We’re one game into the NBA Playoffs for the New York Knicks and the MSG faithful did NOT go home happy, but it did feel good to have that do-or-die feeling back the veins of the fans and in the atmosphere of the World’s Most Famous Arena. Plus, we already found our new Reggie Miller.
It’s safe to say that Trae Young thrives off being hated by Knicks fans just like Miller did. In his playoff debut, the Oklahoma product went 11-for-23 from the field with 32 points, including the game-winning floater with one second remaining, as well as 10 assists and just two turnovers. Even when the Knicks knew he was taking the shot, they couldn’t contain him, as he skated right around Frank Ntilikina and Taj Gibson on that final possession to give Atlanta the 107-105 Game 1 victory. Young is going to be a PROBLEM, as the kids say.
The Knicks did pretty well considering how badly Young outplayed Julius Randle. New York’s superstar scored just 15 points on 6-for-23 shooting. He did clutch up for a big three-point shot late, but for the most part it was up to Alec Burks and Derrick Rose to carry the offense on Sunday night. If Randle steps up and the Knicks find a way to make life a little harder for Young, New York will have revenge in Game 2. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday for that revenge thanks to the NBA’s revenue-maximizing playoff schedule.
The Mets started backup players in the five through nine spots in the order and used only relief pitchers on the mound Tuesday night, but they still came away with a 4-3 victory over Atlanta, their second in a row. What a win. The Braves got a solid performance from rookie southpaw Tucker Davidson and came from behind to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Mets refused to go away and they pulled ahead for good on Tomas Nido’s ninth-inning solo shot off of Will Smith.
Momentum was headed in the wrong direction after Marcell Ozuna dunked a two-out RBI single into right field during the bottom of the eighth, but Nido’s blast reversed all of that and allowed Edwin Diaz to close the door with three straight outs in the ninth. The Braves could have scored more in the eighth, but Francisco Lindor made a terrific defensive play on a ground ball by Freddie Freeman into the shift after the first two Braves reached base.
With the shift taking the force at second off the table, Lindor had to tag the speedy Ronald Acuna and still throw over to first to get the double play. Given the situation, it was the best play he’s made for the Mets so far on offense or defense.
The Mets beat the Braves 3-1 last night in Atlanta. What did it cost? In the words of Thanos, “Kevin Pillar’s nose.” The surprisingly useful outfielder took a fastball from Atlanta reliever Jacob Webb directly to the face in the top of the seventh inning. That resulted in Pillar’s nose being bloodied, but also a run for the Mets because the bases were loaded when it happened.
Even better is that Pillar is apparently okay despite suffering multiple nasal fractures. Hopefully he recovers quickly because the Mets’ outfield now consists of Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee, both of whom made their big league debuts last night, as well as Dominic Smith. That’s it.
Pillar wasn’t even the only new injury for the Mets, though. Taijuan Walker left the game after just three innings due to an issue with his left side. Fortunately, the MRI came back clean, but he could still miss a turn in the rotation, which would put even more stress on New York’s bullpen. Sean Reid-Foley was the hero of the game for the Mets, as he came into the game on short notice and threw three perfect innings with five strikeouts to keep Atlanta at bay until the Mets finally broke through in the seventh.
Nido led off the frame with a double and then was doubled home by James McCann, who pinch-hit for Reid-Foley. That’s not exactly where you plan for the offense to come from, but the Mets will need to continue getting production from surprising places with all the backups in the lineup these days.
After the Nets won their game against the Bulls on Saturday night, Kyrie Irving took the podium and talked about how even with the NBA Playoffs fast approaching, he just wasn’t very focused on basketball right now. The reason? There’s just too much going on in the world right now! I only pay attention to sports and video games and nothing else, so I don’t know what he could be talking about, but this is certainly alarming to the handful of Nets fans that exist.
I would just love to see what the reaction to Irving’s comments would be if he played for an organization with fans in a time and place that allowed for full arenas. Can you imagine? The playoffs on the horizon and his team is one of the favorites to win it all. James Harden’s legacy is on the line, and this goof is more worried about what’s going on in the Middle East (I just Googled and apparently there’s some serious stuff going down in the Middle East right now).
We all know that whatever is happening in the Middle East is way more important than the NBA on a global scale, but Irving has a job to do just like everyone who isn’t being paid by the government to stay at home right now. You worry about your job first. You worry about your family first. That’s how it should be, and Irving has a bunch of guys on the Nets who would really like for him to be focused on basketball right now.
Oof. This past weekend was a rough one for the Mets. Not only did they get swept by Tampa Bay, but they lost Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto to the injured list with hamstring injuries. Brandon Nimmo continues to miss time with a finger injury, which means the active outfield consists of Dominic Smith and Kevin Pillar along with recent call-ups Khalil Lee and Johneshwy Fargas. That’s not ideal, even though Pillar has hit pretty well this month.
The good news is that everyone else in the National League East is also struggling, leaving the Mets in first place with four fewer losses than anyone else in the division despite a -10 run differential.
7-3 in the last 10 games is still good even if the run started with seven wins, right? Either way, the Mets have a chance to put some more distance between themselves and their rivals with their six-game road trip to Atlanta and Miami that starts tonight against the Braves.
That lineup is… something. The Mets will need the top of the lineup to carry the offense, so it would be a great time for Francisco Lindor to finally start playing like a superstar. The $341 million man is back below the Mendoza Line after going 1-for-12 over the weekend with six strikeouts. At least the one hit was a home run…
Frank the Tank was more impressed by DJ Kitty than by Lindor’s solo shot. That turned out to be the proper response, as the Mets’ bullpen let up six runs in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday to turn a close 6-5 game into a 12-5 blowout. That Lindor home run was rendered meaningless while DJ Kitty continues to be awesome.
In one of the craziest regular season sequences since Wilmer Flores went from getting reportedly traded to hitting a walk-off home run in the middle of a pennant race, the Mets overcame a 4-0 deficit on Friday night to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-4 and move their record to 14-13. Even when you factor in that the game-winning ground ball was hit by third-string catcher Patrick Mazeika, who wasn’t on the roster three days ago, that doesn’t explain in the slightest how wild this Friday night was.
You see, between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, SOMETHING happened in the Mets’ clubhouse tunnel that caused rampant speculation on social media and in the press box. In the only video available of the incident, we see Michael Conforto look into the tunnel, and then run inside followed by Dominic Smith, Jonathan Villar, and eventually a bunch of other Mets.
It could have been anything, but Twitter immediately decided that Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor had a knock-down, drag-out brawl that probably involved steel chairs and a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. The proof? In the top of the seventh, the two infielders, playing next to each other in the shift, got crossed up on a ground ball that resulted in Nick Ahmed reaching on an infield single.
The Mets lost their series opener in St. Louis last night. It was a sad game in which New York jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the third thanks to Pete Alonso hitting doubles in his first two at-bats and Kevin Pillar homering for the second straight game only for Joey Lucchesi to give up four runs — three of which came on a Nolan Arenado home run — in the bottom of the inning. With the score 6-5, it looked like we were headed toward a back-and-forth slugfest, but instead no one scored for the final six innings and the Cardinals prevailed.
Following that exciting third inning, the Mets put just one runner in scoring position for the rest of the game. The Mets got surprisingly good work from the JAGs of their bullpen with Robert Gsellman, Sean Reid-Foley, and Jacob Barnes holding St. Louis scoreless for the final 5.1 innings, but it didn’t factor into the result. The worst part was how it looked like Arenado had struck out right before he hit the game-changing home run, but the umpire ruled a foul ball into the dirt. Talk about a game of inches, right?
Anyway, the “real” news happened after the game when the Mets fired their hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater. We know the offense has been pretty terrible so far, but it still doesn’t make sense to make coaching decisions based on a month of play, and besides it looked like the bats were starting to come around with New York scoring 18 runs over their last three games. Based on what acting general manager Zack Scott said in his press conference, the move was more about philosophical differences than offensive production.
I have my own theory, though. I think Steve Cohen made the move because he’s upset that his $341 million dollar shortstop investment isn’t paying dividends and he reads Twitter too much. Far-fetched? Maybe. Impossible? Certainly not. Davis had been with the Mets since the 2019 season, which means he oversaw breakout campaigns by Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith. When you factor in that Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto have also performed well under Davis, we’re saying that almost the entire offense has played well with Davis as the coach.
The NFL world was thrown for a loop on Thursday night when we learned that Aaron Rodgers didn’t want to play for the Packers anymore. Already bursting from the seams with NFL Draft story lines, the social media landscape exploded with takes, many of which treated Rodgers as a victim who was poorly supported by the Green Bay organization, never mind the fact that the future Hall of Famer had won a Super Bowl championship and three MVP awards during his time with the franchise.
Oh my goodness! Nine defensive guys! Can you imagine? The Packers are trying to screw over Aaron Rodgers by selecting players that he doesn’t play with on the field at the same time! Let’s also forget inconvenient facts like there being other ways besides the draft to acquire players and that Green Bay got a tremendous value by getting top Rodgers target Davante Adams in the second round instead of the first.
Also, maybe the front office made defense such a high priority BECAUSE Rodgers is so incredible. Whatever malpractice the organization was committing was good enough to win 13 regular season games last year as well as an MVP award for Rodgers. How much more support did he need? If I told you that you were in charge of a team with an elite quarterback who already had all the tools around him that he needed to succeed, which side of the ball would you prioritize in the draft? Choosing defense is just common sense.
Only the Mets can play a game in which they overcome a two-run deficit in the eighth inning by putting together their biggest, most clutch rally of the season and then leave you fuming mad at the end of the night. That’s what happened on Sunday Night baseball. The Mets trailed Philadelphia at the start of the eighth inning thanks to a three-run home run by Didi Gregorius in the sixth. Kevin Pillar started the rally with a home run. That’s right, Jeff Francoeur, rallies can START with a home run.
Anyway, the real fun started when Jonathan Villar reached on a single and made a fool of the Phillies by scoring from first on a Jose Peraza pinch-hit single to tie the game.
The Phillies have to be the new Mets after that play. The ball barely makes it a few feet into the outfield and Villar is rounding the bases like a kid playing tee ball who hasn’t learned to respect the game yet. Brilliant play, especially since the Mets have struggled so hard with runners in scoring position. How do you get past that? Score from first on a ball hit right to the first baseman.
The best was yet to come, though. Newly minted Mets villain Jose Alvarado entered the game to put out the fire, and he was only available because he was appealing the suspension he was handed for barking at Dominic Smith on Friday night. He probably should have just gotten the suspension over with because after allowing a single to Jeff McNeil, Alvarado walked both Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto on pitches nowhere near the strike zone to put New York in front 5-4.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Michael Conforto could do nothing right for the Mets. He left the bat on his shoulder in key RBI situations, and when he did swing the bat, it often resulted in a ground out to second base. The only way Conforto could get on base was by throwing his elbow in the way of incoming pitches.
Conforto’s production was meager at the time, but it was only a matter of time before the Mets’ most valuable offensive player from 2020 got his act together. Last weekend against Washington, Scooter finally hit his first home run of the season in a 7-1 loss. Tonight in Philadelphia, he hit his second and it was slightly more consequential.
That’s right. Ninth inning with Phillies closer Hector Neris on the mound with the Mets looking to end a three-game losing streak. You can’t find a much bigger spot in an early regular season game. Plus, the Mets had blown a 4-0 lead and had not scored since the first inning. They NEEDED this one, and Conforto delivered.