Scenes from Spring Training: Meet The Mets Part 2

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Francoeur Marquis small.jpgAfter walking the grounds I went to the media work room. Same setup as the Winter Meetings, writ-small: tables with outlets and internet connections, a lot of handouts with lineups and player facts written on them, and a bunch of working reporters who looked at me like I was from Mars. I knew most of them though, and as they walked in I kept thinking “I wonder if he read that post I wrote calling him a dumbass that time.”

One of the reporters brought in bagels for everyone. A voice from the back of the room yelled “where the bagles from?”  The reponse “Panera.”  Dejected groans filled the room.  Panera bagels are perfectly edible of course, but even a Midwesterner like me knows that they don’t compare to the real McCoy.  I actually felt kind of sorry for all the New York reporters for having to deal with something so inferior to that which they are used to. It’d be like someone from California trying to give me what they consider to be bratwurst.

As I uploaded pictures and surfed the web, I listened to the New York media chatter. Two guys were discussing Bob Klapisch’s piece about Darryl Strawberry from Saturday. They were convinced that Klapisch included all the bits about Strawberry smoking and his gut and everything as a way of getting back for some dismissive things Straw said to Klapisch during their interview. “Bob’s just killing Darryl,” one of the guys said as he read, “he must have been pissed off.”  A few minutes later one of them looked at his Blackberry and said “Rodriguez is still out with pink eye.  What the f— kind of pink eye lasts three weeks?” Good question. My daughter had pink eye last year. Two days of drops and it was over.

Leaving the media room I walked out onto the field. The Nationals had arrived and were taking batting practice and infield.  Mets players were hanging around.  At one point Jeff Francoeur and Jason Marquis had a mini-Braves reunion. I was surprised to see Ivan Rodriguez taking BP as established veterans don’t usually make road trips in spring training, but there he was hacking away. He obviously didn’t like how it went, though, because as he left the cage he threw his bat towards the dugout. It landed close to a photographer. Pudge gave the “I’m sorry” wave. The photographer gave the “no problem, but if it had hit me I would have sued you and retired, so next time throw it a bit harder” wave in return.

By this time the Mets reporters had assembled in a little circle in front of the Mets dugout. I went to go eavesdrop.  I heard two really good dirty jokes and some stories about guys from New Jersey with bad grammar. Then the subject of Davey Johnson — now an assistant to the GM in Washington — came up. One of the writers said that they heard Johnson might make the trip to the game. An almost hushed reverence came over the four or five of them, and then one of them said “Oh, I hope he comes down, gosh I’d love to see him.”  After dropping f-bombs and ethnic jokes for five minutes, the sudden switch to “gosh” made it feel like I’d entered church or something.  The old writers really love them some Davey Johnson.

After a quick lunch in the media room — questionable chicken and pasta that they actually charged us for rather than provided gratis — it was up to the press box.  After all, there was an actual game to be played yesterday.

David Price outduels Justin Verlander, sends Red Sox to World Series

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David Price helped pitch the Red Sox into the World Series on Thursday night, winning Game 5 of the ALCS in Houston against the Astros. He outdueled Justin Verlander in the process as the Red Sox went on to win 4-1.

It was a close game for a while, as the only run scored between the first and fifth innings by either side was a J.D. Martinez solo home run in the top of the third. Rafael Devers broke the game open in top of the sixth, giving Price plenty of cushion. Mitch Moreland led off with a double to left field and Ian Kinsler pushed him to third base with a single to right. Devers came up and swung at a letters-high 98 MPH fastball, sending to to left field where it landed just a couple of rows into the Crawford Boxes for a three-run homer.

Price looked locked in on the mound, repeatedly peppering the corners of the strike zone. Of his nine strikeouts, three were looking and six were swinging. He limited the Astros to just three hits without issuing a walk over six innings of work. May the “David Price can’t pitch in the playoffs” narrative rest in peace.

Marwin González put the Astros on the board in the bottom of the seventh against Matt Barnes, hitting an opposite-field solo homer into the Crawford Boxes, a little bit further than Devers’ dinger went. The seventh was otherwise uneventful, with Barnes getting two outs and Nathan Eovaldi one. Eovaldi remained in the game for the eighth, working around a two-out single by George Springer to send the game into the ninth inning.

Despite closer Craig Kimbrel‘s pronounced struggles throughout the postseason, manager Alex Cora called on him once again to close it out. A three-run lead with three outs to go normally feels safe, but Red Sox fans were anything but calm watching him jog to the mound. Kimbrel worked around a one-out walk of Yuli Gurriel, striking out Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez before getting Tony Kemp to fly out to left-center to end the game.

The Red Sox are back in the World Series for the first time since 2013, when they defeated the Cardinals in six games. The 2018 World Series will begin on Tuesday, so the Red Sox will have four days off. They await the winner of the NLCS. The Dodgers currently lead the Brewers three games to two.