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The Mets’ 3-2 come-from-behind victory last Sunday afternoon at Citi Field to close out the 2013 season meant that the team wound up in third place in the National League East with its 74-88 record. That wasn’t a cause for anyone to be popping champagne in the clubhouse, but considering that many believed the Mets would be battling the penurious Miami Marlins all season for the cellar, it was a major accomplishment. Hardly anyone had predicted that the Mets would finish ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, that’s more of an indictment of an aging, overpaid and underperforming Phillies squad than it is a tribute to the Mets.
Nonetheless, Mets manager Terry Collins, who rightfully received an extension on his contract Monday, sees finishing third as an important launching point for the 2014 Mets. “I told Sandy after we swept the Phillies down there last weekend that we were going to overtake them in the standings,” Collins proudly said in his postgame press conference, referring to general manager Sandy Alderson. “This is important to us.”
Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine stirred things up when he complained that the Yankees did not reach out to their community following September 11, 2001.
In fairness to Valentine, he was probably still steaming about a 2004 HBO Sports documentary, “Nine Innings From Ground Zero,” which spent the lion’s share of the time concentrating on the Yankees playoffs and seven-game nail-biting World Series loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fall of 2001 and how that helped cheer up New Yorkers needing a diversion. The Mets barely rated a three-minute mention in it from what I remember even though Valentine and his players spent a lot of time preparing boxes of food and supplies. Shea Stadium was used as an emergency center for first responders because of its sizable parking lot which Yankee Stadium lacked. The MLB network replayed the documentary last week — carryitclearly.com.
The prize remuneration at the US Open is certainly substantial, but it’s basically coffee and cake money to the elite men’s and women’s players. Their big payday comes from corporate endorsements and sponsorships.
I asked Roger Federer about the large number of fans who wear his Nike-produced “RF”- logo hats and shirts. Federer said he was surprised and delighted to connect with his fans that way but added that he did not know how many units his line has sold over the years. “I guess that I could call Nike up and ask them,” he said. I surmise that since he is well-compensated by Nike, he can afford to be trusting.
A lot was made of Andy Roddick’s retirement last year, since he remains the last American man to win a tennis Grand Slam event: the 2003 US Open. What got surprisingly little play when he lost to Argentina’s Juan Del Potro in 2012 was that he was the last American men’s player left in the US Open at that point.
Things have not markedly improved for those who want to chant “USA!” at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this week and next. Yes, Serena Williams remains the top-ranked women’s player, but after her, things go downhill precipitously for the red, white and blue — in both genders.
Let’s assume that it’s a given that Alex Rodriguez purchased and used illegal performance enhancement drugs from sleazy Anthony Bosch and his disgraced Miami-based company, Biogenesis.
The way the New York tabloid media, particularly Daily News national baseball writer Bill “Hang ’Em High” Madden, covered the story, not only was A-Rod guilty but he should be treated like an al-Qaeda operative or North Korean spy.
Mets fans emitted a collective groan last Friday seeing David Wright writhe in pain after running hard to first base in the 10th inning of yet another extra-inning game. The immediate diagnosis was that Wright had a suffered a pulled hamstring in his right leg.
Unlike in past years, when Mets management would delay putting players on the disabled list in the hopes of some overnight miraculous recovery which never happened, Wright was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list. The immediate consensus was that he would not play again until early September.
The Brooklyn Nets introduced the three iconic players that they acquired in a Draft Day trade last Thursday. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry all dressed in similar dark suits that reflected the Nets’ color scheme and all said the right things about wanting to win at least one last NBA championship.
“Like nearly everyone else I don’t like change,” said Kevin Garnett, an eighteen-year NBA veteran when asked about having to uproot himself to a new city. He credited Paul Pierce, who had played his entire career in Boston, for convincing him to accept this new challenge rather than retire.
It took a little over 49 years but the Midsummer Classic, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game has returned to Queens.
Unlike 1964, when Phillies outfielder Johnny Callison hit a dramatic three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning at Shea Stadium to win the game for the National League, the All-Star Game is literally more than just a game.
Mets flamethrowing pitcher Matt Harvey was the center of attention the week leading up to the All-Star Game.
Manager Terry Collins announced earlier in the week that Harvey would miss his scheduled Saturday start against the Pirates because he wanted to make sure that a nagging blister on his hand had time to heal.
It took a little over 49 years but the Midsummer Classic, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game returned to Queens.
As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s gain.
After waiting nearly two years for this day, the New York Mets showcased the foundation of their franchise Tuesday during a day-night doubleheader against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, providing a beacon of hope for the team’s otherwise hopeless 2013 season.
New York Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler is on the verge of the joining the big league club. Wheeler’s much-anticipated major league debut, scheduled for Tuesday in Atlanta, will inevitably bump a pitcher out of the Mets’ starting rotation.
Barring injury, there are currently two candidates competing to avoid being moved to the bullpen at Wheeler’s expense. Those two would be Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner.
“Well, if you are going to lose, you might as well lose fast,” is what I remarked to personable Mets catcher Josh Thole following yet another listless loss last year. Thole, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the RA Dickey trade over the winter, quickly replied with a smile “You got that right!”
I was thinking of that exchange with Josh after watching the Mets lose 2-1 in 20 innings to the Miami Marlins last Saturday at Citi Field. The extraordinary length of the game was not the main story. The galling headlines were that the Mets went 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position and struck out 19 times against pitchers who were not exactly the second coming of Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson.
These days, the New York Mets are not having any trouble finding new and creative ways to lose. Even by their impressive standards, this past weekend’s series against the Miami Marlins was unprecedented.
In 30 innings over two days, the Marlins swept a two-game series from the Mets at Citi Field. To put into perspective just how bad things have gotten for the Mets, the Marlins are 8-3 against them and 10-41 against the rest of baseball this season. That’s telling.
I spoke with Mets outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter last Wednesday at Yankee Stadium as the Mets were in the midst of their four-game sweep of the Yankees, and I asked him if he was concerned there would be a letdown in the next series, held this past weekend, when the Mets traveled to Miami to play one of the worst teams in the majors, the Marlins.
Baxter did not pooh-pooh my question but understandably invoked the time-honored ballplayer philosophy of taking it one game at a time. “Let’s get through with this series first,” he responded.
Ruben Tejada will be out of commission for the Mets, rehabilitating his injured right quadriceps at the team’s minor-league complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Despite a disappointing start to the season for the oft-scrutinized Tejada, he shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle when he’s ready to come off the 15-day disabled list. It’s way too early for the team to give up on their promising shortstop.
O-M-Gee, for the first time since the Subway series began in 1997, the Mets have swept a season series from the Yankees.
With Zack Wheeler still presumably on the brink of joining the big league club in mid-June, a starter will have to be dropped from the rotation, and – barring injury – Dillon Gee appeared to be the odd man out entering his start in the series finale Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. In fact, manager Terry Collins informed Gee face-to-face that he was headed for the bullpen if he didn’t take a significant step forward. Apparently, the 27-year-old Gee got the message loud and clear.
The New York Mets were so fed up with the struggles of Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada that they were prepared to demote the duo to Triple-A Las Vegas after Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees, according to multiple reports.
Faced with the pressure on Wednesday night of playing for their roster spots, both delivered keys hits in yet another shocking victory over the crosstown rival Yankees.
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.
In a season full of disappointments, one of the few bright spots for the New York Mets has been the emergence of closer Bobby Parnell.
Parnell, who was named the team’s closer in spring training after Frank Francisco was diagnosed with a mild strain of the flexor pronator in his right elbow, has recorded six saves.
It’s been 30 years since the New York Islanders won their last Stanley Cup, and frankly, they have been abysmal for most of the years between 1983 and now. During this labor-dispute-shortened National Hockey League season, the Islanders played respectably enough to earn their first playoff berth in seven years as they clinched the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders drew the unenviable assignment of playing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins, long an NHL powerhouse, in the first round. To their credit, the Isles showed that they weren’t merely happy to be there, as they battled hard to force the series to six games. Unfortunately for the Isles, they lost two overtime games at the Nassau Coliseum, including Saturday night’s finale.
It’s long been said that pinch-hitting is one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. But Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin has mastered it through his first one-plus seasons in the big leagues.
Of Valdespin’s 10 career home runs, six have come as a pinch hitter.
Jets fans, who are notorious for booing any player their team selects at the NFL Draft, broke into thunderous cheers at Radio City Music Hall Friday night upon hearing that Gang Green had chosen Geno Smith. The reason for this euphoria was the belief that beleaguered Mark Sanchez’s days as a Jet were numbered.
I hate to spoil the fans’ fun, but the Jets would be better off having Smith learn the NFL by watching the action and holding a clipboard this year the way that Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and so many other greats did in their first pro season.
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.