Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hey, let’s see what Ryan Howard is up to . . .

Oh my. To be fair, that’s a bad picture and Howard doesn’t look that spacious in videos here. But still, my goodness.

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Mostly Chicken Mets Podcast about Chicken

ITunes link is here, the show rundown after the jump: Continue reading

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The Mets hitters in June

Posted as Daniel Murphy’s two-homer day makes this less pressing:

I was going to point out that Murphy and Thole have had particularly poor Junes at the plate, but . . . well Thole’s still had a rough month. The Mets haven’t quite gotten everyone going at once this season — when Davis and Duda weren’t hitting everyone else was, and now vice-versa — and the on-base guys struggling has hurt the Mets’ offense this month. The hitters have combined for a .699 OPS coming into today, though they’ve plated an above-average number of runs thanks to some timely situational hitting. Also the Mets keep scoring runs as I write this so I’ll just end this here.

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Some Things to Read

This I enjoyed:

Kevin Youkilis is one of the most oddly shaped human beings in professional athletics. His torso is giant and cylindrical — he looks like a cartoon poor person wearing a barrel. He is completely bald — like, aggressively bald, like he hates hair — except for a fiery red goatee bush that tumbles out of his face like Play-Doh from a fun factory.

- Michael Schur, “Requiem for a Hardass”
Grantland

I’m personally saddened that Youk is no longer a Red Sox, if only because he was such a perfect Boston athlete; i.e., he looks a lot like the persons I see in my mind calling into WEEI to declare their love for Kevin Youkilis.

Eric Simon over on Amazin’ Avenue wants to know if Justin Turner is clutch:

The problem with this explanation is that it doesn’t really explain why he’s so much worse in non-clutch situations, because the approach he’s alleged to have taken — a short and quick swing, using the middle of the field, not muscling up — are things he doubtless does — or at least tries to do — all the time. But he happens to have found more success in clutch situations, so those things get mentioned as if they describe a more refined approach at the plate that he adopts when he has RBI opportunities.

My best guesses (pick one) are either A.) Turner’s success in the clutch has just been a happy, fluky sort of thing or B.) He gets his hands to the ball fast (watch him in BP, his hands don’t move back before his swing) and can hit breaking balls. So with two-strikes and runners on base, the pitcher decides to see if Turner can hit a breaking ball. And Turner pokes the breaking ball back up the middle for a single. I’m inclined to think it’s A, but B might play a small part as well — if you look up the best situational hitters in baseball history, most are contact hitters. Really, really good contact hitters, most of whom were better hitters than Turner. But still contact hitters.

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Mostly Mets Podcast feat. Cleon Jones

Fresh out of the podcast oven. ITunes link is here, rundown after the jump: Continue reading

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Knuckleballer in Full Ascendancy

“You get the call,” says Dan Warthen. “Strike two. One-two count. High knuckleball for a strike.”

This is Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets’ strigiform pitching coach stands in the righthanded batter’s box. Mike Nickeas crouches behind him. The pair are at one of the six home plates in the six-pack, a row of pitching mounds behind the third-base line of the Digital Domain Park. The six-pack is busy during morning workouts: Two other pairs of pitchers and catchers work alongside Warthen and Nickeas, baseballs pounding catcher’s mitts in an unsteady staccato rhythm. Uniformed coaches and other Mets pitchers stand in small groups behind the mounds.

Nickeas crouches behind Warthen, setting a target in the middle of the strike zone with his oversized catcher’s mitt. Warthen pretends to hold a bat, elbows pulled up and his hands behind his right ear.

R. A. Dickey nods at the pitch selection. He stands on the second-farthest mound, his shoulders slumped and his body turned 25 degrees from the rubber. Just before Dickey begins his windup, he almost looks weary, as if he’s already exhausted and needs to mentally prepare before this one final push. He seems to sigh just before he steps back to begin his motion.

He rocks back and turns his right foot parallel to the plate, brings his left knee and hands way up and then pushes each limb towards the plate one by one, left leg, left arm, right leg pushing off before Dickey’s right arm comes through last. His wrist and fingers flick in unison as he delivers a pitch that rotates maybe once across 60 feet, six inches. (The pitching motion is simple but distinct: Earlier that morning, two other Mets pitchers had warmed up by imitating the deliveries of the other pitchers on the team. Most were cheap, unidentifiable imitations, but Dillon Gee’s performance of Dickey was genius and unmistakable.) The knuckleball moves out and then in and then down over its half-second flight, crossing the inner half of the plate before Nickeas catches the pitch by stabbing with his glove.

Warthen says nothing, but turns, bows, and doffs his cap to Dickey. Continue reading

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Please don’t kick the dog

So let’s just say this first: Jason Bay has been a bad baseball player with the New York Met. Very bad. He’s hit .246 and slugged .385 as a questionable-defending left fielder. He somehow has more steals (23) than home runs (22), which brings up the next and biggest point: He’s hit only 22 home runs in three seasons. Bay’s performance can be described accurately with a half-dozen words beginning with the letter “s.” And let’s throw in that Bay has been paid some unimaginably large sum of money so far, and he’ll be paid another unimaginably large sum of money for the next 15 months. The contract the Mets and Bay agreed on seemed like a bad idea at the time, and it’s worked out much worse than expected. I don’t imagine anyone arguing against any of the above, other than to suggest that the already mentioned “s” words be modified with English’s most versatile expletive. Let’s leave it as such: Bay has been bad.

On Friday, Bay ran into a wall, hit his head with potential-concussion-force as Jay Bruce circled the bases and scored. A particularly-woozy looking Bay was booed as he was walked off the field by the medical staff.

Now I support the U.S. American right to boo things, persons, events, whatever, though I’m unsure about booing itself. And I’ll add that watching Jason Bay play baseball for the past two-and-a-half seasons has been about as much fun as watching a dog get put to sleep.

But come on.

The excuse in these situations – and MetsBlog suggested as much this morning – is that fans are booing the contract and not the player. Which may be true, in the same way someone kicking his dog after work is kicking his frustrations and not the dog. Maybe that sentiment is true. Maybe those kicks are aimed at the abstract feeling and not the mutt. But that dog’s still getting beat.

I also realize New York is probably the most difficult place in the country to remember that the warm, smelly mass surrounding you on the subway and sucking the air is made up of other persons. That each of those cars spewing smoke and droning endlessly contain at least one person. That this perspiring thing sticking her oversized backpack in directly into your face as the subway shutters along or that unpleasant vehicle cutting you off or this one shining his brights directly into you rearview for mile after mile – that person is indeed another being with her own interior life, and not just one more obstacle. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. And it’s probably hardest in New York, because there are just so many breathing obstacles encountered day after day.

And it’s also hard to remember that baseball players, unlike most things on television, are also human beings. That Jason Bay is a human being with his own interior life, just as much alive as you or me. And he is a human being who, by all appearances, has tried very hard these past three seasons and failed very often. It is hard to remember those things. It does take effort.

But Bay did try, enough to give himself at least one concussion, perhaps two, partially for our entertainment. And yes he’s been paid millions of dollars to do so, but that doesn’t make him less deserving of sympathy or less of a human being. It only makes him a rich one.

The general point being: Friday was probably a perfect storm of a particular city, player and injury, leading to one ugly moment of a player leaving the game with an injury while being booed by his hometown fans. It was not the sort of moment that makes me proud to root for the Mets.

Bay has given everything he had. It turns out he didn’t have very much left. Just, you know, please don’t kick any dogs because of it.

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