Tag Archives: citi

Biazarro World

14 Mar

Share

By Jim Walters

Remember when Elaine entered bizarro world in that classic Seinfeld episode. Her new friends were complete opposites from her regular crew of Jerry, George and Kramer.

Imagine if this season for the Mets is bizarro world and everything goes right. Here’s one man’s guess of what that would  look like.

  • Jose Reyes is out for only two weeks instead of 8 and he is playing short at Citi Field on April 5th. He proves to be innocent of the hgh questions, but a certain third baseman of the Bronx can’t say the same.
  • Carlos Beltran is in centerfield by the end of April, but fans will miss the tag team efforts of Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr, who held down the fort. Beltran comes back and does for the Mets what A-Rod did for the Yankees upon his May return last year. He also reveals that his mole gives him his mojo.
  • Johan Santana wins 20 games, the Cy Young and beats Roy Halladay in the three head to head match-ups this season.
  • Daniel Murphy proves Omar right, hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 95 RBIs. He also manages to play a decent first base. Keith Hernandez reminds us that he’s responsible.
  • Benjie Molina pulls a hamstring in week three and Rod Barajas hits 20 home runs and bats .260.
  • David Wright returns to his old form, hitting 30 home runs, 120 RBIs and bats .310. Wright wins the first MVP for New York.
  • Jason Bay hits 35 home runs, bats .280 and drives in 120 runs. His legs prove to be fine as Peter Gammons offers a public apology. Unfortunately its on the MLB network and no one sees it.
  • John Maine and Mike Pelfrey each win 15 games. Oliver Perez, well, not even in bizarro world is he very good.
  • Jenrry Mejia and Francisco Rodriguez become the best 1-2 punch, making most games feel like a 7-inning game.
  • Luis Castillo doesn’t drop any pop-ups.
  • Jerry Manuel doesn’t have to foolishly say he expects any of his players to be back in a week.
  • Omar Minaya gets to lead press conferences again.
  • Citi Field lowers ticket prices so families can go to a game and not miss a mortgage payment.
  • Mets retire Mike Piazza’s number.
  • Mets win the division, go on to get revenge against the Cardinals and beat the Yankees in the World Series.
  • Mets don’t mention Phillies in their championship celebration.
  • And finally, kids throughout the city trade in their Yankees jerseys for “Don’t Mess with the Johan” t-shirts.

A guy could dream….

Can Mets Pitch Like 2006

12 Mar

Share

By Jim Walters

Entering the 2010 season, besides issues of health, the biggest concern for the New York Mets is their pitching staff.

Many baseball analysts already declared this as a major problem for New York, questioning what they can get out of the starting rotation. While Johan Santana is expected to have a strong year, although he is overcoming elbow surgery, the rest of the rotation is a mixed bag of question marks.

Back in 2006, New York ran away with the National League Eastern division, winning 97 games. They did it with a high-powered offense but the pitching wasn’t very solid.

Tom Glavine led the way that year, going 15-7, finally earning his contract. Steve Trachsel will always be remembered for his embarrassing performance in October, but he did go 15-8 as the Mets number two starter, pitching to a high era of 4.97.  Pedro Martinez went 9-8, Orlando Hernandez went 9-7 and John Maine was 6-5. Not very impressive.

The reason why this team was so successful, besides their high-powered offense, was their great bullpen.  Billy Wagner had a superb year with 40 saves, pitching to a record of 3-2.  Duaner Sanchez, 5-2, and Pedro Feliciano, 7-2, carried the Mets bullpen and kept games close for the offense. Darren Oliver, 4-1, stepped in many games that year when the starters failed. The bullpen also included Aaron Heilman, 4-5, and Chad Bradford, 4-2.

While the rotation was shaky, the bullpen was phenomenal. Yet as good as it was, it was certainly overworked, pitching 150 more innings in 2006 than it did in 2005. This workload hurt New York in the NLCS as the bullpen showed its wear and tear from a starting rotation that could not go deep into games.

It also didn’t help that in the closing weeks of the season, Martinez and Hernandez went down. Maine and Oliver Perez were asked to fill the void and they did, but it only added stress on to the pen.

Going into 2010, Santana needs to have a big year. The question that follows is this: can any other pitcher get to double-digits in wins? With a bullpen that has its own questions, the only promise that the Mets can give their fans going into the season is that this isn’t going to be easy.

What Could’ve Been

11 Mar

Share

By Jim Walters

Take yourself back to that fateful Thursday October night in 2006 when Flushing was the center of the baseball world. Shea Stadium was filled to capacity and the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals battled in the seventh and final game of the National League Championship Series.

We know about the Endy Chavez catch, the Yadier Molina home run and the Carlos Beltran strike out. We even remember Willie Randolph tapping Cliff Floyd to pinch hit and not sacrifice as well as the strong performance of an unknown starter named Oliver Perez.

What we sometimes forget is what happened in the bottom of the sixth inning when all the momentum in the world favored the home team after Chavez’ amazing catch. New York loaded the bases with the help of a Scott Rolen error, giving Jose Valentin the opportunity to come to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.

What would’ve happened to this franchise if Valentin drove in that run or if Chavez, who followed, was able to get a two-out hit. The Mets could’ve went on to win the World Series and maybe all of the September collapses that followed could’ve been different. We will never know.

On the day we heard Jose Reyes would be away from the game for as many as eight weeks, adding further panic to a beaten fan base that is still shell shocked from a snake-bitten 2009, I find myself thinking back to that October night when 55,000 fans believed there was no way that the Mets weren’t on their way to the World Series.

The Mets were on top of the world following the catch and the go ahead run was only 90 feet away with Valentin at the plate.

It’s been all down hill ever since.

Ghost of Shea Strikes Again

11 Mar

Share

By Jim Walters

As news regarding Jose Reyes thyroid issue hit the press this morning, the prognosis was the Mets shortstop would miss 2-8 weeks. Fans who lived and died with this team over the past year knew it was going to be at least two months before Reyes played again.

As this bad news scattered through the news wires and twitter, you could hear the harmonious shriek of “what is going on?”

The answer, the ghost of Shea Stadium.

When Citi Field opened its doors to the public last April, the outcry from Mets fans came flowing in. While the new park in Queens showed off its shiny new apple and perfectly angled seats, fans were left asking, where are the Mets colors and Mets decor. While nice gestures like a new apple and keeping the old one, as well as the iconic skyline, connected the old and new chapters of Mets history, ownership did not do enough to make this park feel like the home stadium of the Mets.

During the season, adjustments were made. The team decided to no longer hide the few championship banners they possessed and they plastered images of old and current Mets in the inside and outside of Citi Field.

Besides the retired “Shea” that stood tall next to the numbers of Casey Stengal, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver and Jackie Robinson, memories of Shea Stadium, the home of the Mets from 1964-2009, were noticeably absent. The memory of beloved Shea was left in the team’s past.

While the Yankees designed their new cathedral as an upgrade of  their old stadium, the Mets went for a completely new look. While many will say this was a smart move as the cookie-cutter design of the 1960s and 1970s was no longer fashionable or fan-friendly, the designers did forget to bring over the orange and blue that Shea so appropriately provided.

While the Mets played their first season at home in a ball park other than Shea Stadium for the first time since 1963, the team struggled for most of the year. After the first month, the injury bug hit this team as hard as it has ever hit a ball club in the history of this game. As the stars fell, so did the Mets in the standings. By September, Citi Field’s empty seats finally resembled the many empty Fall nights at old Shea.

Those connected to the spiritual world started to question if there was something or someone behind this sudden streak of bad luck. Sure the Mets would never be considered a winning franchise, with more losing seasons that winning ones. But, the bloating disabled list, as well as a defensive performance that had little leaguers laughing, started to reveal that someone or something had a score to settle.

Perhaps, the ghost of Shea Stadium, or maybe it was the baseball gods, who were trying to even the score, playing a part in the 2009 season. Maybe the proper tribute was not displayed to the stadium next door, as ownership continued to express how Citi Field was a great improvement, treating old Shea as the ex who was used and abused until something better came along.

Maybe 2009 was Shea’s revenge.

During the offseason, steps were taken to calm this ghost. Orange walls and a bridge named after beloved Shea were offered as peace offerings. The question left to be answered is, will it be enough?

Many fans pleaded with the Mets to change the outfield wall colors to blue. This simple move would remind the fans of Shea in its later years. While it is probably a pretty penny to replace the material, it may be the sacrifice this team needs to make to please the past so there can be a future.

Down in Florida, the injuries are starting to pile up. Jose Reyes and his thyroid, Carlos Beltran and his knee. Francisco Rodriguez can’t see and Kelvim Escobar can’t throw. Is this a simple hiccup in March or a repeat performance of last year’s plague?

It’s time the Mets make peace with old Shea.

Perez the next Koufax

9 Mar

By Jim Walters

Two weeks ago, Hall of Fame great Sandy Koufax worked with a few of the Mets pitchers. Koufax, a long-time friend of Mets Owner, Fred Wilpon, often makes this annual trip to Port St. Lucie to pass on his wisdom.

This year, it felt as if this visit by Koufax was the only hope Oliver Perez had left.  Perez, coming off of a disastrous, injury-plagued year, is healthy and confident. Mets ownership is counting on Perez to win 15-games, but few in the game or the stands believe it.

When Koufax was interview by reporters, he made reference to his early career where he was as inconsistent as Perez. Then, at the age of 25, things changed and he turned into one of the game’s greats.

So, I looked up both Koufax and Perez’ numbers to see how similar they are.

Koufax  pitched to a record of 36-40 in his first six seasons with the Dodgers. In his first two seasons, he only started 28 games. Perez went 45-53 in his first  six season seasons, only pitching in 40 games in his first two seasons. While the numbers aren’t identical, they are similar enough to see how Koufax could see himself in Perez.

In Koufax’s seventh season, his career changed. The year was 1961 and he went 18-13.  In fact, from 1961- 1966, Koufax pitched to an incredible record of 129-47, including three seasons where he won more than 25 games.

The game was different then as pitchers went deep into games and often completed them. In the current version of this game, few pitchers in this game finish their own starts.

Back to Perez. In his 7th and 8th seasons, his record was 13-11. His 8th season was last year when he only started 14 games.

Few believe Perez is going to do what Koufax did forty years ago. While he is only 28 and healthy, Mets fans have heard enough about potential. Perez’ inconsistency overshadows those moments of brilliance. His 2006 October performance is a distant memory.

What makes Perez so unique is that his talent was never in question. It is his mental make-up that people worry about. Can the switch go off and Perez become the number two starter New York needs him to be? Or will Perez continue to draw jeers from the crowd and a pink slip for his General Manager and Manager?

Two weeks ago, Koufax looked at Perez and related to the young lefty’s struggles. Koufax walked in those shoes but seven seasons in, he figured it out and became an all-time great.  For Perez and the Mets, the hope of this franchise lands in this inconsistent starter who could lead the Mets to October or he can continue to be the face of a losing franchise.

Share

Memories of Shea

4 Mar

By Jim Walters

Is it just me, but when the city was covered in deep freeze, didn’t memories of a sun-soaked Shea warm your hearts like a hot cup of cocoa after shoveling 2-feet of snow.

While Citi Field is beautiful, and in desperate need of a winning team on the field, it is not Shea. It never will be.

Perhaps Shea holds a special place in my heart because of 26 years of memories. I think of those crazy nights in 1999 and 2000, as well as those memorable moments in 2006 when we felt destined to take back this town.

Of course there’s those memories of who I went with. Those rain delays in a packed Casey’s, plus the endless memories of begging players and ballgirls for foul balls, while walking out of Shea as a kid with a big foam finger and a full stomach of hot dogs and soda.

Citi is still a ballpark that is growing on me like a substitute teacher in elementary school. I need to get to know her better, spend more time learning how this field of dreams will be the background of my future baseball days. Citi will likely be my Mets home for the rest of my life, so for better or for worse, its home.

As spring slowly enters our life, share your memories of Shea and those amazing days that made up the fabric of our lives.