Friday, May 24, 2019

A Metsian Podcast Memorial Day Weekend Special with Mets Musings

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


with Sam, Rich, and Mike


1 hour 18 minutes

First Third of the Season ~ Mets vs. N.L. East
Apocalypse Miami ~ Media Turning on Wilpons
Player Meeting ~ Front Office Meeting ~ Monday Presser
Jeff ~ Brodie Owns It ~ Sweep the Nationals
Starting Rotation ~ Callaway and Edwin Diaz
Carlos Gomez ~ Keon Broxton ~ Rajai Davis
Brandon Nimmo ~ Michael Conforto
George Steinbrenner and Charlie Finley
and so much more..!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

L.I. Ducks: Flock Off To Forge New Rivalry at High Point

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Welcome to North Carolina

The Tar Heel State

Long Islands Ducks: Flock Migrate to North Carolina For First Ever Series Against High Point Rockers.

They had better be careful, too.  The new age Rockers mean business.  Like the Sugar Land Skeeters of several years back, High Point enters the league straightaway prepared to compete.  A quick glance through the early standings say it all.  The expansion Rockers trail the Ducks by a mere half game in the Liberty Division standings.  Long Island meanwhile trails the Somerset Patriots by only fractions, but otherwise enter Tuesday's action tied for first place.  However, High Point enters the upcoming series at BB&T Point with a 15-8 record and riding a six game win streak while the Ducks enter with a 16-8 mark and winners of their last two.

The series presents an opportunity for Long Island manager Wally Backman and Frank Viola to get reacquainted.  Backman and Viola worked extensively both separately and together throughout all levels of the Mets minor league system.  Viola now serves as Rockers pitching coach.

High Point leads the circuit with a .286 team average and .456 slugging average.  Meanwhile the Ducks rate second to last with a .248 average, and sixth in team slugging with a .370 mark.  However, Long Island leads the league in runs scored with High Point a close second.  The Ducks also lead the circuit in strikeouts being the first team to break the 200 mark.

Pitching wise, the Rockers rank first with a 3.15 team ERA.  The Ducks are third with a 3.39 ERA, but easily lead in strikeouts and boast the league's second best WHiP.

N.Y. Rangers: John Davidson Back Where He Belongs



New York Rangers: A Marriage Made in Blue Shirt Heaven

I like many fans found myself in a better place when after nearly two full decades of putting up with Glen Sather's crap he finally stepped down as general manager of the Rangers.  I was similarly pleased with the appointment of Jeff Gorton as his successor.  Even better was when both he and Sather together announced the club would be initiating a rebuild.

I've always believed Jeff Gorton to be his own man.  His resume previous to his employment with the Rangers stands on its own.  He partly helped build the Bruins into the team we know today.  As a member of Boston's front office for most of the 1990's and midway through the 2000's he gained practical experience in team building as assistant general manager.  As we've seen throughout these playoffs, Boston is still in the midst of an extended and very successful run.  I care not why Boston let him go, but felt all along the Rangers were fortunate to secure him when they did.  However, for as long as Sather remained every one's superior I remained forever leery of his existence influence over and above Jeff Gorton and his assumed autonomy moving forward.

Due to recent developments, I'm happy to announce that I no longer harbor suspicions regarding Glen Sather's role with the Rangers - not with John Davidson in the house.  J.D. is not coming back to the Garden if it means having Glen Sather looking over his shoulder, or worse, meddling.  Davidson  possesses a far stronger backbone than that.  He was his own man at St. Louis, and his own man at Columbus, and will continue being his own man as the Rangers lead man in charge.

Davidson also arrives at a rather opportune time.  Gorton has assembled a small army of prospects whom still require extensive evaluation.  He's also inheriting significant salary cap maneuverability, and is extremely well positioned heading into the June entry draft.

I'm copacetic with all of it.

All these decades later, watching a young goalie named John Davidson celebrating with his Rangers team mates after helping defeat the Islanders in the 1979 conference finals still feels like yesterday to me.  As an impressionable 11-year old at the time the memory of that game and that night remain  vivid as ever.  As a broadcaster, his game calls and analysis were brilliant, while his "Oh, Baby!" became the catchphrase for the next generation of fans.  Then he left to run hockey clubs.  Throughout his time as an executive with the St. Louis Blues then with the Columbus Blue Jackets I longed for him to be the Rangers chief executive.

Now we got him.

I couldn't be happier.

Amazin' Date 5/21/1969: Tom Seaver's Gem Lifts Mets to New Heights

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #36: Wednesday, May 21, 1969 - BR
New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Stadium

The Amazin' Mets Under Gil Hodges Reach the Elusive .500 Mark.

For a third time this season the Mets are winners of three straight.  Opening a two game set against the Braves, Tom Seaver climbed the hill at Atlanta Stadium and was opposed once again by Phil Niekro.  The game was not dissimilar to their match-up on May 14 in which Tom Seaver outlasted Niekro for the victory.  Only this time the 24-year old Seaver may have turned in his finest performance to date, limiting the Braves to just three hits and two walks with two strikeouts over nine complete innings of shutout ball.

The Mets tallied all their five runs off Niekro.  Tommie Agee opened the game with a double to right.  With one out Ken Boswell also doubled to right, but Agee was held up by third base coach Eddie Yost not wanting to test the throwing arm of Hank Aaron.  Cleon Jones made his coach look smart with a single to left plating both Agee and Boswell for a 2-0 first inning lead.

Phil Niekro again pitched himself into trouble in the eighth.  After yielding a one-out hit to Cleon Jones, the knuckle-baller loaded the bases with walks issued to both Ed Kranepool and J.C. Martin.  With two outs, Bud Harrelson wiped the bases clean with a triple into the right/center field gap.

Mets     5
Braves  0

Tom Seaver improved his record to 6-2 and now sports a 1.96 ERA.  Tommie Agee, Ken Boswell, and Cleon Jones all had multiple-hit games.  Manager Hodges put his runners in motion against Niekro, as the Mets stole three bases in the game.

The Mets improved to 18-18 on the season.  You can mark it down, the Amazins' are off to their best ever start.  Let the record show May 21, 1969, is the latest date the team has been at .500 or better in any of their previous seven seasons of existence.
  • Mets Record:  18-18
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 5 GB

Monday, May 20, 2019

N.Y. Mets: The Great Robinson Cano Conundrum

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

First time shame on me; Second time shame on you

Robinson Cano: To Hustle Or Not To Hustle Is Never A Question.

Two very specific incidences involving Robinson Cano's performance at Miami (or lack thereof) have fans back home and around the known Metsian universe up in arms.

Lower your arms fellow fans, as nothing will change.

Truth is ...

Moreover, I do not foresee the Mets plugging him into the starting line-up upon their return home to Citi Field on Monday night for sake of avoiding having their premiere player being showered with boos by irate fans.  We all know how much the Wilpons hate stuff like that.  The front office will chalk it up to needing a day off (during a home stand, because that makes sense).

Although Cano's utter blindness for appearances is tough to reconcile, none of us should be taken aback.  We locally were all aware throughout his first nine seasons with the Yankees (2005~2013) of Cano's battle with UDDLHS (urgency deficit disorder and lack of hustle syndrome).  Brodie Van Wagenen knew it too.  But no one cared much for as long as he played in the Bronx, or better yet in complete anonymity at Seattle.  Now that Brodie has imported Cano to Flushing Mets fans are aghast with what they see ...

... a 36-year old second baseman who is owed $24 million a year through the 2023 season, slashing a limp .245/.293/.374, with just three home runs and 13 RBI through 163 at-bats.  Through the first quarter season we've watched Cano compromise even the team's worst laid plans.  He's been consistent with making excuses, but not so much wielding a bat.

Brodie took on $120 millions dollars of pure risk in the hopes Cano would spearhead the Mets offense.  His investment has thus far yielded nothing but losses.  In fact, Sunday's non-effort makes five losses in a row for the Mets.  In order to hedge said losses, the manager's employment is now in jeopardy.

Sort of like trickle down economics ...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Mickey Callaway's Clock Reads Two Minutes To Midnight

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

As the sham slowly unravels, Mets will execute textbook 
maneuver and wipe out the manager and coaching staff.

I believe the recent meeting between Jeff Wilpon, BVW, and Mickey Callaway, was more like two people doing all the talking and one person doing all the listening.

Callaway is not the Mets overwhelming problem.  He's not even the second, third, or fourth most serious issue afflicting the club.  But he's likely to pay the price for being a problem nonetheless.  Because when the text book calls for a fall guy, the manager is usually the first to go.

It's unfortunate how badly Brodie Van Wagenen's new look roster is failing Mickey.  But with no extra money to spend, and virtually no more prospects to either utilize or trade, Brodie Van Wagenen must impact the team in even newer and more creative ways than ever.  That said, I've long believed BVW would love nothing more than to replace Callaway.  After all, Brodie did not hire him.  All he needs is justifiable cause in order to make an in-season switch - something even uncommon to the Mets.  And it now appears as if Brodie has all the cause he needs: a sub-par record, and a listless performance against the dregs of the league.  There is little defense for losing two straight (and the series) against moribund Miami Marlins club, much less getting shut out with but one hit to show on Saturday.  In a dugout interview on Saturday, BVW's detachment from Callaway appeared to outwardly manifest, if for a moment.

I also sense firing Mickey Callaway alone will not suffice.  While this weekend's losing series against Miami may have effectively sealed his fate, I do not believe Mickey is the only person under threat of sudden unemployment.  The only way for Brodie to keep perpetuating this bold new narrative is to expand the purge.  Hitting coach Chili Davis may get the ax, as well as assistant hitting coach Tom Slater.  In fact, I wouldn't put it past BVW to fire Glenn Sherlock and Gary Disarcina, particularly where it concerns Disarcina's seemingly ineffective work with Amed Rosario.

Dave Eiland ... tough call.

Otherwise Jeff Wilpon needs fall guys and he needs them now.

And so I expect extensive, albeit cosmetic changes are forthcoming.

N.Y. Jets: Brothers Johnson Foster Subversion From Within

From the desk of:  WALT MICHAELS REVENGE


Firing Mike Maccagnan was the right move.  But it's the Brothers Johnson whom must ground themselves if the New York Jets are to fly.

Truth be told Mike Maccagnan deserved to be fired.  However, the timing and mysterious  circumstances surrounding his dismissal - not to mention the great folly of it all - are just too typical.  Hence the fan and media outrage.

I agree with those who believe Maccagnan and Todd Bowles should have been relieved as a pair, just as Rex Ryan and John Idzik were relieved together of their respective duties.  Despite enjoying a measure of success during his first season working with Bowles, Maccagnan purged a gaggle of talented players during the ensuing off-season.  But like John Idzik did (or didn't do) with Rex Ryan, Maccagnan spent nary a dollar of his salary cap reserves during Todd Bowles' last three seasons as Jets coach.  And like John Idzik, much of Maccagnan's drafting also left much to be desired ... save for Sam Darnold.  And just as John Idzik didn't hire Rex Ryan, Maccangan similarly didn't hire Todd Bowles.  To the subjective observer it seemed as if both general managers did everything possible to sabotage their respective head coaches.

To that I say look no further than the Brothers Johnson.  This is their standard operating procedure working to the letter.  It's the Jets way.  For the Brothers Johnson have long provided a direct line of communication for their head coach and a workplace environment whereby both head coach and general manager invariably wind up putting more effort into saving their own respective jobs rather than working jointly towards a common cause.  The fact Adam Gase is here and Mike Maccagnan is not only further confirms this dynamic.

Under the Johnsons the Jets have lacked long term vision, front office commitment, and operational discipline.  Each passing administration merely piles on to the growing scrapheap of failed short term ideas.  That's because Woody nor Christopher have never ordered a definitive course of action.  They never once gave a general manager and head coach specific orders and tasked them with seeing things through.  Neither Johnson brother has ever said strip it down; rebuild; or get me to the Super Bowl or else.  For better or worse, the Brothers Johnson have effectively left those decisions to the mix of overlapping regimes they themselves marry together then leave them to go about their business.  Meanwhile behind the scenes the head coach and general manager are at each other like spy vs. spy until their contracts come up for renewal.

This process has repeated itself over and over, and yet again this past Wednesday.  Through it we've learned how the Brothers Johnson front office model fosters subversion from within.

Mike Tannenbaum was the presiding general manager when Woody Johnson and the Jets fired Eric Mangini then handed over the controls to Rex Ryan.  That was the last sound decision made by either brother.  Because when Tannanbaum was fired, Idzik was forced by Johnson into retaining Rex Ryan.  When both were let go, Christopher Johnson ponderously hired his head coach first, then his general manager second.  Fast forward and Todd Bowles is let go, but Maccagnan is retained.  He in turn partakes in the decision to bring Adam Gase on board.  But in the absence of a chain of command, or any semblance of command and control, Gase promptly circumvents the general manager and successfully politics the owner for Maccagnan's removal (I don't care what Christopher Johnson says.  In fact, his version only worsens matters).

If the plan to fire Maccagnan was already in the place, then why allow him to spend the team's salary cap reserves, and preside over the recent draft.  In that regard I sing with the chorus: Same Old Jets.  And why not?  Just when the organization seemed in the midst of positioning themselves in a more positive light they've recast a chilling shade upon the entire operation.

What in the name of Weeb Ewbank is Christopher Johnson doing handing over controls of Gang Green Airways to a man with a sub par record in three seasons as head coach of Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins?  They're not even fish; they're mammals.  What the hell good is living in water if you're consistently having to come up for air!?  And why the hell is a head coach hired four months ago suddenly in a position to hire the Jets next general manager?

I'm sure somewhere even Rich Kotite is laughing at this one ...

Stop this vicious cycle of pitting incompatible head coaches and general managers against each other.

The Brothers Johnson need to hire an alpha executive and get out of the way.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Another Metsian Date Night Podcast with That Mets Chick, Bre

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

There was something about that 1976 season that ...

with SAM, RICH, and MIKE


Ninety Minutes

First Quarter of the Season ~ Series vs. Nationals
Keon Broxton ~ Carlos Gomez ~ Brandon Nimmo ~ Juan Lagares
The Jeff/BVW/Mickey Pow Pow
Jeff McNeil ~ Michael Conforto ~ The 25-Man Roster
Anthony Kay ~ Robinson Cano
Kevin Plawecki ~ Dave Kingman ~ Terry Leach
More about that 1976 season, and much much more.

Amazin' Date 5/17/1969: Mets Take Second Straight at Crosley Field

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #35: Saturday, May 17, 1969 - BR
New York Mets @ Cincinnati Reds
Crosley Field

Mets score early and often en route to sweep of Cincinnati Reds.

Tommy Agee's game opening double off Cincy starter Jim Maloney was merely a harbinger of things to come.  Wayne Garrett followed with a single to center scoring Agee.  Then suddenly Maloney required relief.  Reds manager Dave Bristol summoned Jack Fisher from the bullpen.  After issuing a base on balls to Ken Boswell, Tommy Agee connected on his seventh home run of the season.

After which, the rout was on.  The Mets would strike for another seven runs on nine hits.  J.C. Martin hit his second home of the season in the third, plating Ed Kranepool.  Cleon Jones led the Mets with four runs batted in, giving him 28 RBI in 35 games played.  Wayne Garrett went 3 for 5 with a triple, two RBI, and two runs scored.  Tommie Agee is now batting .313 for the season after going 2 for 5 with three runs scored and one RBI.  The Mets amassed 14 hits and were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.  They outscored the Reds in the two game series by a 21-12 margin.

Mets  11
Reds    3

Despite yielding 12 hits, starter Gary Gentry evened his record at 3-3 after limiting Cincinnati to three earned runs over nine complete innings pitched with six strikeouts.

The Mets are now just one game away from reaching the .500 mark.
  • Mets Record:  17-18
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 6.5 GB

Thursday, May 16, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Thor's Economy Trending Bullish

From the desk of:  HEAD BUTTING MR. MET

Noah Syndergaard Polishing His Hammer

Noah Syndergaard made his eighth start of the season Tuesday evening at Washington.  To date, it was easily his best performance this season in three starts against the Nationals.
  • 3/30 - (No Decision @ WAS) 6 inn; 4 ER; 7 hits; 0 W; 7 K.  His 103 pitches against 25 batters faced translates into an average of 4.12 pitches per batter.  Over six innings he averaged 17.1 pitches per inning.
  • 4/4 - (Loss @ N.Y.) 6 inn; 2 ER; 1 H; 2 W; 6 K.  His 98 pitches against 21 batters faced translates to 4.66 pitches per batter, while total pitches divided by six innings equals an average of 16.3 pitches per inning.
  • 5/14 - (Win @ WAS) Syndergaard yielded two earned runs on just four hits and one walk with six strikeouts through eight innings pitched (he yielded a home run to Victor Robles in the sixth).  He threw 102 total pitches with 64 (63%) going for strikes.  He faced 28 batters, averaging an improved 3.64 pitches per batter, and averaged an equally improved 12.75 pitches per inning.

As I always say: once is an event, twice is a coincidence; and three times is a trend.  On that note Noah is now 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA over his last three starts.  He entered the month of May with a 6.35 ERA and has since lowered it to 4.74 upon yielding six earned runs on 17 hits and just three walks, with 21 strikeouts over his last 21 innings pitched.  He tossed a complete game effort on May 2 over the Reds, then turned in another eight inning effort on Tuesday.  In each instance Syndergaard provided the bullpen with much needed relief.  So perhaps Thor is finally on to something significant.

With that in mind, it wasn't too long ago, April 15 in fact, that Syndergaard surrendered five earned runs on nine hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in just five innings against the Phillies.  He faced 25 batters and threw 102 pitches which translates to just over four pitches per batter, and 20.4 pitches per inning.  This was sandwiched between a pair of similar efforts on April 10 against Minnesota, and April 21 at Philadelphia.  But therein lies the extent of this season's rough stretch.

I've never questioned Noah Syndergaard repertoire.  It's his craftsmanship or lack thereof that I wonder about.  But there's no doubt he is pitching more efficiently of late.  Thor has now faced 234 batters this season over the course of 65 innings pitched which averages out to 3.6 batters faced per inning.  Presently sitting at 929 in-game pitches thrown this season he is averaging 14.29 pitches per inning which unlike last season effectually makes him a seven inning pitcher.  That's a full inning better than last season.

Which is to say the more of a craftsman he becomes, the better off he'll be.

Amazin' Date 5/16/1969: Mets Seventh Inning Outburst Overwhelms Reds

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

New York Mets @ Cincinnati Reds
Crosley Field

Tommie Agee caps comeback; Koonce holds on for victory

It's the Reds turn to host the Mets.

Starting in place of Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw climbed the hill in game one at Crosley Field on Friday.  The Mets jumped Reds starter Jack Fisher straightaway for six hits and two runs, knocking him out of the box after just 1.1 innings of work.  However, McGraw would surrender an RBI single to left fielder Alex Johnson in the third, then yield Lee May's eighth home run of the season in the fourth.

Mets  10
Reds    9

After trading runs in the fifth, Ed Kranepool led off the top of the sixth with a double, then scored the go ahead run on Tug McGraw's bouncer to second (fielder's choice).  But the Mets lead was fleeting.  Leading off the bottom half of the frame Tommy Helms and Johnny Bench stroked consecutive singles off McGraw.  Manager Hodges relieved McGraw with Ron Taylor.  Pinch hitter Jimmy Stewart promptly introduced himself with a three run home run for a 6-4 Reds lead.

Wayne Garrett led off the seventh with a hit, then advanced to second on a passed ball.  With two outs, the Mets proceeded to bat around the order, mustering six runs on another seven hits for an abrupt 10-6 turnaround.  Undaunted, Cincinnati rallied for three runs off Cal Koonce in the bottom half of the frame, which included a Johnny Bench home run.

Koonce regrouped to retire seven of his next nine batters to close out the Reds and earn his second victory of the season.

Tommie Agee's onslaught continues - he went 2 for 5 with a triple and two decisive runs batted in.  Rod Gaspar also had two RBI.  Ed Kranepool went 3 for 5 with one RBI just as Bud Harrelson was 3 for 5 also with an RBI.

  • Mets Record: 16-18 (.470)
  • N.L. East: 3rd; 7.5 GB

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

L.I. Ducks: Former Mets Join to Upend Crabs in Ninth

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Ducks @ Crabs tied 1-1
I - SMD 3; LID 2
II - LID 2; SMD 1

Long Island Ducks: Flock Return Favor With Ninth Inning Effort; Knot Four Game Series at One.

There's no need to fear ... Darin Downs is still here!

With MLB declaring open season on Ducks pitching, Long Island suddenly finds themselves needing extra added quality from their remaining starters.  Over their last respective starts, Bennett Parry and Darrin Downs have provided just that.

The indispensable third year Ducks hurler limited the Blue Crabs to an earned run on just four hits and a walk with ten strikeouts through seven innings pitched in game two at Southern Maryland.  He faced 26 batters, while throwing 93 pitches with 68 (73%) going for strikes.   He unfortunately exited the game with the score tied at one.

Meanwhile, Maryland starter Craig Stem was in the midst of polishing his own gem, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and no walks with seven strikeouts during a complete game, albeit losing effort.

Crabs left fielder Tony Thomas singled home the game's first run in the second.  Daniel Field's third home run of the season tied the game at one in the seventh.  After which, a trio of former Mets joined forces to impact the game.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis led-off the top of the ninth with a double, then advanced to third on L.J. Mazzilli's sacrifice bunt.  Next in, Matt den Dekker's base hit through the left side plated Nieuwenhuis from third with the go ahead run.

Joe Iorio earned the win in relief of Downs, while George Kontos, making just his second appearance for Long Island, pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first save as a member of the Ducks.

Entering Tuesday's action Kirk Nieuwenhuis was leading the circuit with 15 RBI, while his .983 OPS rated fourth, and .345 average through 15 games ranks seventh.

The Ducks improve to 12-5 (.706) and remain one-half game behind the first place Somerset Patriots whom likewise turned away the High Point Rockers in Tuesday night action.  Long Island now leads the circuit with twelve victories.  They've played three more games than Somerset.

Amazin' Date 5/15/1969: Hank Aaron's Two Home Runs Too Much For Mets

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #33: Thursday, May 15, 1969 - BR
Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Don Cardwell's struggles continue as the N.L. West leading Atlanta Braves take Thursday's rubber game at Shea Stadium. 

The Mets starter got roughed up for four runs (three earned) on six hits including a home run from Hank Aaron in just three innings pitched.  In fact, Hammerin' Hank hit two home runs in the game, his second coming in the seventh off Cal Koonce pitching in relief Jack DeLauro whom was called up from Tidewater.

Atlanta maintained a 6-2 lead through seven.  The Mets then rallied in the eighth with three runs on four hits and a wild pitch by reliever Cecil Upshaw.  With two on in the ninth, Jerry Grote successfully sacrifice-bunted both runners into scoring position.  Upshaw then issued Wayne Garrett an intentional walk to load the bases.  The strategy paid off as Ken Boswell bounced into a force play at home.  Cleon Jones then popped up to the infield ending the game.

Atlanta starter Pat Jarvis allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts through seven innings pitched for the victory.  Cecil Upshaw earned his ninth save of the season.  Don Cardwell had his record fall to 1-6 on the season.

  • Mets Record:  15-18
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 7.5 GB

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Amazin' Date 5/14/1969: Cleon's Grand Slam Lifts Mets Over Braves

From the desk of:  HEAD BUTTING MR. MET

Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Agee and Jones Win One For Seaver; Mets Knot Series

Wednesday evening's game two starters Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro dueled through five scoreless innings at Shea before Atlanta broke the deadlock with four hits and a pair of runs in the sixth.  The Braves extended their lead off Seaver in the seventh when Jesus Alou connected on his third home run of the season.  The Mets finally got on the board in the bottom half of the frame when Ken Boswell stroked a lead-off triple to the left/center gap then scored on a Cleon Jones bounce out short to first.

Niekro and the Braves would unravel in the eighth.  With the bases loaded, Tommie Agee doubled in a pair to knock Atlanta's knuckle-baller from the box.  Pitching in relief of Niekro, George Stone intentionally walked Ed Charles then hit Ken Boswell with a pitch to force another run.  With the bases reloaded, Cleon Jones connected on a bases clearing grand slam.  J.C. Martin would also triple and score giving the Mets an 9-3 lead and final margin of victory over National League West leading Atlanta.

The Mets salvage a victory for Tom Seaver, his fifth of the season against two losses.  He yielded three earned runs on ten hits and a walk with three strikeouts through eight innings.  Ron Taylor pitched a scoreless ninth.

Cleon Jones' five RBI in the game give him 23 for the season.  Tommie Agee was 1 for 3 with a double and two RBI, and is now 12 for 25 (.480) for the month of May with a double, five home runs, and ten RBI.

Thursday's rubber game will feature Don Cardwell pitching against the Braves Pat Jarvis.

  • Mets Record:  15-17
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 7 GB

L.I. Ducks: Ninth Inning Melt Down at Maryland Costs Flock Shot at First

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Bennett Parry's Gem Goes For Not

Long Island Ducks (0-1)
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (1-0)

Long Island Ducks: Bullpen Blows Game and Opportunity To Overtake Somerset Patriots.

There are two things Ducks fans have become accustomed with: a punch it out, drag em out, down to the wire division race against the Somerset Patriots, and MLB organizations regularly picking off Long Island Ducks pitchers at inconvenient times.  I know that's the way it's designed to work; Michael Pfaff does a good job securing personnel; and a world of luck to those whom move on; but it can be somewhat frustrating nonetheless.

Jon Niese wound up never throwing a pitch for the Ducks, when just days before opening day his contract was purchased by the Seattle Mariners.  After which Tim Melville had his contract purchased by the Colorado Rockies.  And now Tim Aldeman most recently had his contract purchased by the Detroit Tigers.

Although the standings reflect a tie in the Liberty Division standings, Somerset is only fractionally ahead of the Ducks:
  • 1)  Patriots   11-3 (.785)  *
  • 2)  Ducks      12-4 (.750)  *

After taking two of three at Sugar Land over the weekend, the Flock arrived at Southern Maryland on Monday to open a four game series against the Blue Crabs.  Ducks starter Bennett Parry pitched a gem, allowing no earned runs on just four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts through eight innings of work.

With a victory the Ducks could have assumed a half-game lead over Somerset, but wound up quite literally blowing their opportunity.  Charged with protecting a 2-1 lead in the ninth, the bullpen yielded two runs on three hits and a walk en route to Long Island's series opening loss to the Blue Crabs.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was 2 for 4, and is now hitting .345 for the season.  Newcomer L.J. Mazzilli is also acclimating well to life as a Duck.  He went 3 for 4 with an RBI, and is batting .350 since joining the club.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Amazin' Date 5/13/1969: Gary Gentry Hammered By Braves

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #31: Tuesday, May 13, 1969 - BR
Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Hank Aaron Introduces Himself to Gary Gentry; Mets Rally Falls Short

Atlanta came out slugging in Tuesday's series opener against Gary Gentry and the New York Mets.  With two outs in the first, Hammerin Hank Aaron connected off the Mets starter straight away for his fifth home run of the season.

Leading off the top of the fourth, Orlando Cepeda deposited a Gentry offering over the wall for his eighth home run of the season.  With one out, Gentry walked third baseman Clete Boyer, then surrendered his third home run of the game courtesy catcher Bob Tillmam.

Gary Gentry helped his own cause with a lead-off single off Braves starter Ron Reed in the sixth.  Into the box stepped Tommie Agee, who then connected on is fourth home run in his last three games, cutting the Mets deficit by half.

The Mets rallied again in the ninth.  Ken Boswell drew a lead-off walk against Cecil Upshaw pitching in relief of Reed.  With two outs, J.C. Martin singled.  Art Shamsky, pinch hitting for Amos Otis, followed with an RBI single up the middle.  With the tying run at third Bud Harrelson grounded out third to first ending the game.

Gary Gentry takes the loss, lowering his record to 2-3 on the season.  The Mets rookie allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts through eight innings work.  Atlanta's Ron Reed improved to 4-1 after limiting the Mets to a pair of earned runs on just four hits with four strikeouts.

Hank Aaron's home run was the 515th of his career.

  • Mets Record:  14-17
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 7 GB

Sunday, May 12, 2019

N.Y. Yankees: Bombers at the Gates

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Just when you thought the coast was clear, 
here come the Red Sox.

New York Yankees: Bombers Season Starts Now

April of last year I was road tripping in Boston the weekend following the Yankees/Red Sox series - the one featuring the rather un-cordial exchange of pleasantries between Alex Cora and third base coach Phil Nevin.  While there I listened to a pair of WEEI-radio guys say among other things that Aaron Boone had no pulse.  Their comment stuck with me all summer, then into Fall.  After what transpired in the post-season I continued pondering this throughout the off-season still not sure of its merits. 

Now when I compare Aaron Boone's demeanor so far this season versus all of last season, I would agree the Bean Town talkies may have been on point.  But only insofar as last season.  One year later Boone seems far more comfortable in his pinstriped skin.  He's blown his top a few times and received some well deserved ejections.  Call it window dressing, but at least it demonstrates a confidence of character.  At the same time it instills either by design or otherwise a sense urgency into a young group.

In any event, Adversity and Defeatism since day one have been sitting in the Yanks dugout spitting out seeds with hardly a glance from the skipper.  As we know this year's 25-man roster has been decimated by injury after ruinous injury.  To borrow a phrase: it was getting late really early in the season.  Or so everyone imagined when the Yankees opened the season minus Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks; or after March 31 when both Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar went down; or after April 3 when Troy Tulowitzki followed suit; or after April 13 when Greg Bird joined them; or after April 20 when even Aaron Judge got overruled; etc., etc. 

Yet, thanks to their baby Bomber reinforcements, the Yanks own a 14-6 (.700) record since Judge went down 20 games ago.  Moreover, with Sunday's victory over the Rays they closed out the week eight games above .500 and are now within one-half game of first place.  So, yeah, Aaron Boone has a pulse.  In fact, he's very much alive and doing quite well - calm, cool, and delightfully less collected than ever.

But for how long?

The baby Bombers are doing things well, like limiting their strikeouts to sixth least in the American League, rating fourth in average, and sixth in OPS.  But what's going to happen when Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are reunited in the middle of the lineup with Gary Sanchez?  We're speaking of anywhere from 550 to 600 strikeouts a season between the three.  If you do not believe this poses a potential negative affect to the present dynamic, I'll agree to disagree.

On May 12, 2018, the Yankees owned a 27-12 record.  One year later, they enter Monday's action with a 24-16 record.  It's been a remarkable story to date replete with kids, comebacks, and competitiveness.  There's a case to be made this season is now New York's to lose.  That said, Aaron Boone knows somewhere out there lurks an undetected iceberg ready to slice a huge gash into all this smooth sailing.

Just don't look now because here come the Red Sox whom seem to be over their World Series hangover.  After sleepwalking through a 7-13 start, the Sox have since gone 14-6, improving to 22-19 and creeping back into the mix just three games back of the division lead.  Not until May 8 did they reach the .500 mark for the first time this season.

And by no means are the Rays to be overlooked.  They won 90 games last season.  Make no mistake.  They're a good team and presently in first place for a reason.  They'll continue proving a troublesome Yankee foe just as they've done throughout their existence.  After their upcoming three game against the Orioles, the Yankees host the Rays next weekend.

The Red Sox are due to arrive in town at the end of the month.

Steady as she goes.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Amazin' Date 10/11/1969: Sunday Split Give Mets Series Victory Over Houston

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Houston Astros @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium: Double-Header

Houston's Larry Dierker Hushes Shea Stadium Crowd

GAME ONE: Don Cardwell climbed the hill for his sixth start of the season, and was opposed by Houston's Larry Dierker.  Both pitchers appeared sharp during their first respective runs through the lineup.

Houston then achieved liftoff in the fourth and never looked back.  Leading off, Joe Morgan reached safely on Wayne Garrett's error, then promptly stole second base and scored on Norm Miller's single up the middle.  Still with no outs, big Jim Wynn connected off Cardwell for his seventh home run of the season.  With one out, shortstop Denis Menke doubled into the left/center gap, then scored on a fielder's choice for a 4-0 Astros lead.

Astros  4
Mets     1

Tommie Agee ruined Larry Dierker's shutout bid when he connected on his fourth home run of the season in the sixth.  But the Mets would score no more.  They failed to capitalize with the bases loaded in the eighth and went down in order in the ninth.  

Dierker improved his record to 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA.  He yielded just the one run on five hits and five walks with a pair of strikeouts.  Don Cardwell, now 1-5 on the season, allowed four runs but only two earned on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts.  He was also struck by a Larry Dierker pitch in the third.

Houston Astros @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium: Double-Header

Tommie Agee Hits Pair; Mets Win Rubber Game

GAME TWO: Mets bats erupted for twelve hits, with seven going for extra bases in Sunday's game two rubber match at Shea.

After Houston struck for an unearned run in the top of the first, the Mets answered right back against Astros starter Don Wilson and reliever Jim Rey.  Hits from Ken Boswell, J.C. Martin, Amos Otis, and a double from starter Tug McGraw, aided by an array of errors and a wild pitch paved the way to a 6-1 first inning lead.

Jesus Alou's RBI double in the second and Denis Menke's home run in the third cut Houston's deficit to three.  That is ... until Tommie Agee's two run home run in the fourth.  But with long ball in the air, Joe Morgan connected off Mcgraw with a solo shot leading off the 5th making it 8-5 in the Mets favor.  J.C Martin drove in a run in the bottom of the frame.  Then in the sixth, Tommie Agee's second home run of the game and an RBI from Ed Kranepool gave the Mets an 11-5 lead.  The Astros would go on to score a pair off Cal Koonce pitching in relief of Nolan Ryan and Tug McGraw.

Astros  7
Mets   11

The Mets nevertheless gain a twin-bill split and series victory over Houston.

Tommie Agee's two home runs give him six for the season.  Two of his three RBI came with two outs.  Over his last four games, Tommie is 5 for 15 (.333) with three home runs.  Cleon Jones was 2 for 2 with four walks to maintain a .411 average.

  • Mets Record:  14-16
  • N.L. East:  3rd: 5.5 GB

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Past Present and Future Metsian Podcast w/ John Strubel of Mets Rewind

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Rewind to the Future Episode

with SAM, RICH, and MIKE

With Special Guest: Freelance Writer; 
former MiLB public address announcer 
at Glenn Falls, N.Y., and Charleston S.C.;
"the only PA announcer in Charleston baseball history
to ever be ejected from a minor league ballpark."


Fred Wilpon ~ Brodie Van Wagenen ~ Jeff Wilpon
The First Quarter Season ~ Report Card ~ 25-Man Roster
Jeff McNeil ~ Amed Rosario ~ Todd Frazier ~ JD Davis
Brandon Nimmo ~ Carlos Gomez ~ Keon Broxton ~ Juan Lagares
The Bench ~ N.L. Central ~ Milwaukee Hangover
Mickey Callaway ~ Wally Backman ~ Bobby Valentine
Pete Alonso ~ Leadership ~ Robinson Cano
 Kimbrell ~ Anthony Kay ~ Justin Wilson ~ Keuchel
Willie Montanez; Frank Thomas; Del Unser; 
other players who've worn #25 in Mets history 
and so much more!

Amazin' Date 5/10/1969: Seaver Wins Battle Against Astros and Himself at Shea

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #28: Saturday, May 10, 1969 - BR
Houston Astros @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Well Rested Mets Cruise to Series Opening Victory Over Astros

After two days of rest, the Mets got their first look this season at the Houston Astros.

Making his eighth start of the season, Tom Seaver faced off against Houston's crafty southpaw Denny Lemaster.

Leading off the bottom of the fourth Amos Otis and Cleon Jones struck for consecutive singles off Lemaster.  Ed Charles followed with a double to center field scoring Otis.  Ron Swoboda was issued  an intentional walk to load the bases.  Denny Lemaster then caught Jerry Grote looking at strike three.  With one out, Al Weis lofted a sac-fly to center scoring Jones for a 2-0 Mets lead.  Cleon Jones later connected off Lemaster in the sixth for his fifth home run of the season.

Tom Seaver took care of the rest, but first needed to rectify control issues in the early going.  Seaver walked three batters in the first inning, another in the second, and issued six walks overall, not to mention unleashing two wild pitches.  Otherwise, he limited the Astros to one earned run on just four hits with four strikeouts en route to his third consecutive complete game victory.  He improves to 4-2 on the season with a fast plummeting 2.08 ERA.

With two hits in four at-bats, Cleon Jones (.402) lifted his average back above the .400 mark.  Saturday's game also marked Cleon's 13th multi-hit game of the season.

  • Mets Record:  13-15
  • N.L. East:  3rd; 5 GB

Thursday, May 09, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Will Robinson Cano Come to Brodie's Rescue

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Money Changes Everything

If Robinson Cano Can Not, The N.L. East Mets Will Not ...

Congratulations Robinson Cano for achieving 2,500 hits.  Of the nearly 20,000 players in major league history Cano becomes the 101st to accomplish the feat.  This puts him in the top five percent all-time.  He also becomes only the sixth player hailing from the Dominican Republic to join this exclusive club.

Cano no doubt has enjoyed a rather remarkable career proving both durable and productive throughout his 13 1/2 seasons previous to his arrival in Flushing.  Lest we forget in 2018 he was suspended under MLB's performance substance policy and thus missed half the regular season.  Cano began serving his suspension after Seattle's May 13 game at Detroit.  He was batting .287 at the time through 39 games, with four home runs and 23 RBI.  He returned to full duty on Aug. 14 at Oakland, finishing the season slashing .303/.374/.471 with ten home runs and 50 RBI in 80 total games played.  If you're inclined to be kind, then his numbers translate into a 20 home run and hundred RBI season (in what could have been the fifth hundred RBI season of his career, and his second with the Mariners).  In 2017 as a 34-year old, Robinson drove in 97 runs in 592 at-bats.

The now 36-year old has participated in 34 games to date as a member of the Mets.  If you're still inclined to being kind, keep in mind he is a career American League player whom (despite inter-league play) to some degree is learning a new league, new parks, with many an unfamiliar pitching staff, and having to adjust to dreaded Citi Field.  And to be fair, after getting hit with a pitch in two separate incidences his hands and digits must be killing him.  However, that didn't seem to stop him from stroking four hits against the Padres on Tuesday.  He followed up going 0 for 4 in Wednesday afternoon's loss at San Diego.  That said, Cano is presently slashing .254/.307/.400, with three home runs and 11 RBI.  For his career, he averages just 86 strikeouts in 632 at-bats per season.  But with 31 strikeouts in 130 at-bats to date, he is on pace for a 150 strikeout season.

More advanced statistics not needed because this has noting to do with what he's done and everything about what the Mets need from him this moment forward.

The acquisition of Robinson Cano was easily the off-season's top headline, a bold maneuver on BVW's part but a very risky one as well.  So far Cano's performance hasn't quite yielded what fans nor the Mets general manager had in mind when he acquired him from the equally desperate and dollar burdened Seattle Mariners.

In truth, Mets fans could care less what Robinson Cano previously achieved as a Yankee or a Mariner.  All they're interested in is his next 500 potential hits.  What impact will they have?  Because if they fail to cross connect this club with actual playoff success, I question how many will genuinely care seeing him potentially attain 3,000 career hits in a Mets uniform (perchance to dream ... see Gary Sheffield hitting home run #500 as a Met).

Ponder as you will how much Edwin Diaz weighed in the trade bringing both him and Cano to Flushing.  Diaz may very well have been the hook.  But at the end of the day it is Robinson Cano with the requisite resume needed to park fannies in the seats.  And to a large degree it's his responsibility to ensure Diaz is brought into winning situations, not Michael Conforto, not Pete Alonso, et al.  They require a separate narrative, just as Cano requires his own narrative separate of them.  Being a good mentor and clubhouse presence will not suffice.  Cano must be to the Mets what David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes could not: the unquestioned leader in the batter's box.  While it's nice Pete Alonso is coming up huge, the onus is nevertheless on Cano to elevate and get the Mets through the dog days of summer by matter of responsibility.  Injuries clearly got the better of Wright and Cespedes.  Therefore Robinson Cano must not only remain productive, but available.

Anxiety levels in Flushing are sky high as it is.  If the first fifth of Cano's 2019 regular season is any indication, well, then ...

You can't be disappointed with what you do not expect.  This is not one of those situations.  Brodie Van Wagenen knew Cano would be coming with huge and very expensive expectations.  Anything short of Cano's career averages will fail to quell those expectations.  Otherwise rampant dismay and disappointment will unavoidably run high.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

L.I. Ducks: Kirk Nieuwenhuis Comes Through in the Ninth

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

MLB Plucking Ducks From the Pond

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (0-1)
Long Island Ducks (1-0)
Bethpage Ballpark

Infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. is the latest member of the Ducks to have his contract purchased, by the Chicago White Sox.  The 32-year old appeared in ten games for Long Island, slashing .306/.409/.333 through 36 at-bats.

In his place the Ducks have signed 28-year old free agent L.J. Mazzilli.  The Mets 2013 fourth round draft pick spent the majority of the 2018 season playing for the Yankees triple-A affiliate at Scranton/Wilkes Barre, where he batted .243 with 15 doubles, seven home runs, and 25 RBI in 230 at-bats.  He's a career .265 hitter through six minor league seasons.

After going 0 for 3 in his Long Island debut, Mazzilli went 1 for 2 with two walks, and two RBI, in game one of the Ducks series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on Tuesday.  The Ducks rallied from a 2-5 deficit after seven innings with a trio of runs in the eighth, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis' game winning hit in the ninth for a 6-5 final margin of victory.  Kirk now has ten RBI in the Ducks first 11 games.  Steve Lombardozzi hit his first home run of the season.

Pitcher Tim Melville's contract was recently purchased by Colorado Rockies, as well.  And it's no wonder.  In two starts he posted a 2-0 record with a 0.75 ERA, yielding seven hits in twelve innings pitched with 13 strikeouts.  In nine starts last season with the Ducks, he posted a 3.45 ERA on 47 innings pitched.  This is of course great news for Tim, but it's nonetheless a big blow to the starting rotation.

It's also no wonder the Ducks and Somerset Patriots are back at it.  Somerset is in the midst of a six game win streak, and hold a half game advantage over the second place Ducks in the Liberty Division standings.  The expansion High Point Rockers are off to a 6-6 start, and trail the Patriots by three games.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Amazin' Date 5/7/1969: Reds Gain Split; Whitewash Mets at Shea

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #27: Wednesday, May 7, 1969 - BR
Cincinnati Reds @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Mets Bats Go Silent; Gentry Left Out to Dry

For a second time this season, the Mets fail to extend a three game win streak.  Fresh off a double-header sweep of the Cubs at Chicago, and yesterday's series opening thumping of the Reds, the Mets on this day are whitewashed by the Cincinnati tandem of Jim Merritt and reliever Clay Carroll.

Gary Gentry pitched well, very well in fact, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks while striking out five through eight innings.  However, the Mets would muster just three hits all game off Merritt.

With two outs in the fourth, first baseman Tony Perez connected off Gentry on his sixth home run and 19th RBI of the season.  The Reds tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth off Cal Koonce pitching in relief of Gentry.  Clay Carroll retired the Mets in order in the bottom half of the frame to close out the game.

Gary Gentry falls to 2-2 on the season.  Tommie Agee returned to the starting lineup, going 1 for 3 with a strikeout.  The Mets were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
  • Mets Record:  12-15
  • N.L. East:  4th; 6 GB

Monday, May 06, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Brodie's Hopes On The Ropes

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Brodie's Narrative Already Falling on Deaf Ears

Brodie Van Wagenen's Revamped Mets Outpacing Last Year's March Toward Irrelevancy.

This whole charade of repackaging Jeff's defective product in a pretty box and branding it new and improved is unraveling before our eyes.

Right around this time last year the Mets were in the midst of getting swept by the Atalanta Braves and Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.  Those Mets would play 54 games before falling under .500 in June.

Exactly one year later Brodie Van Wagenen's new and improved Mets are swept in a series for the first time this season courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers.  In that respect, the Mets appear right on schedule.  However, Saturday's 18-inning loss at Milwaukee means this year's version lasted a mere 32 games before dipping below the .500 mark.   That's 22 games faster than last year.

Happy Cinco de Mayo to you, too!

I've consistently accused the Wilpons - be it in this blog or podcast - of failing to venture outside their comfort level.  BVW's appointment strikes me no differently as he and Jeff Wilpon share a friendship that precedes his becoming general manager.  I never once thought Van Wagenen was coming here to spend ownership's money forthwith.  Wilpon money is as Wilpon money does - which for three years running remains at a relative standstill.  Nor was he coming into office intending to blow up the operation.  He wouldn't have been hired were that the case.  Look no further than Chiam Bloom.  Brodie's transactions to date bear this out.  Instead he turned to negotiating away the organization's higher profile albeit low level prospects in order to facilitate upheaval and change.  He also set out to stock the 40-man roster with major league ready depth.  But at no time did he noticeably impact payroll.  That's why for the more skeptical pundits - professional or imagined - Brodie is nothing more than a hired charlatan tasked with detracting attention from ownership's continued meddling and self imposed limitations.

On our most recent Metsian Podcast with Sam, Rich, and myself, I asked Mets beat writer Tim Healey of Newsday when does Brodie Van Wagenen's bold new narrative crash head on with ownership's impaired financial operating procedure?

His answer: "It already has."

My point precisely.

Amazin' Date 5/6/1969: Cardwell Gem Lifts Mets to Third in a Row

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Game #27: Tuesday, May 6, 1969 - BR
Cincinnati Reds @ New York Mets
Shea Stadium

Don Cardwell Offers Reds No Quarter at Shea Stadium

Such is the game of baseball and its law of averages.  After several hard luck performances and an 0-4 record to start the season, it was only a matter of time before the Mets 33-year old veteran would earn his just reward for a job well done.  Making his fifth start of the season, Don Cardwell pitches a glittering gem to finally gain his first victory of the season.

After sweeping a double-header from the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday, the Mets returned home where after a day off they rolled the visiting Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium on Tuesday.

Leading off the bottom of the fourth Ken Boswell connected off Reds starter Jim Maloney for his second home run of the season.  However, the Mets lead did not last long.  With one out in the top of the fifth, Lee May tied the game with his fourth home run of the season.

After which Cardwell bottled up the Reds for good, allowing just the one earned run on six hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts en route to complete game triumph.  After striking out Tony Perez to open the ninth, Cardwell yielded a single to Lee May.  Second baseman Tommy Helms then grounded into a game ending double play - Boswell to Harrelson to Kranepool.  Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Perez were a combined 0 for 11 with four strikeouts against Cardwell.

The Mets on the other hand scored late, and often.  Even Cardwell himself joined the slug fest hitting a three run home run off Reds reliever Wayne Granger in the eighth.  The Mets struck for eight runs overall on eleven hits with additional home runs off the bats of Ken Boswell, Wayne Garrett, and Cleon Jones.

Although officially listed as active, Tommie Agee remains out of the starting lineup.  He again served as a late inning replacement, and scored on Cardwell's home run.  Cleon Jones kept his average above .400 going 2 for 3, including his fourth home run of the season.

  • Mets Record:  12-14 (.461)
  • N.L. East:  4th; 6 GB

Sunday, May 05, 2019

N.Y. Islanders: Wiped Out By Hurricane Brind'Amour


It's Important to Remember What This Organization is Recovering From

New York Islanders: I saw Caroline blow through the Isles like a Hurricane.  My hockey friend says they looked just like the Rangers.

There's an obvious reason why I starting referring to this season as the Barry Trotz Pajama Party.

Isles fans know what I'm talking about ...

Last six seasons under Garth Snow; with Jack Capuano/Doug Weight behind the bench; and captain John Tavares still in uniform:
  • 12-13)  *Lockout season; 55-points; lost first round playoffs.
  • 13-14)  79-points; did not qualify.
  • 14-15)  101-points; lost first round playoffs.
  • 15-16)  100-points; win first round; lost second round.
  • 16-17)  94-points; did not qualify.
  • 17-18)  80-points; did not qualify.

Throughout this time, the Islanders ongoing maladies were defensive pairings and goal tending.

Enter Lou Lamoriello ...

He quietly acquires a goalie who is known to play with a chip on his shoulder named Robin Lehner.  With no other transactions to speak of, Lou leaves the Islanders roster largely in tact - minus John Tavares, that is.  However, despite their season long and some times triumphant battles for first place of the Metropolitan Division, Lou is openly criticized by fans and media alike leading up to and through this season's trade deadline for remaining idle.

To that I say Lou comes with a plan.  He always has a plan.  That's what makes him successful.  If he thought it best to stand pat at the deadline then I have no doubt it was the right move.  The Islanders presently have a fine core of young players led by Mathew Barzal with more prospects on the way and more still in development.

Lou is also the same person who hired coach Barry Trotz, whom arguably has had a far greater impact on the Islanders fortunes than any potential acquisition Lou could have negotiated for at the deadline.  After all, Trotz transformed one of the shabbier defensive units of past years into this season's stingiest unit in all the NHL.

That held true through their fist six playoff games.  Overall the season was an unexpectedly fun ride albeit with a rather abrupt ending.  But in Lou you must trust.  As a Rangers fan, I envy the Lamoriello/Trotz tandem presently in place.  If anyone smooths this out, it will be Lou.  And with any luck, Trotz sticks this out as well.

But why did the Islanders lose?

Being somewhat of a nomad certainly doesn't help.  Having to change home ice locations from one series to the next could have perhaps played a disruptive role in their routine.  The Islanders also played without an injured Johnny Boychuk, and say what you will, Cal Clutterbuck was hurting throughout as well.

I have a close friend with whom I debate hockey all the time.  He participated in summer camps in Canada, played junior level, college, and beyond, before turning in his stick for real life.  He asked me why I think the Islanders got wiped out in four.  I said that I agreed with Barry Trotz insofar the Islanders were playing well, and that they were indeed creating recurring quality scoring opportunities.  Then added the Islanders strength is five on five but were getting beat at their own game.  I said the Canes appeared faster, were winning 50/50 battles against the boards, were protecting their goalie's crease with great physicality, and that their swarming defense did a great job taking away shooting angles.

He said no to all the above while saving a particularly emphatic "hell no" because in his opinion Carolina's 35-year old back-up goalie Curtis McElhinney "sucks."

I asked what then were his reasons.  He said because they played just like the Rangers.  They get into scoring position then opt for one more pass and screw the whole thing up - not enough shots on goal for sake of putting shots on goal.  Said another way, they were trying to be too cute.

Back to the lab ...