Heck, I'm not even mad, that's amazing

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In case you missed Friday night’s wildly entertaining, exciting and
ultimately infamous Mets-Yankees game, here are a few things you should
know:

… Robinson Cano hit one over the ridiculously short porch in right
center to open the scoring, but to be fair, it was a legit homer. More
on this later …

… Joba Chamberlain only allowed one hit and two runs. Unfortunately,
he also walked five, hit two, and lasted a mere four innings. Before
the game, a buddy of mine was furious over the previous night’s
disaster in Boston, and sarcastically noted that at least the Yanks’
eighth inning guy was resting up to throw five mediocre innings the
next night. One short pal …

… Keith Hernandez was absolutely on fire, describing an ugly third
inning by Joba as “like watching A ball.” Later, after Gary Sheffield
questioned a called strike on the inside corner, Hernandez said “That’s
the old Derek Jeter move, who never saw an inside fastball he didn’t
think was a ball” …

… Speaking of Sheff, he momentarily time-warped back to 2002,
crushing a hanging curve from Brett Tomko for a three-run homer. It was
one of those rising line drives hit so hard down the line it didn’t
have a chance to go foul. And Sheff wasn’t even halfway to first by the
time the camera cut back to him after it landed in the seats, clearly
milking the moment …

… That homer gave us a great trivia question: name the four players
who hit homers for the Yankees against the Mets AND for the Mets
against the Yankees. Answer: Sheffield, Robin Ventura, Tony Clark, and
Miguel Cairo (!) …

… Continuing a brutal week in the field, Nick Swisher Lupused a
Carlos Beltran line drive that was the catalyst for a four-run rally …

… Trailing 6-3, Jeter hit a fly ball to right-center that probably
traveled about 360 feet. But since this was at The Cathedral They Call
Yankee Stadium (man I despise Michael Kay), the ball landed four rows
deep. REALLY glad we didn’t have to hear John Sterling give his “El
Capitan!” …

… So with the Mets leading 6-4 in the sixth, Livan Hernandez ran out
of gas. And naturally, with the tying runs on base, Jerry Manuel
brought in Jon Switzer, who had been called up from triple-A about
three hours earlier and was now making his debut. What Manuel did was
put this kid in the best possible situation to succeed, only the exact
opposite. In the coming years, I’m sure Switzer will be able to laugh
about giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to Hideki Matsui, the first
major league batter he ever faced. Just not now …

… Because their best setup guy had just thrown four mediocre innings
a couple hours earlier, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera with two
outs in the eighth to face Beltran. Incredibly, Rivera walked only his
third batter of the year. Then, with Beltran running, David Wright
ripped an opposite field double that put the Mets in front. See, Mike
Francesa, he is clutch …

… Now it’s the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez is on the
mound, and he has not blown a save yet this year. Of course, Mets fans
are terrified and assume that number one is about to happen, because
they’re getting flashbacks to all those closers who blew games against
the Yanks: Armando Benitez (at least three, including Game 1 in the
2000 World Series), John Franco (just threw up in my mouth), Billy
Wagner (four run lead in 2006!), and Braden Looper (I’m assuming) …

… Brett Gardner popped up to lead off, and Omir Santos caught it.
This seemed like a mundane feat at the time. Then Jeter singled up the
middle, and Johnny Damon pinch hit for Swisher. On a 3-2 count, K-Rod
threw a hellacious changeup that Damon swung through, but Jeter stole
second on the play. K-Rod wisely unintentionally intentionally walked
Mark Teixeira (who hit one in the third that probably still hasn’t
landed yet) and now Alex Rodriguez is up. And I’m only worried because
K-Rod likes to throws a ton of curveballs, and A-Rod probably has a
better chance of hitting that than his fastball …

… And A-Rod pops up a 94 mph fastball on a 3-1 count! Luis Castillo
is under it! No, wait, he’s drifting. And drifting. And drifting. And
just when he appears to be under it, he uses ONE HAND to try and catch
it. The ball pops out. Castillo stumbles to the ground. Then, almost as
egregiously as muffing the pop-up, HE THROWS TO SECOND BASE! WHY??
Teixeira, who clearly hustled the entire way, scored behind Jeter for
the winning run. 9-8 Yanks. K-Rod gets credited with a blown save and a
loss. Castillo really wishes he were somewhere else, and frankly, so do
Mets fans. Like, for good …

… Some beautiful replays: A-Rod, slamming the bat down, looking
crushed as he jogs to first, then eyes bulging as he sees the drop and
realizes he should start running hard, then shocked elation, probably
more so because he won’t have to deal with everyone calling him a
choker than the fact his team just won; Manuel, poker-faced as the ball
is hit into the air, and Sandy Alomar slides into the shot next to him,
ready for the postgame handshake, only to mouth a stunned “Oh s***” as
he sees the disaster that unfolds; and poor K-Rod, who simply put his
hands on his head in disbelief. Welcome to the Mets, Frankie! …

… Strange as it sounds, the ending to the game was so absurd, I’m
not as upset as you’d think a Mets fan might be (can’t speak for
everyone, of course), and this one will probably sting a lot more when
they’re a game out in September and you think back to all those ones
that got away. But right now, for me, it’s like that Ron Burgundy line:
“You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate an entire wheel of cheese?
How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.”

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.