Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Oh good: the tabloids have already started “Mets are doomed” hysteria


I said in the recaps this morning that, given the Mets 2-4 start, “you know the tabloids are gonna start poking pretty soon.” Little did I know that they had already started. The first baseball article I read today came from Kevin Kernan at the New York Post and it’s a classic of the “Oh my God, the Mets are doomed” variety.

The first line is “Welcome to Terry Collins’ nightmare.” That “nightmare” is the Mets not being off to a good start. Six games, apparently, is the stuff of nightmares.

It goes on to the next telltale sign of a good inducing-Mets-panic piece: quotes from an anonymous scout. This one saying that Steven Matz — who had a bad start last night — should be sent to the minors. Look at the stunning and precise professional insight on display here:

“He looks like a young guy who needs a month in Triple-A to clean up some things,’’ one veteran scout at the game told The Post.

“Clean up some things.” For a guy who hadn’t pitched in nine days. That’s what led to the headline “Scout calls for Steven Matz’ demotion as Collins’ worries grow.” And I’m sure that quote came in the service of a total professional breakdown of Matz’ current state and wasn’t a casual comment in the course of a conversation with a buddy ballwriter during a night game that was already going poorly. Indeed, all good scouting work comes from the pressbox. In other news, anonymous scout quotes are about as lazy an appeal to authority as there is. In this context they may as well be “my friend says . . . ”

I have no idea if the Mets season is going to be good or bad, but believe it or not, teams which start slowly in their first five or six games are not ALWAYS doomed. The 2015 Mets started out 2-3, for example. Then they ripped off an 11-game winning streak. Then they sucked for a while. Then they got better. Then they won the pennant. It’s a long season.

Either way, I feel like, perhaps, Terry Collins’ “nightmares” are being somewhat overstated in the interest of freaking out Mets fans and selling some newspapers.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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I think we still have a couple of home openers to go, but we’re almost to regular run-of-the-mill, day-in, day-out baseball. Yesterday, however, there was still some pomp and still some circumstance.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cardinals 10, Brewers 1: Jeremy Hazelbaker went 4 for 4 with a triple, double and sacrifice fly and is now 10-for-19 with five RBI on the young season. He’s a 28-year-old rookie who played seven seasons in the minors before 2016. The Cardinals just manufacture guys like this, though. It’s like their minor league coordinator is Morgoth and players like Hazelbaker are forged in Mordor, in mockery and envy of other teams, of whom they are afterwards the bitterest foes.

Orioles 9, Red Sox 7: Six straight wins to start the season for the O’s. That puts me in mind of the gold standard for hot starts of my youth, which was he 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, who began 13-0. Of course they also had a 12-game losing streak a month later. Man that team was crazy streaky. Won 91 games, though, which while not good enough to make the playoffs back in the pre-wild card days would be a nice total for this year’s Orioles. Here Chris Davis hit a three-run shot off of Craig Kimbrel to break a 6-6 tie in the ninth. The O’s bats also got to David Price, scoring five in five innings. If you can’t count on Price and Kimbrel, man, what can you count on in this crazy world?

Pirates 7, Tigers 4: Justin Verlander had a great second half last year and was sharp all spring and there was this “JV is BACK” sentiment floating around. This start, however — 4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER — looked like old-new JV, not new-new JV and especially not old-old JV. Or maybe it’s just the case that the Pirates are really, really good and everyone has a bad day sometimes.

Padres 4, Phillies 3: An infield fly rule and a squeeze play figured in prominently here, in case you’re needing to go bother your non-baseball fan coworkers with a bunch of “beauty and nuance of the game” baloney at the water cooler this morning. Normally it’s just U.S. soccer fans which pull that stuff with their otherwise uninterested coworkers, but I feel that baseball is fertile ground for you to become That Guy too. Here are the details of the infield fly rule play, but the upshot is that it took the Phillies out of a potential rally. The squeeze came from Alexi Amarista in the seventh innings, scoring Derek Norris with the go-ahead run. I hope Andy Green got himself a beer after this one, because that’s a W to the manager.

White Sox 4, Twins 1: The Twins are now 0-7 and are probably sending this article to everyone they know (NSFW language warning). Bright side, though: they’re still only one third of the way to the 1988 Orioles. And that club had already fired its manager by now.

Marlins 10, Mets 3: A seven-run second inning capped by a Giancarlo Stanton homer pretty much ended this one not long before it got started and handed Steven Matz his first regular-season loss. Every Marlins starting position player had a hit and scored a run. The Mets are 2-4 and that same link from the White Sox-Twins recap applies to them, but you still know the tabloids are gonna start poking pretty soon.

Nationals 6, Braves 4: Being a Braves fan makes life easier to live sometimes. They scored four runs in the first two innings off of Max Scherzer and, if you rooted for another team, you might feel hopeful at that point. If you’re a Braves fan, though, you know that things will even out, your team will still manage to lose and thus you avoid all of that unhealthy up-and-down that’s hard on the heart and stomach. Also: before the game is over you can catch up on the stuff on your DVR and even enjoy it some. Like “Gotham,” which I am about 95% hate-watching at this point but which, because two hours of Braves baseball preceded it, actually was OK. Like, I want Paul Reubens’ character and his weird family to get their own spinoff, set about 10 years previously. Which would make that show a prequel of a prequel of sorts. Otherwise “Gotham,” like the 2016 Braves, is mostly hot garbage.

Cubs 5, Reds 3: Brandon Finnegan had a no-hitter going until there were two outs in the seventh inning. That’s when David Ross broke things up and the Cubs went on to score two runs charged to him. It wasn’t exactly a dominant performance anyway as he walked five. The pen went on to allow three more thanks to an Addison Russell three-run homer the following inning. Reds reliever Tony Cingrani played a role in both rallies, so he’s probably feeling really awesome today. Reds fans should have a good summer of catching up on stuff on their DVRs too.

Astros 8, Royals 2: Collin McHugh got shelled in his first start of the year but he pitched seven scoreless innings here against the defending champs. He allowed eight hits, though, which by law requires us to say that they were “scattered.” Carlos Correa had three hits and two RBI, Jose Altuve had three hits and Colby Rasmus hit a two-run bomb. The top of that Houston lineup is pretty sweet: 10 hits in all for the top four of the Astros’ order.

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Mike Trout hit his first home run of the season — this one off of Sonny Gray — and Nick Tropeano pitched five scoreless innings. So I guess that means Mike Trout is good again.

Rangers 7, Mariners 3: Colby Lewis allowed one run on four hits over six innings. The Mariners scored 19 runs in their two wins last week, both against Texas. They’ve scored nine runs in their five losses. That’s not good. Also: it’s more data in my grand theory that — hear me out now — teams don’t score as much when they lose. Or they lose when they don’t score much. I have to gather more data before I can make any definitive conclusions.

A fan got five foul balls at the Tigers game today

Associated Press

This is not a story about that “Ball Hawk” dude who makes a point to go around to various parks and snag foul balls or freebies from players by wearing different caps and stuff. No, this is just a regular dude.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a fan named Bill Dugan got five foul balls this afternoon during the course of the Pirates-Tigers game. Well, four during the game, one during batting practice.

Now, to be clear, this is not all the stuff of pure luck and randomness as much as, it appears, simply being well-positioned. The story makes it clear that he’s gotten tons of foul balls before, likely because of where his season tickets are. He says he’s gotten as many as eight before. But I still think this is a notable achievement. He’s not out there hustling for them, it seems. He’s just in the right place at the right time. Often.