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Mudville: May 25, 2024 6:47 am PDT
Finding Nimmo

There is more than one almost free agent outfielder in New York. All the attention is on the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who will be a free agent after the season — but the Mets have their own free agent to be, in outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

Nimmo is off to a hot start, hitting his second home run in two straight wins over the Phillies on Wednesday in Philadelphia. He is batting .333 to start the season and owns a .429 on-base percentage.

Nimmo could wind up staying with the Mets since Steve (Cash) Cohen puts other owners to shame when it comes to signing players, but Nimmo’s agent is Scott Boras; and anything is possible in Scott Boras’ world. The Mets would be wise to sign Nimmo to an extension.

Boras delivered Max Scherzer to the Mets and you can be sure Scherzer would love to see Nimmo remain a Met. We will get to Clayton Kershaw being pulled from a perfect game after seven innings with only 80 pitches, and other notes from the first week of MLB play, but first Baseball or Bust wants to throw some love Brandon Nimmo’s way.

I first met Nimmo after the Mets made him a first round draft pick in 2011. I went to his home in Cheyenne, Wyoming to visit with Nimmo and his family. Six years earlier Nimmo’s father Ron had smartly built a baseball barn, a five-station hitting area that also included a video space.

Yes, I found Nimmo in a baseball barn, a 64-by-42 solid structure with blown-in insulation able to stand up to the harsh Wyoming winters and those 70-80 mph winds that come whipping through the state. By the way, it was 17 degrees in Wyoming last night — so it is still not baseball weather.

Ron Nimmo is a CPA, so he made the smart investment at the time instead of an addition to the house.

Turned out to be a great move as Nimmo has come so far as a hitter. Nimmo signed a $7 million deal before this season. A much bigger payday awaits Nimmo, who, like Judge, is one of the nicest people in the game.

Nimmo would be an incredible addition to any team, a leadoff hitter and centerfielder with surprising power and a great eye. Nimmo also does that Pete Rose thing: when he walks, he runs to first base. He then says a quick prayer and looks to the sky as he reaches the bag.

“A lifetime memory gives way to risk aversion, and if that is the direction the game wants to go, shame on the Nerds, and baseball will continue to lose what made it special.”

Nimmo was the first No. 1 pick to ever come out of the state of Wyoming and is well on his way to becoming the best baseball player from that state. They don’t have high school baseball in Wyoming; but Nimmo got plenty of experience playing a 70-game schedule with the local American Legion team that would travel to Arizona and other states.

No high school baseball.

No conventional travel baseball.

No fall baseball.

Nimmo was a wide receiver on the high school football team in the fall and also ran track in the winter. His older brother Bryce played outfield at the University of Nebraska where he was teammates with ex-Yankee Joba Chamberlain. That team made it to the 2005 College World Series.

I reached out Wednesday to Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby, who lives in Cheyenne. Eleven years ago Ringolsby told me that one of the first things that struck him about Nimmo, besides his talent, was his Wyoming pride, and at the time Ringolsby said: “What Brandon carries with him is the pride of a state. Wyoming isn’t the most populated state, but it has a lot of pride. We refer to the state as a small city with a long Main Street. We take pride in the folks who come from Wyoming.”

They sure do.

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets gestures as he crosses the plate after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fifth inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on April 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Nimmo plays the game with pride and that is one of the reasons I knew he would be a success.

Ringolsby is right. There is a sense of pride throughout Wyoming that is unique to that state — and I know that because of much more than my visit back in in 2011.

I make a once a year trip to a Wyoming football game in Laramie with Ringolsby and his baseball group: scouts, front office people and writers; a trip that sometimes includes Art Howe, who played baseball at the University of Wyoming back when it had a baseball team. I pushed in my columns for the Jets to draft QB Josh Allen, who attended the University of Wyoming. Of course, the Jets did not listen.

It’s always a fun trip to what we call “Wyomania’’ and getting up into the elevation of 7,165 feet above sea level is good for the soul. When Lucas Wacha played for the Cowboys we would run into his older brother, current Red Sox pitcher Michael Wacha, at the tailgate party.

Nimmo showed that to overcome the odds and the weather you have to be creative. In many ways, Brandon Nimmo’s story is one of the best success stories in baseball; and if the Mets don’t sign him you can be sure there will be plenty of interested teams. The Rockies would be a tremendous fit as well.

When the community-minded Nimmo returns to Wyoming for visits he speaks at schools and was asked one time why he makes sure to make time on his calendar for those visits.

“A local paper asked him why he did it,’’ Ringolsby told BallNine,”and Brandon said, ‘When I was in high school and playing on the Legion team, Tracy Ringolsby would always come to speak at our banquet and he would always bring a Rockies player with him — and that just hit me as to how much that meant to me — and that’s why I speak to the groups. It would have to mean something to them too.’ ’’

Players like Todd Helton would speak at the Legion dinner and then stay for an hour with the Legion players answering questions and just hanging with the players. Nimmo would not forget those days.

That kind of visit means something. It will always mean something and MLB players need to remember that. Nimmo is easy to root for with that kind of background.

“I’m never up there trying to hit home runs,’’ Nimmo said, “but I do know that if I do everything right then they should go.’’

Wednesday’s home run against Aaron Nola traveled 406 feet to centerfield. And to think, it all started back in that one-of-a-kind Wyoming batting cage barn.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Okay, it doesn’t really matter anymore, I get it.

Just like wins don’t matter for starting pitchers, it doesn’t matter to keep a pitcher in the game with a no-hitter or even a perfect game. But shouldn’t perfect games still be special?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of the game at Target Field on April 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Such was the case Wednesday afternoon when the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw breezed through his first seven innings against the Twins at chilly Target Field, not allowing a baserunner. The Nerds have won. All they care about is pitch count and not history. There have only been 23 perfect games in baseball history and until the tide turns we may never see another one. We are living in the age of what might happen instead of what is happening. Strange days, indeed. The Nerds will scream that it was Kershaw’s first outing and better to have him for the entire season than one great day. Of course, with the perfect game he was rolling through the Twins so maybe he would have gotten those last six outs in relatively easy fashion. But Nerds see the future … when they want to.

A lifetime memory gives way to risk aversion, and if that is the direction the game wants to go, shame on the Nerds, and baseball will continue to lose what made it special.

Reggie Jackson proclaimed on Twitter: “Clayton Kershaw Perfect Game 80 pitches, take him OUT !!!! WHAT THE! What’s the game coming to? 1 of the era’s best, and you take him out with a perfect game in the 7th, 7-0 Dodgers winning. Take him OUT! THIS IS BASEBALL. PLEASE PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER PLAYED GET OUT OF ITS WAY’’

I also like the reaction from one of my favorite Twitter follows, Super 70s Sports: “Clayton Kershaw just went 7 perfect innings with 13 strikeouts on 80 pitches and got pulled. I don’t even know why we’re (bleeping) doing this anymore. If baseball is so (bleeping) worried about remaining relevant, then maybe stop taking all the goddamn fun out of it.’’

Nestor Cortes, Jr.

Nestor Cortes #65 pitches during the first inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on April 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Something you must understand about the Nerds, Super 70s Sports: they don’t believe in fun. They don’t want you to have fun watching the game, they just want to be idolized for knowing more about the game than you know.

This is Manfred’s Nerd Game now, no room for fun or history, but plenty of room for fake runners and everything else that is terrible about today’s game. The Nerds have won. You, me, and the game have lost.

Too bad Aaron Boone did not allow Nestor Cortes Jr. to get two more outs Tuesday night to earn the win but then again WDM … Wins Don’t Matter. Cortes was magnificent in his outing, striking out five and allowing three hits in the 4-0 win over the Blue Jays. Cortes goes right after hitters unlike Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi. A scout at the game offered this take: “Kikuchi needs to watch Cortes, he’s got the balls of a cat burglar. He was really good, did a couple little hesitation moves.’’

Luis Tiant would be proud.

The Yankees have a strong bullpen and Boone will ride that bullpen. “That’s the best version of Aroldis Chapman I have seen in six or seven years, he was 97 to 102,’’ the scout said. “Maybe last year being such a bad year for him and maybe he is pitching for dollars again.’’

Chapman is a free agent at the end of the season.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let’s hear it for Reds COO Phil Castellini, the son of owner Bob Castellini. Phil essentially made the worst comment of the week when he threatened Reds fans with the team moving down the road, on Opening Day in Cincy, no less — something that would never happen. Phil C. said “be careful what you ask for.” He asked Reds radio station WLW, “Well, where are you gonna go?’’ The Reds are going nowhere in the standings and location-wise.

The Reds are the oldest and an original franchise – and their lease at Great American Ballpark goes another 15 years. Cincinnati has some of the best fans in the game and to have to put up with this kind of ownership is sad. Longtime Reds writer Hal McCoy, and a Hall of Famer like Tracy Ringolsby, said it best when he said, “Good luck Reds fans, you are are going to need it.’’

Tone deaf much? Phil Castellini

Later in the day in a Reds press release, Phil Castellini said: “I apologize to Reds fans and regret the comments that I made earlier today. We love this city, we love this team, and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I am sorry.”

These Reds have no chance of success.

It is no worse than Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette got its hands on documents that showed the Pirates are paying the lion’s share of the players’ payroll in many years since 2007 on concessions and ticket revenues. All that TV money and MLB money is a bonus for ownership. The joke is on you fans. The official attendance on Wednesday in the 6-2 win over the Cubs at PNC Park was only 9,122, and the Cubs draw everywhere. There needs to be an awakening by the fans of cruddy teams that enough is enough. The Pirates are in constant rebuild mode. The Orioles continue to be the King of the Hill of bad rebuilds as they are off to a 1-5 start.

One of AMBS’ favorite analysts is the Phillies’ John Kruk. Kruk and I go way back to his days in San Diego, and there was more than one road trip when I would be coming back from the ballpark late and would run into Kruk in the elevator at the team hotel and Krukie would be hauling a pizza up to his room.

When the Phillies’ Bryson Stott was thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double in the 9-6 loss to the Mets Wednesday, Stott slid headfirst, right into Francisco Lindor’s strategically placed knee that blocked Stott’s hands from touching second base. “That’s why you gotta slide feet first,’’ Kruk said.

Indeed. Real Baseball Talk.

45+ years, columnist at NY Post for the last 23 years prior to joining BallNine. Elected to the NY Baseball Hall of Fame. Former SportsTalk Host (KFMB), ESPN’s First Take and Cold Pizza contributor. Frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts nationwide. Author of seven books. Seen in episode 10 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (the one with Dennis Rodman). First baseball interview he conducted was with Thurman Munson. Now you know why he is America’s Most Beloved Sportswriter.

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