Mets lose to Cardinals, fire two hitting coaches for no good reason

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.

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Aaron Rodgers isn’t a victim just because the Packers won’t do exactly what he wants with every draft pick

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.

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Edwin Diaz almost spoils the Mets’ most thrilling win of the season

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.

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Would you look at that? Michael Conforto hit a game-winning home run

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.

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The Mets win because of a bad call, but that’s still better than losing

Great my favorite player is now the subject of the biggest baseball controversy since Nicholas Castellanos got suspended for literally flexing on the opposing pitcher. In case you missed it, Michael Conforto had a chance to drive in the winning run during today’s 3-2 Mets win over the Marlins, but instead he looked at a couple of strikes and then stuck his elbow out over the plate to get a game-winning hit by pitch call from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.

What’s crazy is that Kulpa looks like he’s about to call strike three right before he calls the hit by pitch. Which means he knew that Conforto’s elbow was in front of the strike zone. That should have resulted in Scooty McBooty striking out, but instead the umpires stuck with the hit by pitch call and the Mets were walk-off winners.

That was great news considering that just minutes before, the Mets were staring another L in the face with a one-run deficit to start the ninth inning. Still, I wish the umpires did the right thing and let Pete Alonso win the game instead. We all know he would have since Miami closer Anthony Bass had already allowed a game-tying home run to Jeff McNeil and base hits by Luis Guillorme and Brandon Nimmo. Let’s not pretend that the Marlins were robbed of a win today.

Speaking of that McNeil home run, it was pretty cathartic since the first Citi Field crowd since 2019 had mostly sat on its hands all game. New York jumped out in front when Dominic Smith hit a sac fly in the fifth inning, but even that was disappointing being it looked like an extra-base hit that could have scored three runs until Starling Marte ran it down in center field.

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I won’t panic about the Mets until they lose a game to the Marlins

Oh no, the Mets! They lost the rubber game to the Phillies yesterday and now the sky is falling. I have to admit it was pretty ugly. David Peterson put his fastball on a tee in the first inning, leading to a three-run home run for Alec Bohm and a 4-0 hole for New York. The Mets blew chances to put up crooked numbers in the third and fourth inning when Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto were struck out by Aaron Nola with runners in scoring position.

Still, New York appeared to be on the road to a comeback by chasing Nola after four innings. Unfortunately, Peterson didn’t last much longer, allowing the first two Phillies to reach in the fifth and yielding to Jacob Barnes, who gave up a three-run bomb to J.T. Realmuto on his first pitch of the campaign.

So the Mets lost their first series of the season. That doesn’t mean it makes sense to make sweeping generalizations about them like “the bullpen will be terrible” or “they’ll never hit with RISP.” It’s just three games and there are plenty of positive to take away. Peterson bounced back from his rough first inning and looked better than Nola for the next three frames. Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso look like they are going to be serious trouble in the middle of the order. Brandon Nimmo is an on-base machine and Jonathan Villar had three hits (two for extra bases) yesterday. Sure, I would rather have seen Jeff McNeil out there, but having a versatile bench piece like Villar is going to pay dividends.

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Marcus Stroman is a ground ball king and Mets get first win of the season

Similarly to Monday night, the Mets got six dominant starter innings followed by shaky bullpen work on Tuesday, but this time the recipe resulted in a win thanks to better offensive production and Philadelphia’s Vince Velasquez throwing fewer than half of his 40 pitches for strikes.

Marcus Stroman was a ground ball machine, recording 13 ground outs and zero fly outs with just three hits allowed. In fact, since two of those hits were ground balls, that means that Didi Gregorius’s home run in the bottom of the fourth was the only fair ball hit into the air against Stroman all game.

The Mets jumped in front 2-0 in the top of the fourth on Dominic Smith’s first home run of the season. However, the game was really won the seventh when Velasquez, after striking out the side in the sixth in relief of Chase Anderson, walked four out of five batters to force in a run. New York kept doing damage after Brandon Kintzler came in, getting a loud sac fly from Francisco Lindor and a two-out RBI double by Michael Conforto to extend the lead to 6-1.

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Mets turn over a new leaf and try losing their first game of the season

Well we can’t say “same old Mets” after Monday night’s 5-3 come-from-ahead loss in Philadelphia because we know the same old Mets would win their first game and then swoon before the solstice. And I’m not calling it Opening Day when we’re playing at night and the Phillies are starting Matt Moore. The game shouldn’t even count against the Mets’ Opening Day record in my opinion! Either way, it was an ugly way to start the season.

Jacob deGrom was his typical self, striking out seven and allowing just five Phillies to reach base in six innings. He even got some help from the defense early on when Kevin Pillar connected with Jeff McNeil on a relay throw to turn a long ball off the wall by Rhys Hoskins into an out at third base. That missed opportunity by the Phillies looked like it would lead to their downfall, but the Mets’ defense would pay them back with interest later in the game.

Maybe the defense wouldn’t be as much of an issue if deGrom were allowed to pitch more than six innings, but Luis Rojas lifted him after just 77 pitches. The skipper said the decision was based on the uncertainty in the Mets’ schedule caused by the Nationals becoming infected with COVID-19.

“Going out for the six innings and you guys saw the activity on the bases. And he hasn’t thrown in 10 days. So the conversations in between innings with him led us to make the decision of pulling him,” Rojas told reporters via Zoom following the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Phillies. “…I know he was way under than what he’s built up leaving camp. But maybe the 10 days without throwing led to the decision during the game.

deGrom was on board with everything, so please stop the victim narrative around him.

“That was kinda discussed where we’re going to be before,” deGrom said. “10 days without facing hitters, kept trying to throw bullpens but didn’t want to throw too many pitches with the hope of playing Saturday and then finding out that series is canceled so that was the last time I was able to throw. So it was kind of a how many ups thing, how many pitches not being in a game facing hitters for 10 days.”

I’d be more mad, but it seems every pitcher in baseball is leaving the game after 80 pitches and 5.2 innings these days. I will also hold back my rage to see if deGrom is ramped up in his next start, which he should be, because I am designated it as a MUST WIN GAME.

Anyway, the Mets were stymied by Matt Moore early on, but they rallied in the fourth when Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis started the inning with walks. James McCann drove in one run with his first hit as a Met, and deGrom hit a blooper to left to score another. The rally was cut short when Brandon Kintzler relieved Moore and got Kevin Pillar to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.

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MLB decides we need more politics in sports, moves All-Star Game out of Atlanta

Major League Baseball finally decided to do something to make its product more fun today. Just kidding. Instead, the league decided to wrap itself up in a big, cuddly cocoon of political controversy by moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta and into a city to be named later. Why did commissioner Rob Manfred decide to do this? Well, there is a new voting law in Georgia that has ruffled the feathers of a bunch of apparently very powerful people, and they have pressured MLB into moving one of its flagship events in protest. Either that or Manfred made the decision by himself and he just loves embroiling his product in controversy. You can believe whatever you want.

I choose to believe that sports leagues shouldn’t take sides in political controversies, especially if taking a side involves actions that harm the fans and businesses of a city that was promised a huge event. Depending on whom you ask, the new voting law either makes in unnecessarily difficult for citizens of Georgia to vote or it safeguards elections against fraud by instituting common-sense restrictions such as the requirement of a government-issued identification card. Some people will see it one way and some people will see it the other way. That’s why we have elections in the first place. MLB decided to see it one way — which is fine — and it also decided to punish Georgia for seeing it the other way — which is not fine.

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It feels like I’m the only one worried about the Francisco Lindor contract

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It’s always one of the happiest days of the year for me. That’s because it usually features the Mets taking the field and playing in a game that matters for the first time in months. Every team has a fresh start and anything is possible. Last year, we learned that the hard way when a pandemic lockdown wiped out more than half of the regular season and the Miami Marlins qualified for the playoffs. In 2021, I’m hoping for the good kind of “anything is possible,” like the Mets winning the World Series for the first time in 35 years.

We’re not off to a good start, though. New York’s opening game has been postponed because the Washington Nationals have multiple players are their team who are infected with COVID-19. We still don’t know when the Mets will play their first game, but being behind schedule right off the bat is putting them at a disadvantage. Hopefully it’s not big enough of a disadvantage to make up for having the richest owner in baseball. That’s what Steve Cohen is and it’s why he represents a renewed hope that the Mets can become a consistent contender for the National League pennant.

They got one step closer to that goal on Wednesday night when the front office completed a $341 million contract to keep the newly acquired Francisco Lindor in Queens for the next decade. The Mets can now build around an elite starting pitcher in Jacob deGrom and a five-tool shortstop. What’s not to like? Well, I’m skeptical of any baseball contract that goes longer than seven years. That’s how long the Mets signed Carlos Beltran for in 2005 and the deal expired just as Beltran was losing the ability to play a top-tier center field. Not only did the Mets get incredible production out of Beltran, but they were able to flip him for Zack Wheeler right before he became a free agent.

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