Archive for April, 2011

Rivalries and Facebook/Twitter Pages

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

So Bob Brookover’s column in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer is a strange one- he claims that the Phillies and Mets aren’t rivals. His reasoning appears to boil down to a few key points:

  • The Phillies are much better than the Mets
  • The Phillies are heading up, the Mets down
  • There’s very little shared history

Regarding his major arguments: the Phillies certainly have been much better than the Mets over the past two seasons. The Mets and Phillies were neck-and-neck in the two seasons before that, and the Mets were far better in 2006. Hardly a one-sided battle there. As for direction of the team, pulling back even a little gives a different trend line, at least from my perspective. The Mets, under Sandy Alderson, appear to be well-run for the first time in years, if not decades. And the Phillies, with ill-advised contracts, a bunch of 30-something players, and no apparent room to add additional salary, seem both vulnerable and at the end of their success cycle.

This is no criticism- they’ve won four consecutive NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series. That’s a success run on par with virtually any National League team, ever. But is the logical place for them to go from here… up?

Ultimately, what makes a rivalry, in my opinion, is shared battles, frequently playing, and geographic proximity to maximize the intensity. Brookover’s column was right on, back in 2006. But much has changed, obviously, since then. The unbalanced schedules mean those battles will continue to rage almost as frequently as the Dodgers and Giants playing 22 times a year when both resided in New York. And the two cities could scarcely be closer, with New Jersey serving as a rivalry zone between them.

The fierce rivalries between the Mets and Cardinals, or Mets and Cubs, receded when divisional play separated the teams. My suspicion is that once Chipper Jones retires, the Braves will become another division rival- Bobby Cox disappearing has already reduced the intensity several notches. But the Phillies? Something long dormant, due to the relatively large number of down years from each franchise, has finally awakened. Like a Red Sox-Yankees tilt when one team is down, it will still carry that charge long after Ryan Howard and David Wright retire.

Speaking of rivalries, notice that while the LoHud Yankees Blog has 1,808 likes on Facebook, the just-created LoHud Mets Blog fan page has, as of this writing… two. Similarly, many of you have started following this page on Twitter @lohudmets, but we lag behind the LoHud Yankee Twitter feed as well. So I would urge you to strike back against the smug Yankee fans you work with, follow us on Twitter, and assert that you Like our new fan page. I can’t promise you October baseball, but I will be certain to provide, in September, Meaningful Posts.

The Last Time Terry Collins Won

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Considering how long it felt since the last time the Mets won a game-the penultimate game of the 2010 season, for those keeping score at home- one can only imagine how the purgatory between victories felt to Terry Collins. The last time he won as a manager was August 23, 1999.
Interestingly, that game was filled with foreshadowing of future Met performers.
The first RBI of the game, a 6-5 Anaheim win over Detroit, came on a run-scoring groundout by Mo Vaughn. Little did the Mets know that just a few years later, John Olerud long since dispatched, Vaughn would make sure the team got its money’s worth on its insurance.
Damion Easley put up the first run for Detroit, thanks to a single that scored Frank Catalanotto. Easley went on to have several vaguely useful seasons for the Mets as a backup infielder, though he wasn’t the star he appeared he’d be early in his career. Back in 1999, he was in his age-29 season, and completing his third straight season with 20-plus home runs. He went on to restore “Too Legit to Quit” back to Shea Stadium as his at-bat music.
Naturally, no one can forget Catalanotto’s brief 2010 tenure on Jerry Manuel’s bench. That cost Nick Evans one of his options, which is why Lucas Duda is the man to fill in for Jason Bay on the current squad.
Even C.J. Nitkowski, a pitcher born in Rockland County’s Suffern, NY, and who went on to pitch in five games for the 2001 Mets without allowing a run, got into the game for Detroit.
The game’s only home run? Karim Garcia, who joined Shane Spencer as part of the team’s two-headed effort to make fans forget about Vladimir Guerrero prior to the 2004 season. The effort proved less effective than Gob Bluth’s Forget-Me-Now.
As for the Mets, they won a walkoff that day, 3-2 over the Astros at Shea Stadium, thanks to a game-winning single by Matt Franco. Edgardo Alfonzo homered. Rickey Henderson started in left field. Armando Benitez got the win. Carl Everett homered for Houston, and Tim Bogar started for the Astros at shortstop. Now, how long ago does that seem to you? Imagine how Terry Collins feels.

A Word On Cashman Complaining Of Feliciano’s Abuse

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

I’m afraid I can’t let Brian Cashman’s comments that the Mets “abused” Pedro Feliciano pass without comment.
Let’s start with the basics. Cashman is right. Feliciano appeared in 92 games last year, breaking the Met mark for appearances held by… Feliciano the year before with 88, which shattered the record held by… Feliciano the year before with 86.
The Yankees have a sensible policy not to pitch a reliever three days in a row. Feliciano appeared three days in a row on ten separate occasions last year. He also pitched in winter ball, and even the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
And the argument for this use, which boiled down to “Feliciano likes it” is a silly one. Players get to the major leagues based on a remarkable work ethic. Managers and organizations succeed by putting the long-term interests of the team first when making decisions. Jenrry Mejia liked being on the major league roster. That didn’t mean he belonged there.
In short, leave aside whether a multi-year deal at $4 million to a lefty specialist is a good idea. This lefty specialist was a good bet to be at or past his sell-by date.
So Cashman’s complaints at this point come across as… fairly ridiculous. Like Captain Renault objecting to gambling at Rick’s ridiculous. He complained that a lack of other options for lefty specialist forced his hand. Remind me again how many teams the Mets had to outbid to get Tim Byrdak?
It reminds me of when I hear people absolutely trashing their spouses. That never reflects upon the trashed spouse for me; it reflects upon the person trashing. Because that spouse, even if he is that horrible, can’t help being so godawful.
But you married him, dummy.