Category Archives: Mets

Mickey Callaway is Going to Be One-and-Done

Like Michael Kay, I too do not like talking about whether or not people should be fired.  It is tough for someone to lose his/her livelihood, and I do not like to go there.  At the same time, I am OK discussing whether or not I think somebody WILL be fired. That brings us now to a discussion of the New York Mets’ manager.  At this time, I would be completely shocked if Mickey Callaway returns to manage the Mets in 2019.  I know that it seems harsh to fire a manager after only one year on the job, but there are three major reasons why I expect Callaway to be let go.

1)     He is not a good manager: Let us start with the most obvious reason.  The job of baseball manager has two main components – strategy and leadership.  It would appear that Callaway struggles with both.  In terms of strategy, there have been far too many times when Callaway has made indefensible decisions.  I am not talking about leaving a starting pitcher in for one batter too many or one batter too few; I am also not talking about using his closer when he should not or using a non-closer when he should use his closer.  We criticize all managers about these decisions any time said decisions do not work.

No, I am talking about the obvious mistakes.  For example, in June, the Mets faced the Pirates at Citi Field.  In the Top of the 9th with 2 outs; first base was open, and the Pirates’ closer Felipe Vazquez was on deck.  It should have been a no-brainer to intentionally walk the batter, so that Vazquez would have to hit.  The Pirates had a lead, and it was a given that they would leave Vazquez (who had entered in the 8th) in the game.  Most of the time, there are fair arguments on both sides in baseball, but there was no valid case to be made against the intentional walk here.  Unfortunately, Callaway chose not to walk the guy.  That was bad.

Throw in times when Callaway has botched double-switches and the time when the Mets batted out of order, and one can make a strong case that Callaway is bad with strategy.  (I will admit that the “batting out of order” thing is a bit of a Rorschach test.  Had a good manager like Joe Maddon or Bruce Bochy overseen this gaffe, we would have laughed but not blamed the manager.  However, because it happened to Callaway, we assume that it was Callaway’s fault.)

Image result for mets bat out of order

As for leadership, I think Callaway is in worse standing there than he is with strategy.  It is conceivable that Callaway can improve from a strategic standpoint.  After all, he was previously a pitching coach in the American League; thus, the bulk of National League strategy was irrelevant to him in years’ past.  Unfortunately, leadership is a more difficult ability to change – typically you are either a good leader, or you are not.

Let us be clear.  I very very rarely criticize a manager’s (coach’s) leadership in any sport.  I think it is laughable when fans say things like, “The manager/coach has clearly lost the clubhouse/locker room”….as if we have any idea what is going on in those rooms.  These critics are the people who see a physical error and blame the manager.  Seriously, when the Yankees were 5-5 in April, I heard a guy call WFAN and claim that Aaron Boone was a bad manager because someone on the Yankees (I think it was Gregorious, but I am not certain) had made an error.  If I ever get to the point where I blame individual physical errors on the manager, please euthanize me.

However, it is reasonable both to blame managers for players’ mental errors and to believe a players-turned-announcer’s analysis that a manager has “lost the team”.  This is where Callaway finds himself in deep trouble.  I have never heard the Mets’ TV announcers – Gary, Keith, and Ron – show the same amount of disdain for a manager that they do for Mickey Callaway.  The disdain is never directly stated, but it is obvious.  A textbook example came during Wednesday’s 5-3 Mets loss in D.C.  Jose Bautista swung and missed for Strike Three, and the ball bounced to the backstop.  Bautista did not run and was called out.  Gary Cohen voiced his displeasure for Bautista’s stationary response, and Darling responded by saying that he was not surprised.  Darling explained that the Mets have not run out dropped third strikes all year long.  During Cohen’s and Darling’s dialogue, the disdain was obvious by the tones of their voices.

Image result for mets announcers in booth

Similarly, a few weeks ago, Keith Hernandez appeared on Mike Francesa’s show.  Francesa asked Keith if he thought Callaway was a good manager, and, in standard Francesa form, the question was long-winded and insinuated Francesa’s thoughts that Callaway was overmatched (either leadership-wise or strategically).  Keith responded with only “I expect Mickey to be the Mets’ manager next year.”  It was the ultimate case of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  A damning comment from Keith….and yes, one that runs contrary to the basic premise of this article.

Anyway, the Mets have made many mental errors this year, such as Wilmer Flores not throwing home in Wednesday’s eighth inning.  Unlike with physical errors, a mental mistake is at least partially the manager’s fault.  A manager should do his best to ensure that all players know what to do in all situations.  Of course, players can make mental errors even if the manager has adequately prepared them to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, there have been too many mental errors for this year’s Mets for one not to wonder if the manager is partially to blame.  There have also been too many times when the Mets do not hustle.  Again, for that, it is fair to look toward the manager.

Does this mean that Callaway has lost the clubhouse?  On my own, I cannot say that.  However, there have been enough allusions from Gary, Keith, Ron, and even Nelson Figueroa (SNY Studio) that Callaway has no control over the team.  3 of those 4 were Major Leaguers, and the other has been around Mets teams for 30 years.  When they say that Callaway has “lost the team”, I believe them.

2)     The Mets need a scapegoat for this awful season.  If a team has an unexpectedly terrible season, there usually needs to be a scapegoat.  As the old adage goes, you cannot fire the whole team, but you can fire the manager.  Note that I wrote “unexpectedly” in the first sentence of this part.  The Mets lost 92 games last year, which is terrible.  When a team has a terrible season, it is usually reasonable to expect the next season to be terrible as well.  Fairly or not, though, most people viewed the 2018 Mets differently.

While people were not readily predicting the 2018 Mets to be a playoff team, most people assumed that 2017 would prove to be an aberration because Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets’ starting-pitching staff minus Jacob deGrom spent most of 2017 on the disabled list.  Therefore, it seemed reasonable that the 2018 Mets would be at least a .500 team and would be in the running for the second Wild Card.  Unfortunately for Callaway, Cespedes will end up spending most of 2018 on the DL as well, and the stats since the start of 2015 show that the Mets are much much better with Cespedes than without him.  At the same time, deGrom, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler have essentially been healthy all year to this point.  Noah Syndergaard has been healthy for 2 of the 4 months.  Seth Lugo has been healthy as well, and he made a few starts early in the season before moving effectively to the bullpen.

In a way, Callaway has actually been hurt by the fact that the starting pitching has done well this year.  We all hoped that the Mets’ pitchers would be better and healthier this year than last year, and that has been the case.  Therefore, the fact that this pitching success has led the Mets to a 44-61 record ends up making it worse on Callaway than if the pitchers had all been terrible.  Had the pitchers been terrible and/or hurt, we would likely be blaming the pitchers (who were terrible and/or hurt last year, pre-Callaway).

Many modern “Moneyball” people say that a manager does not matter.  I am a moderate in this debate.  When a team is 44-61 as the Mets are, not even Gil Hodges nor Tony LaRussa would not have made the team a playoff team.  The Mets are terrible primarily because they have bad players – especially position players.  That said, I think that the difference between a good manager and a bad manager is somewhere between 6 and 10 wins over a full season.  While any manager can and should rely primarily on all available statistics to guide his decisions, a good manager is also able to take advantage of knowledge like: which reliever says he has “good stuff” today, which batter had great batting practice today, which normally-good player is in a funk today because of a fight with his girlfriend, which player is feeling sick today, etc.  A good manager rarely loses games because his players make mental errors or do not hustle.  A good manager’s tough decisions end up correct more often than not.

It would seem that none of the previous paragraph applies to Callaway.  Thus, given that we are 2/3 of the way through the season, maybe the Mets would have 6 more wins with a better manager.  That would mean a 50-55 record, which is actually a world of difference from 44-61.  It would give the Mets a chance to finish over .500.  More importantly, it would make the Mets feel that they are on the way back after the disastrous 70-92 2017 season.

I would love for the Mets to sign Manny Machado next year, but I know it is not happening.  The Wilpons can try to sign several players who will make the Mets much better in 2018, or they can bring in a new manager.  If the Wilpons do the latter, they can preach a change of culture, accountability, etc.  Which option is better?  I would absolutely prefer better players, because that can make more than 6 to 10 wins worth of difference.  However, which is cheaper?  Bringing in a new manager.  That is the biggest reason why I expect a new manager in 2018.

3)     The Mets wreck their managers by not letting them appear on WFAN or ESPN Radio.  This needs to be said.  Most Mets fans think of Mickey Callaway as a buffoon, partially because we never get to hear our trusted sports-radio hosts – Francesa, Kay, LaGreca, Evan Roberts, Boomer, etc. – interview the guy.  The Mets do not let their personnel speak on radio stations other than 710 WOR, and, in so doing, they set up their managers for failure.  If we were able to hear Callaway be interviewed on a weekly basis, we would hear his answers to some of our questions.  Oftentimes, we think people are misguided until we hear them provide their actual rationales.  Unfortunately, we do not get this air time with Callaway.  All we get is plenty of hosts deservedly ridiculing him for saying, “We are going to love our players…”.  This is why Callaway could truly benefit from first-hand WFAN/ESPN Radio time.

 Image result for wfan radio

OK, maybe Callaway would not give us much more in hypothetical WFAN/ESPN interviews than he gives us in his postgame press conferences, but there is a multiplier effect in play.  Radio hosts are nicer when discussing people who are guests on the show than when discussing people who are not.  It is human nature.  This does not mean that the radio hosts have not spoken ill of Joe Girardi nor Aaron Boone at times.  However, hosts will give those guys the benefit of the doubt, because they have working relationships that lead the hosts to assume the best from the managers.  When have you heard any sports-radio personality give Callaway the benefit of the doubt?  It never happens, because the hosts do not have relationships with the guy.  This hurts Callaway.  There is never any positivity about Mickey Callaway when it comes to sports radio, and that influences fans’ perceptions.  The Mets ensure that their managers receive primarily negative radio coverage.  Not only is this bad for Callaway, but it will also hurt his replacement as Mets manager in 2019.

I know that Keith expects Callaway to be back next year, but I think this post is way too long for that to be the case.

A Less Familiar View on Familia

On Saturday, the Mets traded closer Jeurys Familia to the Oakland Athletics.  As we Mets fans close the book on the Familia era, I would like to make the case that he was a much better postseason pitcher the average Mets fan thinks he was.

Most often, when analyzing how good a player/pitcher somebody is/was, it is valid to look at the player’s career cumulative statistics.  While stats never tell the full picture, a large enough sample size of statistics does not lie either.  That said, for Jeurys Familia, we clearly do not have a large enough sample size to judge his postseason career on his cumulative save totals.  Familia is 5 for 8 in postseason save chances.  Thus, he has three career blown saves in the postseason.  Additionally, those three blown saves came in the World Series; thus, four of his past five postseason appearances yielded three blown saves (all in the World Series) and a loss in the 2016 Wild Card game.

Image result for familia blown save world series
Photo via Amazin’ Avenue

However, the guy has all of 13 career playoff appearances.  With a number that small, it is more logical to examine his performance on a game-by-game basis than a cumulative basis.  At the same time, it is worth noting that his playoff ERA is 2.30, and his playoff WHIP is an incredible .638!  Those two numbers should give you pause when deriding the guy’s playoff career.  More importantly, let us examine his 13 playoff outings:

  • 2015 NLDS Game 1 at Los Angeles: Familia pitches 1.1 innings with and retires all four batters he faces. He enters a 3-1 game in the 8th with two outs and a runner on base.  At Dodger Stadium in this instance, many pitchers might struggle, but Familia does not.  Familia is unfazed by the pressure and dominates.
  • 2015 NLDS Game 3 vs. Los Angeles: Familia retires all 3 batters he faces in the 9th The inning begins with the Mets leading 13-4.  After Erik Goeddel allows the first four batters to reach base, Familia comes on to stop the bleeding and preserve a 13-7 win.  This is a low-pressure situation, but he is perfect nonetheless.
  • 2015 NLDS Game 4 vs. Los Angeles: Familia pitches a perfect Top of the 9th to keep the Dodgers’ lead at 3-1. The Mets lose the game, but Familia remains perfect for his postseason career.
  • 2015 NLDS Game 5 at Los Angeles: If you are a real Mets fan, you think after this game, “Oh my God, we might have our Mariano.” It is a winner-take-all game, and Familia pitches perfect 8th and 9th innings at Dodger Stadium with the Mets clinging to a 3-2 lead in the game.  If Armando Benitez, John Franco, Braden Looper, Billy Wagner, or Francisco Rodriguez is the Mets’ pitcher this night; I think the Mets lose the game.  Fortunately, Familia has ice water in his veins and finishes off one gem of a pitching performance for the Mets (6 gutty innings from Jacob deGrom and a solid relief inning from Noah Syndergaard).
  • 2015 NLCS Game 1 vs. Chicago: Ho-hum: Familia records his third postseason save of more than one inning (1.1). This time, he does allow a hit, but he nevertheless preserves a 4-2 win for the Mets and Matt Harvey, who pitched 7.2 innings.  (Side note: With all of the ridiculously short starting pitchers’ outings in the 2016 and 2017 postseasons, it is refreshing to remember that the Mets’ starters routinely pitched at least 6 innings and often more during the 2015 playoffs.)
  • 2015 NLCS Game 2 vs. Chicago: Ho-hum again: Familia records his first easy (in my opinion) save of the postseason. He allows 1 hit over 1 inning in preserving a 4-1 Mets win.  Even Trevor Hoffman probably could have converted this save.
  • 2015 NLCS Game 3 at Chicago: Another easy one: Familia pitches a perfect ninth to finish off a 5-2 Mets win.
  • 2015 NLCS Game 5 at Chicago: Familia earns the right to be on the mound as the Mets clinch their first pennant in 15 years. He pitches a scoreless 9th and walks one batter.  The Mets win 8-3.


Therefore, as we presently stand, Familia has put together 8 scoreless appearances with only 3 baserunners allowed.  He is 5-for-5 in save opportunities, with 3 of those saves being more than one inning long.  Anyway, back to the log.

  • 2015 World Series Game 1 at Kansas City: Familia enters in the 8th inning with the tying run on base. Familia records the last out of the inning but allows a game-tying solo homer to Alex Gordon in the 9th  Thus, Familia’s line is 1.1 innings, 1 ER, 1 baserunner (the homer), 1 blown save.  It is the first blemish on Familia’s postseason record.  The Mets lose the game in 14 innings.
  • 2015 World Series Game 3 vs. Kansas City: Familia pitches a perfect 9th to preserve a 9-3 Mets win and to give the Mets their first win of the World Series. In hindsight, people criticize manager Terry Collins for using Familia with a 6-run lead.  On one hand, Collins used Familia with a bigger lead in Game 3 of the NLDS, and Familia looked no worse for wear in Games 4 and 5 of that series.  On the other hand, this World Series appearance represents Familia’s 10th postseason appearance in three weeks.  Thus, fatigue is likely becoming a bigger factor.  How does Familia respond going forward?…
  • 2015 World Series Game 4 vs. Kansas City: Familia pitches 2/3 of an inning (8th inning), allowing an unearned run and two hits. This is where the raw stats do not tell the story.  Mets fans know the story.  Familia enters in the Top of the 8th with the Mets clinging to a 1-run lead.  There are runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out.  Eric Hosmer hits a ground ball to second baseman Daniel Murphy.  At worst, this should be a 4-3 ground out that puts runners at second and third with 2 outs.  Instead, Murphy makes an error, allowing the tying run to score.  Somehow, this alone already counts as a blown save for Familia.  It is ridiculous that baseball scoring credits the run to the previous pitcher but the blown save to Familia, but I digress. There are now runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and a tie score.  Familia allows two hits, and the two runners ultimately score (second being an unearned run charged to Familia).  Mets lose 5-3.


Sure, Murphy’s error is not solely responsible for Familia’s two hits allowed.  That said, Familia enters the game and induces the groundball he needed.  Had there then instead been 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs and the Mets up by 1, things might go differently than with first and third, 1 out, and a tie game.

  • 2015 World Series Game 5 vs. Kansas City: It is silly that Familia was given a blown save in Game 4 for allowing the inherited runner to score on Murphy’s error. It is criminal that Familia is given a blown save in the upcoming scenario.  Mets fans know this one very, very well.  Familia relieves Matt Harvey with the tying run on second and nobody out in the Top of the 9th.  Familia induces consecutive groundouts.  The first moves Eric Hosmer from second to third.  The second groundout is 5-3, with David Wright throwing the ball over to Lucas Duda.  Of course, Hosmer ends up following Wright and scoring the tying run on the play.  Familia then induces a third-consecutive groundout.
Image result for familia blown save world series
Photo via

Therefore, Jeurys Familia allows three consecutive groundouts and earns a blown save.  Baseball’s rules are ridiculous.  Anyway, as we exit the 2015 postseason, we should remember Familia as being a great postseason pitcher.  Yes, he technically blew three saves, but two were fully or partially because of errors…and one was because baseball’s “blown save” crediting is silly.  In truth; over 12 playoff appearances, Alex Gordon’s Game 1 (WS) homer and the two KC hits after Murphy’s error opened the door were the only negatives on the guy’s record.  Familia had a stellar postseason and was instrumental in the Mets making it to the World Series.

However, after Familia’s unlucky-13th postseason appearance, many Mets fans retroactively decide that Familia is a bad postseason pitcher.  Of course, in this last appearance, Familia enters a scoreless game in the 9th inning and allows two baserunners before allowing Conor Gillaspie’s game-winning homer.  This is easily Familia’s worst postseason moment.  Unfortunately, it is his last Mets postseason moment, but let us not forget that the guy was actually a fantastic postseason pitcher for most of his Mets career.

Three Silver Linings to Rooting for a Team as Terrible as the 2018 Mets

The New York Mets are a terrible, terrible baseball team.  After starting the 2018 season 11-1, the Mets have gone 20-44.  If you are wondering 20-44 equates to a .3125 winning percentage.  The Royals (.308) and Orioles (.299) are the only teams with worse winning percentages for this full season, but the Mets could easily drop below those two teams within the next day or two.  Are the Mets as bad as those two teams?  Absolutely.

Image result for 2018 mets bad
Photo via

If one has watched baseball for any considerable portion of his/her life, that person can tell pretty easily how good a team is.  I have watched the Mets regularly since 1990, so I can vouch for the fact that this team is as awful as its record indicates.  What are the main indicators that jump out at me in terms of the Mets being terrible?

1)     Jason Vargas got hurt before Sunday’s start, and the Mets decided that their minor leagues are so barren that they were better off starting reliever Jerry Blevins.  This required patching together 9 (actually 11) innings of bullpen innings from a bullpen with maybe 3 legitimate Major League relievers.

2)     Jason Vargas has been so bad that the afore-mentioned bullpen option worked out better than a typical Vargas start.  Speaking of which, please disregard this.

3)     Continuing with the “speaking of which…”, Jose Reyes has a batting average of .175 and an OPS of .507 yet remains on this team.

4)     Mickey Callaway has decided to bench prospect Amed Rosario for several games in a row so that Reyes can start.  Seriously.

5)     Since 2015, the Mets’ offense has dominated with Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup and been terrible with him out of the lineup.  Cespedes has played only 37 games this year.

6)     If the Yankees had kept Todd Frazier, he would be a bench player this year.  On the Mets, he hits in the #2, #3, and #4 spots.

7)     The first-place Atlanta Braves released both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista over the past year.  Both of these people have had stretches of regular starts for the Mets.

8)     Kevin Plawecki has hit cleanup.

9)     Mickey Callaway said on Sunday that the Mets need to “sync up” the performance between their position players, starting pitchers, and bullpen.  That is the baseball equivalent of Ben McAdoo’s “complementary football”.  That ended up well.

10)  Most importantly, Jacob deGrom has an ERA of 1.69, a WHIP of 1.01, 16 starts, and a whopping five wins.

Image result for jacob degrom
Photo via

What a disaster.  For the second-consecutive season, the Mets enter summer completely out of the playoff race.  Obviously, this is a major disappointment for a big-time Mets fan like myself.  Summer is much better for a baseball fan when that fan is excited to watch his/her team every night.  I am not excited to watch the train wreck in Flushing.  Summer is much better when a fan can start to build excitement for a pennant race, when the fan can start to scoreboard-watch the team’s primary standings opponents, and when the fan can dream of thrilling October baseball.  Summer is much better when the fan can enjoy the highs of important wins and agonize over important losses.  I know it is weird for me to speak well of agony, but one does need to experience joy in order for him/her to fall into agony.  Only a complete masochist agonizes every time a terrible team loses.  Yes, some self-loathing Mets fans fall into this category, but thankfully I do not.

With all that said, there are three silver linings to rooting for a terrible team.

1)     I can enjoy the wins, but I never feel the agony!  Sure, I do not become too elated when a 31-45 Mets team wins a game, but I do feel at least a modicum of joy.  On the flip side, I do not feel any negative emotion when the Mets lose.  I felt negative emotion in April and May when the Mets descended from 11-1 to oblivion, but I am now far too deep into the learned-helplessness phase.  I expect the Mets to lose every game.  Plus, as I mentioned last year, I know that I am not going to loyally watch a team this bad once NFL season begins.  I have no false aspirations of the Mets making their way toward a pennant race or (Good lord) playoff baseball.  Therefore, I have nothing to lose right now as a fan.  For example, I attended Sunday’s surprisingly exciting 8-7 Mets’ loss to the Dodgers (the Vargas/Blevins game).  I was legitimately thrilled when Kevin Plawecki hit a game-tying three-run homer in the 8th inning.  However, when Justin Turner hit a go-ahead Los Angeles homer in the 11th inning, I matter-of-factly felt like the game was over.  I knew it would shortly be time for us to go home, but I was not upset.  How could I be upset about a team losing its 23rd game in 29?  It would be like being upset that Roadrunner evaded Wile E. Coyote yet again.

2)     I have zero time commitment to the team.  Again, it is disappointing not to have the thrill of a good baseball team to watch this summer.  At the same time, this truth means that I do not feel bad when I have to miss a game.  In 2015 and 2016, I was upset whenever I could not watch a game.  This year could not be any different.  Again, I know that I will lose touch with the team in September.  Therefore, if I miss more games in July and August, who cares?  It is also worth noting that my wife and I will be taking two honeymoons this summer – one in July and one in August.  If the Mets were halfway decent, I would currently be going to great lengths to make sure I can watch as many Mets games as possible on those trips.  Fortunately though, I am perfectly content to avoid going to those great lengths for this terrible Mets edition.  Therefore, from the “You don’t want to be bad husband on your honeymoon” department, thank God the Mets are awful.

3)     It is humorous.  If the 2015 or 2016 Mets chose not to use any starting pitchers in a game, I would have been angry.  When the 2018 Mets did it, I laughed.  Honestly, when I read 9 of the 10 things listed above, I laugh.  Only deGrom’s tough luck does not make me laugh.  He is one of the best pitchers of his generation, but he is toiling on a terrible team.  Everything else though makes me laugh.  The Mets daily trot out a lineup that is worse than the Yankees’ AAA lineup.  When something is this big a disaster, the only healthy thing one can do is laugh about it.


Photo via NY Post


Anyway, I know that it has been a difficult two seasons for Mets fans.  I hope that all of you Mets fans out there can use these three silver linings to get through the 2018 Mets season as I have and will continue to do.

Mickey Callaway Cannot Fix a Flawed Team

During Spring Training, Mets manager Mickey Callaway earned great praise for the positive energy he had brought to Spring Training.  I also read of players complimenting the fact that all of the Spring Training drills had purposes, as if Terry Collins had always been orchestrating a bunch of useless drills in his Spring Training workouts.  That seemed like a bogus claim to me, but it was not the silliest thing that I heard this spring.  To the contrary, the silliest thing I heard was when Callaway mentioned that he wanted Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler to pitch 4 innings per start.  At the time, Callaway also discussed having relievers be able to pitch multiple innings to make up for those short starts. While the idea of having relievers pitch multiple innings was and is a good one, the idea that a bullpen could collectively handle such a massive workload was and is not.  Nevertheless, in the spring; reporters, players, and some Mets fans thought that all of Callaway’s ideas were wonderful.  I was not one of these people; I thought Callaway’s idea to use starting pitchers for so few innings was a recipe for disaster.

In fact, when I heard all of the premature praise for Mickey Callaway, it reminded me of the scene in Step Brothers in which Seth Rogen’s character compliments Dale and Brennan for showing up for a physical-education job interview in tuxedos.   “It’s ironic.  I get it.”  Anyway, why did the Callaway situation remind me of this scene?  First off, most things in life remind me of Step Brothers.  Secondly, I knew that there was no way that the bullpen strategy could work over a 162-game season.  Thus, applauding the strategy in March was like Rogen applauding the tuxedos.  I figured that, when the strategy ultimately blows up, and Callaway’s over-the-top positivity for a bad team quickly runs stale; all of his one-time sycophants would say, “OK, now the 4-inning starts (aka the “tuxes”) seem kinda f$%#ed up”.  If this analogy has gone over your head, please go watch Step Brothers immediately.  Then it will all make sense, and the movie is one of the funniest movies of all time.  You are welcome.

Image result for step brothers tuxedo gif

Anyway, enough with the analogy.  I do give Mickey Callaway credit for the idea of pitching relievers for multiple innings.  I have been preaching this idea since 1998 when I first wrote to The Record, stating that, if Turk Wendell has pitched a good 8th inning, he should be allowed to pitch the 9th.  That part of Callaway’s logic makes perfect sense.  We know that Callaway rightfully includes warm-up pitches in his consideration for how much work a pitcher has received.  We know that he hates “dry humping”, and, by that logic, it is more efficient to have a pitcher throw 70 innings in 35 appearances than 70 innings in 70 appearances.  The latter means 35 more games in which the pitcher has to throw several warm-up pitches in the bullpen.  I agree with Callaway on all fronts here.  Furthermore, some days a pitcher “has it”.  Some days a pitcher does not.  Therefore, I have never liked taking out a pitcher who clearly “has it”.  If you go through 6 or 7 pitchers in a game, the law of averages says that at least one (and likely more) of those pitchers will not “have it” that day.  Therefore, you might as well stick with the guy who has been effective in that game.

That all said, the benefits of this strategy go out the window when you have three pitchers who rarely make it past four innings.  I should add that some of the unwarranted preseason praise for Callaway intimated that Callaway would be able to fix Matt Harvey.  That clearly proved not to be the case.  Meanwhile, I am not going to blame Jason Vargas’s horrific performances on Callaway, but the fact remains that we are stuck with three Mets pitchers who routinely exit after 4 or maybe 5 innings.  That was Callaway’s plan anyway, and it does not work.  You cannot sustain a bullpen under those circumstances.

It does not matter if you are using relievers for an inning apiece or multiple innings apiece; if you need five innings of relief three out of every five nights, you will destroy your bullpen.  If we assume that Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard give a combined 13 innings per rotation, the Mets need 20 bullpen innings per rotation, and that equates to roughly 650 bullpen innings per season.  Keep in mind that a dependable workhorse reliever is good for 80 innings per season.  The standard modern workhorse, in that case, would make 80 appearances and average one inning per appearance.  Fortunately, Callaway has allowed pitchers to make multiple-inning appearances.  However, if a pitcher like Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman pitches 2 or 3 innings in a relief effort, he should not be pitching in the next two games or really the next three games.  THAT is how you maximize the effectiveness of a relief pitcher.  It is not only the longer outings but it is also the longer rest.  Ideally, a team should be able to use two relievers per game.  This would keep all relievers fresh, as they would regularly get two or three days off in a row.

The problem is that this idea would only work well in an era in which starting pitchers routinely pitch seven innings.  Such an era would require only 320 relief innings per season.  If a team has 4 good relievers, the team can satisfy the bulk of those 320 innings with only those four relievers.  Plus, if those relievers could make 2-inning appearances with some regularity, these relievers would receive enough rest to stay effective.

Image result for mets bullpen

On the other hand, the Mets need the afore-mentioned 650 bullpen innings.  Yikes!  Is the Mets’ bullpen terrible?  No.  It has four dependable relievers – Jeurys Familia, Lugo, Gsellman, and the injured Anthony Swarzak.  How many teams have more than four dependable relievers?  2?  3?  Many teams would be happy to have four dependable relievers.  However, when your team’s strategy is to have 650 bullpen innings (as I have projected for the Mets), and you have only four dependable relievers (who we will generously say are good for 80 innings apiece); you are stuck with the unenviable choice either a) coaxing 330 innings from the other relief pitchers, who are generally terrible, b) completely overworking the good relievers to the point where they are injured or no longer dependable, or c) both.  Actually, who am I kidding?  The only answer is “c”.  This is the sole logical result, given that teams do try to use the bad relievers; the bad relievers get bombed; and the teams must then use the good relievers.

Case in point: Seth Lugo on Memorial Day.  This guy has dominated all year, but he has been overused.  Callaway wanted Lugo to get a 2-inning save in the first game of a doubleheader, so that he could save Familia for the nightcap.  I do not think it is bad strategy, but it would have been much better strategy if Lugo had not pitched so many innings already.  Lugo has pitched 32.2 innings, and Gsellman has pitched 33.3.  Lugo’s 20 appearances are not bad for a 51-game stretch, but he, like Gsellman (25 appearances), is on pace to pitch more than 100 innings, an untenable total for a reliever.  (I would still love to swap Lugo and Wheeler; given that Lugo has been an effective starter and that Wheeler has an innings’ limit.)  Unfortunately, the Mets are burning out their best relief pitchers.

The funny thing is: this same exact issue happened for the Mets last year.  In fact, I wrote an article about how the Mets’ starting pitching was atrocious and responsible for the bad bullpen performance.  The Mets’ bullpen performed well at the beginning of last season too, but those relievers became overtaxed and lost effectiveness.

The truth is that there are only two ways for a team to be successful while having as many 4-5-inning starts as the Mets do:

  • The team must have at least 6 good relief pitchers.
  • The team must have fantastic position players.


It is great to have six good relief pitchers, because that would cover 480 of the 630 relief innings.  That is a workable ratio.  However, let’s be honest.  How many teams have 6 good relief pitchers?  The Yankees did last year, and so did the 2006 Mets (Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford, Darren Oliver); but it is a huge rarity.  No, the only way to expect success with such undependable starting pitching is to have a dynamite offense, and the Mets do not have that.   The Mets have a bunch of old guys who would be on the benches of most other teams, some younger guys who are currently no better than #7 or #8 hitters, and one phenomenal hitter who can never stay healthy.  Mickey Callaway cannot fix any of these problems, but he cannot fix the pitching problems any better than Terry Collins could.  That is why the preseason praise for Callaway seems as f$#@ed up as the tuxes.  I do not think he is a bad manager, but he does not have the ability to fix the major problems with the Mets’ roster.

After a Thrilling Weekend of Football, Let’s Discuss the MLB Trade Deadline

We are coming off an epic weekend of playoff football.  While I hate when people try to put things in historical context immediately after the events happen, any non-Saints fans can agree that the end of the Saints/Vikings game was one of the greatest moments in NFL history.  However, many people have many great things to say about this past weekend of three fantastic football games.  I do not have anything novel to add.  Therefore, while everyone else zigs, I will zag and say something I have wanted to say for six months about the MLB Trade Deadline.

I am a purist when it comes to sports.  If you have read some of my other blog entries, you might have picked up on this.  At the same time, I am an Economics teacher who majored in Mathematical Economics in college.  Therefore, in previous blog entries, I have preached of purist ideas only if there is economic defense for them.  For example, I hate the NHL’s 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts, but I do not push for the NHL to eliminate these occurrences.  I know that enough people like these things.  Thus, the league would be making an economic mistake to get rid of them.  That is why I instead proposed the 3-2-1-0 point system as a sound way to improve the 3-on-3/shootout situation.  It satisfies both the NHL’s purists and the NHL’s profits.

That said, today I am going to deviate from my usual rule of advocating change only if it makes economic sense.  I am going to speak of a change that the purist in me would love but that the economist in me would hate.  Here it goes: I wish that MLB would move its trade deadline to its former date of June 15.

Because of economic reasons, this change will never happen, but I am going to discuss my purist desire for the change anyway.  It is my understanding that the spirit of a trade deadline is that leagues do not want teams who are out of playoff contention to unload all of their top players during the last week of the season.  It would not seem right to have the top teams in a league suddenly get an influx of great players during the last week.  However, bad teams would be inclined to make such deals, in that they could receive prospects and salary relief in exchange for players who would be of little-to-no value when that team becomes good again.

Image result for trade deadline deals 2017 mlb

Actually, I assume that this is the logic that led Major League Baseball to the June-15 trade deadline in days of yore.  Back then, the league was likely very concerned about teams unloading their top players for prospects as soon as the teams were to fall out of playoff contention.  Back then, MLB probably did not like the idea of subpar teams trotting out minor-league lineups in August and September after having traded so many top players.  Then again, in those days, there were fewer entertainment options in this world.  Therefore, fans were happier to keep watching their non-playoff teams until the end of September.  In fact, during that time, only 4 teams made the playoffs each season, so many fans never even had expectations of their teams qualifying for the postseason.  It is a psychological truth that lower expectations can often lead people to greater happiness than higher expectations.

Anyway, in 1986, MLB moved the trade deadline to July 31.  Actually, that is and was the waiver trade deadline.  Teams could and may continue to trade players who have passed through waivers until August 31.  (Technically, trades can happen after this point, but traded players are ineligible for playoff rosters.)

As a result, in modern baseball; by late August, bad teams have unloaded most of their good players.  Meanwhile, good teams have loaded up on players from bad teams.  I hate this.  I know that this will not change because of economic reasons, but I still hate this.  The New York Mets are a professional baseball team, but they traded Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, and Neil Walker last July and August.  Based upon the trade deadline, those were all wise decisions by the Mets.  Most fans nowadays stop watching when a team becomes bad, so the Mets might as well have traded those expiring contracts for prospects.  That said, the purist in me believes that those five players should have stayed on the Mets until the end of the season.  The purist in me hates that top teams like the Cubs and Nationals were gifted September games against the Mets with a bunch of minor-leaguers playing.  The purist in me says that this is the whole reason why the trade deadline used to be June 15.

Image result for trade deadline deals 2017 mlb

Granted, full disclosure: the Mets greatly benefited in 2015 and 2016 from such trade-deadline moves.  During both seasons, the Mets beat up on teams like the Phillies and Reds – teams who were already bad but who became worse in August after trading top players.  I was happy to see the Mets win those games, and I was ecstatic for the Mets to ride 2015-deadline-acquisition Yoenis Cespedes to an NL-East title.  As a Mets fan, I loved all of that.  However, today, in the dead of winter two years later, I can sit back and concede that my inner purist wishes that baseball were not this way.

I wish that teams had to decide by June 15, when no more than 2 or 3 teams are “out of playoff contention”, what trades they were going to make.  This way, you would not have traditional “buyers” and “sellers”.  Instead, you would have teams making “baseball” trades – current talent for current talent.  Sure, you would have rare cases where atrocious teams would already be unloading good players on June 15.  However, it would take a really bad team and a general manager who is willing to admit defeat to his or her fan base in June for this to happen.  Meanwhile, the best result of this deadline change would be that bad teams would no longer suddenly get worse during the last two months – and the most important games for good teams – of the season.  This would make the last two months of the season more competitive across MLB.

At the same time, good teams would not be able to improve suddenly with a month left in the season.  It was a great story to see Justin Verlander help Houston win the World Series, but the purist in me has trouble with the star of a championship team arriving a month before the playoffs.  Likewise, good teams with bad bullpens in July never need to worry, because they can always poach good relievers off bad teams.  Look at Robertson, Kahnle, Doolittle, Madson, etc.  We saw the Yankees and Nationals have no trouble acquiring quality relievers last summer, a year after the Yankees traded Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to the ultimate pennant-winning teams.  Look at the rosters of any playoff team, and you are likely to find a reliever or two poached from a bad team in July or August.  I do not like this.

Image result for trade deadline deals 2017 mlb

Again, this will never change.  The trade deadline will never move forward.  Why won’t it change?  This is how business is done now.  With 10 playoff teams, it is now easier than ever to improve from being a 90-loss team one season to being a playoff team the next, as I hope the Mets will do this season.  Gone are the days when teams needed to build great rosters over several years with the hope of someday reaching the 95-win plateau.  That was in the 4-playoff-team era, when only the elite teams played in October.  Now, fewer than 90 wins is often good enough for a playoff berth.  Now, if you are a bad team, you might as well unload your top players for prospects and salary relief.  In the offseason, you can sign free agents, and, if your team is good enough as of late July, you can add rentals for a championship run.  Moreover, with 10 playoff teams, “good enough as of late July” can often mean “a few games below .500”.

This is the logical way to run a baseball team nowadays.  Furthermore, the month of July is super-exciting because of all the trade possibilities.  While the purist in me dislikes the current deadlines, the Mets fan in me loves spending all summer on Metsblog looking at trade rumors.  MLB knows that I am not the only person like this.  People spend a lot of time watching baseball, MLB TV, and team websites monitoring potential trade activity.  Plus, in a league with 10 playoff teams and in a world with endless forms of entertainment, fans do not have time to watch teams with no playoff chances.  Therefore, the combination of having 10 playoff teams and July 31/August 31 trade deadlines is best for the overall interest in MLB and thus for MLB’s and teams’ bottom lines.  Therefore, the July 31/August 31 trade deadlines are here to stay.  However, the purist in me will never like this.

Four Inexpensive Moves to Make the 2018 Mets a Playoff Team

After a 70-92 2017 season, the Mets have left most of their fans expecting a rough 2018 campaign.  Since the end of last season, the Mets have more or less kept the team intact.  The three notable changes have been hiring Mickey Callaway as manager, signing reliever Anthony Swarzak, and signing Jay Bruce (whom the Mets traded away in August).  While I like the Swarzak and Bruce moves (and the jury is out on the Callaway move), let us not act like these moves make the Mets major playoff contenders.

Let us examine the hypothetical world in which the 2017 Mets had Anthony Swarzak and did not trade away Bruce in August.  At best, that Mets edition might have been 5 games better than the actual 2017 team.  This is a very generous “at best”, but I will go with it.  In that case, the 2017 Mets would have finished 75-87.  Keep in mind that the 2017 Mets had Jose Reyes for the full year and Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, and Addison Reed for most of the year.  All of those players are now either gone or currently free agents (whom the Mets could potentially sign).  While none of those players is going to set the world on fire by himself, those five players nevertheless represent a great deal of talent to lose.  The Mets would have likely been at least 4 games worse without them for the full 2017 season.  Meanwhile, the Mets would have likely been at least 5 games better last year with Noah Syndergaard healthy all season.  The sum of those alternate-reality scenarios would have put the Mets at 76-86 last season.

Image result for noah syndergaard hurt

That “76-86” mark is important, because that is the record that I feel the current Mets would have attained if they had played together for all of 2017.  Therefore, how are the Mets to improve by 14 games to gain a playoff berth in 2018?  One way would be for the Mets to go out and sign big-time free agents at catcher, second base/third base, and starting pitcher.  Wait, why are you laughing so profusely???  Oh yeah, that’s right.  The Wilpons have too much debt and never spend a lot of money.  Therefore, that “spending lots of money” option is off the table.  Forget about Yu Darvish.  Forget about Lance Lynn.  Forget about Mike Moustakas.

Anyway, since bringing in high-priced talent is off the table, the Mets must get creative.  I do feel they have a set of moves that can bring the club to 90 wins.  Within their budget, I feel their best option is to do the following four things:

  • Move Matt Harvey to the bullpen. This is my #1 way to improve the team.  The guy comes into every start wanting to blow people away.  I guess this is how he impresses his supermodel girlfriends, so I guess I do not blame him.  However, Harvey clearly has a closer’s mentality.  Starters have to manage their way through several innings.  They cannot max out on every pitch like Harvey tries to do.  Harvey often does well in the first and maybe second innings of games.  Then he completely falls apart.  He had a 4.86 ERA in 2016 and a 6.70 ERA last year.  That is where having a plethora of  5-or-6-run 3rd and 4th innings will land you.  The guy should be a closer.  This role will allow him to pitch one inning per appearance and max out each time.  He will end up throwing no more than 80 innings, which is good for a man with as many physical ailments as he has.  Plus, I know he really does not want to be a closer, but I really don’t care (Demi Lovato).   He is lucky he is still in the majors, and he can wave bye-bye to the massive contract that 2015 Matt Harvey thought he would earn in 2019.  Starting pitchers with ERAs approaching 7.00 are not given very good contracts if they get any contracts at all.  However, good closers are at least paid moderately well.  The Mets and he might as well try this option, as they have nothing to lose right now.  As for the supermodels; if he is with a supermodel now when his baseball career seems broken beyond repair, he will do just fine after he starts to excel as a closer.

Image result for matt harvey

  • Move Zack Wheeler to the bullpen. I have heard this nonsense about the Mets potentially using Harvey, Wheeler, and Steven Matz for no more than 4 innings per start.  That sounds like an absolute train wreck over a full season.  This plan will sound great when every reliever has already made 20 appearances by the end of April.  So great.   Anyway, sarcasm aside, the truth is that Wheeler is an unreliable commodity.  After missing two seasons due to Tommy John Surgery, he pitched in 2017 to a 5.21 ERA.  I do not care if he was once a hot prospect; he is currently a pitcher who has pitched poorly since returning from a two-year injury hiatus.  Is it possible that he someday becomes a great starting pitcher?  Of course.  However, I would rather see him pitch in the bullpen first, so that the team initially relies on him for fewer innings.  Give me a bullpen of Harvey, Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Swarzak, and Jerry Blevins.  That is actually a fantastic bullpen.  You can win a World Series with that pen….and other good players.


  • Sign R.A. Dickey. The key to the 2015 Mets’ pitching success was the reliability of Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon.  That season, neither veteran missed a start.  This was huge, as the Mets managed Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom through injuries and innings limits.  In 2016, Colon continued that reliability.  However, last year, the Mets had no such starter.  I wrote a lengthy post in August about the large number of Mets pitching starts of more earned runs allowed than innings pitched.  That happens when you have to use the likes of Tommy Milone and Tyler Pill to make a whole bunch of starts.  If the Mets sign Dickey, a fan favorite, to a presumably relatively cheap contract, they will have that veteran starter.  He should be able to give the Mets a regular 6 innings pitched and 4 or fewer earned runs allowed.  Plus, Dickey would allow the Mets to have three somewhat sure things in the rotation – deGrom, Syndergaard, and Dickey.  Meanwhile, Steven Matz would be the fourth starter, and Seth Lugo would be the fifth starter.  Both of those are unknown quantities.  Matz can be the ace of the staff when healthy, but he is never healthy.  Lugo has pitched to too small a sample size for me to judge him accurately.  If one of those guys can stay healthy and effective, the Mets’ rotation should be just fine.  Rafael Montero would likely be the fifth starter if one of these two cannot get the job done.  Hopefully, it does not come to that.  Actually, the ideal scenario would be for the Mets to sign Jason Vargas as a fourth starter.  That would give the Mets six legitimate starters and two sure-thing veteran pitchers.  It would mean the Mets could avoid Montero as long either Lugo or Matz is healthy.  However, even Vargas is probably too expensive for the Mets.  However, I really really really wish they could sign him because that would make me feel excellent about the rotation.


  • Bring back Jose Reyes. While most of us Mets fans were ready to run Jose out of town last spring, he ended up having a good season.  He could play second base or third base in 2018 and could bat leadoff or further down in the order.  This would give the Mets plenty of roster flexibility.  Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, T.J. Rivera, and Wilmer Flores could play second base or third base.  Meanwhile, Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and Michael Conforto could play some first base if Dominic Smith struggles.

 Image result for jose reyes 2017

In fact, I think that the Mets’ strongest offensive/defensive lineup (if they bring back Reyes) would actually be:

  • Reyes 2B
  • Rosario SS
  • Conforto RF
  • Cespedes LF
  • Bruce 1B
  • Cabrera 3B
  • Lagares CF
  • d’Arnaud C
  • Pitcher


At the same time, a bench with Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Flores, and Rivera is fine with this lineup.  Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes is clearly a front-runner.  With a good team, he is inspired to be a great player.  With a bad team, this is far from the case.

Image result for cespedes

In the end, I am not saying that the aforementioned moves would guarantee the Mets a playoff berth.  However, I do feel that the combination of a healthy and more motivated Cespedes, a healthy Conforto (he did miss the last six weeks of 2017 too), 30 MLB starts from R.A. Dickey (as opposed to a potential of 30 starts from fringe MLB pitchers), slightly healthier seasons by Matz and Lugo, an improved Amed Rosario, the return of Jose Reyes, and a revamped bullpen make it possible that the Mets earn those 14 extra wins needed to reach 90 and a likely playoff berth.

Ranking the World Series of the Wild-Card Era

Before the 2017 World Series began, I wanted to write a column that ranks the World Series of the modern era.  However, I remembered how miserable I felt before the 1999 and 2006 World Series, the two series that followed devastating Mets playoff losses.  In fact, I ended up watching very few pitches of the 1999 World Series and none of the 2006 World Series.  I was that bitter that the Mets were not there.  Anyway, the editors of “Below the Belt Sports” are big-time Yankees fans, and I do not know how much of the series they are/will be watching.  That said; rather than sending them a World Series article a day or two after the Yankees’ elimination, I figured I would give them a few extra days of mourning, Alonzo, before they had to read this article.

Anyway, as a baseball fan, it excites me that we have our first World Series matchup of 100+ win teams since the 1970 Reds/Orioles showdown.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you are likely aware that I do not like it when the World Series features teams who were not dominant through the 162-game regular-season marathon.  However, this Houston/LA matchup is a matchup of two heavyweights.  This is great for baseball.  The best ways to hype a World Series are to have dominant teams, big markets, dynasties, superstars, and/or teams with long championship droughts.  Given this, I thought it would be fun to rank the World Series of the Wild Card era by hype leading into the series.  Then, it would be fun to compare these rankings to how great the series ended up.  Note that, when I rank the series based on how great they actually were, I give the most weight to the pure excitement of the baseball (regardless of storylines entering the series) while also giving secondary weight to those other storylines.

Therefore, without further ado, here is my ranking of the pre-series hype of the 23 World Series from 1995 through 2017:

23) 2003: Florida Marlins over New York Yankees in 6.  Classic ALCS – Aaron Boone’s walkoff homer in Game 7.  Classic NLCS – Steve Bartman, Moises Alou, and Alex Gonzalez.  America was ready for Boston and/or the Chicago Cubs to play in the World Series, ready to end their legendary droughts.  Instead, we got the Yankees for the 5th time in 6 years and the ratings-kryptonite Marlins.

Image result for steve bartman

22) 2007: Boston over Colorado in 4.  While the Red Sox did draw a national audience, the Rockies – even with an incredible 22-1 run that ended at the end of the NLCS – were not a big draw. Plus, the Red Sox had ended their drought three years earlier, and most people had gone through September expecting to see the Phillies, Mets, or Cubs in the World Series.

21) 1997: Florida Marlins over Cleveland in 7.  Let’s just get done with the Marlins here.  While Cleveland had not won a World Series in 49 years, the 1997 Indians had won only 85 games.  This was supposed to be a rematch of the 1996 Yankees/Braves series or a battle of the 97-win Orioles and Braves.  Even Harry Caray couldn’t be bothered with previewing the players in this one.

20) 2012: San Francisco over Detroit in 4.  While these are two classic franchises, San Francisco had already won its first SF title in 2010, but its down 2011 season had kept the team from developing an air of dynasty.  Plus, Washington and Cincinnati were the clear two top teams in the NL that season.  A Giants/Yankees matchup would have also been intriguing, but Derek Jeter’s injury in Game 1 of the Tigers/Yankees ALCS derailed chances of that one.

19) 2011: St. Louis over Texas in 7.  At the time, I was surprised by the lack of hype for this series.  Texas had never won (and still has never won) a World Series, and Dallas-Fort Worth is a major market.  Plus St. Louis is a classic franchise and has the second-most championships of all time.  However, what I think does not matter.  Also, it might not have helped that, for the second-straight season, the Phillies were the class of the NL in the regular season but came up short of the Fall Classic.

18) 2006: St. Louis over Detroit in 5.  Sure, the Cardinals had not won a World Series since 1982, but that was not a long drought.  Plus, they were 83-79 in 2006.  83 and friggin 79.  I did not watch any of this series.  I do not need to say any more.

17) 2005: Chicago White Sox over Houston in 4: This was the tipping point for me when I realized, “Oh crap.  People don’t care about the World Series anymore.”  6 of the previous 7 Fall Classics had featured the Yankees or Red Sox, and most of those series brought the hype.  I figured that the White Sox, a team with a drought 2 years longer than the Red Sox of the previous year and a team from Chicago, would be great for ratings.  Chicago and Houston are both top-4 markets.  Houston was looking for its first-ever championship.  However, the hype just was not there.  These two teams, even with Houston employing Roger Clemens, could not excite America.

Image result for roger clemens astros

16) 2014: San Francisco over Kansas City in 7.  Washington grabbed the top seed in the NL.  The Angels nabbed the top seed in the AL.  We were set for Trout and Harper in the Fall Classic.  Oh wait, the two teams won a combined one playoff game, and we were blessed with two Wild Cards in the World Series.  Again, the Giants’ subpar 2013 season kept them from having the “dynasty” appeal.

15) 2002: Anaheim Angels over San Francisco in 7.  As much as non-Yankees fans might dislike the Yankees, those fans love to tune in to root against the Yankees.  The first non-Yankees World Series since 2002 meant a decrease of hype.  However, neither of these teams had won a championship in their current somewhat-large-market locations, and Barry Bonds was in his ridiculous steroid-induced prime.  These facts helped garner interest.

Image result for barry bonds world series 2002

14) 2010: San Francisco over Texas in 5.  Again, Texas’s first WS appearance did not bring the hype I would have expected, but the fact that neither Texas nor San Francisco had won championships in their current locations helped.  I would say that, since Anaheim is not truly “LA”, Texas brought slightly more hype than Anaheim, hence the reason for this being above 2002.

13) 2000: NY Yankees over NY Mets in 5.  Yes, the hype was incredible in the Tri-State area, but much of the rest of the country was disinterested in an all-New York Fall Classic.

12) 2008: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay in 5.  In my mind, six MLB teams are always big for national hype: Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers.  The first Phillies’ World Series in 25 years would have been ranked higher if not for the fact that they were facing off against a moribund Rays franchise with no real fans.

11) 1999: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 4.  We have now entered the realm of the series with high levels of hype.  While it was nauseating for me to have to choose to root for John Rocker or for Roger Clemens, this was the last World Series to pit two dynasties against each other.  The Yankees had won 2 of the previous 3 World Series, and the Braves were playing in their fifth World Series of the decade.  Dynasties are good for business.

10) 2001: Arizona over NY Yankees in 7.  Sure, 4th-year expansion teams in the desert don’t exactly scream “YUUUUUGE ratings”, but this was New York after 9/11.  It did not matter who was representing the NL; this series would be of great interest.

9) 1998: NY Yankees over San Diego in 4.  San Diego was not a major draw, but the Yankees had won of the best records in MLB history.  Would they finish the job like the 1927 Yankees or fall short like the 1954 Indians (note: the “2001 Mariners” reference did not exist yet)?  Would the Yankees officially become a dynasty?

8) 1995: Atlanta over Cleveland in 6.  The top regular-season finishers in the two leagues met in the Fall Classic.  Would the Braves finally win a title in their third World Series of the 1990s?  Would Cleveland get its first championship since 1948?  This series would have actually ranked higher except that a) many baseball fans had not yet returned after the strike, and b) a horrible idea known as “The Baseball Network” ensured that fans could watch only one Division Series and one League Championship Series.  That’s right, 4 of the 6 playoff series leading to the World Series were not on TV in your area…the year after the strike cancelled the World Series.  And you wonder why MLB had turned a blind eye to steroids by 1998.

Image result for john smoltz 1995

7) 2015: Kansas City over NY Mets in 5.  The Mets are usually a draw, especially in 2015, 29 years after their most recent championship.  In 2015, the Royals too had become a decent draw, as they ha fallen short in Game 7 of the World Series the previous year.  “New York vs. Small Market” is always a winning formula.

6) 2017: Houston vs. LA Dodgers.  See the intro.

5) 2009: NY Yankees over Philadelphia in 6.  This is one of only two World Series matchups in the Wild Card era to feature two “Top Six” hype teams.  However, the other was NY/NY, which did not quite work.  This series was a big draw, as the Yankees were trying to end a 9-year drought (long for the Yankees), while the Phillies looked to repeat.  Short-term dynasty vs. long-term dynasty.  Good stuff.

4) 2013: Boston over St. Louis in 6.  St. Louis is in the second tier in terms of hype.  They are a classic franchise with a storied history, but they can’t do it all themselves.  Fortunately, this was another case in which any NL team would have still allowed this series to have hype.  It was Boston in the year of the marathon bombing.  It was a big story.

3) 1996: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 6.  The Yankees had not won a championship in 19 years, which seemed like centuries for fans of the Bombers.  The Braves were looking to repeat.  This was another case of a short-term dynasty facing a long-term dynasty.  Still good stuff.

2) 2004: Boston over St. Louis in 4.  There are many things that have driven big baseball-playoff ratings over the past 23 years, but two factors stand supreme: the Red Sox’ drought and the Cubs’ drought.  For the Red Sox to vanquish the Yankees in the ALCS after falling down 3-0 and then have the chance to erase an 86-year championship drought, no story could be bigger than this….

Image result for red sox 2004 alcs

1) 2016: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland in 7. …except for the Cubs having the chance to end a 108-year championship drought.  Just for good measure, the Cubs’ opponent happened to be the Indians, who were sporting the second-longest active drought of 78 years.  From now to eternity, it will be tough to beat that storyline.

Image result for cubs 2017

Now that you have seen my rankings of hype, let’s see how the series on the field actually measured up to their hype.  The “hype” ranking is in parentheses, while the rankings are for the actual quality of the series.

Incomplete (6)): 2017 Houston vs. LA Dodgers: Game 2 has already clinched that this series will finish no worse than 14th on the list.  Game 2 was one of the greatest games in World Series history.  The Astros tied the game in the 9th, before the Dodgers erased a 2-run deficit in the 10th (including being down 1 with 2 outs and nobody on base).  There have been 22 extra-inning homeruns in World Series history (dating back to 1903), and five of them happened in this game.  Let’s hope the rest of the series is as thrilling as Game 2.

22 (22)) 2007: Boston over Colorado in 4.  Impeccable consistency here.  The series finished in last place in both rankings.  There was little hype going into the series, and Colorado’s 22-1 run was squashed by an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.  The most memorable moment of the series was Ken Rosenthal announcing during the 8TH inning of Game 4 that A-Rod would be opting out of his contract.

21 (2)) 2004: Boston over St. Louis in 4.  Don’t take this personally, Red Sox fans.  While sweeps are awesome when you are the winning end, they are ho-hum for any impartial observers.  While it was exciting that the Red Sox finally won a championship, nothing on the field – other than Doug Mientkiewicz taking the ball from the last out – was memorable to non-Sox fans.

Image result for red sox 2004

20 (20)) 2012: San Francisco over Detroit in 4.  Again, sweeps are not exciting.  On the bright side, the Giants had to go 10 innings to win Game 4 on a Marco Scutaro hit.  On the downside, that game was during the day that Superstorm Sandy hit many people on the East Coast, so the World Series became an afterthought in many places.

19 (11)) 1999: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 4.  In the grand scheme of sweeps, this one at least had the excitement of a walkoff homerun by Chad Curtis in Game 3.  To top it off, he refused to speak to interviewer Jim Gray after the game.  In Game 2, MLB had honored the greatest players of all time before the game, and Pete Rose was one of the players.  After the ceremony, Jim Gray had asked Pete Rose about the gambling stuff, and many people thought it was neither the time nor the place to ask the question.

18 (9)) 1998: NY Yankees over San Diego in 4.  Oh joy, another Yankees’ sweep.  While this did not have a walkoff homerun, it did have three memorable components: 1) The fact that the Yankees were trying to finish an all-time great season; 2) Trevor “I’d better not make the Hall of Fame” Hoffman blew a save in Game 3; and 3) in Game 1, Tino Martinez hit a grand slam after he watched Strike 3 from Mark Langston on the previous pitch.

17 (17)) 2005: Chicago White Sox over Houston in 4.  Just as the Red Sox had ended their drought with a sweep the previous season, the White Sox did the same.  At least the White Sox had the dignity to give us a Scott Podsednik walk-off homer in Game 2 and a 14-inning win in Game 3.

16 (18) 2006: St Louis over Detroit in 5.  We are finally out of the sweeps!  Kudos to Detroit for winning a game.  I did not watch any of this series, but it is my understanding that the Tigers’ pitchers made a lot of throwing errors.  Also, I should mention that the Cardinals went 83-79 this season.  83-79!!!

15 (12) 2008: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay in 5.  Philly ended its 28-year drought, and this series had the added suspense of the longest game in MLB history.  Game 5, the clincher lasted over 48 hours.  Never mind that the game was suspended for rain on Sunday night and then resumed on Tuesday night.  It is funny that Phillies fans had to suffer through 48 hours of expecting their team to blow the series.

14 (14) 2010: San Francisco over Texas in 5.  It was exciting for the City by the Bay to get its first MLB championship.  Edgar Renteria had the game-winning homerun in Game 5, to join his game-winning walk-off hit in the 1997 World Series.  Somehow, in between, he managed to make the last out for St. Louis against Boston in the 2004 World Series…and then played the next season for Boston, who lost in the ALDS, the next year.  What a weird, Beltranian run of postseason ups and downs.

13 (15)) 2015: Kansas City over NY Mets in 5.  While it was a short series, three of the Royals’ four wins were won in the 8th inning or later.  Oh joy.  I guess you want me to tell you more.  In Game 1, Alex Gordon hit a game-tying homerun in the 9th inning, allowing the Royals to win in the 13th inning.  I really don’t want to go into much detail about Games 4 and 5, so let’s just leave it at “Daniel Murphy’s glove”, “David Wright’s peripheral vision”, and “Lucas Duda’s arm”.

12 (13)) 2000: NY Yankees over NY Mets in 5.  While it was a short series, two of the Yankees’ four wins were won in the 9th inning or later.  I really don’t want to go into much detail here either, so let’s just say, “Paul O’Neill, Jose Vizcaino, and Luis Sojo”.  Oh, this World Series did also feature the most bizarre moment in World Series history.  Roger Clemens is a jerk…and he definitely was not on steroids.

11 (8)) 1995: Atlanta over Cleveland in 6.  Atlanta won its first World Series championship, and it went six games.  However, the series lacked in defining moments.  My biggest memories of the series are of Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers teaming up for a 1-0 win in Game 6, backed by a David Justice homerun.

10 (4)) 2013: Boston over St. Louis in 6.  This series was similar to 1995 in that it was balanced enough to go 6, but there were not many legendary moments.  However, this series gets the edge over 1995 because of the “Boston Strong” storyline.

9 (5)) 2009: NY Yankees over Philadelphia in 6.  Another similar setup to 1995 and 2013.  However, having Johnny Damon’s mad dash and having two “big hype” teams gives this series the tiebreaker.

Image result for arod 2009

8 (23)) 2003: Florida Marlins over NY Yankees in 6.  Many people – even some Yankees fans – could not have cared less about this series.  It is too bad though.  Game 4 was a classic, with Ruben Sierra’s two-run, two-out triple tying the game in the Top of the 9th.  Wow, Ruben Sierra was on the Yankees in 2003.  To quote Mike Francesa, “That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.”  Then, the Marlins’ Alex Gonzalez – not to be confused with the Cubs’ Alex Gonzalez, whose Game-6-NLCS error was just as big as Bartman – hit a walk-off homerun in extra innings.  In the end, Josh Beckett’s Game-6 complete-game shutout at Yankee Stadium on 3 days’ rest is an all-time great World Series feat.  That shutout clinched the series for the Marlins.

7 (3)) 1996: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 6.  The Braves destroyed the Yankees in the first two games at Yankee Stadium, only for the Yankees to win four straight, including the first three in Atlanta.  The highlight was Jim Leyritz’s 3-run homer to complete a 6-run comeback for the Yankees in Game 4.  Many Yankees swear that Joe Girardi’s triple in Game 6 created the loudest sound they have ever heard at a Yankees game.

6 (21)) 1997: Florida Marlins over Cleveland in 7.  We have had 6 7-gamers in the Wild-Card era, and this was clearly the worst of the bunch.  The first six games represented all the bad stuff that had begun to permeate baseball at the time: 1) frigid games (more likely once the Division Series was added), 2) long games with a ton of scoring, and 3) a Marlins team full of rental players.  While those rental players were still there for Game 7, Game 7 was at least a classic.  The Indians were 2 outs from a championship when the Marlins plated the tying run in the Bottom of the 9th, off Jose Mesa.  Later, in the 12th inning, Edgar Renteria would single home the winning run off Charles Nagy.  It does not matter how bad a series might be for 6 games.  When you have extra innings in Game 7, that is a treat.  In fact, I believe it has only happened in 1991, 1997, and 2016.

5 (16) 2014: San Francisco over Kansas City in 7.  Again, the first six games were not incredibly memorable, but Madison Bumgarner’s performance was.  After pitching a shutout in Game 5, he pitched 5 innings of scoreless relief in Game 7 (on two day’s rest) to bring home the win.  Pablo Sandoval caught the last out in foul territory, fell to the ground, and really has never come back to his feet since that moment.

Image result for madison bumgarner world series 2014

4 (15) 2002: Anaheim Angels over San Francisco in 7.  Of all the epic comebacks/choke jobs in baseball history, this is the most underrated.  The Giants were up 3 games to 2 and up 5-0 in the 7th inning of Game 6.  The Angels proceeded to score 6 runs in the 7th and 8th innings to get the win.  That is pretty incredible stuff.  Then, rookie John Lackey (yes, there was a time where he was the young guy) outdueled Livan Hernandez (I am pretty sure he was never young though) in Game 7.

3 (1) 2016: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland in 7.  I think we all remember this one.  Joe Maddon tried incredibly hard to lose the series for the Cubs, overworking Aroldis Chapman in Games 5 and 6.  By the time Game 7 rolled around, Chapman was gassed.  Rajai Davis’s two-run homer punctuated a game-tying 3-run 8th inning for the Indians.  Then, to Maddon’s and Chapman’s credit, Chapman somehow pitched a scoreless 9th inning when it seemed like the Cubs were destined to blow it again.  Not only did Game 7 go into extra innings, but there was a rain delay in the Top of the 10th, after which the Cubs scored 2.  Of course, the Cubs had to withstand a Rajai Davis RBI single, have the winning run come to the plate for Cleveland, and go to Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery to close things out….but the Cubs finally did it.

2 (19) 2011: St. Louis over Texas in 7.  Earlier, I mentioned how shocked I was by the little hype this series had.  That, however, does not make me as mad as the fact that this series gets so little recognition as an all-time great series.  Game 6 is the single-greatest baseball game I have ever seen.  Only three times in World Series history has a team been down to its last out and ended up winning the series.  Obviously, the 1986 Mets (down 2, 2 outs, nobody on base) were one example.  The other two examples were both the Cardinals…in back-to-back innings here.  In the 9th inning of Game 6, the Cards were down 2 with 2 on and 2 out.  David Freese hit a double that Nelson Cruz really should have caught.  That tied the game.  Then, Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run homer in the Top of the 10th.  In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals scored 1 run but found themselves down 1 with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position.  Lance Berkman then got a game-tying hit, before Freese hit a walkoff homer the next inning.  How we do not bring up Texas fans when we bring up tortured fan bases, I do not know.  What a brutal loss.

Image result for david freese cardinals world series

1 (10) 2001: Arizona over NY Yankees in 7.  This is the crown jewel of World Series in the Wild Card era.  Sorry, Yankees fans, it’s true.  However, even though the Yankees lost, four of the greatest Yankees moments of the past 20 years came in this series – Tino’s game-tying 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th of Game 4, Derek Jeter’s “Mr. November” homer to win Game 4, Brosius’ game-tying 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th of Game 5, and Alfonso Soriano’s game-winning hit in Game 5.  Games 4 and 5 were absolutely incredible.  Back-to-back Yankees wins when down by 2 and down to their last out.  We will probably never see that again.  Even more incredibly, Arizona managed to win the series.  Of course, Mariano Rivera allowed the game-tying and game-winning runs in the Bottom of the 9th of Game 7, with Luis Gonzalez getting the game-winning hit.  Along the way, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson dominated their way to co-World Series MVPs.  On the Yankees’ side, Roger Clemens even delivered what would have been a legendary start in Game 7, had the Diamondbacks not come back to win.  This is the best World Series of the Wild-Card Era and right there with 1991 Minnesota/Atlanta for the best World Series I have seen.

And there you have it.  Two sets of World Series rankings.  I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane.

Why I Hate the Yankees/How to Root Against Them in Appropriate Fashion

I hate the Yankees.  I have always hated the Yankees.  I’m a 35-year-old man who hates a team of nice guys whom I have never met.  I hated the Yankees when they had Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez.  I hated them when they had Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.  I hate them now when they have Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius.  I don’t hate any of these people individually; in fact, they all seem like nice guys and class acts.  In actuality, the only Yankee of the past 20 years who I really despise individually is Roger Clemens.

If all these people are good people, why does it make sense that I hate the collective that is the New York Yankees?  Many people wonder that about me.  To answer that, let’s put all the cards on the table.  How come it DOES make sense that I have always loved the collective that is the New York Mets, even if I don’t love all of THEM individually?  I mean, by all accounts, Matt Harvey does not really seem that likeable to me.  Why do I root all season long for a bunch of people I have never met, even if I don’t love all the people on the team?  That is no less logical than rooting really hard against the Yankees.

Bill Hader said it best in Trainwreck, when he said that “sports bring people together”.  Being a Mets fan means reveling with other Mets fans in the joy of the team’s success – like the 2015 World Series run – and suffering together through the rough seasons like this year.  Ted Kaczynski and JD Salinger aside, humans like to be involved with groups of other people.  We like to bond.  We like to have common things that bring us joy and common things that bring us despair.  In my case, I like to bond with other Mets fans.

Well, guess what?  As a Mets fan, rooting against the Yankees is part of the deal.  Do we have an inferiority complex because the Yankees have won 13.5 times more championships than the Mets have?  Absolutely.  Do 35-year-old Mets fans have an inferiority complex because the Yankees won 4 championships and were 2 outs from a 5th between the start of 9th grade and the end of sophomore year of college?  For sure.  Are all Mets fans bitter because this was supposed to be the year the Mets win a championship and because the Mets were supposed to own New York from 2015 through at least 2020?  You bet.  We thought the Yankees’ “time” had gone from 1995 to 2012, and we thought 2017 was to be part of the early stages of a Mets dynasty.  That was not to be.

Anyway, it’s Yankees-playoff time.  It is what it is.  Nobody wants to hear Mets fans going on their own version of a “What Happened?” book tour, blaming injuries, the Wilpons, scheduling, having a team in Vegas, or Julian Edelman stealing Matt Harvey’s girlfriend.  Likewise, nobody wants to hear Mets fans loudly ranting against the Yankees.  Instead, Mets fans need to maintain dignity and not act like a-holes.  Otherwise, we have no right to complain when Yankees fans root against the Mets in the 2018 World Series.  Therefore, I urge fellow Mets fans to abide by these three simple rules when rooting against the Yankees during these playoffs.

  • Unless you are by yourself or outside of the NYC metro area, keep your rooting to yourself. Deep down, we Mets fans are all rooting for Sabathia to get lit up during each start, for Chapman to blow a few saves, for Sanchez to let up a passed ball every inning, and for Judge to strike out four times every game.  (Oh wait, that last one has actually happened.)  However, we shouldn’t vocalize it.  If we do that in a crowd of Yankees fans, we are just a-holes.  Plain and simple.  We are wet blankets, Negative Nancies, and d-bags.  While that might feel good in the moment, that “a-hole” tag doesn’t leave us.  We don’t want that “a-hole” tag following us every time we are with our friends in non-Yankees settings.


  • When engaging in conversations with Yankees fans, be realistic. Mets fans hate when Yankees fans respond to any argument with “Mets suck”.  The same goes the other way.  You shouldn’t walk around saying, “Yankees suck” because a) That’s actually false, because they are in the ALCS (and, for relativity’s sake, the Mets did lose 92 games.)  and b) It makes you an a-hole again.  Also, don’t implicitly say, “Yankees suck”.  By that, I mean, don’t go around saying, “Yankees have no chance against Houston” or “The Astros are going to destroy the Yankees”.  Instead, make valid arguments.  We have legs to stand on here.  We can say that CC won’t be able to fool another MLB lineup in another playoff series.  We can say that the bullpen’s workload is going to catch up with them.  We can say that the team can’t keep carrying Judge and his strikeouts.  Those are baseball arguments and legitimate ones.   Stick with them.  Sound intelligent.  Don’t shout inane things about the Yankees sucking.



  • Root against the Yankees. This should be the most obvious thing on a list of three aspects of “rooting against the Yankees”, but it needs to be said. Mets fans who also pull for the Yankees are like people who like pulp in orange juice or like unsalted pretzels.  It’s weird, and I don’t know where these people come from.  I am not saying you have to root hard against the Yankees for 162 games.  That’s a lot of commitment toward hate, and it’s already a big commitment to root FOR the Mets for 162 games.  I just feel that Mets fans should at least root against the Yankees in the playoffs.


Why should we root against the Yankees in the playoffs, you ask?  We watch the Mets for 6 months and hear generally about the Yankees.  However, we don’t watch that many of their games.  Therefore, we don’t want them getting the big stage in October.  We want the Mets getting the big stage at that time.   When the Yankees get the stage, we root against them.  Also, the Yankees are the Mets’ rival, and it’s weird to root for a rival.  It makes no sense to me.  I do also realize that most Yankees fans are OK with rooting for the Mets, but that is because the Red Sox, not the Mets, are the Yankees’ rivals.  I get it.  As a Giants fan, I don’t hate the Jets, but plenty of Jets fans hate the Giants.  In both cases, the fans with the inferiority complex root against the superior team.  In baseball and football, I cover both sides.


Therefore, Mets fans should be rooting hard against the Yankees, but I think that we do it respectfully.

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Hate On Aaron Judge Just Because He’s a Good Guy and a Young Star in the MLB

Note: Granted this blog was started by three Yankee fans, but we need some more Yankee hate on this blog. Everyone knows you can’t have a great sports blog without hating on/making fun of teams like the Yankees, Cowboys (unfortunately), Patriots, Warriors, etc.

All Rise, and let me paint a hypothetical for you to start this out. Say you are a standard Yankees fan who lives in the tri-state area. If you are my age, you grew up watching the Red Sox send out David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and other players who were on their championship teams in 2004 and/or 2007. Naturally, you hated these guys and those teams, for the most part simply because they were all Boston Red Sox and you hated that team. Flash forward to the last couple of seasons, the Red Sox have brought in young talent such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi, just to name a few. All of these guys have been good guys on and off the field, and of course are loved by Red Sox fans. If you are a Yankee fan, you may not hate these guys as much as you hated the 2000s Red Sox (yet), but you naturally root against these guys and hate on them because as good as they may be, they play for the Boston Red Sox.

My point? As a Mets fan, don’t tell me I can’t root hard against Aaron Judge and the rest of the Baby Bombers just because they’re great players.

Continue reading Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Hate On Aaron Judge Just Because He’s a Good Guy and a Young Star in the MLB

David Wright Update: Confirmation That He is Alive

On Tuesday night, we saw something we hadn’t seen since May 27, 2016:  David Wright playing in a baseball game. Despite the fact the every person in this world thought David Wright would still be on his death bed for at least a few more months, Wright was back last night to DH in a rehab game for the Single-A St. Lucie Mets.

Wright would go 0-4 with two strikeouts, but it’s a beautiful sight to see the captain on the field again. There’s a good chance David’s back is too shot to ever return to the major leagues, let alone make an impact on the Mets. However, if there’s one way to start a comeback, it’s to team up with Jesus Christ himself.

Continue reading David Wright Update: Confirmation That He is Alive