Last week while New York sports radio was busy criticizing Daniel Murphy's paternity leave, a story was unfolding at Citi Field -- one actually worth discussion.
While current managers John Farrell and Mike Matheny are busy preparing their teams for Game 1 of the 2013 World Series tomorrow night, general managers of 28 other Major League Baseball clubs are trying to get a jumpstart on 2014.
When the day arrives, and it's clear Zack Wheeler has "figured it out," this will be the day he will appreciate most. New York Mets fans will prefer to reflect on Wheeler's first MLB start, six shutout innings vs. Atlanta, but Sunday will be one of those starts that will educate the Mets rookie most as he moves forward.
Good baseball teams in a slump have hope. If a team has talented players there is every reason to be optimistic. It's a 162-game season and, rest assure, tomorrow could be the day things turn around and a good team gets hot. Pitchers start pitching. Hitters start hitting. Closers close. The club wins six, seven, eight in a row, 15 of their next 20 games. Confidence is restored. See St. Louis Cardinals.
“On a cold night you have to hit the ball 25 feet farther. So, in other words, if the fence is 338 feet and you hit the ball 338 feet, you’ll be 25 feet short.” – Ralph Kiner, attempting to explain the effect of cold weather on the flight of a baseball.
The New York Mets and Minnesota Twins played last Friday night’s game in between snowflakes. According to Major League Baseball, the game time temperature was 34 degrees. Pitchers were licking their fingers and blowing hot air into their balled up fists. Infielders were wearing ski caps. The dugouts were filled with hoodies and heated benches. Toasty, right?
You can learn a lot about a baseball team from its locker room. The clubhouse is where relationships form, character is revealed and leaders speak out (or not). For the major league rookie, clubhouse real estate is valuable -- sometimes priceless. Imagine being the rookie who spent eight months out of the year next to Sandy Koufax? Roberto Clemente? Lou Gehrig? Tom Seaver? These were model athletes, wise and humble men, who used their talent to teach.
An injury to a starting pitcher, depth, a team’s unexpected first-half success begs the question, "Are we buyers or sellers?" as the trade deadline looms. They’re questions and challenges every playoff contending team will face to some degree. They are part of the natural progression of a baseball season for all 30 Major league baseball teams and one that will soon result with Sandy Alderson revealing his true appraisal of the 2012 New York Mets.