Thursday, April 30, 2020

The One That Got Away

I knew when I started blogging again, I was going to have to get to this eventually. I almost returned to blogging in the winter of 2018-2019 to share my personal thoughts on the trade with the Mariners, but work was so crazy at that point that there literally wasn't any free time. Still, I found myself doing something that I actually did quite often during my decade blogging hiatus: composing a potential blog post in my head on the subject of the trade of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

The final push to actually write this post today was this article by Joel Sherman in the New York Post yesterday. I did a double-take when I first saw the piece. I gulped and asked myself, is Joel Sherman already saying this trade is the equivalent of the Mets trading future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for the dried-up husk of Jim Fregosi? While further reading actually contained some good points that I agreed with, the premise was so clearly a bridge too far that it made it very hard to just not look away in horror.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Stolen Summer

I wrote yesterday's post voicing my growing frustration with all the recent slew of articles predicting with some surety that baseball is coming back. As much as I try to stay hopeful and will continue to do so, I think I'm done with promises that are lacking in any real specifics. The story of this pandemic, at least to me, seems to be a lot of posturing and empty promises with little to back them up.

I spent a bit of time on that piece yesterday.  I started it in the morning and didn't post it until after 11 pm. I just kept walking away from it because expressing frustration isn't my favorite type of expression. I spent time taking my pups for a long walk in the woods and doing some stuff around the house. When I finally did publish the finished piece I grabbed my tablet to check out what what new in the world that day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pining for the Fjords

I started writing a post this morning based on Ken Rosenthal's piece for The Athletic regarding Major League Baseball's ongoing attempt to revive a baseball season. I found myself increasingly frustrated, as it's starting to feel that I'm just writing the same thing over and over again. Both Rosenthal's article today and Jeff Passan's on ESPN yesterday were excellent looks on how complicated and fluid the plans to reopen the game really are, but the hope that I used to enjoy from reading stuff like this is fading fast.

The reason that I started blogging about the Mets was not that I considered the subject of New York Mets baseball to be the most important thing in my life, but rather it was my favorite temporary escape from the often harsh realities of everyday existence. In the same way, neither I nor any other sane person believes that playing baseball again is the most important objective in our country right now. The only defensible reason for bringing the game back is to provide those of us who love it with an enjoyable diversion from the boredom and worry that are the stark realities of the Coronavirus-imposed shutdown.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Not If But When... Maybe?

Jeff Passan at ESPN has a really good article up on the site today regarding the potential return of Major League Baseball.

Passan begins by expressing a lot of optimism that we'll see a return of some sort of  baseball in 2020, and also mentions the sanguineness of the folks who run the game. There really does seems to be a growing consensus, although it would be nice if some kind of substantial and detailed plan comes out. If we all knew exactly what baseball is working towards we'd have something on which to base our hopes. The plans all still seem quite nebulous and changeable. My personal optimism seems to rise and fall depending on the day.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Year We Said Goodbye

When I decided to start writing again a little over a month ago, I knew that I would need to find things to write about given the current stuck in limbo reality that has overtaken baseball and our normal lives.

I decided to spend some time writing about the 2005 season for a lot of reasons. It was the first year that I started writing my old blog. It was a season of dramatic comings and goings for the Mets. There were some interesting characters and games to talk about.  It was the year that both Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran came to town.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Stopping the Cheaters

Joel Sherman had a new piece today in the New York Post discussing potential ideas to forestall another electronic cheating scandal similar to the ones in Houston and Boston. The one I would completely agree with is getting rid of the replay room and forcing managers to make a decision on their own about whether to call for a review on a play. I concur with Sherman that has to happen.

There would be a side benefit to this policy beyond stopping teams from using the live video and contact with the dugout in elaborate electronic cheating schemes.  While the idea of using replay to right grievous mistakes by umpires is something most of us can support, the way replay has evolved has hurt the pace of games. Every time there's a close play we watch transparent delaying tactics utilized by teams while they are awaiting a call from their booth. That whole act has gotten quite old over the years.

Friday, April 24, 2020

America's Vanishing Game

On Tuesday there was an article on Baseball America that stated that Minor League baseball was willing to concede to MLB's proposal to cut the Major League affiliation of 42 current minor league teams, while adding two teams, the St. Paul Saints and Sugar Land Skeeters, to affiliated ball.

There was push back on this immediately, with reporting that no such deal was agreed to at all.  Negotiations are underway as the current agreement between the two parties expires after this season -  a season that seems unlikely to see traditional minor league baseball happen at all.

Unequal Justice

I was reading Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich's article in The Athletic this morning about the pathetic little slap on the wrist the Red Sox received for their own electronic cheating scandal. I understand that what the Red Sox did was always considered a lesser sin than what the Astros got whacked for, but losing a second round draft pick and having a relatively low level employee suspended for a year seems quite a small price to pay.

I know that MLB was working without a Mike Fiers type of insider informant with the Sox, but this wasn't even the first time they were caught doing electronic cheating. Remember the whole Apple Watch in the dugout fiasco from a couple of years back.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

What Might Have Been

I had some fun with my proposal yesterday that we band together and take advantage of the supposed fire sale price to purchase the Mets. John from Albany, who writes at Mack's Mets, left a comment asking me if I remembered back when Wilpon and Doubleday bought the team back in 1980 that there was another group of fans that were involved in the bidding.

I honestly don't remember this. I was 21 at the time and basically falling in love with every girl that let me get past first base, and really didn't pay as much attention to the off the field stuff. I spent some time on Google trying to find some info on this, but came up empty. It's fascinating to think of the Mets with some sort of Green Bay Packers type of ownership.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Let's All Buy the Mets

Since I wrote a couple of times on the subject yesterday I've been reading quite a bit on the Alex Rodriguez bid to buy the Mets. I've seen it stated in so many places now that A-Rod is going to be able to steal the team at a cheap discount that I've started to question why I shouldn't try to come up with a bid to buy the club.

Being a man of action, I've already looked under the cushions of my couch and come up with almost a dollar in change.  I haven't looked in my car yet, but I'm fairly confident that I can come up with at least that much there. That's made me so confident in my chances that I am starting to look for minority investors to aid in this endeavor. If you're interested, and you still have an untapped change jar in your kitchen cabinet, let's talk.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Shopping in the Bargain Aisle

Since my main post earlier today a new article went up on the New York Post's site concerning Alex Rodriguez' attempt to purchase the Mets.

The gist of it is that A-Rod is putting together a group that can purchase the team outright, but the Wilpons might not get as much as they would have selling the club if times were normal. None of that seems all that surprising. Given all the uncertainty about when the sport might return to business as usual, the new owners would be taking on a fair amount of financial risk. They certainly couldn't expect to make a profit for this year, and who knows how far along things will be next year.

Thoughts on a Potential A-Rod Led Ownership

A friend of mine sent me a text asking me how I felt about the possibility of A-Rod and Jennifer Lopez being involved in a bid to purchase the Mets. My friend is a Yankees fan, and the question was clearly posed because he thought I might be offended by the thought of the former Yankee steroid pariah and his pop diva girlfriend owning my team.

I hated to disappoint my friend, but frankly it didn't bother me at all. It still remains to be seen if they're going to be able to pull enough investors into the deal to make it work, but if they do I can't imagine the Mets ownership situation being any worse than it is now. It's more than time for the Wilpons to pass control of the Mets to someone who is able to steer the club into a future that isn't constantly limited by the personal finances of the owner.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Monday Musings, Pandemic Edition

After spending the last week or so writing some rather long posts I thought I might take a break from that today and share some thoughts on a few different things.

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I really enjoyed putting together yesterday's post on Mr. Koo's glorious day from 15 years ago. It was almost as much fun to write about as it was to actually watch the game when it unfolded in real time. The details of that game still stick in my head so clearly, and I sure can't say that about many of my life experiences from a decade and a half ago.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

We Can Be Heroes, Just For One Day

Some players achieve greatness in New York sports by sustaining excellence over a long period of time.  The names Seaver, Koosman, Wright, Strawberry and Gooden are all examples of ballplayers who called Queens home for a good chunk of their career and earned their way into the pantheon of greatness.  Day in and day out over a period of years they became heroes one game winning homer and one complete game shutout at a time.

Then there's another type of guy. This player did not maintain greatness for any length of time, but had a moment so unforgettable that he took a shortcut to eternal glory.  In this case, he was a pitcher who spent one year in American major league baseball, appearing in 23 innings spread over 33 games with the New York Mets in 2005.  He was used as a LOOGY, an import from Korean baseball, and his name was Dae-sung Koo.  His nickname was Mr. Koo - As I recall, he got that because that was his answer to reporters when they asked what to call him.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Getting Back to Normal


Joel Sherman has another good piece in the New York Post today on the uncertainties involved in baseball returning this season. I tend to use Sherman's writings as a starting point quite often, and it's for two good reasons. The first is that the Post is one of the few newspapers not behind a paywall yet. The second is that Sherman is a gifted writer who tends to avoid the easy cliché or the cheap hot take most of the time. That was true 15 years ago when I started the first blog and it's still true today.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Cry Me a River

I came across a piece by Joel Sherman today talking about the MLB owners' need for salary concessions from the players for some sort of season to go forward without fans in the ballpark.  This would be basically some version of the Arizona plan that I have previously discussed in this space.

What really jumped out at me was this sentence: "There are owners who have privately said that without readjustments they would lose so much more money, why even play the games."  When I read those words some other words not suitable for polite public discussion quickly came into my mind.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Minor Concerns

Baseball America has a great piece on their web site about how unlikely a Minor League season would be this year.  J.J. Cooper does a nice job of laying out the hurdles that stand in the way of minor league ball in 2020.  Barring an actual miracle where the virus suddenly disappears I didn't really see any reason for hope before reading this, and it certainly didn't make me feel more optimistic.  Moreover, unless a vaccine rushes into widespread use by spring 2021 it seems unlikely that Minor League baseball will happen on schedule next year.

It's pretty obvious that we're not going to see minor league teams playing in empty stadiums with no fans, there's just not a market or demand for that.  Minor League ball will return when people can safely crowd into ballparks to support it and not a second before.  This brings up questions about both short term player development and the long term survival of many of these teams.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Beltran, Then and Now

This piece about Carlos Beltran is a part of my series on the 2005 season.  I can't really talk about Beltran, however, without coming back to the present day and the reason why Carlos' tenure as Mets Manager was over before it even began.

First the look back. In the offseason of 2004-2005 new General Manager Omar Minaya had already mad a huge splash by inking future Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez to a 4-year contract.  According to Minaya, he promised Pedro to continue aggressively trying to improve the team.  He kept his word with his pursuit of Beltran, one of the game's top players who, going into his age 28 season, was still in the prime years of his career.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Spring of Our Discontent

I spent a good deal of time earlier trying to write another post in my series on the 2005 season. For some reason, I just couldn't get the words to flow today.

When I began blogging again three weeks ago, I wondered if I would find enough to write about. The New York Mets are in a sort of limbo right now, along with Major League Baseball, sports in general, and basically life itself.  I fill my personal void (and find writing material) by alternating speculating on what the future might hold and looking back to a season 15 years in the past. I've enjoyed it for the most part, and it does help to pass the days, but today it just didn't work for me.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Mets After Coronavirus

I read a really interesting article on Sports Illustrated's web site today that put a pretty good bow on what I've been suspecting all along. It's going to be extremely difficult to make a reality out of any of the suggestions to revive baseball this season, or any other sport for that matter.  The author, Stephanie Apstein, does an excellent job of summarizing not only how difficult it would be to set this type of quarantined sporting environment in the first place, but even more so how hard it would be to keep going.  It's well worth your time to read.

It gave me a lot to think about.  First of all, I wonder if MLB's desire to try to maximize a season with as many games as possible is even remotely practical. The idea that even a single player testing positive for COVID-19 would lead to a 2 week shutdown makes accomplishing a long season seem quite unlikely.

Our Furry Friends

I've tried to keep this blog about baseball for the most part, and that's my plan going forward.  Almost every topic I write about here will be related to baseball and the New York Mets.  If I decide that I need to opine about a different topic on an ongoing basis I would start a new blog for that purpose.  I did call this a "blog about the New York Mets and life," however, for those occasional forays into topics beyond baseball.

So fair warning, this is about something else.  If you're not interested I understand.  I'll be back with a baseball post later on today.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Great Games: June 11, 2005 Mets vs. Angels

The Mets game vs the Angels on Saturday, June 11, 2005 at Shea Stadium was not only arguably the best Mets game of the 2005 season, all these years later I still rank it as one of their best wins of all time.

Going into the game the Mets were floating along on the edge of competing in the National League East race in the way mediocre teams always seem to do: alternating bad and good games, putting a streak of solid ball together and then following with some weak efforts.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What Would It Take to Develop Prospects in the Year of Coronavirus?

I wondered in my post a couple of days ago what it might take to keep the prospects in your farm system from losing a year of development in this pandemic.  Now believe me, I understand that this doesn't rank up there with the life and death decisions being made every day during this crisis.  However, if you are running a Major League Baseball organization, such as the New York Mets, this should be a serious question that you are considering.  I thought it would be fun to speculate how this might be accomplished.

Whatever happens with the big leagues this season, I would bet the farm on the fact that we won't see minor league baseball games being played again until there is a proven effective vaccine against COVID-19.  There's just no way that it will make sense to resume operations on that scale until it is safe.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Goats of 2005: Kaz Matsui

In December of 2003 the Mets announced the signing of 28-year-old Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui. Kaz had been a big star for the Seibu Lions in Japan, hitting for average and power and with the reputation for playing good defense as well.

Other major league clubs were looking to sign Matsui. They were primarily looking at him as a second baseman due to concerns about whether his arm strength would allow him to play shortstop in the American game.  The Mets convinced Matsui to sign with them by throwing a lot of money at him ($20 million over 3 years) and promising that he could play shortstop.

Some Quick Thoughts

I'm working on a new piece in my series on the 2005 season that I will post later today.

In the meantime, I saw this posted on NBC Sport's Hardball Talk site. I should also mention the original article was by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Basically, one of the proposals that Baseball is batting around is doing away with the American and National Leagues if some sort of 2020 season is played at all.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Contemplating a Return of Baseball


I thought I'd step back for a day from my series on the 2005 season and get back to the present time.  Earlier in the week there was a lot of discussion on a plan for baseball to return in May.  I'm on record as being skeptical of baseball coming back at all this season, and I'd rate the chance of a May return as almost zero.

As I'm sure that most of you have read by now, the plan is for the Players to all go to Arizona, have a mini spring training of some period of time, and play a season in the Arizona parks, including Chase Field and local spring training facilities, without fans.  In order to accomplish this without a Coronavirus vaccine the players, coaches and all support personnel would have to spend months in a virtual lockdown.  They would be away from wives, kids and all other family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Goats of 2005: Braden Looper

While my best memory of the 2005 season is the heroic season of Pedro Martinez that I wrote about yesterday, there were plenty of not-so-great memories, too.  Above all, 2005 featured its fair share of players that a large segment of fans loved to hate.  Near the top of that list was the closer Braden Looper.

Looper was signed to be the Mets closer in January 2004.  He had been the closer for the Marlins the previous season and, while not great, was competent.  He was essentially replacing Armando Benitez who had been traded to the Yankees the previous July.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Year of Pedro

The transition between 2004 and 2005 was a consequential time for the New York Mets.  GM Steve Phillips departed in 2003, and his replacement Jim Duquette never seemed more than a placeholder.  Omar Minaya was handed the keys after 2004 thudded to an end and brought some energy and a sense of optimism with his arrival.

Still most, including myself, thought Minaya was brought on to oversee a slow rebuild, restocking what had become a low rated farm system.  Top prospect Scott Kazmir had been traded for Victor Zambrano the previous July, and there wasn't much behind him.  Omar had a history in player development so that seemed to be where they were headed.

Not Going to Happen


I'm working again today, reveling in the opportunity to be earning a few dollars to pay some bills.  I'm going to do my best to get a post up about 2005 later on this evening.

I saw the news being reported earlier about a possible May start for Major League Baseball in Arizona. It's nice that this story has given those of us who write about baseball as a job or hobby something to talk about, but I don't believe there is any chance that this comes to pass.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Here We Go Again


I had some actual work to do today, so I'm a little late to the party.  I did a little Mets reading at lunch, and I've been stewing on one piece of it ever since: Joel Sherman's latest contribution to the tried and true "you Mets fans will regret trading this prospect" genre that has been feeding tedious stories in NY newspapers for decades.

His name might be Scott Kazmir or Michael Fulmer or Syd Finch for all it's worth.  The name doesn't matter; the story is always the same. You're endlessly updated on the progress of said prospect as long as he's doing well, and they can beat you over the head with it.  Should he falter, they'll just quietly move on.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A Celebration of Mediocrity


Although my classic Mike's Mets blog no longer exists on the internet, I still have all the old posts that I and the others who contributed to it saved.  The earliest material goes back to August 2005 when I finally took the plunge and began the journey of blogging.  You can still find the old stuff here from the day I started through February of 2006 when I moved over to MikesMets.com.

Looking through some of those archives, I was taken with how much fondness I still retain for that 2005 club.  Indeed, they might just be my favorite non playoff Mets club of all time.  Yet there was nothing really great about them - they were the very definition of the word "mediocre".  They finished with a 83-79, tied for third place with the Marlins and 7 games behind the Braves. They were 6 games out of the single wild card slot available that season.

Brief Moment of Zen

I'm working on today's post, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little something with you.

There was a time when I had a yard full of tulips and daffodils every spring.  Sadly, the last few years I haven't had much time to put into them, and most of the tulips and some of the daffodils no longer appear to welcome the spring.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

And Then Reality Reared Its Ugly Head

I had a lot of fun yesterday thinking and speculating about what it might take to manage a pitching staff through a compressed season if baseball was to return later in the summer.  It would be interesting to see how sheer necessity would force managers away from a by-the-numbers, try to get 5 innings from your stater and then use 4 or 5 relievers to bring it home.

I remember feeling pretty happy imagining myself actually being able to watch some Mets games this summer, but then at some point reality set in. I had to ask myself what had to happen in order for any sort of season to take place - even the much discussed scenario of playing in empty stadiums.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Pitching Questions (If We Actually Play Baseball This Year)

I saw an article in the New York Post today that cites Brodie Van Wagenen as still being confident about the Mets' rotation despite the loss of Noah Syndergaard for the season. That's pretty much what you would expect any GM to say, but it got me to thinking about pitching in general if baseball does come back in 2020.

Assuming that what we've been reading about a potential 2020 season is true, MLB and the Players Union will work together to attempt to play as many games as possible even if a season doesn't start until June or July.  They talk about playing doubleheaders as a way of doing this with a compressed schedule, along with fewer off days and playing later into the year at warm weather sites.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs

One of the important aspects of being a blogger is figuring out how to promote your own work.  Unless you're blogging as part of some sort of a larger affiliated group that will draw in some eyeballs, or you're contributing to an established site, you're pretty much on your own in trying to draw in readers.

When I started the original blog in 2005 most of the existing blogs were solo efforts by independent writers who were doing it as a labor of love.  They were generally very generous in responding to a request to add you to their blogrolls, and that in turn allowed a decent amount of readers to find your work.  Then it was up to you to provide interesting content to bring them back.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A More Equitable World

I was reading yesterday that the fallout from the Coronavirus outbreak down the road might lead to unemployment rates that we haven't seen in the United States since the Great Depression from the last century.  You wonder when Major League Baseball finally opens the parks for business as usual how people who are unemployed or underemployed are going to be able to afford those pricey seats.  I would assume that clubs would start lowering prices at least for the nosebleed sections.

There's a great divide in this country between the wealthy and the rest of us, but for all of that you couldn't imagine a scenario a month or two ago where attending a big league game could be out of reach for a lot of middle class folks.  If we have unemployment of 20 percent or even higher that could easily happen.

Mailing It In

The title of this post has nothing to do with the way the New York Mets are playing. Sure, they've been up and down this past week. The...