Matt Harvey challenged Jon Rauch to a fight last season, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
Harvey was taking a nap when Rauch doused him with ice water, shocking him awake and also ruining Harvey’s phone.
“He bounded up and challenged Rauch to a fight. Right there. Right then. He gave up 7 inches, about 75 pounds and a gallon or so of bad ink. It didn’t matter that he was a rookie. Harvey would not be a joke. He would not be a punch line in Rauch’s re-telling. He would not let some mediocre clown play him,” Passan wrote.
Rauch backed down from the fight, Passan said.
“From that day forth, everyone who witnessed the incident or heard about it understood a new Mets commandment: Thou shalt not trifle with Matt Harvey,” he wrote.
In an attempt to illuminate Tuesday night during Zack Wheeler’s major league debut, SNY announcer Gary Cohen explained that the last time a pair of under-25 pitchers started both ends of a doubleheader, then went on to win at least 75 games each for that team, was when Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez accomplished the treat in 1986. Set the bar at 100 games, and the last duo dates back to 1969.
And collectively, I assume, Mets fans pleaded with Gary Cohen not to introduce reality into a day for Mets fans to finally, for the first time in, oh, let’s just say the post-Bernie Madoff Era, to dream about the future. Tuesday was Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler Day. And it was glorious.
...Everyone still focused on Harvey and Wheeler, or Wheeler and Harvey if you preferred (sure, why not?), both still intact, both members of the rotation, both capable for one day of allowing dreams beyond punchless outputs, losing streaks and empty promises, to dream instead of who will pitch Game 1 and who will pitch Game 2, you know, someday, wasn’t all that much more invested in the end of this one than they will be Collin Cowgill’s next at-bat or Scott Rice’s next appearance.
Tuesday wasn’t about Tuesday. And whether Harvey and Wheeler are Fernandez and Gooden, Prior and Wood, or Pulsipher and Isringhausen is beside the point. It isn’t about what will be. Harvey/Wheeler Day was about what might be.
It was about allowing Mets fans, a group with way too many sleepless nights hearing the phone ringing off the hook from collection agencies calling (and asking to speak to Fred Wilpon), to daydream all afternoon and evening, and go to sleep with visions of Octobers at Citi Field, for the first time in what only feels like forever.
You killed them. You killed the Mets. You killed everything. You’re a monster.
Bob Costas is often evangelical at odd times. His recent ill-timed (if not illogical) remarks about gun control felt like something reserved for the Huffington Post — not the goal post — where he was broadcasting a football game. Now his increasingly throaty, theatrical bent led him to say that the Mets’ celebration after Sunday’s victory was a sign of the “end of Western Civilization.”
But this time Costas got only half a wingtip in his mouth. His remarks were a direct commentary on a sporting event and the celebration thereof. The embellishment was certainly unwarranted, but there’s some merit to the notion that a team 14 games under .500 with a new park, no fans and a recent relationship with Bernie Madoff is probably doing things wrong.
...This isn’t a new cultural paradigm. The idea that many folks find that celebrity magically imbues them with political and philosophical superiority is as old as fame itself. Sadly, too many anchors, actors and athletes morph into pseudo-Socratic blowhards because their paychecks suddenly swell a few digits. And there isn’t much we can do about it.
And if you consider that Costas — whose mental and semantic alacrity once made him the exemplar of sports broadcasting — is deep into the back-nine of his career, perhaps his fits of shock-jock rhetoric are somewhat expected.
There was a time when Curt Gowdy, Howard Cosell and Pat Summerall were faces and voices of American sports, synonymous with monolithic events that had America spellbound around a radio or television for three hours. And Costas was once among them, or at least near them.
Perhaps Costas is just trying to remain relevant or witty –or both — even if his comments were not especially so.
About 90 minutes after the Mets gave up two runs on a can’t-anybody-here-play-this-game fifth-inning play in which they made two errors and nearly made a third, the Mets actually thought they had a chance. The Cubs still had three outs to get. They got one.
Nieuwenhuis, batting .097 at the time and already having gone 0-for-2 with a walk, nailed his first homer of the season by drilling an 0-1 fastball from Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol off the facing of the upper deck in right field. It was the first walk-off homer of Nieuwenhuis’s career.
He said the apple pie tasted great, then said, “I was waiting for the whipped cream.”
But Byrd’s leadoff blast in the ninth inning off Marmol apparently served as the catalyst. Marmol, who is notably erratic and lost his job as the Cubs’ closer earlier this season, walked Lucas Duda (hitting .226) and gave up a single to John Buck (hitting .191 since May 5) before Omar Quintanilla’s sacrifice bunt.
“We knew we had a couple of opportunities with runners in scoring position, and we just couldn’t get that one, breakthrough hit,” Mets third baseman David Wright said. “After Marlon got that one, it kind of allowed everybody to kind of go up there and take a deep breath and go up there and have at-bats instead of maybe doing a little much.
The Mets have optioned Ike Davis, Robert Carson, and Mike Baxter to Triple-A Las Vegas, quite possibly the biggest in-season shakeup of the team’s roster since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager.
Davis is, of course, the biggest name of the three, as he’s been with the Mets since he was recalled from the minors early in the 2010 season. For the second straight year, though, he’s struggled mightily at the plate. In 207 plate appearances this year, he hit just .161/.242/.258, one of the worst slash lines in the game among regular players.
The other day from Harold Reynolds…“Every time I look up…Rick Ankiel is getting a hit for the Mets!”
After Rick Ankiel went hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times in Saturday’s 20-inning game off the bench, upping his futility streak to 2-for-his-last-35, the Mets designated the outfielder for assignment and will promote Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Nieuwenhuis has eight homers in 16 games with the 51s since May 22, although overall he is hitting only .232 with 40 strikeouts in 142 at-bats in Triple-A. Terry Collins recently was told by Wally Backman that Nieuwenhuis’ at-bats had improved, and he’s only subject to maybe one plate appearance a game with lapses.
...Ankiel, picked up after being dumped by the Houston Astros, will finish his brief Mets career having hit .182 with 25 strikeouts in 66 at-bats. Overall, he has K’d 60 times in 128 major league at-bats this season.
As another famous Wally once said…“Look, don’t get sloppy on me. I might just slug you one.”
Wally Backman no longer is a reclamation project or the subject of a baseball rubbernecking endeavor. As manager of the Las Vegas 51s, baseball’s most challenging Triple-A affiliate, he’s an accomplished baseball man in his fourth year back as a Mets employee.
He has won back his full resume.
“I think I’ve served my time,” Backman told The Post yesterday, before his club took on Tacoma at Cheney Stadium. “I guess I’ve been in prison for a while.”
...On one hand, those clips underline the passion for which many Mets fans love him. On the other ... Backman doesn’t want those highlights to define him.
“I think the thing that really stands out in most people’s eyes is that YouTube stuff,” Backman said. “Because they think that I’m this high-antic guy managing. I’m not that guy. I’m ahead of the game. I’m innings ahead of the game. My whole deal is running the pitchers. If you can run your bullpen, you should be able to manage and help be a part of winning games. That’s what I concern myself with.
“I think I’m still the same guy. I’m going to stick up for my players, I’m going to fight for my players. I may not throw the bats and the balls on the field anymore and stuff like that. If that’s calming down, I guess that’s calming down. But I’ve definitely got the players’ backs. If they get thrown out, I’m probably going with them 90 percent of the time. Right or wrong.”
So now consider the real winter ahead for the New York Mets owners. They have less than a year to either find a way to pay J.P. Morgan Chase $320 million, or convince the bank to give them more time. And they’ll have to do so with more than just a Fred Wilpon press conference sunnily declaring his money problems a thing of the past. If the bank believes, unlike Standard and Poor’s, that the Mets are on the cusp of profitability, or that a forced sale now will produce less revenue than giving ownership more time, then a stay of execution is possible.
But it’s more complicated than that. Any additional time built into this loan needs to also pass muster with the group holding the more than $600 million in debt against ownership’s S.N.Y. holdings in 2015. The structures of the two loans, both held by ownership’s parent company, will need to be reconciled.
At that point, can the Mets spend money to sign new players? In theory, if J.P. Morgan Chase decides that an infusion of new talent is worth seeing a bunch of money go to, say, Shin-Soo Choo ahead of the bank to help turn the Mets profitable. And if the S.N.Y. creditors agree.
While all of this is resolved, one way or another, 29 other teams, flush with new television money that will put an additional $50 million in their coffers in 2014, but without the need to go through a Queen of Versailles-style gauntlet to spend, can also bid on Choo and other free agents.
So the Mets certainly have holes, between an outfield in need of three starters next season (Marlon Byrd’s recent hot streak notwithstanding), possible starters at shortstop, first base, even catcher, depending on the progress and recovery of Travis d’Arnaud.
But Jeff Wilpon is right: Mets fans really need to be patient. Wilpon and his partners have lots to do before Sandy Alderson’s plan can include anything like spending money on baseball players.
Cracking open a Bay window on a nice June evening.
It’s June 3, and Jason Bay is starting again tonight for the Mariners. He brings in just a .231 batting average, but his on-base percentage is more than a hundred points higher than that, and his slugging percentage is right there with Michael Morse’s and Kyle Seager’s. Through the first third of the season, Bay’s been a contributor, and a year ago he was a pile of crap. He cost the Mariners little to bring in, his placement on the roster was controversial, and now it’s time to review some lessons we all might have learned ....
After the Mets’ first two victories, I received an e-mail from a good friend, Peter Kurz, who lives in Israel, where he has become the secretary general of the Israel Association of Baseball. Decades ago, Kurz and I played catch at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park in Manhattan, my imagined Tom Seaver to his imagined Jerry Grote.
“To all those Yankee fans who are crying this morning into their cereal,” Kurz e-mailed, “and to all those Met fans who are now on Mount Everest at least for the next 12 hours before the Mets collapse once again, beating the great Mariano and the Evil Empire could not be sweeter.”
It’s time for the Yankees Replacements to be replaced. Even Lyle Overbay, who has played tremendously in a fill-in role for Mark Teixeira at first base, understands this cold fact of baseball life.
The Replacements have run their course, and last night’s 9-4 stomping by the Mets at Yankee Stadium was more proof. The Mets have won all three Subway Series games. It was the Yankees’ fourth straight loss.
Teixeira (wrist) and third baseman Kevin Youkilis (back) are set to return tomorrow night against the Red Sox. Summer weather is finally here, and so is much of the Yankees lineup. There is no time to waste.
For those thinking the Yankees are better off with The Replacements instead of the regulars, please get a grip.
“We’ll be better with these guys,’’ Brian Cashman told me regarding the return of Teixeira and Youkilis. “And it’s great to have guys that you can rely on that we currently have. We’re a deep organization. We found out that David Adams is now healthy and he can compete and help you win games up here, so we’re now better than we were two months ago.’’
...“I want Teixeira back,’’ the honest and unselfish Overbay told me. “He’s a better player and he’s going to take this team to a different level. That’s what I want to be a part of. I don’t have anything else to prove. I want to win a championship.’’
Noted Cashman, “Everybody in the clubhouse recognizes it’s all about the team. We have a lot of high-quality people in there. They all have their journeys, but they are all linked together by two things: that Yankee uniform and wanting to win.’’
So what do the Mets have in Duda, both today and in the future? Why has Duda been given carte blanche to play every day when other players are a single bad performance away from being glued to the bench by Collins?
Ooh, I know—a free nightly nine-inning rendition of “Rosie O’Donnell on Ice” in left field.
The Mets insist there was no funny business going on when they raised ticket prices for players’ family members ahead of the Subway Series.
The New York Post reported this week that the Yankees were “angered” when their families had to dole out $250 per seat at Citi Field after relatives of the Atlanta Braves were charged $80 apiece for their weekend series at the Mets’ home ballpark.
“The tickets are the same as Mets family members and priced the same as Mets family pays for tickets,” a spokesman for the Amazin’s told the paper. “Because of the variable pricing, ticket prices are different. It’s the same as Opening Day. It’s not gouging”
“We are aware of the situation and are looking into it,” MLB Players Association director of communications Greg Bouris told the Post. “There have been no grievances filed.”
Only, at the end of this night, Rivera would make history of an entirely different kind. He’d appeared in 1,071 regular-season games and saved a record 626 of them, but in his 19 seasons in the bigs, Rivera had never blown a save without recording a single out until he faced that hallowed Mets Murderers Row of Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda.
“It was a great game,” Rivera would say at his locker, “until I got into the game.”
Hey, there are over 8,000 Laughter Clubs worldwide…what’s another one?
And for all of that effort, passion and resilience, it would be nice to think that ownership had their backs.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Jeff Wilpon showed up at Citi Field Tuesday night, made a rare public appearance and promptly gave up on the season during a pregame ceremony for Rivera, who threw out the first ball, and eventually the last.
“Wish we could see you in the World Series,” Jeff Wilpon told Rivera. “But I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”
Rivera, a reliever by nature, tried to rescue Wilpon from his own verbal slip.
“You never know,” Rivera said, and Wilpon agreed. It was too late for a save, though. Wilpon, the Met COO, had committed the terrible crime of being too honest about his team’s hopeless lot in life.
...If Wilpon’s brief concession speech had come from a Yankee owner, it would be deemed an outrageous, blasphemous statement. With the Mets, though, capitulation fits their modus operandi. They enter fresh seasons screaming, “We’re rebuilding!” They tell us up front they’re not spending money on big names, then don’t even spend on middling names. Sandy Alderson has done virtually nothing to improve matters. Reports about pitchers in the farm system are encouraging, yet offer no guarantees. For now, the Mets are hitching their horses to Harvey, an Omar Minaya draft pick.
While Wilpon was busy surrendering, the Yankees were fighting their own circumstances, holding their lineup together with glue, paper clips and Hiroki Kuroda. The Yanks have now dropped three straight, five of their last seven, and it seems they’ve finally plateaued while competing with such a depleted roster.
The series over the years has been a lopsided one. The Yankees won five out of six games last year and entered Monday’s game holding a 54-36 overall advantage. The two teams were on divergent paths entering the series, as well. The Yankees, fielding a lineup below their normal standard, started the day holding share of first place in their division. The Mets, in fourth place and spiraling, have been desperate for wins.
The crowd at Citi Field was larger and more boisterous than for typical Mets games this season, but the atmosphere nevertheless fell well short of past meetings between the teams. Yankee fans infiltrated the park in huge numbers, and yet there were still big patches of empty seats visible through the day. The announced crowd, 32,911, was the smallest crowd for a game between these the two teams.
At this point the Ike Davis saga is little more than a symbolic sideshow. Yes, he should be in the minors by now, if only to throw a life preserver to a drowning hitter, but with each passing day, the debate matters less and less as the Mets sink into oblivion.
Suffice to say the Mets are as bad as the weather lately, and, of course, only one of the two is guaranteed to get better in the weeks ahead. Remember when Sandy Alderson insisted during the winter that he wasn’t punting on 2013? Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend, and the only race the Mets are in is the one to avoid the embarrassment of finishing behind the Triple-A Marlins.
Never mind punting. The season already feels like one long Hail Mary.
I mean, you knew the Mets had no shot of contending, but, Matt Harvey aside, did anybody really think they’d be this unwatchable?
... So the Mets lost two more games to the Braves on Saturday, 7-5 in the conclusion of the suspended game and 6-0 in the regular game, as Dillon Gee and his 6.34 ERA continued to make a case for Most Disappointing Met this season.
There is a lot of competition for that title, to be sure. The list starts with the first baseman, but has to include Ruben Tejada, Jon Niese and Shaun Marcum. It’s revealing that Lucas Duda doesn’t quite make that list even though he’s hitting .228 with 15 RBI.
Despite growing calls for his demotion, Davis won’t be sent down to Triple-A before Friday’s series opener against the Braves, according to the New York Daily News.
“Maybe after the weekend,” a source told the paper.
It’s been a frustrating season for Davis, batting .147 with nine RBIs after getting off to a miserable start last year, too.
“I know I’m going to play better, especially hitting-wise. I can’t do any worse,” he said. “If my teammates weren’t behind me, it’d be the worst thing in the world.”
Fans are losing patience, and plays like Wednesday’s killer in the ninth won’t do much to help his cause.
...Davis has one hit in his last 38 at-bats after going 0 for 2 with two walks Wednesday. He flied out to the center-field warning track to end the sixth, leaving him hitless in his last 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“He feels absolutely great this year and had a great spring,” manager Terry Collins said. “So this is baffling to everybody. We base what we’re doing on the fact that we’re looking down the road, we’re trying to look at the big picture here, and we’ve got to get this guy going, because we’ve got to figure out, where is he going to fit?”
Roster of Rubbish? I know some people were down on who joined Armisen on stage…but this is ridiculous!
And Collins’ team isn’t winning. So you should understand why he might be losing it. He turns 64 later this month. He was run out of Houston and Anaheim. There is no next managing job. This is more than his last best chance. It is just plain his last chance to prove he is a good major league manager.
...For if you know whether Collins is a good manager or bad manager based on his Mets time, you are a heck of an evaluator. You want to argue not enough guys have gotten better under his charge, fine, but I would ask if you see many players with high ceilings in his dugout. If you want to insist craftier strategy would have won a few more games, I will disagree, but still wonder if getting to, say, 77 wins would be making anyone happy.
The strongest argument I believe anyone has is that Collins has failed to change the culture — that there still are too many Mets who feel like they have accomplished something when they haven’t, or that the roster still has no collective idea what it takes to put aside individualism and alibis and prioritize winning on a daily basis. But this might be more of a problem from the top of the hierarchy down than someone in middle management, like Collins, could impact.
The best work I ever have seen in this area was by Buck Showalter with the early-1990s Yankees. He was a master fumigator of those who obstructed winning (an aside: Valdespin would have been optioned to Singapore if Showalter managed him). But it also must be said that each season Showalter was Yankees skipper, then-GM Gene Michael fed him better and better players.
Backman is known to be a great motivator and teacher. He won’t wave a magic wand and make this 4-A squad a contender, but I guarantee the players will maximize their potential- whatever that may be. He can manage a bullpen, and certainly will run a clean clubhouse. He will demand respect and a winning attitude. The Mets may not win under Backman, at least not right away, but they will compete. This is not what I can say has been the case 100% of Terry Collins’ tenure.
So why wait? Yesterday Collins again flip-flopped during his weekly WFAN segment with Mike Francesa. After calling out the fans for their criticism of how he handled Valdespin, he retracted and couched his comments in a softer manner. People show their true colors when under pressure. The comments that Collins made a day earlier was how he really feels. I would have respected him more if he stood by it instead of playing politics after the fact – just like he did last September.
Does the team really have a choice? When Francesa asked why he thinks things will get better Collins’ responded by saying the “clubhouse is in great shape.” I am glad to hear that everyone is happy and comfortable with the prospects of a fifth straight losing season.
If hope and dreams is the Terry Collins solution then why don’t we just sign up for magic beans and pixie dust? That isn’t going to help Tejada, Davis, Duda or Niese out of their malaise. It’s time for something real and sustainable. It’s time for the Wally Backman era to start now.
On Friday night, with the Mets down a sizable margin to Pittsburgh, Valdespin admired his ninth-inning home run. We all knew what was coming Saturday: the outfielder was sent up as a pinch-hitter and promptly got drilled by Pirates pitcher Bryan Morris.
Valdespin was greeted to crickets in the dugout, and the hit-by-pitch wasn’t met with retaliation. Some fans and media personalities – including WFAN radio’s Mike Francesa – got all over the Mets for not backing up JV1.
“I don’t answer to fans,” Collins said before the Mets’ 10-4 loss in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.”
Collins said one of the reasons for the Valdespin flap “is that we’re not playing very good, so everybody is looking for something to write about.” The sputtering Mets have now lost five straight games.
“I don’t care what the perception is,” said Collins. “All I know is what goes on here. I’ve been doing this for 42 years. I don’t care what anybody on the outside thinks. I know how to get it done in the clubhouse. I’ve been getting it done a lot longer than a lot of people. (Valdespin) is fine. He handled it great.”
And had an increase in workload of more than 766 tries in the previous seasons!
Most Wins with Mets, 1983-2013 Draft Picks
1. Bobby Jones: 74-56
2. Mike Pelfrey: 50-54
3. Rick Aguilera: 37-27
4. Jon Niese: 37-36
5. Dillon Gee: 23-19
6. Aaron Heilman: 22-23
7. Jason Isringhausen: 21-24
8. Bobby Parnell: 17-19
9. Pete Schourek: 16-24
10. Jeff Innis: 10-20
11. Joe Smith: 9-5
12. Matt Harvey: 7-5
12. Dave Telgheder: 7-5
Now you get an idea of how rare it is for Harvey, a 2010 first-round pick, to show up in a Mets uniform looking like an actual ace. Bobby Jones, by far, is the best pitcher drafted and developed by the Mets since Gooden.
Really, when it comes to homegrown winners, in the entirety of Mets history you have Seaver, Koosman, Matlack and Gooden. Nobody else originally drafted by the Mets won more than 15 games for the team. (Technically, Seaver wasn’t drafted by New York but was signed after his selection by the Braves in 1966 was voided.)
Let’s lower the bar further: 10-game winners. In a tiny three-year window (1964-67) the Mets originally signed five pitchers who would win 10 games in a season for them (Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, McGraw and Matlack). The Mets have found the same number of 10-game winners over the past 30 years (Jones, Pelfrey, Niese, Gee and Aguilera).