The Associated Press released their study this morning of the MLB payrolls for the 2014 season, and after 15 years on top, the Yankees have been dethroned. The Dodgers are the new king in baseball with a whopping $235 million dollar team payroll, significantly ahead of the Yankees measly $204 million.
Here’s a brief overview of the league standings:
1) Dodgers $235 Million
2) Yankees $204 Million
3) Phillies $180 Million
4) Red Sox $163 Million
5) Tigers $162 Million
22) Mets $89 Million (This is embarrassing)
30) Astros $45 Million (Hey, its higher than the $27 Million they were at last year)
In case you were wondering, the average MLB player salary is now roughly $4 million. For comparison sake, the average salary for a person living in the United States in 2014 is $42,498. It’s good to be a professional athlete.
I know this isn’t really any significant news, as we knew the Dodgers were to surpass the Yankees this year. But isn’t it just more fun when the Yankees are spending head and shoulders ahead of the competition? It just seems more fitting when a team playing in the financial capital of the world is looking down upon the rest of the league. The Dodgers do play in an equally as powerful city in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers just don’t draw the same Hatred that the Yankees do. Come on Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, open up that check book, you’ve got work to do.
After watching the opening round of the MLB postseason, I have come to two conclusions:
1) It is nowhere near as fun without a New York team in the playoffs
2) These crowds are louder and more exciting than anything we’ve seen in New York in years
Now, you can make the argument that there was simply a lack of success this season, giving NY little to cheer about all year-long. But if that’s your argument, I don’t think you have attended a game in either Citi Field or the New Yankee Stadium since there opening. New York was once the most feared city for any opposing team to visit, crowds were well-known for their knowledge and notorious for the “Bronx Cheer”, but those glory days seem to have disappeared in the ruins of Shea and Old Yankee Stadium.
Watching crazed fans from cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis have me filled with envy of the energy their crowds have provided. Pittsburgh fans, who were riding high after waiting 22 years to return to postseason play, tormented Reds starter Johnny Cueto in the wild card game with “Cuettttoooo” chants that clearly affected his performance. It is gamesmanship like that from the fans that was once seen on a regular basis in New York. Vin Scully once referred to the mound of old Yankee Stadium as “The loneliest place on earth” for opposing pitchers. That fear may still exist to some extent on reputation, but not on actuality when the game begins.
Maybe it’s the thousand’s of dollars you must spend to sit in the lower bowl areas, that have priced the die-hard fan out of the stadium. It is not unusual to see these coveted seats half empty on a given night, with the patrons that are there barely aware of what is occurring on the field. The other half are sitting cozy in a luxury suite somewhere, munching away on a lobster roll or sushi (if you are ordering Sushi at a baseball game, we probably aren’t friends). It is hard to blame these fans for not sitting on the edge of their seat, when they are basically sitting on leather recliners. These luxurious accommodations are great, they really are, but they have diminished the atmosphere that once existed.
I know the feeling is that “winning will solve all problems” but I don’t think that is the case. In just 2009, when the Yankees won their last World Series, there was a notable difference in that crowd. The majestic feeling no longer existed and fans were loud at times, but nothing to what we have become accustomed to from the storied franchise. New York is simply not a feared place for players to visit anymore, we now we have too much of a “corporate” feel with true fans struggling to be heard from the rafters.
Yankee Stadium, in its heyday, was the loudest and most intimidating baseball stadium I had ever seen. The sound level was second to none and the fans would make opposing players tremble from the atmosphere they provided . Shea Stadium, was well-known to “rock” during big games in its history. Players and fans a like would literally feel the rafters moving from under their feet as crowds erupted like no other with each key play. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love both new stadiums, they are each as beautiful a ballpark as there is out there. Although I do not miss the overly narrow seats, hour-long bathroom lines and dirty facilities, I would do anything to bring back the magic that existed in those crowds, from those stadiums.
I didn’t really intend on writing anything today, but then I thought to myself I would never have started this blog had it not been for my father.
The only sport I ever really wanted to play growing up was baseball, and my dad gladly fueled my passion. He spent countless hours playing catch and teaching me the game from the time I was old enough to pick up a ball. I would come home from school and anxiously wait with both of our gloves ready to play in the back yard. There were many times I could see it on his face that he was exhausted or not entirely in the mood, but he would always take time out for me no matter what. Even as his age began to catch up with him and his knees didn’t exactly agree with squatting, he would get down in the catcher’s position anyways and let me throw until my arm grew numb.
My Dad was the coach of my baseball team from tee-ball all the way into high school. At the time I took it for granted that he was always there for me, as it was a given he would be on the sidelines coaching my team. Now I am at an age where I have begun to realize how hard that commitment is to make and how just about all of his free time consisted of coaching either my sister or my teams. I think my Dad enjoyed it the most once we were both in high school and he could actually sit back and watch us from the stands. However, he still did plenty of coaching for us, as I took his advice to heart more than any coach I ever had. But he finally didn’t have to deal with the stress of looking after others kids, though I don’t think he minded that either.
The first thing I would do whenever I took the field or stepped out onto the on-deck circle, was look into the crowd to see where my parents were sitting. The support I received from them always meant the world to me and I loved playing in front of them. Plus if I was struggling with anything, I knew I could count on my father to make some sort of subtle tip to help get me straightened out. But now those day’s are behind me. It has me thinking of that quote from Moneyball:
“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.”
For me that day came at 18, but that didn’t diminish my love for the game of baseball, not one bit. Most of my time went from practicing to focusing more than ever on the Mets. My Grandfather (Dads side) was raised in the Bronx and was a New York Giants fan. When the Giants fled town that left him with no local team to root for as there was no way he was switching over to the crosstown rival Yankees. He was ecstatic when National League baseball returned to New York when the Mets were formed in 1962. They quickly became my fathers team, as he has grown up alongside the franchise. This is something my father wasted no time in passing down to me from the moment I was born, as the Mets have become part of everyday life for me.
I couldn’t even begin to guess the amount of games we’ve watched together, but if the Mets are on and we’re both home…you know what’s on the TV. It hasn’t been easy watching this team through the years, as I was born just three months after the Mets last won the World Series in 1986. In my 26-years the Mets have made the playoffs only four times, and one of those was in 1988 when I was only a year old. So that gives you an idea of the caliber team we have suffered through together. My mother has had to deal with far too many occasions when speaking to either one of us was out of the questions due to a Mets game result. She has learned over time to not take it personal, I hope.
It hasn’t all been bad, though. My two favorite Mets teams were the 1999 and 2000 bunch, I was in the seventh and eighth grade. I remember staying up late to watch every game down the stretch and into the postseason. I was always going in late to school, or half asleep when I actually made it on time, after watching a late night playoff game with my Dad. Although we never had the pleasure of watching a World Series win together in Shea Stadium, the last game we would ever see there was won by a David Wright walk-off home run. That’s something that will always bring a smile to my face. Knowing my lasting memory of Shea Stadium, where I spent so many summer days in my childhood, ended on that kind of high note with my father by my side.
The last few years we have started a new tradition of making the trek down to Florida in March for Mets spring training action. It’s a unique experience and one that has only grown our baseball bond stronger over the year. But, it really doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we’re watching Mets baseball together.
After writing this and thinking back on so many memories, I realize how much of our relationship is built on sports, and particularly baseball. Every father and son has some sort of special bond that connects them and this is ours. My dream of having my parents sitting in the stands watching me play for the Mets might be long gone, but hopefully one day I’ll be working within the baseball industry, knowing I couldn’t have done it without my father.
Happy Father’s Day!
Terry Collins is not helping his cause by calling out the fans. The Mets are off to an awful start and Collins is sitting in a lame duck coaching position. I don’t want to put the entire blame on the shoulders of Collins because frankly, this just isn’t a good team and wasn’t expected to be one.
More and more I feel that Terry has reached his boiling point as it has to be frustrating realizing that he simply cannot win with this team. The Mets keep finding ways to lose and the players are not even playing up to the little expectations they had. It is a pretty safe assumption to make that Collins will be the fall guy, right or wrong, at year’s end.
He has never had a chance to coach a competitive team with the Mets but he has also been unable to get the most out of what he has had to work with. I think overall the fan base has been kind to Collins, hoping he is given a chance to continue to coach this team as they rebuild. But his recent remarks have surely lost him supporters now. This is what he said after being asked once again about the situation involving Jordanny Valdespin and his support, or lack of, by Collins and his teammates:
“I don’t answer to fans,” said Collins, “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.”
You have to realize how angry and disappointed Mets fans have been for the last several years now. The last thing we need to be hearing is that our own manager is calling us out now. As if we weren’t dealing with enough having to watch this pathetic early season performance, now we have to the managers telling us we don’t understand the game.
Personally, I don’t take his remarks to heart. I realize he was probably caught up in the moment and his frustration got the best of him, but it is never okay to question the intelligence of your fan base. When the team is playing as poorly as they are you have to realize these type of stories simply don’t go away. Even if this wasn’t what he truly meant by his comments, it won’t matter, the damage is done already and many won’t buy into any apology Collins and the Mets come up with.
A crucial part to being a manager in New York is the ability to handle the media. I would say Collins has fared well in this department, never really making headlines for the wrong reasons. We have all heard of Collins history with Houston and Anaheim, where he was known to lose his cool from time to time. For the most part he seems to have put that behind him and has controlled himself with the Mets, but these latest comments sound like something from his past.
He will not be brought back next season because of the results on the field, that’s for sure, and without any real support from the fan base to go with it, it could very well just be Terry’s time to go.
This past series against the Marlins was an interesting one for Bobby Parnell. He suffered a blown save, a benching of sorts and easily converted a save. In a nutshell those three games seemed to sum up Parnell’s young career as a closer.
The blown save in game 1 of the series was a tough one to swallow. Parnell pitched well overall, but Colin Cowgill misplayed a fly ball that ultimately gave the Marlins the base runner they needed to tie it up in the 9th. Collin’s asked Parnell to pitch the 10th inning and he finished that off nicely but the Mets went on to lose the game in the 15th. Tuesday Collin’s allowed Jeremy Hefner to pitch the 9th inning in an attempt to throw a complete game, despite hovering around 100 pitches. He quickly got into trouble and Brandon Llyon was brought in the game rather than Parnell. He was not happy about this and expressed his displeasure following the game. Collins said he was simply protecting Parnell from being over worked early on after throwing two innings the night before. In the final game of the series Collins went back to Parnell for the save and he took only 7 pitches to finish off the Marlins and salvage a game in the series.
Parnell is in his fifth full season with the Mets and the 24-year-olds role has been constantly changing. Initially he was looked at to become a starter, but that quickly changed as the Mets decided he was better suited for the bullpen. His roles slowly began to increase out of the pen. He started out as a middle reliever and then last year he became the teams set-up man. Now in the absence of Frank Francisco has become the teams closer. So far he has closed out three games this season with two blown saves while posting only a 1.46 era. Despite having two blown saves, he has easily been the best pitcher in the Mets bullpen (I realize that’s not saying much).
Parnell has the stuff to be a closer. He throws in the mid-to-high 90’s, even touching 100 at times in his career, and his breaking ball he learned from Jason Isringhausen has become an effective second pitch for him. My question has always been does he have the make-up to be the closer? In watching interviews with him he has always come off as a shy, timid guy which made me question if he would be able to handle this role, especially in New York. I only question this because closer’s face much more media scrutiny than other relievers and it takes a certain mentality to be able to handle that day in and day out. I thought Tuesday was a big step forward as Parnell was genuinely angry he was not put in the game and wanted the ball day after a blown save. That’s what you need in a closer, a guy who is able to start each day with a fresh start not worried about the previous days results.
With no real-time table set for Francisco’s return, the closer job will remain Parnell’s. With the way this team currently stands, I think this should be Parnell’s job for the duration of the season, unless of course he really blows up. Francisco is in the final year of his contract and we all know he will not be brought back. Parnell is young and certainly has proven he deserves a spot in this bullpen. It’s time to let him mature into the role and see if he can develop himself into the closer of the future.
We spend a lot of time talking about how the Mets future lays in the hands of our young starters Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero. But the game is about pitching, not just starting pitching, we have to develop our bullpen as well. The successful teams around the league have pens full of young arms that they surround with a few veterans to fill in the holes. This is something the Mets need to improve on as Sandy Alderson has done a poor job, and that’s putting it kindly, of building this teams bullpen. Lets hope Parnell proves he can be more than just a middle reliever and that Sandy can surround him with other young arms to build around.
Every single year people ask the question, will this be the year Mariano Rivera begins to falter? And every single year he defies the logic that baseball players, especially closer’s, will diminish with age. The 43-year-old has returned after missing the majority of the 2012 season and hasn’t lost a beat. He has gone 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season with a 1.80 era. Even in his 18th season, it appears Rivera will still be retiring while he’s on top.
Closer’s have always been one of the most unpredictable positions in baseball. Their careers have notoriously gone up and down, having an all-star caliber season, followed by a dreadful one. Some will even see multiple years in a row of success before faltering, but none have come even remotely close to putting a career together like Rivera. With the inability of so many to consistently close games out, especially on the biggest stages, Rivera has always been the great equalizer for the Yankees, giving them the edge in the bullpen in any game they play. He seems to be the rare exception as he just continues to build on his career that will one day land him in Cooperstown.
His opponents may very well be celebrating the idea of not facing Rivera in the near future. They will no longer will they have to deal with shattered bats,wondering, how this man has continued to get them out all while throwing mostly one pitch, the cutter. Although teams may be happy to see him go, he has garnered a great deal of respect around the league. You will never hear a bad word uttered about Rivera as he has played the game the right way all these years and been a role model for so many. Each road trip the Yankees go on this season teams will show their appreciation for the future Hall-of-Famer, plaques presents and tribute videos will be presented to honor him the last team he plays in each city. There is no greater form of respect than when your opponents, the same ones that you have dominated for years, take time to honor you in your final days.
Now I might be a bit old fashion, but I for one am not fond of how today’s game has become all about match-ups and pitch counts. We have starter’s who barely make it out of the fifth inning. If they make it through six innings allowing three runs? We mark that down as a quality start. But I’ll save that for another discussion. Then we get to the bullpen, no longer do we have closer’s who give you two or three innings to close out a game. Now we are lucky if we even allow a reliever to finish an inning. Too often do we see managers go through almost an entire bullpen in a nine inning game as they focus too much on lefty/righty match-ups.
I’m not trying to diminish what Mariano has accomplished in his career, it is what it is, the game is constantly evolving for better or for worse. The one thing I do know, despite how the game has changed, Mariano Rivera is far and away the best reliever to come out of this era and maybe ever. Soon enough Yankee fans will know the agony the rest of us feel, all to often, watching your closer with one eye open, praying they are able to hold on to that late inning lead. Unless he is closing out a game against your team, let’s enjoy his greatness while we still can.
Matt Harvey has made every fifth day for Mets and baseball fans alike, must watch TV. Harvey, has captivated this city with the start he is off too and is beginning to draw national attention as one of the best young pitchers in the game. When he takes the mound, there is a certain Buzz that surrounds his starts that in unlike anything I have ever experienced with this team.
In each of Harvey’s starts this season, he has dominated his opponents, going 3-0 with a 0.82 era with 25 strikeouts. He hasn’t just been the best pitcher on the Mets staff, he has been the best in all of baseball. He is the first pitcher since Bob Fellar, in 1947, to go 7 or more innings in each of his first three starts allowing 1 run or fewer with 25 strikeouts, not bad. Most recently, he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning against the twins where it was broken up by a Justin Morneau home run. He did go on to finish the 8 inning, allowing just two hits on the day.
The comparisons, which were bound to happen, have already been made to that of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. Seaver turned around this franchise when he arrived in 1967, Gooden took the city by storm in 1984 with his sheer dominance. Both went on to win Rookie Of The Year awards, although Harvey may not be eligible for that award, he is certainly creating the same amount of excitement in his first full season just as those two once did. Similar to both of those former aces, Harvey arrives while this team is in transition, restocking with young talent in hopes of contending for years to come. Both the Mets championship teams in 1969 and 1986 were built around their starting pitching, with front line starts in Seaver and Gooden to anchor the load, which is what the Mets are hoping to have in Harvey. So far, he looks to be the ace of this staff and more already in his young career.
Former Cy Young winners, Doc Gooden and David Price took to twitter to express their feelings towards Harvey. It’s not just New York noticing what he is doing, the whole league is taking note. He was featured during this Sunday’s edition of Baseball Tonight, Curt Schilling went as far as to say Matt Harvey would be the pitcher he would most want to build a team around. High praise coming from all directions for this young man.
What impresses people most about Matt Harvey, isn’t his high 90’s fastball or his wicked slider, it’s his demeanor and attitude. He has insisted his goals on the season are to win 20 games and throw 200+ innings. In an interview with SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt during spring training, Burkhardt asked him what it was like to watch Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who was throwing against the Mets that day. His response, “He’s a lot like me.” Now, maybe I’m looking to far into those comments, but when he chose to say, he is a lot like me, rather than a lot like him, that to me means he has all the confidence in the world in his abilities.
Weather pending, he is in line to start on Friday against the Washington Nationals and their young stud, Stephen Strasburg. If that holds up, it could be the first of many match up’s between the young aces.