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.
By Paul DiSclafani:
General manager Sandy Alderson released a statement about Backman deciding to leave the organization that said “Wally has decided to move on. He’s got other opportunities, presumable including possible major league coaching or managing. We wish him well.”
The NY Post is citing a team source that says Backman was fired for not using outfielder Brandon Nimmo in the leadoff spot and for keeping Michael Conforto on the bench against lefties, defying orders from the front office. Two weeks ago, Backman is claimed to have said that the major league coaching staff was ruining Conforto and that after just a few days back with him, Conforto was “fixed”.
Marc Craig of Newsday tweeted that Backman “has a long simmering source of tension regarding player development.”
Backman says, “I will have plenty to say later”.
Guess we will find out soon enough.
Backman, 56, has been managing with the Mets since 2010 in all levels of the organization, including AAA Las Vegas for the past five seasons. He was the Pacific Coast League Manager of the year in 2014.
Although the fans and players were calling for Backman to replace manager Jerry Manuel, Alderson settled on Terry Collins. It has always been assumed that Backman and Alderson are an unlikely fit. As Ralph Kramden would say, “like a Boa Constrictor and a Mongoose”.
Backman has always been a fan favorite for his years on the Mets last World Series Championship team in 1986. Backman was always known for his grit and feistiness, many of the qualities both the fans and media feel that this particular Mets team lacks.
Just have a feeling this is not going to end well…
By Paul DiSclafani:
Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley never made contact with him, but home plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed him immediately, causing manager Terry Collins to race out of the dugout immediately to find out why his Ace didn’t merit at least a warning. He didn’t get one either, joining Syndergaard in the clubhouse for the rest of the game.
“There was no warning”, a tense Collins said after the game which featured an animated and heated argument between Collins and the entire umpiring crew before he finally said the magic word and getting tossed himself. “He made an assumption, which he is certainly allowed to do, and I disagreed with it.”
Even Syndergaard was puzzled by the immediacy of the ejection. “I was still very confused at the time to why I had gotten tossed. It was a very quick trigger. I was just kind of dumbfounded. I’ve never been thrown out of a game before, so it was just kind of a whirlwind of emotions. It kind of rattled me a little bit, the reason I got thrown out. I was kind of at a loss for words.”
With one out in the top of the third, Utley stepped in to the batter’s box for his second at bat of the game. Utley had doubled in the ninth inning the previous night against Jeurys Familia to clear the bases and tie the game before Curtis Granderson saved the day with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Syndergaard had struck out Utley looking in the first inning and promptly turned into “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham, throwing the first pitch, a 99 mph heater, right behind Utley’s back and directly into the backstop, just missing Mr. Met (just kidding).
It had been seven months since Utley broke Reuben Tejada’s leg in Game 3 of the NLDS and this was already the fifth time the Mets and Dodgers have played. Utley spoke candidly about what to expect from the Mets prior to the season, considering their comments. So what took so long?
Syndergaard, whose opening pitch in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series sailed over the head of Alcides Escobar, energizing the Citi Field crowd and inspiring the Mets to their only win of the Series, insisted that the pitch just got away from him. “It just slipped from my hands. Tonight was a warm one out there,” he said. “I got a little sweaty. It just got away from me a little bit.”
Although it was no mystery that this was Syndergaard’s way of showing his teammates that he is now the undisputed Ace of the staff, how could he be ejected for not even hitting Utley, without at least a warning, considering the current state of the history between this player and this team?
Syndergaard was so taken aback by the ejection; he had his glove up waiting for the umpire to throw him another ball for the next pitch. He couldn’t even fathom an ejection at that point. “I think a warning might have sufficed before an ejection,” he said, although admitting he can see why he might be considered for ejection. “I understand why he did what he did, but I just think a warning would have been better.”
Even Utley was surprised by the ejection, but not at the pitch. He has been expecting retaliation ever since he broke Reuben Tejada’s leg in the NLDS and has become Public Enemy #1. “I wouldn’t say it surprised me,” Utley said. When asked if there was a chance that this wasn’t the end of the bad blood between the two teams and there might be more fireworks in the final game of the series, Utley repeated, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”
Collins said he did discuss retaliation against Utley with the Mets when they made the trip out to LA two weeks ago.
“We’re not going to say ‘don’t do anything’, but you gotta understand that we don’t need anybody hurt, we don’t need to be retaliated against and I don’t need anybody suspended for stuff.”
Was Syndergaard worried about being suspended? “No, not really,” he said, “I don’t think I should be facing a suspension for letting the ball get away from me.”
Although Utley has faced the Mets a number of times since “The Incident”, there has been no sign of retaliation, although the Citi Field crown had been seeking blood revenge on Friday night. And with the night belonging to the 30th Anniversary of the last Mets World Championship, a number of the 1986 Mets wondered, “What took them so long?”
World Series MVP Ray Knight, who is making his first Mets related appearance since that magical year, knew that his Mets would have never put up with what Utley did to Tejada.
“There would have been a big melee in the middle of the diamond. There’s no way I’m gonna allow somebody to do that that blatantly, that blatantly. A hard slide’s a hard slide, but that was one of those slides that should never have happened. I think you’d of seen — Wally would have reacted right there, and it may have been Wally they took out, if it was Raffy (Rafael Santana) that they took out. You play together and you eat together and you travel together and you fight together. So if you’ve got somebody that is endangered or somebody that’s getting treated wrong, you’re gonna stand up for him.”
Las Vegas AAA Met’s manager Wally Backman felt that any of the 86 Mets pitching staff would have taken care of Utley. But he knew for sure that Doc Gooden would have.
“I wouldn’t just say Doc, I’d have said all of ’em,” Backman said. “The one thing, everybody had each other’s back, no matter what the case was. I can remember Ozzie Smith coming in, taking me out at second base, and Doc saying, ‘You want me to get him for you?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s OK, just give me a double-play ball, I’ll try to get him myself.’ ”
And although Gooden offered and then acquiesced to his teammate’s request, he knew what he would have done. “Wally said, ‘Let it go,’ ” Gooden said. “I was ready to put one in the ribs.”