Is It Time to Start Believing in the Mets Again

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

04/23/19 phila phillies vs ny mets at citifield queens ny photos by neil miller / nysportsextra ny met #24 robinson cano high fives with #21 todd ferazier after hitting a grand slam in the 5th innning

Let’s stay in the real world. The Mets chances of making the playoffs remains somewhere between improbable and miraculous.

After Saturday night’s 7-5 stirring come-from-behind win against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Mets remain four and one-half games out of the final Wild Card with 52 games remaining. They are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks at 54-56 and have five other teams ahead of them for that last spot.

Those of us fortunate enough to have been on that Amazing ride in 1969 know miracles were possible long before Al Michaels told us so at the 1980 Olympics.

 Those of us lucky enough to have an older friend or relative to recount the tales of that miraculous August, September and October wonder if they would ever see such magic for themselves.

So when the 2019 Mets went on a spurt before, and now, after the All-Star break, there was some folly musings that this could be 1969 all over again. Then the Mets went all contrarian on the baseball world and GM Brodie Van Wagenen became a buyer instead of seller, acquiring starter Marcus Stroman.

“We both feel like we can win and go on a run and get into this thing,’’ manager Mickey Calloway told reporters.

This was a head scratcher that only a rake could sate.

“Get into this thing?!”

The Mets? Get into the playoffs? Lol. Lol. Lol.

Yet after Saturday night’s win, it’s not insane to say, ‘Maybe.’

The 7-5 victory came on the heels of an 8-4 loss to the Pirates that snapped a seven-game win streak. After a 12-game stretch in which the Mets starters were 1969-like superb, Steven Matz turned in a subpar performance and SNAP went the streak.

“Let’s just start another streak,’’ Calloway told reporters, as if starting a streak in baseball is as easy as snapping a Selfie.

The baseball gods have been irked over less flippant statements.

We won’t know for a few games if the Mets are streaking in the direction but we do know this: The Mets won a bounce back game in come-from-behind fashion and the bullpen didn’t blow it.

“Tonight was elusive to us in the first half,” Callaway acknowledged to reporters. “It was tough to stop the bleeding, and I think we understand we have to do that. I don’t think we’ve ever given up, but we just have to get it done.”

The Mets got it done. Stroman made his first start for the Mets and was uneven as was to be expected. He hadn’t pitched since July 24th and making a debut for a team that believes it can be in the postseason can give many a pitcher pause.

Yet the Mets overcame a shaky start, rallied from down 3-1 and Seth Lugo, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The blemish on this game was Edwin Diaz who surrendered a two-run home run in the ninth.

If you need more reason to seriously think about reinvesting your heart and soul in the Mets, consider this: Lugo was named NL Reliever of the Month. Yes, a member of the Mets pen won Reliever of the Month!

Baseball hardly is the sport to point to one game and declare it the most important of the season. Picking one of 162 is like picking the moment when a teenager started acting like an adult.

Maybe, just maybe, the Mets are starting to act like winners.

Yanks pound the Sox 9-2 by Neil Miller / nysportsextra

The Yanks cleaned up on the Sox today with a solid outing form Domingo German, only giving up 2 runs, and a stellar day by D.J. Le Mahieu, going 3 for 5 with 2 homer accounting for 4 of the Yanks runs.

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #26 dj lemahieu hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Brett Gardner also had a good day going going 3 for five.The down side ,however was Edwin Encarnacion geeting hit on the wrist in the 8th inning, and leaving the game

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #11 brett gardner hits a basehit in the 4th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019
08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #30 edwin eccarnacion reacts after getting hit on the left wrist on a pitch by #67 josh smith in the 8th innning Neil Miller /nysportsexta copyright 2019
08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 pitches in the 1st inning today Neil Miller nysportsextra copyright 2019

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #53 jon holder pitched 2 innnings in releif for the yanks today Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

gallery by Neil Miller / nysportsextra copyright 2019

N.Y.Giants practice 08/01/19

The Yankees Didn’t Blink; They Shut Their Eyes

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The Yankees didn’t blink.

They just shut their eyes on the season.

Is it possible this offensive juggernaut can offset the recent horrible starting pitching and lead the Bombers to a 28th World Series title? Of course.

But that lineup took another hit on Wednesday when manager Aaron Boone announced that first baseman Luke Voit is headed to the injured listed with a sports hernia. If Voit needs surgery he could be lost for the season.

That’s 19 home runs missing from the lineup.

Also out of the lineup is Giancarlo Stanton (PCL), Gary Sanchez (groin) and Brett Gardner (knee). Although that lineup remains potent, good pitching has always shut down good hitting in the postseason.

And Wednesday was all about the postseason.

The trade deadline came and went with GM Brian Cashman failing to land a quality starter. Cashman has earned the benefit of the doubt. He told reporters he would not be pressured into a trade. Only he knows what teams were asking him to part with for a quality starter.

The Yankees, who improved to 68-39 with a 7-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, improved their lead in the AL East to eight games over the Rays and 9.5 games over the Red Sox. But they didn’t improve their pitching which makes hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy a daunting task.

The Yankees saw Zack Greinke go to the Astros. Trevor Bauer go to the Reds. Marcus Stroman go to the Mets. Madison Bumgarner stay in San Francisco, and Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndegaard remain with the Mets.

Division leaders Astros, Indians, and Dodgers have better starting pitching on paper. They’re lineups also are potent. 

Let the games begin.

Is it possible the Yankees get the boost they need from the return of Luis Severino (lat strain) from the injured list? Sure. But he has yet to pitch this season.

Is it possible the pen is bolstered by the return of Dellin Betances (right shoulder strain)? Sure. But he too has yet to pitch this season.

August in here. The race to October has begun. The Yankees are the same team they were in July, the same franchise as the one that hasn’t won a World Series since 2009.

If they don’t win it this year, the Yankees may very well look back on Wednesday.

The Cloud That Hangs Over the Giants: Ageism

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  You can’t blame this on Dave Gettleman, or Jerry Reese.

File photo Neil Miller Nysportsextra

 The Giants, a family affair, always looked within, always took care of their own. Reese learned at Ernie Accorsi’s knee and had a solid resume. He was promoted to GM when Accorsi retired.

  You can’t blame this on Pat Shurmur or Steve Spagnuolo or even Bob McAdoo.

 The latter got the head coaching job in 2016 for possessing many of the same characteristics as Reese: He had learned at Tom Coughlin’s knee, had a solid resume and was a good soldier. He replaced Coughlin when the then 69-year-old resigned.

“Twelve years is a long time to be a head coach in the NFL,” co-owner John Mara told reporters on Jan. 5, 2016. “It’s just time. It’s just time. I think he realized it more so than anybody else.”

  No, he didn’t.

“Hey, do I agree with the move? Of course not,’’ Coughlin told the media later that year. “It hurts. It hurts. ‘Former’ is not a good word. I don’t like the word, but that’s the way it is.”

  “It’s just time.” That’s a corporate speak for parting ways with an older employee, even one that’s won those two Vince Lombardi Trophies. It’s really called ageism, one of the most blatant and underpublicized forms of discrimination active in our country.

  This came to mind –after one Giants receiver after another was lost for part or all of the season – as I was trying to understand why the Giants have this dark cloud over the team’s Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford.

Apparently, the Football Gods have been woke.

All those images of an exasperated Coughlin on the sidelines, his arms on his hips, head cocked, looking utterly exasperated after a bad play were creating an ugly narrative. Suddenly Coughlin was too old school.

He was a disciplinarian. He wasn’t a player’s coach. It was time, said Mara.

The World Health Organization said ageism presents a prevalent and insidious problem in America.

Media outlets are much more salaciously interested in reporting on the 25-year-old that claims she was discriminated against because of her cup size than the 65-year-old that claims he overheard an interviewer say he was a great candidate but ‘too old.’’ Both deserve to be heard equally.

There wasn’t much criticism of the Giants when they made it clear Coughlin’s time was up. A majority of Giants fans probably agreed because fans want to win. Now. Everywhere.

Yet isn’t it an odd coincidence that since Coughlin ‘resigned,’ the Giants have spiraled into embarrassment? The team he joined as executive vice president, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have assembled one of the league’s most talented rosters.

Do you know how desperately the Jaguars, Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings or any other NFL franchise that has never experienced the euphoria of getting fitted for Super Bowl rings desires just one title? Just one!

The Giants seem further away from a title than they have since the cloud of the 70’s. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Browns, which will be remembered as one of the worst deals in sports history if Daniel Jones doesn’t emerge as an elite quarterback.

 Sterling Shepard broke his thumb on the first day of camp. Corey Coleman tore is ACL. Rookie Darius Slayton tweaked his hamstring on Day 2. Brittan Golden suffered a groin injury. And Golden Tate, the big offseason acquisition signed to compensate for the loss of Beckham, was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug rules.

“It feels like there is a dark cloud over our room right now,” Slayton told reporters.

Wonder why.

A Historically Bad Week Ups the Ante for a Yankees Deal

Robbins Nest

09/21/12 Oakland Athletics vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx NY neil mille nysportsextra :yanks lead 1-0 after 4 innings New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) returns to the dugout after the 8th inning

By Lenn Robbins

Admit it: You didn’t think it could get any worse. But it did.

You didn’t think it would be historically bad. But it is.

You can’t imagine the Yankees blowing a double-digit games lead in the American League East but suddenly the 8.5-game advantage over the Tampa Rays and the 9-game bulge over the Red Sox doesn’t feel like the Pinstripers are playing with house money.

When we last wrote about the Yankees, we said they could possibly win the battle against the Twins – which they did – but would probably lose the playoff war if they didn’t get a quality starter before the July 31st trade deadline.

Since then we’ve seen the Yankees win the final game of the three-game set in Minneapolis, 10-7, despite starter J.A. Happ getting shelled for six earned runs and two home runs in just three and one-thirds inning of work.

They arrived in Boston where we haven’t seen flames like this since tea was burned. The Yankees 19-3 loss to the Red Sox was the most lopsided defeat in the 117-year history of the two teams.

The Sox tied a major league record with eight players driving in at least two runs.

The starting pitching fiasco sadly picked up where it left off Friday night. James Paxton somehow managed to strike out nine in four innings while allowing seven earned runs. If that didn’t scare you, consider this.

neil miller nysportsextra

Yankees manager Aaron Boone thought Paxton had ‘electric’ stuff. The only person in North America who might agree with that is Mookie Betts, who hit three runs off of Paxton in a 10-5 Red Sox win.

The last quality start for the Yankees came more than a week ago when Happ allowed two runs in five innings. In other words, the Yankees would be eliminated from the playoffs if they have another week like this in October.

The Yankees have given up 64 runs over the last six games, an infamous record for the franchise. Historic.

05/10/16 Kansas City Royals Vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y. New York Yankees lead 5-3 after 4 innings New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 3rd innning photos by nysportsextra

The starters – Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, CC Sabathia, Domingo German and J.A. Happ – have posted a 15.61 ERA in 27²/₃ innings, surrendering 54 hits and issuing 13 walks.

General manager Brian Cashman told reporters before his big off-season acquisition, Paxton, gave a up four home runs in four innings Saturday night that he would not be forced into a bad trade.

Fair enough but one can only hope some of it is trade-week bluster. Cashman knows he’s working in a city that demands championships more than it appreciates prudence.

Unfortunately for Cashman and the Yankees, actions speak louder than words. This pitching bloodletting has forced the Yankees to go a roster comprised of 14 pitchers and two bench players – Austin Romine and Gio Urshela.

With Gary Sanchez (groin) on the injured list for the foreseeable future, Romine must stay healthy. The teams in sell mode that have quality know this. They can press for a better package and the Yankees probably will have to give more than then they might have a week ago.

Not a bad trade but a necessary one.

“It’s obviously been a rough week for us,’’ Boone told reporters after the most recent loss. “All we can do is dive in and do the best we can and try to tighten things up and get things corrected.’’

A rough week: You never thought the Yankees pitching could have a week this tough.

ANOTHER RING DEATH – Argentine boxer Hugo Alfredo “Dinamita” Santillan, 23, became the second boxer in a week to die from injuries suffered in the ring. Santillan fought to a 10-round draw Thursday night with Uruguayan fighter Eduardo Javier Abreu.

Santillan started bleeding from the nose in the fourth round. After the decision was announced his legs gave out. He suffered three heart attacks before he died of a blood clot in the brain.

Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev, 28, died Tuesday.  He too suffered brain damage during his Friday night fight against Subriel Matias of Puerto Rico.  Have to ask if boxers are getting appropriate care during fights.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Giants quarterback Eli Manning responding to a GQ article in which former receiver Odell Beckham Jr. claimed he was the marquee draw that kept securing prime time television slots for Big Blue.

“I won a few games before he was here,’’ said Manning, the understated assassin.

Pirates at Mets 07/26/19

all photos nysportsextra/neil miller copyright 2019