As I write this, we’re less than 48 hours away from the final out of the 2017 New York Mets season… and already, manager Terry Collins has been kicked upstairs, pitching coach Dan Warthen and trainer Ray Ramirez have been relieved of their duties, and coaches Dick Scott, Ricky Bones and Tom Goodwin have been encouraged to seek other employment.
A 70-92 record and the worst team ERA since 1962 will bring changes, and they’re already starting to happen.
I said my goodbye to this year’s Mets team last week at Citi Field. My friend Vinny pointed out tickets would probably be really cheap for a midweek season finale between two teams that had been out of the running since Memorial Day, and he was right – I got a pair of seats 13 rows behind the third base dugout for about what it would have cost to go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game.
The New York Mets’ 2016 baseball season lasted 163 games, ending last Wednesday when Jeurys Familia gave up a three-run homer to Conor Gillaspie in the ninth inning of the National League Wild Card Game. The Mets hitters couldn’t figure out how to deal with San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a shutout.
I won’t lie – it was a frustrating loss. But several days later, I’m willing to tip my cap to Bumgarner and the Giants. They were the better team on Wednesday, though they’re standing on the brink of elimination from the National League Division Series. The Giants ran into a team that’s better than them in the Chicago Cubs. That’s how baseball is supposed to work…and sometimes it does.
Terry Collins took a team to the postseason, if only for three hours, with a rotation that included unheralded rookies Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, along with ageless veteran Bartolo Colon and the Mets’ one enduring ace, Noah Syndergaard. He patched together an infield that included just one Opening Day starter. And somehow, he kept everyone believing that a playoff push was possible when common sense said to start planning for 2017. If that’s not worthy of Manager of the Year consideration, I don’t know what is.
So now we wait and watch to see who will be crowned the 2016 World Series Champ, even though it won’t be the Mets. I’m rooting for Daniel Murphy and his Washington Nationals teammates, but I could see myself switching over to Justin Turner‘s Dodgers if the Nats don’t make it.
The Mets have a host of important roster decisions to make this winter…the team that starts 2017 may not bear much resemblance to the one that finished 2016. That’s ok, and it makes for an interesting hot stove season.
Meanwhile, I have a bunch of baseball cards to sort, checklists to update and autograph request letters to write.
For the first time since the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets on November 1st last year, I was able to watch them play a baseball game today.
Sure, the stakes were much lower…today’s contest was just an exhibition, which was allowed to end as a 4-4 tie. And some of the players on the field at the end of today’s game will finish their professional careers with the same number of major league at bats as me.
But it was baseball, and especially for a few moments while we watched Dilson Herrera turn a wind-blown fly ball into an inside-the-park home run, it was magical.
Jacob deGrom refused to sign an autograph on his 2016 contract.Though he will still make more money this year than most Mets fans, deGrom rightly feels that the Mets’ $607,000 doesn’t reflect his value to the team. He’s hardly the first pre-arbitration player to go down this road, and definitely won’t be the last.
We all wanted to know how Mejia could get suspended not once, not twice, but three times in less than a year for failing drug tests for steroids.Well, Mejia gave us an answer today… though it sounds like something for Agents Mulder and Scully to investigate.
Mejia said that baseball officials told him that if he appealed the punishment for the second doping offense, “they will find a way to find a third positive,” Mejia, who is from the Dominican Republic, said through an interpreter. “I felt there was a conspiracy against me. I feel that they were trying to find something to bring me down in my career.”
The best I can do is ask: Wouldn’t Mejia be smart enough to come up with something better if he was just going to make up a story? (Of course, we’re talking about somebody who is barred from practicing his chosen profession for failing three separate drug tests…)
But really, even if you do believe Major League Baseball had an axe to grind against A-Rod…how is a player on Mejia’s level even worth planning a conspiracy against? Outside of the New York area, how many people had even heard of him prior to his “lifetime” ban?
For the record, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball denied Mejia’s allegations. However, the former pitcher has retained a labor lawyer and appears to be keeping his options open. It would be interesting to find out if Mejia has any evidence to support his assertions.
But enough of the ugly side of baseball. Spring training is well underway, Opening Day is less than a month away and a new season lies ahead of us. Let’s try to enjoy it.
I don’t think anyone who has watched the Mets regularly during Terry Collins‘ managerial tenure will be very surprised by his comments in Bob Nightengale‘s USA Today piece.
“I’m not going to sit there today and look at all of these (expletive) numbers and try to predict this guy is going to be a great player. OPS this. OPS that. GPS. LCSs. DSDs. You know who has good numbers? Good (expletive) players.
For better or worse, that’s who Collins is… he’s going to summon that lefty reliever to get a left-handed hitter out even though the lefty reliever fares better against right-handed batters, and he’s going to go with the hitter who he believes gives him the best chance to win even if those numbers suggest he should use somebody else in that spot.
He did get to the World Series last year and all of the Mets players seem to love him, so it’s hard to argue with success.
But as a fan, I’d sure like to think that there’s somebody in the dugout who is paying attention to the numbers. Someone who has enough of Collins’ respect to maybe talk him out of some of those not-so-good strategic moves, and who can help players identify and perhaps overcome their weaknesses.
Or we can just keep pushing Sandy Alderson to fill the roster with “Good (expletive) players.”