STEVE PHILLIPS

Quote of the Day: Steve Phillips on steroids

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Sirius/XM radio has what seems to be part of some continuing employment plan for former GMs, and the latest enrollee is former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips. Yes, the man who was fired from the Mets for poor performance, fired from ESPN for shtupping the help and who sat on the deck of AOL FanHouse as it sank below the water line has landed in satellite radio. Good for him!

Anyway, last week Phillips was discussing the Barry Bonds trial on his show, and he had this to say:

“Thank God for steroids. It brought the game back from extinction.”

Um, yeah.

Look, I’m not going to deny that the home run explosion of the late 90s-early oughts helped the game a bit. I think it’s safe to say it did. But really, extinction?  And does Phillips really think that the game wouldn’t have rebounded regardless?

In fact, I’ve seen multiple things cited for baseball’s post-strike comeback in the 1990s. The wild card, creating broader fan interest in pennant races. The return to prominence of the New York Yankees and the reinvigoration of their rivalry with Boston. Heck, some people even think that Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record was the turning point.

Or maybe there wasn’t a turning point. To the contrary, it seems that attendance trends show that the labor strife in the mid-90s was really an interruption of already-rising attendance numbers which began in the late 80s. The strike brought a trough, but after it was over, the trend in attendance continued upward at more or less the same rate as seen before the strike.

But even if you don’t buy that, it’s safe to say that just as steroids don’t fully explain the power increase of the period — thank smaller ballparks, weight training, equipment advances, smaller strike zones, thinning pitching talent and perhaps even a livelier ball for it too — they don’t explain baseball’s increasing appeal over the past 20 years either.

But hey: it makes for great talk radio to claim otherwise.

(link via BTF)

Jon Niese leaves start with knee pain

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Mets starter Jon Niese left his start Tuesday night against the Cardinals due to left knee pain.

Niese walked two and gave up an RBI single before leaving with a trainer with one out in the bottom of the first inning. He was eventually charged with three earned runs. Robert Gsellman, just up from Las Vegas, took over, making his major league debut under unexpected circumstances.

Niese, who has not pitched well at all since coming over in a trade with the Pirates, is likely to be placed on the disabled list after the game or before tomorrow’s game.

Mark Trumbo’s home run streak ends

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 11:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles hits an RBI single against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 11, 2016 in Oakland, California. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics 9-6. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Mark Trumbo still has many chances to hit a home run tonight — it’s only been an inning or so in the Nats-Orioles game — but his weird home run streak is over.

Coming into tonight’s game, Trumbo’s last seven hits had been homers. The all-time record had been 11, set by Mark McGwire back in 2001. The last time Trumbo got a hit that wasn’t a dong was back on August 11. Later in that game, however, he hit a grand slam. After that he went 6 for his next 34, with all those safeties dingers.

But that’s over now. In the first inning tonight he drove in a run with a two-out single. Then he was thrown out trying to stretch it to two. Good job on the RBIs, Mark. Bad job on the base running. Judgment withheld on the homer streak because, really, that’s just kind of weird and cool.