Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
For the third time in three years I've organized a company outing to see the Las Vegas 51s when they came here to see the hometown El Paso Chihuahuas and for the third time in three years they embarrassed me with a loss.
This time they were manhandling the Chihuahuas for the first few innings, but then the wheels came off rather quickly. To be charitable, recently dispatched reliever Erik Goeddel was asked to make an emergency start when the Mets inexplicably promoted Logan Verrett. He started strongly but then surrendered three runs in a hurry.
It's somewhat stupefying to look up at the scoreboard in one of these PCL affairs and take a gander at the batting averages:
Yes, that is indeed Brandon Nimmo as a Star Wars Storm Trooper. It was Star Wars Night at the ballpark and there were various Darth Vaders and Storm Troopers roaming around the stadium throughout the evening.
The Force was most definitely not with the 51s. Yes, they got a few long balls from Brandon Nimmo, Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto, but the pitching was what you would expect in a league where scrubs routinely surpass .300. Actually, towards that end, when you're only hitting .257 like Matt Reynolds, maybe it's time to consider another line of work.
Gavin Cecchini looks like a real ballplayer. He runs hard and takes good at-bats. I spoke to him briefly and he said he tried a few reps at 2B, but he's still really committed to shortstop. With Ty Kelly hitting .330, I can see they are not necessarily in a rush to move Gavin to the other side of the diamond. He's improved as the season wore on, but without needing to be on the 40-man roster it's unlikely we'll see him in Queens in September.
The most interesting exchange of the evening, unfortunately, cannot be fully shared. I flagged down a player who has spent some time in the big leagues and I asked what it was like playing for Terry Collins. He rolled his eyes and said, "Sorry, man, I can't go there."
After assuring him I would protect his anonymity, he unloaded. Apparently the players' manager doesn't have unanimous support. He was pretty uncensored in his criticism but it was nothing new -- being benched after having a good game, watching others who were not delivering getting opportunities, etc.
I then asked what it was like playing for Wally Backman and was told when he has the freedom to make his own decisions, he's great. Lately, however, he keeps saying he's being told who to play and where.
Frankly I was surprised by his candor (and bitterness). However, it's a player who has an axe to grind, so take it with a silo of salt. In a 6-5 loss, this interview was the highlight of the evening.