Oh Captain, Our Captain

David Wright has been the Mets fearless leader throughout the past decade. David Wright was not only the Mets captain, but Captain America:

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Wright endured so much on a Mets team that was constantly changing around him. Mets fans loved that we finally had our franchise player. He was our Derek Jeter. And when 2015 rolled around and the Mets had their shot at a World Series, I wanted David Wright to have that ring more than anyone. Wright currently holds most franchise records for the Mets:

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But like most stories told by this ball club, our franchise hero, has some how become a tragic figure. Wight hasn’t played a major league baseball game since May of 2016. The injuries started to pile up the year before however, just as the Mets were starting to emerge as a force in the NL East. First it was his hamstring on a slide into second base, then it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis. From there, it’s been nothing but an uphill battle for Wright. Back and forth stints on the DL, he could never seem to maintain consistent time on the field without an injury flaring up. I can only imagine that he must have played through some of that pain, because this is a man who loves the Mets. He wants the fans to know that he is battling for them. So that New York can have their captain back.

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Spinal stenosis was also the issue that cut the career of Prince Fielder short, so I have no doubt that Wright knows he’s playing against the clock. We were overjoyed when we saw him making those rehab starts in St. Lucie last week, and crushed once again to find out that due to shoulder pain, he was shut down from baseball activity once again. I, like many other Mets fans, hoped that we would maybe get to see Wright at the hot corner for one more season before he hung up his cleats, but it seems like that hope may be lost.

He deserved more. I have no doubt that his number will be retired by the Mets organization one day, and maybe he still has a shot at the Hall of Fame. Though some would argue that these last two injury plagued seasons may have hurt those chances. Realistically speaking, the Mets may have to take a look at that third base free agent market in the upcoming off-season. Sandy Alderson already seems to have this in mind but now the question is, who would the Mets pick up?

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One possibility would be Mike Moustakas. Moustakas is having another great season with a Royals team that is still in a “will they or won’t they category” for the post season this year. His numbers right now are .277/.315/.546. He’s a great defensive third baseman as well with 183 assists on the year so far and a WAR of 2.4. That WAR is significantly higher than last years .7. Moustakas is still that elite third baseman that could provide a great presence in the Mets clubhouse as well. The question is, would the Mets be willing to go get him this offseason and what would they pay? This is a club that’s not known for making big offseason moves. (I’m honestly still surprised that we got a deal done for Cespedes.) Money could be an issue as well but if the Captain would hang up his cleats, that could shed some cash off the payroll.

Personally, I think Wright would make an excellent bench coach, or even a manager for the Mets some day. The fans would continue to adore him in that role. And then maybe, just maybe, he still has his shot at a World Series ring.

 

Rhys Lightening

First off let me just say, I realized I’m very protective over other players adopting a storm related nickname every since we dubbed Noah Syndergaard as “Thor.” My first response is always “No! The lightening and all that comes with it belongs to Noah Syndergaard you peasants!” But at least this nickname suites Hoskins much more than “Red Thunder” suites Clint Frazier of the Yankees. (I’m trying to keep this blog professional so I’m not going to say what nickname makes me think of.)

Earlier this year, we watched rookie phenom Cody Bellinger break the record for fastest to 21 home runs in the majors. And now just a few weeks later Hoskins is setting records of his own. He came up during that series with the Mets and got off to a slow start. But in the week that followed, Rhys put on a show like a baby Giancarlo Stanton. He now holds the record for the fasted player to 10 home runs, with a batting average of .297 and a slugging percentage of .828.

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The Phillies have been in rebuild mode for quite some time now and Hoskins is just the guy they need to continue to build around. I enjoy the Phillies as the Mets main rival in the division, and it’s always more fun to watch when the Phillies and the Mets are both good at the same time (Though I don’t think that’s been the case since the late 80s?)

So enjoy it Phillies fans. This kid looks like the real deal for the future. You deserve all your fun lightening nicknames and metaphors. Just remember who the God of Thunder still is in the National League East.

Players Weekend

It’s the inaugural players weekend in the MLB and everyone has been talking about these fun player nicknames and uniforms. The colors pay homage to the bright uniforms of the Little League World Series. Some of these colors are awesome, and some of them (Mets) look like a creamsicle on the sidewalk during a New York City heat wave. I’m sure there are some old school baseball purists out there who think the nicknames are dumb, but I think they’re awesome. Here’s a list of my top 10:

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9.

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8.

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7.

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6.

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5.

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4.

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3.

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2.

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1.

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Nothing was going to take the top spot over “Corey’s Brother.” Sean Doolittle is just an amazing human and his nickname is simple and fun. And of course, Aaron Hicks. The man who put a joke from a Key and Peele sketch on the back of his jersey definitely makes my top three.

Players weekend is a nice way to keep things a little lighter during a heated post season chase right now. Along with a great way to take your mind off the fact that your team probably isn’t going to the post season this year.

 

 

Mets and Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It might as well be the new mascot for the Mets. Because there is nothing that defines them more than Murphy’s Law. Fans even started drawing that connection literally, all the way back to the 2015 World Series, when Daniel Murphy’s hot offensive streak ended and he was suddenly defensively inept in the field. It only went a step further the following year when Murphy signed a 3 year deal with the Nationals after the Mets failed to offer him one. Since signing with the Nats he’s done nothing but punish the Mets. This year so far he had a batting average around .483 against the Mets alone. And since he’s been traded to the Nats he’s consistently had an overall average well above .300.

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But Murphy’s Law for the Mets didn’t just end with Murphy himself. The Mets stellar young pitching staff has done nothing but fall to injury since the 2015 season. None of them can all seem to stay healthy at the same time. Matz and Wheeler both went down once again. Matz looks to be having a similar season ending surgery that DeGrom had last year. Harvey and Syndergaard are trying to make a comeback this season, but there’s certainly no rush for it. Most Mets fans would rather have the rotation healthy for 2018 than have them rush back to pitch the last two weeks of a lost season.

Things seemed to be looking up for the Mets though. At least we had a little taste of the future these past few weeks with Conforto remaining a great young star on the rise and watching Smith and Rosario adapt to their new big league rolls. But things can only go well for the Mets for so long. Yesterday afternoon against the Diamondbacks, Conforto took too big of a swing at the plate, and dislocated his shoulder. Truly, only something that would happen to the Mets. Not only was it dislocated, but now, it seems that the shoulder will require surgery as well. The perfect metaphor for what has been a horrific season for the Mets and their fans. Conforto was having a fantastic year despite the Mets woes, hitting .279 with a career high 27 home runs.

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All of that is over now. Terry Collins said post game yesterday he had “never seen and injury happen like that before.” No one had. The Mets may not always be know for the ability to set new offensive or defensive records on the field, but they will always be the first to a new and exciting way to get themselves injured. Collins wasn’t able to provide a timeline on whether or not Conforto would make a return this season. Again, I’m in the camp of “just let him heal and come back next year.” There’s no urgency to rush injured players back too soon and aggravate anything further. On top of it all the Mets training staff has the worst track record when dealing with their injured players. 2018 and 2019 could be great seasons for the Mets. But with Murphy’s Law constantly coming back to bite them, it seems almost impossible to predict just how it will all play out. 2015 was a great year, and almost a fluke sometimes when I look back on it. And trust me, I look back on it a lot, because to this day I still could not believe all the “magic” and good fortune that the Mets had that year. The famous phrase “The Magic is Back” was being throne around a lot. Right now it feels like the magic has run out.

Bold Prediction: The Jays Win The Second Wild Card Spot

As of right now the Jays are only 5 games out of a very tight AL Wild card race. With a whole month left of baseball to play, it wouldn’t be totally insane for the Jays to win a few and make that final push for a wild card spot.
The next two series for Toronto are the Twins, followed by the Red Sox. The Sox are cruising right now so that will definitely be the tougher of the two series, but if they manage to sweep the Twins they would gain some series ground. At 60 and 66 they’re no where near the worst of the cellar dweller teams (i.e. The Giants. What happened there?) You could look at the rest of the Jays calendar and think, it’s a rough September, or you could look at it and say this team has an opportunity that is just waiting to be seized.
Stroman remains the ace of the staff, and while Estrada and Happ have struggled a bit more this year, overall I think the rotation is still pretty solid. It also helps that they didn’t end up trading away any key offensive pieces this year around the trade deadline. Rumors had been floating around regarding Donaldson and possibly Bautista, which had they’d been moved I think would have changed this conversation completely.
MLB: Game One-Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
At the beginning of the season I had picked them to be neck and neck for first in the AL East with the Red Sox. Despite their struggles this season they can still put up big offensive numbers when Donaldson, Smoak, Pillar, and Bautista are hot. The heart of that order can be deadly.
That consistency is going to be key especially when they get down towards the end of September. They have a tough last two weeks with a series against Boston and then the Yankees.  I have a new found soft spot for the Jays with them being the under dog this season in the AL East and I would love to see them win over that second wild card spot after everyone had already counted them out.

Why Do We Still Watch The Mets?

I sat down to watch the Mets game last night with the same mentality that I had watching them pre-2015. Which is that “you watch them just to watch them.” Because as one Mets fan from the Amazin Avenue forum said “Bad Mets baseball is still better than no Mets baseball.” Spoken like a true die hard.

Tommy Milone was on the mound, which was a phrase I never thought I’d write this season considering the pitching staff we have. He was a pick up earlier this year when Harvey went down. Or was it when Thor went down? You see, these events in a Mets fan’s mind are all blurred together as one summer catastrophe.  Mets mainstays like Duda and Grandy have been traded away in a fire sale, which is understandable, but still painful. But then you remember that top prospects like Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are on the field until the end of September, and you can’t help but get excited all over again.

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The Diamondbacks jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning because of course they would. They are an elite team that would possibly be in first place in the NL West right now if the Dodgers hadn’t run away with that division. But also because Tommy Milone is not even close to a good pitcher. I sat and watched the Mets get destroyed for 5 innings and wondered why I was sitting here watching a 7-0 blowout.  Then in the bottom of the 5th, Rosario steps to the plate and hits an opposite field home run. 7-1 Diamondbacks. I decided to continue watching the rest because deep down all Mets fans are masochists, but more so because it gave me a little bit of hope.

When the bottom of the 9th rolled around and the inning started off with a Cabrera walk, and Cespedes single, my hope only grew. No outs just yet. Could we actually pull off a comeback right now? And then the rookie show started. Dominic Smith belts a ground rule double. 7-2 Diamondbacks. The next batter Nimmo, strikes out. Reynolds after him grounds out, but still manages to bring home a run. 7-3 Diamondbacks. Even with 2 outs the Mets foolishly led me to believe they could still make a comeback. The rookie show part two was about to get underway as Amed Rosario steps to the plate and crushes a ball into the left field corner. His speed gets him safely to third with a triple. 7-4 Mets. I couldn’t help but think that if Tommy Milone and Hansel Robles weren’t so terrible, and held the D-backs to 3 runs that would have been a walk off triple for Rosario. “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda..” It really wasn’t helpful to think that way at this point. Gavin Checchini was the next batter and failed to keep the rookie show going as he grounded out to Paul Goldschmit for the last out of the game.

Seeing the rookies come through does take a bit of the sting out of this loss. You can be pessimistic about everything else the Mets have going on right now, but the future still looks pretty bright. I know it gets tiresome saying things like “Just wait till next season! They’ll be back in the World Series!” I’ve been saying it since 2000. And in 2015 it turned out to be true. So for now, here’s to the rookies, and the hopes that 2018 will be a better year.

Welcome to California

Curtis Granderson is a true class act of the game. He’s a leader, he’s always got a smile on his face whether he’s in a slump or batting over .300, and he’s a philanthropist. His Grand Kids foundation helps kids from New York to Chicago, to everywhere else, and teaches them the importance of education and baseball.

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As if Mets fans weren’t happy enough to have taken him away from the Yankees, he won them over immediately, in one of his first press conferences by saying “True New Yorkers are Mets fans.” I have a rally towel that hung in my bedroom the past four years with that quote on it.

Grandy’s numbers in New York weren’t anything wild. His batting average in those four years was only .239. But Grandy almost always came through in the clutch. There’s no baseball stat for that just yet, but I’m sure with all these new sabermetrics it’s not far behind. He had a great eye at the plate, and when leading off for the Mets, always managed to draw a walk when it mattered. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him hit lead off home runs. He never beat out Jose Reyes for the Mets team record, but he came close.

I remember one game in particular last season, late in the summer when the Mets were still in the wild card chase and every game seemed like it was do or die. The Mets were playing the Twins and were down 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th. Granderson steps to the plate and belts a solo shot to tie the game. Then in the bottom of the 12th, he steps to the plate once more. I thought to myself, sitting in my dark living room with just the light from the tv keeping me awake, “there’s no way he could hit another one right?” There was, because it was Grandy, because he always came through when you  hoped he would. Because he was never the type of ballplayer to to let slumps, or stats get to him, for Grandy, every at bat was brand new. He crushed his second solo shot of extra innings, and the Mets walked off with a 3-2 victory. It’s one of my favorite walk offs of the Mets 2015 and 2016 postseason run:

Mets fans are sad to see him go, but I’ve seen nothing but well wishes for him across social media. The Dodgers traded for him, and sent minor league pitcher Jacob Rhame to the Mets, along with cash considerations. While I’m sad that Grandy won’t be in New York anymore, I’m beyond excited that he came to LA. When I first got that notification to my phone, the feeling was that of a friend that came out to here to join me.

In his first game as a Dodger, against the Detroit Tigers (where he started his career) Grandy hit a pop fly in the top of the 7th. It looked as though it would be a routine out, but Nick Castellanos lost the ball in the sun and dropped it. Because Curtis hustled out of the box, he turned what would have been a routine fly ball into a double. He would be the first run to come home later that inning on a single off Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers ended up winning the game 3-0.

The Dodgers second game in Detroit wasn’t as smooth. Up against Verlander, the Tiger’s ace, they ended up losing 6-1. But that one run was none other than a Curtis Granderson solo shot, his first homer as a Dodger, to break up what was shaping up to be a Verlander no-hitter.

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Grandy was the perfect addition to an already lethal Dodgers offense. And it’s clear that playing for this team is so special to him for many reasons. But particularly:

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Grandy now gets another shot at a World Series ring. He gets another post season. And I can’t think of anyone that deserves a ring more than that guy. I’m rooting for the Dodgers to win it all now more than ever. Welcome to Dodger Blue.

 

What ever happened to the Brooklyn Dodgers?

The Dodgers seem unreal. Last night marked their 80th victory of the season. Baseball fan or not, watching them on this historic run has been a real treat. It’s weird for me living in unfamiliar baseball territory. The Dodgers and the Mets don’t interfere with each other for the post season this year, and I rooted for the Mets whole heartedly each time the Dodgers came to town to punish us. Part of me is trying to embrace the Dodgers on this run by drawing parallels between my life and the team.

The Dodgers left Brooklyn in a historic time for New York baseball. The people of Brooklyn loved their Dodgers. “Dem Bums” as they were often affectionately referred to. They were the first version of the Mets. They were New York’s underdog in comparison to the Giants and the Yankees. My great uncle Nick was a huge Dodger fan for years while they were in Brooklyn. Things may have been a bit different for me had he stuck with them when they left for the west coast. But he instead decided to get on board with this new team in New York. The one they called, “The Metropolitans.”

California in the late 50s was just itching for a baseball team. Walter O’Malley wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn for his team, but was only offered a spot in Queens. So he decided to take a chance and make a home out west for his lovable baseball bums.  The rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers could now continue on the west coast.

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Seeing the Dodgers play here is like seeing an old friend that moved out of your neighborhood when you were a kid. It’s exciting for a different reason. The Mets are my heart and home. They’re summer nights at the ballpark with my uncle and my dad, they’re sunny afternoon games with my best friend, the Mets are always going to mean the most. But when I look at the Dodgers, I see a mutual friend. “Hey, we both came from the same place. We’re both here now, and I want you to succeed.” It’s this sense of wanting that one person or thing from your hometown to be successful in this big new place, because it means that you can do it too. The Dodgers have found plenty of success since moving to LA. Their last World Series win was in 1988, just two years after the Mets last win. They’ve been shattering franchise records all season and the table is set for them to take it all this year. The Dodgers give me a sense of hope for my own life. There’s no limit to what you can make happen, even if you’re just a bum from Brooklyn.