Mets: Thanks for the Memories and Congrats to the Royals

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In a sentence, the Royals beat the Mets 7-2 in 12 innings to win the World Series 4 games to 1.  I won’t spend any more time than is absolutely required on a postmortem of last night’s game. You’ve read that a thousand times over by this point.  Now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared from above the battlefield, it’s possible with a relatively clear head to thank the Mets for getting to the World Series earlier than anybody reasonable could have expected in April. It’s also possible to congratulate the Royals on their great victory. A year ago they came up one game short. After they steamrolled the Central Division and beat the Astros and Blue Jays in the playoffs I still didn’t give them the proper credit before this series began. I was only correct in one regard: Noah Syndergaard did something special. He sent a message with his very first pitch and showed that exceptional pitching could beat the Royals. That kind of pitching the Mets had in plenty, and will have for a few years to come.  What they lacked was hitting and defense. Even in their beleaguered bull pen, only one man disgraced himself-Tyler Clippard. Jeurys Familia can only be fairly blamed for one of the saves he didn’t make, the first game where Alex Gordon homered off him in the 9th to tie it.  Saturday Daniel Murphy’s error undid Familia’s best effort, and last night Lucas Duda’s awful throw should have been an error. An old friend of mine was an official scorer for many years, and he could tell me until I fell asleep how the rules say it wasn’t an error. But with the score 2-1 in the visiting 9th and a runner on third,  a throw from Duda anywhere in Travis D’Arnaud’s area code at home plate should  have nailed  runner Eric Hosmer, who will never be anybody’s Maury Wills. That tied the game and it was downhill from there.

The one star the Mets had last night was Matt Harvey who pitched 8 brilliant innings. The Mets have to face themselves and think about the 3 double plays they hit into and the two innings, the fifth and sixth where they could have put considerable daylight between themselves and the foe and didn’t. They had 3 hits all night. One was a leadoff home run in the first by Curtis Granderson. The other run scored in the sixth on a Duda scoring fly ball.  Ahead 2-0 I can’t blame Harvey  wanting to take the ball in the 9th. He’s 26 and he’s the Dark Knight, at least in New York. At 26, what male doesn’t think he’s bulletproof? He didn’t count on walking Lorenzo Cain and serving up a double to his old amateur baseball buddy Eric Hosmer. I wonder why Mets manager Terry Collins didn’t pull Harvey after the walk, but the bottom line is he didn’t.  Harvey  left the game then hoping Familia could get it done. A ground out to third put Hosmer on third. Salvador Perez hit the grounder on which, after retiring Perez Duda made a throw which went into the twilight zone where your luggage goes when the airlines can’t find it. The Mets got no hits through the 11th. Jonathan Niese got the side in the top of the 11th, and since he was a starter all season I thought he’d stay on and hope the Mets’ bats could come around. But Addison Reed got the call in the 12th inning. Salvador Perez singled. His pinch runner stole second and went to third on a grounder. Christian Colon, who hadn’t been at the plate in the postseason drove in the de facto game winning run with a single to left. Paulo Orlando reached on a fielder’s choice with Daniel Murphy making his second error in two nights. A double by Alcides Escobar made it 4-2. The next 3 runs scored on a bases clearing double by Lorenzo Cain but the Mets were beaten long before that, as the exodus from Citi Field made plain.

9 of this year’s Mets have already declared for free agency. Some are names you’ve seen in this column-Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon and Kelly Johnson. Two I don’t remember writing about-Eric O’Flaherty and Bobby Parnell. And one I would have written about except he was hurt in April and lost for the season-lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. On the Royals’ side, right fielder Alex Rios and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who pitched so well in game 2 are eligible. So is second baseman Ben Zobrist, relievers Franklin Morales and Ryan Madson, starter Chris Young, and in all likelihood outfielder Alex Gordon. So, when the teams meet on April 4 to start the season, which no two World Series contenders have ever done, the two teams may not look as recognizable without a score card. Kansas City has historically had problems keeping their talent. Going back to the days of the Athletics, owner Arnold Johnson always had a close tie to the Yankees, and many promising A’s (Roger Maris just to name one,) found their way to New York.  George Brett has been the one true Royals lifer. Nobody knows how much effort they’ll make to keep this team together. The Royals’ greatest years were 1976-85, after which they couldn’t put a team in the playoffs until last year.   While the Mets shouldn’t have the money issues that plague the Royals, Pirates and other small market teams,  they have difficulty  spending the money they have in order to keep their talent. Their 1986 team should have been the start of a dynasty. It wasn’t. Its demise was  caused by a mix of bad trades and players giving their careers in exchange for drugs. Nobody believed the 2000 team would get as far as they did and they were nowhere a year after their defeat, also in 5 games to the Yankees. That shouldn’t_ happen (at least for a couple of years) to the 2015 Mets because of the starting pitching. Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz should be together for a few years. If healthy Zack Wheeler will join them next July following Tommy John surgery.  In 1969 you could sleep well knowing Seaver, Koosman, Tug McGraw, Nolan Ryan and Ron Taylor would be together until the Mets saw the need to move one of them. Two forgotten names now, Curt Flood and Marvin Miller carry the blame for making the game resemble college sports more than the sport which  fans of a certain age grew up on.  So we can’t be sure if or when these Mets will return to the Series, as the 1973 Mets did 4 years after winning in 1969. If they don’t do it before their big four starters reach free agency, considering their past record for not spending money it could be many years of waiting ahead in Flushing. Ditto in Kansas City unless they find ways to earn money the larger market teams already have.

Goodbye and good luck

This is the last regular_ edition of “Baseball As I See It,” until spring training. At my discretion, I plan to write special editions if major free agent signings or trades happen. You may follow me on Facebook to find out if I write a special extra. I will also accept suggestions  in my Facebook mail box or at  wardlows97@bellsouth.net if you hear of something baseball related and want to know my take if I have one. When I’m not writing a column I will be working on a book, to be called “Baseball As I Saw It,” concerning my life and career as baseball’s first blind announcer. That may take a couple of off seasons to complete. Until spring training, i bid you good morning, good afternoon or  good evening depending on where in the world you’re reading this column, and may I thank you all for your comments both here and on Facebook.

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