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.
Mets fans voted prospect Brandon Nimmo, left, into this year’s Futures game. Noah Syndergaard, right, who came to New York as part of the R.A. Dickey trade in the offseason was Team U.S.A.’s starting pitcher in Sunday’s game.
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.
Entering the 2013 season, the catcher position seemed to be a liability for the New York Mets.
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.
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.
R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets last week became the first knuckleball pitcher in baseball history to win the Cy Young Award.
New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey capped off his improbable season last Wednesday when he was named winner of the National League’s 2012 Cy Young award.
Now the question is will the 38-year-old righthander be around at Citi Field down the road, or even this coming year.
New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey capped off his improbable season on Wednesday when he was named winner of the National League’s 2012 Cy Young Award.
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.
After the Mets were swept by the Braves last weekend, as play resumed following the All-Star Game hiatus, you couldn’t help feel that you’ve seen this movie before. The plot basically goes like this: underdog team led by a fiery manager defies the nay-sayers and plays over its head right up to the All-Star Game. Then the All-Star break comes and the team falls apart because of either (a) injuries, (b) the bullpen breaks down, (c) the Mets’ division rivals start to play a lot better or (d) a combination of the previous choices.
Aside from history, Mets fans had to fear that their heroes may have been running out of gas just before the All-Star break when they were only able to muster one win in three games at Citi Field against one of the worst teams in the majors, the Chicago Cubs. A few weeks earlier, the Mets did the same thing at Wrigley Field.
Since 1999 the Mets and the Yankees have played two three-game weekend series at each other’s parks. There are rumblings that starting next year, the teams will play each other four times instead of six because the Houston Astros will switch from the National to the American League so that each league will have 15 clubs.
While Mets and Yankees managers over the years have fretted that six games is too many to play against a team in another division, most New York baseball fans (even Mets fans who see their team lose more often than not) enjoy the excitement the games bring. While Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey claims that he prepares for the Yankees the same way he does the Pirates or the Padres, first baseman Ike Davis echoed the sentiments of most Mets and Yankees players when he told me prior to Friday night’s game, “We feed off of the energy of the crowd.”
April is shaping up to be a big month for Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, and not just because he won his first two starts of the season. Dickey is one of the subjects of the baseball documentary “Knuckleball,” which will make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this Saturday evening. R.A. will speak to the audience after the screening.
This Sunday at 6 p.m. he will be signing copies of his autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” (Blue Rider Press), at the Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows. The Mets are partnering with Dickey as well, as they are offering a package on Wednesday, April 25 in which, for $100, one can take part in a pre-game Q&A with him, get an autographed copy of his book, and watch the Mets take on Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins in the Champions Club, where one can enjoy food and soft drinks.
St. John’s University has always been known for its baseball and basketball programs, but I would bet most of it students and alumni were unaware it had a golf team. That’s quickly changed after Keegan Bradley’s PGA Championship victory at the Atlanta Athletic Club last Sunday. Bradley, who grew up in Vermont and could have been a professional skier, was a member of SJU’s Class of 2008.
Bradley was an unknown on the PGA Tour until last Sunday, and his victory could not have come at a better time for the association. Its next big tournament, The Barclays, is the only time you can see the world’s best golfers in the New York metro area, and it begins next Thursday. Tiger Woods did not qualify, and his absence always means less interest. Bradley should help bring out some folks who normally wouldn’t attend a golf tourney.
Pitchers and catchers don’t have to report to Port St. Lucie for another month, but members of the Mets and the team’s front office last week decided to get a different kind of workout — with the Fire Department at its training academy on Randall’s Island.
Pictured: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, top left, joins fifth and sixth graders from PS 150’s after-school sports program run by Sunnyside Community Services to meet Mets players Jose Reyes, rear left, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee and Josh Thole. New manager, Terry Collins is in the center.