Sunday, August 30, 2015

N.Y. Islanders: When Uniondale Was Al Arbour's Rome


Al Arbour:
A New York Sports Titan

New York Islanders: Nassau County was Al Arbour's Empire; Uniondale his Rome.

The Empire State - New York - Gotham...

...Where John McGraw ruled his Manhattan dynasty with an iron hand, while Robinson's Trolley Dodgers reigned over Kings County.

When threatened from within by the upstart Highlanders, John McGraw forever banished his former American League tenants from Coogan's Bluff.

Exiled, the resilient Col. Jacob Ruppert led his junior circuit club towards new terra firma across the river in Bronx, where he inaugurated a new Yankees dynasty with Babe Ruth as its liege.

New Amsterdam's three baseball empires effectively ruled the sports universe.  Football and Hockey were still undergoing their respective professional genesis, while pro basketball remained decades away.

Yet, neither one of them ever managed to dominate the entirety of this city despite major successes authored by Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, Charlie Dressen/Walter Alston, et al..

The Yankees ultimately won the baseball wars, but only because California beckoned the elder O'Malley and Stoneham clans, whom were already in search of greater untapped fortunes elsewhere.

Even then, by baseball's very nature all three teams failed in establishing that singular unifying force that perhaps the Football Giants and Tex's Rangers created in New York between 1927 and 1956, during which the two enterprises combined on 7 championship seasons - and on three occasions within each other's footsteps.  If you were a Football Giants and Rangers Hockey fan back then, you had it made.  Only your baseball allegiances prevented you from winning a triple crown in any given calendar year.

The Mara family has been a superior force in this town since day one, and remain so today.   Meanwhile, Tex's Rangers suffered mightily through many seasons since 1940, yet maintained about as loyal a base that existed anywhere in the known world through the present.

The years are fleeting though.

The Yankees and Football Giants both fell into decline and disrepair.  The Yankees were ultimately sold-off into corporate hands, while Wellington famously, or infamously fought with his brother over the Mara empire.

It was then that a younger generation of Mets led by Tom Seaver and Gil Hodges, and Jets piloted by Joe Namath, planted their flag upon unclaimed Queens County, and together disrupted the balance of power in 1969.

By then, Red Holzman's Knickerbockers had also finally matured into players capable and worthy of defending Manhattan by turning the NBA on its ear with a monumental Goliath inspired take down of the west coast Lakers dynasty.

As previously eluded though, time stands still for no one.  Change remains its only bedfellow.

  • The likes of Sunny Werblin deserve light mention for becoming influential players on the local scene.  Joan Payson certainly, and even George Steinbrenner became titans in their own right.

Territoriality speaking though, the Football Giants were first to annex New Jersey.  Land due east of New York City likewise became a viable base of operations when the ABA Nets and Islanders explored and settled Nassau County, Long Island.

Let history note, Julius Erving (Dr. J) was the first to conquer and plant a flag on Long Island's legacy with two championships, but the Nets were also the first to leave Nassau County behind.

It was Al Arbour's Islanders who came to dominate Long Island and form its first and only dynasty.   Of the 18 million modern day denizens within the greater New York metropolis, 3 million of them basked in the glory of Al Arbour's realm.

As head coach of the New York Islanders, he guided them to 4 straight Stanley Cup championships, and led them to a fifth straight appearance against the Edmonton Oilers.  It was then the NHL torch was passed on to Wayne Gretzky and hockey's next dynasty.

Between the years 1973 and 1994, the Islanders nevertheless remained one of the more competitive teams in all of hockey.  Even people in far way Vancouver, Canada, came to know exactly where Uniondale was.

As a coach, he retired with the second most victories in NHL history.  He demanded efforts players would not have otherwise expected of themselves, then demanded more.  And because of the respect he garnered, Al Arbour got it.

Hell, he turned damn near the whole lot of them into Hall of Famers.

He won three Stanley Cups over a 14-year playing career as a defenseman.

For all his efforts and contributions to hockey, Al Arbour himself was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.

Whether a fan of theirs or not, there was no escaping the New York Islanders dominated the Empire State's sports scene between 1980 and 1984 all by themselves.  For those seasons, the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers, and even the newly transplanted Devils all played in the shadows of Long Island's 4 Stanley Cups and 5 straight conference championships.

Guys like Lou Lamoriello and Joe Torre came along to challenge Al Arbour's achievements, but ultimately fell a little short - I think.  Fact is, the Isles dominated their sport like no other local had since the New York Yankees won 5 straight championships back during Happy Days.

Long Island was indeed Al Arbour's empire, and Uniondale his Rome.

He passed away on Friday at age 82.

In the long, winding, ever-changing narrative of New York sports, Al Arbour shall forever remain an Empire State titan.

A Rangers fan, whom after Ron Greschner's playoff goal in 1979, spent his ensuing teenage years watching the Islanders repeatedly destroy the Rangers throughout those old Patrick Division showdowns.

Al Arbour's Islanders were the best.  For a generation, he defined Long Island.

Rest well.

Snoopy Bowl 2015: Gang Green Leaves Giants Feeling Blue

From the desks of:  

* * 2015 * *

N.Y. Jets        28
N.Y. Giants    18

Let's face it, the only thing worth talking about is the first half.  The rest was a matter of deciding whom gets cut when rosters get paired down to 75 on September 1st.

On the Giants side of the ball, much of today's talk centers around how the offense took important steps forward.  If one very effective scoring drive does a pre-season game make, then I guess Big Blue indeed did well.

After a listless 1st quarter, the Giants put forth a far more comforting effort in the 2nd.

Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Giants mounted a 14-play, 85-yard scoring drive that consumed 8:09 of the clock.  Including penalties, the Giants rushed 9 times during the drive, while Eli put 8 balls in the air.

...and If I may, I found the acute running effort very pleasing.

But, despite being a spectator at last night's game I must have missed all the other positive offensive steps forward being spoken of today.

In the all important 1st quarter, the Jets made 7 first downs against the Giants one.

The Giants were unable to capitalize on a rash of early Jets penalties.  They displayed an overall inability to sustain the run, leading to many impotent three-and-outs.  Rashad Jennings had 9 rushes for 28-yards, or, 3.1 yards per carry, and a touchdown.  Akeem Hunt performed better against the B-squads, rushing 5 times for 25-yards, with a long of 15-yards.  They combined on 14 rushes for 53-yards, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Eli chipped away throwing 10/11 passes for 71 rather inconsequential yards just prior to surrendering a pick-six.  He ended up 12/16 for 91 yards, or, 5.7 yard per pass.  Overall, Eli and Coach McAdoo showed little interest in throwing down field.

At times the pocket just proved too dangerous for making reads.... as if.  The offensive line allowed a pair of sacks and a whole bunch of touches.  Add that to a poor night of run blocking, and that spells trouble ahead.

On a more positive note, I watched Odell Beckham Jr. having a wonderful time on Revis Island.  He was targeted 6 times and completed 5 receptions, highlighted by another one of those remarkable one-handed catches, albeit with one foot out of bounds.

Subtract Eli's pick-six, and the defense still allowed 21 points depending on your personal accounting methods.  

To be fair, Ryan Fitzpatrick should have connected on that 1st quarter post to Eric Decker for a touchdown.  The Giants secondary presently has more problems than a math book.  And besides, all teams usually score on that play - it's just a matter of shading the safety and timing.

Good job by Fitzpatrick...

However, a high school team would have handled the Jets screen pass to Zac Stacy that went for a 24-yard touchdown.

Why did that play work so well?  

Answer: The play itself was well set-up.  Once the Giants began over-pursuing the run, calling a screen pass was a lay-up.  So obvious in fact, it bordered sickening if not for being a pre-season contest.  The Jets had spent the majority of their previous plays pounding the ball on the ground.   Overall, Zac Stacy and Chris Ivory combined on 19 rushes for 98 yards.  And just so you know, Tommy Bohanon put the Jets well over 100-yards for the game.

If you're a Jets fan, take everything I said as Giants fan, convert it, and be happy.

You can't help but be satisfied with Ryan Fitzpatrick's efficient performance.  He completed 9/14 passes for 127 yards (9.1 ypp) and threw a pair of touchdowns.  And as noted, the ground game had its way against the Giants defense, rushing behind a good offensive line led by Nick Mangold.

Why couldn't they do that for me? - something Rex Ryan might say...

If you're a Giants fan, stop scratching your head.  You're just gonna make it bleed.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Chop Shop Gorillas Gain Favor With Vegas Odds Makers

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Screw Friday's game!
Unless you're Matt Harvey, that is...

NEW YORK METS: The Knight Grows Darker...

The Mets dropped Friday's series opener against the visiting Boston Red Sox in rather ponderous fashion.

Matt Harvey limited the Sox to just 2 hits over 6 innings of work, but was pulled as part of his innings conservation program.  Immediately after his exit, the wheels on the Mets bullpen began wobbling, and ultimately fell off in the 10th, thus ending the Mets most recent 7-game winning streak.

The loss itself is of little concern to me.  The relationship between Matt Harvey and the Mets, however, is of major concern to me.  Here's my post-game reaction piece in reaction to what I believe is a growing rift between parties:

Last night for 

Part Two: Lost in the shadows of Friday Knight's defeat was the triumphant return of the Willets Point Road Warriors.


What the Mets accomplished prior to Friday's letdown should not, however, go under-spoken.

They continued legitimizing themselves by going on the road, where they've struggled mightily this season, and soundly defeated lesser teams as required by this year's playoff push.

After splitting a pair of games in Baltimore, the road warriors triumphantly marched on Colorado and Philadelphia, completing respective sweeps over the second division competition whilst setting team records in slugging and power.

Perhaps inspired by three of the more hitter-friendly parks in baseball, the Mets outscored the field by a brutish 82-48 margin over 85 total innings played, or, by an average 9-5 final score.  Their impressive 8-1 road trip elevated them to 14-7 away from home since the all-star break, and an improved 29-35 on the road overall.

Moreover, the week was highlighted by David Wright's return to active duty Monday evening in Philadelphia.  In his very first plate appearance since April 14th, Wright connected on a mammoth home run off Phillies starter Adam Morgan - his second of the season in only his ninth game played.

Friday evening's near capacity crowd treated David Wright to a thunderous standing ovation upon his first plate appearance at Citi Field since mid-April.  In fact, this was only his third home game all season.

Wright went 2 for 5 against the Red Sox with a run scored.  Since returning, he's gone 6 for 20 for an even .300 average.  At the very least, David's last 4 games have been encouraging, if not hopeful indications that his back condition perhaps might not be as prohibitive as once feared.

Part Three: Las Vegas Issues Warning - The Chop Shop Gorillas Are Coming!

The Mets are 24-15 since the all-star break.

Boston may have snapped their 7-game winning streak, however, it was their third such streak of the season, and their second such streak since the July 31st (non-waiver) trade deadline.

The Mets have thus far posted an 18-7 record in August.  Led by Yoenis Cespedes, they've become a top four team in most offensive categories over the 39 games since the break, making this by far the Mets most prodigious month of the season.

Through 39 games since July 17th, the Mets' N.L. ranks are as follows:

  • #1 - runs scored
  • #1 - slugging
  • #1 - home runs
  • #2 - OBP
  • #2 - hits
  • #2 - doubles
  • #4 - team avg.
  • #4 - walks

Las Vegas odds makers now seem to love the Mets.  They've officially made New York and St. Louis equal 3 to 1 favorites to win the National League pennant.

  • The first place Mets enter today's action with a 71-57 record, and a 6.5 game lead over Washington.   They have 34 games remaining in the regular season, with 6 left against the Nationals.

Monday, August 24, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Going Bluefishing

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

First Place Ducks gotta stomp the Fish while they're down!

Bridgeport leads 2015 Ferry Cup Series 11-10


Game One
Long Island Ducks
Bridgeport Bluefish
Ballpark at Harbor Yard

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Flock can turn Liberty Division into a two team race by filleting the Fish now.

The Ducks split 4 games against the Camden RiverSharks earlier this the month.

Otherwise, they have won every series played in August.  After taking 3 of 4 from the Patriots in Somerset, the Flock returned home over the weekend to gain vindication with a 2 of 3 series win over Camden.

The Long Island Ducks are now 16-6 in August, remaining the hottest team in the league.

With Sunday's 5-1 Long Island victory and Somerset's loss to the Revs, the Ducks enter Monday's action one full game in first place ahead of the Patriots, and 2 games ahead of the Bridgeport Bluefish.

The Fish, in turn, defeated the Skeeters in Sugar Land, setting the stage for the Liberty Division's latest showdown with first place implications - not before a long ride home from Texas however.  On the other hand, the Ducks farthest jaunt this past week was their trip to New Jersey.

The Bridgeport Bluefish will host this time.  They own a slim 11-10 advantage in the season series.

In truth, these teams have taken turns battering each other, with little middle ground.  After the Bridgeport Bluefish won 5 of the first 6 meetings of the season, the Ducks bounced back with a 3-1 series win, and followed that with a 4 game sweep.  The Fish rebounded with a sweep during encounter number five, while the teams split a pair their last time around.

There's No Time Like the Present - The Fish are only 3-7 in their last 10 games, seemingly making this a perfect time for Long Island recapturing control of this season long Ferry Cup Series, and essentially eliminating the Fish from what is presently 3-team race.

N.Y. Mets: Gorilla Math Workshop

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTNG MR. MET

Buckle up..., we still have a long bumpy road ahead.

NEW YORK METS: The season is far from over.  In fact, it's just getting started.  But....

Killjoy here...

I admit, a pennant race is no time for bringing up this crap.  But, that's what I do.

Sometimes I make this Trolley an intentionally bumpy ride.  I'm a fair person though.  Therefore, you have have three options:
  • Trust me, and hop on.
  • Learn to compartmentalize, quickly.
  • Get off now.

Ready to play Reality Money Ball?

1st Inning: Financial conditions were already spiraling out of control well before the Mets got ripped off by Bernie Madoff.  Just ask Jim Duquette...

Once former co-owner Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon agreed to part ways in 2002, they viciously haggled over the team's appraisal value.  The issue was never resolved to Nelson Doubleday's satisfaction.  The deal nonetheless called for Doubleday receiving half his buy-out value up front, with the remaining 50% due over the next three years.

Concurrently, former GM Steve Phillips not only earned his dismissal primarily due to his own personal dysfunction, but for also assembling a last place club and sticking Mr. Wilpon with the highest payroll in the National League as well.

It was under those conditions Fred Wilpon elected to put his dream of constructing Citi Field into motion.

While appealing to banks for financing, he placed strict spending restrictions upon new GM Jim Duquette, as expected.

2nd Inning: Omar Minaya teaches ownership how to dance salsa style, and they liked it!

Omar Minaya convinced ownership to reopen the checkbook and spend like drunken sailors. Speculatively speaking, this in turn intensified ownership's increased reliance on Bernie Madoff related investment accounts as a way of funding Omar's machinations.

Meanwhile, impressive attendance during Shea Stadium's final seasons served to bolster Fred Wilpon's bid for financing, as he boldly promised potential lenders Citi Field would average 3.5 million fans annually.

Worth noting, the naton's upward climbing economic bubble had yet to burst. The Mets and Yankees were combining to draw in excess of 7-million fans a season.

3rd Inning: Cash cow sent to the slaughter house, sending Mets to the poor house.

As if Mets fans need reminding what happened next...

In a New York minute, revelation of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scandal brought this organization to its knees.

Suffice it to say, without getting into all the exhaustive details and financial minutia that has transpired since December 2008, Mets ownership is still matriculating the same slippery slope of onerous debt all these years later.

After refinancing collateral SNY debt in 2013, ownership yet again refinanced $250 million of organizational debt in January 2014 (that was due later that summer) with payments to be extended over 7-years.

This past Wednesday, Josh Kosman of the N.Y. Post reaffirmed the Mets ongoing financial dilemma:

"Mets owner Fred Wilpon, and co-owner Saul Katz last month quietly refinanced roughly $700 million of debt owed by the team and SportsNet New York, the regional sports network controlled by Sterling Equities, two sources close to the situation said. 
The new five-year loans against the separate entities carry lower interest rates and tie the maturity dates together the source added."

4th Inning: But Why So Quiet? It's not like we didn't already know.

By the end of Spring Training 2014, though, I felt the collective local media grew tired of following an increasingly convoluted money trail, and thus ceased providing updated, detailed information regarding the organization's true financial standing.

Instead, lazy analysis prevailed, accusing ownership of running a small market outfit in a big league town (..only somewhat accurate all things considered), and/or, essentially labeling them as cheap.

Perhaps the conversation simply wore thin, or not.  After all, a growing number of individual performances, such as that of Jacob deGrom's, somewhat took the collective mindset off money matters and focused them more on the game itself.

The lack of follow-up and general silence nevertheless struck me as peculiar considering the 800-pound gorilla never left the room.  The usual outlets casually broached the subject, but only infrequently, and only in the mildest of terms.

Fifth Inning: Numbers can be tortured, but they tell no lies.

The one thing I am certain about, is that numbers do not lie.  You can torture statistics into saying anything you want, but numbers themselves tell no lies.

Ownership lowered payroll from $137 million in 2008 (2nd highest in MLB), all the way down to $73.3 million by the 2013 season.  I found little coincidence in so far as the deducted figure conveniently covered their annual debt on Citi Field.  Priorities, right?
This season was the first time in 7 years ownership tangibly raised payroll.  But what if I told you ownership is spending as much today, as they did on the 2006 N.L. East champs?

With the signing of Michael Cuddyer, this year's payroll began at roughly $101 million, indeed matching that of the 2006 season.  The trade deadline acquisitions of Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Yoenis Cespedes, and Tyler Clippard then raised (short-term) payroll by an additional $8.5 million.

Ownership's expenditures were somewhat off-set by the insurance money recovered on David Wright's contract, the additional savings stemming from Jenrry Mejia's PED suspension, and by a modest 2-year rise in attendance.

Sixth Inning: You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay. You can call me RayJay, or you can call me JayRay. But ya doesn't have to call me Mr. Johnson.

If you get that reference, it means you're getting old dude..... Anyway;

We've all railed against, and called Mr. Wilpon many things over the years.

If you're of the mindset they're consistently making bad decisions, and how almost everything they do makes us shake our collective heads in dismay, like:
  • Fred didn't want to re-sign Mike Piazza, yet found it appropriate having Piazza close Shea Stadium's doors along side Tom Seaver.
  • the grand opening of Citi Field (aka Ebbets Redux) failed to include a Mets Hall of Fame,
  • the original home run apple got hidden in a broom closet,
  • etc., etc.
We could go on..

I'll also accept, either because they can no longer afford to maintain a higher standard, or due to their general lack of baseball smarts, the Wilpon/Katz partnership is incapable of operating this organization to fan's satisfaction.

In fact, Fred Wilpon's involvement with Bernie Madoff has inspired varying, creative, and sometimes amusing methods of fan revolt. Again, well deserved.

Sell the damn team even..... I'm just going to agree with all of it.

That said, regardless of what we, you, or I think of Mr. Wilpon, he has always maintained (financially speaking) his goal was, and remains to break even. On that, I take him at his word.

Wilpon and Son, and Saul Katz, are not reliant on the Mets for keeping their house lights on, or warming it during winter. They made their personal fortunes through Sterling Equities - and that's not our business.

That may be exactly what our problem is as Mets fans.

However, let's be fair. Mr. Wilpon is a lot of things (to us). But, he's not cheap.

7th Inning StretchThis is not some hops and barley induced Socratic apology for Fred Wilpon and Son!

C'mon, Trolley Riderz know me better than that.

You know I'm one of Mr. Wilpon's harshest antagonists.

The Head-Butting Mr. Met portion of this blog features several ongoing Metsian drama series such as The Age of WILPONianismThe Son of PON, and of course, my favorite, The Saul B. Katz Dilemma.

Eighth Inning: I got your operating revenue right here!

In both 2008 and 2009, they maintained the 2nd highest payroll in baseball behind the New York Yankees.  The Madoff situation then starting exacting its affect upon the Mets.
  • 2010 - $132 million; 5th
  • 2011 - $120 million; 7th
  • 2012 - $93 million; 14th
Between 2013 and the present is when ownership refinanced the great majority of their massive debt as we understand it today.

They did so with their SNY related debt in 2013, the organization's own in January 2014, and as noted, on a grander scale again this summer.  That's why they achieved their payroll low of $73 million in 2013, ranking them 23rd in baseball.  Last year, they ranked 22nd, and entered this season ranked 21st.

Throughout his tenure as general manager, here's what Sandy Alderson couldn't say - Look, these guys are flat broke, therefore, the team is going to suck for a while. So, just shut up and take it.

Outside of his minor league development, however, Sandy Alderson steadfastly implored our patronage would ultimately decide much regarding the near future (under the present ownership, that is).  Quite obviously, that still applies because after all things considered therein lies Fred Wilpon's only tangible method for improving the team.

Ninth Inning: Destabilizing Math.

The Mets truly have more problems than a math book. In the Wilpon's particular situation:
  • (debt x arbitration) - (free agency + trades) = continuing trouble ahead.
Next season, Bartolo Colon's and Daniel Murphy's contracts come off the books. Curtis Ganderson's contract, however, runs through the 2017 season.  By then, salaries for the Mets arbitration eligible players will begin multiplying.

Further threatening to financially destabilize the Mets are David Wright's physical status/franchise contract, Lucas Duda's short/long term future with the Mets, the crucial matter of retaining Yoenis Cespedes, as well as the eventual yet unavoidable confrontation pitting ownership versus Matt Harey's agent, the notorious Scott Boras.

Post-Game: Gorilla, thy name is Trouble.

Put another way, that 800-pound gorilla will be hanging out for at least another 5-years. We might as well give it a name...

In the mean time, enjoy this year's pennant race.

That is all.

Killjoy out.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

N.Y. Mets win 14-9 pinball game in series opener at Coors Field

Here's my Friday Night Recap for 


Yoenis Cespedes - 5 for 6, 3 home runs and 7 RBI.
...not bad.

Join me every week for my
Friday Night Recap

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Thursday, August 20, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Flock Victory Creates 3-Way Tie For First Place

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Ducks lead series 2-1
I - SOM 5: LID 4
II - LID 8; SOM 7
III - LID 1; SOM 0

Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
Some Ballpark in New Jersey

Long Island Ducks: Flock Causes a Crowd Atop Liberty Division Standings.

Make that two mules and a Fish...

Long Island's 13-inning victory over the Patriots in Somerset Wednesday evening created a 3-way tie for the Liberty Division lead.

The Webbed Nine out-hit the Patriots by a 12-5 margin, but left 11 runners on base.  Delta Cleary Jr. and Mike Blake accounted for half of Long Island's hits with a combined 6 for 12 at the plate.  Sean Burroughs added two more hits.

But it was Cody Puckett who eventually emerged as the latest Ducks hero, with the game's winning sac-fly RBI in the top of the 13th inning, Cleary scored.

However, game kudos belong to Long Island's combined effort on the mound.

Bobby Blevins lasted 8 full innings, and battled mound opponent Matt Zielinski for 7 scoreless frames.  Blevins put forth his finest effort since returning to the Flock in late June.  He faced 27 batters, and threw 90 pitches with 63 (70%) going for strikes.  He allowed 3 scattered hits, walked none, and fanned 4 batters upon exiting to a no-decision.

Long Island's bullpen put forth commendable work as well.  Five Ducks relievers combined to pitch 5 scoreless innings, allowed just 2 hits, walked a pair, and fanned 4 batters.

After suffering his second straight loss in Monday's series opener, Buckner pitched the 12th inning earning his 8th victory of the season.  Amalio Diaz pitched the 13th, earning his second save in consecutive nights, giving him 10 for the season.  Usual closer Ryan Kussmaul pitched a scoreless 11th inning.

The Ducks are now 13-5 in August.

Winning Thursday's series finale is now a matter of seizing the moment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Flock Fit To Be Tied

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE:


Series tied 1-1
I - SOM 5; LID 4
II - LID 8; SOM 7

Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
Some Ballpark
New Jersey

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Flock overcomes poor start by John Brownell to even series.

Like two stubborn mules, neither team is budging.

Game One:
Ducks     4
Patriots  5

Game Two:
Ducks     8
Patriots  7

Long Island enters Game Three this evening the same way they entered Monday's series opener - trailing the first place Somerset Patriots by one game in the standings.

Game One in Somerset was a see-saw affair.  Each scored a pair in their respective halves of the 3rd inning.  After Somerset went ahead 4-2 in the 4th, the Ducks answered back with two runs in the 5th.

The game then ended, very literally in walk-off fashion.

In the home 9th, Ducks' reliever Billy Buckner issued a lead-off walk to Patriots' left fielder Aharon Eggleston.  With 1-out, Buckner issued an intentional pass to DH Michael Burgess.  An E-5 then loaded the bases.  After fanning second baseman Nate Spears, Billy Buckner walked right fielder Ricky Claudio to plate the winning run.

Former Ducks closer Jon Hunton pitched a scoreless top half of the 9th to earn his 2nd victory of the season.  Hunton otherwise has successfully saved 30 games this season.

Ducks starter Darin Downs pitched to the scoreboard.  Through 7 innings pitched, he allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits, walked 4 and fanned a pair prior to being relieved by Buckner.

This was only Billy Buckner's third loss of the season.  After getting tagged with his first loss back on May 29th, Billy went on to post 7 straight victories before losing his last two.

The loss dropped Long Island 2 games back of Somerset.

...but not for long.

The Ducks trailed the Patriots 7-4 through 8 innings of Game Two.

Enter Jon Hunton.., again.

With one on, and 2-outs in the top of the 9th, Hunton issued a walk to shortstop Dan Lyons.  Then with 2-outs, the Ducks strung together 4 straight hits en route to a 4 run outburst, and an 8-7 margin of victory.

Despite issuing 3 walks, Ducks reliever Nick Struck pitched a scoreless 8th to earn his 5th victory.   Amalio Diaz closed out the 9th inning earning his 9th save of the season.

Starter John Brownell easily suffered his worst start of Summer.  In only 4 innings pitched, he faced 20 batters and exited after 81 pitches.  He allowed 6 runs (5 earned), on 6 hits and 2 walks, while fanning 3 batters.

In his 4 previous starts, John posted a 2-0 record with 2 no-decisions.  He fanned 28 batters in 29.2 innings pitched, but issued 9 walks (with his W/9 indeed on the rise).  John Brownell is now tied for second in the circuit with 20 starts, and leads with 135.1 innings pitched.

Lead-off batter Delta Cleary Jr. went 3 for 5 with an RBI; third baseman Sean Burroughs was 2 for 4 with an RBI; and Cody Puckett went 3 for 5 with a pair of RBI.

Liberty Division Standings:
1) Somerset        21-17   *
2) Bridgeport       21-17   *
3) Long Island     20-18   1
4) Camden          16-22   5

Monday, August 17, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Refortified Flock Looking To Exact Revenge Against Patriots

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
TD Bank Ballpark

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Mallards at twelve o'clock high!

They're back!

No.., not after what they've been through!  In fact, last week pitcher Rich Hill became the 10th Ducks player to get separated from the Flock this season.

...or so we thought.

It's taken a little time, Michael Pfaff needed to reorganize on the fly, the Ducks now have a bit of a different look, but they're nonetheless pissed off over what transpired in the first half, and just itching to resume hostilities in Somerset.

Some even wrote the Ducks off after getting their roster raided of its top players.  But they've sufficiently rebounded since the mid-season break, they just completed a sweep of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and are now seeking to exact revenge against the Patriots, again.

The dog days of Summer have indeed given the Ducks new life.  They're 2 games back over .500, and enter tonight's action having won 6 straight, and 8 of their last 10, effectively making them the hottest team in the Atlantic League.

They enter tonight's action a mere game behind the Liberty Division leading Somerset Patriots, setting the stage for a major showdown between the first half champ against the present Wild Card leader.

The Somerset Patriots rebounded from their own poor second half start, well enough in fact, to gain a share of first place alongside the Bridgeport Bluefish.

The Patriots enter this evening's game losers of 3 straight, and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games.

N.Y. Mets Offer No Defense Against Central Powers

Here's my latest for 


Sunday, August 16, 2015

N.Y. Giants: A Big Blue Crucible Built For Two

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

When GIANTS ruled the world...!

New York Football Giants: Gone are Scapegoat One and Scapegoat Two. Will the axe fall next on Who One or Who Two?

It should read like Dr. Seuss...!  Because somewhere between the Cat in the Hat and the Isle of Dr. Moreau lies my opening statement with regards to the upcoming season.

I watched pre-season game #1; three words ~ What a Mess!
Otherwise I have nothing constructive to offer regarding the game.  
In fact, the Football Giants should count their blessings,
 the Baseball Mets are presently doing well and have me distracted.

But I Got Your Pre-Season Right Here!

General manager Jerry Reese's window for winning a third Vince Lombardi trophy with Eli Manning is closing fast.  That would also suggest the window remains open.


In truth, all Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin can do is look at each other dismayed over what Jerry Reese has done to the House of Mara.

  • Remember how proud Wellington was when his much maligned Giants won the 2000 NFC Championship Game on a field of green painted mud?  There's always that chance, which is exactly why I exhort the Giants to always DO IT FOR THE DUKE!

Unfortunately, the Giants have Big Blue issues my friends.  So, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

THIRD and LONG: If at first, second, or third you do not succeed, try, try and try again, and again, and again...

I'm being kind when declaring the New York Giants are at a crossroad.  According to Albert Einstein's definition, Big Blue is a team bordering on insanity for repeatedly facing the same fork in the road over the last 3 seasons, and veering toward the wayward path each time.

Subsequent to 2011, a series of unremarkable drafts and pedestrian free agent signings failed to effectively replace prominent retiring players.  In fact, center Shaun O'Hara still serves as a prime example of the inability to back fill positions with any type of quality, much less any continuity.

Moreover, Jerry Reese's reliance on free agency consequently reached its zenith over the last two seasons.  In my book, that's called straying from your core values.  But in terms of modern football economics, the salary cap ramifications have proven prohibitive.

That said, injuries continue sabotaging Reese's best laid plans as well.  He has spent several drafts exhausting numerous picks attempting to remedy the secondary, yet, at this very moment injuries continue ruling, if not ruining the day (see Bengals game).

Ironically, Tom Coughlin vehemently denounced injuries upon assuming head coaching duties back in 2004.  But mounting casualties at key positions already stand poised to compromise a fourth straight season, while also threatening to end Coughlin's Big Blue career on a sour note.

Make no mistake, Tom Coughlin is indeed winding down his career as head coach of the Giants.  He is 68-years old now, and his recent record will not allow a continuance unless something special happens at Giants Stadium this season.

To that I say, good luck.

As Bill Parcells used to say - You are what your record says you are.  Translated, that means the Giants are in regression.  They posted their second straight losing record last year, and failed to make the playoffs in each of Coughlin's last 3 seasons.

Moreover, the Giants have posted a 22-26 record since their last trip down Broadway's Canyon of Heroes after winning Super Bowl XLVI.

No one needs reminding, Tom Coughlin is an offensive minded coach.  But it was his friend, and former O.C. Kevin Gilbride that got scapegoated for the Giants 7-9 record and overall disappointing 2013 season.  Outwardly, we know the situation was made to appear as if Gilbride initiated his own retirement.  Our (my) better sense, however, says he paid the price in lieu of firing Coughlin.

And so the Giants moved forward last year with new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo.

There is considerably less debate with regards to scapegoat number two.  Former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell earned his dismissal with honors.  Injuries took a heavy toll on Fewell's unit as well, but his philosophy and (secondary) schemes were overly confusing and wholly ineffective. Most disheartening and unbearable to watch was their absolute failure to stop the run.  That was an insult to the great history of this organization.  Perry Fewell's dismissal came years later than I had hoped, but it finally came nonetheless.

Perry Fewell is now out, and Steve Spagnuolo is back in.

The next bell, therefore, will toll for Tom Coughlin.  The Giants are not an organization that deals in lame duck coaching.  They treated Coughlin with dignity, extending him through the 2016 season.   They also provided him two new lieutenants with which to march forward.  Whether Tom Coughlin realizes the final year of his contract, however, will be decided this season.

That circles things back to Jerry Reese.

PUNT: If I'm thinking it, John Mara already knows it..!

If there's anyone within the Giants organization keenly adept at recognizing trends, whom understands the business and cyclical nature of football, that instinctively senses when proactive measures are in order, and likewise knows when to pounce, it would be the general manager's boss.

John Mara possesses what Jerry Reese does not - the ultimate bird's eye view, family DNA, a pigskin resume that dates back to the club's days at the Polo Grounds, and most importantly, the final say in all things Giants.

Jerry Reese has yet to hire a head coach during his tenure as general manager.  Tom Coughlin was Ernie Accorsi's doing.  In fact, much of what Ernie Accorsi left behind was what Reese smartly supplemented, and ultimately parlayed into a pair of Super Bowl victories... back then.

But outside of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, Ernie Accorsi's New York Giants narrative is complete.  The Giants 22-26 record since 2012 largely falls on the shoulders of Jerry Reese.

Not only did Ernie Accorsi assemble one of the most formidable offensive lines in Giants history, they became an NFL record setting line at that.  The Giants became and remained one of the most feared rushing teams in football in the years prior to Eli's acquisition, through his rookie and early years, and right up until the winter of 2011/2012.

Under Jerry Reese, the focused then shifted towards providing a mature Eli Manning with more down field weapons.  Many receivers have come and gone, but Reese has largely remained successful in that respect.  However, he was slow to address the offensive line, which is now the team's most worrisome liability.  In turn, the Giants running game likewise became and remains among the worst in all the NFL.

Defensively, Jerry Reese continually ignored the position of linebacker by his own design.  He no longer boasts an elite pass rusher up front, while his efforts to upgrade the secondary have been constantly stymied by injury.

Put another way, when a punter (Steve Weatherford) becomes your team's MVP by default, that team is in big trouble.  If Wellington Mara were still around, he'd agree.  But I'm positive John Mara remembers well how Dave Jennings became a Big Blue MVP punting for his Pop's ponderously bad teams of the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Presently, Jerry Reese's primary focus is rebuilding the Giants into a Super Bowl contender one last time during Eli Manning's post-prime seasons.  Eli is now 34-years old; not old by any stretch.  In terms of rebuilding this football team, however, time is of the essence.

John Mara has never been one to act hastily.  Jerry Reese is still very well respected, but I'm starting to question whether John Mara will let Jerry Reese continue his mission beyond the 2015 season.

As a Giants fan, no running game, no linebackers, poor defense - that freaks me out.

I digress.

Free from the influence of Ernie Accorsi, Jerry Reese's record is what it is.  The Giants would have to post a 10-6 record this season in order to achieve .500 since winning XLVI.


a staunch Reese supporter...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Flock suddenly zeroing in on Patriots, again

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Today .500, tomorrow, the world!

Ducks lead series over Blue Crabs 2-0
I - L.I. 4; S.M. 1
II - L.I. 7; S.M. 6

Game Three
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
Long Island Ducks
Bethpage Ballpark

Long Island Ducks: General Manager Michael Pfaff's Hustle Keeping Ducks Waddling Forward.

Long Island climbing back into position to stage another meaningful showdown 
against rival Somerset Patriots.

In truth, one can still refer back to that extended late June series at Sugar Land against Skeeters as the moment Long Island's season when afoul.  They returned from that trip looking as if they'd been vacationing in the waters off the Exxon Valdez.

There was perhaps no preventing the Somerset Patriots from capturing a first half flag.  They set, and maintained a furious (league) record setting pace, but the Ducks were waddling right along with them in the Liberty Division race most of the way.

The difference became Somerset's ability to sustain, where as the Ducks could not.

Long Island has since been a shell of their former selves.  And no wonder....  The ramifications of the coinciding open season declared on the Long Island Ducks roster are still being felt today.

Minus their most prominent first half contributors, and despite enjoying a distinct advantage in the Wild Card standings, most felt negotiating the league's second half of the season would pose a monumental challenge.

Don't turn now, but look whose back!

With Friday's 10-inning, 7-5 come from behind victory over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the Ducks climbed back to par, with a 17-17 second half record.  They've won 4 in a row, they're 7-3 in their last 10 games, and are 9-4 in August.

Once again, they find themselves chasing the Somerset Patriots. whom rebounded from a rather poor second half start themselves.  They nevertheless regained the Liberty Division's high ground, while the Long Island Ducks are presently just 3 games off the pace.

And what a coincidence!

The Ducks and Patriots square off in a 4-game series at Somerset starting Monday.  It will also mark their final meeting of the regular season.

Mallards Gone Wild:

The Ducks owned a 10-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Sugar Land Skeeters at the all-star break.

Their second half mission statement was simple: protect it.

Sugar Land has since fallen further behind, and now place third behind the Lancaster Barnstormers.   Last year's league champions, Lancaster trails the Ducks by 13 games.  Meanwhile, 35 games remain in the regular season.

The Ducks still own the Atlantic League second best overall record behind the Patriots.  Long Island is 63-41 this season, while the Patriots sport an impressive 70-34 record.


Friday, August 14, 2015

The Friday Recap: Bobby Parnell blows wind into Pirates sails; Mets lose 3-2 in 10th

Here's my Friday (un-Happy) Recap for 

Forty-six games left in season.

With regards to Bobby Parnell, Mike Silve was right, 
and I was wrong.  Take a listen.

Join me every week for
The Friday Recap.

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Thursday, August 13, 2015

N.Y. Mets: The Look Whose #1 Podcast

Here's our latest podcast at 

I hosted...
They never learn.


We shook pom-poms at some things, and pooh-pooh'ed others.
The Class of 2010, dog days of Summer, parity, lack of backbones.
Hot is hot, gonzo, show prep.
Terry Collins, more Fred Wilpon stuff, the 2014 regular season.
Queens love child, MLB expansion, smoke and mirrors, and shameless plugs.
Ruben Tejada, Jon Niese, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, 
and Shea's upper deck.
The 1914 Federal League, the Continental League.
and Gil Hodges #14.

Check it..!

Look Whose Number One! With Mike Silva and John Pielli

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

N.Y. Jets: Sucker Punch was a Slap of Reality

From the desk of:  WALT MICHAELS' REVENGE

Extra Baggage:
  • Smoking pot while driving in excess of 130mph with a child and registered yet loaded gun in the vehicle;
  • The inability of well compensated NFL athletes failing to settle a dispute over $600 dollars in an adult manner; 
  • Sucker punching people; at your place of work particularly at this age in one's life....?
  • How one malcontent can derail an entire team's hopes for success;
  • Individualism, and entitlement, 
....are all acts, and the machinations of immaturity, persons incapable of grasping life beyond boundaries set for themselves since high school and in their neighborhoods.  These are persons whom failed to grow up and join the real world in a timely manner,  where civility matters.

New York JetsThat wasn't just a sucker punch, and a broken jaw sustained by Geno Smith.  That was reality smacking the Jets square in the face.

Had the FAA ever gotten their hands on Air Woody's old operational records, they'd have banned the New York Jets from the skies years ago.

As if...

Eric Mangini was too methodical and yawn inspiring for New York, although he and Mike Tannenbaum were arguably on to something.  On the other hand, Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan were an intoxicating flighty mix whom reached their ceiling, but eventually crashed and burned.

Somehow, Rex miraculously crawled out of the wreckage unscathed.  Good thing too; on the one hand he was good for business.  Woody's next move, on the other hand, was not.  He insisted Rex Ryan stay on as head coach, but mandated that the next incoming GM work with him.  But that created an untenable situation for Rex as a lame duck coach under potentially hostile over site.

Enter John Idzik.

Once settled in, he operated less like the general manager of a football team, and more like a TSA agent searching for Tannenbaum's little black box.

In the course of his 800 day reign of error, John Idzik scattered the Jets' leftover charred remains throughout the hanger at Florham Park, dispensed their usable parts to the local competition, seized the capital budget, and essentially set the company on a course of regression.

That being said, Idzik's greatest accomplishment as GM of the Jets might very well have been sabotaging Rex Ryan's final season as head coach (maybe even in defiance of Woody's stipulation).

In any event, credit Woody Johnson for acknowledging his own failed operation.  As a businessman, he smartly reorganized - in a manner any beleaguered fan base could want, dream, or ask for.

This past off-season made it evidently clear the Jets haven't benefited, much less employed this much competency since swindling Bill Parcells away from the Patriots.

Within a few shorts months on the job, Mike Maccagnan not only cleaned up the mess left behind by non-personnel types Mike Tannenbaum and the exceedingly incapable John Idzik, but smartly advanced the Jets forward without even having played a game yet.  There's no escaping Maccagnan did in a few shorts months what John Idzik could not throughout his entire time in office.

Generally speaking, I'm an organizational guy.  I believe success starts at the top and matriculates its way down to the field.

That said, Mike Maccagnan certainly gets my vote.  His selection of Todd Bowles as head coach also has my support.  On the next level down, I feel the Jets will be well served by Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, and to a lesser degree Defensive Coordinator Kacy Rogers.

I think they're a tremendous foundation for which the Jets can build a serious contender upon....


Here's the thing....

That wasn't just a sucker punch, and a broken jaw sustained by Geno Smith.  That was reality smacking the Jets square in the face as well.

If history has taught us anything, it's teams generally win regular season games with decent quarterbacks, win playoff games with very good quarterbacks, and generally win championships with great quarterbacks.

Unfortunately, Geno Smith was none of the above.  In fact, the Jets have fumbled and stumbled over their QB situation ever since their dirty tryst with Brett Favre.

Until the acquisition of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith was all the Jets had.  Planting the notion Smith was to start the 2015 season was merely applying lipstick on a pig.

When you get down to it, a lack of quarterback has made all these coaches and GMs look stupid, in a manner of speaking. Get a good quarterback, and all these supposed loser coaches and GMs suddenly look like geniuses again.

That's the nature of the beast.  And if I may digress, that's precisely why the NFL has endless rules in place to protect the quarterback.

All those rules couldn't help Geno in the locker room though.

Without a quality QB, your team will suck.


The Jets will have a good defense this season.  But losing Geno because of some thug's lack of professionalism doesn't really detract from Mike Maccagnan's inherited problem at quarterback.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brooklyn Cyclones host Staten Island in McNamara Division Showdown

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE

Cyclones lead series 2-0
I - BK 2; S.I. 1
II - BK 7; S.I. 0

Staten Island Yankees
Brooklyn Cyclones
Steeplechase Grounds

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Back in Coney Island to host first place showdown versus Staten Island Yankees.

After suffering through 5 straight losses and relinquishing their 1st place standing, the Cyclones are back in business having just completed their second straight victory over the Yankees Monday evening in Staten Island.

It took Brooklyn six pitchers and 11 innings to resolve Sunday's series opener.  Getting on base wasn't necessarily Brooklyn's issue for a change.  They produced 11 hits and drew 5 walks, but went just 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and left 9 runners on base.

Vinny Siena finally delivered a clutch 1-out RBI single in overtime giving the Cyclones a slim 2-1 margin of victory, and for a night, moved them within 1.5 games in the standings behind Staten Island.

In Game 2 on Monday, the visiting Cyclones put forth perhaps their finest performance of the season.

Gaby Almonte climbed the hill in Richmond County grounds, and faced 28 batters en route to delivering 8+ stellar innings of work.  He threw an economical 104 pitches with 63 going for strikes, allowed no runs on just 2 hits, walked a pair, and fanned 7 batters.  Almonte earned his league leading 6th victory of the season against 3 losses, and lowered his ERA to a 3.22 mark.  He presently also leads the NYPL in games started and innings pitched.

Unlike Sunday's 11-inning low scoring affair, Brooklyn's beleaguered offense erupted for 7 runs on 11 hits, and drew 5 walks.   Five Cyclones batters enjoyed multiple hit games, while David Thompson, Vinny Seina, and Alfredo Reyes all hit for extra bases.  Lead-off hitter Tucker Tharp went 2 for 3, with 2 walks and 2 runs scored.  Jeff Diehl and David Thompson drove in a pair of runs each.

Monday's victory put the Cyclones one game back over the .500 mark, and got them within just one-half game of the 1st place Yankees.  The series now shifts to Coney Island for Tuesday's Game 3 finale with 1st place in the McNamara Division once again on the line.

Meanwhile, the 3rd place Aberdeen Ironbirds stayed hot on Brooklyn's tail with a 7-0 drubbing of Hudson Valley to remain 1.5 games out of first.  The Renegades fell 3.5 games behind the pace.


Three players will represent the Brooklyn Cyclones in this year's New York Penn League All-Star Game: Gaby Almonte, Vinny Siena, and Alex Palsha.

As previously noted, Almonte leads the league in starts and innings pitched, and recently tied for most wins.  Second baseman Vinny Siena is Brooklyn's leading hitter.  Closer Alex Palsha leads the league with 11 saves, and has yet to yield a run over 18.2 innings pitched this season.


Monday, August 10, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Staring Risk/Reward in the Face

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Ladies and gentlemen, 
this September bound 7-train is now going express....

NEW YORK METS: The dog days of Summer have taken a bite out of the Nationals.  It is the Amazins whom now hold the high ground.

A third of the way through August, and the Amazins have flipped the National League East on its ear.

The Washington Nationals were overwhelming pre-season favorites to win the N.L. East, but the dog days of Summer find them still unwilling to seize the division.  Sure, the Nats have dealt with injuries to key players, but in the name of Dr, Moreau, the Mets have too.

In any event, Washington had numerous opportunities to separate themselves from the Mets this season but failed each time.  Two weeks ago, the Mets were hopelessly undermanned, offensively inept, and trailing the Nationals in the standings.

Last week, Washington got swept at Citi Field, and most recently stumbled against the Colorado Rockies this past Sunday at home, thus helping preserve the Mets 1.5 game division lead despite New York's own 4-3 defeat and series loss against Tampa.

There's a lesson to be learned by the Nationals, and all overwhelming favorites throughout the land for that matter:
  • Linger long ~ Linger wrong!

Now reinforced and better equipped, it is the Mets who own the high ground.

Due to the mid-July emergence of Curtis Granderson, the return of Travis d'Arnaud, Sandy Alderson's subsequent additions and the positive effects they've had on Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, there's a tangible sense the 1st place Mets have separated themselves from their previously woeful offensive condition, and are now poised to fend off the talent rich, yet ponderously inconsistent Washington Nationals.

Whether Sandy Alderson's deadline gamble eventually translates into a playoff berth remains to be seen, but the early returns are very promising.

Touche to Fred...

Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Yoenis Cespedes, and reliever Tyler Clippard all made solid contributions during the Mets recent 7-game winning streak, and as noted helped propel the club into 1st place.

At the end of the day, though, these moves were designed to win now.  My only reservation is the potential inability to retain Yoenis Cespedes.  With regards to 2015, however, I have no issue.  The effort is being appreciated by the vast majority of Mets fans, as the final 52 games of the regular season are shaping up to be very meaningful ones for the first time since Citi Field opened.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Sandy Alderson did just as well addressing the present without violently compromising the Mets future.  Striking a balance between present and future goals is an age old dilemma that's never ceased being a front office conundrum.  One or two wrong moves could result in someone becoming a former general manager.  For the moment though, it appears as if Alderson had about as fine a trading period a baseball executive can have.

Make no mistake, the Mets paid a stiff price upgrading their roster, which could come back and haunt them (both financially and on the mound) once Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, etc., enter the latter years of their respective arbitration eligibility periods, and beyond...., or not.

That's clearly putting the cart before the horse.  At this premature juncture, only Fred's bankers can address such scenarios.

In this particular case, the cost/risk of Alderson's non-waiver deadline deals strike me as moderately low to moderate, while the rewards of his gamble could could pay off immeasurably.  Quite simply, should the Mets still find themselves in contention upon the arrival of Autumn, the greater reward the Mets will reap, and so forth.

We fans will also be less likely to wrestle over the cost of said playoff push come the off-season.

On that note there's two things to keep in mind:

   #1) - Among a farm system's primary roles is to develop and provide their parent club with major league ready talent.  In likewise manner, they are to develop and maintain a sufficiently skilled surplus of players to be utilized in trades.

   #2) - Over recent years, the Mets system became overly populated with right-hand pitchers.  If there was an item the Mets were supremely prepared to part with, right-handed hurlers were it.

Now for the bill...

Three separate deals to acquire 4 quality major league veterans cost the Mets five minor league starting pitchers:

  • Luis Cessa: (Rk, A-, A, A+, AA, AAA)
Cessa, 23, was the eldest of the five to get traded, and only whom managed to reach Las Vegas.  A former infielder turned pitcher, he was a member of the Brooklyn Cyclones' Fabulous-Five starting rotation which dominated the 2012 New York-Penn League regular season.

If forced to rate his 2012 performance in comparison to those of his 4 rotation mates, I'd place Cessa's effort 5th.  However, that's furthest from an indictment of Cessa's 2012 season.  Instead, it's an astonishing indication of just how dominant that year's rotation really was.

For the record, Luis Cessa started 13 games for Brooklyn in 2012.  He registered 72.1 innings pitched, posted a 5-4 record with 2.49 ERA and 1.065 WHiP, with a modest 5.5 K/9 average, but a fine 1.6 W/9 mark.
In 89 total appearances over 5 minor league seasons with the Mets, Luis Cessa posted a 31-28 record with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.222 WHiP.   In 481 innings pitched, he improved to an overall 7.3 K/9 average since his Brooklyn days, and remained consistent with a 1.8 W/9 average.

Unfortunately, he became the first of Brooklyn's famed Fabulous-Five to become a casualty of doing business.

  • Michael Fulmer: (Rk, A, A+, AA)
Fulmer, 22, was perhaps the most touted of the lot, and the one remaining minor league pitcher Mets fans were grumbling to keep.  The club selected him in the 1st round (44th/Compensation-A) of the 2011 June amateur draft.  In 71 appearances over 5 minor league seasons he posted an even 23-23 record with a 3.15 ERA and 1.261 WHiP.  In 357.2 total innings pitched, he fanned 338 batters for an 8.5 K/9 average.

Simple stats hardly detail his odyssey.  In 2013, he twice underwent surgery to correct the same torn meniscus.  In 2014, he then underwent minor surgery to remove a bone spur and chips from his pitching elbow.

But by 2015 he seemingly put all that behind him and was enjoying a break out season with (AA)-Binghamton.  Through 15 starts and 86 innings pitched, he posted a 6-2 record with an Eastern League best 1.88 ERA, and 1.116 WHiP, with accompanying averages of 7.6 H/9, 2.4 W/9, and 8.7 K/9.

After two starts for the Erie SeaWolves- (DET), Michael Fulmer lowered his (AA)-Eastern League leading ERA further to a 1.64 mark.  In 12.2 innings pitched since the trade, he's allowed no runs, walked 3, and fanned 11 batters.

  • John Gant: (Rk, A-, A, A+, AA)
Gant, 23, was selected by the Mets in the 21st round of the 2011 draft.  In 69 games and 374 innings pitched over 5 seasons with the organization, he went 28-19 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.249 WHiP, with an 8.6 K/9 average.

  • Rob Whalen: (Rk, A, A+)
Whalen, 21, was the Mets 12th round selection of the 2012 amateur draft.  In 45 appearances and 239.2 innings pitched spanning 4 minor league seasons, he posted a 17-11 record with a 2.48 ERA and 1.076 WHiP, with a 7.8 K/9 average.

  • Casey Meisner: (Rk, A-, A, A+)
Meisner, 20, is the least experienced of the lot.  He was selected in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft.   In 43 professional appearances and 217 innings pitched within the Mets system, he posted a 16-10 record with a 2.99 ERA and 1.244 WHiP, with a 7.8 K/9 average.

Someone is bound to get insulted (in this case uniformed members of the Mets) when broaching sensitive subjects such as backbones and intestinal fortitude.  I'll merely say the Mets seemingly now have enough of both to actually get this thing done.

So goes the business of contending, and chasing down pennants.