Thor Should Save His Name-Calling For The Wilpons

On New Year’s Eve, Barstool Sports posted a video of Bryce Harper saying their famous catchphrase “Saturdays are for the boys.” In true legendary fashion, Noah Syndergaard commented “douche” on Harper’s Instagram video. 

Thor is really one of those once in a generation players that combines exceptional talent with an absolutely magnetic personality. He’s got it all. Everything he does further cements his status in New York sports lore.

That being said, we all know these guys are friends, and it’s just another fun artificial social media storyline serving to distract us from the reality that the Mets have done absolutely nothing to improve the team this offseason. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Here are The Metssiah’s updated Mets offseason highlights for those of you keeping track at home.

1) Mets sign Yoenis Cespedes. We re-signed our MVP candidate/number one ballpark draw and that was it. Thanks Fred and Jeff.

2) Mets Twitter account posts video of Yo in a Santa hat saying “Yo! Yo! Yo!” instead of “Ho! Ho! Ho!” on Christmas Day.

3) Thor calls his friend Bryce Harper a douche as a joke on social media.

That’s all we’ve got folks. Thor better save some derogatory words for Jeff Wilpon because when the time comes for his big payday, we may need him to bully ownership into opening their damn checkbook.

You want to hear the actual latest Mets’ news? Are you sure?

I put on SNY Mets Hot Stove last week and watched Nelson Figueroa and Gary Apple ramble on and on about nothing for 30 minutes.

They might as well have aired this:

If you want to read the Wilpon media spin on how recently signed minor league sidearmer Ben Rowen could transform our bullpen, I encourage you to check it out

The Mets are also apparently scouting a 32 year old pitcher named Jose Arredondo who is currently pitching in the Venezuelan League and last threw in the majors four years ago. These aren’t exactly franchise altering talents.

Frankly, this was the most interesting nugget of information I learned recently.

It certainly feels rare, but when you see something like that you are reminded that sometimes the baseball gods smile upon the Mets. But the real evidence that the baseball gods are smiling upon us right now is the fact that Thor and Yo exist and play in Flushing. We are so #Blessed to have Thor and Yo donning orange and blue.

Buster Olney released a list of the top 10 starting pitchers in MLB. Thor came in at number 6, but that’s mainly because he’s entering his second full major league season. Fangraphs had Noah with the highest WAR in 2016 for a pitcher. Syndergaard will be a sexy preseason pick for NL Cy Young. And Cespedes will also be a popular preseason NL MVP pick. Yo will have a ton of competition for MVP with Harper, Kris Bryant and many other talented players fighting for the crown. So will Syndergaard in the Cy Young race.

But the bottom line is the Mets have a potential Cy Young stud and an MVP stud on their roster. Even if the Wilpons cheap out and refuse to bring in any other protection for Yo in the lineup or sign another viable reliever for Thor to hand the ball to in the pen, at least in 2017 we get to continue watching two of the most talented players to ever wear a Mets uniform. I just wish the damn season would start already.

Series Preview: Mets vs. Nats In NL East Showdown / Murph Reunion Bowl Take 1

Make Baseball Fun Again: Rivalries! Competition! This is what we all want to see. I’m totally down with Bryce Harper and his make baseball fun again movement. I wrote it about it at the beginning of the season. I’m done with the unwritten rules, the anti-bat flip agenda, and the handling things with “baseball plays” on the field. The handling things with baseball plays mentality is what led to the Blue Jays and Rangers brawl over the weekend. The Rangers hit Jose Bautista with a pitch as payback for his bat flip and Bautista slid late into second base as payback for the hit by pitch. And you know what happened? Bautista got knocked the hell out by Rougned Odor because handling things with baseball plays doesn’t resolve anything. It’s all BS.

Well a good old fashioned battle between two top division rivals is the perfect example of how baseball can be fun. Mets vs. Nats down the stretch last season was extremely exciting for Mets fans. It was mainly exciting because the Nats rolled over and died. But this season I’m hoping for a good old fashioned dog fight. I’m hoping these teams take this pennant race down to the damn wire. Am I happy that the matchup kicks off with the Mets in a bit of a slump after a tiring west coast road trip? No. But it’s not as if the Nationals are boiling hot. They got swept in a four game set against the Cubs in Chicago. Then they took two out of three against the Tigers at home before splitting a series against the Marlins to conclude their home stand. But this battle had to start eventually, so let’s do this thing.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Noah Syndergaard vs. Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer needs no introduction. That crazy-eyed bastard struck out 20 Tigers in a complete game the last time he took the mound. He’s a perennial Cy Young candidate. He faced the Mets four times last year and had a 1-2 record. However, he pitched great in his two losses, and in his final start of the season against the Mets last October he struck out 17. He’s 4-2 this season with a 4.15 ERA, but it’s mainly due to the beating he took from the Cubs where he gave up 7 runs. The Mets overall have a lot of experience against Scherzer. Notable numbers: Asdrubal Cabrera is 12 for 45 with a home run, Yoenis Cespedes is 3 for 9 with a home run, Alejandro De Aza is 11 for 43 with a home run, Curtis Granderson is 7 for 23 with a home run, and Neil Walker is 3 for 9 with two home runs.

Last year, Thor faced Washington three times with two very solid starts at Citi Field. At Citi, he pitched 8 innings, gave up 2 runs and struck out 9 in August, and at the very end of the season in October he went 7 innings, gave up 1 run and struck out 10. Get your popcorn ready for this pitching matchup.

Game 2: Bartolo Colon vs. Gio Gonzalez

The Mets rank 21st in the league in OPS against lefties. Pretty stanky if you ask me. Gio has been lights out this year with a 1.93 ERA. He was 2-0 against the Mets last year in 4 starts and 3 of the 4 were quality starts. He also surrendered 2 runs or less in all four outings. Notable Numbers: Juan Lagares is 10 for 26 with a home run against Gio, and David Wright is 6 for 21 with a home run.

Big Sexy only had one start against the Nats last year, and it came right out the gate in April. He went 6 innings, gave up 1 run and struck out 8. His last outing against the Dodgers was ugly, so let’s hope that it was a blip on the radar and not the start of a May dip in performance.

Game 3: Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg

I wish I could get excited for this matchup. Poor emo Matt Harvey. He’s just so sad lately with his stinky ass performance and his wacky mechanical problems. The Mets were 1-1 against bleh first half 2015 Strasburg. And in both games the Mets had positive results against him. He went 5.1 innings in both starts and gave up 3 runs in one and 2 in the other. He also surrendered a bunch of hits in each outing. When we faced Strasburg in the second half (September) he was surging. He went 7.1 innings and gave up 3 runs, but he struck out 13 Mets. However, he took the loss in that early September game. That was the September sweep Yo home run game where Yoenis Cespedes executed Drew Storen on the field for the world to see. Notable Numbers: Grandy is 3 for 13, David Wright is 6 for 22 and Neil Walker is 3 for 11 against Strasburg.

Harvey faced the Nats six times in 2015. He went 2-2. He pitched 5 quality starts in those 6 games. But honestly, considering how different and unpredictable he’s been this season, it’s hardly worth re-hashing his results from last year. Let’s just hope Citi Field, and the Nationals bring back his competitive fire and the heat on his fastball. And also his command. He could probably use that too. Bryce Harper is 0 for 20 against Harvey lifetime. God I hope that stays the same.

Things To Look For:

The Heavy Hitters: If you’ve followed baseball at all in 2016, you know that Daniel Murphy is doing a Ted Williams impression. He’s hitting .400, and he has 5 home runs. So Murph is still showing some of that playoff power. Bryce Harper is still doing his MVP thing with a 1.066 OPS and 11 home runs. The Nats thought they’d lack production out of the catcher spot, but Wilson Ramos is hitting .350. But other than those three guys, the Nats lineup has been a barren wasteland. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have been garbage. Anthony Rendon has disappeared. I guess they really could have used Cespedes. Phew.

Hot Nats: Well as I said, on the pitching side Scherzer just struck out 20 Tigers. Murph has been scorching hot all season. Danny Espinosa is hitting .321 over his last 7 games. He probably knows young shortstop Trea Turner is going to take his job soon.

Heavyweight Bout: The Mets have the third ranked team ERA in the league and Washington has the second. The Mets have 53 long balls and Washington has 47. We are evenly matched rivals. Pitching and power baby. After years of the Nats blowing us out and then last season where Washington had a complete meltdown, we should finally have a real even matchup.

Zimmerman’s Not Wright: Ryan Zimmerman has been awful. He’s battled injuries for years like David Wright. B.J. Upton, Ryan Zimmerman and Wright all played together in high school in Virginia on the Tidewater Mets. Maybe they all spend those years drinking the same contaminated tidewater because all these dudes have either deteriorated due to injury or lost their skills.

Top O’ The Order To You: Grandy has straight up disappeared. It’s amazing how much goodwill you can earn from one amazing season. I spent years booing Jason Bay, but I don’t think I could ever say a bad thing about Curtis. I just remember all those playoff dingers. Plus he does great things for kids and charities. I love him even when he stinks!

Matz Is Back But Not: So the doctor said Steven Matz‘s elbow is fine and his arm is A-Okay. But the Mets are going to have him skip this series against the Nats. That is totally fine by me. Rest. Look at the numbers that Brian Mangan tweeted out yesterday.

We can undoubtedly afford to give these young pitchers the rest they need.

Yo Flips Off Nats: Cespedes said this week that he never really entertained signing with the Nats. He straight up openly admitted he was using the Nationals for leverage. Now it’s time for Yo to show the Nationals why all the star free agents from the offseason used them as leverage. It’s time to put them in their place before Dusty Baker and his “spanking hand” beat us to it.

Frank Reynolds Trueborn Son: The Mets recalled infielder Matt Reynolds from AAA to join the bench while Wilmer Flores is rehabbing his hamstring. By the time you finish reading this sentence, Reynolds will have already passed Eric Campbell on the depth chart at SS/2B/3B. In all seriousness though, this call-up says a lot about our lack of depth. Reynolds was hitting like .230 in Vegas. Ty Kelly (who nobody on earth has ever heard of) is hitting like .400 in Vegas for the Mets. A .230 average when adjusted for Vegas inflation is like .080. That’s a Kirk Nieuwenhuis level of ineptitude. Speaking of Kirk he’s hitting .275 for the Brewers with a .383 OBP. Whoops!

Duda Dunzo: Speaking of lack of depth, I was shocked to see Eric Campbell in the game 1 starting lineup tonight. I was shocked until the Mets announced Lucas Duda got an injection in his back to combat stiffness. A back injection certainly explains why Soup is on the menu in this series. Duda will also miss game 2 because Gio G is a lefty. And we’re off to a fantastic start.

Wright Dunzo: Well I was about to publish this series preview and then the Mets scratched Wright from the lineup to go along with Duda. Why? You guessed it. The old back flared up. Ray Ramirez better get the postgame back injection machine fired up for Wright and Duda. I tried to stay positive throughout this entire post, but goddamn. Two back related scratches in one day? Let’s just get this damn thing over with.

Takeout Slide Abolition: Old School/New School War Rages On

After calling out baseball for being “tired” this offseason and saying players should lighten up about bat flipping, Bryce Harper officially christened the uniform for the New Guard this week with his “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat. And while Bryce fights the all important Battle of Bat Flip Hill, the war’s first major test comes in the form of takeout slides. As I wrote all offseason, the Chase Utley Rule change itself was completely and utterly meaningless. Takeout slides were already against league rules in the form of the interference rule which has been on the books forever. The only thing that could have possibly changed the status quo this season is the umpires consistently calling runners out at second base on takeout slides. Well it didn’t take long for MLB to show where they stand. They are now 2 for 2 in enforcing the ban on interfering takeout slides. On Monday, Nick Markakis slid past the second base bag and knocked over second basemen Daniel Murphy. Murph signaled for the umpires to consider the new rule, and the umps called the runner out. Last night in an even more high profile situation, the Blue Jays scored what would have been the tying and lead run in the 9th inning during a double play attempt that was broken up by Jose Bautista. Bautista did what runners have been doing FOREVER. He slid into the base hard and attempted to topple the middle infielder by slightly extending his arm. It worked. Logan Forsythe wasn’t able to complete the double play and the Jays took the lead. That is until the umps enforced the existing interference rules and gave the game back to the Rays. The play was against the “new” rule, and the interference rule as it has always been.

I for one am shocked by these early season developments. All offseason I said the league would never make the in game changes to actually enforce the rules. And considering the league consistently supports the Old Guard, I had a good reason for thinking that. Every time there is a call for change, Rob Manfred and the owners have an epileptic episode. And when the convulsions subside, they all agree to “respect the game” and “honor the traditions”. It’s like clockwork. But I have to give them credit for their changes in recent years. For one thing, they’ve finally embraced instant replay despite a ton of nonsensical resistance. And seemingly, we’ve fully abolished home plate collisions. Maybe change is finally coming? Maybe takeout slides are next.

After the game, Jays Manager John Gibbons gave a classic old school response when he said, “Maybe we’ll come out and wear dresses tomorrow. Maybe that’s what everybody’s looking for.” Of course that comment came after the Royals earlier in the day “trolled” Noah Syndergaard by playing American Woman as he warmed up. We hear “bat flips are an embarrassment to the game” all the time. It’s funny, because the old guard thinking it’s insulting to call Thor a woman is the embarrassment to the game. Daniel Murphy not wanting to share a locker room with a gay guy is the embarrassment to the game. I know these are larger issues we have in our society, but it is all part of the same discussion. It’s all part of the Old School vs. New School war that rages on.

As far as takeout slides go, I am thrilled to see the league getting this right out of the gate. However, the only way this works is if they keep getting it right. They can’t fall into the same traps they’ve fallen into before where one umpiring crew calls it one way and another crew calls it another way. If that happens, we will see the mass confusion among the umpires and players that I predicted in the offseason. Until that time though, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be wrong. The times they are a changing. Also, after the way last night’s Blue Jays game ended, somebody better check on Old School General Goose Gossage. I have a feeling his heart exploded.

Bryce Harper Endorses Bat Flips, Goose Gossage Endorses Old School, Paul O’Neill Endorses Trump

img_2788-4So MVP Bryce Harper was featured in an ESPN the magazine article yesterday. It was about how marketable he is and how he wants to be THE MLB star and blah blah blah. Same old storyline. The charismatic best player in the game wants to be a cultural icon. But the real headline? Bryce is “tired” of baseball’s BS unwritten rules. He’s done with the stupid code.

“Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah … if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean — sorry.”

And that ladies and gentlemen, is something I can get behind. I don’t care that it’s Bryce Harper leading the charge. Hell I’d follow Alex Rodriguez in a crusade against baseball’s BS unwritten rules. The unwritten rules and the elderly owners/old timers that insist on keeping them in place have been my biggest problem with the sport for years now. The anti-bat flip propaganda. The takeout slides, retaliation pitches, and other unwritten league sanctioned rules that have existed forever. The prospect of abolishing those rules could not excite me more. And I can easily see why Bryce wants to end them. The most obvious reason being he doesn’t want some jealous pitcher hitting him in the head with a baseball. That would derail the endorsement money train pretty damn fast. But his most recent dance with the unwritten rule book happened when his teammate and notorious old school a-hole Jonathan Papelbon choked him out last season. It all happened because Bryce publicly talked about how he didn’t like a retaliation pitch Papelbon made in a game against the Orioles earlier in the season. He didn’t like it because it makes him an obvious future target. Pap didn’t like the fact that Harper took that opinion to the media. So obviously the old school handbook says players should settle such a dispute with a very public televised assault. Just insane and disgraceful behavior.

And of course in a completely unrelated, unplanned ESPN interview with Goose Gossage that dropped on the same day, Goose went on an absolute tirade in defense of the old school way.

“Bautista is a f—ing disgrace to the game. He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. Cespedes same thing.”

Well thanks for that Goose. Gossage says bat flips are a disgrace but in the 70s the old timers said the same thing about his hideous Fu Manchu. And you got to love 1) How overtly racist this tirade is 2) That current Latin players essentially come out in defense of the old school Goose position.

That’s right. Mexican-American Giants reliever Sergio Romo chimed in on Bryce Harper’s original comments saying,

“Don’t put your foot in your mouth when you’re the face of the game and you just won the MVP. I’m sorry, but just shut up.”

Jesus Christ Sergio please don’t feed into this notion that this is solely about bat flips and make it a pitchers vs. hitters debate. Before he was banished for life, Jenrry Mejia battled the mound footstomp criticism for a full season. Jose Valverde used to celebrate after a save and dealt with all the old school critics his entire career. The old school way is a crusade against anyone who is different and doesn’t follow the fundamentalist interpretation of baseball’s non-existent unwritten rule book. And if Bryce Harper plans to lead the new generation of ball players in rebellion against the tyrannical old coots like Goose, then I will call my banners and join the charge.

Other Notes: Yoenis Cespedes had a fantastic reaction to the Gossage criticism asking the reporter (through his translator) who the hell is Goose Gossage? Then adding “Is he a pitcher?” He then said,

“Whenever a pitcher strikes someone out, they get to celebrate too and have their moment and revel in it. Why can’t the batters get a chance to enjoy their success, too?”

I’m sorry Yoenis but baseball’s unwritten rules aren’t based on any modern logic. Maybe they were based on something at the time they were created, but they sure as hell don’t make sense any more. Kind of like some of the amendments in the Constitution. Speaking of the Constitution, this week former Yankee Paul O’Neill got the shout out from Donald Trump at a rally. Then Johnny Damon came out in support of Trump. We have Gossage screaming about the disgraceful behavior of Latin players and O’Neill/Damon endorsing Trump and his Mexican border wall. I must say, all these former Yankees coming out in favor of racist policies and saluting fascist presidential candidates really helps me back up some past claims I’ve made about the Yankees and their fans. If Derek Jeter shows up at a Trump rally I’m pretty sure Babe Ruth will roll over in his grave and Yankee Stadium will spontaneously implode.