Friday, December 30, 2005
So when rumors abound regarding Danys Baez for either Jae Seo or Aaron Heilman, I almost want to scream "just freakin' do it already so I can get on with my life and we can have the winter caravan already."
But as we all know, haste makes waste. And wasting another talent like Aaron Heilman is going to be eerily reminiscent of the Mets' last trade with the Never Rays.
There are many advantages to trading Jae Seo rather than Heilman. Not the least of which is that I will no longer be tempted to pen a hacky blog title with a play on his name such as "Seo Deep", or "Seo Good", or "Take Jae Out Already Seo I Can Get Some Sleep". It's always tempting to me to take that cheap route, Seo I need to have that option taken away from me for my own good.
Now you may agree with me, or you may not. But with Jae Seo, as great as he was in 2005 under strange circumstances, his trade value may never be as great as it is right now...being a year and a half older than Heilman, I don't expect Seo's ceiling to be too much higher than where he is right now. Heilman, on the other hand, has the advantage of being able to fill many roles, whether it be 7th inning set-up or starting. And Heilman could be leaps and bounds more valuable than he is right now at 27.
But the quandry for Omar is this: If it is going to be a package deal, he'll have to give up more in a deal with Seo than a deal with Heilman. After trades involving Gaby Hernandez and Yusmeiro Petit...who's left? For no other reason this may force Minaya's hand. But in any event, kudos to Minaya if this trade goes through with Seo and co. for Baez. It will ensure that the bullpen becomes a strength and not a weakness...and that is a priority for a team that has the offensive firepower that the Mets have right now, and a priority for a team that has championship aspirations. And it's the right priority (with Manny Ramirez being the wrong priority).
Your move, Omar.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I do, however have one question:
If Reardon is an "Ex-Met and Yank star" (he started his career with the Mets before his career took off, and ended it with the Yankees long after his effectiveness was gone), why does the New York Post have to automatically depict him as a Met on the front cover?
This city has newspapers that let Mark Messier get bumped from the back page the day he announces his retirement to feature a Yankee cartoon after an off day to tease a big series with the Tampa Bay Never Rays for crying out loud, because Yankees sell papers. But now that there's scandal, Reardon's conveniently a Met. How fair is this? The last time Jeff Reardon put on a Met uniform we were minutes removed from the Jimmy Carter administration!
Why not have dual collectors covers? I mean, maximize your readership? Yankee fans can buy the Met cover, Met fans can buy this alternate Yankee cover? Now that's how you sell papers! Heck the Post could spin this into collectors pins as they do with every other sport...have Reardon behind bars in a Met cap and a Yankee cap. That seems like a not too far fetched exploitation for the Post to capitalize on...they're sleazy enough for it.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I'm waiting for the day when some Yankee, one who played for the Yankees and not the Mets, gets himself into trouble for some reason or another...then let's see how the New York Post would handle something like that.
Then again, I'm not sure I want to know:
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
"Sports is the toy department of human life." -Howard Cosell
If you haven't already figured it out, tonight is the last Monday Night Football game on the American Broadcasting Corporation. Next season, the entity moves over to it's cable partner whom you might have heard of, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
Monday Night Football started as an experiment to see if football could make good television. It now moves over to cable because thirty six years later, television is trying to make good football.
The shift was inevitable. It was inevitable because all you started to hear about was "why are there bad games?" and flexible schedules and Dennis Miller in this new ratings driven culture that television has been pigeon-holed into ... the never ending quest for the casual fan. On September 21st, 1970, "Episode One: Jets/Browns" was competing with Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In". Now, television executives are trying to figure out ways to combine the two concepts...not just MNF, but all varieties of football and sports coverage.
Football fans didn't have to be told that Monday Night Football was an event ... it was just so. Football made it so, just as Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith and Frank Gifford made it so. But it was the games that gave Cosell and co. fodder to become the show. The game and its fans made it an event. Bo Jackson, Earl Campbell, Randall Cunningham, Joe Montana, the guy who leaped from the stands to catch the extra point in Chicago, and on and on ... they made it so.
October of 1998 saw Metstradamus take a trip that included a train, two buses, a stop in a hotel that had stains on the walls and no door leading to the bathroom, and a hitched ride on the back of a pick up truck to see the Jets play in Foxboro. It was not only Vinny Testaverde's first start as a New York Jet, but the 24-14 victory was widely regarded as the game that propelled the '98 Jets to the AFC Championship game. What better place for a trip like that than Monday Night? (And imagine if the Jets had lost!) Heck it was a big enough event for the Patriots game day staff to sell t-shirts commemorating the game, a regular season game! Yet it was a Monday Night Event.
It was also on Monday Night where the Jets made the most miraculous comeback in their history. You remember that the Jets were down 23 in the fourth quarter and came back to defeat the Miami Dolphins at 1:30 in the morning. I remember having the most excellent seat in the house on the 36 yard line, 7th row behind the Jets bench, watching rookie Chad Pennington play cheerleader as Vinny led the charge to victory (and that's where I remained until the last John Hall kick). I also remember that the "Monday Night Miracle" was played in the throws of the 2000 Subway Series. And even though that was the most important sporting event that week, Monday Night Football was enough of an event that it warranted the presence of Al Leiter, who circled the field and gave an interview to whoever the sideline reporter was at the time, while his Mets were still in the throws of the Series.
My question to you is this: would as many people remember the Monday Night Miracle if it didn't take place on a Monday night?
But now, television has decided that they are going to dictate what the real "event" is, as they will no doubt hype the Sunday Night NBC game as "the game" to watch (in part because Sunday Night Football isn't going to push back Leno to one in the morning). But we've seen what can happen when television execs try to force classics instead of letting them happen. You get Dennis Miller. Now I for one loved Dennis Miller. But after the first pre-season game that he called, the higher ups got nervous and advised Miller to be more of a football announcer and less of a comedian. Great idea considering the fact that Miller was hired to be a comedian, and was a comedian by trade, but hey I don't get paid to be a consultant (I wish, they make boo koo bucks). Dennis worked his ass off throughout the season to become a more knowledgable "football guy", but sadly the experiment didn't last.
But Dennis Miller did prove that fans will watch football no matter if the announcers were trained chimps. Now the chimps would have probably done a better job than Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson did in 1985, but consider that MNF's highest rated game ever was during that season...the Miami Dolphins stopping the Bears' perfect season with a 38-24 victory. I wonder if anyone decided not to watch that game because of the announcers?
Now there was Monday Night Baseball (no doubt a response to Monday Night Football), and it lasted longer than I thought it did ... from 1972-1975 on NBC, and 1976-1988 on ABC before it was moved to Thursdays. I only remembered Warner Wolf and Mark Fidrych. But there was also John Candeleria's no hitter. There was Pete Rose breaking the National League's hit record. And there was Keith Jackson, who in the process of becoming Mr. College Football, also found time to be there when Monday Night Football started, and was also there for ABC's baseball coverage ... Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS (you remember that, don't you) being the last baseball game he ever called.
There was also ABC's reluctance to televise regular season games, some thinking that they paid extra money to baseball not to televise games before October. And yes, there was Howard Cosell...
"No amount of description can hide the fact that this game is lagging insufferably."
"The man's bigger than the game, bigger than the team, bigger than the league, bigger than the sport. They talk about a new commissioner, if I had my pick, it would be you, Bob Uecker."
And now it's FOX that is trying to re-invent the wheel by televising baseball ... and in many ways, the success of Monday Night Football was a precursor to the way FOX presents baseball, with its incessant exploding graphics, intolerable celebrity cutaways, and endless shots of fans carrying the expression of a person who is watching their spouse sink in quicksand ... all of course in an attempt by television to make great baseball.
And now once again, television tries to create great football by shuffling around the networks, and an American institution goes by the wayside. Sad, but the sports consuming public will live on ... and no doubt decide on it's own what the next classic shall be. And when it does, it will most likely spawn many ripoffs and be flooded with more advertising and branding than an episode of The Apprentice. But life goes on, and we'll adjust. Hey, if we can adjust to corporate sponsored stadium names, this will be a breeze in comparison.
Joe Willie and the Jets lose the first ever Monday Night Football game by a score of 31-21, and Vinny closes out the series (and his career) as his Jets also lose the last one by a score of 31-21. Life comes full circle.
And if you close your eyes and listen, you may hear Wayne Chrebet...a major player in episodes past but merely a spectator in Episode 555 ... perhaps arm in arm with Episode One's Joe Willie, as they're strolling down the tunnel humming the tune with many meanings to many people:
Turn out the lights
The party's over
They say that
All good things must end
Call it tonight
The party's over
And tomorrow starts
The same old thing again
Sunday, December 25, 2005
my true love sent to me
Twelve Tom Veryzers,
Ten Loopers Looping,
Nine Leiters landing,
Eight Maids McEwing,
Seven Swans a-pitching,
Six Geese a-Gozzo,
Five Ro-yce Rings,
Four Paul Byrds,
Three Bob Friends,
Two Tony Clarks,
And a Piersall in a Spehr tree!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
- Every damn commercial for a giveaway night has to begin with Michael Kay talking over pompous trumpets proclaiming "The New York Yankees, the world's most reknown franchise, have won more world championships than anyone in the history of professional sports". A little much for towel night, no?
- The cemetary in the outfield.
- David Wells
- The Yankee Stadium security, who attempted to eject a fan out of a game for taking pictures of Jorge Posada's wife, and not letting him retrieve his blind friend!
- July 3rd 2004, the FOX pregame show spends five minutes showing us video highlights of the Yankee/Red Sox "Jeter into the stands" game, while failing to even mention that the Mets had beaten them one night later. Then the segment is topped off with a July 4th music vignette that ends with Derek Jeter's face over fireworks. It is the genesis of my hate for Jeanne Zelasko.
- When Mike Sweeney hits a two run double against the most reknown franchise in the world, and Michael Kay of course checks the replays to see if his foot was outside the back line. (The Royals scoring runs against the most reknown franchise in the world? Why, he must have cheated!)
- Jim Kaat making excuses as to why Jaret Wright throws a wild pitch. Here's an idea: HE'S GARBAGE!
- The "got rings" t-shirt
- Aaron Boone
- "Yankees win...DUUUUUUUUUUUUUH Yankees win!"
- Their chicken finger vendors are the slowest in the league. Even Yankee fans admit this.
- Wife swapping (check number 6).
- Jeff Nelson for Armando Benitez.
- This belief groundswelled by Yankee propaganda artists that Don Mattingly belongs in the hall of fame.
- Reggie Jackson.
- They have the only announcers in the league that make sure to note the "great tag by Jeter" on a routine caught stealing.
- The two Yankees announcers from "Brewster's Millions" ("That's Yankee Pride! That's Yankee Power!") Is it healthy to hate fictional Yankees employees? Speaking of which...
- Duke Temple and Clue Haywood.
- The entire 2000 season (3-14 to end the season, then magically turn it on to beat the Mets in the first ever subway series.)
- The fact that Dwight Gooden and David Cone pitched no hitters for them!
- It takes scoring 32 runs in two days or Grant Roberts smoking a bong to steal the back page from them.
- Roger Clemens
- The fact that the latest Yankee dynasty was created because George Steinbrenner got himself kicked out of baseball.
- Darth Marc.
- That kid that spent hours at Camden Yards chanting "Posada Posada Posada Posada..." Still haunts me.
- Jack Nicholson, that front running bastard!
- Showing a Tino Martinez grand slam from the 1998 World Series before an at bat against the Royals in 2005 with the bases loaded.
- The curse of the Bambino.
- The "Bam-Tino"
- The "Giambi-no"
- "An AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-bomb...for AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-Rod"
- Jeter and his ingenue du jour on the cover of the New York Post canoodling.
- Speaking of Jeter, he wins a gold glove because, quoting Tim Kurkjian: "Nobody makes the routine play better than Derek Jeter." That's why he wins a gold glove?
- Bat Boys who write books.
- Shane Spencer
- Lee Mazzilli (I went back and forth on this one...after all, he was a valuable member of the 1986 team. But the fact that the Yankees brought him back to shine Derek Jeter's shoes after failing miserably as a manager means that he's too far on the other side of the fence.)
- Mike Francesa
- The intolerable "Let's Go Yankees" chant...born in 1996, treated like the quintessential chant of sports rooting...yet merely a derivative of the "Let's Go Rangers" chant that's been around much longer, yet it took Yankee fans 50 years to figure out how to clap and chant at the same time.
- The fact that all 95% of their fans are tourists.
- No seriously! I'm in an airport terminal eavesdropping on a family from Mississippi, with the matriarchal figure bragging about her Yankee shirt that she bought in the airport gift shop proclaiming "I loooove the Yankees!" YOU DO NOT! YOU LOVE SOUVENIERS!!!!!!
- Dave Winfield killing a seagull.
- Deion Sanders
- Luis Polonia, who should have known something was wrong when the woman he took back to his hotel room took out her birth control pill and it was in the shape of Fred Flinstone.
- Johnny Damon (who's arrival in the Bronx means that Alex Rodriguez's time as Derek Jeter's personal secretary is over.)
- Speaking of Johnny Damon, why is it that during all Yankee news conferences, everyone from the owner to the president of the team to the general manager to the manager to the clubhouse manager to the chicken finger vendor has to introduce all of their new acquisitions?
- Jerome from Manhattan
- The 1989 Mayor's Trophy Game (See, I was there with my cousin who is a Yankee fan...and all I remember from that game was that the Yankees won...I had to look up that the final was 4-0...and Ken Phelps. Later that night I went to see the the Rangers lose to the Islanders. Horrible sports day...horrible!)
- Gary Sheffield...everything about him.
- The fact that Bobby Bonilla never played for them (although if he had, he would have probably lost 50 pounds, provided that veteran leadership currently supplied by Ruben Sierra, and would still be active. Lousy Bobby Bonilla).
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Because lately, donning the navy blue cap with the white interlocking NY drops your IQ by at least 50.
First, A-Rod with his slap.
Then, Randy Johnson with his slap.
But this one might take the cake. Former Met Matt Lawton, who was busted for taking a veterinary steroid, finally went public with his side of the story.
"Maybe it was the pressure of playing in New York, I don't know."Where exactly do the Mets play Matt...Bangladesh? Do the Mets not rank high enough for you to risk your career?
But that's not even my favorite part of the story:
"I just wasn't physically able to do the job. I had never been in the playoff hunt before. So I did something that will always haunt me."Now according to the article in Sports Weekly, Lawton said that he never taken amphetamines, but injected the steroid boldenone on Sept. 20. The next day, he started in center field and hit a home run in his first at-bat. He said he didn't feel any pain. So you would think the steroid helped take away the pain, and help him hit a home run, right?
Here's what this steroid related website says about boldenone:
"Boldenone gives you slower but much more high quality gains in muscle as opposed to the normal "quick" muscle gains that you would expect from a testosterone. This is not a steroid to take on its own and expect 20 lbs. in 6 weeks. It is just not going to happen. You can expect around 3 weeks before you start seeing results and they are not going to be staggering, but will be 'more permanent' than any gains you would get from any of the multiple testosterones that are available."Considering he was only with the Yankees three regular season weeks, I say that jeopardizing your major league career taking a steroid that doesn't give you immediate results is pretty damn stupid.
So you see, while being an idiot is an attitude in Boston, it just might very well be a way of life in the Bronx.
Wayne Chrebet had the relative physical stature of Joe McEwing, the ability to make a great career out of being basically disregarded in the draft like Mike Piazza, and the take no junk attitude of Turk Wendell. He also spanned his career from bad era to bad era, with plenty of goodness in between, a la Jerry Koosman.
Unfortunately he also had the concussions of Eric Lindros, and now we must say good-bye. And although he has the hall of fame chances of a Kelvin Chapman, my hope is that the Mets can find more players who make the most of their limited ability, and then give a little bit more than that...like a Wayne Chrebet.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This little piggy went home.
This little piggy had meat loaf,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee wee wee wee all the way to the World Baseball Classic to become aggravated so it's owner can be forced to miss April and May for the New York Mets (you know, the club that signs his checks) so that the Dominican Republic can win an early round game in a baseball tournament that nobody is going to watch.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
What followed was a trip back to my youth.
Folks, for those of you that are into torturous memories, you will not find a better dramatization of the Mets 1979 season as you will here and here, a two part circle of hell which is part Greg Prince, part Wes Craven.
Of course, 1979 holds a special place in my heart because it was the first full season that I followed baseball. I went to my first Mets game in 1976 and saw Tom Seaver. For some cosmic reason, I didn't follow baseball in 1977 and 1978 (go figure). But 1979 I was into it full bore. The cynic in me took many years to incubate, as I remember '79 for the end of the season sweep of the Cardinals to finish the season at 99 losses and not 100. When everyone in your class is wearing Yankee batting helmets and celebrating two titles (again, titles I never saw and don't remember), even small goals are satisfying.
The part of the dramatization that hit me was in regard to Pete Falcone:
"Ya'd think dis'd be good f'me, y'know? When dey brought me here, I was 0-9 against 'em. 0-9! I'm the one guy dey could beat and dey brought me here. Now I don't beat nobody. Maybe it's God's will."Do you have any idea what the Mets' record was in games that I attended in 1979?
I've worn the numbers like a badge ever since. The Scarlet Numbers.
Oh and freakin' nine.
Any way, you know what the point is...the point is to go read "Faith and Fear in Flushing" right now...and find your moment of Zen.
Friday, December 16, 2005
"Braden, people in St. Louis don't boo anybody."
"No, you don't understand...I'm not just anybody. I'm Braden Looper. You can't spell my name without the word boo. Will they boo me?
"Braden, you have nothing to worry about."
And thus, with one fictional reassuring converstaion with his agent, a return to the team that drafted him originally was consumated.
Yes, this will be a challenge for the people of St. Louis and their long standing policy that nobody get booed. Jason Isringhausen rarely gets booed in St. Louis, even after blown saves. Bobby Boo-nilla found it fit to come to St. Louis to escape boos. Even Roger Cedeno rarely gets booed in St. Louis...although I suspect that Cardinal fans have no idea he's even on the team, that's how little consequence Cedeno's career holds at this point.
And now those Card fans who have called their counterparts from Queens "Pond Scum" (partly due to Mets fans' own long standing policy to boo hot dog vendors if they're not doing their job to the best of their ability), undertake their latest Met reclamation project, Braden Looper.
Of course, now that Looper will be shoulder pain free, and put in a role that's better suited to his abilities (a role that requires a court order to stay at least 500 feet away from all left-handed batters, even his teammates) he'll be fine. Tony LaRussa and his average of 3.2 pitching changes per inning after the fifth will ensure that messers Delgado, Beltran, and Floyd will not see Looper all season. Unfortunately, he may also never see Tike Redman, which would be quite unfortunate.
(Editor's note, most of the pictures used on this website are shamelessly "borrowed" via a google image search. It makes me feel less guilty than taking them from an actual website. Nevertheless, stealin' is stealin', kids. So stay in school, don't do drugs, and if you're caught, give the offended site a plug on your blog's sidebar. And don't forget to visit the Mets Hall of Records for Mets reference. Thanks to Bob Tompkins for reminding me that "borrowing" pictures is not a victimless crime. This has been a public service announcement.)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Yeah sure, it's easy to blog about a baseball team when it's baseball season. Anyone can do that.
It's easy to have snarky comments during the winter meetings, when guys are coming and going like it's rush hour at the Johnny Rockets at Union Station in Washington D.C. (Mmmm...burgers!)
But now is the true test of my blogging ability...and I'm failing miserably.
I sit at my trusty Dell Inspiron notebook staring at my creation hoping for a bolt of lightning in the form of a Metsography, a smart commentary on the state of the bullpen, hell even a Mike DeJean joke...except I used all of them.
So instead, I play "Phrase Frenzy" on the Game Show Network website mindlessly for hours. It's bad when you hope the sports category is "Hockey Teams" so I can kick the collective butts of the two computer generated cyborgs provided as competition. It's worse when the Television category is "Star Trek" for the nintieth time, and for the nintieth time I throw something across the room because I still can't get any of the answers (although "Phrase Frenzy" did teach me that Bone Thugs 'N Harmony is some sort of rap group...who knew?)
Now I know how Carlos Beltran felt this year...I'm in the writing equivalent of his slump (yes Carlos, you're allowed to boo me. It's only fair.)
So it's time to play a little Mets association: take some of my conscious thoughts and relate them to your New York Mets:
I look at Ed Olczyk, member of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers, and recently deposed head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I see a man who was handed a team full of all-stars like Mario Lemieux, John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy, and no goaltender to speak of. When I see Eddie O, I see Jeff Torborg in 1993.
I see Javier Vazquez, he of the four franchises in four years, and I start to see Todd Zeile (at least I see next season's Todd Zeile award winner).
I see Grant Hill, who can't seem to stay healthy, making his return tonight against the New York Bricks and I remember a dark time when the return of Pat Zachry was the biggest beacon of hope for the Mets. Bad times.
I see Danni Boatwright, the winner of the latest Survivor (and the woman who will make Kansas City Chiefs cowboy hats all the rage) and I see a young Mets player...any young Mets player, making it to Opening Day without being voted off Flushing Island by Omar Probst in his zeal (not Todd) for a veteran roster.
I see Ron Artest, and I see Vince Coleman.
I see Eli Manning, doomed to be forever the other brother, the Ashlee Simpson of the NFL, and I see Mike Maddux. I see Jesus Alou. I see Mike Glavine. I see Dennis Springer even though there really wasn't a good Springer brother. And I see Victor Zambrano even though he's not related to Carlos.
I see the pig that escaped during the Mexican league baseball game last night and had to be run down by a mascot in a chicken get up, and I see the black cat from 1969.
I see George W. Bush admitting to starting a war on faulty intelligence, which is more than anybody has ever admitted regarding putting Juan Samuel and Keith Miller in center field.
I see King Kong back in theaters, and I remember the second Mets career of Dave Kingman. (The movie got better reviews.)
I see the temperature drop in New York and I remember Opening Day 2003.
I see a potential transit strike and am reminded of the Mets quitting on Art Howe.
All this, and I see that my slump is still not coming to an end. And now I have sympathy for the Jeromy Burnitzes and the Carlos Beltrans of the world.
I see the sympathy ending around spring training. I hope my slump is over by then too.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The world of Metstradamus has intersected, albeit breifly, with the world of some of your favorite New York Mets. My regret is that I wish I had really cool stories for you like the one that would go something like this:
So I'm in this bar drowning my sorrows, and in walks Armando Benitez, and he tries to dance with my date...so I punch him out! And the next day, he blows a save for the Yankees!Nope, never happened. But now you all have something to shoot for.
My stories are of the low standard, slightly bizarre variety. Getting Clint Hurdle and Randy Myers to wave at me from the bullpen in 1987 was a huge accomplishment for me. An even bigger accomplishment was yelling to Darryl Strawberry that he could move from his "Strawberry Patch"; the small, worn patch of grass at Shea where Strawberry played every hitter...sluggers and slappers alike; because the opposing pitcher was up. And you know what? He did. And you can't tell me that it wasn't because of my gentle reminder.
The best enounter of the long range variety involved another outfielder named Daryl, but it wasn't Straw, it was Boston. Daryl Boston, otherwise known as D-Bo, roamed the Shea outfield in the early 90's...and one night while in right field, our ticket plan crew gave him the warmed over "Daaaaaaar-yyyyyyl" chant during a particularly ugly game during the top of the inning. One of the smart ones in our group reasoned: "No no no, he's not going to respond to that, he hears that all the time...watch this!" And with that, in a half empty Shea Stadium, he yells:
He turns and faces us between pitches, and sees about ten of us yahoos waving at him. Class act that D-Bo was, he waved back.
"HEY MR. BOSTON!"
Now that made our entire night...especially since this was the early nineties, which means the Mets were probably losing by about oh, fifty runs or so. But the same man who came up with the brilliant attention getter, almost took it too far.
"Hey, you're going to meet us at Scores after the game, right?"
What does D-Bo do besides laugh his butt off? He turns back to us and gives us the finger to the mouth in the universal sign for "sssssshhhhhhhh."
Daryl Boston: Metstradamus legend.
Autographs are things I wish I kept better track of. My first ever autograph was on a slip of paper barely bigger than one of those out white out strips that us older folk used on a manual typwriter. It was Neil Allen, acquired down the first base line before an afternoon game where I went with a friend of the family. That piece of paper, unfortunately, is long gone. So too, I fear, might be the program signed by four of the World Champion Dodgers of 1988 down the third base line at Shea. One was '86 champ Danny Heep, one was Jay Howell; known to Met fans as the pitcher ejected from game three for too much pine tar in the glove. (Phil Garner was the third, and I always got Tracy Woodson and Jeff Hamilton mixed up but one of them was the fourth.)
I don't have an autograph story as cool as a friend of mine does: Not only did he catch a batting practice ball at Fenway Park, but got Lee Smith to sign it before the same game!
But an autograph signing almost caused John Franco to go blind...courtesy of yours truly.
It was one of those "get to know you" signings during the winter of 1990, just after Franco joined the Mets after the Randy Myers trade. This took place in the well known pantheon of baseball history known as Pergament hardware store. There was a long line and for time purposes, Franco was only interested in having the memorabilia shoved under him so he can sign it without ever looking up. Now a picture of the top of John Franco's blue cap wouldn't have been very impressive. So the only thing for me to do was to call out Johnny's name and hoped he would look up and say cheese. Only after I tried to get his attention about 15 times did he look up. Realizing I probably only had a second before he buried his head again to resume his assembly line style of memorabilia signing, I didn't ask...I just clicked.
If looks could kill.
And let me take this opportunity to say: sorry Johnny. I was young and stupid. What else can I say?
Some baseball fan I am. I was chatting with a key member of baseball history...a former Met at that. And didn't even know it.
Not even after I met him!
A colleague at a former place of business of mine was entertaining an associate, and as I passed them in the hallways, I was introduced to the visitor by name. I shook his hand with and gave him the generic "how ya doin'"? The man was very polite in return as we parted ways. Now mind you...I knew his name! And still had no freakin' idea.
Luckily for me, our paths crossed again, and I think he wanted to make sure I knew who he was. That's when he handed me a picture and asked "does this look familiar?":
Oh my freakin' goodness...you're that Mike Torrez?
Boy did I feel like a lummox. I had to come up with something:
"You know of course Mike that he sold his soul to the devil to hit that home run, don't you?"And there it was...my own home run off of Torrez.
After Mike's good laugh, we chatted for a few minutes about the seminal moment and about baseball, most of that conversation being a blur. But what is crystal clear in my mind is that this was a man at peace...at peace with being on the wrong end of history. It's a place not everyone is comfortable with. Yet here's a man who, when presented the opportunity to escape an introduction to a nobody like myself without ever having to acknowledge what took place in October of 1978 at Fenway Park, made a conscious decision to point a flaw in his professional life. It's not something I'm sure I would have done. But Mike Torrez, the same Mike Torrez who I once thought was a bum when he pitched for the Mets but was actually a good pitcher who called Shea home at the wrong time in his career, did it.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Hey, Zambrano for Tejada, whaddaya say!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
This just hours after he inked Jose "Latin Kingman" Valentin to a contract.
And the Mets are also looking at 37-year-old Bernie Williams to be a backup.
In a related story, the Mets have announced that their entire home schedule will become matinee to accomodate bedtime for the entire Met bench.
They've also announced that replacing the speed gun, the pre-game tent will feature daily bingo, shuffleboard, and a mobile Denny's that will provide early bird specials for the increasingly older fan base. Concession stands will now sell prune juice at $15.00 a pop.
That's what the Mets told eleven players last night at midnight by not offering them arbitration. Among them is broken down icon Mike Piazza, and the ageless Roberto Hernandez. But outside of him is a who's who of hate list regulars. Braden Looper, Miguel Cairo, Mike DiFelice, Danny Graves, Felix Heredia, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jose Offerman, Shingo Takatsu and Gerald Williams.
But finding themselves lonely without any of that valuable veteran leadership (i.e. old people), the Mets brought Jose Valentin on board to a minor league contract (now reported to be a major league deal). The 35 year old only played 56 games last year because of injuries to multiple knee ligaments (greeeeat), but in 2004 he hit 30 HR's as a shortstop while driving in only 70 runs and hitting .216 while striking out 130 times.
He's Jose Valenkingman.
But fear not for he's a switch hitter, which gives him the flexibility to strike out from both sides of the plate in a given game. He's played second, third, short, left, and one game in right field in his major league career, so he can strike out from more positions on the field. A versatile Kingman.
But as you know, there's nothing better than the real thing. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
My buddy made scarce predictions on who would be a star, stocking up on rookie cards for only two players. One was John Smoltz. The other, John Olerud.
If only his luck was as good in the stock market.
On the day that ended with the Toronto Blue Jays trading for a sweet strokin' lefty first baseman named Lyle Overbay, the sweet strokin' lefty first baseman who chased .400 with the Blue Jays announced that he would rather retire than go through another season with another address as younger teammates call him Johnny "Olderdude".
Of course Olerud was a Met for three seasons, coming to Flushing in a surprising lopsided trade that went in the Mets' favor for Robert Person, and will always be remembered fondly here for just stayin' classy. Even when he left for less money and the comforts of home in Seattle, who could ever really be mad at John Olerud? Came to New York much like Billy Wagner has...with the reputation of someone who wasn't fond of big city life. But before he left, made a habit of taking the 7 train to work...a regular joe like you and me.
And you can plainly see why a guy who took less money to play at home would rather retire than be a baseball nomad, wandering the country looking for a new address, when all he ever wanted to do was go home.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
August 20th entitled: "Meaningful Games"
"In an effort to make all September Shea Stadium home games meaningful (as Jim Duquette promised), the New York Mets have announced the following promotions:September 6th, Playing off Kevin Brown's stupidity in an e-mail entitled "In an alternate universe":
Fans who attend the September 1st game vs. the Marlins will receive an autographed photo of Armando Benitez giving you the middle finger.
All remaining home games will be preceded by a heartwarming message from Bobby Valentine, which will contain mostly uncontrollable laughter.
September 12th is anti-inflammatory drug night. All fans attending the game vs. the Phillies will receive free anti-inflammatory drugs, along with an autographed copy of Victor Zambrano's elbow x-ray.
Jose Reyes will provide free stretching clinics before all home games.
September 15th is Fred Wilpon dunk tank night. The line forms outside Gate A and Gate B.
September 16th is Breathalizer Night. Not only can fans take free breathalizer tests at Gate E, but all fans attending the game that night against Atlanta will receive a piece of asphalt from the very stretch of I-95 where Shane Spencer was pulled over and arrested for DUI.
If the body part pulled, strained, or broken by a Mets player during any game matches what is written in your game program, you can redeem it for a free non-alcoholic beer.
All fans who attend the September 24th game vs. Chicago will receive an authentic home run ball given up by Mike Stanton. Those who arrive late and do not receive a ball will be escorted to the picnic area in left field where more will become available.
Come early to the September 25th game where the Mets will present "Stupid Trade night". Guests on hand for special pre-game ceremonies will include Jim Fregosi, Amos Otis, Juan Samuel, Gene Walter, Ryan Thompson, Mo Vaughn, and Robby Alomar. Al Harazin will emcee the event.
September 26th is Scott Kazmir bobblehead day.
All remaining home games will feature contests and raffles for valuable prizes, such as an autographed Leroy Neimann canvas featuring John Olerud in a Yankee uniform, autographed swatches of authentic Darryl Strawberry prison jumpsuits, and autographed DVD copies of Tsuyoshi Shinjo's career highlights.
One lucky grand prize winner will manage the October first game against Montreal.
Two runners up will play shortstop and second base during the same game.
Ten third place winners will be traded to the Kansas City Royals along with David Wright for Matt Stairs and a useless 37 year old minor league relief pitcher to be named later.
And finally...If Casey Stengel spins in his grave during any September or October home game, the chicken tenders will be free after the seventh inning."
NEW YORK (AP) Noted Mets fan and false prophet Metstradamus broke his non-pitching hand when he punched a wall in his apartment Saturday night during New York's 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies and may miss the rest of the 2004 season.October 21st in an e-mail entitled "The Death Star Has Exploded":
"You just can't do this, there's no doubt about it. You've got to keep your emotions in check," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "It's a major issue that we shouldn't be dealing with."
Especially at this point in the year. The loss expanded New York's NL East deficit to 102½ games behind the Braves, its largest margin since 1962.
Now they will be without one of their best fans down the stretch. Frustrated by an injury-filled millenium, Metstradamus' hot temper could cost the Mets at the most important time.
"Stupid Art Howe" he said, choosing his words carefully.
"I reacted to frustration I'd swallowed all year...There are no excuses. I let it boil over and I did something stupid. I owe my wife and friends an apology for letting my emotions take over like that."
Already short on fans, the Mets were unsure how long the 33-year-old right-hander might be out. He was to be examined by a hand specialist Monday."
My plan is to splint it and root root root for the home team. I just pray that my stupidity didn't hurt the team," he said.
The oft-injured Metstradamus missed seven weeks in June and July of 2002 with a strained lower back and tweaked his knee tripping over a Mo Vaughn bobblehead doll while getting out of bed awkwardly in April of 2003. He then caught strep throat yelling at Mike Stanton this past May.
Steamed by all the Mets losses in 2004, he walked around the living room in the middle of the sixth on Saturday and punched a wall, breaking two bones in his left hand.
That was the end of his night."We're hopeful we can get him back in a few weeks," Mets fan and brother Fredstradamus said. "A lot of it will depend on the healing and the comfort. We don't worry about the comfort too much. I think Metstradamus was hoping he could just tape it up and go. That's not what's going to happen."
"For certain, I'm happy it's the left and not the right. The thing that bothers me is that he thought enough to throw the left and not the right. I wish he would have thought a little more on that subject," Fredstradamus said. "He still has to write e-mails, complain about the Victor Zambrano trade, doctor pictures of Kris Benson's wife and do all those things."
Metstradamus should be able to keep his voice in shape while he recovers.
"He'll be able to heckle. Somebody can hand him the boxscore and handle the remote control. He'll be doing all the yelling," Fredstradamus said.
DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE A SENSITIVE YANKEE FAN, YOU MAY WANT TO REFRAIN FROM READING THIS UNTIL YOU ARE READY, OR PERHAPS DELETE IT ALL TOGETHER. YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED...Halloween, entitled "Curse of Kazmir Strikes Again":
Do you remember the episode of Seinfeld where Poppy peed on the couch?
Well right now, Big Papi is peeing on the monuments.
To Jack Nicholson: Screw you, you front running pr**k! Go back to L.A. and enjoy your courtside seats and your wimpy chick flick scripts! I hear Manchester United needs more fans!
To HBO: Get to work on that new documentary based on the 2004 ALCS: "Nine Innings from BALCO".
To Derek Jeter: Stay in the dugout, take your medicine, and watch the Red Sox celebrate you overrated pretty boy! FOX Sports, who has a camera on you 24 hours a day to capture your reaction to base hits, pitching changes and Ruben Sierra picking a scab off the back of his head, couldn't find you to capture the precious moment of how you felt to being part of the biggest choke artists in baseball history. I had to settle for A-Rod.
To the 5 year old Yankee fan at Camden Yards who chanted "Posada Posada Posada Posada Posada Posada" for 3 hours straight in April of 2001 while my wife and I are trying to watch a baseball game: I hope you cry yourself to sleep all winter you stupid little brat! Posada stinks, there is no Santa Claus, and your parents' divorce was your fault!
To Jeanne Zelasko: Let's see your black mourning dress before tomorrow nights game 7 since the baseball player you LOVE is out of the playoffs. I guess you'll be stepping up the number of times you call Jeter's house and hang up, you stalker freak!
To Pedro Martinez: Don't you celebrate too hard, you almost freakin' blew it you diva! Get a haircut. (Editor's note: Please forgive me Pedro...it was the alcohol talking. Thanks for joining us.)
To Billy Crystal: The sequel to "61*"? "$182.8M*". (Guess Barry Pepper won't be playing Tanyon Sturtze, eh?)
To A-Rod: Cheaters never win. Didn't your mom ever tell you that?
To God: You can untie Babe Ruth and take the gag out of his mouth now. Thanks!
To Jim Leyritz: If you're rooting for the Yankees, why the hell are you wearing a jacket with a Red Sox logo on it? Dope!
To Kevin Brown: You are now free to punch with your pitching hand.
To Fred Wilpon: Don't think this makes me forget about you. The cursed Red Sox pulled this off, why couldn't we? I'm not through with you by a longshot!
To all the 12 year olds who are Yankee fans because Derek Jeter is dreamy: I see teen pregnancies in your future you dirty trollops! And good luck telling your children the story about why they only have one parent when they look up into your eyes and ask: "Who's my daddy?"
To Yogi: It's over.
I was hoping to enjoy the Red Sox victory over the Yankees and subsequent curse-killing World Title at least until pitchers and catchers in February before reality taps me on the shoulder and remind me that I'm still a Mets fan.And let these lost blogs be a lesson to you all. Sure, times may be good now as the Mets head towards a prosperous 2006, but before you know where you're going, it's important to remember where you've been.
I didn't even get 24 hours.
Apparently Mets captain John Franco is being investigated over allegations that he left Mets tickets for Bonano crime family members.
Great...Captain Crime himself, Johnny "Sack" Franco.
Was this his idea of reaching out to the community to try to fill the stands?
As always with the Mets, the marketing possibilities are endless: "Mets 2005: whack a ball, whack a rat!"
The song that the Mets hit the field to can go something like this: "Woke up this morning...got yourself a first baseman..."
Those on jury duty get half price tickets!
Forget Willie Randolph, the Mets new manager should be Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.
I can see it now: Omar Minaya "sends a player to the minors" and three weeks later that player's car is found in a Newark bus station parking lot. Greeeeaaaaat!
Makes you wonder if they're really "planting tomatoes" in the bullpen.
And if they're burying bodies in the pen, does that make head groundskeeper Pete Flynn "the mole"? And is there room to bury Armando Benitez's career?
Next the Mets will build a minor league complex in the pine barrens.
Mets fans, it is now safe to resume hating your life.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Instead, the best I get is "Agent: Clemens mulling retirement".
Well duh! He's 124 years old, he mulls retirement every time he gets out of bed! That's not news. That's like, the aging process. Call me when he hangs them up so I can put him on the hate list.
The most entertaining news of the day is everyone's favorite exhibitionist whining that the Mets want to trade her husband because she talked to Playboy about a pictorial.
Maybe the Mets want to trade him because Anna's sapping his energy in the parking lot.
Gee Anna, you were right. I guess it is your fault.
But come on, what's wrong with Baltimore? Yeah sure, you can't get the marketing possibilities you would in New York...but Anna Benson hawking crabmeat and Legal Sea Foods? I think it's a natural!
The franchise who’s minor league system has been known for a few high end prospects but a scary lack of depth, are now basically left with…well, let’s just say that if you yelled down to the farm for help you may hear an echo that would shatter your champagne glass as the Mets have paid a dear price for new catcher Paul LoDuca.
Since when did Paul LoDuca become Jack McGee? Every city Mike Piazza plays in, there’s Paul LoDuca following him, hoping to finally catch up to him, just as Jack Colvin's character hoped to catch up to David Banner. But there's Piazza mere blocks away with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder while “The Lonely Man Theme” plays in the background as Piazza moves to the next town.
You don’t get something for nothing in this league, so yet another high end pitching prospect goes the other way. This time, it’s Gaby Hernandez…he with the minor league no-hitter to his credit…leaving a franchise which has never had one in the major leagues. But why oh why would the Mets abandon plans for Ramon Hernandez/Bengie Molina to trade a prospect that everyone was high on for a catcher who will turn 34 in April?
Hernandez did throw that no hitter at Hagerstown. After going 6-1 2.43 with the Suns, he struggled after making the lateral move to class A St. Lucie, going 2-5, 5.74. Surely, his stock dropped as fast as it rose with his Hagerstown no hitter. But with another power pitcher (131 K's in 135 innings last season) leaving the organization, it only raises the expectation for now rather than later. While it's not quite Kazmir for Zambrano, it's a curious move considering the other catchers that could have come for free...and it's not like Lo Duca is cheap. He will make $6.25 over each of the next two seasons (thank you to Matt at Metsblog for providing those numbers).
What Lo Duca does provide is a penchant for overachieving. Just as Mike Piazza, who was drafted as a favor, not much was expected of this 25th round pick. But Lo Duca not only made the Dodgers, he was so universally loved that his trade to Florida from the Dodgers is widely seen as the beginning of the demise of the 2004 western division champs. He's popular with pitchers, and is a positive clubhouse influence. (And his home/road splits in 2005 are heavily favored towards the road, so one wonders if leaving Pro Robbie Stadium will help him.)
But guess what, he has trouble with baserunners. He threw out 29 out of 119 baserunners for a total of just a shade under 25% last season. So the Mets really did get Piazza lite. And after basically spending the entire season counting down the days until Piazza was removed from this team, the Mets have basicallly gone and gotten his clone.
This could be the prelude to another trade during the winter meetings which start, uuuuuh, now. But if it's not, and especially if the Mets did get Lo Duca just to trade him only to fail, then the price was too high.