Six Innings

Shorten the MLB Little League Baseball Classic to Six Innings

Why Six Innings?

It would seem appropriate the New York Mets are playing the MLB Little League Baseball Classic at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport Pennsylvania. The game takes place on Sunday, August 19. This year the Mets are fit to only play six innings…as Little League Baseball does. The Mets would be in the thick of the race if their games lasted only six innings. When the game was announced last year, visions of Matt Harvey dealing and defiantly putting the Phillies down, on my home town minor league field, was the initial thought that came to mind. Much has changed.

Six Innings

Matt Harvey as a Red. This will NEVER look right.

The New York Mets traded Matt Harvey to the Cincinnati Reds in early May. The Mets received catcher Devin Mesoraco in return. Both players, seemingly, damaged goods. Mesoraco has brought professionalism and stability to the catching position for the New York Mets. It is been a pleasure to watch him work his craft.

Six innings

Devin Mesoraco, from Punxsutawney, PA.

The New York Mets core starting pitchers have been performing admirably since the trade. Jacob deGrom has been nothing short of spectacular while receiving no run support or bullpen back up. Met fans are fortunate to see him every fifth game. Noah Syndergaard has been injured since May but is expected back soon. What has dramatically changed for the New York Mets is Zach Wheeler and Stephen Matz. They have turned their season and careers around. Watching them pitch with confidence and conviction has been a welcome and long-awaited surprise. These two pitchers have developed, at least in the recent short-term, into quality starters. Now why is that?…

Devin Mesoraco, a professional catcher

The two young guns are finally healthy but i believe there is more to the story. The addition of Devin Mesoraco cannot be understated. He takes control of the game and guides the pitcher with emotion and intelligence. In some cases, you can see him WILL the pitcher through a stressful inning. It is been a long time since the New York Mets, who have a history of tremendous pitching, have had a catcher of this quality. I believe Devon is owed much for the evolution of Zack Wheeler and Stephen Matz.

Six Innings

Zack Wheeler has been healthy and confident. He started the year in the minors.

Six Innings

Steven Matz is maturing before us this season. He has been healthy as well.

Calloway and Eiland

The New York Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, and his pitching coach, Dave Eiland have, no doubt, contributed greatly in drawing Zack Wheeler and Stephen Matz closer to their potential. For as much grief, and deservedly so, that Mickey Callaway receives, he deserves credit for the starting pitching staff’s stride forward. Breaking down his pitchers mechanics and delivery to the simplest and most efficient form are in their wheelhouse and I believe they deserve much credit. (Jason Vargas is an outlier and should not be in the conversation).

Addition by Subtraction?

Lastly, could the departure of Matt Harvey have anything to do with the maturation of Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz? It could be more than a coincidence that the absence of Matt Harvey in the locker room and in the pitchers meetings may have had a positive effect on the young pitchers. In full disclosure, I was always a Harvey guy. I could, however, see the writing on the wall and understand the importance of team. Not certain Matt Harvey’s presence was conducive to the growth of the young Mets arms. Pure speculation on my part.

As far as the Bullpens’s execution…I’m all for it. (take on a Casey Stengel quote)

The New York Mets bullpen, as of this writing, lead the major leagues in bullpen losses with 22. It is common to see the Mets starting pitcher sitting in the dugout with a look of constrained shock as the bullpen implodes and a good to great effort by the starting pitcher is erased. Sad to see and hard to watch.

That is why I would lobby Major League Baseball to shorten the MLB Little League Baseball Classic to six innings. Please don’t allow those young little leaguers to pick up the habits of the New York Mets bullpen. They are so impressionable at that age.

Having said all of that….Let’s Go Mets!

Happy Fourth of July!

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Why can’t the Mets Bunt…or Steal…or Throw Out a Baserunner…or Win?

Really…Why Can’t They BUNT?

What scenarios or occurrences bring a baseball team to its knees before July 4 for two years in a row? Every team endures injuries and in-game mismanagement. What makes the situation so unusual for the Mets? Much has been addressed In the many, recent, blistering, writings by the Mets beat reporters. An issue that continues to slow the Mets progress is fundamental preparedness in the pipeline from the minors league cities to New York. Primarily speaking of position players. The Mets are poor at bunting, stealing, running the bases, hitting the other way, hitting the cut off man, backing up each other, and other fundamentals. I acknowledge the game has changed but there are core principals that still matter and the men in Flushing exhibit none of them during play. Mental toughness, grit, and confidence are also part of championship baseball. We, as fans, witness very little.

Game used

Keith Hernandez preaches fundies.

Catching

The Mets cannot seem to promote a major league ready catcher. The catchers, until recently, have been sub par, at best. We have had a glimpse of Devin Mesoraco and we have enjoyed it. We have seen him bring the beleaguered starting pitching staff to respectability. Why? Because Devin is a professional catcher who knows how to handle a pitching staff and contribute from time to time at the plate. He has the confidence in himself to know that he can contribute in all facets of his job. (Devin was brought from the Reds for Matt Harvey. The Matt Harvey saga underlies many, many other issues with the Mets.)

Rarely seen is minimum competency with Mets prospects and young players. It seems to take two or three MLB  years for the prospects to make a splash of any kind. If they do at all. The decision-makers during the draft and international free-agent signing’s have shown an ineptness that is criminal.

Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto

I feel certain the Brandon Nimmo will be a star for a long time and I’m very optimistic about Michael Conforto. But what about all the others. Fundamentals are missing. Mental toughness seems to be lacking as well as plate discipline. So many of our players come up through the minor-league ranks unprepared to play major-league baseball. We see it day after day. The fundamentals just are not there. Mental mistakes are common occurrence with our younger players, and our veterans for that matter. Amed Rosario and Dom Smith can be  huge stars…but the Mets do NOT teach, coach and manage them properly.

Do the Mets have a “Way”?

Last week, SNY interviewed Bud Black (Mgr of the Rockies) as part of a feature on Nolan Arenado. Nolan is prepared for every situation that could present itself. His work ethic is inspiring.  Nolan went on to blister the Mets in that series. There has always been a difference between the great and the average in baseball. Some of those things you can control and it starts with desire and coaching. Seems right now the Mets do not have either, at any level. It would be interesting to know what the Mets philosophy or system consists of. What is the “Mets Way” if they have one? Strong pitching, likely, would be at the core. But what is the philosophy taught in the minor leagues? And if there IS one…Why is there a massive breakdown between Las Vegas and New York? Let’s not forget that the New York Mets, a MLB team, batted out-of-order last month.

Below are just a couple of links to articles in the media today, June 25, 2018, concerning the Mets. Just a snapshot of what Met fans woke up to this Monday morning.

https://nypost.com/2018/06/24/sandy-alderson-is-destroying-the-mets-and-must-be-stopped/  DEPRESSING

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/ny-sports-nimmo-injury-mets-20180624-story.html  SAD AND DEPRESSING

https://nypost.com/2018/06/24/mets-are-now-benching-amed-rosario-for-jose-reyes/  PATHETIC

 

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Bargain Bin Finds—Vintage Football Card Gallery

Who does not enjoy rifling through a bargain bin of sporting collectibles? As you stroll through sports collectibles shows and conventions, you will stumble across many boxes and containers brimming with inexpensive and desirable bargain collectibles. Make the journey to Cleveland in early August to the National Sports Collectors Convention and you will find hundreds of such bins.

The Citifield based soap opera I usually follow is on hiatus today, so I thought I would share some of my favorite bargain bin football card pickups of the past year. These cards were three dollars (many $1) or less except for the Marion Motley card. I paid a bit more for that. For a dollar or two you can grasp and gaze into the past. You can certainly feel the chasm of time between long ago eras and the present age when you ogle one of these time-worn and beaten up beauties. The equipment, poses, and styles of the cards show the passage of generations. Find the card with the white football used during the 40’s and 50’s for night games.

(You can see I lean toward Rams and Placekickers….strange.)

Bargain Bin Finds

Football Cards

Art Donovan-1957 Topps-No. 65

Tobin Rote-1953 Bowman-No. 28

Football Cards

Eddie LeBaron-1955 Bowman-No. 26

Jim Otto-1970 Topps-No. 116

John Morrow-1959 Topps-No. 164

Ray Berry-1964 Phila-No.1

Fred Naumetz-1950 Bowman-No. 85

Marion Motley-1953 Bowman No.9

Bruce Gossett-1966 Phila-No. 95

Bob Boyd- 1958 Topps-No. 21

Lamar Lundy-1968 Topps-No. 80

Dick Bass-1969 Topps-No. 81

Lindon Crow-1963 Topps-No. 45

Roman Gabriel-1969 Topps-No. 125

Paul Younger-1955 Bowman-No. 38

Lou Groza-1959 Topps-No. 60

Frank Gifford-1960 Topps-No. 74

Joseph Sulaitis-1948 Bowman-No. 64

L.A. Rams Team Card-1956 Topps-No. 114. Original “Color Rush”

Bob Waterfield-1952 Bowman-No. 137

Jim Martin-1964 Phila-No. 5

Football Highlights-1961 Topps-No. 77

Y.A. Tittle-1960 Topps-No. 113

Alan Ameche-1960 Topps-No. 2

Lenny Moore-1963 Topps-No. 2

Bargain Bin

Ollie Matson-1960 Topps-No. 63

Del Shofner-1960 Topps-No. 65

Fran Rogel-1960 Fleer-No. 43

Hope to see you at The National Sports Collectors Convention August 1-5 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Here is a prior post to a Gallery of Vintage Football Helmets. Photos take at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

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