New York City might be big enough for two professional baseball teams, but only one franchise, and in most cases one player, will control the back pages. Last season that man was Derek Jeter. Now that his farewell tour has ended, I wasn’t sure if it ever would, there are two men who will fill that void. Matt Harvey and Alex Rodriguez are poised for a back page battle in their 2015 returns. But as was the case in ‘Highlander’ – there can be only one.
In 2013, Harvey took the league, and city, by storm. You could find him featured in ESPN Magazine: The Body Issue, participating in skits for ‘The Tonight Show’, on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Us Weekly (featuring his breakup with super model Annie V) and sitting courtside at Knicks/Rangers games. Oh, then there was the fact the he started the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. Almost forgot about his on the field dominance. Simply put, he was everywhere.
Unfortunately, Harvey’s rise to stardom was derailed by a season-ending elbow injury that led to Tommy John Surgery. Even while he missed the entire 2014 season recovering he grabbed more attention than his active teammates. Now, much of that has to do with the lackluster season the Mets put together. Nonetheless, Harvey has become a walking headline. Every interview, comment, appearance or tweet he made has become back page news.
Harvey’s combination of talent and brash have him on the cusp of taking the throne as King of NY. All eyes will be on him this spring as he returns to the mound.
Then there’s A-ROD. He is one of, if not the, most captivating figure in sports. Given where he stands in today’s media landscape, it’s easy to forget that A-ROD was once one of the most popular players in the game. That was long before he donned the pinstripes. As a young phenomenon he was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career and was on pace to break every record in the book. He earned the largest contract in professional sports history (he would later receive a second deal to top that). His little black book is filled with a “who’s who” of women in Hollywood. Then steroids came into the picture. Accusations occurred, denials were initially made and then apologies were ultimately issued.
A-ROD went on to become a World Series hero and all was forgiven. Or was it? Accusations of PED once again began to occur. A lot of them. Denials were once again made. Then a suspension was handed down. A big one (The largest in baseball history). And once again, an apology was issued. This time in the form of a handwritten note.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.”
People love to see the mighty crumble. As bad as that may sound, it’s true. Think about every featured story on the news, magazine covers or website homepages. More times than not you won’t be seeing any feel good stories. It’s almost always regarding someones downfall. Hence why these A-ROD scandals have been so widely reported. Sure, his story has become kind of repetitive. He’s almost like watching a rerun on TV. You’ve already seen the episode. But you enjoyed it so much the first time around that you decided to watch it again. Sound familiar?
I don’t care how many monuments the Yankees give out this season. A-ROD is the only Yankee story people care about.
The media aren’t the only ones excited for A-ROD’s return. Earlier this week Harvey himself said “If he is that dedicated and wants to come back then more power to him for going up to the organization like that, it shows a lot,” Harvey told the NY Post. “It will be exciting to see what he can do.”
No one epitomized a baseball player better than Derek Jeter. But I found myself becoming bored with him during those dog days of summer last season. I craved that polarizing figure. Someone who has a bit of a flair to him. I missed Matt Harvey. And at times, I can’t believe I’m saying this, I missed A-ROD..
Both The Mets and Yankees are projected to be in the playoff hunt this year, but neither are considered favorites. It’s been a while since these two were on roughly an even playing field. While winning is crucial in NY, it is considered almost equally as important to win those back pages. A-ROD, for both his on and (mostly) off the field actions, could be the Yankees only hope in this battle. While Matt Harvey will try to solidify himself as the new face of baseball in NY.
Although many have been downplaying the Subway Series, claiming the buzz and energy it once created is all but gone, I beg the differ after last night’s game. It doesn’t get much better than game 1 of this year’s series.
We were given everything you want in a rivalry game and more. Conflicting chants could be throughout the game, growing more and more intense in the latter innings. There was no shortage of excitement as the Mets and Yankees exchanged blows all night long in a seesaw game of momentum, this one will go down as an instant Subway Series classic.
After the Mets got the scoring going in the first inning, the Yankees quickly began to tag Bartolo Colon. Behind a Brett Gardner grand slam, the Yanks put themselves in front with a commanding 4-1 lead in the second. Hiroki Kuroda appeared to be settling into a groove, until Travis d’Arnaud hit a vintage Yankee Stadium home run to cut the lead to two in the fifth. Just an inning later, Curtis Granderson hit a 2-run shot of his own, as he looked quite comfortable in his return to the Bronx.
Just when it felt like the Mets had everything going their way, The Yankees bats came back to life in the bottom of the sixth. A Yangervis Solarte single gave the Yankees back the lead and Kelly Johnson followed up with a triple to make it a 7-4 ball game. The pendulum had swung back the Bronx Bombers way heading into the final stretch.
In the top of the seventh inning, The Mets continued to take advantage of the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. Eric Young of all people hit a 2-run shot to make it a 7-6 ballgame. The Mets bats continued to stay hot in the eighth, Eric Campbell started a rally with a hustle double past Solarte at third base. Lucas Duda then blooped in a single to tie the game back up. Chris Young stepped in soon after and hit the Mets fourth home run of the game to take a two run lead.
After a stellar 1 1/3 innings relief by Jenrry Mejia, Kyle Farnsworth was brought in to close this one out. This wouldn’t have been a Subway Series game without an interesting finish. Farnsworth, quickly worked himself into a jam, walking Derek Jeter to lead off the inning and letting up a double to Mark Teixeira two batters later. With runners on first and third, it seemed inevitable that the Yankees would find a way to pull this one out. Brian McCann stepped to the plate and ripped one towards the hole on the right side. An unlikely defensive hero, Lucas Duda, snagged the ball and was able to turn a tremendous double play with the help of David Wright to finish things off.
Hat tip to all the fans in attendance, they made this even more fun to watch from the comfort of my living room. You could feel the intensity coming through the TV when The 7 Line Army could be heard going at it with The Bleacher Creatures. The tension brought about in the bottom of the ninth was as good as it gets, as long as you don’t mind developing an ulcer or two. Fans in attendance got their money’s worth and we were all given a reminder of how truly special the Subway Series is. I can’t wait to get out to Citi field myself on Thursday.
Reilly Rant: This goes for both the Mets and Yankees, PLEASE, stop wearing those two-tone hats. Stick with your traditional caps, the classic look is always the right look. No need to be wearing a hat that Lids will be selling for half price on their racks by summers end.
The Mets recently announced they will be selling tickets to this weekends series against the Braves with rates honoring the 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium opening.
There will be a limited number of tickets available in the upper deck for $3.50, which is what an original box seat cost in 1964. On top of that, select field level seats will be priced at $19.64. Both specials will be available for all three games this weekend, but keep in mind they may go fast at those prices.
I’m glad to see the Mets running such a great promotion, this is something the team has been getting much better at in recently. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the team’s performance on the field, as many don’t want to come watch a losing team. But despite struggles the last few years and a mid-level payroll, the team is on the rise and does have some young talent to get excited about. Now it’s time to win their fan base back and remind them how great Citi field is, these type of promotions can help do just that. Continue reading
The Mets made it official yesterday and announced Dillon Gee as their opening day starter. There had been grumblings about this for about a week or so now, so this news comes as a shock to no one.
Opening Day is all about a fresh start for a team and their fan base, a new beginning with endless possibilities. No matter how bad your team was last season, everyone comes into Opening Day with a glimmer of hope. For the Mets, our hope relies on our young starting pitching. Obviously this start we have been given to Harvey if healthy, but he’s not. Syndergaard became the story of spring training, but he won’t be seeing Citi Field until the summer. Dillon Gee, while reliable and effective, does not represent one of these talents, Zack Wheeler dos.
Wheeler, the prized return in the Carlos Beltran trade, has been looked upon as a building block since his arrival. Wheeler showed signs of his potential dominance and had us thinking he could be a major factor in leading this team back to the playoffs. This is the man who brings that promise and excitement with him each time he takes the mound, Wheeler needed to be given this start.
I’m not trying to knock on Dillon Gee, I’m actually a big fan of his. I believe he is a great piece to go along with the young power arms of Harvey, Syndergaard and Wheeler in the future rotation. If he can slide in as the team’s future #4 or #5 starter, I couldn’t be happier with that situation. Gee reminds me of a young Rick Reed, he doesn’t throw overly hard, but he moves the ball around and changes speeds to keep batters off-balance. Gee always keeps the Mets in the ballgame, but his style doesn’t exactly rile up the fans.
The Mets really missed the boat on this one, Wheeler’s presence alone would have been significant with one of our “big three” leading the way in 2014. In any case, this won’t matter in the long run of the season, but it would have added to the anticipation of what could come this year.
Fox Sports made an announcement earlier today that Mets sideline reporter, Kevin Burkhardt, will officially be joining the Fox Sports MLB team. It has been rumored for some time now that this was the likely move for the rising star that is Burkhardt. After joining the Fox football team this fall to high praise, this was the right move for both parties.
Burkhardt will be the host for the Fox, Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 MLB pregame show that will run during the regular season, All-Star game and the World Series. Newly elected Hall of Famer, Frank Thomas, will be joining him in the booth alongside Gabe Kapler and other revolving guests.
2014 marks the end of Burkhardt’s contract with SNY, meaning this will most likely be his final season with the Mets. His role is sure to only grow once he is relieved of his Mets duties. This is bittersweet news, no Mets fan wants to see him go but we are all happy for him and will enjoy seeing one of our own apart of a nationally broadcast team. I expect Burkhardt to become a very focal figure across all Fox Sports activities in the years to come. We can only hope to see him hosting a World Series pregame show from Citi Field in the near future.
To read that I previously wrote about Kevin Burkhardt and what he has meant to Mets fans, click here: http://bigapplebaseballblog.com/2013/12/12/mets-fans-lets-enjoy-kevin-burkhardt-while-we-still-can/
Mets ace Matt Harvey was cleared today by his medical team to begin throwing a baseball. Harvey is only four months removed from Tommy John surgery, but this news marks the first step in his goal of returning to the mound. This is great news for both Harvey and the Mets, now we have to be patient with our 24-year-old.
“Since it is four months out, the process is going to be slow. I have to not push things.” Harvey said, regarding his discussion with his doctor “He just wanted to make sure I knew that and I was clear with that. Obviously we’re not going to push things early. But, for me, being able to wear my glove and pick up a ball again is a good sign.”
Harvey has publicly stated his desire to do his rehab work in NY, most rehabbing players spend their time in Port St. Lucie, but he would like to be closer to his home. This would also allow him to be with the team during home stands, where he could bond with his younger teammates and continue to learn the league from the bench. Everything about that sounds great, but will this ultimately turn into a distraction?
In only a short amount of time, Harvey has taken this city by storm. When he emerged late in the 2012 season, he quickly caught the eye of Mets fans and the rest of baseball. But it was his 2013 campaign really put him on the map as a star in the making. He was featured in a Jimmy Fallon show skit, could be seen on celebrity row for countless Rangers games, did a tabloid grabbing interview for GQ Magazine, dated Super-Model Anne V and oh yeah, was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Harvey became one of the hottest athletes in NYC, everyone wanted a piece of him.
Personally, I don’t care what Harvey does off the field, as long as it doesn’t affect his performance on the mound. I only raise this questions because I know there will be certain media outlets and reporters who will make it their mission to question his work ethic this season. Last season was different, you could find him on the mound every 5th day, no matter what else he did that week. Now, he won’t be throwing off the mound in Citi Field, and many will be ready to jump at the opportunity to question his lifestyle during his rehab process.
Harvey does seem to be very mature for his age, just watch one interview and you will be shocked by his poise at such a young age. But every once in a while he surprises me with his actions, for example his GQ interview last season. Whether he was misquoted or thought he was speaking off the record, you have to be smarter than that. These guys are not your friend, they are using you to make a name for themselves. Or more recently, when WFAN’s Joe Benigo expressed his concerns for Harvey’s off the field headlines on air, Harvey became defensive and attacked these remarks via twitter while on vacation in Thailand. The only reason this story gathered any buzz was because of Harvey’s response. If something like that can trigger him while he is on vacation, imagine what it will be like when he is dealing with these questions in New York.
No one should question Harvey’s desire and determination to get back on the mound to help the Mets win. He has already thrown around the idea of trying to pitch down the stretch this season. Although this doesn’t sound to be a plausible plan, it’s that kind of attitude that has won over the fans. If I’m the Mets, I would be playing up his rehab throughout the season. Maybe have a crew monitoring his workouts and make it a feature on Mets Weekly. When the team is on road trips, I would throw him in the study and let him give insight on the games. Things like this will help keep him both in the spotlight and mentally focused on his return.
“I’d always love to pitch and get back out there, but I don’t make those decisions,” Harvey said regarding a return in 2014. “I can only stay with the doctors and prepare to the best of my ability. If things can work out quicker than normal, then we’ll see. But I can’t make that call. … I haven’t really talked to them in-depth about that. I know they don’t want me to push, and I’m definitely not going to force things to happen earlier. If they happen to come quicker, then that’s where we’re going to go.”
As Jerry Seinfeld recently stated, the Mets finally have a “cool guy”. Harvey has all the intangibles to be a star both on and off the field, he just has to remain committed to what got him there in the first place. I don’t foresee Harvey doing anything personally to make his rehab a distraction, I worry more about his reaction to the media that will be out to get him. If he is able to go about his business and keep reporters out of his mind, Harvey should be just fine.
But please, stop teasing us with these pitching in 2014 remarks. You’re surgery broke our hearts enough, don’t tease us like that.
Mets fans have watched Kevin Burkhardt grow right before their eyes since joining the SNY broadcast team in 2007. With Gary, Keith and Ron garnering most of the publicity, in what is regarded as the best broadcast team in baseball, Burkhardt has rounded out the team nicely as the field reporter.
Each season Burkhardt’s role seems to expand, his insight is always valued by the guys in the booth and SNY has made him host to numerous Mets studio shows throughout the year. Burkhardt is not called upon to give us meaningless reports such as “The team needs to play better”, that we hear so often from other field reporters in the industry. No, Kevin Burkhardt brings much more than that to the table and is a rising star that will surely lead to greener pastures than the stands of Citi Field. It’s as though in the last year or so Burkhardt has really found his voice, so to speak, not afraid to express his own opinions and doesn’t hold back from reporting what’s really on his mind.
These last few weeks, with the return of Mets Hot stove, Kevin Burkhardt has really caught my attention with his coverage of the off-season. Right from the get-go, Burkhardt was all over ownership and the front office, pushing them to fulfill their promise that 2014 would be the start of the return of relevancy for this franchise. Many in his position might not have attacked the team with the same demeanor, there was no “sugar-coating” what needed to be done. It has been as though he was speaking directly on behalf of the fan base with each remark he has made. Every move the Mets have made, he gives a realistic response that you would hear from any die-hard fan that has gone through this teams hardships for the last several years.
When Chris Young was signed, he was mildly amused, as were the rest of us, and reiterated that was simply not enough. A few days later when Justin Turner was released, despite only being due $1 million in salary, due to his “lack of hustle”, Burkhadt was all over it and came to his defense both on the air and twitter. Then the Mets FINALLY made the type of signings everyone had been waiting for in Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon and his tone has begun to change. You could sense a sigh of relief and joy in his on air reporting, as a sign of better days ahead for the Mets seemed to be a reality. The same tone that many of us will be using ourselves, with a few more fine tuning moves, heading into the 2014 season.
This football season, Burkhardt took his first step to being heard by a much broader audience. Fox signed him to be the play-by-play man along side John Lynch and Erin Andrews. I have heard him call a few games this season, including his most recent this past weekend of “The Snow Bowl” game in Philadelphia between the Eagles and Lions. While many tuned in to watch a game played in the horrific winter conditions, they may have gotten there first chance to hear a voice that will be in broadcast booths for years to come. Although the Giants may be eliminated from the playoffs, Burkhardt will be calling their game against the Seahawks this weekend, allowing the NY fan base a chance to see him do some broadcasting that isn’t done in front of the Shake Shack.
Burkhardt’s contract with SNY runs through the 2014 season and I don’t exactly see him signing an extension to stay on as a field reporter. With his relationship with Fox already established through football and calling the occasional Saturday baseball game of the week, it would be a no brainer for him to join Fox Sports full-time. They have recently launched the Fox Sports channel and could use the versatile Burkhadt both in the broadcast booth and studio to help strengthen their team and grow with the Network.
Now I’m not ready to write my full Kevin Burkhadt farewell just yet, this is just simple reminder to Mets fans on how lucky we are to have him. Let’s hope “KB” stays involved with the Mets/SNY somehow for many more years to come.