Tag: mets

What if the Mets and Yankees Get it Right?

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #36 Mickey callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller / The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Let this be the last October for a long time that we don’t find ourselves in this New York baseball Groundhog Dog.

Like the movie, we’ve lived this scenario over and over again. But whereas Bill Murray finally gets it right and wins Andie MacDowell’s heart, the Mets and Yankees almost never get it right at the same time.

So here we are, the Yankees about to begin their pursuit of a 28th World Series. The Mets about to hire their sixth manager in the last 16 seasons after firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday.

This is the most important decision of Brodie Van Wagenen’s young GM career. He traded the future for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Then he doubled down and acquired Marcus Stroman at the trade deadline.

file photo Robinson Cano Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

The Mets weren’t an afterthought in September for the first time since 2016. They should be a legitimate postseason contender in 2020 but that window isn’t likely to remain open for long with the depleted farm system.

Van Wagenen needs a manager that has a win-now mentality and a New York-tough resiliency.

In his last comments before getting fired, Callaway had an interesting spin on managing, especially in this town.

“I make unpopular decisions every day, whether it’s unpopular to you guys or the players.’’ Callaway told reporters. “And every decision I make is going to be unpopular to somebody. But I make decisions based on trying to win games and trying to keep these guys motivated to win as many games as they possibly can.”

What separates the great managers from the good ones is that they can sell those unpopular decisions. They have a track record that affords them the benefit of the doubt. They have a confidence that is not cocky but fierce.

The Mets need that kind of manager to lead the way.

Which brings us to the Yankees. When Brian Cashman chose Aaron Boone, it was a bold decision that could have backfired. Boone is the poster boy for a young manager. He can relate to players while balancing analytics and feel.

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager
file photo Aaron Boone neil Miller /The New York Extra

One can’t overstate the job Cashman and Boone did this season. The injuries came like a plague and still the Yankees won 103 games and the AL East. Cashman never uttered the words, “Come and Get Us.” Or maybe he did by buying a formidable bullpen and stockpiling depth.

It seems unfair to base the success of this season on whether or not the Yankees win it all. There are other teams in the AL with just as much power and better starting pitching. That’s the contract one signs when donning pinstripes – titles or bust.

Maybe the Yankees will overcome that suspect starting pitching and you should know your way to Canyon of Heroes. And maybe Van Wagenen will get it right and the Mets will be playing in October next season. Maybe, just maybe, a subway series is in our future.

October Baseball is the Only Goal For Mets in 2020

Robbins Nest

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning

By Lenn Robbins

The Mets playoff dream ended on Hump Day, which is perfectly fitting.

Before they took the field Wednesday night at Citi Field needing to beat the Marlins and hope the Brewers lost to the Reds, the scoreboard showed Milwaukee leading, 6-0.

The nail was being driven into the coffin.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1

It didn’t matter that Jacob deGrom turned in his latest marvelous pitching performance in a 10-3 win. He deserves to win the Cy Young for a second straight year but he would rather be pitching in October.

Which brings us to next October.

 If the Mets aren’t in the 2020 MLB playoffs the season will be a failure. For the first time since 2015, when the Mets lost the World Series to the Royals, has a season ended with so much expectation for next year.

“There are so many positives that came from this year,” slugger Pete Alonso told reporters. “We learned a lot about ourselves, and I think what we learned is that we’re gritty, we’re tough, we can compete. We have some awesome pieces, and the mentality we have, I think there’s something extremely special to come.

“When we finally put it together for 162, it’s going to be scary.”

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny photos by Neil Miller sportsdaywire Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

There’s no reason the Mets can’t put it together next season but it starts with this offseason. GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to address the bullpen which had fans feeling more trepidation than if it was Grenade Giveaway Day at Citi Field.

The Mets could use more quality depth. They need to unravel the enigma that Edwin Diaz became on the flight from Seattle.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning

And a decision has to be made on manager Mickey Calloway, who deserves credit for leading the Mets to that post All-Star streak that made a playoff berth a possibility, not a pipe dream.

#36 mickey calloway in the dugout in the 3rd innning

“You know, obviously I have the utmost confidence in myself,” Callaway told reporters.

Good to know. But Callaway is 159-160 in his two seasons with the Mets and made his share of head-scratching moves. Jury is out.

The Mets have the nucleus of a serious if not scary team next season. They can’t let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency. They must find a way to coexist with Noah Syndegaard, or at worst, trade him for some elite bullpen talent.

04/27/19 Milwaukee Brewers vs ny mets at citifield queens ny photos by neil miller /the ny extra New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 reacts after giving up a run in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning

A rotation of deGrom, Syndegaard, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman will be as good as it gets. A lineup centered around Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramous proved it can produce.

It’s time for this franchise to get over the hump.

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 mike conforto rects after striking out with the bases loaded to end an innning

“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at,” Conforto told reporters. “We want to play in October, that’s the goal. I think we have the guys in here to do it. We have to put six months of baseball together, and we didn’t do that this year.”

That’s exactly what the Mets’ mindset has to be. deGrom should win that Cy Young. Fernando Tatis was terrific but his season ended in mid-August. If Alonso tied or breaks Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record he gets my vote for Rookie of the Year.

There have been some really nice feel good moments in Queens. That Amazin streak of  15 wins in 16 games brought back memories of the 69 Miracle Mets. That team won it all. This team didn’t make the playoffs.

“Did we get to our ultimate goal and get in the playoffs?’’ asked Calloway. “No, and that stinks.”

         If the Mets don’t go deep into postseason next season, the stench will be even worse.

The Mets Loss That Will Live in Nightmares Forever

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #39 Edwin Diaz reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 8th inning file photo Neil Miller The New York Extra

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

What made this loss so gut retching, was that for the first eight and one-half innings Tuesday night, Mets looked like a playoff team.

They had roughed up Nationals ace Max Scherzer for four runs. Joe Panik hit his first home run as a Met, only the 13th home run allowed by Scherzer this season.

The Mets had, wait for it, given Jacob deGrom run support. deGrom wasn’t Cy Young good in the Mets playoff-ending, soul-sucking 11-10 loss to the Nationals, but he gave the Mets seven innings of eight-hit ball and left with his team up 4-2.

By the bottom of the ninth that lead had swelled to 10-4. How safe is 10-4 going into the bottom of the ninth? According to ESPN stats, it was 274-0 safe. Not once had a team leading by six, with three outs to get, lost.

So safe that I opted to watch an episode of the terrific series “Manhunter,” with my wife. We had just shut the lights when my 14-year-old son Harry did what he has never done before.

He crashed open the bedroom door. Don’t worry, not much goes on in there.

Anyhow, he always knocks. The kids always knock. But this clearly was not a knockable moment. This was a Mets hope-ending execution unlike anything he’d ever seen. Even Mets manager Mickey Callaway couldn’t repeat his mantra that this team can do something special.

“We had a six-run lead,’’ Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’

File photo Mickey Callaway Neil Miller / The New York Extra

You think?

When Kurt Suzuki crushed an Edwin Diaz sacrificial offering over the fence for a three-run walk-off home that gave the Mets one of the most gruesome losses in franchise history, fans had a second of stunned disbelief. Then a second of anger. Then this:

Only the Mets.

It was as if this team had discovered time travel and made its way back to 1962 when “Only the Mets,” became a refrain, said over and over again with a chuckle that hid the disbelief over another Mets debacle.

Of course, when something so colossally wrong occurs, it seems heartless to report more bad news, but hey, “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’ The Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Phillies – all ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card race – all won.

The Mets are five back, but that’s just a number. It rightfully sounds so much better than 11-10 or 274-0.

Leave it to a former Met to explain what a loss like this really means,

“If it doesn’t put the last nail in the coffin, it’s awfully close,” SNY analyst Ron Darling said on-air. “Someone’s hammering away.”

The Mets will never again play a game this season in which a lead feels safe. Fans will never hit the sack contently. This is a nightmare that will haunt the final 24 games of the season.

There won’t be a 25th game.

“It’s going to be a tough one to digest tonight, but you have to do it,” Callaway told reporters. “We have digested several.”

None like this. Never like this.

Starting Pitching Could Block Yanks From Canyon of Heros

Robbins Nest

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #26 dj lemahieu hits a 3 run homer in the 4th innning Neil Miller / the New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

This isn’t what Yankees fans want to hear and, quite frankly, we hope it doesn’t come to be. Because there is no city in the world that does a hero’s parade better than the Big Apple.

Who else has a ‘Canyon of Heroes?”

When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup (again!), they came here for a parade on Broadway. Their locks were littered with ticker tape, just as Brian Leetch and Derek Jeter and Eli Manning and Neil Armstrong and Nelson Mandela and the Mets, who got a parade in 1962 just for entering the National League!

So believe us when we say we want an October parade.

But if it doesn’t happen, if the Yankees don’t fulfill their 2019 destiny and come up short in their quest for a 28th World Series title, this still has been a ridiculously amazing season.

That fact came into clarity this weekend when the Yankees became the first team to reach the 90-win total. They did it in the most riveting of fashions.

Trailing the Oakland A’s 4-0 going into the bottom of the eighth on Sunday, the Yankees rallied for a 5-4 triumph when Mike Ford became the first rookie in franchise history to smack a pinch-hit, walk-off home run.

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #36 Mike Ford ,who started the game as the DH, pitches in the 8th innning, smiles after he gives up a homer Neil Miller / the New York Extra

We are talking about the Yankees, who have more remarkable history than any team in baseball. Ford, the former Princeton hurler and career minor leaguer, has added to that history.

“I didn’t hear anything, which is crazy,” Ford told reporters about his historic homer. “Just a whole rush of emotion.”

That’s what has made this Yankees season special. The emotion. Because the men in that clubhouse know how hard they’ve had to grind, how many obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

The day before Ford got lost in emotion, DJ LeMahieu hit a walk-off homer in a 4-3, 11-inning victory over Oakland.

These heroics came the day after the Yankees set a more dubious record. They placed Gio Urshela on the injured list with a groin injury. Urshela became the 29th Yankee make it onto that list, which is a Major League record.

Despite this staggering procession of injuries, the Yankees own a 90-49 record and have all but mathematically won their 19th AL East title, the first since 2012.

Urshela is one of the most fantastic stories in baseball with a slash line of .331/.370/.555 with 32 doubles and 18 home runs in 414 plate appearances.

LeMahieu’s numbers make him the second most fantastic story on the Yankees (Domingo German, noted). David John has a slash line of .335./.382/.920 with 24 home runs and 90 RBI.

If the season ended today, LeMahieu and Urshela would be 1-2 choices for team MVP, which is flat out mind-boggling when you consider this is a team with guys named Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Aroldis Chapman, et al.

The Yankees have epitomized the “next man up,” mantra.

“Our guys have been great at it all year,’’ manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Whoever we brought up has controlled situations and moments really well and beyond, maybe, their experience. Ford has been one of those guys, but the list is long.’’

It has been a long and astonishing list, but here’s the rub. We’re still not sold on the starting pitching. Hold the paper shredding.

If one needed a reminder of the importance of starting pitching, it came yesterday like the downpour that marked the day. The Yankees were shutout for the first time this season, losing 7-0 to the Rangers.

05/10/16 Kansas City Royals Vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y. New York Yankees lead 1-0 after 1 innning New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 1st innning photos by Neil Miller / the ny extra

Masahiro Tanaka (10-8; 4.42 ERA) was solid, surrendering two runs on seven hits over six innings. Mike Minor (12-8; 3.12) was better, allowing just five hits through seven and one-third innings.

Considering this marked the first time in 220 games that the Yankees had been blanked, one can safely label this an anomaly. Or a warning. Regardless, the Yankees starting pitching remains an abstract picture.

J.A. Happ was brilliant against Oakland, tossing one-hit ball over six innings. But that was the first time he’d gone six since July 30th. Tanaka has been a workhorse. German has been terrific. But Happ and CC Sabathia, who’s lost five straight, have not.

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 pitches in the 1st inning today
09/13/16 Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees win 3-0 New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann #34 right celebrates with New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances #68 after the game photos by Neil Miller/ the New York Extra

James Paxton has won six straight since losing five in a row so that jury is out. He’s been streaky all season, which is not comforting entering the playoffs.

When one considers the pitching in Cleveland, Houston, Oakland and Tampa, the Yankees are going to be tested – big time – which is the way it should be.

They already have been tested more than any team in baseball history. Without Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and the other members of the injured list, it’s astonishing what the Bombers have done.

04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by Neil Miller/ the ny extra

A 21st 100-win season would be sensational. A ticker tape parade would be better.

The Mets dig themselves a big hole by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra/Neil Miller copyright 2019

With the loss tonight to the Cubs,the Mets find themselves 5 games behind for the 2nd wild card spot.The sweep by the Braves and now the Cubs has put them in an almost impossible situation facing the upcoming schedule.

Once again, the starting pitcher for the Mets did them in.Surprisingly, this time it was Jake DeGrom.The 3 run homer he gave up took all the fight out of the team after that point.And yet once again, for the most part, the bats were ineffective.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #28 J.D.Davis hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra/copyright 2019
08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacon Degrom pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra/copyright 2019

There’s still time to fix the situation, but it would require the Mets running the table, and getting some help from the Nats,Phillies,and St Louis. It doesnt look good for them at this moment.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets players on the dugout rail stare in dejection in the 9th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ copyright 2019

The Mets melt down again,as Jake implodes in the 7th inning

The Cubs are leading the Mets 4-1 after 7 innings after #7 Victor caratini blasted a 3 run homer in the &th inning off of #48 Jake DeGrom, who did not return to the mound for the 8th inning.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2019

A glimmer of joy fades in defeat as the Mets fall to the Cubs by Neil Miller /nysportsextra

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

There wasnt much to cheer about tonight about the Mets tonite.Marcus Stroman gave up 2 run homers in back to back innings, and it was all the Cubs needed to sink the Mets tonight.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Once again, the starting pitching didnt do the job, and the hitting wasnt much better, except for a brief instant in time when Pete Alonso lauched his 42 homer of this year breaking the all time Mets record.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #20 pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/nysportsextra
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met Mets hang on the dugout railing in dejection in the 9th inning tonite Neil Miller/nysportsextra

With the next four series, including the Cubs,the Mets have their destiny in their own hands.Win the next four series, and there’s a chance they make it into the 2nd wild card spot.Lose the greater portion of the near future games, and the outcome is almost certain

Why the Braves Sweep Was Such a Gut Punch

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Joe Panik grounds out to end the against the Braves today Neil miller/nysportsextra

It was the night of August 9th and the Mets had fallen into a 6-3 sinkhole in the bottom of the 9th against the Nationals when my drinking buddy said, “I’m going to head home. We know how this ends.”

 And then, bang-bang!

Todd Frazier crushed a three-run homer. Michael Conforto lined a singled to right driving in the winning run. And my buddy turned to me and said (cue the Godfather soundtrack), “They’ve pulled me back in.”

Which is what made Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field so deflating for the team from Queens and its fans.

The Mets pulled us back in. They had us believing. Shoot, they just bolstered their resume by sweeping the Cleveland Indians last week.

So when Joe Panik stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second, fans rose because since that early-August the Amazins have pulled us back in.

Panik, who’s had a bit of a career resurgence since joining the Mets, hit a soft grounder to first. Freddie Freeman needed no help. He fielded the ball, waved off reliever Mark Melancon, and stepped on first.

No bang-bang! Nothing.

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Steven Matz pitches in the 1st inning today against the Braves Neil Miller /nysportsextra

The Mets had been swept in a three-game series for just the third time this season. They slipped two and one-half games out of the Wild Card. The Braves, who seemingly have had the Mets number since they arrived in Atlanta in 1966, had struck again.

They swept the Mets in a three-game tease.

The Braves struck out 26 times Friday night, tying a MLB record, yet won, 2-1. They blew a four-run lead Saturday night, yet won, 9-5. And they were on the verge of coughing up a Dallas Keuchel gem on Sunday when Melancon induced Panik into a ground out that sucked the soul out of Citi Field.

“They’re a really tough team,” Mets starter Steven Matz told reporters. “We’ve played them tough and they’ve come out on top. They grind it out to the end. We play good baseball against them, they just got the upper hand.”

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

The next 16 games are against teams the Mets are battling for that Wild Card berth. There are 32 games remaining. They can’t afford another sweep. The Mets have pulled us back in, which makes this late-season sweep such a gut punch.

#48 Jacob DeGrom file photo pitching against the Atlanta Braves this weekend Neil Miller/nysportsextra

“It was a tough series,” manager Mickey Calloway told reporters.

It sure was.

Pitching fails again as Mets fall to the Braves

Zach Wheeler spoted the Braves 4 runs tonite before the Mets came back on a Pete Alomso 3 run homer to go ahead 5-4. But the very next inning they gave up the lead and lost 9-5 on a combination of the bullpen and bad fielding.

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

Pete Alonso 3 ru homer was the high point of tonites game for the Mets.

A tale of two pitchers by Neil Miller Nysportsextra

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th innning

What more could Jake do? Or for that matter , all of the Mets relievers, and Atlanta whole pitching staff? After a game filled with great starters and relief, is was Familia that failed again.

#48 Jacob DeGrom pitches in the 1st inning last nite Neil Miller /Nysportsextra

After De Grom let up a run, in the bottom frame of that inning, he redeem his mistake by launching a homer to tie the score. And so it continued that way, chances for both teams to win, but the pitchers shut them down.

J.Familia reacts after giving up the go ahead run in the 14th inning last nite neil Miller/Nysportsextra

Bring in Familia, and what do the Mets and their fans get? Another failure to add to his not so good year on his return to the Mets. The team , locked in s struggle for the 2nd wild card spot, can little afford what happened last nite.