The proper amount of Yankee hatred

Whether from jealousy, frustration over media sycophants, or over-exposure to obnoxious fans, it’s easy to be a Yankee hater. With the Subway Series this week, it’s important to maintain the proper amount of hatred. This is sometimes hard to believe, but there are actually good Yankees fans out there, and some of them might even be friends and family.


So it’s always my goal to check my level of Yankee hatred and keep it just below the love of a true fan.  Also it should be clearly below your love for the Mets, because honestly if you hate another team more than you love your own, why are you even bothering? Don’t engage the bandwagon fan that just wants to yell “27 rings!” but doesn’t know who David Phelps is, and don’t go out there with the intent to drink too much and try to start “Yankees Suck!” chants at every hit. There’s real actual baseball being played that should provide plenty of opportunity for fans of both sides to needle each other and gloat.


Trash talk can be fun, but it’s always more fun when it’s based on knowledge, reality and this season. If Ike Davis strikes out, then sure, we’ve gotta take it. If Lyle Overbay is slow getting around the bases and gets thrown out, then sure, make a joke about how old the Yankees are. Grumble about the short porch (On Wednesday and Thursday) when someone hits a pop-fly that leaves the yard but be prepared to take it when someone jokes that Daniel Murphy has warning track power because he hits it to the deep part of Citi Field.


What we don’t need is hatred and venom for the sake of hatred and venom. Those rings won 4, 13, or 90 years ago don’t give the Yankees any advantage this season nor does it make them more deserving. Just because Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera were parts of PED infested clubhouses doesn’t mean every other word out of your mouth should be to call them cheaters. Keep it on the game. Joke about how Jeter’s not healing like he used to and his range will be even further diminished, or how the amount of saves Rivera has already, and hence the workload, might be a red flag down the road. Bring up how the Yankees seem to be relying on Andy Pettitte too much and that he hasn’t pitched a full season in ages.


Overall, just keep it civil. We’re all New Yorkers here. You can toss barbs and insults around if you like, but remember it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun to watch, not an excuse to get angry and yell. Nothing conclusive is ever decided by four games in late May.


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You know they’re not THIS bad right?

Mumbling the old adage “You’re never as good as you look when you’re winning, you’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing” to yourself while remember how the Mets have played over the last couple of weeks is small comfort, as true as it is. I promise you, they WILL score a boatload of runs again, they will start hammering the ball like they did early in the season and they will string good pitching performances into a winning streak.


No, really. They WILL score double digit runs again. Ike Davis WILL have a multi-hit game. Maybe the 11th outfielder is the charm. Lucas Duda WILL hit a home run with people actually on base.


It’s not that the Mets are a collection of bad players, because they’re not. If the Mets were to be disbanded tomorrow, most of the roster would find jobs in the majors on other teams. The problem is they don’t have enough talent across the board to balance out random bad luck and the ups and downs that all players experience. When you have a great player, a couple of good ones, and some decent ones you can win plenty of games..when most things go right. Most things don’t usually go right in baseball all at the same time, and when they don’t the team loses too many games to make up for when things are going good. A couple of players drift over the line from decent to bad for a week or two and the other mediocre players aren’t good enough to make up the deficit.


That’s where the Mets are now. Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been slumping fiercely, Ike Davis is mired in a ridiculous bad slump and while Duda’s managing to limit the outs he makes by walking a lot he’s not hitting much lately either.  There’s only so much David Wright can do with that. Davis will eventually get hot, or someone else will, and the Mets will start scoring runs again. Perhaps they’ll have found another outfielder besides Duda and Baxter that can at least approximate positive value, or Travis d’Arnaud will be ready for the majors and the team will improve. The Mets considered signing Michael Bourn, and while many of us weren’t thrilled with the idea, there’s no doubt that another good hitter would have done wonders for this offense.


So that’s what we have in front of us; watching a struggling team flounder on offense. It’s not fun, not at all. It’s a long season though, and they will be watchable again. It could happen as soon as tonight or take another week, but they WILL draw us back in.

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Spin It: The Bullpen Can Be Good

Welcome to the inaugural #spinit post, where I try to be cloyingly positive about reader-submitted topics. To submit a topic for me to ‘spin’, tweet (And follow) me @Ceetar with the hashtag #spinit or email me at


It’d be easy to simply reference the blind nut principle with bullpens; sooner or later these relievers are going to have good years, but I don’t think that’s necessary. The Mets bullpen has the potential to be pretty good in 2013, and certainly ‘decent’ is a low bar.


Bobby Parnell is a good reliever. He was their best reliever last year, and he throws hard. That’s a start. The Mets have a handful of fringe type prospects and young pitchers that can throw some that they can mix and match in the bullpen. Guys like Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Elvin Ramirez and  even Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia.


The Mets did fill their bullpen with some signings as well. Brandon Lyon is usually pretty good. He can certainly help.


LaTroy Hawkins is 40 years old, but he’s been pretty reliable as a pitcher over the years. He put up a decent year last year after an awesome one for the Brewers in 2011. If he has anything less in the tank, he should be good for some innings.


Pedro Feliciano re-signed with the Mets. He’s always been an excellent lefty reliever, and if he’s sufficiently recovered from the woes associated with being a Yankee, he could definitely be an asset.


Another pickup to keep an eye on is Greg Burke. Burke made some mechanic adjustments that led to a really terrific year for the Orioles AAA team. He throws side-arm now, and can hopefully use his newfound delivery to get some big outs for the Mets in 2013.


Bullpens are so often a crap shoot, but with the young arms and the potential of some of the other guys, there’s a good chance it can be a strength for the Mets in 2013. This is without mentioning Frank Francisco as a bounce back candidate. He really under-performed his peripherals last season, so perhaps this year he has a less volatile year and locks down his innings.

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Optimism in the Air

We are now closer to 2013 Mets baseball than we are to 2012 Mets baseball. Yesterday was the Mets Baseball Equinox and now we march towards a new dawn with anticipation. The Mets are undefeated this year. They have not disappointed us yet. Young players still have the potential stat sheets and scouts predict for them and no one’s gotten injured since last year.


This clearly doesn’t mean everything is rosy, but Mets baseball approaches and we’ve got miracles and just plain baseball fun on the horizon. No need to fret over how it’ll ultimately end up, let’s just enjoy whats coming.


Hey, even the NHL looks like it’ll sneak some games in to entertain us while we wait.

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Reporters and Analysts are Only Guessing

Hope everyone’s on the recovery path from Sandy. I finally got my power and heat back yesterday afternoon, and managed to fill up my car with gas, so I guess it’s back to business as usual here.


We’ve got General Manager meetings coming up in baseball and we’ve passed the point of options being picked up and exclusive negotiating windows with expiring contracts, so it’s open season on free agents.  There isn’t a ton to write about that’s not speculation and rumor, but there are outlets that are obligated, or feel obligated, to put out posts and columns.  Sometimes I suspect less is more when it comes to news and reporting, but that’s a thought for another time.


Remember that there are always surprises, that things aren’t always what they seem, and that unexpected trades and acquisitions happen all the time. No team is more active than the Mystery Team.  So try not to take anything you read too seriously regarding the hot stove season. When there are no games being played it becomes very easy for one well-read writer to muse about a player being a good fit for a team and it to catch wildfire and be talked about all over the world. The Internet is often one big game of telephone when it comes to these things.


One person could write about Cody Ross being a good fit for a team, and before you know it there are a dozen blog posts breaking down how the lineup will look with him in it. The shear quantity of talk seems to lend credence to acquisition even though the team in question might not even have talked to the player’s agent.  There are hundreds of different ways a GM can put together a roster, and it’s never exactly how anyone guesses.  Although if you want to take your own stab at guessing, Amazin’ Avenue’s AAOP would be a good way to go.


Some people enjoy this speculation and enjoy copying spray charts for a slugger onto his projected new team’s ballpark, rearranging their divisional predictions, and comparing lineups across the league.  They see it as a giant jigsaw puzzle that can be assembled in many different ways, and take joy out of finding the best picture. Don’t take this enjoyment for anything more than the time-killing exercise that it is.  Taking offseason speculation too seriously is how you end up pissed at a general manager or owner for not acquiring a player 10 years ago that they may not have even had a chance to sign.


Specifically with the Mets, no one really knows what Sandy Alderson is planning for this year, or the future.  It’s not hard to find articles about keeping Wright, trading Wright, offering him lots of money and only offering him just enough to hedge against failure.  You can find columns basically asserting that the Mets will trade R.A. Dickey anytime from now through the trade deadline and also mentions of signing him to multiple years beyond this one.  You can find columns suggesting the Mets will make big moves, if not big signings, this offseason, and others telling you to expect roughly the same team back.  Although I suspect the people telling you the Mets won’t do anything and you should ignore anyone that’s going to make more than two million are just trying to narrow the focus of the work and speculation they have to do this offseason.


To me, the only thing certain about the Mets in 2013 is that we can’t be certain about the Mets in 2013.

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Give Me Factual Arguments, Not Boasts About Being Right

With over a month left of baseball it feels like a lot of people have already made up their minds about what the Mets should do.  Not only with the rest of the season and who gets playing time, but what they should do in the offseason and who should be the front runners for spots in 2013.  There is a lot of time to worry about the offseason, and the remaining games will still tell a lot about the Mets.  If we’re going to get a real sense of what’s going on this offseason, it’s important to pay attention to these next 39 games in addition to the ones we’ve already seen.


It’s so easy to jump the gun in today’s society of instant-reaction.  We’re in such a rush to be first to a topic, or to be correct in analysis, that we often run roughshod over facts and data to shout to the world that we told it so.   The Mets record sinks, or rises, to what we thought it would be and we’re quick to point out that it’s what we expected.  We’re silent two weeks ago when Andres Torres was hitting the ball and had a league average OPS+, but now riding a pretty bad slump we’re quick to call for Sandy Alderson to non-tender him in the offseason, despite the possibility that he could hit .350 the rest of the season and have very respectable numbers.


This week’s storyline is that the Mets have quit playing hard, even though there are still 39 games left.  They could go a rather pedestrian 21-18 and still finish better than last year.   The Mets fundamentals have been sloppy all season.  They’ve failed to advance on the bases, they’ve made bad throwing decisions, taken bad at-bats, and let balls fall in front of them that they got a bad jump on.  Simply put, they’re not real good in the field.  Them continuing to do these things is not indicative of effort but of talent.   On top of that, the other teams have learned that the Mets won’t throw them out at home.   That know they can expect the balls to drop in and be ready to take the extra base.  The scouting reports suggest that Josh Thole is not going to nab them at second if they get a good jump.  In the second half of the season teams take advantages of the weaknesses they saw in other teams in the first half while trying to patch their own.  The Mets failure to do this was a reflection of the talent level, roster depth, and injury, not one of how much they respect their manager.  Despite being four games over .500 on July 29th last year, the Mets fell to eight games under on August 23rd in less than a month and still played .500 baseball from that point forward.


The problem here is that the current state of the Mets is how they’re going to be perceived until the 2013 season starts.   Excepting the true die-hards most fans (and the media that’s going to be writing season recaps stories and season preview stories next year) will be refocusing some or all of their attention to other things.  There are plenty of pennant races going on elsewhere, the traditional television schedule starts up soon with new shows, the NFL starts it’s schedule pretty soon and kids go back to school and life moves on, leaving the Mets to play out the string with very little true analysis of what’s going on.  Even if the Mets win 22 of their last 39 games, they’ll be remembered as having gone into a tailspin in the second half.  Ike Davis, who’s had a good second half, could get his on base percentage over .300 and that’ll be quite an accomplishment, but his season will be remembered for the horrible start and when people look at his overall stat line, it won’t reflect the hard work he’s put in.  When everyone else around him was struggling to make second half adjustments, Davis did and the results are there if you look for them.


There is no prize for predicting how events were going to turn out in sports or how individual players would perform.  More important is thinking about why things turned out that way, what could have been done to fix it, and what are some of the ideas to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  “I told you Jason Bay sucked” is not analysis, and following it up with “Andres Torres sucks too, non-tender him” does not carry more weight because you were right about Jason Bay.


Here’s a piece of advice going forward:  Try making a coherent argument against what you believe.  If you think Ruben Tejada is a solid contributor for 2013, look up his baseball-reference page and try to come up with an argument for why the Mets should look elsewhere for a shortstop.   Then read your argument and see if it sounds believable.  If it doesn’t you probably aren’t making a thorough enough argument, because in baseball it’s pretty easy to make a case for the success or failure of most players.  It’s a game of percentages and probabilities.  Even perennial All-Stars have negative things to look at and pitfalls to worry about, but the chances that the things in the positive column happen are way more likely than the negative.  With other players the chances are smaller.   Ruben Tejada’s batting average on balls in play is pretty high, he’s walking less than less year and striking out more.  Those are all notable things and the chances are high that that some of his hits he’s been getting will stop finding holes and become outs.  That argument is, probably, out-weighed by the high line drive percentage and the increase in doubles.  It’s easy to look at both pieces of information and conclude that you think the chances are better that he’ll continue seeing the ball well and hit it hard for more doubles, but without the context of the batting average on balls in play and walk rate, it’s hard to guess what will happen the next time Tejada has a little slump.


With so much information and so many stats out there, it can be pretty easy to find something that supports your preconceived notion of what you think of a certain player or team.  It’s important to stop worrying about trying to prove what you think and try to get a truer sense of what’s actually going on.  Because nothing’s more believable than a well-reasoned factual argument.

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Bobby Valentine At Citi Field?

Many Mets fans wanted Bobby Valentine hired to manage the Mets again at Citi Field.  Well, there is still a chance he could manage here; The Boston Red Sox just need to make it to the World Series this year and he’ll be in the dugout managing the American League Club at next year’s All-Star Game.


It requires rooting for the Red Sox of course, which isn’t something I’ve ever had trouble doing.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend after all.


The perfect scenario is Valentine manages the All-Star Game as the losing manager from this year’s World Series, and that Terry Collins manages the other team.  An interesting twist would be if somehow the Nationals make the World Series and we get a Valentine vs. Davey Johnson matchup at Citi Field.

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Stop With The Rebuilding Year Excuse

Playing the Mets MarketA quote by Terry Collins “I don’t want these guys ever to come in that clubhouse where they’re not expected to win the game,” conflicts with what many fans feel; That the Mets aren’t expected to do anything this year.


The thing is, they ARE expected to do stuff this year.  Win games, play hard and play baseball.  No professional organization goes into a season, particularly the staff in the clubhouse, with the attitude that it’s a throwaway year.  Terry Collins expects the Mets to win.  David Wright expects the Mets to win.  Maybe they have their reservations about the likelihood of them finishing first when all the chips fall, but until they do they’ll be trying their hardest and doing their best.  They certainly don’t believe it’s a done deal that they can’t win anything.


This is the best quality of Terry Collins in that he doesn’t let anyone play the woe is me card.  He demands effort and hard work from his players and I think that leads to a good clubhouse and a positive atmosphere.  He’s not making excuses and not making decisions with anything but how to win as many games as possible in mind.


Since the Mets don’t do this, it’s silly for fans to suggest they should.   No one should bring Harvey up immediately after he’s had two good minor league starts in April just to see how he looks in the majors.  They shouldn’t shut guys down for the first hang nail or muscle twinge because it’s a rebuilding year and it’s better to be safe than sorry.  They shouldn’t just let Andres Torres play out the string to keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ arbitration clock from starting if he’s the best option for the Mets.  Sandy Alderson is not making moves solely with the hope that his acquisition will lead to a greater return on investment when he trades him in July.  That’s not to say he’s not cognizant of the option, particularly for guys like Frank Francisco, but to think that was his main motivation in signing him is misreading the situation completely.  There’s a big difference in building a flexible roster that gives him lots of options and playing the MLB free agent market like it’s Wall Street.  The Mets roster is not actually a NASDAQ ticker.


This does not excuse failure either.  It’ll be easy to dismiss the Mets after a game they lose with the comment, “They aren’t good anyway”, but there is no reason to ever excuse failure.  Terry Collins certainly isn’t going to accept that as an excuse for a poor stretch of games, so why should we?  To view the entire season as some sort of strategic set-up for 2013 and 2014 takes all the actual joy of watching baseball and gives it the importance of a Spring Training game.  There is a reason why the awards aren’t given on paper before the season after all; no one really knows what’s going to happen.   Rather than prematurely write off 2012 and analyze everything and everyone based on their value in 2013 and beyond, watch the games and enjoy the ride.   If ultimately the ride doesn’t take you to the heights you want by the time it ends, you’ll still be able to get on again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that..

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