August 2012

Details on Ike Davis’s charity event

Ike Davis is hosting a charity event in New York City next weekend to benefit childhood cancer research. Here’s the low-down:

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Gold medalist Gabby Douglas visits Citi Field

Fresh off her two gold medals in London, Gabby Douglas said she plans to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But before starting her training back up again, she stopped by Citi Field on Thursday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Inside the mind of Collin McHugh

If you haven’t heard, Collin McHugh will make his Major League debut Thursday in place of the injured Johan Santana. McHugh has turned heads this year with his performance in the minors, working his way from an 18th-round draft pick to the big leagues.

He also happens to run arguably the most entertaining Twitter account in the Mets organization (with a nod to @MetsGM’s all-too-rare wisecracks). Here’s a sampling of McHugh’s thoughts over his final few weeks in the minors:

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Examining R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young candidacy

R.A. Dickey continued padding his statistics Monday against the Rockies, falling short of victory but shuffling ever closer to a potential National League Cy Young award.

Assuming the Mets do not alter their rotation in any radical way (a slim possibility) between now and the end of the season, Dickey should have eight starts remaining to prove he is Cy-worthy at age 37. As it currently shakes out, he will face the Marlins (29th-ranked offense) three times, and the Astros (28th), Phillies (23rd), Nationals (13th), Braves (9th) and Cardinals (4th) all once. So despite Dickey needing to win five times in eight games to reach 20 victories, the schedule is set up nicely for him.

That said, there are plenty of other fine candidates pursuing a Cy Young. With eight starts remaining, here’s a look at how Dickey stacks up against the other leaders:

*Note: Wins Above Replacement is omitted from the comparison due to the significant differences between accepted systems. But Dickey ranks third in Baseball Prosectus’s calculations and fifth in those of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Clayton Kershaw is the only other NL pitcher to rank in the top five in all three systems.

R.A. Dickey, Mets
ERA: 2.82 (4th)
Record: 15-4 (T-3rd)
Strikeouts: 181 (1st)
Innings: 175.1 (3rd)
WHIP: 1.03 (4th)
K/BB: 4.53 (5th)
FIP: 3.10 (7th)
xFIP: 3.11 (4th)

Dickey also leads the National League with four complete games, and is tied for the lead with two shutouts.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
ERA: 2.87 (7th)
Record: 11-7 (T-16th)
Strikeouts: 175 (2nd)
Innings: 178.2 (1st)
WHIP: 1.00 (2nd)
K/BB: 4.17 (7th)
FIP: 2.84 (4th)
xFIP: 3.21 (6th)

The reigning NL Cy Young winner, Kershaw is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 39 strikeouts and four walks over his last five starts.

Johnny Cueto, Reds
ERA: 2.44 (1st)
Record: 16-6 (T-1st)
Strikeouts: 135 (18th)
Innings: 169.2 (6th)
WHIP: 1.13 (8th)
K/BB: 3.65 (13th)
FIP: 3.04 (5th)
xFIP: 3.63 (T-15th)

Cueto would have ranked second in the NL in ERA last year had he amassed enough innings to qualify.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants
ERA: 2.83 (5th)
Record: 14-7 (T-5th)
Strikeouts: 160 (6th)
Innings: 171.2 (4th)
WHIP: 0.99 (1st)
K/BB: 5.00 (3rd)
FIP: 3.26 (11th)
xFIP: 3.23 (7th)

Bumgarner, who recently celebrated his 23rd birthday, has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since the All-Star break.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds
ERA: 1.35 (N/A)
Saves: 29 (3rd)
Strikeouts: 110 (T-35th)
Innings: 60.0 (T-93rd)
WHIP: 0.72 (N/A)
K/BB: 7.33 (N/A)
FIP: 1.03 (N/A)
xFIP: 1.39 (N/A)

Chapman, a reliever, will not pitch even half the innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title and other rate stat leaderboards.

***

Those are probably the top five in some order, and you can make a legitimate case for every one of them. Cueto leads the league in ERA. Bumgarner has been more or less unhittable since July. Kershaw is trending in the right direction and could easily finish with the league’s best overall resume. Chapman is the most-feared and most-successful reliever in baseball. Dickey may have the most well-rounded stat line of any of them.

At this point, you could certainly make an argument to rank Dickey as high as first. I’d listen. But with fractions of points separating almost everyone on this list, there is a lot that can still happen over the next five weeks, including late runs from the second-tier group of Cole Hamels of the Phillies, Matt Cain of the Giants and Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg (if he does not get shut down) of the Nationals.

All that’s clear is that with eight starts remaining, Dickey is on the short list of legitimate Cy Young contenders in one of the most crowded fields of contenders in years.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

New Citi Field eats: Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwich

Don’t get me wrong, Shake Shack is great. But there’s a limit to the burger joint’s cache at Citi Field, mostly because you can find it easily enough around New York City, the Eastern seaboard and, now, the world. (Dubai, anyone?) It used to be unique, but it’s not anymore.

Thankfully, the folks who run Citi Field’s concessions have constantly tweaked and improved over the past four seasons, this year alone adding a Greek stand in right field and Two Boots Pizza throughout the ballpark.

The latest addition made its debut Tuesday: Pat LaFrieda’s original steak sandwich, with a location near Shake Shack in the center field food court. Fifteen dollars gets you one black angus filet, topped with Monterey jack cheese and sweet caramelized onions, served with a secret au jus on a custom-made and toasted French baguette. Like Shake Shack guru Danny Meyer, LaFrieda is a celebrity in the industry — you can read about him in this 2010 profile in New York magazine. But unlike Shake Shack, you can’t get this sandwich anywhere else — Citi Field is LaFrieda’s first and only retail location.

I had my first taste this evening when the Mets delivered a cart of the sandwiches to the press box, and I was not disappointed. The bread is crusty and there’s a good amount of steak and cheese. If you don’t like onions, I would recommend ordering the sandwich without them — they dominate the flavor. But it’s a good flavor, and I’ll go as far as to say it’s worth the $15 if you can spare it.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Ike Davis, country music and charity

You may recall Ike Davis’ story of losing one of his childhood friends, Mike Lio, to Ewing’s Sarcoma several years ago. Davis is hosting a charity event in New York City next month. The details:

New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis will host his annual charity event, “A Night with Ike Davis,” at City Winery in New York City on September 9th at 7 PM. This special evening, which will benefit Solving Kids’ Cancer (SKC) and the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, will feature a concert by country music star Lee Brice and celebrity bartending with Davis and teammates.

After losing his childhood friend, Mike Lio, to Ewing’s Sarcoma at the young age of 22, Davis has devoted his philanthropic efforts to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. After generating $60,000 during last year’s inaugural event, the first baseman has teamed up with Brice, a four-time Academy of Country Music nominee, to host another special evening in his friend’s honor.

“Seeing the impact and success this night had last year truly inspired me,” said Davis. “It’s amazing what you can do when you bring everyone together for a great cause. I am extremely grateful to have my teammates and Lee Brice so involved this year. I know Mike would be really proud of what we are doing and I am looking forward to a great evening.”

In addition to the concert, the event will also feature an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, raffles, VIP clubhouse access and a variety of one-of-a-kind items that will be included in an auction. If you are unable to attend the event on Sept. 9th but would still like to contribute, you can tip your favorite celebrity bartender online (http://bit.ly/ANwIke ), or make a $9.99 donation by texting “IKE” to 32020. A portion of the purchase proceeds will support Davis’ efforts and benefit SKC and The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative.

For more information about “A Night with Ike Davis,” please visit Davis’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LikeIkeDavis. To purchase tickets to the event visit www.solvingkidscancer.org or call 212-588-6624.

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