Opening Week 2015: Nothing beats Bartolo

Screenshot 2015-04-13 at 2.38.41 AM

(MLB.com)

“No one has more fun playing this game than Bart,” — SNY announcer Ron Darling

Sunday was the end of the first week of the 2015 MLB season, so I figured I’d go through some of my favorite clips from the week. The top, of course, was Bartolo Colon’s RBI single in the Mets’ win vs. the Braves on Sunday.

Before 2011, the main thing that popped into my head if someone mentioned Colon was the time Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs off him in the same game. Since 2011, Colon has become one of my favorite players of all time. Colon, at this point in his career, throws basically nothing but fastballs and still finds success. He rarely walks anyone. And, since signing with the Mets before last season, he gets to hit regularly in the National League. Last year, he had two hits — including a double! — in 62 at-bats. This season, in his second game, he notched his first RBI since 2005. And his helmet fell off. JOYOUS BARTOLO.

My favorite thing about A-Rod’s latest “comeback” is how little fans feel outrage as compared to the media. Now, plenty of fans still dislike A-Rod, but I feel like most of the people who don’t like him haven’t liked him much since, oh, 2004. I’m sure some turned on him when we first learned in 2009 that he did PEDs (during those loosey goosey times), but many had already sided on the pro- or anti-A-Rod side before that even came to light.

He got caught again, he served his suspension and now he’s back. Does A-Rod deserve sympathy? No. But unless the Yanks cut/somehow trade him/he retires, fans of the team are stuck with him through 2017. So hopefully he keeps hitting A-bombs until his hips fall off.

An arrogant person who is bad at his/her job is the worst. An arrogant person who is good at his/her job is fine. Matt Harvey doesn’t have much of a track record, but he’s pretty great. This past week, he made his first regular-season start since Tommy John surgery and, even though he wasn’t at his best, Harvey still K’d nine Nationals over six innings. I hope he wins the NL Cy Young Award this year, then allows eight runs in the NL Wild Card game so my younger brother Kevin and my friend Dan can argue about how good Harvey actually is for the rest of their lives.

Extra-innings game does not equal classic game. On Friday night, I left my apartment after the start of the Yankees/Red Sox series opener and took a bus/walked to a bar to meet up with my older brother Jim. I hung out with my brother for two hours, then took a cab to the bar my girlfriend works at. I waited on line for 10 minutes, then entered the bar, where I hung out for an hour. I took a bus home, then watched the Red Sox and Yankees play for another friggin’ hour.  Before the game ended, I — while not quite sober — tweeted this:

If you’re a Red Sox fan and Boston finishes one game ahead of the Yankees for the American League East title, you might look back at this game as a classic the Sox pulled out thanks to Mookie Betts. But, right now, the No. 1 thing Betts did Saturday morning was provide the decisive run that allowed us to all finally go to bed. And for that, he deserves to have a Hall of Fame career.

A quality first week for the 2015 MLB season. And I didn’t even mention Adrian Beltre adhering to the new MLB rules about pace of play (oh, wait).

Brian Cougar

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Opening Week 2015: Nothing beats Bartolo

Love your enemy: a Yanks fan on the greatness of Pedro

I am a Yankees (and Cowboys — love me!) fan, and therefore probably shouldn’t like Pedro Martinez as much as I do. The newly elected Hall of Famer spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox, then had a memorable run with the Mets and finished up his big league tenure pitching for the Phillies against the Yanks in the 2009 World Series. But Pedro, due to his electrifying talent and charisma, was part of some of my all-time favorite baseball moments, even when they involved him beating the Yankees or beating senior citizens who worked for the club.

1: Pedro outduels Clemens, May 28, 2000

Not only am I a Yankees/Cowboys fan, I am — still — a fan of Roger Clemens. I feel like most Yankees/Red Sox/Blue Jays fans don’t really care for him anymore (although I for some reason think Astros/Sugar Land Skeeters fans still dig him), but I look back fondly on The Rocket’s career, and I think my appreciation of him started with this game.

I remember, after getting home from the beach, watching the entire thing in the basement of my old house in Brooklyn. Unlike the Pedro-Clemens matchup in the 1999 American League Championship Series, when Clemens stunk and the Sox ended up winning in a rout, this time, they matched each other pitch for pitch until the ninth inning. It was also in old Yankee Stadium, so the atmosphere was electric and the seats behind home plate were filled the entire game. Then, in the top of the ninth, friggin’ Trot Nixon hit a two-run homer, and the Sox went on to win, 2-0. Nixon is up there with Curt Schilling, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis as my all-time least-favorite Sox players based solely on this home run.

2: Pedro chucks Zimmer, 2003 ALCS, Game 3

Clemens vs. Pedro again! Everyone remember this one. I watched this game with a few friends at Jeremy’s, a bar by the South Street Seaport known for its giant styrofoam beers and the bras that adorn the walls/ceiling. I recently rewatched the extended clip from this incident, and I had completely forgotten how messed up the pitch Pedro threw to Karim Garcia in the fourth inning that got everyone heated was. He unleashes a fastball right behind Garcia’s head, leading Garcia to, understandably, make this face:

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Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Clemens threw a pitch that was high and inside but nowhere near Manny Ramirez’s head, and things got real crazy:

I was standing at the bar waiting for a beer when Pedro threw Don Zimmer to the ground, and a random woman grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes and yelled, “What are we gonna do?!” I had no answer.

3: 2003 ALCS, Game 7

Once more, Clemens vs. Pedro! Clearly they should have gone into the Hall of Fame together. I was a junior in college (University of Scranton 4 life), and had a night class scheduled for when this game occurred. My newswriting teacher had received an advanced copy of the movie “Shattered Glass” (Hayden Christensen in his greatest role) to show us, and she said if we missed class, it counted as two absences, which would have screwed with my grade.

I actually showed up to class early, but immediately decided my duties as a Yankees fan were more important than my duties as a Communications Major, so I left. Right move! As after a terrifying 7 1/2 innings, Grady Little left Pedro in too long, the Yanks rallied, and Aaron Boone eventually did that thing he’s famous for. I ended up emailing my teacher and told her I skipped class because I felt I couldn’t miss the game. She basically called me an idiot, but understood. I think I ended up with a B- in the class.

4: Summer of Pedro, Shea Stadium 2005

No 2004 games will be on this list, how dare you. After graduating college in ’05, I returned home to Brooklyn and spent the summer putting on a solid 25-30 pounds thanks to too many Bud Heavies and Bubba Burgers. I also went to several Mets games with my younger brother Kevin, and we tried to go whenever Pedro was pitching at Shea. I know the Mets have had several impressive pitchers since 2005 (Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon), but that first summer Pedro pitched for the Mets was the most fun I ever had watching games at glorious, gone-but-not-forgotten Shea Stadium. Two specific moments stand out:

1) In the middle of an inning that season, the sprinklers went off on the field. Most pitchers facing that situation would either run away or pout (I feel like Mike Mussina would’ve pouted), but Pedro stuck his head right in front of a sprinkler to cool off, then walked around with a goofy smile on his face.

2) On June 7 vs. the Astros, Pedro had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. This was during the Mets’ infamous run of never having thrown a no-hitter, and a buzz was starting to build. In the break between the bottom of the sixth and the top of the seventh, a few dudes — Mets fans — sitting down the aisle from Kevin and I started discussing the fact that Pedro was throwing a no-no. Not only were they breaking the rule of “Don’t talk about a no-hitter while it’s happening” (settle down all you “Duhh, you can’t actually jinx a no-hitter by talking about it” people), they were predicting which player on the Astros would end up getting the hit! I specifically remember them guessing it would be Brad Ausmus, Houston’s light-hitting catcher. Kevin, not surprisingly, was becoming enraged, but he, surprisingly if you know him, did not start screaming at them. With one out in the seventh, Chris Burke hit a home run. Pedro ended up throwing a complete game, striking out Burke to end it. Now that I think about it, Kev might have started screaming at them after the home run.

I currently live in Boston, and over the past few months I’ve occasionally had people commenting on my Yankees gear while I’m out and about. The conversations have tended to be them going, “I hate the Yankees, but Derek Jeter is all class.” With me responding, “I don’t care what you think about Jeter, as long as you love and respect Bernie Williams.” That second part might not be true.

As fans, it’s natural to hate the players on rival teams, but in the case of guys like Pedro Martinez, it’s OK to love them a bit, too.

— Brian Cougar

Love your enemy: a Yanks fan on the greatness of Pedro

Bring up Izzy!

A weekend of straight fakeness from the New York Mets. Dropping two out of three to the scrub Nats with some weak pitching and continued weak sauce at the plate with runners on (especially runners on third with less than two outs!!!).

Opening Day at Citi Field was not surprisingly a cold and rainy day of grossness — to match the grossness on the field. R.A. Dickey could not find the strike zone (five walks), and for the second time in a week, the Mets have given up a two-run single with the bases loaded to the opposing starting pitcher (Joe Blanton, Jordan Zimmermann). This, ladies and gentlemen, is not how you play winning baseball.

Game 2 of the series went a lot better for the Mets, with some good news coming on the field in the form of a decent outing by Chris Capuano in his first start, and two bombski’s from Carlos Beltran. I have never been the biggest Beltran fan, but I understand his importance to this team. If he bounces back to anywhere near what he used to be at the plate, the Mets lineup should put up a lot of runs.

Today’s game continued the trend of losing baseball. Chris Young threw a gem for seven innings, and now has two impressive starts to begin his tenure with the Mets (one earned run, one hit), but good ol’ Blaine Boyer quickly sabotaged the W. Mr. Boyer and I got off on the wrong foot with the Mets foolishly keeping him on the big league roster over my main man Jason Isringhausen. I didn’t like this decision for a variety of baseball reasons, but the main source of my dislike stems from the fact that Izzy was my favorite player on the team growing up. Izzy brings a lot to the table for this Mets bullpen. He has plenty of experience pitching out of the bullpen (mostly as a closer), to go along with the fact that he’s proven that he can get big league hitters out when he is healthy. The Mets have a very young ‘pen that could really gain a lot with Izzy there to mentor them. Something tells me that K-Rod is not the best guy to turn to for words of wisdom, or encouragement (avoiding a cheap joke about beating up old people).

Well, needless to say, the Mets went the jabroni route, and decided to keep Boyer and have Izzy stay down for an extended Spring Training to prove his health. Blaine has thanked this show of support by getting smacked all over the park every time he has touched the mound (two losses, ERA over 10.0, and almost two hits per inning). That is First Team All Fake material. He retired the Nats in order when he entered in the 10th, then allowed four runs on four hits in the 11th to give the Nats the win as the Mets dropped their second consecutive series to drop to 4-5 on the year. So far, the Mets are doing a good job confirming most of the preseason hate.

Quick thoughts: Beckett is absolutely dominating the Yanks right now, looks like old school Beckett from the 2003 World Series. (Brian’s boy Pedroia is on fire also). … Joba is fat, and way too much was made of his good pitching this spring. He is a mutant, and is definitely not going to be better with the 25 lbs of gut he added this offseason. … The Orioles are going to be a pest in the AL East, and could compete if their young arms stay healthy. Either way, that lineup is going to put up a lot of crooked numbers.

Pizzas for all.

— Kevin McMetsjustcalledupIzzyREAAAL

Bring up Izzy!

What a difference an ace makes

After wasting an impressive seven-run comeback last night once Big Pelf was done vomiting out of his right arm, I did not feel very good about this afternoon’s chances agains Doc Hallady … sadly, my feelings were correct. The only good thing about today’s 11-0 beat down was that I did not have to watch it because I was at work. The Mets had a great opportunity to take an early road series from the Phils, but the well documented differential in aces on these two staffs, not surprisingly, proved to be the difference.

If Pelf shows up to the ballpark and throws like the front end starter he’s supposed to be, the Mets would be heading home for Opening Day with back-to-back road series wins against an NL East rival. Instead, the Phillies sent a strong reminder that they are the team with the big gun at the front of the rotation. They also surprised me with the amount of runs they put up without Chase and D. Brown (this is probably more a result of fake Mets pitching than realness at the plate by the Phils, but either way, I was surprised).

In order for the Mets to remain competitive this season, the pitching staff is going to have to do a much better job. The hitting has been very good (the two bad games at the plate were against two studs in Josh Johnson and Doc Halladay), now it’s time for the arms to start pulling their weight.

Opening Day is tomorrow at Citi Field, and I am confident in America’s favorite No. 3, Mr. R.A. Dickey, to pitch a good game and send the Mets faithful home with a W against the Nats, to match the realness of the free Mr. Met bobblehead doll.

Eat your pizzas and read your American History, people.

— Kevin McJabused by the Phils today

What a difference an ace makes

Real > Fake

Hello America/Earth. In order to improve your overall well being, I have decided to join forces with my jambroni brother to rant and rave about all things baseball, with a focus on the beautiful Metropolitans, and a lot of hating on the Phillies. If you read Brian Coug’s post below, you know that my brother’s blog attempts for the MLB season have a very short life expectancy. Thankfully for you and him, I will be providing daily doses of realness to keep this up and running. Whether or not a season-long blog of nonsense from us is a good thing remains to be seen, but there is a strong chance it will vastly improve the quality of life of the people lucky enough to read it.

Mets: This Mets have been on the receiving end of a lot of hate punches over the course of this offseason, but I find myself strangely optimistic about this upcoming season, mainly because I think they have a solid lineup 1-9. Having a healthy Jose Reyes to start the season, along with the return of Carlos Beltran, should shore up a lot of the weak parts of the Mets’ offense that struggled so often last year. These two should provide a boost to the already studly numbers of the First Team All-Real third baseman of the New York Mets, Mr. David Wright. I think Wright is going to have a monster year, and might bring home some MVP hardware. Angel Pagan continues to play at a very high level, and has a chance to put up some big numbers to go along with his 40+ stolen bases (I can see .300 .avg, 25 hr, 80 RBI, and 10+ triples). As long as he avoids the sophomore jinx, I’m going to trust the big Ike Davis that showed a lot of promise at the plate and in the field at first base last season. My biggest question mark in the lineup is what kind of production my Mets will get from Jason Bay. I would like to think that he has to significantly improve from last year (based on his career stats), but he needs to get on the field first before those questions can be answered. If he is anywhere near the 30 bomb, 100 RBI guy he used to be, the Mets should have no problem scoring runs this year.

The biggest obstacle the Mets have to overcome this year will be their starting pitching. Jon Niese looks like a potential stud, but the inconsistency of Big Pelf and the back end of Young and Capuano leaves a lot to be desired. Lacking a true ace with the loss of The Johan is a glaring problem, especially in a division full of dominant starting pitching. My boy R.A. Dickey looks like he will continue to be a solid No. 3 starter for the rotation, and should be able to win from 12 – 15 games. The Mets didn’t lose many games because of their pitching last year, so hopefully the starters can keep them in games and get the ball to the ‘pen, where I think Parnell and Krod should have some success closing out games. (Bring back Izzy!)

Overall, I do not expect this team to win the NL East, but I definitely see how they can compete and win a decent amount of games this year, while possibly contending for a Wild Card spot. (if Johan can get back soon after the All-Star break close to true Johan form). They have already won a road series two months earlier than it took them to accomplish that last year, and they are currently beating up on the Phils, after teeing off on Cole Hamels. Hopefully they get off to a hot start, and ride that momentum into a surprising 2011 season. If not, I will be suffering through a long six months of abuse from Phillies fans and lame Bernie Madoff jokes.

Tune (blog?) in tomorrow for some good ol’ fashion Philly hate that would make my main man George Washington proud (GW hated Philadelphia, thought it was the fakest city he had ever stepped foot in). This blog will be more ridiculous going forward, but I just wanted to throw a brief summary of my thoughts on this Mets team to kick things off

— Kevin McReal

Real > Fake