By Paul DiSclafani:
How do you pump up the fan base on Thursday announcing that one of your best pitchers is ready to go on Sunday, then pull the rug out from everyone less than 48 hours later and announce not only that he’s not ready for Sunday, but he is done for the season.
And that he needs ulnar nerve surgery in his elbow.
And that he will miss at least three months in recovery.
On Thursday, we were discussing if the Mets will line up their pitching rotation so that deGrom would be available for the one-and-in Wild Card game. We were discussing what this may mean to the rotation spots for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman with deGrom back and possibly Steven Matz.
Then today we find out this nugget from deGrom, who felt pain in the elbow while shagging fly balls in the outfield during BP on Friday. His elbow “kind of” flared up again. “I think we knew that something was going to have to be done in the off-season, and we were going to put it off until then.” Turns out he has been experiencing “numbness” in his fingers for four or five starts BEFORE the Mets decided to shut him down on September 1st.
Granted, the Mets have no obligation to disclose this information to the press and the fans. As a fan, maybe we really didn’t want to know. But we knew about Noah Syndergaard’s elbow issues and we knew about Matz’ elbow issues and that both would be facing off-season surgery. Why not deGrom?
Why not hold off on triumphantly announcing that he was going to pitch on Sunday until the day after his bullpen to make sure there were no lingering issues? What was the rush to make the Sunday announcement on Thursday?
The Mets released the results of his MRI two weeks ago that there was no damage. Who’s reading these results, Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff?
Sandy Alderson had a press conference on Friday to announce the issue with deGrom’s elbow, saying “So he will not pitch on Sunday and it is unlikely he will pitch the rest of the season. We’ll see.”
We’ll see? Did he have to add that? Was that necessary? Did we really need to add parmesan cheese to the top of a pile of stinking dog doo?
Does he think we Mets fans couldn’t take (or understand) that his elbow problem will require surgery and the sooner we get this done, the quicker he can get back and be ready for 2017?
“It’s likely that this will require a surgical repair, not a significant surgical procedure at least with respect to risk going forward. But it is something that will have to take place at some point.”
Is there any procedure done on a Mets player that has ever been described as “not significant”?
Kind of like saying, “Don’t worry, little Billy. Rover is going to be just fine. It’s a simple procedure to remove all of his internal organs.”
Why can’t the Mets either choose to be straight with the fans, or just don’t announce anything until you have a complete and final answer? Would there have been such an outcry today if on September 1st, Sandy Alderson made this announcement?
“After reviewing and consulting with the medical staff, we’ve made a decision to shut down Jacob deGrom for a few weeks because he has been experiencing numbness in his fingers on his pitching arm. We will reevaluate his condition to see how the elbow responds with rest.”
Then when yesterday’s announcement comes, there is no outcry. We were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
And what about Terry Collins and the rest of deGrom’s teammates? You built them up on Thursday, only to knock them down again on Friday.
“I actually watched Jake’s bullpen on Friday and it was outstanding”, Collins said. “The 15 minutes later, after batting practice, he walked in and said ‘I can’t pitch’. You shake your head and the thought is ‘who’s going to pitch?’ It’s hard. The team, we’ve just gotta be resilient.”
Thanks to the Mets Information Dissemination policies, so do the fans.
WILD-CARD HERE WE COME?
With 15 games left, the Mets and Giants are now tied for the top Wild-Card position (and a one-game, home-game playoff) with the Cardinals two games behind and the Pirates five games behind. The Mets are still 9 games behind the Nationals for the NL East Title, so maybe we let that one go, OK?
With one game left against the Twinkies (55-94), Atlanta (57-91) comes into Citi Field for three games, followed by a four game season ending home stand against the Phillies (67-82). That’s a whopping 85 games under .500, and average of 28.3 games under. Add to that the final season ending road trip through Miami (73-75) then Philly again and that’s a boatload of very bad teams.
The Giants have six games left with the first place Dodgers while the Cardinals still have a series against the already-clinched Cubs and the “we’re not dead yet” Pirates. Plus they play each other one more time today.
With 79 wins for the Mets (and the Giants) and 71 losses for the Cardinals, that gives the Mets (and Giants) a Magic Number of 13 to clinch the Wild Card. With 15 games left, if the Mets finished just 7-8 (86-77), the Cardinals would need to finish 10-5. Give the Mets one more win to finish at 8-7 (87-76), the Cardinals would need to finish 11-4.
See where I’m going with this?
However, getting to the Wild-Card game doesn’t really feel like making the playoffs. It’s a silly gimmick MLB came up with a few years ago to keep a few other teams “alive” in the final weeks of the season. Don’t you think there would be enough (if not more) drama if the Mets, Giants and Cardinals were playing for the one and only Wild-Card spot? Now that would be fighting for a playoff spot with the winning team heading to Chicago for the NLDS.
Ask the Yankee fans what they think about making a one-game, winner-take-all baseball game. Baseball should never be a one-game playoff, unless you compete over the course of 162 games and end up in a tie for first. It’s not football and it never will be. Baseball should not try to make it “more entertaining” for fans that are not enjoying it the way it was mean to be played.
THE END OF WALLY BALL
Did it have to end this way for Wally Backman? Of course it did. Backman for all his fire and winning pedigree just wouldn’t play the game that Alderson wanted him to play. He wouldn’t be a puppet. But who through he ever would?
Does anyone what to see Donald Trump become Jeb Bush after he gets to the White House?
People are who they are. That’s why they hired him. The Mets knew what they were getting. What did people expect Roseanne Barr to do when she sang the National Anthem all those years ago, become Pavarotti?
Backman is a firecracker that will lead an under achieving major league team to the playoffs and World Series for one reason and one reason only – the players will go through a brick wall for him. His players will play with a passion or they won’t play at all.
That’s what Wally Backman brings to the table, even with all his baggage.
Maybe that type of managing style went away for good when Lou Piniella retired, but just take a look at the track record and results of guys like Piniella, or Billy Martin or anyone with a little fire in their belly.
They burned bright at first, but then flamed out. But they all achieved results.
Good luck Wally. Hope you get that major league managing chance because we all know you will be successful. Just too bad we couldn’t see you do it here…
Sign Bartolo, sign Cespedes, buyout Bruce and play Conforto. Did I miss anything? … What about seeing if Bruce can play 1B? … Nice to see Lucas Duda’s face again, but why the rush to bring him back to the majors if he hasn’t even faced one pitch of live game action? Understanding that the minor league season is over, there weren’t enough players to put together at the Port St. Lucie complex for a pick-up game he could have played in? …
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.