Monthly Archives: July 2011

Reverse Jinx

After Gary Cohen pointed out Bay’s inability to crank out extra-base hits, Bay has had a quite a streak. After going 50+ games without a double, Bay has cranked out three in the last two days, with one of them clearing the bases. Generally an announcer mentioning a streak jinxes the team in a bad way. Somehow Gary Cohen managed what seems like a reverse jinx. This gave me an idea…

Jason Bay, you are so bad at hitting that you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat. OOOOOOOHHHHHH! Burned!

You hear that Jason Bay? I have officially given up on you. What, you think I’m gonna fall for your antics again? Just because this is the best you’ve hit since your grandslam in Texas does not mean I’m gonna believe you’ve gotten out of your slump? You got that?

Jason Bay, you are easily the worst outfielder in the major leagues. You are so bad, that I am actually writing an article about you because you have gotten three extra base hits in what seems like the last month! That would be fine, if you were at least hitting for average, but .223 is not cutting it. Hell, I would be ok if you just avoided grounding into a double play or striking out every time you come up with runners in scoring position.

I’m gonna keep writing about how bad you are in every one of my articles (yes, even if I write about football, or basketball, or hockey) until you prove me wrong. I am reverse jinxing you back to baseball prominence even if it kills me (don’t ask me how it could kill me…it just can ok?!?)

So, thank you for actually contributing to the team for once. It was greatly appreciated. Just don’t think I’m gonna start expecting it from you, Jason GAY! How did you like that offensive and childish insult that I already feel stupid for saying? Huh?!?

Next time I’m bringing out the momma jokes! Start hitting Bay!

Bittersweet

Today I was planning on writing a post on why I didn’t think the Mets HAD to trade Beltran. Well amid reports that the Mets will trade Beltran to the Giants for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, I guess that post would be pretty useless.

First, let me just say that prying Wheeler from the Giants for a two month rental is a fantastic move for the Mets. Alderson has made all the right moves in his first season as general manager, and he has impressed me once again with this one. Wheeler is projected to be a top of the rotation starter, who could even turn into an ace. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. Both his fastball and curveball are expected to be plus pitches and his changeup should become an average to above average pitch. His big problem right now is his command, which can be erratic at times. He averages 10k/9IP, but also walks 4+ in that time. If he can correct the command issues he should be able to contribute to the majors by next season, or as a September call-up if the Mets fall far enough out of it. (though I wouldn’t count on either happening. I’d say he starts next season in AA and eventually makes his way to AAA with Harvey, Familia and Mejia. One of those four WILL make it to the majors next year)

So that is the sweet part. Now to look at the bitter. Ever since Beltran signed with the Mets he has been one of the Mets’ best players. He has added a huge lift to this lineup, and his presence in the lineup and clubhouse will be sorely missed. The young players clearly looked up to him and it will be interesting to see how his departure impacts them.

From a fan standpoint, it is devastating to see him leave. Like I mentioned before, he has easily been one of my favorite players. It is a shame we will not be able to see him in the Mets’ lineup again this season.

Looking forward to his impending free agency, it will be interesting to see if the Mets make a move for him. He is almost certain to test the free agent market, so the Mets will have a chance. Right now Lucas Duda has every opportunity to show the Mets brass that he should be the team’s right fielder next season, but if he fails to impress then your only other in-house options are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Fernando Martinez. Both have the tools to be successful, but both have had injury problems. Martinez has had problems throughout his entire career, never lasting a full season without a setback, while Nieuwenhuis’ injury has sidelines him for the rest of this season. The point is, can you trust any of these three to be your starter opening day? Couple that with the reports that Angel Pagan may be non-tendered and the Mets have a glaring hole in the outfield. What are the chances the Mets decide re-signing Beltran in the offseason for two years? Let’s just say, as a big fan of Beltran’s, I hope it can work out.

Collapsing

With the NFL’s lockout ending I thought I would put up a football post:

Something that has bothered me a lot during Tom Coughlin’s tenure as head coach is how poorly this team plays in the second half of the season. The lone season they performed well in the second half was 2007 when they won the SuperBowl, and even then I wouldn’t say they avoided the second half collapse we’ve come to expect.

In 2007 they started the season like almost every other season at 6-2 . They finished that season 10-6, posting a 4-4 record in the second half. Their victories came against the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. Only the victory against the Bills was by more than six points. Of those teams, only one of them had more than 7 wins, and that team was the Eagles at 8-8. Not really anything inspiring. Making matters worse, 2007 was the only season the Giants have won a playoff game under Coughlin.

So what is it about these teams that causes them to collapse?

I think the common point most people turn to is injuries. To their credit, 2007 was probably the healthiest they have ever been in the second half. That doesn’t really explain why they played so poorly before the second half of the Bills game that season. Remember, when playing the Redskins a week before, Eli Manning threw so many incompletions he made JaMarcus Russell look good. (I’m half convinced someone told Russell to watch tape of a SuperBowl winning quarterback and he accidentally stumbled on this game tape. It would explain why he didn’t think he needed to improve on his 48.8 completion percentage) That was also the season Eli completed more touchdown passes to the Vikings defensemen than his own receivers in thier game. In addition, I don’t think injuries caused the Giants to miss the playoffs this past season.

I used to think the Giants’ problems were with Eli’s poor performances in the wind in December; however, Eli has been arguably the most consistent part of this team in both 2009 and 2010. I’d even say he was the best part of the team in 2009.

This has caused me to try to think of another explanation: The Giants’ play-calling. Let’s be honest. The Giants really have not had stellar coordinators in the past couple years. John Hufnagel was terrible and so was Tim Lewis. Kevin Gilbride hasn’t been a lot better, and I still have reservations about Perry Fewell. The only years I was confident with a coordinator was 2007 and 2008. That coach of course was Steve Spagnuolo. While they collapsed with him as coordinator in 2008, that was entirely on the offense.

The biggest problem I have seen with the coordinators is their lack of adjustment. When Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick were coaching the Giants, they were spectacular at understanding what the other team was trying to do and adjusting. This has not been the case with coordinators under Coughlin.

I think the best way to show this, is the fact that whenever the Giants start to play poorly, they never turn it around. In 2006 they started 6-2 and finished 8-8. Those two wins came against an injury riddled Panthers team and a abysmal Redskins team that finished 5-11. In 2008, after the offense was stymied by the Eagles, the only win came against a Panthers team that bombed worse than the Giants in the playoffs. In 2009, they won three games after the Saints exposed them in their sixth contest of the season. My point is, aside from the playoff run in 2007, when this team starts to play poorly they never turn it around. That screams lack of adjustment.

In 2007 the big adjustment was inserting Bradshaw into the lineup and trying to pound the ball with the run, a strategy that worked well into the 2008 season. Of course Bradshaw only made it into the lineup because of an injury to Ward and a lack of a better option (even though he was spectacular every time he saw the field. It astonished me how stubborn the Giants were being with his playing time. I hate to say it, but thank god for Ward’s injury. That could be the reason we eventually won the SuperBowl) It also didn’t hurt that Eli matured significantly during those playoffs, severely limiting his turnovers compared to his career averages.

This season was the worst

case of poor adjustment. Early in the season the Giants were guilty of several turnovers. Instead of addressing this issue Gilbride mainly kept his offense the same, which lead to more and more turnovers throughout the season. I just couldn’t understand why Gilbride didn’t make the offense simpler. Perhaps this isn’t fair, but there have been a few people who point out that Gilbride’s offense is one of the most complex in the league. This can have its advantages, but when your young receivers are having trouble staying on the same page as your quarterback, you need to make a change. Gilbride never did and the turnovers kept coming.

On defense the Giants lost because teams realized they could attack the overaggressive safeties. When Spags had trouble at safety he devised ways to protect the back end of the defense. I will never forget the games against the Eagles and Bears in 2007. The offense was sputtering and the entire season could have been lost, but Spags kept his defense up to the task and, with Craig Dahl and Michael Johnson at safety, the defense kept the Eagles and Bears to 13 and 16 points respectively. Wow.

I truly believe if the last game this season was against a better team than Rex Grossman and the Redskins, the Giants would’ve been torched for the third consecutive week. Listen, I like Fewell. He is a huge upgrade over Sheridan (then again who isn’t), but he hasn’t wowed me yet. I don’t think the Giants have won a single game BECAUSE of him. Then again, it was his first season with the team, and I have to believe with another year he should be able to mold this defense into one of the top units in the league.

For better or worse the Giants chances in 2011 are hanging on their coordinators ability to make adjustments. They are clearly a top 3 team in terms of talent. Now can the coaches mold that talent into a SuperBowl winning team.

The Other Night

As the video indicates, I was at the game the other night. It was a hell of a time.

While I am not a huge fan of the new Brooklyn Dodgers stadium we refer to as Citi Field, I will give it one compliment: There does not seem to be a bad seat in the house. My friend and I decided to take our chances (easily the smallest gamble anyone has ever taken in the history of recorded life) and go to the game without tickets. Usually I just use StubHub, but those surcharges were starting to bother me. Anyway, we strolled up, took a chance and asked if there were student prices. Sure enough they had $10 tickets for us. As pathetic as this sounds, my night was already made.

After purchasing our ticket we looked for the shortest line into the stadium and quickly made our way towards one of the more awkward moments of the whole process, the “pat down.” For some reason I always find this awkward moment quite funny. You step up and some guy who looks absolutely miserable just tries to stare away (almost like if he doesn’t stare at you, it isn’t happening. Kind of that peekaboo logic) as he puts his hands up and down your body real quick. Not even a “jeez buy me dinner first” could cheer this guy up. (Though I am sure there are plenty of people who say that to them. I figure it must be beyond old for them) When he does find something on you, he just squeezes the objects to get a sense of what they are. I always feel they do this search to make sure no outside food gets in, as opposed to making sure no weapons make their way in.

After that whole exchange we look at our tickets and, as can be assumed, they were way at the top of the stadium. As we climbed staircase after staircase we think about sneaking into a lower section. (My friend goes to school in Baltimore and whenever we go to an Orioles game we can easily sneak into the bottom section. We even got lucky enough one time to have a fan give us two tickets for free because his friends didn’t show up. Then promptly used those tickets to get seats ten rows back on the third base side. Easily the best value I have ever gotten) Unfortunately there was security at every entrance. You can talk all day about how cheap this team seems nowadays, but money is no object when it comes to making sure people sit in their assigned seat.

We finally make our way to the top and get to our seats to find we actually had a fantastic view of the field. Gotta love that. $10 dollars and I have as good of a view as I need. Beautiful.

The game finally starts and before we know it the Mets are down 4-0. I just think back to the game the previous night, and that fantastic 4-2 victory. We had been deciding between going Tuesday or Wednesday and I was now regretting my decision.

While still invested in the game, I’ll admit we got sidetracked a bit before the Mets were able to get back into it. I think the most enjoyable conversation we had was after we saw this guy and girl walk into our section together. My friend instantly tells me, “I know it might look like they are together, but I’ll bet you anything that they are brother and sister.” We argued back and forth for a while (in fact I’m pretty sure they heard us) and I’ll admit, it wasn’t obvious one way or the other. As my friend pointed out, they looked ridiculously alike, there was no physical contact, and when it came time for the “fan photos” they seemed a little apprehensive about taking one. (though in retrospect that could just be because no one really wants to take those fan photos)

While we were debating this important issue, one of the highlights of the night happened. Beltran walked into the batters box and hit a bomb of a two-run home run to tie the game up. I’ll admit, part of my inspiration to go to the game was to see Beltran as a Met just one more time before he was traded. I honestly could not have asked for a better day to go see him.

Just watching him play again I was torn as to whether the Mets should trade him. He has easily been one of, if not, my favorite player on the Mets this decade. For all the crap he gets, he is a phenomenal player and a hell of a professional. At times like this I am so happy I am not a GM. Beltran is a fantastic player and leader. Someone who is great for your team. Unfortunately, if the Mets could pull in a top prospect for him, like a Dominic Brown, you have to make that move. Give up Beltran for 2 months, get a star right fielder for 10 years. It’s just smart. Part of me hopes that Beltran stays with the team past the deadline, re-signs in the offseason, and has another productive couple of years. Though I know that isn’t realistic, and, knowing the Mets, it would just blow up in their face. To sum that up: in a perfect world I’d love to keep Beltran; however, if the Mets could receive an impact player in return they have to make that deal. Only for an impact player. If a team like the Giants just wants to take on his salary and give low level prospects, keep him. I think the two months and extra time to negotiate with Beltran for next season is more valuable than a future bench player.

After that inning (though I admittedly don’t remember exactly what inning it was during) we also had a runner on the field. He had one of the more impressive runs I’ve seen at a stadium. Obviously nothing compared to Drew Barrymore in that Red Sox movie that I’m blanking on the name of right now (I know I could easily look it up, but that movie already stole enough of my time), and Adam Sandler in that even worse Anger Management movie, or even this kid at HoustonĀ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7B4gic1-qU. Still it was a very entertaining run that kept us captivated. The run is posted in the previous article. This website is making it too annoying to post here.

Also another shocking thing that happened during an inning I can’t specifically remember, was Bay getting hurt and leaving the game. Perhaps the most notable thing about it was how little I cared. That is probably the worst thing that could be said about a high profile free agent signing getting injured. (After his performance following my article I’ve decided to only post negative things about Bay. I would feel worse about this if I thought he, or anyone really for that matter, would read this blog. Basically if the Mets screw up when I believe in them, maybe I should just stop hoping he can turn it around. The reverse jinx. Let’s hope it works!)

The game continued. It remained tied until the eighth inning when Bobby Parnell gave up a run. The run was scored on a squeeze play which was pretty impressive. Not something you see that often anymore. In fact, it is so rare an occurence that some guy behind me was left perplexed. He yelled to his friend sitting next to him, “Never before have I seen that in my life,” (which I now hear like this scene in Superbad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlHK4HgXjJ0 look at 2:20.) “They must have known the batter had terrible numbers against Parnell and just made something up,” he continued. And this guy calls himself a baseball fan. He literally commentated on the entire game. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation for Gary, Keith and Ron. Oh and by the way, at this point the “siblings” sitting in front of us started to kiss, which meant I had won our little argument, possibly the second biggest victory of the night. My friend still refuses to accept defeat. He has changed his stance to cousins from an accepting family.

In the bottom of the eighth inning the Mets were able to tie it up thanks to a clutch hit by Thole. At the start of the season I was really hopeful Thole would catch on and be a nice young hitter for us. He just had such a nice compact swing and eye at the plate, that I thought asking for .280/.330 10 hr and 60 rbi wouldn’t be crazy. I will admit though, I was scared about his defense and his ability to call the game. It shocked me that the organization was willing to move forward with Thole as the starter after going out to sign Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco the season before SPECIFICALLY for their defense and calls. The idea that last season the young pitching staff desperately needed a leader, but this season they were ok just didn’t make sense. Sure enough the pitchers struggled at the start of the season, and Pelfrey has struggled all year. Still Thole seems to have gotten more comfortable with the pitching staff and vice versa. This is only his first full season in the majors so I should give the kid a break. Rebuilding in New York right?

Isringhausen came on in the ninth and pitched phenomenally to send the inning to extras. Two great things about this. One Isringhausen has been spectacular as closer. He has only been used twice, but I have to say he has done a great job. I’m glad the Mets have decided to hold on to him. He can be a great mentor for Parnell and Beato. Two, it was the first game in extras I have ever been at. I have been to many many games in my lifetime. To finally be able to check that item off was great.

The top of the tenth came and went in a hurry as Isringhausen kept the Cards off the board again. Then the bottom half of the inning started up. Murphy popped up for the first out. That was enough to send a disgruntled fan over the edge. She screamed, “great, at the rate we’re going, we are headed for an eleventh inning!” I am so glad she was there to do the math for me because I was certain it was going to be the fourteenth after that. What a relief. Now a proper response would be: At this rate we are going to be here all night. (When I say proper, I don’t mean funny or clever, I just mean a logical response to explain your emotions, rather than a factual comment. I also don’t see complaining about a game going past the tenth inning in extras. How many extra inning games get decided in the tenth? Don’t answer that) After that little outburst, Pagan (or PAGONE! after that hit) went out to shut her up and hit a bomb to right center. Right after the ball crossed the fence my friend and I cheered and screamed as we ran down the innumerable amount of stairs in that stadium, ensuring ourselves the first train out of there to make our other train home. I also got to cross “walk-off win” off my list. (I know, I know, how have I not seen any of this stuff yet) Overall a great game and a great time. Definitely have to make it back out there.

Video From the Game

Runner at Citi Field 7/20

A segment of the runner at Citi Field tonight. The guy had a hell of a run, surprisingly fun to watch.