By: Paul DiSclafani
The 2015 New York Mets need to invoke the rallying cry from the 1999 comedy “Galaxy Quest” that followed the adventures of a group of actors from a fictional TV series (think Star Trek) who get put back together and have to fight real aliens to defend a race of Thermians, who think the TV show was real.
I know, it sounds ridiculous, but the movie was such a hit it has been included in the top 100 comedies of all time.
And now Commander Peter Taggert (Tim Allen) and the crew from the NESA Protector have five simple words for the Mets and their fans. Stand up, make a fist with your right hand and cover your heart: “Never give up, Never Surrender”.
Trailing the World Series three games to one, the Mets have no margin for error. Tonight, Matt Harvey will try to send the Mets back to Kansas City for a Game 6 where they will throw Jacob deGrom and a Game 7, where they will throw Noah Syndergaard.
Other than Game 2, which they were outplayed and stymied by Johnny Cuerto, the Mets let Games 1 and 4 slip away, losing leads late. In their eyes, they should be up three games to one.
But baseball is a game of 27 outs – you need to get all of them to win. All other sports use time clocks to determine when a game ends. You get a lead in those other sports, you can win a game by managing the clock to your advantage and just stalling until the time literally runs out on your opponent. Not baseball. There’s no place to hide.
These Kansas City Royals just don’t quit. They are like little gnats, or cockroaches. Maybe more like vampires. This postseason alone, they have manufactured six comeback victories from at least two runs down. Nobody has done that in almost 20 years. The Royals have scored an incredible 44 runs in the seventh inning or later, the most ever in the postseason.
The mantra of these Royals and coach Dale Sveum is to just “keep the line moving”. They are not cracking game winning 3-run home runs, they are keeping at-bats alive and putting runners on base. Their station-to-station philosophy has them just one win away from their first World Championship since 1985.
They have hit just one ball over the fence – and that was the game tying home run by Alex Gordon in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. The Royals are finding a way. They stole a game against David Price and the Blue Jays in Toronto in the ALCS and in Game 4 against the Mets, they sent seven men to the plate and scored three times.
They have struck out only 26 times in the first four games of this series against the Mets vaunted starters.
Want some more gloom and doom? Of the 80 best of seven series that went into Game 5 three games to one, only 17 teams have come back to win and 39 of those teams with the lead closed the series out in Game 5. The last time a team did that on the road was the 2004 Boston Red Sox. The last team to do that on the road? Why, it was these same Kansas City Royals, who came back from a three games to one deficit to win their last World Series Title in 1985.
Never give up! Never Surrender!
Forget the gloom and doom – how about these numbers?
- The Mets have had the lead in every game in the World Series in the fifth inning.
- Tonight’s Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who tragically lost his Dad just prior to Game 1, has not recorded an out in the seventh inning all postseason.
- Matt Harvey is pitching on his customary four days rest
- Manager Need Yost was forced to go to his bullpen early and often in Games 3 and 4. In Game 4, he used closer Wade Davis for six outs and 27 pitches. He has never pitched on consecutive days after throwing 25 pitches.
- Ryan Madson, Luke Hochevar and Danny Duffy all pitched in Games 3 and 4 and both Madson and Hocheaver missed 2013 because of injuries and have not pitched three consecutive days all season. Duffy, who was just moved to the bullpen in September, had never pitched on consecutive days until Games 3 and 4.
Never give up! Never Surrender!
The Mets need to get to Volquez early and often to have any shot. Harvey needs to go deep in this game to give his own bullpen a break. It’s his last start of the year, so there is nothing to save for.
Before this series started, most baseball fans would have agreed with the following premise: The Mets split in Kansas City and the Royals get one in NY, setting up a Game 6 in Kansas City. Most Mets fans would take that Game 6 in Kansas City right now.
The Royals know firsthand that coming back from a 3-1 deficit is possible. They also know that they have been far from dominant in this series. They have relied on late inning rallies once they got into the Mets bullpen. They have made the best use of their 27 outs. But they also know that they need to end this now.
A loss tonight pushes them into a Game 6 and the prospect of facing a fairly annoyed Jacob deGrom, who has recorded all three of his postseason wins on the road. It also raises the possibility of the Royals having to face Noah Syndergaard again in this series, in a winner-take-all Game 7.
The series has not been the mismatch that the final results, so far, seem to indicate. A team up three games to one has usually dominated the opponent. But gnats don’t dominate anyone. They annoy you, but you don’t pack your bags and go home. You slap them off and after a while, you can just ignore them.
Never give up! Never Surrender!
After blowing two leads in Game 1 and falling in extra innings to the Kansas City Royals, the Mets wasted two home runs by rookie Michael Conforto and blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in Game 4 now finding themselves on the brink of elimination in the World Series.
Postseason hero Daniel Murphy’s error in the eighth allowed the Royals to tie the game after Tyler Clippard was unable to protect a 3-2 lead, getting the first out and then walking the next two batters. Jeurys Familia relieved Clippard and got a ground ball from Eric Hosmer, but the slow roller went under Murphy’s glove and into right field, allowing Ben Zobrits to score from second to tie the game. Mike Moustakas singled on the next pitch, just past the diving Murphy, scoring Lorenzo Cain to give the Royals the first and only lead they would need for the night, 4-3. Salvador Perez took care of the insurance run, following with another RBI hit to right, plating Hosmer and it was 5-3.
“There’s no way to describe it. It hurts when you feel like you got a direct hand in a ballgame,” Murphy said. “I didn’t do the job. That’s the most frustrating thing.”
As the Royals celebrated their 5-3 win at Citi Field after escaping the bottom of the ninth by doubling Yoenis Cespedes off first to end the game with the tying runs on base, Mets fans were shaking their heads at how they could be in this position. In a game that seemed to be leading up to the Mets tying the series with Matt Harvey on the mound for a pivotal Game 5, they imploded, allowing the Royals back into it and eventually handing Game 4 to them.
The Royals, who set a major league record with their sixth comeback win of the postseason from at least two runs, are now just one win away from their second World Series title.
“There’s just a belief amongst the guys that it doesn’t matter what the score is, what the lead is, what the deficit is. The guys just believe that they’re going to find a way to get it done,” Kansas City starter Chris Young said.
“What they did tonight is what they’ve been doing the whole playoffs,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s a group of guys that have the utmost confidence in themselves. I don’t think at any point these guys thought that they were going to lose tonight.”
Mets manager Terry Collins could not disagree. “They truly don’t ever stop.”
This game was filled with strange plays and misplays almost from the start. Rookie left-hander Steven Matz, making only his tenth start in the major leagues, allowed a leadoff single to Alcides Escobar to start the game, but on a 1-2 pitch, struck out Zobrist swinging. Escobar was running on the pitch and easily stole second, but was called out when Zobrist interfered with catcher Travis d’Arnaud on his follow-through, preventing him from making a throw and Escobar was called out also.
Conforto led off the third for the Mets with a monster home run into the Pepsi Porch (376 feet) just inside the foul pole to give the Mets their first lead of this Halloween night, 1-0. When Wilmer Flores followed with a single on the next pitch, it seemed like the Mets might have starter Young on the ropes. Young had set down the first six before Conforto’s blast.
Then he bounced a 55-foot curveball, moving Flores to second and he got to third on a Matz sacrifice. With one out, Curtis Granderson lifted a lazy fly ball to right. With the slow-footed Flores on third, there was going to be a play at the plate. But Alex Rios settled under the ball and initially thought it was the third out. A split second later with centerfielder Lorenzo Cain shouting at him, Rios fired the ball home, but Flores scored standing up to make it 2-0 Mets.
“It’s a mental mistake,” Rios said. “But what do you do? You can’t just put your head down. You have to compete. If you put your head down, you’re done.”
The Royals broke through in the fifth for a run to make it 2-1, but Conforto launched another moon shot to center in the Mets half (400 feet) to give the Mets another two run cushion, 3-1 and energizing the crowd.
Matz had held the Royals to a run on five hits to that point, but his night was about to end very quickly. Zobrist doubled to center on the first pitch and Cain followed two pitches later with a single to center, scoring Zobrist to make it 3-2 and ending Matz’ night. Jonathan Niese and Bartolo Colon got the Mets out of the mess after Cain stole second and went to third when Colon tried to pick him off. Colon stranded him there winning an 11-pitch battle with Perez, striking him out to end the inning.
Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, but you had the feeling that three runs was not going to be enough in this game against this team.
After the eighth inning debacle and now trailing 5-3, the Mets still had two shots at getting back in the game, but Royals closer Wade Davis would have none of it. Wade set them down 1-2-3 in the eighth setting up the Mets fans for more disappointment in the ninth.
The fans seemed to overcome their shock in the ninth, coming to life after Murphy and the Cespedes singled following a David Wright strikeout to start the inning. With the tying runs on base and the winning run in the form of Lucas Duda at the plate, the fans were once again up and screaming. Duda hit a soft liner to third that Moustakas grabbed at his shoe-tops, then easily doubled off Cespedes at first who was half-way to second at the time.
And just like that, the Royals take a stranglehold on the series and the Mets will need to turn to their Dark Knight, Matt Harvey, to save their season and punch their ticket back to Kansas City.
Game 5 is the last baseball game of the season at Citi Field win or lose. The Mets and their fans hope there are two more games to play.
By: Joe Botana
“Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” – The little boy. “The sky is falling!” – Chicken Little
Excessive use of any phrase makes it lose meaning when it really matters. The phrase “must-win game” is one that is often used and abused. Accordingly, we won’t use it to describe tonight’s game four in the context of either team, as it really does not really apply. After tonight, the World Series will either stand at a 3-1 advantage for the Royals, or the Mets will have fought back to a 2-2 tie, and the teams will find themselves in a two out of three playoff. In either case, both teams will still be in a relatively viable position from which to secure the ultimate triumph.
That is not to say that tonight’s game is not pivotal; far from it. For the Mets, it is an opportunity to continue the reversal of momentum they achieved last night, when they sent a clear “we are still here and very much alive” message to the Royals right from the very first high inside pitch from Noah “Thor” Syndergaard to leadoff batter and spark plug Alcides Escobar. A win tonight would give the Mets the edge in momentum and confidence going into game five.
For the Royals, it would be a chance to respond last night’s message with something akin to “yeah, whatever.” They would have reversed the momentum yet again, and would find themselves in a position from which winning just one of the next three games, two of which would be back home at Kauffman Stadium, would secure the Crown which eluded their grasp last year after it was so tantalizingly close, and which they have been single mindedly pursuing ever since.
The Mets will send Chris Young (11-6 / 3.06 ERA) to the mound. Young pitched three innings in relief in the fourteen inning opener and was brilliant, earning the win. In post season, he owns a career 1.45 ERA over four appearances, including two starts. Royals’ manager Ned Yost stated that the 53 pitches Young threw on Tuesday, three days ago, does not affect his plans to use him as the game four starter. It will be interesting to see if something happens tonight that causes this decision to be second guessed. Given the Royals’ dominant bullpen, Yost may be happy to get another effective “half-start” of four or five innings from Young.
Opposing Young will be the much younger Steven Matz (4-0 / 2.27 ERA) who is the newest member of the Mets rotation. In his last appearance, he was pulled by Terry Collins after 4 2/3rd innings, so he did not get credit for the win in the NLCS clincher against the Cubs, but he was sharp and struck out four Cubs batters during that stretch. He took a tough loss against the Dodgers in the NLDS, and sports a post season record of 9 2/3rd innings in two appearances with an 0-1 record and a 3.77 ERA. It will be interesting to see if Mets manager Terry Collins elects to pull his young starter early again tonight and throw a “change-up” from the steady diet of fire ballers they’ve seen so far from his starters in the person of Bartolo Colon.
Why is this game pivotal? The Royals will clearly recall that they held a 2-1 lead last years against the Giants, only to lose that series in seven games. They may also realize that eight of the last twelve World Series teams who evened the series at 2-2 after being down 2-0 went on to win the series. The Mets understand the same historical statistics, and realize that while teams facing a 2-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series, only twenty-nine percent go on to win the series, and only eleven of the twenty-nine teams in the same predicament in the World Series (38%) claimed the crown, they were one of those teams in 1986. Last night was “Go Time” for the Mets, and so it still remains.
The keys to winning are crystal clear for both teams. The Mets will need to keep hitting and scoring runs like they did in game three while preventing the Royals from stretching innings and stringing together hits to produce multiple RBI frames. The fact that there won’t be a designated hitter and Royals pitchers will have to bat gives them a slight edge up in that regard. For the Royals, they will have to get another dominant pitching performance from their starter and bullpen, return to playing solid defense, and show the Mets once again, since they probably forgot after last night, why they had the highest batting average against pitchers who throw over 95 mph.
It is not “must win” – but it is pivotal. And it happens tonight. Don’t miss it!
By: Paul DiSclafani
Welcome to the World Series, Mets fans!
After giving away Game 1 to the Kansas City Royals and being totally outplayed in Game 2, the Mets returned home to a raucous Citi Field as they tried to make their way out of their 0-2 hole in the World Series. The Mets got two-run home runs from David Wright and Curtis Granderson and put up a four-spot in the sixth inning to ice the game and get back into the Series with a 9-3 win.
Playing a home World Series game for the first time in 15 years, rookie Noah Syndergaard set the tone for the Mets and their anxious, yet enthusiastic crowd, when he launched a 98 mph fastball over the head of Royals leadoff batter Alcides Escobar, dropping him to the ground on his rear end with his legs splayed as he stayed there for a few seconds, contemplating what had just happened. The start to the game had the Royals up in arms and they were shouting at Syndergaard from the dugout for the first few winnings.
“I didn’t like it one bit. He was saying yesterday that he had a plan against my aggressiveness. If that’s the plan, I think that’s a stupid plan,” Escobar said. “I cannot fathom a pitcher would throw to the head a 98 mph pitch on the first pitch of the game.”
“I think the whole team was pretty upset. The first pitch of the game goes whizzing by our leadoff man’s head,” Mike Moustakas said. “I think all 25 guys in that dugout were pretty fired up.”
If that fired up the Royals, they weren’t able to completely channel it onto the field. Escobar got up, dusted himself off and proceeded to flail at a 1-2 fastball as the crowd exploded. After 34 two-strike counts in Game 2 that the Royals made contact on 31 times, Syndergaard put a stop to that with the first batter. The Royals as 12 “swings and misses” against Syndergaard in Game 3 after having just 19 in the first two games combined.
After the game, both Terry Collins and catcher Travis d’Arnaud said all the right things, avoiding fanning the flames in the KC clubhouse and being coy about Syndergaard’s intent. But Syndergaard wasn’t coy at all.
“I feel like it really made a statement to start the game off, that you guys can’t dig in and get too aggressive because I’ll come in there,” said Syndergaard, who alluded Thursday to having “a few tricks” up his sleeve for the leadoff man. “My intent on that pitch was to make them uncomfortable, and I feel like I did just that. I know that for the past, I think every postseason game that Escobar has played in, he’s swung at the first-pitch fastball, and I didn’t think he would want to swing at that one.”
But Syndergaard wasn’t done yet. “I mean, I certainly wasn’t trying to hit the guy, that’s for sure. I just didn’t want him getting too comfortable,” he said before issuing a challenge that made every Met fan’s heart sing, “If they have a problem with me throwing inside, then they can meet me 60 feet, 6 inches away. I’ve got no problem with that.”
But the Royals nicked Syndergaard and the Mets for a run in the first inning, when they failed to turn a 3-6-1 double play with a man on third, taking a 1-0 lead and taking a bite out of the Citi Field crowd for the moment. But it didn’t take long to get it back.
With Yordano Venruta on the mound for the Royals, Granderson led off the Mets first with a single and Wright, who was batting just .182, launched a long home run (392 feet) into the left field stands and the Mets had the lead, 2-1. Fans and the media were calling for Wright to be dropped in the batting order, but the Captain delivered in his first home World Series appearance.
But the euphoria faded again as the Royals scored twice in the second to retake the lead with three straight singles, but Alex Gordon got greedy on Alex Rios’ RBI single and tried to go from first to third on the base hit to left. Michael Conforto, shaded into left center, got to the ball quickly and fired a strike to Wright at third, but Gordon was called safe. Wright immediately signaled for the Mets to challenge the call and he was right. Gordon was called out on review and instead of a tie game with runners on second and third with no outs, the Mets had their first out. After Ventura sacrificed Rios to third for the second out, d’Arnaud got crossed up, allowing a passed ball and giving the Royals a 3-2 lead.
Once again, the air was sucked out of the building. This was Game 1 and Game 2 rolled into each other all over again. As sharp as Syndergaard was and as good as the Mets offense looked in the first inning, they found themselves behind. Again.
What the Mets needed was a couple of shutdown innings from Syndergaard to catch their breath and get the crowd back on their side. They got that and more. Syndergaard got a 1-2-3 third inning and the Mets got the lead back.
Syndergaard led off the Mets half of the third with a solid single, fighting off an 0-2 pitch for the first time all year. Syndergaard was 0-14 with 14 strikeouts in the regular season when he was down 0-2 in the count. Four pitches later, he was trotting around the bases in front of Granderson as he pulled one right down the line and into the first row in right field to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. Not only had the Mets comeback again, so had the crowd. And this time, they wouldn’t leave again.
The Mets put runners on second and third with no outs in the 4th after d’Arnaud followed a Lucas Duda single with a double, Royals manager Ned Yost had his the infield playing back for some reason. When Michael Conforto hit a gounder to first, he beat Hosmer to the bag, scoring Duda and it was 5-3. Ventura then got Wilmer Flores to pop up, but his night was done. David Duffy came in to finish off the Mets and keep it a 2-run game.
Syndergaard continued to do his job, getting the next 12 Royals in a row, striking out Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer swinging to start the 6th inning. But Moustakas put one up the middle that Daniel Murphy was able to smother, but could not make a throw on to reach first. Syndergaard then walked Salvador Perez to put two runners on. He then walked Gordon on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases and raise the anxiety level of the fans to 10. Collins decided to roll the dice with Syndergaard, who got Rios to ground out to Flores to end last threat the Royals would have.
With the Mets into the vaunted Royals bullpen, this was shaping up to be a nail biter. Franklin Morales got the first out of the sixth, but then ran into trouble after Juan Lagares singled. He hit Flores in the foot to put runners on first and second, bringing up Juan Uribe to pinch hit for Syndergaard. Uribe was put on the WS Roster, but had not appeared in a game since September 25th. Uribe came through with a base hit, scoring the flying Lagares to make it 6-3. Granderson then bounced one back to the mound that Morales snagged, but he had a brain freeze and looked at every base before finally throwing it almost into centerfield. Now the bases were loaded for Wright and Morales was finished as Kelvin Hererra came in.
Wright wasted no time, jumping on Hererra’s first pitch and depositing it into center, scoring Flores and Uribe to make it 8-3. Later in the inning, Yoenis Cespedes finished things off with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-3.
The Mets bullpen of Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeruys Familia finished off the final three innings 1-2-3 and just like that, the Mets are back in the World Series, trailing 2-1.
Rookie Steven Matz will try to get the Mets even in Game 4 and turn things over to Matt Harvey on Sunday night for Game 5 and the final baseball game at Citi Field this year. The Mets are very familiar with Royals starter Chris Young, who played for them in 2011 and 2011. Young was the winning pitcher in Game 1, shutting down the Mets in three innings of relief.
It’s going to be interesting…
By: Paul DiSclafani
I can’t wait to get to Game 3 so I can stop answering questions about what happened to the Mets in Games 1 and 2.
I know, we all know. The Mets gave away Game 1 of the World Series to the Royals and then were embarrassed by Johnny Cueto in Game 2, giving the Royals a 2-0 advantage. That’s the facts as I know them.
But there is a saying in any seven game series that the series doesn’t really start until the home team loses a game. The Royals are a really good team, remember? It would have been nice to win a game in Kansas City and would have been great to win both games, but who really thought that was going to happen?
Well, I did, but that doesn’t matter. I’m a fan, you know.
You got to play the cards that are dealt you and right now, the Mets are not where they thought they would be. But let’s talk about how important this Game 3 is for both teams, shall we?
In any seven game series, Game 3 is pivotal for both teams, regardless of the outcome of Games 1 and 2. Here’s why:
- One team is leaving the confines of their own ballpark, their raucous fans and their own bed. The other team is heading home to their ballpark, their raucous fans and their own beds. You don’t think that is a big deal? It doesn’t matter if you play better on the road or at home, the World Series is a BIG event. We are talking League Championship here. One team is getting out of their comfort zone and the other team is settling into theirs.
- In baseball, there is a huge tactical advantage to playing at home because you get last licks. And in the World Series, there is no DH in the National League park. Not only does that change how you manage your pitchers and your batting order, but for the AL Club, your DH could be a problem. There is a reason why he’s your DH – he most likely is not good at catching the ball. And for the NL Club, they just don’t know who to use or how to use them as a DH. It’s like having a pinch hitter every three innings, only you can use the same guy.
- For the NL, it’s three consecutive games in their wheelhouse – pitching changes, double switches, managing the bench. For the AL team, well, it’s just not the same game they play all year-long.
- Even with the advent of Inter-Division games, the NL teams don’t know a lot about the AL teams and vice-versa. If the Mets and Nationals had met in the NLCS, they would know so much about each other there would be no surprises. But the only things these two teams know about each other they have heard from other people. They have seen video, read scouting reports, but have not lined up against them. Now they have seen each other twice. We’ve seen their best pitchers and they have seen ours. The batters have had 8-10 AB’s. When the first plane hit the Twin Towers, you weren’t sure what was happening. But when the second one hit, there was no doubt we were under attack. There are no more surprises from these two teams. Game 3 will be all about baseball.
- Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 all have their level of importance in any seven game series. As a matter of fact, Games 5, 6 and 7 contain that dreaded “if necessary” asterisk. But Game 3 is pivotal for a number of reasons, regardless of what happened in the first two games. It’s the last game in the series that anyone can lose without having to worry about being eliminated.
- The team that is up 2-0 can take a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 3. Yeah, I know that being down 3-0 still means you have a chance, but come on! What chance do you really have? Oh sure, coaches and players will all stay the right things – “one game at a time”, “win every inning” – it’s all crap and the fans know it. Mathematically, going down in a series 3-0 is not elimination, but mentally it is.
- The team that is down 2-0 can get back into the series with a win. This scenario doesn’t change the momentum of the series, but does get the losing team back into it.
- If the series is tied 1-1, the winning team can get some momentum from this win going into Game 4.
So let’s get back to the situation at hand, shall we.
Down 2-0 in the series, the Mets are in a “must win” situation. But they are playing at home and that has to be a factor. Ask the Dodgers what they thought about playing at Citi Field, ask the Cubs. Noah Syndergaard is so highly regarded by the Mets brass that they considered having him start Game 1 of the World Series because he has been that good. Syndergaard has 20K’s in his 13 postseason innings and has given up just 4 runs (2.77 ERA), three of them against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS.
The Royals will be without their DH Kendrys Morales, who drove in 106 runs in the regular season and will be starting Yordano Ventura, who is 0-1 in his 4 postseason starts, giving up 20 hits, 3 HR, 8 walks and 10 runs in his 17.2 innings (5.09 ERA). He has hit 102 on the radar gun, but the 24 year-old has been an enigma on the field, challenging opposing players and umpires, getting fired up and sometimes off his game. He plays with a lot of emotion and the NY Crowd will be looking to get under his skin. He has been called a headhunter by a lot of opposing players.
The Mets have to solve the mystery of the Royals batting prowess. These guys just do not strike out. Both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom found out the hard way that this team is different. All year, they have been able to rear back and get a strikeout when they needed it. Not in Games 1 and 2. In Game 2, the Mets pitchers threw 34 pitches to batters that had two strikes on them, and 31 times the KC player swung and made contact. Two watched a called strike 3, and the other was a swing and a miss.
Now it’s do-or-die for the Mets. Game 3 does that to you when you are down 2-0. Their season is in the hands of a guy who didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. This team has played on the cusp of disaster all year-long, pulling out of a spiral and turning things around.
Let’s hope they can do it one more time.
Recently MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark indicated that there will be renewed discussions with the league, owners etc. with regards to implementing the Designated Hitter in the National League. The National League is the only league remaining in the world that does not use a DH. You might be shocked to know that nearly all the minor leagues in the National League use a DH. I have long held the position that the DH should have been implemented in the National League back in 1973 when it became a rule in the American League. Contrary to popular belief by the baseball “traditionalist” out there the DH was first proposed in the National League as early as 1891. William Chase Temple, the co-owner of the Pirates first proposed the idea to the National League rules committee. In 1928 the National League president John Heydler also took a swing at it without getting anywhere. The league, owners and managers recognized very early on that the majority of pitchers were simply not competitive at the plate.
There are many reasons at the MLB level that I feel it should be used in both leagues. Making the case for the DH goes far deeper then what is happening at the MLB level. However, I will mention a few of those reasons first and then go into the much deeper ones.
Inter-league and World Series: The use or non-use of the DH creates a disadvantage for American League teams that spend nearly an entire season playing the game one way and then have to change. Where are all the supporters of the “integrity of the game” issues now?
A better product to watch: Sorry National League fans but when I see 7, 8 and 9 coming up in the order in your league it is time to go get a beer or hit the men’s room. Pitchers are generally automatic outs and when they get a hit the announcers laugh and the players in the dugout laugh. What does that tell you? It tells me that a pitcher hitting is not taken seriously in any way shape or form at the MLB level. In over 5000 at bats in 2014 the pitchers hit for a combined average of .124. I am pretty sure that I can do better than that!
Lack of strategy in the game: Don’t you dare try to even use this argument. Nobody spends money on high ticket prices then jumps in their car, heads out to the stadium for several hours and says “boy oh boy, I can’t wait to see Matt Harvey sacrifice bunt in the 7th inning”. People do not watch baseball to see if a pitcher can get a bunt down or to see if a manager will pinch hit for somebody. If that is what you are into then I think checkers should be a spectator sport for you.
I could go on and on with many more reasons related to the playing and watching of Major League games and why the National League should have the DH. However there are more far reaching reasons why this makes sense to finally stop the madness.
I am 50 years old but I can remember my high school and college baseball days pretty well. The pitchers, generally speaking, did not hit in the batting order and that was in the mid 1980’s. The transformation at those levels was probably already well in place by that time. Even the worst pitcher in the majors was likely a star pitcher early on in his life. So as is the case with star pitchers that by the time they get to junior high the emphasis became more on the pitching and not the hitting. As I previously stated this was going on when I was playing high school and college ball over 30 years ago. Unless the pitcher was just an incredible hitter most coaches preferred to keep his star pitcher off the base paths and out of the batter’s box. The coach got the piece of mind that his pitcher had less risk of an injury as well as keeping the legs fresh for the pitching. In addition to that the coach got the flexibility of getting another player on the field in the form of a DH. Right or wrong this is what started 35+ years ago in high school, college and summer leagues all over this country. The results of this change in how games are managed at the lowest of levels has translated into pitchers that are worse hitters today than in 1891 when the subject was first broached by the Pirates owner in the National League.
We have created a scenario where the results could only and have only become increasingly bad. The future MLB pitcher stops hitting regularly at about age 14. Let’s say he arrives in the majors at age 24. To get to that point of high level play you can bet your bottom dollar that the pitcher spent all his time working on pitching and not hitting. Now you are asking that pitcher to pick up a bat and face Clayton Kershaw 3 or 4 times in a game and have some success when the guy has not swung a bat in 10 years. To add insult to injury now you are asking that same pitcher to hit in a game once every 5 or 6 days and be successful at it. This does not make a whole lot of sense now does it ? It is hard enough for back up catchers and the fifth outfielder on a team to do well once a week and they have been hitting there entire lives. Not to mention they take BP every day to hone their skills which pitchers do not do.
It is far past the time for the DH to make its National League debut. I don’t think it is a question of if anymore but a question of when. I think it will be in place in less than 3 years. So get your last final looks at Bartolo Colon taking his hacks folks. All the fans that don’t want the DH should jump out of your seat as much as possible, while you still can, when you watch your pitcher foul off the third strike on a bunt attempt . Soon these non competitive embarrassing at bats will become a thing of the past. It has long past the time for this to happen.
Houston fans know the drill. If you were born here you were weary last night. You were worried even when the Astros went up 2-0. You winced when KC went up 4-2 and even when our ace hit the mound you were sweating out every pitch like a “D” student at a spelling bee. Even after the three run HR Morales blasted to put the game away we still hoped. But secretly we brought up all the demons of Houston sports history. We thought about the 6-2 lead on Monday that was blown, the sweep of the Astros ten years ago in their only World Series appearance, The Buffalo Bills comeback on the Oilers, the fact that our only two championships, the 94-95 Rockets, are belittled by the national media because Air Jordan was retired (We would have beaten them anyway IMHO). All this bled into our minds, and out our eyes as tears fell and washed away our championship dreams. Take heed Houston fans, Astros fans…Our struggle may be real but this team is for real too…
By most standards and predictions this team was at best a 3rd place team in the division but certainly wouldn’t be playing anything meaningful in August much less October. They had been the laughing stock, the joke, the butt of all jokes for seasons full of futility. 100 losses were the norm. It was that short guy and the rest of them who shouldn’t even be on a major league roster. It was who is going to manage that hot mess? Will they even have an All-Star representative? Will their starting pitching even be able to get an out? Bullpen? They strike out too much, can’t get anyone out and will be lucky to get to 60 wins. Fast forward to today.
Our starting rotation produced a 20 game, Kuechel, and a 19 game, McHugh, winner. Fiers pitched a no hitter and Kazmir was AL pitcher of the month in July. Our 5th arm McCullers produced a respectable 3.22 ERA and would have been the winning pitcher had the bullpen not blown the lead Monday. Our team posted the 6th best fielding percentage in the Majors. And our offense was 2nd in OPS, Slugging, Homeruns and 6th in RBI’s and Runs. They set a team record 21 runs scored in a late season tilt versus the Diamondbacks. They also have the probable Rookie of the year and star in the making in Correa who looks to be a fixture at SS for a decade or more at least.
This team broke through in a big way. And despite obvious needs in the bullpen and a high average bat, this team is built to win. They are brash, young, and just got a taste of that postseason honey. They will return most of their core next season and will be among the favorites for another postseason run in 2016. In other words, the sun has set on this season, but hope will spring anew and the Astros for once in a long time will have their fair share of it next Spring. And even though as fans we struggle with being a fan we know this team is and will be for REAL too. Take your trophy and… Wait Til Next Year…
Congrats on a great season. See you next year.
Bad News Bears-The Bad News Bears (1976) Dir. Michael Ritchie
Congrats Astros- ABC Channel 13 Houston