Murph vs. Walker 2016: A Visual History Of Embarrassment 

“I’m so good. I’m like Murph on steroids!” – Neil Walker’s thoughts March 2016 / “Jesus Christ, Murph is good. Is he on steroids?” -Neil Walker’s thoughts July 2016

It may only be July 30th, but the question of who wins the battle for second base supremacy in 2016 (Neil Walker or Daniel Murphy) has seemingly been answered. Murph is hitting .351 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs. He’s on pace for 30+ homers, 100+ RBIs, a batting title, and a possible MVP award. He’s having one of the best seasons by a second baseman in baseball history. Walker on the other hand has a tenuous hold on the Mets starting second base job. He’s posting the lowest OPS of his career. He hit .307 with 9 home runs in April, and since then has hit .250 in May, .214 in June, and .236 in July.

I can’t take it anymore. Mercy! I yield! Just crown Murph the best NL second baseman of 2016. There’s time left for Walker to salvage his own season and help the Mets in the battle for an NL playoff spot. But Walker will never surpass Murph’s overall 2016 production. At this rate, Neil Walker may not even perform at a high enough level to warrant a qualifying offer. Great. So much for that plan.

Let’s just take a look at this visual history of Murph’s domination of Walker so far this season. Also, please keep in mind some of these images are symbolic representations of events this season, and some of these things actually happened (allegedly).

Murph Walker election
Murphy crushed Walker in the All-Star Game general election. Walker didn’t even carry his home state of Pennsylvania. Pathetic. Daniel Murphy: Making Mets Fans Miserable Again.
murph walker debate
No wonder Murph won the All-Star Game election in such a landslide. He destroyed Walker in all their televised matchups. Neil couldn’t stop sweating because of his embarrassing .222 batting average against the Nationals.
british surrender
Here’s Neil Walker surrendering to Murph and the Nationals after the Battle of Washington. Murph sure has made Walker, Sandy Alderson, and the Mets look bad with his .423 batting average, 7 home runs and 21 RBIs against them.
Remember when Murph was paid big money by the Nationals and the Pirates traded Neil Walker because they didn’t want to pay him? If Walker keeps up his abysmal play, he may wind up making less money than Murph and Ken Jennings (pictured center).
rocky vs drago
Daniel “The Irish Stallion” Murphy absolutely demolished Neil Walker in every head to head matchup. They haven’t even been close.
Murph vs. Frazier
Here’s one of Murphy beating up the AL in the All-Star Game (represented by the great Joe Frazier). Murph went 2 for 3, and Neil Walker didn’t even qualify to play in the game. But don’t worry, Walker stayed on the sidelines and took pictures.


Murph Walker Mr Universe
Murph has so much power in 2016. Walker has hit way more homers in his career (109 vs. Murph’s 82), but even Walker is amazed at Murph’s power this season.
murph moon
Here’s one of Daniel Murphy walking on the moon (before Spring Training started). Neil “Armstrong” Walker can be seen in the background. You can’t see his face because he’s wearing a standard space mask. Murph refused to wear one because he has no problem breathing the “crisp moon air”.
Murphless in Seattle
Remember that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan broke up with loser fiancé Neil Walker and then ran away with Murph to Washington?
murph neil plug pull
And finally, here’s where Daniel “Costanza” Murphy pulled the plug on his nemesis Neil. Neil will eventually walk at the end of the season. Probably to some new team.

Reed and Familia Are Pretty Prettay Good

Final Score: Mets 5, Phillies 3

I don’t care that we’re playing the Phillies. A win to start play right after the All-Star Break is fantastic. In fact, the games against the Phillies are the must win affairs. We need to at least outplay the “bad teams” the rest of the way. Even if the “bad teams” aren’t that far behind us in the NL East standings.

Juanny One Thumb: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t start because his quad is still bothering him. But Juan Lagares stepped up in his place. He smashed a solo shot in the third inning to make it 1-0. A big second half from Juanny One Thumb would do a lot to help this team make a playoff run. He’s capable of being a spark in the field and at the plate. He’s not usually a spark on the base paths because he’s slow as hell. But even in this game he had an impact on the bases. In the 7th inning he stole a key base after he led off with a walk, and he ultimately scored the fifth run for the Mets in that inning on a Jose Reyes grounder. The Phillies threw home and Juanny beat the throw.

Walkyear Back On: Neil Walker was smoking hot in April. Then he cooled off in May and was awful in June. Last night he hit the game winning 3-run shot off of Jeremy Hellickson in the 6th inning. It would be nice if the Walkyear level of production that Neil had in April is back for the second half. Then maybe some pressure can be lifted off of Cespedes’ shoulders.

Hit A Wall: Bartolo Colon was untouchable until the bottom of the 6th inning. Then the wheels fell off. James Loney made a throwing error that let Odubel Herrera reach base with one out. Then Peter Bourjos tripled in a run, Maikel Franco hit an RBI groundout, and Cody Asche singled in a run. Bartolo was yanked when the game was 4-3.

Reed/Familia Es Muy Nasty: The Mets were fortunate that the pen gave them 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. But Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins didn’t exactly make it easy for us. Terry was forced to go to Addison Reed with two outs in the 7th and he dominated like he has all season. Jeurys Familia was super nasty in the 9th inning, and he slammed the door. It may make sense for us to trade for one more reliable reliever (and a starter and a bat).

Cubano: The Mets didn’t get the new Cuban Yulieski Gurriel. I wrote about it here. What a joke.

Today: Today Logan Verrett gets another chance to convince the Mets we don’t need to trade for a starter before the trade deadline. Let’s see what he’s got.

The Bombs Are Back In Town

Final Score: Mets 10, Cubs 2

The Mets hit home runs again? Is this happening for real? The calendar flips from June to July, and now the Mets have seemingly rediscovered their power stroke. The Mets hit 5 home runs last night. The game may have had two rain delays, but the weather gods could not stop the Mets.

Dingers In The Rain (Act 1): The Mets power surge started in the second inning when James Loney and Asdrubal Cabrera hit back-to-back solo blasts off of Jason Hammel to make it 2-0 Mets.

Rain Delay: The tarp came out after the second inning, and I thought for sure that would be the end of the night for Jacob deGrom. He was dealing right out of the gate. Originally, I was pissed they even started the game because of the possibility that the rain could jeopardize deGrom’s outing. But the Mets brought him back out after a delay that lasted over an hour. The Cubs brought Jason Hammel back out there too. I guess I missed the memo that says it’s okay to bring starters back out after long rain delays.

The Lone Man: James Loney hit a pre-rain dinger, and once the game got started again he added a two out two RBI double in the third inning after Neil Walker singled and Yoenis Cespedes walked. He went 3 for 5 in the game with 3 RBIs. He’s hitting .297/.345/.495. Yeah I’d say the decision to take a flier on him has worked out thus far.

Dingers In The Rain Act 2: In the fourth inning, Wilmer Flores walked, Travis d’Arnaud singled, and deGrom sacrificed them over to second and third. Brandon Nimmo then launched a three run shot to make it 7-1. In the fifth inning Yoenis Cespedes added a solo dinger and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two run blast to make it 10-1. It was his second dinger of the game. That was really all the scoring the Mets needed.

Rain Delay 2.0: Other than a solo blast he surrendered to Kris Bryant, deGrom had a great night. He went 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 1 run and struck out 7. He got pulled after the second rain delay. Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles and minor league call-up Seth Lugo combined to pitch four innings (1 run) to close out the game. All these rain delays brought back memories of the July 30, 2015 game against the Padres. I’ll never feel confident in the Mets chances of winning during a rain delay ever again. I’m scarred for life.

The Hot Guys: Everyone got involved for the Mets last night. Nimmo, Cabby, and Loney. Oh and Yoenis Cespedes was 2 for 4. Yo had two hits and the Mets won the game because duh. They win when Yo goes.

Asdrubal and Neil: I mentioned this earlier in the week but look how much Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera disappeared in June.

Neil and Asdrubal are going to have to pick it up big time now that the calendar has flipped to June. Last night was a good start.

Jesus Is Good Again?: Brandon Nimmo went 2 for 5 with his big 3 run shot. He also made a stellar play in the field. I also noticed he’s a big Jesus guy. He did an awful lot of pointing to the man upstairs on his big hits. I suppose that’s good. Daniel Murphy was a godly man, and I think we’ve felt his absence this year. Hopefully Nimmo can help get us back in the good graces of the Lord.

Baseball Is So Ridiculous: Every single Mets fan had their nooses ready for this weekend. The Mets season was spiraling out of control. And now here we are two days later and we’ve snagged two games from the freaking Cubs. We can’t beat the Braves. But the Cubs? No problem.

Today: Let’s see if we can beat Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. I’ll be at the park on Sunday jinxing the hell out of the Mets. So I hope we win tonight.

Series Preview: Neil Walkyear Pittsburgh Homecoming

The Jon Niese for Neil Walker trade was a good old fashioned need for need swap. More often than not, we see trades that involve prospects for a stud or salary dumps. This was a rare situation where the Mets wanted a new second baseman and the Pirates wanted a middle of the rotation starter. So far both players have performed as expected. Jon Niese hasn’t had his annual month long injury yet, but I’m sure it will come soon. Walker is a born and raised Pittsburgh guy, and I’m sure the Pirates will treat him right for this three game set despite failing to pay him the contract that he felt he deserved. I’m sure Neil Walkyear will continue to produce for the Mets this year, and then leave for a lucrative offer from one of the Mets rivals like Daniel Murphy did. He’ll get the last laugh when it comes to getting paid. That’s a lock. As far as Niese goes, the Pirates will probably reluctantly pick up the option on his contract because his performance is just good enough to warrant the salary.

The Pirates are sixth in the league in runs scored and fourth in OPS. The Pirates are 15th in the league in team ERA. Their bullpen has been particularly stanky coming in at 22nd in ERA. If the season ended today the Mets would face the Pirates in the NL Wild Card playoff game. The Mets lost all six games against the Pirates last season. Beating up on the three NL East bottom feeders is great, but it won’t be enough this season if the Nationals keep playing the way they are playing. The Mets really need to make a statement in this series and remind the Pirates who represented the NL in the World Series last year. Plus, the Pirates just lost 2 out of 3 to the awful Angels in Pittsburgh and before that they dropped 3 out of 4 to the Marlins in Miami. They are stumbling and now is as good a time as any for the Mets to pounce on them.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Steven Matz vs. Jon Niese

Jon Niese appears to be having a classic Jon Niese season. He’s 5-2 with a 4.36 ERA and he’s surrendered 12 home runs. He had a strong May however going 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA. He fired 4 quality starts in his 5 outings. His only mediocre start was against the Cubs. His last time out against the Marlins he went 5 innings and gave up 2 runs. Notable Matchups: Curtis Granderson is 3 for 9 in the lefty vs. lefty matchup against Niese. Homeboy Neil Walker is 2 for 13.

Steven Matz is having one hell of a rookie season. In his last start against the White Sox he uncharacteristically lost his composure in the 6th inning and got yanked after giving up 3 runs in 5.2 innings. He’s never faced the Pirates. I’m looking forward to when Jon Niese falls apart in the middle innings and Matz does not. I’m sure it will sting a lot when Niese very publicly shows everyone that he is the poor man’s Matz.

Game 2: Jacob deGrom vs. Juan Nicasio

Juan Nicasio was a reliever on the Dodgers last season. He came over to the Pirates as a project for their pitching coach Ray Searage. So far Donald Trump would say it’s been a disaster. He’s 4-4 with a 4.75 ERA. In May he was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Yuck. Hopefully the Mets crush him so he loses his spot in the rotation, and they call up prospect Tyler Glasnow who’s sitting on my fantasy team bench. That would kill two birds with one stone for me. Notable Matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 6 against Nicasio with a home run, James Loney is 2 for 11, Neil Walker is 3 for 10, and Rene Rivera is 2 for 4 with a home run.

Jacob deGrom is 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 2016. He’s just doing his silent ace thing. DeGrom dominates quietly like a damn ninja assassin. Last time out against the White Sox, he went 7 innings, gave up 5 hits, 1 run and struck out 10. He didn’t face the Pirates in 2015. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we lost every game against them last season.

Game 3: Noah Syndergaard vs. Francisco Liriano

Normally this would be a hot pitching matchup for the series finale, but Francisco Liriano has been struggling for the Pirates this year. After going 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in April, he went 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in May. Those May numbers are a little skewed by a horrendous start against the Cubs where he gave up 8 runs in 4.2 innings. Last time out though he got crushed by the Angels in Pittsburgh. He went 3.1 innings and gave up 10 hits and 7 runs. Most of the season however, he’s been rocked on the road (7.09 ERA) and stellar at home (3.14 ERA) so he’ll probably be tough in the finale. Last season he pitched 6 innings against the Mets in Pittsburgh and gave up a run while striking out 12. Notable Matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera is 12 for 24 lifetime against Liriano with a home run, Yoenis Cespedes is 1 for 15, and Curtis Granderson is 6 for 32 with a home run.

Thor faced the Pirates at PNC last year. He went 6 innings, gave up 4 runs (only 1 ER) and struck out 5. I expect the Lightning Lord to continue to wreak havoc on the Pirates as he’s done with every other team.

Things To Look For:

Korean Star: Jung Ho Kang is hitting .280 with 2 homers in his last 7 games. Remember when the Mets could have signed him for basically nothing a year and a half ago, but we passed and elected to use Ruben Tejada again? Well whatever it’s not like we need a versatile infielder.

Outfield Of Dreams: The Pirates outfield is so goddamn elite. Starlin Marte is hitting .326 with 5 dingers, Gregory Polanco is hitting .308 with 9 dingers, and Andrew McCutchen has 9 long balls. He’s only hitting .250, but he’s a perennial MVP candidate, and he’ll take off eventually. It’s always exciting when you get a chance to watch the best players the game has to offer and the Pirates outfield has three of them.

So Short We Forfeit: Juan Lagares‘ status is still up in the air. Asdrubal and Cespedes are a little banged up. The Mets roster is a damn injury train wreck. Honestly, this reminds me of Little League when a game was being played on a holiday weekend or something and a bunch of kids couldn’t make it. I feel like we are going to show up to PNC with six position players, and we are going to have to forfeit. Then we’ll just borrow three Pirates players and play an exhibition game. Then everyone will get ice cream after the game. Sounds fun!

I Hate His Damn Face: Francisco Cervelli was a nobody before 2013 and in 2014/2015 he morphed into one of the better catchers in the game. He’s a known cheat who served a 50 game suspension in 2013 for steroids. In all likelihood he “morphed” thanks to his involvement in the Biogenesis steroid scandal. I hate him, and I don’t like his face. He’s got that smug Yankee smile, and it makes me sick. He’s actually not really having a great season in 2016, but screw him anyway.

2016 Mets: Pre-Season Scapegoat Predictions 

Before the Democrats had Wall Street and Trump had Mexican immigrants, Mets fans had the Wilpons to blame for all the team’s ills. Whenever the Mets were at or near the basement of the NL East over the last 7 years, the fans would ready their fingers for pointing at Jeff and Fred. “They are slashing payroll! They are in debt! They meddled in baseball decisions! We can’t win unless they sell the team!”

As you might expect, the Wilpons heard the criticism and simply joined in on the scapegoating. In fact, you could say they were the trailblazers for all the modern political finger pointing trends by blaming Bernie Madoff and Latin American immigrant General Manager Omar Minaya. It would be nice if Mets fans, the Wilpons, politicians, and society as a whole could all just unite in their scapegoating and find one illegal immigrant Mexican insider trading hedge fund manager to blame for all of the world’s problems, but I fear that day may never come.

Anyway, whenever the losing set in over the last 7 years (usually right before the All-Star break), Mets fans were ready with the stock Wilpon excuses. However, 2016 will be the first season in a long time where the Wilpons won’t be the default scapegoat. In fact, because the Wilpons signed Yoenis Cespedes and let Maverick Sandy make every move he wanted, fans can’t possibly blame them. At least not this year.

That being said, in a season that begins with the highest of expectations, finger pointing is inevitable the second the slightest thing goes wrong. So without further ado, here is the list of Top 5 likeliest goats if things fall apart in 2016:

5) The New Guy –
Whenever things go wrong, the easiest thing to do is to blame the new guy. And when the new guy is replacing a particularly popular player in Daniel Murphy, it makes him an even likelier target. Neil Walker has been one of the most consistently productive offensive 2B in all of baseball over the last 5 seasons. He’s a switch hitter, a better defender than Murphy, and he’s in a contract year. There’s almost no reason to believe he will do anything but thrive in the middle of the Mets lineup and earn himself a nice big payday after the season. That being said, after watching Jason Bay come over to New York as one of the most productive outfielders in the league and inexplicably deteriorate right before our eyes, there’s no guarantee that someone will thrive in the Big Apple just because they excelled in Pittsburgh. Plus look at the guy. I know he’s got a reputation as a hard-nosed player, but he appears to be butter soft. He looks like the kind of guy that reads the Bible in the hotel room on road trips. And not in that Daniel Murphy psycho fundamentalist Christian way but in that “I read it for the wisdom within” kind of way. I’m confident he is going to have a huge season for us. However, he’ll be one of the first fan targets if he has a rough start to the season and the team struggles.

4) Old Man Collins
– The manager is always a top scapegoat target especially when the team has high expectations for the season. Terry “Cotton Hill” Collins has faced a ton of adversity during his tenure managing this team. From the time he was hired in 2011 until August of last season, the team was completely awful. But the team was bad by design during those years. For the first time ever, Terry has the real NYC spotlight on him, and every managerial decision he makes is going to get scrutinized at an extreme level. Just look at Harveygate in Game 5 of the World Series. Even though he’s made a ton of questionable in game decisions during his time as manager, Game 5 may have been the first time he was broadly criticized by all the MLB talking heads. Why? Because it was a big game and people were actually paying attention. Now Terry is going to face that level of scrutiny for 162 games. We’ve seen Terry handle losing when it was expected, but it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a losing streak when Vegas expects us to win.

3) David Wright‘s Titanium Spine
– Last season, David Wright‘s spinal stenosis and all the injuries on the team in general had a major impact on the Mets pre-trade deadline performance. However, the injured players didn’t get blamed as much as the Wilpons did for not allowing Sandy Alderson to build a deep roster. Well now we have a deep roster, and David Wright has started his inevitable transformation into an injury-prone cyborg. With his spine deteriorating by the day and his desperate need for a futuristic titanium replacement growing, he’s in danger of becoming more machine than man. If he once again misses lengthy periods of the season and the team struggles, the fans may finally start complaining a little more about his frailty and gigantic contract. Or maybe all his robot parts will translate into a late career surge in performance and like astronaut Steve Austin he will transform into the inflation adjusted 138 million dollar man that we always hoped he would be.

2) Matt Harvey and his Sexcapades
Matt Harvey is the face of the Mets franchise. He demanded to be the face when he arrived, and he got his wish. He is always on the brink of being blamed for everything under the sun. He tweeted out that picture after his Tommy John surgery where he was flipping everyone off and he was widely criticized. At the end of last season, everyone was ready to crucify him because of the media fabricated story that he wanted to stop pitching once he reached his “innings limit”. Before the playoffs started he missed some BS workout and everyone was freaking out. The point is everything he does is going to be scrutinized. And all those criticisms I mentioned have happened while he’s been at the top of his game. If he experiences just the slightest amount of playoff hangover fatigue and his performance dips, it won’t be long before the media is blaming his appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers for the team’s “lack of focus”. As long as the team is winning and he is performing at the top of his game, he can turn his limo into a clown car full of models and take them all to see the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. If Harvey and the Mets struggle, he’ll be run out of town faster than you can say “Dark Knight”.

1) Yoenis Cespedes and his Smoking/Bat Flipping/Laziness
– The acquisition of Cespedes, his torrid summer, and the Mets playoff run, happened so fast that fans barely had time to complain about anything let alone about Cespedes. But that didn’t stop a contingent of asshole Mets fans from forming after the World Series who thought the Mets should let Cespedes walk because he misplayed Alcides Escobar‘s lead-off inside the park home run in Kansas City. That’s right. There were fans who turned against the man who carried the team to the playoffs because he had a bad World Series (along with everyone else on the team). Imagine how quickly they will turn on him if he has a down month and the offense can’t get anything going during his slump. I can hear the complaining already. “His bat flipping is cocky” and “He takes lazy routes to the ball” and “He doesn’t run hard to first base” and on and on. Let’s not forget that Cespedes already has a made up reputation for being a clubhouse distraction, so it’s only a matter of time before the media decides to dust off the old lies and re-print them. In fact, he’ll wind up getting scapegoated for a lot of the same reasons Trump scapegoats Mexican immigrants. Basically a bunch of made up racist reasons. Anyway, let’s hope that we win 100 games and his bat flipping becomes an iconic memory of the season rather than a symbol of his “immaturity” like the Mejia save stomp (R.I.P. Jenrry).

After a run to the World Series and a successful offseason, it’s hard to feel anything but positive about our chances coming into the season. That being said, these are the Mets we are talking about. And I know come Opening Day when the Mets are losing to the Royals in Kansas City and my beer is half-empty, I am going to be looking to point my finger at someone. Better to just prepare for the inevitable now.