February 20, 2018

Mets Have Young Stud in PJ Conlon

The Mets seem to have struck gold in a 2015 draft pick, that happened to be in the 13rd round. They selected PJ Conlon, a left-handed pitcher that hails from Belfast, Ireland. PJ is currently seeking to become the first Major League pitcher from come from Ireland in over 72 years!

After three successful years as a University of San Diego Torero, the New York Mets took their chances on him. He’d posted a 2.83 ERA in 294.1 innings, an absolutely astounding figure given the fact that they play in the loaded West Coast Conference. The Toreros got a good one, as he helped lead them to multiple conference championship tournaments. Conlon is fond of the time he spent there, citing an extremely close bond with head coach Rich Hill and the rest of the coaching staff. Upon his departure, he had already received multiple All-American honors and even had two great summers with the prestigious Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League.

Soon after being drafted, he received a low $100,000 signing bonus. In his first season, he was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones at the A- level. Just pitching 17 innings, he struck out 25 batters and allowed zero runs. This was enough to earn him a promotion in his second season, where he floated around with the Columbia Fireflies (A) and the St. Lucie Mets (A+). He was extremely successful and this is the season it became clear that Conlon was something special. In 78.1 innings with the Fireflies, he had allowed just 19 runs, striking out 61 and winning 8 of 12 starts. After being promoted again, the St. Lucie Mets saw him pitch 63.2 innings for a 1.41 ERA on a 0.96 WHIP.

In the off-season though, trade rumors began to arise. Mets fans seemed to be pleading the organization to keep the young stud, which they luckily did. The franchise seemed to doubt Conlon a little, considering draft reports cited him as being too small and weak. He only stands about 5’11”, and his fastball rarely tops the low 90s. Conlon was invited to the 2017 Spring Training, in a move that seemed kind of like a test for the crafty lefty. This gave the Mets a chance to judge his stuff even more, and they seemed to like it enough to keep him around. Last season was spent in AA, with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. His stats weren’t quite as phenomenal, but that can be accredited to the fact that he’s just two levels away from the Show. Conlon’s record was 8-9, with a 3.37 ERA in 136 innings, which was good enough to earn him an organization All-Star nod. Prior to the 2018 season beginning, he’s racked up four All-Star appearances throughout post-season and franchise votes. PJ has even been pitcher of the week three times, all of which go towards his case of an MLB promotion.

As 2018’s Spring Training begins, Conlon has secured another invite. So far, he’s just thrown live batting practice against the club. Mets manager Mickey Callaway has spoken highly of him, saying, “He was throwing the ball where he wanted to, pitching in off the plate, good changeup down and away, so I think he’s another piece of the puzzle that can help us sometime in the near future.” Star right-fielder Jay Bruce also spoke highly of Conlon, remarking that his changeup was “pretty good”. It seems that this next season he will float between AA and AAA, with the small possibility of an MLB call-up. The possibility of a call-up to the Major Leagues within the next two seasons is very high, though. It was just announced a day ago that Conlon will be converted into a relief pitcher, something that would make way for his debut at the highest level. The Mets currently have a strong enough rotation to not deem him necessary, thus the conversion being a way to find him time and growth in the Show. Currently, most prospect rankings have Conlon anywhere from 15-30th in the entire organization. That’s pretty good, nonetheless considering that he was a 13th round pick. For now, Mets fans can only wait and see what happens. They can be hopeful that he will eventually be called up but regardless, the young stud has a very bright future. If somehow a trade does go through, New York will certainly get some good assets for him. All in all, it seems as if this 24-year old kid will in fact break the long drought of Irish-born players in the MLB.

February 5, 2018

The Eagles, The Mets, & Winning The Big One

Everything, like a tide, rises and falls. Every fan, no matter their passion or intensity at some point, will have times in their life when the team they love is not the focal point of their life. It's necessary, healthy even. It feels strange at first, losing track of the team's record, not knowing who the starting pitcher is on a given night. It's the stuff you couldn't understand why your dad couldn't keep track of, until you couldn't either.


I guess, in part, it started for me when it got to the point where I wasn't younger than most of the guys on the team anymore. I remember how I felt when I watched Mike Piazza put one over the wall in the first game back at Shea after 9/11; it was hero worship. The man could do no wrong. Al Leiter, nobody's version of an all time great, was a boyhood idol. If you strapped on the orange and blue and were even semi-successful, you were a hero. I have an oddly specific memory of Mike Bordick, freshly acquired from the Orioles, launching the first pitch he saw as a Met into the seats. I know where I was, what I was doing. I remember thinking Mike Bordick was going to be an all-time Met great (he is not).

As you get older, though, you start to see them for the kids and men that they are. It has its ups and downs. Darryl Strawberry became less of a hero, but a guy like Curtis Granderson became a player I couldn't have been prouder of. What they did between the lines still mattered, but who they were off of it shined a different light on them. The workmen, the Edgardo Alfonzo's, Benny Agbayani's, the jobbers, the guys who fought to get there, became a different type of hero. The guys who ran the charity foundations started to get more of my attention than the guys with the homers. Straw comes full circle, conquers his addictions, and opens a support center for others struggling, and you pull for him. You watch the Wilmer Flores fiasco unfold and, rather then a ballplayer being traded, you see a kid essentially being fired from the first company he ever worked for. Call it maturation or just getting older, but you notice different things.

I was 15 years old when the Mets lost the 2000 World Series. I was thirty when they finally made it back in 2015. A lot of time had passed in the middle, and a lot had changed. Summers became time for a job, and then suddenly every day was time for a job. The job was a way to pay for gas until I turned 21, and then it was a way to pay for gas and beer. One day, the job becomes a career. One day, you meet someone. Some day down the road, you're a dad. The tv that used to still be tuned to SNY when you turned it on in the morning is on Disney Junior and you can't remember the last time it wasn't. The spare time you used to watch the games in just doesn't exist anymore, and when the team drops ten games below five hundred, you find out a week later. It's not that I love the team any less, there are just some things I love a whole lot more.

But when that World Series against the Royals came around, man, it came right back. Every pitch was the world, every day off in between games was an eternity, and the eventual defeat was as painful as it was when I was 15. While they were playing those games, a switch flipped and all I wanted was that team to win it all. They didn't.

As I watched Philadelphia tear itself limb from limb because it finally got what it had wanted for the last 52 years, I mostly laughed at Philly just being itself and setting fire to anything it could find. But I drive into and work in the Philadelphia market every day, and I listened to their sports talk radio today. Man, people were in tears. Every caller was emotional, most of them talking about waiting for it for so long. A lot of them were young guys, in their twenties, the team was their life. A lot of them, though, were a lot older. Seventy and eighty year olds, talking about the Super Bowl that finally came, about family members that weren't around anymore to share in it. These people cared. They had lived full lives, raised families, had careers and retired, but when the Eagles finally won it all, they felt like kids again. Suddenly, again, the team was their life.

It was comforting, in an odd way. I still watch a lot of baseball. It's not like I've checked out on the team. But hearing those people, they way they felt after waiting a helluva lot longer than I have so far, made me feel better. At some point, either by design or through attrition, the Mets are going to win the World Series. It's kind of nice to know, whenever it finally happens, I'll be 15 again.

Mets Sign Todd Frazier, Embrace Mediocrity

Todd Frazier, a walking, talking baseball player, is headed to the Mets. Coming off a season where he batted a light .213, the Mets have decided to spend $17 million for two years of meh production at a corner infield spot. 

It’s a shallow free agent pool, I know, but .213 in a stacked Yankee lineup is not going to get better when he moves to Queens. We may officially have signed a third baseman who threatens the Mendoza line more than he threatens opposing pitchers. Give me crippled David Wright. 

Philadelphia Is Burning

Save the Liberty Bell, leave the rest. These people are degenerates. Imagine what would have happened if they lost.

Not baseball related, but our NL East rival fans have long proven themselves to be mindless savages. Always good to see it can reach new heights.