The past two times the Houston Astros have selected first overall, the results have been solid, if not spectacular.
This weekend saw the White Sox continue their hot streak, four series played among the tightly bunched teams in the two Eastern divisions, and the ascendant Angels take two of three from the first-place Rangers, but the most compelling series was the one still going on in New York between the Mets and Cardinals. That series announced itself when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on Friday night, and has become more compelling with each successive dominant Mets pitching performance. Meanwhile, with their loss on Sunday, the defending world champions saw their record fall to an even .500 and slipped a half-game behind the Pirates into third place in the National League Central.
The Mets had played 8,019 regular season games and 64 postseason games across 50-plus seasons before June 1, 2012, but it wasn't until Johan Santana held the Cardinals without a hit on Friday night that one of their pitchers had thrown a no-hitter.
How can I explain this? When it comes to no-hitters, the thing about being a Mets fan was that it always felt like everyone got to have a birthday except me. With the exception of the San Diego Padres, every franchise in baseball had at least one no-hitter in its history but the Mets. Every fanbase had experienced that magical feeling that comes out of nowhere, when a regular game turns into a piece of history, when the guy on the mound for their team has talent and fate and maybe a generous umpire on his side and throws nine hitless innings -- except us luckless followers of the Mets. As a fan of the team for more than 40 years, I had resigned myself to a lifetime of watching other teams periodically hit the lottery. For my Mets, a no-no would never be.
New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana tossed the first no-hitter in the franchise's history Friday night in an 8-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
NEW YORK -- At the age of 29, and as he is left out of the industry trend of teams locking up franchise players, New York Mets third baseman David Wright has begun already a third act to his career. It is the comeback phase. After a career-worst season in 2011, when it appeared that a canyon of a ballpark was extracting the greatness from his career, Wright went back to his roots. He hit last winter at a high school batting cage with Nick Boothe, the baseball coach at Virginia Wesleyan who had worked with Wright as a teenager.
NEW YORK -- Johan Santana assumed his familiar broad-legged stance on the third-base side of the pitching rubber when pitching out of the windup, and then he mowed down hitters by changing speeds and locating pitches.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Gary Carter was nicknamed "Kid" for good reason.
Try as I might as a witness to his five years in New York as a catcher for the Mets, I cannot conjure a single image of Gary Carter with anything but a smile on his face. I have no recollection of a gloomy Carter, not even as his knees began to announce a slow surrender, his bat grew slow and weary or as his teammates, renowned masters of the dark arts, chided him for his well-displayed rectitude.
In a win for the owners of the New York Mets, a federal judge on Tuesday upheld an earlier court decision that placed limits on the amount of money that the trustee in the Madoff case can seek.
DALLAS -- Already the most fascinating team in baseball -- everybody from Albert Pujols to the Securities and Exchange Commission is checking them out -- the Marlins aren't done yet. Having added shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell, the newly named, newly outfitted and newly relocated Miami Marlins are prepared to push their payroll past $100 million if it means adding Pujols, according to a team source.
DALLAS -- The Marlins added another big name free agent on Sunday, reportedly signing Mets shortstop Jose Reyes to a contract worth six years and $106 million, pending a physical. Here are five thoughts on the intra-division signing:
A federal judge dismissed most counts of a $1 billion suit against the owners of the New York Mets baseball team Tuesday that stemmed from the club's involvement in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
Bud Selig could feed the homeless and find a way to get hammered for it. He could fly medical supplies to a third-world country and environmental groups would rip him for taking a private plane. Selig has some of the worst p.r. instincts of anybody in sports, so it is not surprising that, faced with a six-inch putt on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he kicked the ball.
NEW YORK -- An American flag covered most of the outfield.
The New York Mets missed out on a $200 million home run when their investment deal fell through with hedge fund guru David Einhorn.
A federal judge will hear arguments Friday on whether the owners of the New York Mets baseball team should have to forfeit $1 billion for their connection to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
The trading season began rather bizarrely, with the Mets rushing to trade Francisco Rodriguez, their star high-priced closer with the scary vesting option, a new agent and a missing no-trade list. K-Rod's previous agent apparently neglected to submit his 10-team no-trade list, and Mets higher-ups became concerned that his just-hired agent, Scott Boras, might try to rectify this situation. Although there was seemingly no way to submit a list that was already two years late, Mets GM Sandy Alderson didn't think it was worth taking a chance a trade could be stalled by a debate over the missing list.
The Phillies appear to be at least an early favorite in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes that's drawn interest from as many as 10 teams. Philadelphia has suggested publicly that it doesn't want to add payroll, but it has the prospects to get a deal done. The Mets have signaled a willingness to pay some or all of the $7 million or so remaining on Beltran's salary, and Philly isn't averse to the surprise move (see Lee, Cliff).
Closer Francisco Rodriguez has been traded to the Brewers, along with cash, for two players to be named later.
The All-Star Game may be thought of as baseball's midway point, but the Midsummer Classic is still almost two weeks away and several teams will actually be making the turn into the second half of play this week. On Wednesday six teams -- the Braves, Reds, Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres -- will become the first clubs to play their 82nd games, and by the weekend all 30 teams will officially officially have completed the first half of their schedules.
In a tight, wait-and-see trade market, the San Diego Padres are one of the few potential sellers already engaging in early and serious trade discussions. The Padres have several valuable pieces, and executives who have spoken to them say they are being very aggressive. San Diego has even shown a willingness to at least engage in trade talk even about a star young reliever such as Mike Adams, whose 0.65 WHIP, $2.5-million salary and inability to become a free agent until after the 2012 season would bring a haul.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jose Reyes is keeping his options open, which could make it hard for the New York Mets to afford him.
At a time when baseball has a shortage of compelling players -- you'd have to get through Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Brian Wilson before you found such an everyday player -- shortstop Jose Reyes of the New York Mets has emerged as exactly what the game needs: equal parts excitement and mystery.
To borrow a phrase from the suddenly talkative Mets owner Fred Wilpon, plenty of teams seem "snakebitten'' this year. There have been so many injuries this year, particularly to star players (Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, David Wright), that the Snakebitten Six teams, listed below, have to feel something's just not right.
The New York Mets announced Thursday that it will negotiate with investor David Einhorn for a $200 million minority stake in the financially beleaguered baseball team.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The cash-strapped owners of the New York Mets agreed to sell a minority share of the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn for $200 million, with the new partner predicting the club's financial situation will improve.
New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, as profiled this week in Sports Illustrated, provided a blunt picture of the team's finances: The team is "bleeding cash" at the rate of a possible $70 million loss this year and his ownership of the team could be jeopardized by the $1 billion lawsuit against him and his Sterling Equities partners. The suit was filed by the trustee of the liquidation of Bernie Madoff's investments.
New York Mets stories in the SI Vault
Just how deep in the hole is the troubled franchise of the New York Mets?
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets' second-base competition isn't all bad. If nothing else, it provides a nice diversion from the two biggest stories in Mets camp, which are: 1) the Oliver Perez Watch, and 2) the Madoff mess.
The Mets will host the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, people with knowledge of the situation told SI.com.
Want to buy a piece of the Mets?
New York Mets relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree assault and disorderly conduct Friday after attacking his girlfriend's father at the Mets' ballpark last season, prosecutors said.
Would you rather hire a manager who has failed or one who has no experience? Is trying to find the next Terry Francona a less risky bet than trying to find the next Mike Scioscia? This was a busy seven weeks for examining the mysterious issue of what experience means in the dugout. Since the regular season ended, 10 teams -- one-third of the major league clubs -- were forced to make a call on that issue.
A person with knowledge of the situation says the New York Mets have hired Terry Collins as their manager.
The Mets' shakeup continues, as they have fired scouting director Rudy Terrasas, sources said.
Memo to the New York Mets: I was kidding
Sandy Alderson, the new general manager of the New York Mets, is the kind of man who reminds other men of what they once thought they could be and sets them fawning. A Marine, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a successful general manager and CEO of major league ball clubs and breaker of umpires, he has, so far as one can tell, never failed at anything.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The misfits are showing their mojo, and the 1969 Mets come to mind.
Previously unknown interim manager Mike Quade has emerged as the surprise heavy favorite to win the coveted Cubs managerial job, league sources say.
Longtime baseball executive Sandy Alderson is talking to the New York Mets about their vacant general manager position and is in the process of setting up an interview. No date is officially set, but someone close to the situation said he thought the meeting would occur late next week, probably Thursday or Friday.
Here in New York, the stage has been ideally set.
One day, in the not-too-distant future, nobody will visit them.
Could the New York Mets terminate the lucrative contract of closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was charged with assault by law enforcement officials and also suspended two games by the Mets for an embarrassing and injurious post-game fight with his girlfriend's father?
NEW YORK -- The website of Sterling Equities -- the firm run by Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, the principal owners of the New York Mets -- touts its company philosophy as a "family run business operated in a collegial manner, with professionalism and accountability."
Entertained the annual worst-movie-of-all-time debate with a friend the other day.
NEW YORK -- As Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez jogged in from the bullpen to pitch a ninth inning -- meaningless if not for the fact that it was his first appearance since his arrest for assault and the night he spent in the holding cell at Citi Field three nights ago -- fans greeted him with mild boos.
The New York Mets said Thursday that pitcher Francisco Rodriguez would be placed on the restricted list for two days after his arrest for allegedly punching his father-in-law in the face.
Some of the biggest names discussed in potential trades before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline have too much value to clear waivers and be traded now, such as Washington's Adam Dunn and Toronto's Jose Bautista. And some who might have cleared waivers were already traded, possibly including Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, Cristian Guzman and Jake Westbrook.
The Mets offered a package of pitcher Oliver Perez and second baseman Luis Castillo for pitcher Carlos Zambrano, but the Cubs have not accepted. They may be more amenable to Perez-for-Zambrano straight up.
It's highly competitive. Three teams, maybe four, have a realistic shot at the postseason.
Never again will there be a repeat of the 1976 MLB draft, when two Hall of Famers and two near Hall of Famers were bypassed in the first round, with Alan Trammell going in the second round, Rickey Henderson (Hall class of 2009) in the fourth, Jack Morris in the fifth and Wade Boggs (Hall class of 2005) in the seventh.
One of the greatest underappreciated truths of wild card era baseball is that losers turn into playoff teams every year. In the 15 years since baseball split into six divisions and allowed eight playoff entries, every postseason but one included at least one team that had a losing record the previous season. Thirty teams -- fully one-quarter of all playoff teams from 1995-2009 -- made the immediate turnaround from a losing record to the postseason. Why should this year be any different? Who will it be?
Of all the professional athletes I have come across, few are more obnoxious, more difficult, more petulant than Brett Myers, the one-time Phillies ace now trying to rediscover himself as a Houston Astro.
Arguably the most far-reaching impact of sabermetrics is in the use of park factors to put player performance in context. Throughout baseball history, players, fans and executives knew that certain parks changed the game and the statistics, from the Polo Grounds' horseshoe outfield to Yankee Stadium's short porch to the vast expanses of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. It was statheads who started hanging numbers on those elements, though, enabling us to evaluate players more accurately.
Baseball is a yawn, not a sneeze.
PHILADELPHIA -- In routing the Phillies on Friday night, the Mets won their eighth straight game, staved off their local rival's first challenge to their National League East lead and looked like a team ready to offer a season-long challenge to the three-time defending division champions.
One night last month while I watched the Oakland Athletics pitchers walk 10 New York Yankees, an idea occurred to me about what some people find "wrong" with baseball. It's not the time of games, the pace of games, the dilution of pitching because of expansion or the way hitters adjust their batting gloves and cup in between pitches -- the usual complaints that get attention.
New York Mets' right-handed Mike Pelfrey went for an MRI on Monday but is said to have only shoulder tightness and will make his next start Friday.
NEW YORK -- This past weekend at Citi Field, a pair of rookies, one the most talked about prospect in the game, the other a recent call-up who has already been causing a stir in his first week, crossed paths for the first time on a major league field. In a season that is looking like it will be the Year of the Phenom, both Ike Davis of the Mets and Jason Heyward of the Braves have been turning heads and earning rave reviews from their managers not only for how they play but also for how they handle themselves.
With baseball season in full swing, here's a list of some of the more creative, generous or ludicrous perks players have received.
It's been an eventful first couple weeks, and here are my initial observations, suggestions, rumors, regrets and recriminations ...
The next time you're tempted to skip a ball game because you're just sure you know what's going to happen, think back to this past Saturday. It will cure your hubris.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel's seat has begun to heat up from lukewarm to warm. It isn't quite hot yet. But if things grow worse over the next few weeks with the slow-starting team, it will be.
Over a decade and a half, the constant in Yankee championships has been the home grown quartet of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera: The Core Four, as the papers (among others) have it. From one angle, this is evidence of the strength of the Yankee Way; from another, it's proof that the Yankee Way is a synonym for money. (Retaining the services of those four players has cost the team about a half billion dollars over the course of their careers.)
This spring, SI.com's baseball writers will be filing postcards from all 30 camps. To read all the postcards, click here.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets agreed Thursday to minor league contracts with first baseman Mike Jacobs and left-hander Hisanori Takahashi after missing out on several free agents with higher profiles.
Free agent first baseman Mike Jacobs is close to signing a minor-league deal with the Mets, SI.com has confirmed.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Unable to find regular playing time for Gary Matthews Jr., the Los Angeles Angels traded the outfielder to the New York Mets on Friday and agreed to pay $21.5 million as part of the deal.
New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran, who is entering the sixth season of a $119 million contract, had knee surgery on Wednesday morning. The surgery, which will likely sideline Beltran for the early part of the season, was performed by Dr. Richard Steadman, a prominent orthopedic surgeon not employed by the Mets. The Mets claim that they only gave permission for Beltran to be examined by Steadman and that they asked Beltran to wait on the surgery; Beltran asserts that the Mets granted permission for surgery and then, while the procedure was taking place, changed their mind and asked that he wait. SI.com legal expert Michael McCann discusses the potential fallout.
Locked out of the U.S. by a war that ended two decades ago, best seen abroad at tournaments watched by few Americans who aren't paid to take in games, Cuban ballplayers are men about whom we know nothing in an age when we know more than we'd like to about nearly everyone else. This makes them mysterious and attractive. So the surprise isn't that Aroldis Chapman signed a six-year contract worth at least $30 million this week, but that he didn't sign for more.
The statement came 28 years ago.
The Mets have two geographical rivals: One is in their city, one is in their division, and both were in the 2009 World Series. For all the challenging seasons the Mets have endured through their history -- 120 losses in 1962, worst team money could buy in '93, September swoons in '07 and '08 -- there was something unique about the agony they experienced in '09.
It has been a quiet holiday week in baseball. Of course, sometimes nothing happening is almost as significant as something happening. Take the Mets, a rich, lousy team that has made an ostentatious show of being willing to spend a lot to improve. With more than $90 million committed for next year before figuring arbitration awards for several young players, the team lacks a catcher, a first baseman, two outfielders and the semblance of dignity. Every one of their starters is inexperienced, terrible, coming off an injury or some combination of the three. They might be able to get better by signing the owners of Shea Stadium, the Brooklyn recording studio named after their erstwhile, much-mourned ballpark.
The final landing spots for free-agent hitting stars Jason Bay and Matt Holliday aren't known yet, but one thing seems true about both star players: Neither appears any closer today to remaining with his old team than when the offseason began.
SI.com's Jon Heyman reports from baseball's winter meetings in Indianapolis, which wrapped up Thursday ...
INDIANAPOLIS -- Superstar pitcher Felix Hernandez's intention to request about $100 million for six years in contract talks might surprise some folks in that other young star pitchers have sought far less. Zack Greinke took a $38 million, four-year contract with the Royals and Josh Johnson was reported to request about $45 million for four years from the Marlins.
Former Diamondbacks third-base coach Chip Hale is being hired to fill that role for the Mets, sources said.
Sources say longtime scout Sandy Johnson has agreed to return to the Mets as VP of scouting to continue assisting embattled general manager Omar Minaya after suggesting for weeks he was likely to retire, and some Mets officials believe the unusual effort made to retain Johnson is another sign of diminishing faith in Minaya.
Manager Lou Piniella slumped in the dugout this weekend, exemplifying a talented Cubs team that has slumped far too often this season. Meanwhile, Mets manager Jerry Manuel provided a study in contrasts, standing erect in the opposing dugout, and generally not giving off the same sort of negative vibe. It must be a matter of style, and/or personality, since Manuel's Mets are is having a season just as horrific.
Leave aside the image of a shirtless executive challenging minor leaguers to fist fights, or a general manager accusing a good reporter of being out for a job running the farm system, or rumors that the team's owners will soon be seen on what's left of the Bowery shaking tin cups. What matters about the New York Mets is that, Sunday's sound 4-1 (RECAP | BOX) beating dealt to Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano notwithstanding, right now they're the kind of bad that drives people to drink. If they were a band, they'd be Creed; if they were a food, they'd be tripe soup; if they were a gesture, they'd be a lazy, lazy slouch. Few have seen their like.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and the star pitcher is out for the season, the latest blow to a New York Mets team battered by injuries.
The last three years, Major League Baseball has implemented a signing deadline, ending the interminable holdouts that often plagued baseball's draft process. The draft still has plenty of problems, but that's another story. This draft is essentially in the books now that Monday's deadline has passed, with two fourth-year pitchers -- indy leaguers Aaron Crow (Royals first-rounder) and Tanner Scheppers (Rangers supplemental first-rounder) still unsigned but not subject to the deadline.
It has always been the belief in this precinct that media types, generally speaking, are too quick to call for leaders -- coaches, general managers, athletic directors -- to be fired. We tend to disregard the real-life implications of losing one's job, not to mention forgetting how easily a five-game winning streak can turn someone from an idiot into a genius.
It was neither the time (3:45 p.m. MT, just before he was to start getting ready for a game against the Rockies) nor the place (the visiting manager's office at Coors Field) that he might have expected it, but Jeff Francoeur's once-heralded career with the Atlanta Braves came to an end Friday afternoon when he was called into the Bobby Cox's office and told, "We've made a trade and you'll never guess where: New York."
Call it the Summer of Accountability.
If you happened to be thumbing through the Newsday sports section on Thursday, you may have noticed an unusual box score: Mets 4, Cubs 0, in New York. Time of game: 2 hours, 2 minutes. Then you read the not-so-fine print: the game -- a Tom Seaver one-hitter -- was played 40 years ago, when the Mets were becoming the Miracle Mets, winners of the '69 World Series. Newsday is paying tribute to the team.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- New York Mets reliever J.J. Putz will have surgery to remove a bone spur and pieces of bone from the back of his right elbow and is expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks.
The Mets announced Thursday night that shortstop Jose Reyes has a small tear in his right hamstring tendon. The team is not estimating when Reyes might return, but early reports are suggesting he'll be out until July.
Mets people insist that center field star Carlos Beltran and starting pitcher John Maine do not have swine flu or any of several symptoms of the virus in the wake of a swine flu scare involving another member of the Mets' traveling party.
The New York Mets avoided a tricky situation Friday night when they traded backup catcher Ramon Castro and cash to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Lance Broadway.
The New York Mets acquired outfielder Emil Brown from the Padres and will designate him for assignment to the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets announced today. Brown will be on the Bisons' roster for their matchup against the Durham Bulls tonight.
This weekend, when the Mets visit the Red Sox and the Yankees host the Phillies, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium will feature four teams with payrolls totaling $574 million. Allowing for inflation, this is as much as the 10 highest payrolls in baseball in 1997, the year of the first regular-season games between the National and American leagues.
Ever play baseball? At any level? I mean even Little League, even T-ball? Then you can answer this question: What's the safest and surest way to catch a fly ball?
George Steinbrenner, the most famous owner of the free agency era, was at the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day. When he was introduced, his daughter Jenny, sitting next to him, gently raised his right arm so that he could wave to the crowd. His roar may be gone, but the old lion was able to see his palace open. I watched Steinbrenner choking back emotion on the scoreboard TV from the concourse behind home plate. Next to me, a Yankee fan in a Paul O'Neill jersey had a homemade sign hanging from a string around his neck. It read: "The House that LOOT Built."
It was shaping up to be a glorious weekend of baseball for the Mets. Temperatures soared, and the Mets welcomed an opponent -- the lowly Nationals -- that was even more appetizing than anything purveyed at the Shake Shack in Citi Field. This was supposed to be the weekend in which the Mets, who entered as the losers of four straight games, would finally kick their 2009 season into gear.
We are now 230-odd years into the American experiment and one thing is clear -- like the Roman Empire before us, we love our games!
Mets higher-ups were accepting compliments Monday night for their stunning new ballyard, Citi Field, which has nothing in common with the former, dreary, dumpy ol' Shea Stadium aside from its location near the intersection of the Grand Central Parkway and Roosevelt Avenue. "It's a ballpark, not a stadium,'' Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said of the new digs.