Jacob deGrom Better Throw A No-Hitter Soon

Front entrance of Inatome steakhouse, with a spiral japanese garden design in the sand

Jacob, you’re on notice. I NEED a no-hitter this season. You’re welcome to outsource this if you like, but it’d be cool if it was you, another notch in your belt for that Hall Of Fame quest.

We all remember Johan Santana’s no-hitter, obviously. Almost nine years ago. As of this writing, there have been 32 more. The New York Mets 0 since then is already below average. No Nohan post is complete without the writer’s personal story, so I’ll share mine. We were out to dinner at a hibachi place, Inatome in Valley Stream, for my mother in-law’s birthday. As one does, I was peaking at the game via the MLB At Bat app on my phone, just checking in mostly. 

I don’t think I even noticed the no-hitter until the 6th. Needless to say I was less and less invested in dinner. We left at the bottom of the 8th, and I listened in the car to Howie Rose. I remember intersections, waiting for specific lights, because I really wanted to focus and for some reason the anxiety I felt at each intersection as I deflected some of my attention to and from the road solidified these memories. I dropped everyone else off and sat in the car and listened to the last two outs, and then a bit of the aftermath, and then went inside and watched SNY. 

It’s been almost nine years. It’s time. That was a great night, but there was fun and lore around the Mets not having a no-hitter too, and now that we’ve got one, I need more. Radio producer Chris Majkowski’s “Not Tonight Boss” after every opposing first hit of the night was fun. There was a lot of talk about hitting the 8000 game mark without one, and the daily counting became a ritual. No-hitters are mostly flukey, given the nature of batted balls and how it’s easy for them to just find grass even if they weren’t particularly well hit. There was no shame in not having one, it was just one of those weird statistical quirks that makes baseball fun. Jacob deGrom’s 15 strikeout game had two hits, one a soft hit that just found a hole, and a second that Brandon Nimmo probably should’ve fielded. It was a more dominating game than Santana’s no-hitter. Game of inches as they say. 

The Padres Joe Musgrove pitched a no-hitter this year, meaning now EVERY team has at least one. It’s time for the often pitching-rich Mets to start to rack these up. It doesn’t have to be deGrom, I’d happily accept one from any Mets pitcher or even a combined no-hitter! Those are fun too! It’s 2021, the Mets rotation is stacked, and they need to start delivering.

Actual cake we had that night

R.A. Dickey’s book has a new epilogue

Watching the Mets last year it became increasingly evident that R.A. Dickey’s book was incomplete. The title, Wherever I Wind Up, ended up going unanswered, or at least understated.

 

He ended up a successful, and well-paid, pitcher for the Mets happy to have his own parking spot, but that’s only the start of where he’s going. After the book was written, and despite saying he’d never lead the league in strikeouts, he did in fact lead the league in strikeouts and won the NL Cy Young award as well.

 

Well Plume has published a new paperback version of Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for truth, authenticity, and the perfect knuckleball with a new epilogue where Dickey breaks down the 2012 season including Johan’s no-hitter, the All-Star Game, the reaction to his book, and the Cy Young Award. If you haven’t read it yet or want to see what else he has to say, check it out.

 

Of course, Dickey has already continued on further, being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays and getting an extension. Maybe one day he’ll write another book, or a followup, because I suspect he still has a lot of story in him.

Views Of Citi Field: Left Field Foul Pole

I miss Citi Field, and Mets games.

 

Clearly I like to roam when I’m at the game alone, and this shot from last April reflects that. It’s taken from the Promenade corner in left field shot right over the foul pole. This is actually the first place I ever sat in Citi Field, way back during the St. Johns exhibition game before the 2009 season. You’re not close to the action, but you do get a nice bird’s eye view of the entire field, sans the left field wall which you need to lean forward to see.

photo by Ceetar

Behind me is the only exit in the ballpark that resembles the Shea ramps, and doubles as the smoking section. You can also see the Manhattan skyline from there.

photo by Ceetar

Ron Darling: Best Announcer in the Playoffs?

We know Ron Darling is a great announcer as Mets fans, having been privy to his talents on SNY since 2006. He creates great insight into the game as a former pitcher, and isn’t afraid to tell you what he thinks.  We’ve witnessed this frequently this past season with his remarks about how the Washington Nationals handled Steven Strasburg.  Unlike other former athletes turned broadcaster, Darling often goes above and beyond simply crediting players for ‘being players’ as if he’s part of some secret club that knows better than we do. He imparts knowledge like he wants us to have it, not like he wants us to know HE has it.

I was watching the third game of the Giants and Reds NLDS, and he offered a bit of analysis that blended an appreciation of advanced shifting with a thought to the game at hand and how long-term trends might not apply the same way to individual samples. The Giants were shifting against Joey Votto to pull like many teams do for left-handed hitters with power. Ron Darling noted that Votto had returned from knee surgery this season and may not be 100%. He was questioning whether or not Votto could put the same force into his front leg to generate the power and pull that the Giants were positioning for. Maybe, he mused, they should use the injury information to adjust the defensive positioning despite what the long term trends say.

Joey Votto had not hit a home run since returning from the surgery, but I have no idea if this theory has any statistical merit in Votto’s case or in knee injuries at large. That’s not really important here because Darling wasn’t suggesting that the Giants forgo the shift because it’s over-thinking or bad form or anything, he was proposing that there was another input that the Giants should take into consideration. Perhaps the player they were shifting against wasn’t quite the same player that had generated all the data they were using.

Baseball is a game with a ton of statistical data that can be used to make educated guesses about players and teams and overall results, but it’s also a collection of small sample results that can vary wildly based on any number of random inputs. A player simply waking up with a headache could throw off the projections for one afternoon. This is why the very best teams will succeed by being aware of the overall trends and still be able to make snap decisions in the moment to adjust those trends based on the fluctuating nature of many of the factors. It’s part of what makes Ron Darling a great announcer. As a pitcher he studied and learned a lot about baseball, and he’s brought that into the booth with him, and as a scholar he appreciates the studious work other people have put in as well.

I’m Rooting For Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals

Normally I wouldn’t be pro-Cardinals, especially after they eliminated the Mets in 2006, but as long as it’s not the Yankees It doesn’t really matter to me which team wins.  I don’t hate the Yankees because they win, I hate the attitude of many of the fans and the treatment they get in the media.  That’s what makes me root against them.  The Cardinals could be considered similar, but I have no contact with their fans and being in a different city keeps me separated from most of the Yankees writer counterparts that you can’t help but hear about when you live in the NYC area.  What does matter to me is Carlos Beltran.

 

Carlos Beltran may be a Hall of Famer alreadydepending on who you ask, but for those that don’t think he is, a World Series ring and further postseason domination would strengthen his case.  He’s played more games with the Mets than anyone else, the next closest being his Royals origins.  This suggests that if he were to get inducted down the road, he’d go in as a Met.  That means I’m invested in Beltran collecting the criteria required to strengthen his case, and if that means rooting for the Cardinals this postseason, so be it.

 

Carlos Beltran was one of the best Mets ever, and it was a joy to watch him during his tenure here.  He’s still a great player, and I’m rooting for him to continue the postseason dominance he’s shown in his previous two trips there.

That’s a Wrap: Top Optimism for the Offseason

As with most seasons, the ending is bittersweet. I’ll miss Mets baseball, but the ending means they’ll be back to even next time we watch, dreaming and hoping on 2013.  It’s a long month of playoffs before much will happen with the Mets in terms of real signings, trades and acquisitions but that provides the perfect backdrop to spend some time reflecting on what went right in 2012 and gives us hope.

 

It’s all doublespeak right now, but many things seem to point to the Mets wanting to keep David Wright and David Wright wanting to stay.

 

R.A. Dickey may win a Cy Young, and is cost-controlled for next year.  Sure he’s got an injury, but it’s not likely to affect his 2013 season.  He’s been amazing as a Met and I suspect we have at least another year of that.

 

Ike Davis shook off his injury-shortened 2011 and a disastrous start to have a pretty terrific last four months.  Those four months weren’t without their own issues at times, but if he could simply extend those four months through 2013, he’d be a huge part of the Mets offense.

 

Bobby Parnell was the best Mets reliever this season, taking a nice step forward and really doing some very good work.  Best Mets reliever is a low bar this season, but Parnell had the best ERA on the team, minimum 20 IP.

 

Johan Santana‘s no-hitter will forever be the highlight of 2012.  He dealt with some bumps and bruises and then tailed off pretty badly, but his first half suggests that he’s still capable of being a good pitcher.  There is some hope that with the period of rest this offseason without rehab and trying to build up his arm he’ll have a strong 2013.

 

Jon Niese pitched a full and complete season, and was very very good.  According to Baseball Reference, Niese’s best pitcher comparison is Gio Gonzalez.  Niese will only be 26 next year, and has a very reasonable contract going forward.   I don’t advocating trading talented pitchers, but any way you look at it, Niese is extremely valuable.

 

Matt Harvey and the Mets farm system is showing a lot of promise on the pitching front.  In his limited appearances this year, Matt Harvey had the best ERA on the team outside of Bobby Parnell.  60 innings isn’t a ton, but then again it’s almost roughly how many innings the average reliever pitches all year and we make all sorts of judgments off that.  The Mets have a couple of other guys that look like they could contribute valuable innings next season, and that should hopefully means the Mets have a pitching strength in 2013 and can focus on improving the offense.

 

The Mets won 74 games.  Things are clearly not all rosy right now, but that’s not to say they’re without hope.  These are just a few obvious examples, but there are plenty of players that will come out of the blue next year to contribute.  Things aren’t nearly as bleak as some might make them out to be this offseason.

Missing the Mets From Afar

I knew I wasn’t missing a pennant race two weeks ago when I took off for Europe, but I also knew I’d miss the Mets anyway.  Whether the season is good or bad, it’s still Mets baseball and it flies by way too fast. Sacrificing nearly 20 games to travel, no matter how awesome that travel is, is a bummer.  Watching baseball again after that type of layoff feels like Spring Training, but it’s going to be yanked away from me before I even get back into it.

 

It’s interesting coming back to just three meaningless games against the Marlins before being Mets-less until Spring Training.   I felt myself mentally wrapping up the season before I left, despite the Mets still having a bunch of games to play.  Now I flip on the Mets games at seven as usual, hungry for some baseball and although it feels great, I know it’s just a tease.  I’ll get three likely forgettable Mets games and then a month of playoff baseball not featuring the Mets and that’s barely enough baseball to sustain me through the long winter.

 

It’s not just the impending offseason that hurts; I missed some memorable Mets games while I was gone.  David Wright became the Mets franchise leader in hits, and while it was all but inevitable going into the second half of the season, it’d have been nice to see the games as they happened.  The other big one is obviously R.A. Dickey‘s 20th win.  Pitcher wins don’t mean much in the evaluation department, but seeing your pitchers accumulating them is never a bad thing. There’s history and emotion tied to the stat that even when you know it’s not hugely important it still tugs at the emotions to see Dickey be the first Met to 20 wins in over 20 years.  At least, it would’ve been if I wasn’t in Prague for it.  I peeked at Twitter before I went to bed that night, which was just after the game NY time, and was disappointed I didn’t get to share in all the excitement and celebration of it.  Living and breathing the Cy Young race with Dickey and watching the other candidates is fun too, and I mostly missed it.

 

So I’m going to savor and enjoy these last games like a well-cooked steak knowing that it’ll be my last good meal until March.  One more R.A. Dickey start to make his case for the Cy Young.   18, barring extras, glorious Mets innings filled with David Wright, Ike Davis and all the rest of them.  The Jeurys Familia debut start last night.  All some fun stuff to watch and I’m not going to miss a minute of it.

 

Edgardo Alfonzo and a Bag of Yams

A unpublished post from earlier in the year.  What’s better than a Mets middle infielder with a bag full of sweet potatoes fighting hunger in New York via City Harvest (with the help of Jerry Koosman and Cleon Jones)?

 

Is it a question and answer with said middle infielder?

 

Here’s Edgardo Alfonzo with some sweet potatoes.