Mets 2011

Accentuate The Positive

Thanks to Senor Solly for the photo!

Two days after the so-called “Hatgate” occurred (in case you’ve been ignoring Twitter, Facebook or any other media since Sunday, the Mets were explicitly “not allowed” to wear any FDNY or NYPD caps to honor the first responders to the 9-11 disaster during the nationally televised game on Sunday night), people are still talking about it.  I’m a little flummoxed, to be quite honest.  I get why the majority of folks are upset.  It was a somber night, we were recognizing the families and loved ones of victims and heroes alike who were intimately touched by the tragedy.  MLB puts its foot down over something that seemed like a simple request, that should have maybe had a shred of decency or common courtesy attached to it.

After all, the Mets and Chicago Cubs, two teams with basically nothing to play for in the heat of several rivalries and pennant races that were infinitely more important, were chosen as the highlighted game because of New York City’s intimate touch with the reality of the 10th anniversary’s commemoration.

I thought MLB was being petty.  I thought, “Let the team wear the damn hats.”  There was even a hash tag that was kind of fun on Twitter going around, saying “#WearTheHats.”  I had maybe about two or three tweets relating to that.  I mean, it seemed like a simple enough request, right?  Josh Thole, the Mets player representative (why?), said that there would be heavy fines.  R.A. Dickey later said that the hats they wore during the pregame ceremonies were taken away.

Seems excessive, but two days later people are STILL harping about it, with MLB’s Undynamic Duo, Bud Selig and Joe Torre, pointing fingers and doing a cover-your-ass implementation for the fallout.

My question is…why are we still talking about it?  Why are we making such a big deal?  Yes, I get that MLB was a bunch of douchecanoes who wouldn’t allow the Mets to take a simple request.  My theory is at this point, there is a lot more to be pissed off about regarding MLB’s relationship with the Mets and MLB in general, than harping on a few people with anger issues towards MLB.

Let’s go down the list!

1) The fact that former car salesman, Bud Selig, is allowed to have any hold over MLB.  A former owner with conflict of interest issues?  Nah, say it aint so.

2) The fact that the same former car salesman allows the Wilpon/Katz consortium to have any holdings in Major League Baseball whatsoever.

3) The fact that St. Joseph of Torre thinks that the Mets were “too public” with their 9-11 charity work.  Oh wait, that was one of the guys he managed.  Never mind.

4) That not only this game was a 8:05 pm start (and didn’t start till 8:20) on the same night as a Jets/Cowboys Sunday Night Football game, a school night AND was supposed to be a 1:10 pm game initially, since it went into extra innings, people had to stay late or leave early, leaving barely 5,000 people in the stands.

4) Steve over at Kranepool Society raises a very good question about Josh Thole’s standing as Mets player representative.  As he suggests, someone as tenured as say, David Wright, who if he’s anything tries to play the diplomat but has never shown himself to be a leader, hasn’t stepped up is a source of concern (especially for someone marketed as “face of the franchise).  I can’t say I know a lot about how that whole representative things plays out or how it’s even chosen, but it is kinda sad that a guy who can be demoted to the minors at any time is the representative.  Just sayin.

In the meantime, let’s look at some of the more positive aspects of Sunday night’s telecast.

1) The Mets, if they’re anything, are charitable and have brought the term “Never forget” to the forefront.  They offered hundreds of free tickets to the families of first responders and victims of 9-11.

2) Hosting a Class A pregame ceremony for the audience, including members of Tuesday’s Children (a 9-11 charity that the Mets have been actively involved in) coming out with the players to hold the flags.

3) The continued honoring of first responders and veterans are always a touching tribute to the Mets.

4) As much as I knock them, the Mets put on a good ceremony.  Period.

5) Terry Collins saying that it’s time to move on.  It is indeed time to move and start winning some damn ballgames.

Look, if anything, MLB won’t fuck with the Mets anymore, or any New York team for that matter, and let them do what they damn well want to do as far as wearing the caps next year. Or perhaps the Mets will be more prepared, and wear a pin commemorating (like a Yellow Ribbon inspired, similar to the red AIDS pins or breast cancer pins worn at different events) next year.  Or a patch.  Or something else.  They weren’t expecting this kind of fall out so perhaps decency and common sense will prevail.

Seriously, though, let’s move on from this, and learn to accentuate the positives from the night and the reaction of the team.  There were many other things that happened that we can applaud, and just ignore MLB’s acts of buffoonery.

The Bobby (Parnell) Situation

Any time I can make a reference to one of my favorite movies, Pulp Fiction, in a post about the Mets, clearly I am going to take it.

This time I am not contemplating any “IFs,” but rather looking for a Winston Wolfe-type of person to come in and clean up the mess of Bobby Parnell. This situation I am terming “The Bobby (Parnell) Situation.”

Some folks, like my friend Richie S from Random Mets Thoughts suggest that the Bobby-Parnell-as-closer experiment be shut down yesterday (and hopefully prior to the meltdown on Saturday to get a “do-over.”). I can understand. After all, Robert Allen Parnell (not to be confused with a seemingly effective Robert Allen…”RA” Dickey) has been with the team in some capacity since 2008. He’s one of those quintessential pitchers with “good stuff” (loose translation means: “he throws really really hard”). However, he hasn’t quite figured out how to harness it.

However, I won’t go so far as to say that the experiment should be closed and we need to move on. Yes, I do know that he’s blown three saves in ONE damn week. Yes, I know it’s incredibly aggravating to see him come in during the 9th, especially when we’ve been a little almost to a degree (ahem) “fortunate” with some good closers in the last few years with Billy Wagner and Francisco Rodriguez. Yes, I remember how much those two made my ulcer heat up. For the most part, we were lucky. Okay LUCKIER THAN MOST. I digress. Anyway, some might feel the Bobby Parnell Experiment situation is over. But I see it is just beginning.

See, we had the pleasure on the Kult of Mets Personalities to have former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson as a guest, and the Krew asked him about his feelings on Bobby Parnell. The theory (which is flawed) is that if a pitcher can hit 97, 98, 99, even 100 MPH on the gun, that the strike outs should come easily. Not so, and we’ve seen this issue with Parnell on many occasions. Peterson even said that hitters can swing over 100 MPH. The problem is Parnell doesn’t have an out pitch nor is his pitching cadence consistent. Peterson points out that many pitchers with hittable “stuff” (think: Burnett, AJ) has to do with the fact that their foot positioning is inconsistent. Their arm position may not only be tipping their pitches beforehand, but also that their arms are throwing while their foot has not come down.

Considering this guy managed to help Oliver Perez win 15 games in 2007, I’m willing to take his position seriously and not just with a grain of salt. These mechanical flaws can not only tip the hitters off, but cause the pitcher to keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Likewise, I’ve mentioned before that I think Dan Warthen is pretty worthless. Fact is, we have not seen much marked improvement on the pitching staff which can go many ways. Mike Pelfrey I think is too stubborn to listen to advice, and that he and Peterson did not click when he was there. However, look at pitchers who pretty much developed under Warthen’s watch: Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, even Parnell. The former two are serviceable pitchers but have not taken the next level of their careers. This could be a problem and cause the Mets to do something drastic, like trade them when they have not only good stuff, but they “get it.”

Here’s my thing with Parnell: I actually have advocated he be the closer for the Mets. I think out of all the Mets’ home grown pitchers, he has the most potential for the bullpen and that can be very valuable. He also “gets it.” See, what kind of annoys me but at the same time gives me hope is that he ALWAYS knows when he messes up. Yet, he can’t seem to learn what he is doing wrong in those moments. He also has a mentality I think to not only be taught the changes, but that he gets the idea of being a closer. It takes a special type of pitcher to balance that.

I think he can do it, he needs to be taught. I think he could be receptive.

He’s not Billy Wagner, he’s not Frankie Rodriguez, he’s certainly not Trevor Hoffman or anyone of that ilk…YET. He could be, and this is why I think Bobby Parnell could be taught the mechanics of being a good closer of the future for the Mets. Especially if he feels he can do it. To me, that’s half the battle.

In closing, I respectfully disagree with my friend Richie S, but I hope that doesn’t hinder the next beer he plans to buy…