Murph Joins The Men Of Mount MetKillmore

murph rushmore

As we head into the All-Star Break, the Mets have dropped 2 out of the first 3 games at Citi Field to the Nationals. Now we look to Steven Matz to help us salvage a split of this home series. The Mets dropped last night’s game 6-1. They couldn’t muster any offense against Mad Eye Max Scherzer. They managed 4 hits total against the Nats and a sac fly. Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t in the lineup therefore we didn’t score. That’s the least surprising thing of all time. The Yo-less lineup aka the No-Yo Remnant isn’t really equipped to do a whole lot. Logan Verrett gave up 5 runs over 6.2 innings. That’s bad. Antonio Bastardo gave up a 2 run homer to Daniel Murphy. That’s worse.

This game was totally the Daniel Murphy show. Every single game against the Nats this year has been the Daniel Murphy show. He had an RBI single in the third inning, an RBI double in the fifth inning, and a two run homer in the seventh inning. The Mets planted a destructive seed within their own division by letting Murph go to Washington. Well the plant has grown, and it is royally screwing us. Murph the Met slayer is now an official face on Mount MetKillmore.

Daniel Murphy joins Chipper Jones, Chase Utley, and Pat Burrell as the most hated Mets killers from my lifetime. I’ll never forget feeling like we could compete with the Braves in the late 90s and early 2000s. Sometimes the Mets would tease me and make me think we actually had a chance to beat the Braves. And then Chipper Jones would launch one of his many homers at Shea Stadium and destroy my false hope. Pat Burrell put up 42 of his 292 career home runs against the Mets. It certainly felt like all of his career homers came against us. Chase Utley murdered the Mets for over a decade with Philly. He killed Ruben Tejada last year. He has truly cemented his face on Mount MetKillmore.

You might be wondering where Jimmy Rollins is on the mountain. Well Murph replaced him temporarily (Murph has a large amount of slaying to do to stay on the mountain forever). But Rollins doesn’t need to be on Mount MetKillmore. He’s already one of the top all time Met killers and the face of the Jimmy Rollins Met Killer Memorial Site.

rollins memorial

The re-occurring Murph embarrassment is not something I was prepared for in 2016. I have to be honest. I expected him to perform at a high level once he signed with Washington. I knew he would have a big season and have some big moments against us. But then I decided to lie to myself. I focused on the Murph ball. I imagined him booting grounders against us or making horrendous throws from second base and costing the Nationals games. I refused to start preemptively hating Murph for no reason. Well in 2016 he’s given us a reason to hate him. We haven’t seen Murph ball in the field against the Mets. And his .438/.462/.875 batting line with 6 home runs and 19 RBIs is a pretty solid reason to despise him.

So in my mind he’s now our top nemesis. I’ve heard people say they are excited to see him excelling and blah blah blah. No way. You certainly can be mad at the Wilpons and Sandy for letting him go if you want. But you can’t enjoy Murph crushing the Mets while simultaneously rooting for the Mets. That’s impossible. So let the hate boil. As the Evil Emperor in Star Wars once said, “Let the hate flow through you.” It’s time for us to embrace Murph as public enemy number one.

Series Preview: Chase Utley; Blood or Mercy?

thor utley

Blood or Mercy?: This is a series Mets fans have been waiting for since Chase Utley did his best scumbag impression in the NLDS. The fans have not forgotten. The masses want blood. They are screaming for it like the Roman citizens at the Coliseum. Kill! Kill! Kill! The unwritten rules of the game tell us that Chase Utley is going to get a baseball thrown at his back, his butt, his arm or his leg. The rules set by our baseball forefathers say he must be rocked in the fleshy part of his body. That is the price for his sin. Will we see it? I do not know. On the record, Terry will say that nothing is going to happen. But can he control his pitching staff? Can he control Noah Syndergaard? Thor has already shown us that he can be a wildcard. His World Series opening pitch head hunting move undoubtedly put the league on notice. So what will it be? Blood or mercy?

My vote is for mercy. I hate to give the Royals credit, but they had it right. We won the war when we beat the Dodgers in the NLDS. From my perspective the slate has been wiped clean, and this season is a whole new war. Also, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, injury can derail our season. One bad hit by pitch, and we could be completely screwed. If we start a bean ball war, the next thing you know Yoenis Cespedes could take a ball off the hand or Curtis Granderson could take one off the wrist. No. We simply cannot risk it. We won the series, the rules have been changed, and Utley is a grey beard potentially in his final season. He’s not worth wasting any more thought or energy on. I just hope that Thor and the other Mets pitchers agree.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Steven Matz vs. Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir is off to a rough start. He’s 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA. He’s only gone 6+ innings in 3 of his 6 starts. He’s given up 4+ runs in 4 of his 6 starts. His last start against Tampa Bay he went 6.2 innings with 9 Ks despite giving up 4 runs. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 17 against Kazmir, Yoenis Cespedes is 0 for 6, Lucas Duda is 1 for 5, Curtis Granderson is 3 for 11 with a home run, Rene Rivera is 2 for 7, David Wright is 2 for 5, and Alejandro De Aza is 3 for 5. Matz’s second career start was in LA last July, and he went 6 shutout innings with 8 strikeouts. In the playoffs last year, Matz took the loss in Game 4 of the NLDS going 5 innings and giving up 3 runs.

Game 2: Jacob deGrom vs. Alex Wood

Alex Wood is also off to a terrible start. He’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. We crushed him in relief in the NLDS. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 3 against Wood, Wilmer Flores is 3 for 10 with a home run, Lucas Duda is 2 for 10, Curtis Granderson is 1 for 8 with a home run, Neil Walker is 2 for 7, and David Wright is 3 for 7. Last July, Jacob deGrom shut out the Dodgers in New York over 7.2 innings with 8 Ks. And he beat them twice in the NLDS. God he was amazing in the NLDS.

Game 3: Noah Syndergaard vs. Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda has come over from Japan and been absolutely dominant. He’s 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA. He’s striking out people left and right. He went 6 innings, gave up 2 runs, and had 7 Ks against the Blue Jays last time out. Thor tossed a quality start in LA last regular season. And he took the loss in the Utley slide game in LA despite his 6.1 innings pitched, 3 runs, and 9 strikeouts. His dominant relief inning in game 5 was legendary. It should be an exciting matchup between Thor and Maeda.

Game 4: Bartolo Colon vs. Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw is just doing his Cy Young thing again. He’s 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA. He’s striking out everyone and walking nobody. I’m not exaggerating by the way. He has 64 strikeouts and 3 walks through 53 innings pitched. Yeah he’s pretty good. Wilmer Flores is 3 for 6 against Kershaw. The rest of the Mets have had very little success. David Wright is 3 for 14 and Lucas Duda and Grandy are a combined 2 for 20. In July at Citi Field, Bartolo dominated the Dodgers over 8 innings surrendering only one run. He was pitching when dirt bag Utley slid his way into the history books. He also had some big relief innings in Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS.

Things To Look For:

Walk Him Yo: Cespedes is tops in the NL in RBIs with 30 and tops in slugging percentage at .701. Yesterday, the Cubs swept the Nationals, and they walked Bryce Harper 6 times. After the game Tanner Roark accused the Cubs of playing “scared baseball”. I really hope that’s what Dusty Baker is teaching the Nats. To foolishly give a team’s best hitter pitches to mash. Obviously the Cubs strategy is a no brainer, and I applaud the Cubs for using it. I have to believe at some point NL teams will try and adopt this strategy with Yo right? I’m not trying to say that Yoenis Cespedes is as tough an out as Bryce Harper, but he’s the guy in our lineup that can burn you. And he’s burning everybody lately. I do think our lineup is deeper than Washington’s so it may be more challenging to employ such a strategy with Yo. But at some point teams may put him on base and choose to challenge the Streakmaster General Lucas Duda.

Cold Front Coming In: Speaking of Mr. Streak, Lucas Duda is hitting .200 in his last seven games, but he does have 3 home runs. Curtis Granderson is on a real cold streak right now with a .107 average in his last seven games. Wilmer Flores continues his season of ice going 0 for 5 yesterday and he’s hitting .159 on the season.

Lefty Love: The Mets will face three left-handed pitchers in this series (Kazmir, Wood, Kershaw). We have not had much success against lefties so far this season. Fingers crossed that we turn that around against LA. 

Home Sweet Home?: The Dodgers are 5-8 at home this season? Maybe it’s a sample size thing, but if they are struggling at home for some actual reason I hope we exploit it.

Dodger Ranks: The Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, so they have been successful to start the season. But they are 13th in runs scored, 22nd in OPS, and 29th in home runs. They are 10th in ERA, 19th in bullpen ERA (4.16), and their run differential is +12 which is good for 10th in baseball. The robot computers knew the Cubs were going to be elite this season, but they also felt the Dodgers were going to be very successful. The robots liked the team Andrew Friedman assembled. So far they’ve done fine in the wins/losses department, but the offense has underwhelmed to date.

Hot Dodgers: Chase Utley leads the team with a .298 batting average. We may need to wait to see him until we throw our right-handers. Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .278 but only has 3 home runs to start the season. Joc Pederson is hitting .275 and leads the team with 6 home runs. Rookie Corey Seager is hitting .266 to start the season. Yasiel Puig got off to a hot start but has fizzled lately and his average is at .243.

Today: This series kicks off tonight at 10:10 eastern time. Honestly this west coast trip is killing me like they always do. I was up until 1:30 last night because my body is in west coast baseball mode. It’s going to be a rough week, but let’s hope some wins negate the lost sleep. 

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.

MLB Pulls a Goodell; Drops Utley Suspension

Chase Utley did nothing wrong during Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS when he knocked over Ruben Tejada on a takeout slide. There I said it. MLB has said a lot of things since that day, but their words don’t matter. Their actions have consistently driven home the notion that Utley’s slide was completely acceptable and encouraged. And we already knew this. Let’s be clear. MLB said they dropped Utley’s pathetic 2 game suspension because of the way the rule was inconsistently enforced in the past. Ummm it wasn’t inconsistently enforced at all. It was never enforced. It was consistently never enforced. Takeout slides have been occurring forever. And the MLB never punishes anyone for the action. In fact, MLB has consistently encouraged the following league sanctioned lifecycle of the takeout slide:

1) Double play ball is hit.   2) Runner uses takeout slide to break up double play by illegally going out of the baseline to illegally interfere with the fielder.   3) Play is broken up and opposing fielder is injured.   4) Opposing team is angry.   5) Opposing team’s pitcher throws a baseball at the takeout perpetrator the next time he steps up to the plate.

And so the cycle continues. It’s really hilarious that in the context of the takeout slide, MLB has preached all offseason about how the culture must change and player safety must be the priority. And in an effort to discourage the old takeout slide culture they have…refused to punish the existing behavior. And not only that, in essence by repealing Utley’s suspension they have said, “we will let the Mets pitching staff handle Utley’s punishment with a beanball to the face”. Perfect! Player safety problem solved. Thank goodness.

If you want to know how MLB will handle takeout slide decisions in 2016, look no further than their handling of this. They had their first test right here, and they completely bungled it. They got the initial call wrong in October 2015. They got it even more wrong upon replay review. They admitted they didn’t understand the rule after the game, and also admitted they got it wrong in the game. Then they didn’t discipline the player essentially saying they were wrong when they said they got it wrong in October.

It’s going to be fun in May when we play the Dodgers and the biggest question before the series is “When are the Mets going to try and nail Utley with a 95 MPH fastball?” I wonder if Matt Harvey will appeal the 5 game suspension he is bound to get for beaning Utley, and if Yoenis Cespedes will appeal his 5 game suspension for fighting in the ensuing brew-ha-ha. We shall see, but at least we can put this whole thing behind us now. Well actually no. We can put it behind us once we nail Utley. Unless the Dodgers want to retaliate for our beanball. Then we will have to wait for retaliation 2.0 to put it behind us. Thanks MLB!

Mr. Manfred’s Neighborhood Play

I already posted about the new takeout slide rule yesterday. Ruben Tejada Rule. Chase Utley Rule. We can call it whatever the hell we want. As I said yesterday, I see it as nothing but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. And we are going to spend 162 games debating if the runner made an “attempt” to touch the bag and an “attempt” to hold on to the bag. It is ridiculous, and we are in arguably the same position as last October.

But today, all I am reading about is how the masses are appalled by the fact that the league published the new slide rule while simultaneously making the existing “neighborhood play” reviewable. The neighborhood play allows an infielder to record a force out at second base during a double play without technically touching the bag. It historically existed to protect shortstops and second basemen from takeout slides. And now that it can be reviewed by instant replay, it essentially means the league will enforce the actual rule of staying on the bag to record a force out. As a result of this change, Terry Collins said, “Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned.”

MLB continues to blow my mind with their myriad of unwritten rules like the neighborhood play. So we literally just made a play reviewable that doesn’t technically even exist by rule. And it only existed in the first place because the league refused to make a real rule addressing takeout slides. It literally exists because runners consistently crush middle infielders on takeout slides, and in order to give the infielders a chance to survive, everyone agreed off the record that they don’t have to touch the bag while turning a double play. You know what else we could have done all this time? Maybe release a “no crushing the middle infielder on takeout slides” rule. Does that work? Has anyone in MLB ever heard of writing down real rules that make sense?

And you know the best part? This new slide rule does not ban takeout slides at all. In fact, the league has openly talked about how they want them to remain a part of the game.

Let us recap: 1) Real rules exist that say fielders need to stay on the bag to record a force out. 2) Unwritten “neighborhood play” rule exists and says the opposite. 3) Now instant replay can be used to ensure the unwritten neighborhood play rule will no longer be enforced. 4) Slide rules now exist that define a legal slide and an illegal “roll block”. 5) The league does not want to discourage legal slides to break up a double play.

It is so simple everyone. Now, the league just wants middle infielders to stay on the bag, and they only want double plays to be broken up by runners that legally “take the fielder out” of the play. Get it?

As I said yesterday, the rule deliberation is pointless because the only way this works is if the league bans takeout slides through enforcement. They just have to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the infielder then the practice will die out. And once the actual rule is established by virtue of the calls made during the games, hopefully somebody grabs a pen and writes it down.

MLB Slide Day; Stopwatch Era Begins

MLB finally came out with their revised rules in response to the Chase Utley takeout slide that ended the 2016 postseason for Ruben Tejada. How about a big round of applause for MLB, as it only took them 5 months to respond to something so simple and straightforward.

So here is what they came up with:

“A runner is still allowed to make contact with the pivot man, provided the following four conditions are satisfied:

  1. He begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
  2. He is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
  3. He is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
  4. He slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

As well, the runner may not engage in a ‘roll block,’ or intentionally initiates (or attempts to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder’s knee or throwing his arm or his upper body.”

So there it is. It took them 5 months to come up with that, and quite frankly it is completely and utterly meaningless. I see it as nothing, but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. The first point would be meaningful if we were addressing the sliding style of Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, but at this point in time all the players are starting their slide before they reach the base. The second and third points say “attempt” to reach the base and stay on the base. It’s going to be real fun watching umpires debate “an attempt” for 162 games. And the final point is the key one in my mind and will ultimately determine the success of the rule. The runner can’t change his “pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder”.

This is going to come down to one simple thing: Look at the base. I know it says “pathway”, but they really mean the runner shouldn’t shift his focus from base to fielder. It is going to become the “look at the base” rule. Chase Utley, Chris Coghlan and all the other hard-nosed players are going to have to sell the legitimacy of their slide by staring at the base the entire time. When Coghlan and Utley crushed Kang and Tejada, they both had their arm extended and made varying attempts to touch the base. Utley didn’t make much of an attempt to stay on the base, and technically his move was a “roll block” because he threw his upper body. But an adjustment to avoid the definition of a “roll block” can easily be made by the dirty players. They just need to stay low and reach for the base. Chris Coghlan stayed low and reached for the base when he took out Jung Ho Kang. But almost all these dirty slides involve the runner visibly shifting his focus and attention from the base to the fielder. They all look up or to the side or wherever the fielder is standing. And from now on, all they are going to do is keep their arm out and their face aimed at the bag.

All the rule deliberation is pointless. It always has been. The only way to eliminate this practice is for the umpires to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the fielder then the practice will die out. It’s no different than helmet to helmet hits in the NFL. Once the referees threw the flag the players adjusted and now most guys aim low. If the umps call the runners out, they’ll give themselves up, slide as a mere formality, and the takeout strategy will become non-existent. Let’s just hope that the umps protect the fielders all season and ignore all the complaining sure to come from baserunners and old school managers.

Pace of Play Miracle: The other announcement from MLB today, was the beginning of the stopwatch era. Now mound visits by managers and pitching coaches will be 30 second timed visits. Hooray. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. The league has yet to expand on these ground breaking pace of play developments but I am assuming any arguments about violations of the 30 second clock will be limited to 60 seconds for each manager and any challenges to the 60 second manager objection will be sent to the replay center in New York for review.

The second pace of play change is the one I find appalling. Now break timers between innings will mirror the time allotted to broadcasters between innings: 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, a reduction of 20 seconds each from the 2015 season. I don’t know about you, but if this takes away one single Cellino and Barnes or Grand Prospect Hall commercial on SNY I am going to lose my mind.

Weekly Roundup: Takeout Slides, Chipper Predictions, and Prayers for Maverick

MLB/Union Closer to 2B Takeout Slide Rule Change: I ranted in a January 27th post about how the league still hasn’t done a damn thing to rectify the 2B takeout slide problem. Well it seems they heard my complaining. Now that Ruben Tejada has finally shed his walking boot and Jung Ho Kang is making big strides in his daily physical therapy, the league has finally made some alleged progress. Heck, according to Buster Olney’s report, the Union and MLB claim they may make real changes before the season begins. Olney said they want to make sure runners “touch the base or make an effort to touch the base”. The planned rule change is meant to “improve safety” while maintaining “players’ aggressiveness”. In addition, they are still debating whether slides in question can be reviewed by instant replay.

So to recap, the current 2B slide rule essentially says the runner should be close enough to touch the base. The proposed new rule would say the runner must attempt to touch the base, and it wouldn’t discourage aggressive slides. I can really see the differences in the rules. Sounds like a groundbreaking reform that will really change the sport. And of course they don’t want umpires to be able to review these types of slides because it may slow down the games. This is going to go well. I will reserve judgement until the final rule is published but needless to say I’m skeptical. If it goes anything like when they changed the home plate collision rules, we are in for a long season full of confused players, managers, and umpires.

Chipper Predictions: Chipper Jones in a radio interview this week said the Mets are his early season favorite to win the World Series. Larry is really something else. From the Mets archrival to the team’s biggest booster. After the Chase Utley takeout slide he came out and ripped Chase a new one. Now he’s endorsing the Mets as future 2016 World Champions? And it’s not like he’s unemployed and endorsing the Mets from his couch. He literally works for the Braves. He just got hired as a special assistant.

He’s got to be working an angle. Still trolling us after all those years of crushing the franchise. It started with him naming his kid Shea. Now he’s taking it up a notch by pretending to be our biggest fan. I completely understand why Chipper would love our team. It’s designed exactly like his 90s Braves squad. A potential juggernaut built around young pitching. However, I think Chipper’s “love affair” with the pitching rich Mets is kind of like Eli Manning’s “love” for his brother Peyton. Right now, Chipper has the championship swag like Eli did before last week’s Super Bowl. So he’s “rooting” for the Mets like Eli was “rooting” for Peyton. The Mets are just a similarly designed team with aspirations to be as successful as the 90s Braves. We want to win 14 consecutive division titles like the Braves did between 1991 and 2005. We want to advance to the World Series 5 times like they did in the 90s. But the second we win one lone championship like Chipper did with the 1995 Braves, his cheerleader routine will stop. If we ever found a way to win two, Chipper could have twins named Citifield and Shake Shack, and he still wouldn’t get his championship mojo back.

Pray for Maverick (and Wright): Sandy Alderson conducted an interview with Steve Serby of the NY Post. First off, in the interview Sandy talked about how he was diagnosed with cancer four days after the Mets clinched the NL East last season, and he is still undergoing chemotherapy. The guy is a front office legend and clearly tough as hell. I hope the Wilpons actually give him some time off this season so he can recover instead of making him face the relentless media day in and day out. But it’s more likely the Wilpons remain in the panic room they had built in 2008 after Madoff was arrested and just let their lackey John Ricco deal with the press. Either way, pray for Sandy.

And while we are at it, pray for David Wright. Sandy said he hopes David and his titanium spine can play 130 games next season. Honestly, I will take anything we can get from David. 100 games would work for me. Quite frankly, we’d be better off keeping Wright cryogenically frozen until 2017 when the NL institutes the DH so he can take that job full time. Although considering our trainer Ray Ramirez can barely administer an X-Ray, I’m not sure I’d trust him to handle the freezing procedure.

Two New Cubans: This week, two new Cubans defected from the motherland. 31 year old 3B Yulieski Gourriel and 22 year old SS/OF Lourdes Gourriel Jr. were supposedly two of the top players remaining in Cuba. Are they brothers? Noooooo…….Yes!!!!

These two brothers are expected to be impact players in the major leagues. Pretty much like every Cuban player that has defected to date. The older brother Yulieski is supposed to have an immediate impact while the younger brother may need some minor league seasoning. It’s hard to complain about the Mets lack of interest in Cuban players considering we just signed the best one in the business. That being said, John Ricco should have a welcome party on standby in Florida, and we should be signing every Cuban player that comes ashore. Especially a Cuban star that plays 3B considering Wright is our biggest question mark. But I’m sure he’ll just wind up a Yankee as they are one of the teams rumored to have interest.

Clippard Departs, Mejia Promptly Banned: I wrote earlier this week about the departure of Tyler Clippard for a 2 year deal in Arizona. And of course, four days later Jenrry Mejia is promptly banned from the game for life due to a third positive PED test. Mejia getting banned for life makes too much sense. Things were too quiet in Mets land. It was inevitable that the first bad thing of 2016 was going to happen. I also think it’s hilarious that at the trade deadline we acquired Clippard and immediately afterwards Mejia received his second steroid suspension. And now once again, Clippard’s move and Mejia’s suspension happen simultaneously.

Mejia wasn’t part of the team last year, and we replaced Clippard with Antonio Bastardo, so I suppose our pen will be fine. But it still isn’t good that two relief options for 2016 have evaporated in one week. And speaking of Bastardo, he has to be next on the Mets steroid watch list right? He’s been suspended before, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see our primary set up man go down for a second time.

Royals Plan Two World Series Celebrations: The Royals announced this week that they plan to have a World Series celebration in both games against the Mets to start the season. Banner raising the first game and then ring presentations on night two. Really just rubbing our faces in it. Well that’s just perfect. At least this doubles the chances for former Royals Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto to catch the ceremonies on TV. But in all seriousness, screw the Royals. I hope this fires the Mets up and helps them keep their eyes on the ultimate prize.

Minor League Notes: This week the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. He may play all 3 outfield positions but he’ll never fill the void left by Triple A Vegas legend Kirk “3 Dingers” Nieuwenhuis.

Also, the Texas Rangers have officially signed former Met Ike Davis to a minor league deal. Oh how the mighty have fallen. From first round pick to Quadruple-A All-Star. I’m not sure how smart it was for him to take the deal considering Texas is just over an hour flight from Arizona where he contracted his Valley Fever. Although I suppose he had no real choice. Maybe another fresh start will finally cure him of the Valley Fever aka Mets disease. Nothing worked for Jason Bay, but perhaps there’s still hope for Ike. Not bloody likely.

What Happened to Banning Takeout Slides?

utley ruben slide

It wasn’t too long ago that Yankee mole and MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre sat at a podium shortly after Ruben Tejada had been demolished by Chase Utley‘s filthy takeout slide during Game 2 of the NLDS. At that press conference Joe babbled on and on about the play all the while failing to offer coherent sentences explaining the definition of a legal slide or what exactly constituted the “neighborhood play” under the rules.

At that time Joe (i.e. The Head of Rules) said he was “digesting” the legality of the slide (probably as Ruben was digesting his hospital food), but he assured fans that Utley would be appropriately disciplined and that MLB owners would discuss potential rule changes during the offseason. Well as we all know, Joe failed to live up to his first promise when he handed Utley a meaningless 2 game suspension that wasn’t even implemented during the series.

However, last week Major League Baseball owners had a chance to make good on the second promise when they met Wednesday and Thursday at some retirement community in Florida for their annual meetings.

And it wasn’t just the rules around takeout slides up for discussion. These rich old coots had a lot to cover including:

  • The DH being used in the National League
  • Discipline for players facing investigations for alleged domestic violence incidents
  • Cardinals hacking scandal against the Astros
  • The “flaws” associated with instant replay review

Anyway after two full days of discussions, the owners had the following to show for it:

  • DH in the NL – No change
  • Domestic violence discipline- No decision
  • Cardinals hacking scandal- No decision
  • Instant replay review- No change
  • And finally on takeout slides…No change

Wow!!!! Talk about unbelievable progress. These guys can really cover some ground in between shuffle board matches.

So there was absolutely no progress whatsoever made on any of the issues on the agenda. After dirty takeout slides ended the season for both Ruben Tejada and Pirates star rookie Jung Ho Kang, the league has decided rather than at least clarify the existing rules it’s better to just let this one play out. Thus ensuring that next season we will almost certainly experience multiple takeout slide related injuries and an equal amount of umpire crews just shrugging and hoping to reach a representative at the MLB Replay Call Center in New York. “Representative!! Rep-re-sentative!!”

In regards to implementing the DH in the NL, Commissioner Manfred offered this incredible insight, “It is the single most important feature that defines the differences between the two leagues.” Ummm wait, wait, slow down. So the DH is something that is different between the American League and the National League? Ok I think I understand. So the rules are not the same right now. Got it. He then added “The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” Gotta love the old status quo.

And by the way, the most hilarious part about the NL considering the implementation of the DH is the main reason behind it. They want to prevent injuries to pitchers. So we have second basemen and shortstops breaking legs and baserunners getting concussions on takeout slides, but we are more concerned about pitchers pulling their hamstrings as they run to first base. Well either way the important thing is that the league decided to do nothing.

The proposed “enhancements” to instant replay, centered on the owners’ desire to change the practice of overturning “safe” calls when it’s determined that the runner has in fact lost contact with the bag. I can’t even begin to try and offer you an explanation for why they want to stop umpires from getting these calls right. I’m guessing it has to do with their favorite pace of play debate. And quite frankly with so many of these owners on the verge of death, I can understand why they are prioritizing speeding games up.

Now it’s not fair to criticize the owners on everything. They did have a few major accomplishments including moving this year’s trade deadline to August 1st to avoid having it on a Sunday and the appointment of salty Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts to the MLB small council. He will join current Master of Coin Fred Wilpon as another esteemed member of the committee.

And before it was all said and done the focus of the meeting turned to revenue sharing (i.e. a great debate about how the owners planned to split the tab for the entire event).  Obviously Fred Wilpon got up to use the bathroom when the tab was being settled only to return with promises of “getting it next year”.