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#pounditThursday, October 6, 2022

Articles tagged: New York Mets

Braves legend gloats over team’s comeback to win NL East

Greg Maddux ready to pitch

Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves hall of fame pitcher Greg Maddux throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game five of the 2021 World Series against the Houston Astros at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves on Tuesday clinched the NL East to cap an impressive comeback, and one of the franchise’s legends couldn’t resist gloating.

The Braves trailed the New York Mets by 10.5 games in the division when June began. Undeterred, the Braves played great ball to chase down the Mets and clinch the division.

Greg Maddux, who won the NL East 10 times while playing for the Braves, loved what he saw.

“Even after 2 decades it’s still nice to see the @Braves beat the @NewYorkMets. Congrats Atlanta!” Maddux tweeted on Tuesday night.

The “after 2 decades” likely refers to when Maddux last played for the Braves, which was 2003. Maddux played for four MLB teams during his 23-year Hall of Fame career, but he is most strongly remembered for his dominant time in Atlanta. Apparently those Atlanta ties still weigh strongly for him too.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Braves finished the season to clinch their fifth straight division title. The Braves went 21-6 in June and won 18 games apiece in July, August and September. They capped it all off by sweeping the Mets over the weekend to take a 2-game lead in the division.

Funny video of Daniel Vogelbach celebrating Mets playoff berth goes viral

Daniel Vogelbach at his locker

The legend of The Bach only continues to grow.

The New York Mets officially clinched a playoff berth Monday night with a win over Milwaukee. They will be making their first postseason appearance since 2016 and can also lock up the NL East division crown in the coming weeks if they manage to hold off the Atlanta Braves.

A funny video from the team’s celebration in the locker room subsequently went viral. The video showed Mets slugger Daniel Vogelbach sitting at his locker, phone on his lap, cap on backwards, and looking completely contented as he drank from a can of Bud Light. Take a look.

That is a man whose vibe is just living life. Even better was that Vogelbach was spotted in the corner of one celebratory team picture still at his locker with his phone and his beer as his other teammates posed for the shot.

Not to worry though, Vogelbach still got in plenty of merry-making in with his Mets teammates. The team shared a picture of Vogelbach with fellow slugger Pete Alonso. This time around, Vogelbach could be seen with a Miller High Life bottle in hand, the mark of a true gentleman.

Vogelbach was just acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates less than two months ago but has already won the hearts of Mets fans everywhere. In addition to posting an .824 OPS in 47 games as a Met, Vogelbach’s running antics and clutch hitting have turned him into a local favorite.

The ex-All-Star Vogelbach also has a pretty darn elite walk-up song to boot.

Max Scherzer explains why he came out of game early

Max Scherzer looking on

Oct 17, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) has his glove and hat inspected between innings against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning in game two of the 2021 NLCS at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets saw their lead in the NL East shrink to two games after they lost to the Washington Nationals on Saturday night, but the biggest story of the game was Max Scherzer’s premature exit. The right-hander insists there is no need to panic, however.

Scherzer allowed three hits and one earned run in five innings against his former team. He pulled himself from the game after throwing just 67 pitches. The game was tied 1-1 at the time, so it was obvious something was wrong. Scherzer explained to reporters after the game that he experienced “general fatigue on the left side.”

“This was a precautionary move given the history with the oblique (injury). Was it a scenario where I could have gone out there and pitched the sixth and been OK? Yeah, that could have happened,” Scherzer said. “But if I went out there in the sixth and I got hurt, there’s no way I could come in (the locker room) and look the guys in the face and say that I made the right decision. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this scenario.”

New York’s bullpen preserved the 1-1 tie until the eighth, so it’s hard to say the outcome would have been different if Scherzer remained in. Lane Thomas gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead with a solo home run off Adam Ottavino in the eighth. Washington then broke the game open with five runs in the ninth en route to a 7-1 win.

Scherzer has been his usual dominant self after signing a huge free agent contract with the Mets. The 38-year-old is 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA. He missed time with an oblique injury earlier in the year, which is why he was trying to play it safely. Obviously, the Mets need a healthy Scherzer if they want to make a deep postseason run.

Mets owner hints at possible payroll limit

Steve Cohen looks on

Sep 11, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets majority owner Steve Cohen and his wife Alexandra Cohen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets under owner Steve Cohen have been one of the biggest spenders in baseball. There may, however, be a limit to how far Cohen is willing to go to spend on a winner.

In an appearance on the New York Post’s “The Show” podcast, Cohen hinted to Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman that $300 million might be the upper limit to how far he is willing to go in terms of payroll.

“You should be able to build a pretty good team at $300 million,” Cohen said Wednesday, via Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “If you can’t do that, then that’s a problem.”

The Mets entered the 2022 season with a payroll around $265 million, so there is some room to spend. That said, a good portion of that money will probably go into keeping key players who are bound for free agency.

Cohen has joked about spending $300 million before, but this is a serious response he has not really gone into before. Such a payroll would easily be the highest in the sport, and would go way past the 2023 luxury tax threshold of $233 million. As long as the money is fueling a winning team, Cohen seems unlikely to care about any of that.

Pedro Martinez sends World Series message to Mets’ aces

Pedro Martinez smiles

Jul 20, 2019; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez arrives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame during the Parade of Legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Martinez’s tenure with the New York Mets is not remembered as fondly as his time with the Boston Red Sox. Part of that is because of the lack of championships he won with them. Martinez is apparently still bothered by that.

Martinez was one of many former Mets players at Citi Field on Saturday for the team’s Old-Timers’ Day event, and he admitted he took a moment to speak to star pitchers Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Martinez’s message to the pair was to settle the “unfinished business” Martinez feels he has in New York.

“Me in particular, I felt like I had unfinished business. So today I was quick to ask two of the most talented pitchers that we have in the team, which is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer,” Martinez said. “I don’t normally ask for much, but this time I did. I said, ‘Can you get it done for me?’ I felt like it was unfinished business.”

Martinez spent four seasons with the Mets, where he was excellent in 2005 before injuries began to take their toll. The Mets’ best chance to win a title during his time there came in 2006, when the team fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the NLCS. Martinez did not appear for the Mets in the playoffs that year due to injuries.

Getting that sort of message from someone like Martinez has to be motivating for deGrom and Scherzer. Of course, they have plenty of other motivation to win a title, too.

Buck Showalter makes big pledge if Mets win World Series

Buck Showalter in the dugout

Apr 8, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Buck Showalter (11) walks the dugout during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets are among the favorites to win the World Series in 2022, and manager Buck Showalter has given the team a bit of added incentive to pull off the feat.

Showalter indicated Sunday that he has promised the team he will dye his hair if the Mets manage to win the title, though the manager did not offer many specifics.

This would be an even better incentive if Showalter were willing to go with a really wild hair color. Seeing him with dyed black hair would be funny, for instance, but some sort of unnatural color would be even better.

The Mets entered play Sunday at 82-46. They’ll have to find a way past the likes of the Dodgers and Braves in the NL just to get to the World Series, but they certainly have the personnel to do so.

Showalter might even be taking some cues from the Braves’ reward system, even though he didn’t sound all that impressed with it to begin with.

Mets GM Billy Eppler could bring in familiar player?

Billy Eppler speaking

Jul 2, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler speaks during a press conference about the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Eppler could be reaching deep into his bag of old connections.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that veteran righty Garrett Richards could be a possibility for the New York Mets. Richards just cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers.

Eppler, the first-year Mets general manager, is familiar with Richards from their days with the Los Angeles Angels. Richards pitched for the Angels from 2011 to 2018 (with Eppler serving as the team’s GM for three of those years).

Granted, Richards is 34 now and has not looked great in a long time. Over the last four seasons, Richards has a total ERA of 4.89 and a total WHIP of 1.48 with declining velocity. But Richards, a long-time starter, is virtually a reliever at this point in his career. The Mets (though they have made some moves in recent weeks) could still use help in that department.

Phillie Phanatic trolls Keith Hernandez during Mets broadcast

The Phillie Phanatic holding a Keith Hernandez blow-up doll.

New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez made a quip about the Philadelphia Phillies’ defense last Tuesday, and the Phillie Phanatic on Friday was apparently still not over Hernandez’s comment.

During last Tuesday’s Mets broadcast, Hernandez said that he disliked working Phillies games because the team was not fundamentally-sound on defense.

Hernandez’s comments did not appear to be made with any ill-will. But the Phanatic made sure that Hernandez’s words did not go without a little payback during Friday’s game between the Phillies and Mets.

During the top of the third inning, the Phanatic crashed the Mets’ booth with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling. The beloved mascot brought a blow-up doll in a Mets jersey with a cut out of Hernandez’ face fastened to the front. The Phanatic also had a replica of a Gold Glove, 11 of which Hernandez won during his career.

The Phanatic brought both props on the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast as well.

NBC Sports Philadelphia took its own shot at Hernandez on Wednesday by including a graphic using a cartoon version of Hernandez each time the Phillies made an impressive play in the field.

Unfortunately for the Phanatic, Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm’s ugly error during the first inning on Friday likely did little to change Hernandez’ mind.

Bohm’s error notwithstanding, the Philadelphia defense has been one of the best units in the majors this season. The Phillies have the fifth-best fielding percentage (.988) in MLB, and have committed the third-fewest errors (47).

Braves had surprising form of motivation for series against Mets

Brian Snitker looking on

Apr 28, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker (43) in the dugout before a game against the Chicago Cubs at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves credited an unusual secret weapon for sparking their midseason turnaround and eventual World Series title last season. Fans will be happy to hear that the magic potion is coming back.

Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos revealed right before the playoffs last year that the team installed a soft serve ice cream machine in their clubhouse right around the time they went on a tear. Anthopoulos told “The Steakhouse” on 92.9 The Game this week that Travis d’Arnaud recently asked him if they could get the machine back. The executive promised he would have another ice cream machine installed if the Braves took three out of four games in their series against the division-leading New York Mets.

Mission accomplished. Atlanta beat the Mets 3-2 on Thursday night to win their third game of the four-game series. Immediately after the win, d’Arnaud ran up to closer Kenley Jansen and began chanting “ice cream! ice cream!”

The Braves improved to 73-47 with Thursday night’s win. They have won nine of their last 10 and are now just 3.5 games behind the Mets and have a comfortable 7.5-game cushion in the NL Wild Card race.

We are guessing Anthopoulos will gladly pay up.

No, Noah Syndergaard is not avoiding pitching against his former team

Noah Syndergaard in the dugout

May 14, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets did not have an amicable parting of ways last offseason, and the pitcher has yet to pitch against his former team. Now with the Philadelphia Phillies, Syndergaard has still managed to avoid the Mets, and it has the look of a modest conspiracy about it.

Syndergaard has been scheduled to start against the Mets twice this season, but has had both starts pushed back instead. Instead of ducking the Mets, however, this is because of how Syndergaard’s health is being handled. Syndergaard has been pitching on extra rest all season as a precaution following Tommy John surgery, and is sticking to that schedule now.

At first glance, it is easy to see why this looks strange. When you remember what Syndergaard said about leaving New York, it’s pretty simple to construct a full-blown conspiracy theory here. However, in 18 starts in 2022, Syndergaard has had six days rest or more for all but four of them, not counting his first start of the season. This amount of rest is why the Angels felt no need to limit his innings.

Syndergaard has never shied away from calling out critics. It’s tough to imagine him ducking his former team.