Jeff Wilpon orders destruction of bullpen mascot “Stanley”

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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“Stanley” has been replaced by a pink backpack, which is being worn by rookie right-hander Pedro Beato.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.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.