Quantcast

Mets Sure Know How to Blow a Game

Though Mets fans have been used to this recently, I can’t imagine them being too accepting of Monday night’s loss to the Dodgers. Really, this was a new low for them, almost as if they’re inventing ways of losing games. In case you missed it, the Mets committed five — count ‘em — five errors against the Dodgers. To make matters worse, after tying things up at 2-2 in the 8th and going to extras, they were poised to take the lead 3-2. One minor issue got in their way — Ryan Church failed to touch third base when he was trying to score from first on an extra-base hit by Angel Pagan. So what appeared to be the game-winning run turned out to be one of the biggest blunders of the season for the Mets.

As if Church’s screwup wasn’t enough, the way the Dodgers scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th was just as embarrassing. First off, Xavier Paul reached when his fly ball to left field fell because Angel Pagan failed to yield to center fielder Carlos Beltran. That put men on second and third and then the Mets walked Juan Pierre intentionally to load things up. They got Rafael Furcal to fly out and appeared to escape the jam when Orlando Hudson grounded one to Jeremy Reed who was playing first. Reed threw wildly up the third base line past catcher Ramon Castro, and the Dodgers won it. Two errors by the Mets that half-inning, giving them five for the game. Yes, this is the same Jeremy Reed who has been an outfielder his entire career, never a first baseman. And yes, Ramon Castro was already setting up to turn a double-play and that’s why he wasn’t in position to knock Reed’s throw down.

My goodness, like I said, it’s almost like the Mets are inventing new ways of blowing games. What a drag for the fans — this one really was emblematic of the past several seasons for the Mets franchise. They better score about 10 runs Tuesday night to make up for it.

$800 Million for Citi Field and They Can’t Afford to Get Hot Water Running

I’m not a big fan of the Yankees or Mets because of many reasons — the unveiling of their new ballparks would be the most recent. I understand that both organizations planned to have the parks built years ago and couldn’t anticipate the current economic conditions that make the stadium unveilings look ill-timed. Still, when you spend $800 million on a park as I’ve read and have all the bells and whistles, how can you screw things up in the visitor’s clubhouse as badly as the Mets did? According to Padres pitcher Jake Peavy who got the win on Thursday night, Citi Field didn’t have hot water running in the visitor’s clubhouse. For that reason, he had to take a cold shower. Peavy still said they did the park right and that it’s beautiful.

On a related note, there wasn’t much more satisfying than seeing the Yankees get hammered 10-2 on the day they open up their new stadium. Spending over a billion bucks on a new stadium and nearly half a billion on players and you get blown out giving up nine runs in the 7th is a great way to reward your fans. What bothers me most is that the ticket prices for each of these places is astronomical. I remember hearing someone say a few years ago that baseball games would become like the opera before long, only affordable and attended by the super wealthy. When I see that the average ticket price at Yankee Stadium is $75, I have to cringe. Fans shouldn’t have to spend as much as they do to watch Yankees and Mets home games. And just because they have new stadiums and their games cost so much doesn’t mean they’re that much more important than every other team in the league either.

Keith Hernandez to Jose Reyes: Nice Game, Pretty Boy!

It was so fitting: I was over at my boy Hop-a-Long’s to enjoy 4th of July festivities, and what comes on Seinfeld as the rerun episodes? That’s right, the Keith Hernandez Magic Loogie episode. And why was that so fitting? As Hop-a-Long informed me, Hernandez apparently had just gotten into a fight with Jose Reyes on the team plane:

A team source described the situation aboard the plane as “very heated.” One player told The Post that he thought Reyes and the popular former Met – now an analyst for the club’s SNY TV network – were close to exchanging punches until others stepped in.

Reyes said yesterday he was angry at Hernandez after numerous friends and relatives told him Hernandez accused the Mets of “babying” Reyes during the broadcast of Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Yankees.

“Well, he’s got to get over that,” Hernandez said at the time, according to one transcript of the broadcast. “Enough babying going on now. He’s a grown man. He’s been around a long enough time. Take off the kid gloves.”

I guess Reyes threw his glove down on the ground after making an error. That’s not quite as strong as when Ted Lilly slammed his glove on the ground during the playoffs last year after giving up a home run, but still a childish act nonetheless. I’m a Reyes fan and I don’t understand all the heat he’s been taking lately. Manuel getting pissed at Reyes for not wanting to be pulled, and now Hernandez saying he’s being babied. Who doesn’t get pissed after making an error? I side with Piazza, too, who once said Hernandez is “A clueless voice from the grave.” At any rate, nice game, pretty boy!

Jerry Manuel’s First Move: Less Batting Practice for Mets

The last time we discussed teams doing less batting practice, it was during the playoffs when the Angels were pimp-slapped by Curt Schilling in Game 3. Needless to say, they didn’t perform well. And that brings us to Jerry Manuel, the newly appointed manager of the Mets. One of his first moves as the team’s skipper was to cut down on the amount of batting practice the players take before games.

Jerry Manuel wants quality swings during batting practice, not mind-numbing repetition. The Mets normally go with four shifts of eight swings each, and then rotate groups. Manuel has chopped those in half after noticing a lot of tired swings in games.

Well, nobody ever said Manuel wasn’t an independent thinker. Somehow having the team practice less isn’t exactly the message I would think you’d want to be sending to the media. But if it produces results, that’s all that matters. Besides, Manuel’s approach is quality over quantity. Not that rounds of eight swings is anything too much to begin with. Whatev. I doubt this was a change that really needed to be instituted.

Omar Minaya Gave Willie Randolph Extra Time Because He’s African American

I’m glad Omar Minaya held his press conference so he could answer a lot of the questions regarding the firing of Willie Randolph. For instance, it explained why Minaya waited until the first day of a road trip and why the news came overnight. Additionally, there was one element of Minaya’s news conference that stood out to me, aside from the fact that he talked out of both sides of his mouth: race had a large role in Minaya’s decision. Omar made it well-known that Randolph was given plenty of time and chances because he’s African American, and because he had a vested interest in seeing Randolph succeed. Just read some of the things he said, or watch it:

“Willie was my hire. It was my decision, and I decided to fire Willie. It was my decision. A tough decision, but it was my decision. And it’s a tough one. I say it’s tough. Why? Because I hired him, one. He is the first African American manager in the history of New York baseball. I’m the first Hispanic general manager in baseball. When you have that bond, there’s a connection. And myself, giving Willie that chance to manage, it took me time to make this decision. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.”

“I have vested interested in Willie Randolph doing good … because I hired him. Willie Randolph is a reflection of my judgment. Like myself, I went to eight to ten, 12 interviews. Willie Randolph went to 12. He was not given an opportunity. I felt he should be given an opportunity. I feel as a general manager, to give the first African American an opportunity in New York, it’s important to the history of this franchise, and even more important, it’s important to our ownership. And to me, this is a very tough decision.

So there you go. If you were ever wondering why Randolph wasn’t canned at the end of last season, where it was certainly called for, it’s because Minaya wanted to give Randolph as many chances as possible to succeed. Ditto for why he hadn’t been fired any one of the other bagillion times there was a rumor he would do so over the last six weeks. I think it’s understandable that Minaya felt this way, but I’m surprised he actually admitted it in public. I think it’s actually worse in the end that Minaya fired him in the middle of the season instead of just giving him the year. But I guess he’s trying to do anything now to save his skin.

Mets Finally Fire Willie Randolph

Wow, this is nuts. Imagine my surprise to happen upon this story, the night after a Mets win no less. The Mets have apparently announced the firing of manager Willie Randolph, ending weeks of speculation that he would be canned. I guess now we know why Omar Minaya made the trip out to the West Coast. And if you thought Randolph’s head would be the only one chopped, you were wrong. In a massive purge, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto were also fired. Jerry Manuel will serve as interim manager, with three other men joining the staff (mostly promoted from the minors).

I just can’t understand the timing of this move. Why now? Why after a win? Why the day after the team started a road trip? Why not last week, why not after getting swept by the Padres? The timing doesn’t make sense to me in either the short-run or the big picture. If you were going to fire the guy, I have maintained, you should have done it after last year’s collapse. That was enough ammo to bring out the execution squad. It’s like a death penalty; you preside over such a debacle, you should be gone. But if you decide to hang onto the guy and let him try again next season, give him a legit shot. Don’t just bag him and make his life miserable for 70 games with the team injury-plagued and hovering around .500. What would you prefer, to be up 15 at this point like last year and have everyone recounting stories of the collapse?

Since the Mets decided to give Willie another shot, which was probably a bad idea to begin with, they did Willie and themselves a serious disservice by not giving him the full year. Now things are a mess and a new group of guys are coming in. At least the speculation about job security will be gone for the moment. Additionally, who’s to say the below average start was all on Willie this year? I do believe that Pedro, El Duque, and Moises Alou were all Omar Minaya signings. Aging players who spent serious time on the D.L. this year can’t exactly help Randolph on the field. And Willie’s not the one who signed Delgado to a big deal, a player who’s massively underperformed. Sure people can rave about the payroll, but that doesn’t mean it was all money well spent. Some of this falls on Omar, and if the team fails to right the ship, he’ll be gone, too.

Note: In his press conference on Tuesday to explain the process, Minaya said that he decided on Sunday night he was going to fire Randolph but wanted to sleep on the decision. Minaya didn’t change his mind and by Monday morning he was set on firing Willie, and only waited until after the game to do so. Minaya also didn’t show any favoritism towards individual reporters, sending a blanket statement to the press.

Omar Minaya Acquired Johan Santana for Prada Shoes

There’s an expression that exists to describe one-sided trades saying a player was traded for “a bucket of balls.” I’ve never really seen that happen, but I do know that Mets GM Omar Minaya got Prada shoes in the Johan Santana trade. Allow me to explain. Johan Santana is this edition of Sports Illustrated’s cover boy, and inside the magazine, Lee Jenkins writes the story of how Johan was acquired. As the tale goes, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon doubted Omar Minaya’s ability to trade for Santana, so he bet Minaya and promised him a pair of Prada shoes if Omar could pull off the deal. Now far be it for me to challenge Minaya’s taste in footwear, but seriously, Prada shoes? The last time I remember those being relevant was in Legally Blonde, when they were used as a key piece of information to tip Elle off that the pool man was gay. Anywhoo, as soon as the trade was completed …

[Omar] drove to Richards, a clothing store near [Minaya's home] in Greenwich, Conn. He ordered a pair of black Prada lace tips and had them shipped to Port St. Lucie. When Minaya arrived at spring training, the shoes were waiting for him.

All I have to say … if the Mets get off to a shaky start, will Omar be tapping his feet at Johan in his “last season Prada chews.” Wow, just wow.