By Mike Steffanos
Just a little under a year ago, the predecessor of this blog began existence at Blogger.com. The first comment I ever had posted to the blog was from a Yankees fan telling me the Mets sucked. Then they started poring in. When I saw all the comment notification emails, I was momentarily excited -- until I realized they were a bunch of spam comments for Viagra, penis enlargement pills and other such necessities of life. That's when I learned how to turn on Blogger's verification that those of you who leave comments there are very familiar with.
After that, I could practically hear the crickets chirping and see the hound dog slumbering on the porch whenever I visited my blog. The occasional comments that came in were always an event, and I always appreciated them and tried to make a thoughtful reply. Gradually, mostly through the kindness of other Mets Bloggers who linked to me, the traffic began to build and comments became more common. They made the site better, because it just wasn't my opinion any more.
In February, I got tired of all the outages that Blogger.com was experiencing, and decided to get my own hosting for the blog. Movable Type, the blogging platform that it runs on now, handles comments somewhat differently than the old platform did. You don't have to enter all of those letters and numbers to leave a comment any more, and the software manages to catch most of those "spam" comments left by automated programs for, again, Viagra, penis enlargers, and online casinos. Every once in a while one slips through the cracks, and I have to delete it manually.
Until yesterday, those were the only comments that I had to delete from this site. (I'm a huge believer in free speech -- got myself a lot of flack a while back from people who took my defense of Keith Hernandez as "anti-woman".) I never had any problems censoring those few comments that were just sleazy advertisements. Then a couple of days ago, some jerk Yankees fan left a long, ranting comment about how the Yankees were still the best team in the city, laced with some profanity. Apparently, he has posted identical comments on other Mets blogs, too. I decided to * out the profanity and leave the stupid thing up there. In retrospect, this was a mistake. I found editing someone's comment more objectionable than deleting it, and resolved never to do it again.
Then the same guy, who seems like a teenage kid, came back the next day and posted another stupid comment about how A-Rod is better than David Wright, again with some profanity. It was at that point I decided to delete both that comment and the one from the day before. Even though the kid was just being a jerk, I found this a disturbing decision to have to make. It goes against my grain. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that his 2 comments were every bit as much "spam" as the garbage that I've been deleting all along. I posted some guidelines, because I suspect with the traffic still increasing on this web site, this would come up again.
I seem to have given some the idea that I'm looking to control what people post here. That's not true. I'll tolerate people criticizing me and my views. A few people come here to vent when they are upset, and that's fine, because they don't feel the need to use a lot of profanity or viciously attack others in this space. So rant and blow off steam all you want -- even direct it at me -- but keep it reasonable. A while back a Braves fan left a whiny little dig on the site that I left alone, because he didn't feel the need to drop f-bombs or be a total jerk. People often go off-topic in comments to talk about something else of interest, and I honestly don't have a problem with that either. I give a lot of leeway in this space.
I've never been hesitant to call someone a jerk here if that person needed to be called a jerk. But I don't call them a f***ing jerk. It's a choice I made here, not to alienate those who aren't comfortable with profanity. It's not because I'm a saint -- I grew up in a lower-middle class family where those words were quite prevalent -- but rather because I'm trying to have respect for those who find that stuff objectionable. If I can do it, so can you. If you really need to swear, there are other forums out there. I like the fact a parent wouldn't have to worry about a kid reading this site.
Still, when I tell you those 2 comments were the first true comments I felt the need to remove, it should show you that you have to try really hard to get censored off of this space. If that kid was a Mets fan, I would have contacted him and tried to work something out. But he can take his garbage to Yankees forums, as I doubt a single reader of this site felt "enlightened" by his thoughts. For the rest of you, I hope you'll keep posting as often as you have something to say. I don't miss the sound of crickets and the snores of that old hound dog at all.
I'm sorry that I spent so much time today not talking about the Mets. I just wanted to clear up some misconceptions from yesterday. I don't want anyone feeling any reluctance to post comments here. Your comments really do make this site a lot better. Let's talk some Mets now:
MetsBlog: Pelfrey out
Mike Pelfrey has been placed on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle. The "lats" are the large muscles in your upper back. I don't know how severe this injury is, but the Mets will really conservative with Pelfrey, and rightfully so.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Humber's Second Start
Phil Humber's second AA start of the season went better than the first, as the young right-hander gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 7 innings of work. He allowed 6 hits and a walk while striking out 7.
Daily News: Valentin
Vic Ziegel has a really terrific feature on Jose Valentin, including the news that it was Valentin who approached the Mets this winter, not the other way around:
[Valentin] sat down one day with Tony Bernazard, the special assistant to Mets GM Omar Minaya. He had the World Series on his mind and convinced himself that the Mets were his best bet. "I was tired of losing. Tired of finishing second. Tired of finishing last." So Valentin pitched himself to Bernazard, and according to Minaya, Bernazard said, "He wants to come to the Mets."
I hadn't heard that before. Remember back a couple of years when Omar couldn't convince the legendary Craig Counsell to sign here?
Baseball Prospectus ($): Center field Prospects
Kevin Goldstein placed a pair of Mets farmhands on his list of Center field Prospects, with Fernando Martinez listed at number 5 and Carlos Gomez number 9:
Martinez: Point No. 1: 17-year-old players are not supposed to be ready for full-season leagues. Point No. 2: 17-year-old players are certainly not supposed to be good enough to earn a promotion to High Class A by getting a hit in every three at-bats. Martinez is a ridiculous offensive talent with ability well beyond his years, but he still has room for improvement. He's coming into his power, which should at least be average, and while he's a free swinger, he gets away with it because of tremendous plate coverage. The only knock against him is his defense. A slightly above-average runner now, his instincts in center are lacking, and he'll almost assuredly need to move to a corner in the not-so-distant future. This is a still remarkable season for such a young player, and over the next couple of years we will figure out if he develops into an ideal number two hitter, or a middle-of-the-order power threat.
Gomez: The organization has always loved Gomez's long body and outstanding tools, but strating him this year at Double-A seemed curious, if not downright wrong. Only 20 years old at the start of the year and coming off an uninspiring .275/.331/.376 campaign at Low Class A Hagerstown, his performance didn't merit skipping a level, and he was overmatched in the first half of the season, with his batting average sitting at .211 at the end of May when he hit the disabled list with a back injury. Whatever happened during that time off changed everything, as Gomez now has pretty respectable numbers thanks to a nifty .406 (41-for-101) average in July. While Gomez hasn't shown much power, scouts believe it's in him, and he's very close to establishing new career highs in doubles, triples and home runs with almost a month still to go in the season. He's a plus-plus runner with 95 stolen bases in the last two years, and he covers a ton of ground in the outfield while featuring a strong, accurate arm. Gomez still needs to refine his approach, as with 73 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 344 at-bats, he doesn't work well at the top of the order, and his speed has less value at the bottom. The Mets can afford to slow him down a little, and he might repeat Double-A next year.
Daily News: Raissman defends Lo Duca
Bob Raissman, who was criticized in this space for going a little overboard on Lastings Milledge, offers an eloquent common-sense criticism of the Paul Lo Duca feeding frenzy. Thanks to commenter Joe Vigi for the link.