Monday, August 8, 2016

Sports this 'n' that

You would think that the Mets would be steaming toward the playoffs en route to a 2nd straight World Series appearance, the perfect coda to the 30th anniversary of the team's last championship. Unfortunately, the Citi Field injury bug has bitten them over and over again, stifling any realistic chance of reaching the post-season.

The Mets traded for Jay Bruce last week, shipping Dilson Herrera off to Cincinnati in exchange. Then, they welcomed back pitcher Jonathan Niese, as Antonio Bastardo, clearly on the downside of his career, went back to the Pirates. Niese, you'll recall, was shipped out in the Neil Walker deal during the off-season. Now, it was thought that Herrera would've been ready to be called up full time this season---and he was, as they say, raking in Las Vegas---and that was why Daniel Murphy is currently doing his share of raking in Washington. Murphy has led the NL in batting for much of the season, a testimony to yet another bonehead play by the Mets' front office. Walker, it was thought, would be a 1 year rental, as he'll be a free agent after the season, but GM Sandy Alderson would be wise to lock up Walker to a long term deal. Other in-season pickups, such as another prodigal son, Jose Reyes, have fallen victim to the injury curse. It is the injuries, more than the Mets' inconsistent play, that has them 9 games in arrears of the Nationals.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, after months of NY sports writers calling for them to cut bait on their older stars, the Yankees are in fact saying goodbye to two cogs in the machine that led them to the 2009 World Series. On Friday, Mark Teixiera, plagued with injuries these last two seasons, announced he would retire at the end of the season. Less than 48 hours later, Alex Rodriguez made the same decision, except that his last game will be Friday vs. Tampa Bay. A-Rod would then be released from his player contract, and be given a new deal that would have him as a special advisor and roving minor league instructor until the end of 2017. This is the curse of teams who get into "win now" mode. They pick up older players, usually at or near the end of their careers, for a quick fix to satisfy the fan base, whilst waiting for prospects to develop in the minors. While the Yanks dealt away two of their ace relievers at or before the trade deadline---and that was just plain dumb, in this writer's opinion---some of the front line prospects that are waiting have also been struck by the injury bug (i.e. Greg Bird), prolonging their development. In New York, you have to learn to be patient, but sports fans in New York think being patient means being at the doctor's office 24/7/365/52.
When Ichiro Suzuki first came to the US from Japan, signed by Seattle prior to the 2001 season, no one would've thought he would eventually gain 3,000 hits. Now a bench player for Miami, Suzuki reached the milestone on Sunday at Colorado with a 7th inning triple. The last two players to reach 3,000 hits---A-Rod and Derek Jeter---both hit home runs, and Ichiro nearly did the same. No wonder Pete Rose, banned from Cooperstown for gambling on his own team back in the day, had a couple of cows when someone asked him about Suzuki earlier this season. Add up Ichiro's totals between the Japanese leagues and MLB, and he's already surpassed Rose. And he will be a 1st ballot election to the Hall of Fame. Enough said.
I have to feel sorry, as both a Mets & Valleycats fan, for fellow Mets fans who made the pilgrimage to Bruno Stadium this weekend to see the Brooklyn Cyclones take on Tri-City. On Sunday night, the Cyclones, having seen the parent club knock off Detroit, were obliterated by the Valleycats in a record-setting 18-4 beatdown. Tri-City led 13-2 after 2 innings. Ouch! The 'Cats are now 1 game behind Lowell for the Stedler Division lead with a month to go. Y'think the Spinners are hearing footsteps yet?
For the 2nd time in 6 years, the NFL cancelled the Hall of Fame game on Sunday. Some idiot on the grounds crew assigned to the game applied the wrong paint to the field, and the field conditions became such that, in the best interest of player safety, the game wound up being called off, denying fans the opportunity to see Indianapolis and Green Bay have at it. In 2011, a lockout forced the cancellation of the game. In some folks' minds, this was even worse, another black eye for the league at a time when it really can't afford one from a public relations angle. Some media accounts said the field was a mess in the wake of a Tim McGraw concert on Friday night, and the field was covered for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday. They had plenty of time to get the right paint applied, let it dry, then cover the field for the induction ceremony, and.....!

The game would've been broadcast on ESPN this year, due to NBC having the Olympics filling primetime, and, as another consequence, MLB Network was given their first Sunday "Showcase" game. In all probability, Sean McDonough, the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football, will be at the mic on Saturday for the first pre-season game in LA in years, as the Rams will begin their exhibition schedule.

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