And now for an awesome Mickey Mantle story

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Mickey Mantle AP.jpgThere’s a conventional wisdom among a lot professional sports writers that you should ignore your comments section. It’ll only make you mad, they say. People complaining, and all that.

I think that’s hogwash. Sure, making a comments section a pleasant place to hang around is tough work, especially on a big media site like NBC, but if you set a good example, encourage the good commenters and manage to get the worst elements under control you’ll be handsomely rewarded with good conversation, analysis, constructive criticism and, occasionally, some great stories.

Got one today, courtesy of one of CTB’s most notable commenters, Old Gator (the guy who from Macondo who goes on about the horse meat and Velveeta sandwiches in Philly). It came in the comments below the Jake Peavy post, it’s about Mickey Mantle and I’ll let Gator tell it in his own words:

A great true and I will bet hitherto undisclosed Mickey Mantle story
that was told to me by Eric Blau, author of “Jacques Brel is Alive and
Well and Living in Paris” among other plays and novels.

Way back when
Eric was a struggling young writer, he got a job for Topps writing
little booklets to be inserted in their bubblegum and baseball card
packs – booklets with titles like “How I Pitch” by Whitey Ford, “How I
Catch” by Yogi Berra, and “How I Hit” by Mickey Mantle. He got to
interview each one of those guys briefly in gathering his information
for these booklets. During his interview with Mantle at a bar in
Manhattan, they both had one too many drinks, but Eric was able to make
some sense of what Mantle told him from his notes and wrote the booklet.

Some months later, Mantle was mired in one of the worst slumps of his life. He tried just about everything
to break out of it. Then one night, around three A.M., Eric’s phone
rings. He answers it, and it’s Mantle, stewed to the gills.

Ewric,” Mantle slurs, “I wed your brook.”

“Uh, yeah?” Eric mutters.

“You’re full of shit,” Mantle exclaims and hangs up.

There aren’t a lot of commenters like Old Gator, but if you ignore your comments section, fellow writers, you risk missing out on that kind of gold.

Jacob deGrom outduels Clayton Kershaw, Mets take 1-0 NLDS lead

Jacob de Grom
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.

deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.

In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.

Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.

deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.

Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.

Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.