The Metropolitan: The defense will not rest
Plus, we catch up with former Mets reporter Adam Rubin
Today we’ll talk with former Mets reporter Adam Rubin about his best Mets stories and reflections on his career, but we start with the news.
⏰ Catch me up in 60(ish) seconds…
🤩 COMING TO THE METS: If you didn’t think Francisco Lindor was made for New York before yesterday, how could you not after seeing him show up to the spring training complex in the classic jacket worn by Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming to America?
JEALOUS: Steve Cohen is back on Twitter and wrote in response to the video of Lindor, “Where can I get a jacket like that?”
D-🤺: Both Dom Smith and Brandon Nimmo stressed the importance of improving their defense when talking to reporters on Thursday.
NIMMO: “I noticed a difference when we made [the adjustment to playing closer to the wall in the outfield] right away, and definitely was able to play more balls and be able to play the wall a lot easier, a lot better,” Nimmo said. “And then coming in on balls, I think is more of a strong suit of mine.”
SMITH: “I know that I’m way more capable than what I’ve shown. I really want to show the world that I’m an athletic player.”
🔝 PROSPECT: Prized pitcher Matt Allan worked out with teammate Patrick Mazeika this offseason and a surprise was waiting: “I showed up and saw deGrom throwing and I was like, ‘No way, I wish you would have told me this earlier, I would have been able to keep it together a little better,’” Allan told reporters. Now, he’s also grouped with deGrom in Spring Training to absorb as much from him as possible.
🍎 SIGNING: Free agent catcher Caleb Joseph has signed a split contract with the Mets, per Jon Morosi.
DEPTH: After designating catcher Alí Sanchez for assignment (and later trading him to the Cardinals), Joseph gives the Mets catching depth behind James McCann and Tomás Nido. On a split deal, he would need to be added to the 40-man roster, which is a bit surprising considering the team has catcher Patrick Mazeika. The 34-year-old Joseph has only 46 at-bats in the majors over the past two seasons.
🦷 CARE PACKAGE: As anticipated yesterday, former Met and #99-wearer Turk Wendell ceremoniously passed his number to new Met Taijuan Walker by sending him a necklace from his eccentric playing days that included some of his trademark items, like a necklace made out of teeth, black licorice and a toothbrush.
☎ 860 AREA CODE: Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told reporters that he received a text over the offseason that said “Welcome to the Mets” from a Connecticut phone number. So just to make sure, he called his agent to confirm he wasn’t traded.
💵 MONEY HIRE: The Mets have hired Jeff Deline, an executive with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, as their new chief revenue officer, per Sportico.
📺 BROADCAST: SNY released its broadcast schedule for Spring Training. You can watch the Amazins for the first time this Tuesday, March 2nd against the Astros at 1:00 PM. And you can find information on all of their TV and radio appearances this spring on this cheat sheet from Mets radio voice Wayne Randazzo.
Friday Q&A: Former Mets reporter Adam Rubin
🧓 by Blake Zeff
Despite not having covered the team for four years, former ESPN and Daily News reporter Adam Rubin remains a popular figure among many Mets fans, who remember his morning briefings, farm reports and continued engagement with fans on Twitter.
We spoke with Rubin this week to learn what he’s up to, whether he still follows the Mets, and the back-story behind his “OH NO” catchphrase. Below is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:
Let’s just start by catching up. What are you doing now professionally?
I’m actually doing a lot of what I did covering the Mets, except it's working on the team side. I’m the in-house person creating content for Stony Brook athletics, including writing articles for StonyBrookAthletics.com.
Why’d you leave the sportswriting business?
I don't think the primary factor was being on the road 170 days a year for 15 years and working nights and weekends, but that does take a toll. I think the primary factor was just a realization of where journalism is, in this day and age. ESPN was dismantling its baseball coverage. You saw even the national reporters, like Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick, ultimately got pushed out, in addition to all the baseball beat reporters.
I had opportunities at that point to return to a newspaper in New York to cover either baseball or hockey. But I'm in my 40s now and you have to look at the financial landscape and decide: If I do this, am I perpetually going to be looking for a job? Certainly there's things like The Athletic and I'm rooting for that to succeed -- because I have a lot of friends who work there. But that model is still, in my mind, an experiment.
How much baseball do you watch now?
Uh, not much.
Do you know the Mets lineup now?
I mean, I certainly follow all the players on Twitter. If you put me on the spot, I probably could. Actually, I'm not sure I could do it, to be honest. I couldn't tell you the rotation. I mean, I just read the rotation too and I'm not sure I could regurgitate it. I'm sure I know less right now than most fans do about the team.
Do you know who the manager is?
Oh yeah. The funny thing about that is, actually he's such a nice guy, I did a lot of stuff with the Minor Leagues, so we interacted a fair amount. It's kind of crazy, all the people I see now around baseball who I covered as players. Jeremy Hefner's pitching coach now, right? It's funny. You never know who's gonna actually make it, so it's good that you're nice to everybody and cast a wide net as a reporter, because you never know.
Fondest memory on the beat?
You don't really root for or against the team. But Anthony DiComo said this in your interview with him, too: Certainly the guys that are nice to you, it's human instinct to feel good when they have good moments. So I still remember David Wright underneath the bowels of the stadium at Wrigley Field in ‘15, after they had qualified for the World Series. How big a smile he had. It's a privilege to see those kinds of things. It had been so long in the wilderness for the Mets.
You would famously tweet, “OH NO” when something bad was happening to the Mets. Did you do that just to play with the fans, or were you kind of rooting along with them?
It was more shtick than anything. And it's funny, I started in journalism at The Birmingham News at a time when journalism was much more conservative. And it was a conservative newspaper, so to imagine ten years later you’d be tweeting “OH NO,” and drawing attention to yourself.... you would have never thought that’s how journalism would have evolved. But I mean, that was playful and I think most people got that.
You’re from Long Island. Mets fan growing up?
When I was young, I was into the Don Mattingly and Willie Randolph era. In fact, I told Willie this when he got hired by the Mets as manager: the glove I had as a kid had his signature on it, so that was kind of cool. But yeah, when I was young I identified more with the Yankees.
Any favorite players?
I'm always partial to David Wright. When I started covering the team, he was in A-ball. David was a sandwich first-round pick, so people had high expectations for him -- but no one really knew at the time he was going to be the future third baseman. David told me that a long time ago his family had a scrapbook of articles, and [my article] was one of the first ones from when he turned pro in that scrapbook way back then. So our careers kind of followed the same trajectory, in terms of starting and leaving the Mets organization.
It's funny: when I got off the Mets beat, I texted him and said, “You outlasted me.” And he was pretty funny with his reply. Because by that time, his back was in bad shape and he was pretty much idle anyway, so it was a qualified “outlasting.” He made it known that he did outlast me, but that it was kind of technical, more than actual.
With an asterisk.
Yeah. And that's not to suggest that David was like a big source or anything like that. He was very close to the vest. But just a very nice person, who’d ask you how you were doing, things like that. But for the most part, the people who I was closest to were kind of the fringey guys who are just like real people. I still keep in touch with some of them. I remember when we hired Frank Catalanotto as the baseball coach at NYIT, I reached out to guys I was close with, like [former Met] Nick Evans to see if he might be interested. My Facebook page is now littered with a whole bunch of guys who never made the majors, but were minor leaguers I felt close to because we always talked.
What's the best story you never reported or shared, that you can now?
Oh, I don't know. If it was good enough. I probably wrote it. If I wasn't able to use it, then I probably can't say it now.
I'll give you a funny one, though. I knew before David Wright did that he was coming up [to the major leagues]. We got a laugh about about that. I knew he was getting promoted before he did.
You just got it through sources?
Yeah, someone in the organization told me, and actually the Mets used to get frustrated beyond belief that I was able to get who was getting called up. Because in the ideal world, if someone’s going on the DL, they don't want to put them on the DL until like 3-4 in the afternoon on the day of the game. So they’ll fly in the person the night before and I was frequently able to get who was getting called up the night before. So you knew there was going to be a roster move. The Mets kind of gave up after a while, and just started saying themselves who was coming up, because it was getting ridiculous.
Finally, do you have a message to Mets fans, some of whom still reach out to you?
The Mets fan base really is special, because the interest level in other teams just isn't the same, especially on social media. And so I'm grateful, because — it sounds hokey, but — without them I wouldn't have had the career I did. I’m really appreciative.
⚾️ Third baseman Kris Bryant is open to discussing a long-term contract with the Cubs.
⚾️ Phillies star Bryce Harper believes the National League East is the best division in baseball.
⚾️ White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu tested positive for COVID-19, but is “completely asymptomatic.”
🔗 Under-the-radar Mets prospects who can make a leap in 2021, by Jacob Resnick, SNY: “I’ll be keeping tabs on Jace Beck, Reyson Santos, Joander Suarez, and Jordany Ventura, who are all 22 or younger and have shown the ability to hit the mid 90s. Any one of these pitchers could follow a similar path to that of Dedniel Núñez, who burst onto the scene in 2019 and was selected by the Giants in December’s Rule 5 Draft.”
🔗 Luis Rojas watched these Mets pitchers from unusual spot, by Mike Puma, NY Post: “From beyond the center-field fence at Clover Park, Marcus Stroman and Jeurys Familia looked just fine. Mets manager Luis Rojas watched from that angle as both pitchers threw live batting practice Thursday, so he could get a better idea about the movement on their pitches. Rojas couldn’t help but like what he saw in the first live BP session for both right-handers.”
🔗 Alonso is the one to watch in New York, by Mike Lupica, MLB.com: “The 26-year-old Alonso, who has the chance to be this generation’s Mike Piazza for the New York Mets. This is no comeback season for him, because he never went away. Watch out for him, anyway. Polar Bear, loaded for bear with the New York Mets.”
And we leave you with this awesome outlook from Dom Smith…
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