The Mets are so back… to being terrible

I was actually feeling good about the Mets on Monday morning. They were coming off a series win over the Marlins and were sitting in playoff position as the No. 8 seed in the National League despite having a 7-9 record. Andres Gimenez was well on his way to becoming Rookie of the Year, and the bullpen was pitching surprisingly well.

Then Monday happened. Marcus Stroman, who started the season on the injured list, announced that he was opting out for the remainder of the season. With Michael Wacha recently heading to the IL as well, that left the Mets with Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and David Peterson alongside Jacob deGrom in their rotation. The scenario only got worse in the evening when Matz took the mound and gave up eight runs to the Nationals in fewer than five innings. The Mets lost 16-4.

That’s a good point, Gimli. The severity of the defeat should not have a lasting effect on the Mets’ title chances, but it’s not great for morale. When deGrom’s not on the bump, fans can’t have much confidence in the team that day. Maybe Rick Porcello can do something to encourage the faithful tonight. He’s coming off his best start of the season and going up against Washington’s ace Max Scherzer.

We really need to see another solid outing from Porcello in order to feel good going forward. The rotation is going to be thin the rest of the way, and I don’t think much will be available in the trade market due to the expanded postseason creating a huge seller’s market. The lineup should continue to hit, and the bullpen has several options, albeit volatile ones. I think the fate of these Mets will come down to making the rotation work. And, you know, MLB getting this season to work during a pandemic.

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There will be no Big Ten football this autumn

We knew it was a possibility for months, but today the news was handed down by the evil administrators that want us to be miserable forever.

The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.

That’s it. We’re done here. Maybe they will play in the spring? I’m less concerned about players opting out than I am about the spring 2021 season pushing back the fall 2021 season. If we can’t play in fall 2021, just postpone everything until then and we’ll just be sad. Here’s very smart college football insider Bruce Feldman talking about the possibility of a spring season.

Yeah, guys will opt out, but like Colin says, the big programs were the draft prospects are coming from all have plenty of depth to replace them. We’ll survive if a few big stars leave. For every guy who just wants to get ready for the NFL Draft, there’s another guy who sees this as an opportunity to bump up his draft stock and potential earnings.

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The Rangers have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft

I don’t pretend to know the rules that determine the order of picks in the NHL Draft. I’m pretty sure they changed them this season with eight extra teams qualifying for the playoffs, anyway. Common sense would dictate that the Rangers wouldn’t have a shot at top pick since they were the No. 11 seed in the NHL’s bubble tournament that led into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Common sense, though, is not hockey sense, and it turns out that the Rangers won a 12.5-percent chance at the top pick in the first phase of the draft lottery. In that phase, the first pick was awarded to a mystery team that could be any of the 16 teams playing in the qualifying bubble tourney. That 16-team field was narrowed down to eight when the Rangers were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes and seven other teams saw their seasons come to a sad end.

On Monday night, the Rangers had their ping pong ball drawn to secure the top overall pick.

Is that good or something? Yes, it means the Rangers will have the opportunity to select Alexis Lafreniere, the consensus top prospect who has the potential to be a franchise-defining superstar like Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid.

That toe drag against the Americans was just nasty. Since I’m super competitive and against tanking of any kind, I was a little put off by the celebrations of Rangers fans on Twitter. Getting the top pick in the draft isn’t something to be happy about, but given that the team is still rebuilding and wasn’t actively tanking anyway, I should just take it as a gift.

So yeah, let’s freaking go. We got Lefreniere, got Kakko, got a whole lot of hope for the future. Now all we need is for the Islanders to lose to the Capitals in the playoffs and we’re all set.

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Is J.D. Davis more than just a one-season wonder?

I’m starting to think that J.D. Davis might be my new favorite player. Not only is he a lovable goof who came out of nowhere to shine at the plate for the Mets last year, but in 2020 he’s continuing to hit line drives everywhere while sparkling on defense at third base.

Last night in New York’s 8-4 win over the Marlins, Davis hit a huge opposite field home run in the seventh inning that extended the lead from one run to three. It was a huge relief after the bullpen allowed a comfortable 4-1 advantage to become a 5-4 predicament. Davis also threw out a Miami batter from shallow left field on a ground ball. Clutch opposite field home runs and ridiculous throws from third base? Those are the things that David Wright is known for.

Calling Davis the next Wright is jumping the gun by more than a little bit, but I can’t stop myself getting exciting while watching him play this past week. If this keeps up, the trade that brought Davis to the Mets from Houston will probably go down as the only good move of the Brodie Van Wagenen era.

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The most Mets loss of the season

That 11-10 loss to Atlanta in which the Mets blew a 10-5 lead in just three innings was pretty bad, but I think last night’s debacle is the new leader for most Mets loss of the season so far.

With Miami’s roster depleted due to positive COVID-19 tests, the Mets had a chance to make up ground on the unlikely division leader. Of course, they did not count on (although many fans did) Marlins starter Humberto Mejia pitching striking out six batters in a little more than two innings. Mejia had not ever played beyond Class A Advanced, but the Mets only scored a single run against him on a Dominic Smith home run.

That wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, but Michael Wacha gave up a three-run bomb to Francisco Cervelli in the second inning, and the New York offense looked listless against the no-name Miami bullpen. When the Mets finally did break through for a crooked number in the eighth, they came tantalizingly close to tying the game only to fall one run short.

Even a brutal throwing error by Brian Anderson wasn’t enough to put the Mets over the edge. And of course, Edwin Diaz pitched brilliantly when it didn’t matter. At least we got another great defensive play by J.D. Davis, who might have to change his phone number to 877-GLOV-NOW.

Yeah, it was a pretty brutal loss. Considering the dire straits of the opposition, the fact that the Mets had to have this game, and the way they left the bases loaded while down a run in the eighth inning, it might be the worst of the campaign.

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Nintendo announces Pikmin 3 Deluxe, which is not a new Pikmin game

Last month I wrote about how we don’t know much about Nintendo’s holiday plans. Well, it’s August now and I’m getting a little nervous. The gaming giant did little to quell my fears of a quiet November when it announced that Pikmin 3 Deluxe would launch this October 30 on the Switch.

I should have picked this one up on the Wii U. Pikmin and Pikmin 2 are both unique and fun experiences that are strangely stressful and exhilarating. I’m still triggered by memories of my little soldiers getting gobbled up by giant bird-like creatures that can burrow underground. The series is challenging, inventive, and just plain weird. I’ve heard Pikmin 3 is great as well.

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Vintage defense carries Rick Porcello and Mets to victory

I knew it was smart leaving the door open for a Mets victory yesterday, and the boys pulled it off, defeating Max Scherzer and the Nationals 3-1 to split their two-game series in Washington.

Sure, the Mets caught a break when Scherzer sustained a hamstring injury and had to give way to Erick Fedde after one inning. But New York might have come out on top anyway because Rick Porcello was reunited with the Cy Young stuff that we thought was a thing of the past from watching his first two starts of 2020.

Slick Rick was hammering the lower part of the strike zone with his sinker and getting great downward on his changeup and slider. I didn’t watch a lot of Porcello before this season, but it’s clear to see why he was such an enticing young pitcher with Detroit and how he finally fulfilled his potential in Boston.

It also helped that the Mets played their finest defensive game of the season. We’ve talked before about how Porcello needs good defense behind him to be successful, and last night we finally saw a POSITIVE example of that.

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Depleted Mets can’t get a winning streak started in Washington

Yesterday we found out that Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario would be out of the starting lineup when the Mets started a two-game series vs. the Nationals. So far, two of those players have avoided the injured list, but Cano didn’t at will be out at least 10 games with a left adductor strain. Hopefully that means that McNeil (intercostal) and Rosario (quad) will be back in action soon.

The Mets’ lineup could sure use the boost after it mustered just three runs last night with Brian Dozier and Ryan Cordell in the lineup. Those two aren’t a pair you want starting every day, but at least Cordell was just designated for assignment when the Mets traded cash to the Rangers for right-handed pitcher Ariel Jurado.

Then again, we have Billy Hamilton starting in center field tonight instead of Cordell. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement, but Hamilton more of an exciting player for sure.

That bottom half of the lineup is not great, but Gimenez is looking more and more like he’s going to be a mainstay. The kid has made solid contact so far and he can play good defense at third base or shortstop. He’s got wheels too, which is something the Mets have lacked in recent years. You can tell from Luis Rojas moving him up in the lineup that the Mets need Gimenez to step up with Rosario and McNeil sidelined.

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Cespedes is gone, but the Mets are back in the win column

I had a feeling that getting rid of that negative vibes machine Yoenis Cespedes would lead to good things for the Mets. It wasn’t just because Jacob deGrom was on the mound last night. Besides, there was scientific evidence that something had shifted in the Mets clubhouse, because they finally got some hits with runners in scoring position.

Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, and Wilson Ramos all hit RBI singles in the third inning to spot New York a 4-0 lead. With deGrom on the mound, that was plenty. The back-to-back Cy Young Award winner was money as usual, completing six innings with 10 strikeouts, one walk, and two runs allowed.

However, the Mets came not-so-shockingly close to giving up the lead in the seventh when Atlanta loaded the bases against Jeurys Familia. Good thing the old standby sacked up and struck out Ozzie Albies or we could be telling a much sadder story. Justin Wilson came on and got Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the threat.

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That’s so Mets: Yoenis Cespedes opts out without telling management

The Mets got a real live hit with runners in scoring position on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, but they still failed to score a run and lost to the Braves 4-0. David Peterson had another encouraging performance with eight strikeout and a walk in six innings with three runs allowed, but that wasn’t good enough with New York going 1-for-15 with RISP.

The tone was set right off the bat as the Mets loaded the bases with one out (of course, slumping Pete Alonso was the one out) in the top of the first, only for Robinson Cano to do what he does best and ground into a double play. The defining play of the game, though, came in the sixth when J.D. Davis led off with a double. One out later, Amed Rosario hit a hard ground ball to the left side that Dansby Swanson fielded deep in the hole. Davis advanced to third and Rosario had himself a hit. It was the only hit with RISP for the Mets on the day, but it didn’t even score a run! Classic.

However, the big story of the day didn’t take place on the diamond. That’s because Yoenis Cespedes didn’t show up at the ballpark on Sunday morning. Instead, he mysteriously vanished, leaving some to wonder if he was in mortal danger.

I thought it might be more than coincidence for the star slugger to go AWOL the morning he was left out of the starting lineup. It turns out, Cespedes’s disappearance might have had more to do with playing time than him being abducted or whatever the worriers thought had happened to him.

But multiple sources confirmed that twice in the first nine games of the season, Cespedes confronted Mets officials concerned about playing time and that he would be kept out of lineups to prevent him from reaching lucrative performance bonuses. One of those came Saturday, when Cespedes first talked to Luis Rojas and then Brodie Van Wagenen about his playing status and bonuses. Then Cespedes knew before the buses left for Truist Park on Sunday he was not in the starting lineup and he never showed for the game against the Braves, triggering a bizarre day even for the Mets.

When we found out that Cespedes was not in danger and that he was just opting out of the 2020 season, some fans called him out for abandoning his team. Due to the timing of him leaving, I believe that Cespedes decided it wasn’t worth playing out the season when he found out it would be difficult to reach some of his performance bonuses.

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