not be underestimated either. Lucas himself admitted how much he hated being out there. But the good news is that although it took way too long, Lucas got his clear shot at his only logical position, and he has come through in a big way.

It’s a huge positive for the team, and these two players, d’Arnaud and Duda, might be our future number four and five hitters for years to come.

Travis d'Arnaud

 

 

 

 

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Help Wanted

Jef Wilponleigh-castergine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there was some more Wilpon news this week, as Leigh Castergine has filed suit against the Mets, claiming that she was harassed by Jeff Wilpon. The details of her claim can be found here. Now I have never been in a room with any of these people, and therefore I cannot verify or repudiate her charges. One of my sources did forward me a draft of a job description for an open position in MLB that did make me wonder. Unfortunately the team is not listed, so I can’t be sure it is related.

 

Description:

A well-known major league baseball team is seeking an experienced individual to act as Senior Vice President of ticket sales.

Responsibilities:

- Create a campaign to sell overpriced tickets to gullible customers.

-  Convince a beaten down customer base that better days are right around the corner.

-  Get coffee for team COO.

-  Pick up dry cleaning for team COO.

-  Light dusting and cleaning.

Qualifications:

Team is seeking a man, a married woman, or barren woman with the following:

- Prior experience in the funeral industry required.

- Experience in the cruise industry is highly desired, experience with boats that have sunk is preferred.

- Being good at handling index cards a plus.

- A natural talent for accepting blame is needed, even when something is not your fault.

- Ability to work with difficult people mandatory.

Weird, but this could just be a coincidence too.

 

 

 

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In Memory of 9/11/2001

I worked in an office in September 2001 on the 20th floor in western Queens. I had a magnificent view of Manhattan from that office. On September 11 I was behind schedule and got in slightly after nine. I quickly went to my phone to call someone about a work issue. I did not look out my office window, because the funny thing about wonderful views are that you take them from granted. As soon as the guy on the other end answered I started right in, and he said,

“Mike, shut up and look out your window!!!!!!”

I saw the North Tower on fire, and within twenty seconds, while we were both still on the phone, I saw the second plane crash into the South Tower.  And that started a day that I will never forget.

That is my quick message today, thirteen years later. Never forget. Because like most people I had it easy. I was nowhere near ground zero. So many others were, and way too many never made it out of there. Many others have suffered and also died due to their efforts to clean up the area.

They say time heals all wounds, but some need to remain a little fresh.

Never forget.

Never Forget (1)

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