Not my words! Those are the words of the Daily News’ Andy Martino, who believes that the biggest thing separating the Phillies and Mets is that the Mets lack “swagger” and lack “arrogance and condescension toward opponents” like the Phillies have:
While the roster is not the deepest, the Mets have never wanted for championship-level talent. The team has, however, lacked the swagger that, to hear those who were there tell it, defined the 1986 Mets, and has defined the 2007-2010 Phillies. Utley will slide spikes-up into any second baseman, and Rollins will publicly bash his opponents. When Colorado manager Jim Tracy this spring complained that the Phillies kept binoculars in their bullpen in an apparent attempt to steal signs, Charlie Manuel told him to “quit crying.” The Phillies manager then, without provocation, accused the Mets of stealing signs.
It all adds up to a “(expletive) you” edge that the Mets lack. From the general manager to the coaching staff to the star players to Chris Carter and Jesus Feliciano, they are almost all nice people. Maybe too nice.
Must be getting close to college football season, because that’s about the only other time you hear people talking b.s. about “swagger” being a cause of on-the-field success as opposed to an effect of it.
At the heart of this article — like so many other article analyzing the Mets’ recent failures — is a fallacy: that the Mets are as talented as the Phillies have been over the past few years. They’re simply not.
The Phillies have not gone into any season over the past three years with the kinds of black holes in the lineup like the Mets have had in right field and second base or the kinds of nearly season-long injuries like those to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes last year (and into this year). At the same time, the Mets don’t have a single pitcher close to Roy Halladay’s quality (sorry Johan) or a position player as good as Chase Utley (sorry David Wright). Add in the fact that their manager can’t hold a candle to Charlie Manuel and the notion that all that separates these two teams is likability or swagger is laughable in the extreme.
It’s a comforting idea I suppose — we’d win if only we weren’t so nice! — but it’s hogwash. Baseball rewards intensity and emotional demeanor less so than any other sport. The games are too long. The season is too long. Calm calculation is just too important. Attitude can only take you so far.
Ultimately, winning baseball is about talent and execution. The Mets could fill a wagon with swagger and it wouldn’t do them a damn bit of good. Because the Phillies are just better.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: