The Mets are willing to try anything — and I mean anything — change their losing ways. Even if they have to blame inanimate objects for their bad luck.
Prior to Thursday’s game against the Astros, the Mets destroyed “Stanley,” a black and yellow rolling toolbox that had become the bullpen’s mascot. It held some of the essentials (and non-essentials) such as candy, medical supplies, fingernail clippers, Krazy Glue and miscellaneous toys.
It would be one thing if this was just some superstitious act by the players and coaches, but as David Waldstein of the New York Times explains, the directive came from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, who is in charge of daily operations for the team.
After watching the Mets lose 12 of 14 games and fall to the worst record in baseball, and with everyone on the team searching for real or symbolic methods to change the fortunes, Wilpon issued a simple decree: “Get rid of Stanley.”
Wilpon gave his order to Dan Warthen, the pitching coach. So, on Thursday afternoon, Warthen asked every player and coach to donate an article of clothing or piece of equipment to place inside Stanley as a sacrifice. Most obliged, and then, as in a scene out of a movie, Stanley was taken into a back room before the game and ceremonially obliterated with bats.
“Stanley” has been replaced by a pink backpack, which is being worn by rookie right-hander Pedro Beato.
Correlation doesn’t imply causation here, but hey, whatever works, right? The Mets have now won consecutive games for the first time since the first week of the season.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.