[PHOTOS] SI Yanks Shutout Hudson Valley Renegades

The Staten Island Yankees salute the flag for the National Anthem (Robert M. Pimpsner)

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Gut Reaction: Nationals 4 Mets 2 (6/29/16)

In what could have been considered a must-win game against the division-leading Washington Nationals, Logan Verrett was mostly up to the task. The Mets’ offense was mostly not. Verrett, pressed into duty by Steven Matz’s elbow bone spur, threw a decent five innings, victimized mainly by Daniel Murphy’s second inning home run. In all, he surrendered four hits, four walks and two earned runs while striking out one batter.

The Mets’ bats, however, shuddered before the might of Max Scherzer. Scherzer pitched one out into the eighth and was pulled after 108 pitches and allowing only his second hit of the game. He struck out ten and walked one — basically, your typical Max Scherzer outing. For some reason, though, Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker played it like the seventh game of the World Series. Old buddy Oliver Perez came on to face the pinch-hitting Curtis Granderson and gave up a base hit. Baker then pulled Perez in favor of Blake Treinen, who induced the pinch-hitting Travis d’Arnaud to hit a slow grounder to third for the second out and moving both runners into scoring position. Baker then hooked Treinen in favor of his de facto closer Shawn Kelley who struck out Alejandro De Aza to quell the brief threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals salted the game away when Sean Gilmartin walked Bryce Harper just ahead of Murphy’s second homer of the night. Oh, those tack-on runs…In the top of the ninth, the Mets finally broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Yoenis Cespedes singled and James Loney hit an agonizingly superfluous homer. Hope stirred again briefly when Kelly Johnson doubled, but young Brandon Nimmo stood with the bat on his shoulder to end the game.

The Mets are still in third place, now six games behind Washington and will welcome the Chicago Cubs to Citi Field tomorrow night.

Lord help us.

Game Chatter: Logan Verrett vs Max Scherzer (6/29/16)

Yankees Agree to Terms with 1st Round Pick Rutherford

BLAKE-RUTHERFORD-PROSPECT-VIDEO-OF-CHAMINADE-COLLEGE-PREP-CLASS-OF-2016

Multiple reports indicated earlier in the week that the Yankees and their 2016 first-round draft … [visit site to read more]

Gut reaction: Nationals 5, Mets 0 – 6/28/2016

The good news is, June is almost over. This seems to be a killer month for this team. The bad news, well, there’s quite a bit. We lost our third game in a row and the second game in a row to our division rivals. Our feeble offense was shut out yet again. When you look back on it, there were two forces of nature working against us – we never hit new pitchers well, particularly when they are stud prospects like Lucas Giolito (Julio Urias was the one exception in recent memory) and we never play well in games that include rain delays. Remember last year’s midseason disaster against San Diego? Maybe, just maybe, like last year, we turn it around from here.

Adding to the growing pile of bad news, both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have been diagnosed with elbow spurs that they will have to labor through the season with, before tending to them in the offseason.

Matt Harvey wasn’t terrible, allowing one run through 3 2/3 innings, before the skies opened up. However, this was enough to tag him with his astounding 10th loss of the season. Jerry Blevins coughed up a two-run dinger to Bryce Harper coughed up two insurance runs after that. The Mets offense mustered just five hits in this game and to add salt in the wound, our old friend Ollie Perez ended our one rally in relief.

The Wednesday rubber match would seem to be an important game to avoid the sweep, but the struggling Logan Verrett will take the hill in place of the resting Steven Matz and he’ll face Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Who knows, maybe the Mets will surprise us.

Success Is (Un)Earned; Crazy 1st Inning Paces Yankees In Short, Wet, HV Victory

Timmy Robinson (Robert M. Pimpsner)

WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY-The classic quote dictates that success is earned, not given.

Opening … [visit site to read more]

Neil Walker, Jose Reyes, and the likeability factor

Today’s article was going to be a straightforward piece entitled, “There’s a lot to like about Neil Walker.” It was going to point out how popular Walker was in Pittsburgh both with his teammates and the Pirates’ fan base. Then it would describe how seamlessly he has fit in as a Met and all his offensive and defensive contributions. Even if 2016 is his only season in a Mets uniform there would not seem to be anyone who will regret his having spent a summer in Queens.

But then the weekend news cycle struck. A nanosecond after 2pm Eastern time hit on Saturday the Mets signed newly released Jose Reyes. The Rockies will be on the hook for something like $44 million minus the prorated minimum salary through the end of 2017.

The Rockies released Reyes because they have an outstanding rookie shortstop, Trevor Story, and because Reyes was an ineffective and somewhat uninterested performer last year. But, of course, he was mostly released because of his 51 game suspension for domestic abuse.

It occurred to me that the common thread here is a player’s likeability. In an ideal world our sports teams are populated by exquisitely talented athletes who are also highly moral and ethical individuals. As you know, that is not the world in which we actually live.

Since I find myself understanding things better in mathematical terms over the years I have pictured a graph with a vertical (Y) axis being a player’s likeability. The horizontal (X) axis represents the skill set of the player on the field. To some extent the baseball stat WAR (wins above replacement player) captures that with a solid regular being worth about 2 WAR. An all-star figures to be about a 4 WAR player while the Mike Trouts, Clayton Kershaws, and Bryce Harpers of the world give their team 6 or more WAR.

The unfilled in graph looks like this:

likeability-vs-talent

For myself my favorite players have been the one who have had great talent but seem like legitimately good people too. A healthy David Wright in his prime was way up there. No scandals, no steroids, nothing on the police blotter. And while I am as anti-Yankee as one can be there has always been a soft spot for Yogi Berra. There was an outstanding player who everyone seemed to like or love (OK, maybe not George Steinbrenner but that’s another story altogether).

The greatest player of all time, Babe Ruth, was highly likeable during his lifetime because he had a sympathetic press that never revealed his drinking and whoring habits. Instead they were there to watch him visit sick kids in hospitals while promising them a home run in the next game.

And there are the players high on the WAR scale but low on the likeability axis. Just to name some: Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Chase Utley, Barry Bonds. And truth be told my Strat-O-Matic team has had Arod, Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano and others on it. It’s hard to find only good guys and still produce a winning team.

Here’s that graph with a few names thrown in there.

likeability-vs-talent-filled-in

Of course this is subjective and you might possibly put the initials elsewhere. WF is Wilmer Flores. He tugged at our hearts wiping tears from his eyes when he thought the front office was trading him last year. It’s just that he is not a particularly talented player. NW is Neil Walker: good player, good guy. YB is Berra. Way down in the lower right is RC, Roger Clemens.

The toughest guy to place is JR, Jose Reyes. It will be interesting to see what he has left as a player. His domestic violence episode is totally unforgivable to some so that his likeability factor could be close to zero for them. Others are more forgiving.

Reyes was quoted as saying this before his first game as a Mets minor leaguer on Sunday:

“I need to be a better man, be a better husband. Be a better dad for my girls. I got three girls, I need to be an example for them. I’m a human being. I made a terrible mistake. I say so sorry to everybody. I say sorry to my wife, my dad, my mom, to everybody. They know I’m a better person than that.

“I paid my suspension to MLB. I went to counseling. I’m going to continue to be going again to counseling, whatever it takes. They will see a man who stands up for his mistake.”

Now perhaps those are just words and we know that actions speak louder than words. But if indeed Jose made this one huge mistake and wants to do everything in his power to make up for it then personally this writer is OK with that.

A question I’ve often asked myself and still lack an answer for is this. My favorite football teams are the Giants and the Jets. Would I want Bill Belichick as the coach of either team? On one hand he is a fantastic coach with an incredible track record for winning games and championships. But he is also clearly a boorish fellow with little to no respect for the rules most everyone else adhere to. How much is one willing to negotiate away on the likeability scale to move right on the talent scale?

Thunder Rally, Win on Wade’s Inside The Park Homer

Tyler Wade's inside-the-park home run capped the Thunder's winning rally. (Photo by Martin Griff)

TRENTON, NJ – Mark Payton hit a game-tying three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth and Tyler … [visit site to read more]

Tampa Wins In Grand Fashion To Earn Sweep Over Brevard County

Vicente Conde (Bryan Green)

The Tampa Yankees were coming off of a doubleheader sweep on Monday. Both games were won by a score … [visit site to read more]

Austin Keeps RailRiders on Express Track

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's   Tyler Austin was a triple away from a cycle Tuesday night. (Photo by Martin Griff)

SYRACUSE, NY  – The red-hot SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) edged the Syracuse … [visit site to read more]