Countdown to opening day 2018: days hrs min sec

Mets Should Take Chance Sandoval

According to reports the Boston Red Sox have DFAed Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval has been lousy since going to the Red Sox in 2015 but he may be worth taking a chance on in this situation.

Who knows how long it will be until David Wright is ready to play? And could Sandoval do any worse than the players the Mets have been putting at third base in Wright’s absence?

Any team picking up Sandoval after he clears waivers would only need to pay him the prorated Major League minimum. Picking him up and letting him work through his problems in the minors for a short time couldn’t hurt. And if Sandoval could fix his problems he could give the team a significant boost on the left side of the infield.



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Knicks: No Dolan Outcry

I must question my fellow Knicks fans celebrating the departure of Phil Jackson yesterday without a word of criticism about ownership. Don’t get me wrong. I understand why fans are happy with Jackson’s exit and I agree with the reasons to a certain extent. But why is there no protest about James Dolan? Last week I wrote a short post outlining some of the great people who have come and gone over the Dolan era starting with the coach he inherited, Jeff Van Gundy, resigning just 19 games into the 2001-02 season. As a Mets fan I’ve seen many campaigns pleading for the Wilpons to sell the team over the years. As much as I’d like to see that happen (my reasons are a discussion for another post) why isn’t there similar outcry for Dolan to sell? Maybe I’m just not seeing so if it’s happening please let me know.



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Don’t Give Up

Watching football games with my son over the winter months I found myself imparting to him a lesson of the game. Whenever a team was losing by a wide margin at halftime he’d ask why I would want to continue watching the game. My response: “Anything that can be done in the first half can be undone in the second half.”

The baseball season has other factors that make it not equal to the football season (trade deadline, waivers, options, etc.) but I find it hard to count a team out just because we’re nearly halfway through. No matter how unlikely this team is to turn it around I just can’t give up yet. I understand and support the idea of unloading some players as the trade deadline approaches and that that includes building toward future seasons & likely giving up on this one. But we’re only about halfway through the season and when (if?) many of the injured players return I don’t see much reason to be any less optimistic about the win potential of this team (even though I know it will be too late to make a playoff berth by then).



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RIP Pete Flynn

If you grew up at Shea Stadium in the 1980s as I did then you couldn’t help but know who Pete Flynn was. It’s not every team that has a Hall of Fame groundskeeper but the Mets did. Who could forget when fans tore up the field the night the Mets clinched the division in 1986? But Flynn and his team had the field ready to play when the eventual 1986 World Champions played the Cubs again the next afternoon.

Flynn passed away Wednesday after a long illness. Though he retired in 2011 made it possible for the Mets to do their work since 1962. Flynn was behind all the memories – the highlights and the many lowlights – the team produce from it’s inception until he retired. Thank you, Pete. And rest in peace.



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Knicks: Blame Dolan, Not Just Jackson

Phil Jackson has been taking a lot of heat as president of the New York Knicks this year. The current flap about Kristaps Porzingis is just the latest in a list of controversies Jackson has had to deal with. But as bad as things are going for the Knicks I still find it hard to blame Jackson to the extent hat he’s being blamed by most fans. I hold team owner James Dolan even more responsible than Jackson.

Just look at Dolan’s track record since taking control of the team. In 1999, the year Dolan took over, president Ernie Grunfeld left the team. Depending on who you talk with he was either fired or resigned, but either way this was a harbinger of things to come. Donnie Walsh and Glen Grunwald were two very well respected basketball men who couldn’t make things work under Dolan either.

Head coach Jeff Van Gundy resigned just 19 games into the 2001-02 season. Lenny Wilkins, one of the winningest coaches in NBA history and a Hall of Famer, resigned in 2005 after coaching parts of 2 seasons. Larry Brown, another Hall of Famer, only lasted one season. Mike D’Antoni resigned in 2012 after not being able to run games the way he wanted.

And we haven’t even spoken about the disaster that was Isiah Thomas.

Yes, the Knicks are in turmoil right now and it looks like Jackson isn’t the savior that many thought he would be when he joined the team. But when you look at the track record under Dolan you have to wonder what may be going on behind the scenes between the owner and basketball operations and how he may really be responsible for what the team has been going through.



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Torre Agrees That Rizzo Broke Posey Rule

Apparently Joe Torre read what I wrote yesterday. Just kidding. I know very few people did. But nonetheless he agreed with me that Anthony Rizzo broke the Buster Posey rule that protects catchers on plays at home plate.

Torre, MLBs Chief Baseball Officer, let Rizzo off with a warning after sliding into Austin Hedges in front of home plate on a close play. While Torre told Rizzo he broke the rule he also said there would be no discipline… this time.

In a related story, Padres manager Andy Green said he would not instruct his pitchers to throw at Rizzo in retaliation for the slide. Green spoke very strongly about the slide and it was thought retaliation was inevitable. But when speaking to the media before Wednesday’s game Green said “For me, you assess risk and retaliation, and you wanted to put some trust in Major League Baseball to do some things at that point in time. The reality is, when you throw at a guy in retaliation, you’re not really protecting anybody. That’s a simple fact.” This effectively defuses what could have turned into a very ugly situation.



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Posey Rule Tested With Rizzo-Hedges Collision

Rule 7.13: “A runner may not run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher.”

This is the so called Buster Posey rule implemented after a home plate collision ended the season of the San Francisco Giants catcher a few years ago. The application of this rule is under debate throughout the baseball world today after Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo ran into Padres catcher Austin Hedges. The rule itself has been a source of debate since it’s implementation with some arguing that it dumbs down the game and others saying that it evens things up for the catcher who is very often blindsided on home plate collisions. Regardless of which side of the rule you’re on (for or against) this play needs to be seen keeping the exact words of the rule in mind.

For those who haven’t seen it here’s the play:

The question here is did Rizzo stay in a “direct line to the plate”? If he did, as the umpire saw it, then there is nothing wrong with the play. But based on the angle of this video it looks like Rizzo is actually running on the infield side of the plate. In fact the contact is initiated in front of the plate. If he were on a direct line with the plate he would have been slightly behind the catcher who would have had to turn around to attempt to tag him. One could argue that if Rizzo was running on the foul territory side of the baseline, which is where base runners usually run, he would be on more of a direct line and could have touched home plate without such a harsh level of contact with Hedges. Based on this Rizzo violated the rule. (He was called out at the plate anyway so I don’t know what the penalty for breaking this rule would be.)



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As It Should Be

News broke this morning that as part of the new collective bargaining agreement between MLP and the MLBPA the All-Star game will no longer determine which leagues representative in the World Series will have home field advantage as it has for the last 14 season. The rule was established to make the All-Star game more competitive but it was a silly rule to have in place for an exhibition game. Home field advantage in the World Series will now go to the pennant winning team with the better regular season record.

This actually fixes two bad rules in one move. First, obviously, the relationship of meaningful games being determined by an exhibition game. But second is the determination of home field advantage in the World Series.

Even before the All-Star game rule the rule for determining home field advantage in the World Series was broken. Through 2002 home field was rotated between both leagues (American and National) every year. This is almost as silly as the All-Star game rule and was actually unfair to teams that achieved better win-loss records on their way to the World Series.

With this rule change home field advantage in the World Series will go to the team that actually earns it. This move is good for competition and good for the game.



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Welcome Back, Cespedes

The signing of Yoenis Cespedes signals the start of the 2017 season. With this signing the Mets are saying they are looking at this season as one in which they will try to win as opposed to one in which they will rebuild.

Cespedes gives the Mets the heavy bat in the middle of the order that’s needed to compete but also gives the Mets flexibility with which to make a deal for another need due to a glut of outfielders. Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares are the other outfielders the Mets have that are of starting quality. It appears the Mets would be most likely to trade Bruce or Granderson. Both are entering the walk years in their contracts and could fetch some value on the market. The Mets could use some relief help so this could be how they get it.



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Mets Rotation Inexperienced

An important thing to remember with regard to the Mets starting pitching heading into the 2016 season: this rotation is still very inexperienced on the Major league level.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler both pitched parts of 2 seasons (albeit large parts) before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. Harvey is only one season into his post surgery career and Wheeler isn’t even scheduled to return to game action until July. Jacob DeGrom has been great but is coming off his first full season. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are both headed into their first full season. Bartolo Colon has a wealth of experience but the rest of this rotation will still be learning about themselves throughout the season.

Last season was great for all of these pitches (except, of course, for Wheeler) and is certainly reason to be excited and optimistic for 2016. And the Mets seem to be optimistic enough about their prospects for success this season to bring back Yoenis Cespedes to start the season instead of waiting for the trade deadline to see if it’s worth it to bring in a big bat.

There’s reason to be optimistic but let’s not get over confident.



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