Happy New Year, Season’s Greetings, and happy holidays, because thank Tom Seaver, it’s finally 2015.
And now begins the road.
You know the road I’m talking about. The waiting, the hoping, the mind-numbing discussion, and finally, gloriously, baseball once again. 2014 is over, and so is the 2014 review period. Now it’s time to look forward.
So goodbye Bobby Abreu, hello John Mayberry. If you had ’em, you can put away the Gonzalez Germen jerseys, because Matt Harvey is speeding down the highway to recovery, Gil Hodges willing. It’s out with the old and in with the new, or at least previously unintroduced, and until April 6th, there’s nothing we will see and no one we will hear that can convince us that we don’t have the best darn team in the world, or at least in the city.
Opinions can change quickly – just look at Bobby Parnell pre and post March 31st, 2013 – but when the news is sparse and the getting is pretty damn far from good, nothing can happen that can’t be contradicted by optimism, hope, and Michael Cuddyer. So when that Yankees fan who has decided to oppress our happiness brings up the age card, or the talent card, or any of those cards of which Yankees fans never seem to run out of, they’re wrong. Because until April 6th of the now-current year, we’re even with the best of them.
So here’s lookin’ at you, 2015. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for us.
When the Mets take it upon themselves to attempt any grand endeavor, you just know it’s not going to end well. Many fans theorized, with the announcement that the fences would be moved in again, that the Mets would somehow mess it up. Fortunately, I can tell you today that those fans were right.
For many fans, the reason to move the fences in was one particular area of the park – that stupid indent in right field, where Curtis Granderson home runs go to die. It’s clearly visible on the Mets seat map:
The Mets, on the other hand, decided that that was not the problem. No, they needed to fix the rest of the fence – the parts that were pretty much just normal fence, the parts that never gave anyone problems. Today, several photos were released, showing pretty drastic modifications to the fence in Center and Right-Center field, without showing any changes to the Modells Clubhouse, which is the one area that needs change:
As you can see, the second picture, which appears to have been taken from the right-field side of Big Apple Reserved, shows a large movement of the fence – at least 10-12 feet, it appears. However, this part of the fence was fine – it was not the problem. The first photo, taken from Modell’s Clubhouse, which is the section of the fence that should be moved in, shows renovations on the right – closer to left field, in other words. If there is any fence movement planned for the Modells Clubhouse itself, it is hidden by the existing fence, but to my eye, at least, it looks like the alcove in the fence is not being changed. I may be wrong – perhaps work in that section will not start until later, or maybe the new fence is just hidden by the current one – but if that alcove is allowed to remain, it will serve as yet another example of the Mets taking on a task, pouring their energy into the wrong parts of it, and leaving the parts that need change unchanged. The alcove is just stupid – it gets into Mets hitters heads, and more importantly, turns one area of the field into, for no apparent reason, a death trap for home runs. Get rid of the alcove, Mets, and I won’t have a problem. Leave the alcove to stand for eternity, and we’ll always wonder how much better Granderson could have been if only he’d been playing in a normal park. Not even a hitter’s park – just a normal park.
In what is becoming almost an annual occurrence, the Yankees won again today, wrapping up the ALDS against –
What? They didn’t? Really?
Wait…be straight here? Two years?!?
In that case, I guess it’s safe to say that this year’s October baseball is nothing but typical. Not typical for Royals fans, at least, who, after not playing a postseason game since 1985, have won 6 straight. Not typical for Braves fans, seeing as they – finally – missed the playoffs, to which I respond, in absolute sincerity, “ha ha, you suck.” Not typical for Yankees fans, after their team – this bears repeating – missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. The common consensus is that the Yankees missed the playoffs because a combination of bad long-term contracts given out and poor in-game management, so, dispensing swift justice, the Yankees – why not? – rehired their general manager, held on to their manager, and fired their hitting coach, who apparently committed the sin of revealing that several 38 year olds were in fact around 38 years old.
But I’m not here to talk about the Yankees. Who cares about them? We’re here because it’s OCTOBER BASEBALL.
The Royals, after winning game two today against the Orioles, have won nine straight postseason games, going back to 1985. I don’t know how much longer their underdog status will stick, but there’s nothing to do but enjoy it while it lasts, because these Royals are a fun team to watch. Somehow, it seems like every year, the team that comes out of the A.L. is a fun team to watch, mostly because we haven’t been watching them (lately, anyway) come to Citi Field multiple times a year and beat the low-cost stuffing out of our Mets. Unfortunately, besides last year, the last few World Series have been less than pleasing for devoted fans of your favorite debt-ridden ballclub.
2013: Red Sox. Fun team.
2012: Giants AGAIN? And with our guy Angel Pagan, no less?
2011: Damn it, Cardinals.
2010: Giants? Nothing special
2009: Who do I root for, Satan or a slightly lesser Satan? Also, which is which?
2008: Oh, you mean that year we should have made the playoffs? Go ahead, Phillies, rub it in our faces.
2007: Red sox. Fun team. We could have beaten them though.
2006: Wait, were we not there? DAMN IT, CARDINALS!
2005: A sweep? In the world series? Really, Astros?
2004: Red Sox. Fun team. Cardinals, you suck. Yankees, ’nuff said.
So, of the ten World Series that have taken place since 2004 – since David Wright’s MLB debut, in other words – only three have brought Mets fans almost universal happiness, while four to six have brought this rugged band – rugged enough not to constantly scream in frustration about these men, at least – outright frustration. But we persevered, didn’t we? We picked ourselves up after 2006…and 2007…and 2008…and 2009. We endured less harmful – if not exactly pleasing – results in 2010…and 2011…and 2012…and we were rewarded when the Cardinals finally lost to the Sox in 2013. Is it much? No, it’s not – especially when the last time we finished in second place, Brett Favre was quarterbacking the Jets. But hey – it’s fun. And there’s no reason not to have fun while October baseball is winding down, unless you find yourself stricken with anger about Jose Valverde or something.
These Royals? They’re a fun team. They remind me of the Mets – they’ve got a manager who can’t tell a baseball from a bass clef, a young group of pitchers, and lots and lots of heart. The Mets have that – I like to believe that they do, at least, and from what they did in the second half of this season, who’s to say I’m wrong? Now, I’m not saying the Royals sudden dominance is an auspicious sign for the Mets. Anyone who looks that deeply for similarities is either kidding themselves or making excuses – Sandy Alderson, in other words. But seeing a team like these Royals winning, it gives you some hope, doesn’t it? That’s how baseball was always supposed to work – the team with the heart, the grit, and the sheer determination gets it done. Here’s hoping that the 2015 Mets, with some luck, can make baseball work that way again.
We here at PBFC encourage tradition. With that in mind, we are proud to once again present the Official PBFC Opening Day Countdown Clock.
Don’t worry, it goes away quicker after New Year’s.
The Braves have lost to the Pirates, 1-0, to fall to 76-80. The Mets are now tied for second place in the NL East. The last time the Mets were in second place this late in a season was September 22nd, 2008.
Thanks to Jason Fry for expressing the past sixteen-some-odd years in a few hundred words. It’s times like these that bring out the best in some people, and the worst in Mets fans.
“Seriously, fuck the Braves. Fuck them for all the horrible things they did to us in previous baseball generations, when they were the car and we were the dog barking and snapping uselessly at the bumper. Fuck them for their entitled fans who took a dynasty for granted and wouldn’t fill the stadium for a playoff game. Fuck them for holding up taxpayers for a new stadium when there was nothing particularly wrong with the old one except they could get a better deal elsewhere. Fuck them for Bobby Cox and Chipper and Andruw Jones and John Rocker and Michael Tucker and Steve Avery and Chief Noc-a-Homa and the cheating with the batter’s box. Fuck them for those horrible red tops. Fuck them for everything I can think of and everything you can think of and then let’s ask some more people and come back and say fuck them for all of that too.”
Good morning, class.
(Wilpon’s skipping, he’s lucky his father’s got money, or at least the appearance of it, or he’d never go anywhere in life)
Okay, class, we left off yesterday at…anyone? Anyone? September 19th, 2014. On September 20th, 2014, the Mets played…anyone? Anyone? The Atlanta Braves. The starting pitcher for the Mets was…anyone? Anyone remember? Jon Niese. He faced the Braves starter…anyone? Anyone know the answer? Mike Minor. Did Mike Minor make it through five innings? Anyone? Anyone? No, he did not. Jon Niese, on the other hand, pitched…anyone? Anyone? How many innings? Seven and a third. He pitched seven and a third innings, and gave up…anyone? Anyone? Two earned runs. Meanwhile, Dilson Herrera drove in two runs with a…anyone? Anyone? Home run. He also hit an…anyone? A certain kind of single? An infield single. After hitting his infield single, he left with an injury to his…anyone? Something-string? His hamstring. Curtis Granderson also hit a home run, and Niese left in the eighth, and…anyone? Anyone? Carlos Torres came in, and…Anyone? Did he get out of a jam? Anyone? Yes, he got out of a jam, and the Mets led by a score of…anyone? Anyone? 4-2. It was 4-2. And in the ninth, Jenrry Mejia came in and…anyone? Anyone? Struck out the first batter. Then he gave up a…anyone? It’s something you do with a piñata? A hit. After that…anyone? Did he get the next out? Yes. The next batter, Ryan Doumit, hit a…anyone? A certain kind of ground ball? Anyone? A hard ground ball to the first baseman…anyone? Anyone? Lucas something? Lucas Duda. And Lucas Duda…anyone? Anyone? Did he field it cleanly? No. He knocked it down, and it was fielded by…anyone? Anyone? Wilmer Flores, who threw to first base, where Doumit was…anyone? Anyone? Was he safe? No. He was out, and the Mets…anyone? Anyone? Won, to go to…anyone? What was their record? 75-80…anyone? How many games out of second place? 1.5 games out of second place, behind…anyone? Anyone? The Atlanta Braves. And the following day, the Mets played…anyone? Anyone? The Atlanta Braves again, with…anyone? Anyone? Something deGrom? Jacob deGrom on the mound.
Alright, class, you’re dismissed.
Admit it, Sandy. This team isn’t going anywhere.
Having waited through 6 seasons of relative futility, I wasn’t going to be put off by one more game lost. After all, it’s been the norm since May of 2009. What’s one more game? Really, the Mets, in losing 7-4 to the Dodgers late last night, were doing exactly what we all expected.
However, I was still angry.
To lead off the game, the Mets sent up Curtis Granderson – whose .322 On-Base Percentage this year hardly qualifies him as a leadoff hitter.
At shortstop was Wilmer Flores, who is only playing because everyone is sick of Ruben Tejada.
At catcher was Travis d’Arnaud, whose .219 career batting average would make him a backup on any team that didn’t already have Anthony Recker as a backup.
At third base, David Wright, clearly struggling, did not get a day off, because the player who could competently fill in for him – quite competently, I might add, as he is batting .318 – was actually on the Dodgers, having been non-tendered by the Mets.
In the minor leagues, Wally Backman, managing a team 15 games over .500 which won its league championship last year, seems to have little chance of moving up a level.
You might say the same thing about Noah Syndergaard, despite the fact that calling up young pitchers is something of a proven combination.
Jose Reyes, who the Mets opted not to re-sign, “not because of money, but because of a new baseball philosophy,” is hitting .293 with 23 stolen bases in Toronto.
I’m not even going to mention this guy.
This offseason, the Mets spent $32.5 million on 3 players. The total WAR of those players is 2.6.
The Orioles spent $8 million on Nelson Cruz. His WAR is 3.2.
The White Sox spent $11 million on José Abreu. His WAR is 4.2.
This offseason, the Mets non-tendered Justin Turner without really replacing him. His WAR, as a part-time player, is 3.1.
It seems like the Mets are waiting for lightning to strike the bottle.
In fact, it seems like the Mets are doing absolutely nothing besides waiting.
It’s seemed that way since Sandy Alderson came in.
Of the three players involved in the Angel Pagan deal, all three went back to the Giants after the 2012 season.
Angel Pagan has batted .290 since the trade.
Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez have both left the MLB.
Terry Collins hasn’t made a major lineup move for approximately 400 years.
It’s “almost certain” that Terry will be back next year, despite (going on) three consecutive seasons of 74 or 75 wins.
Again, they’re just waiting.
What for? I have no idea.
Apparently not Wally Backman – despite his proven managerial talents.
Apparently not Noah Syndergaard – despite his prodigious fastball.
Apparently not money to spend – they spent money on Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.
Sandy, it’s been long enough.
What in the world –
What in the world are you waiting for?
Andy Martino wrote yesterday in the Daily News of the sustained agony that the Mets have inflicted upon fans. His impression: that the front office is nearing the end of its five-and-some-odd year leash. “Anger and excitement are both in the air, waiting for the Mets to choose between them,” he wrote. “This time next year, if this plan has not led to a better place, even the most open-hearted will find it difficult to believe.”
Click here to read Martino’s column.
If Terry Collins was a knight in the middle ages, his title would not be too hard for even the most uninterested passersby to figure out: “Terry the Safe.” Why? Because never, in the (seemingly) billion years that he’s been managing,Terry has never – not once – been in danger of losing his job. “We like what Terry’s doing,” says Sandy, who is also safe because the Wilpons, at this point, have about as much interest in their team as a block of clay. “Terry’s really making this roster work.”
Is he, Sandy? What about the 3 for 277, or whatever it was, with runners in scoring position? What about the fact that Jacob deGrom, whose numbers are completely respectable, doesn’t have a win yet? What about the fact that when the Mets win, they do it on fluke grand slams from Taylor Teagarden, and not on consistent contributions (besides Murph – #ImWith28) from their supposed best offensive players?
Now, I’m not saying that Terry is the biggest problem. That lies squarely with the Wilpons, who are completely uninterested in winning, and routinely dropping $30 million on apartment complexes in Brooklyn instead of on their team. Bud Selig, deliver us from evil. Nevertheless, Sandy (presumably) does have some say in the decision to fire a manager, and surely he must realize that despite the propaganda, Terry, in plain and simple terms, is doing okay at best.
What does that mean? Well, Terry is just there. He’s not usually hurting the team, but occasionally, his decisions won’t help (see “Chris Young bats leadoff,” or also “Chris Young plays at all”). On the other side, he doesn’t usually do all that much to help the team – Terry Collins is, at this point, little more than a watcher. But even that isn’t really the problem. Willie Randolph was little more than a watcher, and, indeed, probably hurt his team more than Terry has, and he managed the Mets to 3.5 consecutive winning seasons. The problem here is that with this team, which doesn’t (thanks, Wilpons!) have slugging superstars, lights-out relievers, or fiery catchers, a manager needs to be more than a watcher. On a team (thanks, Wilpons!) (also, thanks, Sandy!) this bad, a manager actually needs to become part of the game – a manager of this team needs to make his players give all that they have, unlike in 2006, when Willie, I’m sure, had no problems with getting the absolute best out of, say, Carlos Delgado, who was already an established star.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that Terry Collins, despite his past successes, doesn’t seem, at this point, to be a turnaround manager – he’s not Davy Johnson or Gil Hodges, who used unorthodox moves and crafty strategies, along with help from the front office, to turn bad teams into good ones. Under Terry Collins – and with no help from the front office – a team will simply coast. A bad team? They’ll coast badly. A good team? Terry could manage them to a championship. But right now, the Mets need more than what Terry is, an average manager. They need a special manager. Because assuming the “help from the front office” strategy isn’t happening, the Mets need a manager who can get the absolute most out of his team at all times. And that, despite the all too frequent assurances of Sandy Alderson, is not what Terry Collins is.