Citi Field opened five years ago and the Mets have not had a winning season since. Throw in the last two years they played in Shea Stadium, 2007 and 2008, when they were in first place in September in the National League East only to wind up behind the Philadelphia Phillies, and Mets fans must feel as if they have endured a biblical seven years of famine. Well, fans of our Flushing heroes, get ready for year No. 8.
To say the fan base is dispirited is an understatement. Two years ago it appeared that Mets ownership was going to turn the page on player salaries when it settled with Irving Picard, the trustee seeking compensation for the victims of the Madoff Securities scandal. Picard had determined the Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, had been unjustifiably enriched by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme even though they were not complicit.
Over the winter, a petition to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday garnered over 102,000 signatures on the White House’s website.
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith even appeared in Budweiser-sponsored advertisements for the movement.
Don’t look now, but the Giants, who started the season by losing their first six games, have now won three straight after beating the Oakland Raiders 24-20 at MetLife Stadium last Sunday.
The game was not as close as the score indicated. While Giants QB Eli Manning had an average day for him in terms of passing statistics, he did not have to do much as running back Andre Brown came off the injured reserve list to rush for over 100 yards.
Although it was a foregone conclusion that Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery to repair damage on his pitching elbow and miss the entire 2014 season, many Mets fans on social media, along with a good number of sportswriters, reacted as if they had just learned that the sky was falling. You would have thought these folks were expecting a parade down the Canyon of Heroes next November if Harvey were part of the Mets rotation in 2014.
The success rate for Tommy John surgery is reportedly over 90 percent. Given Harvey’s competitive nature, which probably breeds the arrogance that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I fully expect him to be as good, if not better, when he returns to the mound in 2015.
Amid the hoopla of New York Mets phenom Matt Harvey being tabbed to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field, rotation mate Jeremy Hefner – believe it or not – has been the Mets’ best starter since June.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon believes the organization is moving in the right direction and that he is confident in general manager Sandy Alderson’s plan.
There has been an ongoing debate about how the New York Mets will alter their starting rotation when Zack Wheeler, the team’s top pitching prospect, makes his much-anticipated debut – probably sometime next month.
Two of the team’s current five starters – Matt Harvey and Jonathon Niese – aren’t going anywhere. On Sunday night, Shaun Marcum, 31, took a step in the right direction to add his name to that list.
Matt Harvey’s emergence as perhaps the best pitcher in Major League Baseball took another leap forward Tuesday night during the Mets’ victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Howard Megdal is the Mets beat writer for The Journal News, serving as the lead writer for the paper’s Mets blog, Mets.LoHudBlogs.com. In addition, Megdal is the author of “Wilpon’s Folly: The Story of A Man, His Fortune and The New York Mets,” in which he chronicles the financial and legal difficulties of the team’s owners.
I recently had the chance to interview Megdal, where he gave his assessment of this year’s team, talked about which Met has the most upside and estimated how many wins this year’s team could have, if all goes well. You can follow Megdal on Twitter @HowardMegdal.
It’s unlikely that the Mets will be playing meaningful games this coming September, but starting pitcher Matt Harvey has singlehandedly given the Flushing faithful a commodity they have lacked for a long time — hope.
Harvey was the Mets’ top pick (seventh overall) in the 2010 Major League baseball amateur draft. Of course, given the team’s checkered history with “can’t miss prospects,” it’s understandable to take a wait-and-see attitude. He came up for the proverbial cup of coffee with the Mets in August 2012 and was far more impressive than his three-win, five-loss record showed.
With the exception of Jon Niese and Matt Harvey, the Mets’ rotation has been abysmal through the first two weeks of the season. So calling up Zack Wheeler, the team’s top pitching prospect, would seem like the answer to that problem, right? Not so fast.
Mets fans have not had much to cheer about in recent years, and it’s fairly safe to say that even the most optimistic can’t picture the boys in Flushing competing for a post-season berth this year.
Granted, no one should have expected onetime Mets ace Johan Santana to be a difference-maker in 2013. The general consensus from baseball prognosticators is that the Mets would finish in fourth place in the National League East with or without him.
In most years, the Mets would be picked to finish in the cellar with the kind of team they have, but the Miami Marlins have earned that dubious distinction from most of the baseball media because their owner, Jeff Loria, decided to gut their roster in order to save a ton of payroll. It should be pointed out that Loria has done this kind of thing before and the Marlins always seem to surprise when they put on the field a lineup of unknowns, so Mets fans can’t rest that easy.
One would be skeptical of the Mets’ 2013 season after another second-half collapse last year and the departure of 20-game winner and National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey over the winter.
But fans created an electrifying atmosphere at Citi Field for the season opener as they watched the Mets beat the San Diego Padres 11-2, collecting 13 hits including a grand slam from newcomer Collin Cowgill.
Baseball fans are far more concerned with the health of the players on their favorite teams coming out of spring training than they are with their March win-loss records. Given that criterion, you can’t blame Yankees and Mets fans if they are not brimming with excitement about the start of the 2013 season this Monday.
Comparisons of the 2013 Yankees with the infamous 1965 Bronx Bombers team, when nearly all of the big names — such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek —seemingly all got old overnight together, started right after Derek Jeter broke his ankle during the 2012 playoffs. It picked up in intensity after Alex Rodriguez underwent hip surgery last fall. It now appears that A-Rod will not play until after the All-Star Game at the earliest. Then again, many think he may never play again.
One of the few notes of discord coming out of the Mets’ spring training base of Port St. Lucie, Fla. is that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is unhappy that John Santana did not report to camp in what the GM considers suitable pitching shape.
Alderson, who is known for his no-nonsense and realistic assessments, must have been delusional if he expected the onetime Mets ace, who missed the entire 2011 season with arm problems and then suffered from fatigue right after tossing the first no-hitter in Mets’ history last June 1 — when he threw an amazing 135 pitches in the effort — to be the Johan Santana of old.
The Mets’ signing of free agent pitcher Shawn Marcum wouldn’t normally generate a headline except that it’s big news whenever the Mets spend money on anyone who has ever played in Major League Baseball. They were the last MLB team to sign a veteran free agent this year.
The Mets gave Marcus a guaranteed $4 million contract. As has long been the case with most Mets acquisitions, there are red flags. Marcus did not pitch much last season because of elbow issues. When healthy, he’s capable of winning 15 games with a good team such as his former club, the Milwaukee Brewers. My guess is that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is throwing away owner Fred Wilson’s money because (a) Mets pitchers rarely stay healthy and that goes double for reclamation projects such as Marcus, and (b) the Mets offense is so puny it would be hard for any pitcher to post a good record with the team.
Queens politics in 2012 brought new districts, a historic election in the 6th Congressional District and enough cloak-and-dagger intrigue to fill a Robert Ludlum novel.
But when Hurricane Sandy struck in October, killing 12 people in Queens and more than 40 in the city, devastating the Rockaways, Howard Beach, lower Manhattan and Staten Island, the people of central Queens, who were largely spared the storm’s wrath, rallied to the cause of those worst hit.
Politics in middle and southwestern Queens was the favorite sport outside of Citi Field in 2012, and the worst storm to hit the region in 74 years devastated some while causing others just a few flickers of their lights.
As the year began, the city filed an appeal of a ruling by federal Judge Nicholas Garaufus that found discrimination on the part of the FDNY against African-American firefighters in the testing and hiring process.
Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey provided the silver lining in yet another dark cloud of a season for our Flushing heroes. With little else to cheer for, Mets fans and the local media spent most of the second half of the 2012 season obsessing over Dickey’s chance of winning the Cy Young Award, the honor bestowed by the Baseball Writers Association of America on the best pitcher in each league.
Despite winning 20 games, Dickey faced formidable obstacles with respect to receiving baseball’s highest hurler honor. The BBWAA is a conservative body that traditionally honors personnel from winning teams. Plus, no knuckleball pitcher had ever won a Cy Young. Too many sportswriters in the past believed that the knuckleball was a gimmick and that only traditional pitchers should get the award.
All right, the Mets’ season ended Wednesday, and we all know that as a whole, their year was anything but Amazin’. Their final record was a sad 74-88 — but there was also a lot to cheer about, and much to look forward to next spring.
RA Dickey, the knuckleball pitcher, became the first Met since 1990 to win 20 games, and is a serious contender for the Cy Young Award. He was also the first pitcher on any team with a losing record to win 20 games since 1995.
The fan who rushed out onto the field following Johan Santana’s no-hitter in June has been banned from Citi Field indefinitely and hit with $5,000 in fines, the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.
Rafael Diaz, 33, of Massapequa, LI, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of interference with a professional sports event before Queens Criminal Court Judge Mary O’Donoghue.
Mateusz Hanus, 4, of Maspeth, shows off his inner Johan Santana at the dunk tank.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson has announced that one-time ace Johan Santana will not pitch for the rest of the seasondue to inflammation on his lower back. Since Johan missed the entire 2011 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery and badly struggled in his last six starts, where he got lit up for six runs each time, Alderson said he felt this was the prudent course of action.
The decision was a no-brainer since the team’s season for all intents and purposes is over, but leave it to the Mets to find a way to embarrass themselves in the process.
Disappointment. That is, alas, the word that best captures the Mets’ last five seasons before this one. The club fielded some stellar players — David Wright, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana, to name just a few — but just couldn’t seal the deal to get into the playoffs. And the last few years the Mets haven’t even come close.