Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bird Brain

Karma's a bitch, ain't it John Thomson?

Let's review: you found it necessary to use Paul Lo Duca and Cliff Floyd as examples as to why you wouldn't sign with the Mets.

Well let's ask a question: If you knew that Victor Zambrano, who is forever one pitch away from disaster, was going to pitch for the Blue Jays...would you have signed there?

Does Victor Zambrano meet your high standards of professionalism, talent, and health?

No really, I'd like to know.

Congratulations! You've passed up Paul Lo Duca for what's behind door number three...and you got a year's supply of canned squid. That'll teach you to open your mouth. Take solace though, I hear the Toronto school systems are excellent.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hate Muscles

While some may be spending the off-season on the banquet tour and making personal appearances or shooting guest spots for "Ugly Betty" (which by the way I will never watch just for the pure fact that the population of Queens is inaccurately portrayed as a bunch of high-haired Jersey stereotypes from Wildwood) or the Jerry Springer Show (like our friend A.J. Pierzynski), your blogger is pulling a Clubber Lang, pining away in a dingy basement dripping with toilet condensation, flexing his hate muscles in preparation for the upcoming season. I've learned, much like players have learned years ago, that you can't use spring training to get in shape, you have to hit spring training in your prime. That's why I'm sitting around continuing to yell at the television months after Busch Stadium was littered with red and white confetti.

Because you see, while others are flexing muscles of the physical persuasion, the muscles I work on are the catharctic muscles of the soul, the ability to channel my passion into well timed expletives at the television screen, pretending they can hear other words, hate muscles. I very well can't go through October through March being a nice decent human being, and then all of a sudden perform and instant morph into, with apologies to Pat Verbeek, the little ball of hate that I usually am and heckle the tee-vee when Tony La Russa shows up on it...I could pull a muscle.

What I am learning this winter is that sometimes, hate makes strange bedfellows. Take this past weekend's disaster involving the New England Patriots. Those who know me well know that the Pats have become the NFL's answer to the New York Yankees when it comes to teams that I root against on general principle. There are many similarities when it comes to both franchises: each team with a Golden Boy that hawks Movado watches in his spare time. Both with head coaches that are classic cases of "good turns evil" (although one merely plays the part on television, the other is an honest to goodness classless imbecile.) One resides in my backyard, one resides in my division.

So imagine my surprise not only when the Colts finally vanquished the Patriots, but when the people that came up to me telling me how happy they were that the Patriots and their sparkling tooth quarterback Brady were finally eliminated were...

Yankee fans?

Wait a second, the same Yankee fans who go around Las Vegas and cheer audibly when the house wins...the same Yankee fans who have the sparkling tooth shortstop to go along with the sparkling tooth quarterback...are happy to see their NFL counterparts die?


Yeah I know, some Yankee fans are probably frustrated Jets fans as well, but does anyone see the irony in this?

Bill Simmons, a diehard Boston sports fan, wrote a great column which not only drew the parallels between the Yankees (who he hates) and the Patriots (who he loves), but also wonders if we, in our vacuum of sports, hate too much? Well I'm not going to advocate hating any less...but hating for the sake of hating can probably be hazardous to your health. After the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993, I can remember being sick of those guys, hoping that their run would come to a swift and painless end the following season (which it did, along with an entire round of playoffs). But then as the Yankees were winning championship after championship in the late nineties, and capping their run off with me in attendance, you know what I thought?

Damn...I miss the Blue Jays.

These are the kinds of things I learn through my off-season hate training program while I find new things to complain about. And yes, after the Mets did the right thing and kept Willie Randolph from touching down at Port St. Lucie as a lame duck (for which I give full marks), I do need to find new things to complain about (Aaron Sele...maybe?) Rest assured that I'm in my dingy basement working on my "hate pecks", finding that new and exciting thing to be hateful about...but know that I will do so selectively and thoughtfully, so as not to pull a muscle.

Now what did you say, Jimmy Rollins? I'll beat you like a dog...a dog! You hear?

(Oh, and P.S., Since Rex Grossman admitted that he didn't really try in that last Bears game against the Packers, and in the process cost me an extra $400, I don't think I would put any of my hate muscles in danger by pulling for the Colts on February 4th to end the Bears' season miserably. However I have no doubt that the Bears will cover the spread just to piss off anyone who would lay the points. Colts 29, Bears 24)

Monday, January 22, 2007

As Usual, Blame La Russa

The latest "what the heck are they thinking" moment from the Mets centers around the lack of a new contract for manager Willie Randolph, the man who helped to lead the charge out of incompetence from the days of Arthur Howe.

Some would say that it's just another salvo in the long line of thinking by owners and GM's like Billy Beane that managers are nothing more than village idiots with the keys to the townhouse.

But what if the Wilpon's took special heed to the job Tony La Russa did with the 83-win St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs? (After all they, and we, got a first hand look.) What if the Wilpons are under the misguided notion that "hey, think of how good the Mets would be with a tactical genius like Tony La Russa?"

Sure, Willie Randolph was questioned mightily in his first season on the job...more so than in 2006 with a more talented roster that some would think would cover up Randolph's "rookie" mistakes. But how exactly did La Russa do with those late 80's Oakland teams? If he's such a great tactician, how could he not have won more than one title with a team that faced three vastly inferior teams on paper in three World Series?

Probably because managers like La Russa and Bobby Valentine need less to do more.

Perhaps because managers like Willie Randolph knows that with more, all he needs to do is stay out of the way.

The Wilpons have given Willie Randolph more talent than they've given most if not all of his predecessors. It's time to give him a new contract...and stay out of his way.


Meanwhile, our friend Cliff Floyd is growing ever closer to becoming a hometown Chicago Cub thanks to, off all things, an unselfish position change by Alfonso Soriano.

According to John Thomson, if Jeff Samardzija had known that this was going to happen, he would have chosen to play football.

Unfortunately for Floyd, Samardzija might be the best pitcher the Cubs signed all off-season.

Nevertheless, we wish Cliff Cornelius well. Let's reserve a standing "O" for him on May 14th.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sierra Mist

So it's the Texas Rangers who are going to take a chance on Sammy Sosa, and not the New York Mets.

But fear not, for it wasn't the fact that the Mets were outbid for his services. No, the Flushing Nine used some restraint in keeping away from Sosa.

Mets brass have reasoned that with an organization filled with veteran presence such as Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, Julio Franco, Damion Easley, Benito Santiago, Wil Cordero, Jose Offerman, and now are very close to signing Ruben Sierra, it's become clear as to what the Mets line of thinking is.

Sammy Sosa is obviously too young and inexperienced to play in Queens.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Campaign

I want Endy Chavez in the 2007 All-Star Game.

See, the people at had the right idea. They wanted to recognize Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick as a representative of "all the players who work hard behind the scenes and never get any recognition", and started a campaign to vote him into the 2006-07 NHL all-star game. The campaign almost worked, as Fitzpatrick and his one point in 2006-07 finished third in the voting among Western Conference defensemen, hence relegating himself to "first runner up."

Seeing as if baseball's all-star extravaganza actually means something (which of course we all know is a mistake), it would be fruitless to, say, vote in somebody like Julio Franco or Shingo Takatsu or somebody equally useless. So I propose Endy Chavez who, while he has received plenty of recognition for his stellar play in last season's Game 7 alone, a vote for Endy Chavez is a vote for the player who learns from past mistakes, and perseveres long enough to make a difference later in their career without being "baseball royalty".

What? You say that voting for Endy Chavez would be a farcical vote? Do you agree with the NHL types who thought that voting for Rory Fitzpatrick was a farce because only All-Stars should be on an All-Star team?

Well it's a logical line of thinking. But with the chance to choose real All-Stars after the Rory Fitzpatrick "scare" subsided, the NHL responded by sending Blackhawks winger Martin Havlat, who missed 21 games due to injury, and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg with his 33 points to the All-Star Game instead of Paul Kariya, who has 47 points? (Ooh, here's an idea: let's open up the game so that everybody scores more, then fail to reward the players that score the most points to go to the All-Star game!)

Well, if the NHL could screw this up, don't you think that Major League Baseball is capable of the same thing? Remember, this is the same league that chose Barry Zito to join the All-Star team in 2003, then turned around and said "aah, sorry Barry...but Roger Clemens is in all of the commercials so we have to bring him so you're staying home."

Certainly in a world where Bobby Bonilla can receive two votes for baseball's Hall of Fame, we can muster up enough votes to get Endy Chavez into 2007's All Star game, right? So I say, let's not give MLB the chance to change their minds. I say go forth and vote Endy Chavez to the All-Star game in San Francisco...the home of Barry Bonds I might add...and make sure that Chavez is playing left field instead of Bonds. Stop baseball royalty and reward the little guy. Reward the perseverance. Reward the catch. And let's piss off the baseball establishment together., anyone?


About the only thing that made me sadder than hearing that Todd Pratt was invited to Yankees' spring training was being told that Entenmann's was ceasing the selling of their cakes and cookies.

The good news is that the Entenmann's info that I received was slightly exaggerated, and that we will still be able to buy great items such as Marshmallow Iced Devil's Food Cake, and Chocolate Frosted Donuts.

The bad news is that the Todd Pratt information is not exaggerated, and he might be on the Yankees' roster come April 1st.

Think of how "It's a Wonderful Life" would have ended if George Bailey worked for Henry Potter at the end. That's the possibility we face as Todd Pratt, a good guy, might end his major league career as a New York Yankee.

It's a bitter-ful life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Jackass Three: The Pitcher

Someone once said about me that "yeah you're a good writer, but you're much better when confronted with an enemy." After the better part of two seasons doing this blogging thing, having the same enemies all the time can get stale sometimes. I mean, Roger Clemens worships Satan. We know this. It's old news at this point. Bobby Bonilla? We've been through that hundreds of times. Rey Ordonez? Hating Rey Ordonez is so bourjois sometimes (I'm gonna have to call you back).

Sometimes a new enemy is needed to get the juices flowing and breathe new life into a blog...kind of like people got sick of seeing Batman fight the same three villains over and over again.

Well folks, we have our new villain.

John Thomson signed a half million dollar deal with the Toronto Blue Jays today. Apparently, Thomson's choice came down to the Jays and a return to the New York Mets. But the reason Thomson turned down the Mets major league contract offer was...Paul Lo Duca?

"As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I'm not really into how he acts behind the plate...I know a bit about Gregg Zaun and I know he wants to win and he's not going to let anything get in his way to do that, and I like that."
That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Now I have nothing against Gregg Zaun. I know a guy who once played golf with Gregg Zaun, so I'm not going to go and rip Gregg Zaun. But may I remind you, John Thomson, that Gregg Zaun was nowhere near the playoffs last year while, alas, Paul Lo Duca was not only one game from the World Series, but drew a walk in Game 7 with the game on the line to set up Carlos Beltran's ill fated at bat? (Not to mention that Lo Duca was pinch run for so he was in no way shape or form responsible for Beltran striking out?)

And John, if you don't mind me asking, how the hell does Paul Lo Duca act behind the plate??!?

Does he sing showtunes?

Does he use the word "guestimate" when the word "estimate" would suffice?

Does his breath smell like week old yogurt that's been in the sun?


Because wanting to win is so important to you John. And I'm trying to understand why a human being who went 2-6 with a 4.31 ERA when he had his chance to win in New York to bring the Mets back into the pennant race insinuate that another human being doesn't want to win. Did you want to win? Did you want to win when you gave up 39 runs in 54 innings? How exactly did you act while on the mound?

You acted like a country bumpkin afraid to pitch in the big city. That's how you acted. It's certainly how you pitched. It's how you pitched on August 3rd, 2002 in your Mets debut when your error allowed four runs to score before giving up a home run to Jay Bell...Jay Bell!

I'm beginning to think that the only time you're not scared is when it comes to ripping guys that you've never played with from miles away when you know they're not coming up on the interleague schedule in 2007. Now you're brave, eh? Maybe if you would have translated some of your bravery to the pitching mound when you were a Met...where your two victories came in games where you got 21 runs of support combined. Maybe you could have used some of that bravery when you were deciding where to pitch in 2003 when you couldn't wait to bolt New York to go pitch in mega-metropoli such as Arlington and Atlanta, where catchers didn't act like Paul Lo Duca and your left fielder was Shane Spencer.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the calibre of left fielder played a part in Thomson's decision? Check out this nugget of brilliance from Thomson today:

"And then with Vernon Wells in center field, I'm not really concerned about the outfield with him out there. ... Just watching the Mets' outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it's not a real good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he's a little shaky."
All right John, maybe you weren't good at geography as a kid, but let me make you a few points:
  1. Vernon Wells is in center field. So if you were going to compare him to someone, how about Mets center fielder and gold glove candidate Carlos Beltran? Moron.
  2. Cliff Floyd isn't even going to be back with the Mets in 2007, and anyone with half a brain would know that. Moron.
  3. You wish you had a left fielder that hauled his injured ass around the outfield at his top speed and dove and crashed around like Cliff Floyd. You wish that because, here's a newsflash: Cliff Floyd wants to WIN!!! And after today, Cliff Floyd also wants to shove a bat clear up your ass!
  4. Have you met Endy Chavez?
Oh, and one more thing...Cliff Floyd is still a free agent, and it's a distinct possibility that he could have signed with the Blue Jays. But maybe now he isn't going to because he sees your lame ass on the mound and doesn't feel like playing behind a pitcher who demands that his outfielders are superb defensively to cover up all the mistakes you're going to make because, well, you're not that moron!

And speaking of being not that good, I have one more question: Why on God's green earth did the Mets even think of signing John Thomson? To teach Mike Pelfrey how to pitch scared? To instruct Phil Humber on the finer points of ripping guys who you don't know? Because it certainly wasn't because Thomson's an ace.

Nice to know that we hear why everybody doesn't want to come to the Mets, and why everybody wants to go somewhere else. Why should John Thomson be any different?

Well he is different. Because on top of wanting to be somewhere other than here, he's a moron! And he's our new villain.


Hall Of Nuts

Obviously, we must discuss something.

Now we all know that there are distressing things happening in the world of baseball, and sometimes we treat them like the elephant in the punch bowl that nobody will talk about.

Well I'm here to talk about it. I'm here to talk about the controversy regarding today's baseball hall of fame vote. It's there and we have to get through it.

My feeling is that baseball had a chance to make a significant statement today and failed miserably. The results show that the process needs to be blown up and started all over again. Baseball needs to revisit the criteria for deciding who gets to vote for the most hallowed ground that baseball has to offer. It's obvious to me that certain people need to have their votes taken away.

Namely, the two writers who voted for Bobby Bonilla.

Were these voters raised by wolves?

I mean, you want to hand in blank ballots and make a statement about steroids? Fine by me. This was a season in which Tom Seaver's record percentage of "YES" vote percentage was truly in jeopardy considering the players up for election. But there were dopes back then who handed in blank ballots so why shouldn't there be dopes now? I for one am glad that Seaver's record lives for another year.

You want to vote for Mark McGwire? No skin off my nose. Hey, there's no real evidence that McGwire cheated anyway...just circumstantial evidence and a stonewalling of congress. And what's a few denials among friends, right?

But you know what there is evidence of? There's evidence that Bobby Bonilla wore earplugs to drown out boos. There's evidence that Bobby Bonilla threatened to show a reporter...a reporter that's about twenty years older than him..."The Bronx". There's evidence that Bobby Bonilla played cards with Rickey Henderson while the rest of the team was fighting for their lives during the 1999 playoffs. And you know what other evidence is out there? There's evidence that in between all of this, Bonilla hit a home run during Game 7 of a World Series...for somebody else!

A vote for Bobby Bonilla is a vote for earplugs.

A vote for Bobby Bonilla is a vote for bullying.

A vote for Bobby Bonilla is a vote for card playing during the playoffs.

A vote for Bobby Bonilla is a vote for signing one of the richest contracts in the history of baseball, earning that money by arguing error calls with official scorers, then waiting until leaving the team that paid him eleven dollars a minute to shed his extra pounds and become a postseason hero for someone else!

I can't wait until the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot when two similarly oxygen deprived baseball writers decide that they're going to make a statement and vote for a guy that assaulted a Fenway Park groundskeeper, urinated on the wall of a pizza place before assaulting a delivery boy, and waited until leaving the Mets to get into shape, hit 34 home runs for some team called the Orix Buffaloes, and then sign with the Phillies for the express purpose of getting a key hit to knock the Mets out of the 2007 playoffs.

Damn you in advance, Karim Garcia.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Welcome, And A Welcome Back

Welcome to New York, David Newhan.

Being someone who has never played in New York City before, let me be among the first to welcome you. And feel free to peruse the following Do's and Dont's list put together especially for you.

Well actually, it was originally put together for Barry Zito. But if you bake a cake for someone who doesn't show up, why let the cake go to waste, right? So David, enjoy. And don't say I didn't try to help:

DO: Feel free to enjoy the vast nightlife in New York City.
DON'T: Go bar hopping with Paris, Britney and Lindsay.
DO: Buy yourself an ambiance CD do drown out the hustle and the bustle of the city if it's too loud.
DON'T: Put earplugs in your ears to drown out the boos of the crowd if they're too loud.
DO: Feel free to appear on the radio or television show if you are asked to provide some in-depth analysis on the New York Mets.
DON'T: Appear in a "Don't Snitch" video with Carmelo Anthony.
DO: Enjoy the diverse assortment of food that you can find in restaurants that span the many cultures of New York.
DON'T: Travel to one of these restaurants in a taxi at 2AM.
DO: Swing on 3-0 counts.
DON'T: Break your hand punching a wall if that 3-0 pitch his popped up with the tying run on third base.
DO: Enjoy fireworks night.
DON'T: Be an active participant near a group of young fans.
DO: Bleach your whites.
DON'T: Bleach reporters.
DO: Buy a nice house in Connecticut and commute.
DON'T: Share a taxi with Tom Glavine.
DO: Steal our hearts.
DON'T: Steal Moises Alou's identity.
DO: Take some important at-bats from Julio Franco.
DON'T: Take some important egg whites from Julio Franco.


And I would be insensitive if I didn't provide a hearty "Welcome Back To The Majors" hello to Roger Cedeno, who was officially signed by the Orioles this weekend after a one season layoff from the major leagues. It reminds me of the Keith Hernandez quote that was brought to my attention by the incomparable Matt Cerrone:

"He plays center like he's being chased by a bee."
Proving that Keith was not hallucinating, here is an exclusive image of Cedeno playing center field in his Mets days:

Thursday, January 04, 2007

In Search Of...

So I find myself in a high stakes Omaha hold 'em game in Reno for New Year's know, drowning my sorrows after the ink was dry on the Barry Zito contract. I was despondent. I was inconsolable. I was losing money left and right. And that's when the big winner of the night fed me the wisest words I had heard in weeks:

"A three is good. A nine is okay. But only an ace can save the day."
And it hit must go on.

So after hitting 5 straight runs at the table, winning all my money back and then some, I got up and left the game. I knew what I had to do.

I was off to find...the elusive "ace".

With my newfound winnings, I took a bus to Vallejo, CA...the birthplace of C.C. hopes of finding the trade rumor that would bring him to Queens. But after knocking on every door on the block, I could not find any leads on C.C. Sabathia. I was about to give up when I found C.C.'s aunt's daughter's boyfriend's hairstylist's mailman...who told me that if it was an ace that I was seeking, I only needed to follow my heart.

Well my heart brought me to the Fog City Diner on Battery St., and the sight I saw disturbed me:

Was this my ace?

"Excuse me sir, are we trading Lastings Milledge for you?"

He mumbled incoherently and got some banana spittle on my Todd Zeile jersey. I was ready to give up when the mysterious pie eater stopped me and whispered in my ear:

"If you build it, I will come."

"Build what? What are you talking about?"

"An In-N-Out Burger. I love that place."

I finally gave up and went to the airport. I needed to go somewhere...anywhere. I just needed to find an ace. Problem was, all the flights were delayed because of nasty weather emanating from the black cloud over Met fans heads. The one that was following this particular Met fan shut down all of the runways.

So I'm at SFO (recently renamed "Zito International") when another strange figure approached me. He looked lost with a surfboard in one hand and a spliff in the other. But we caught eyes and he approached me with a clarity and focus I never thought I would see from this long-haired surfer dude.

"I hear you're looking for an ace."

"Are you the ace I'm looking for?"

"Nah, dude" he said as he laughed. "My brother Jared is the ace. I'm just plain old Jeff Weaver."

"If you're not an ace, then how the hell did you pitch like one in Game 5 of the NLCS" I puzzlingly ask.

"Dude, to find the inner ace, you need focus. And sometimes, you need to travel to places you never thought you would go."

With that, Weaver handed me a plane ticket and an envelope which he told me not to open until I found my destination (which knowing Weaver would be jail since the envelope would probably contain illicit drugs that I would be transporting across state lines.) Well let's see where this plane ticket is for...

So here I am in the mountains of Tibet proving that either I'll go just about anywhere for the cause, or that I've gone completely out of my mind.

I saw a figure in the far off distance. I couldn't quite tell what he was doing all alone in the mountains but he seemed to be all arms and legs. Then I heard the sounds:




This had to be it, Jeff Weaver had sent me to Tibet to find my ace and I found him! But why here? Why all the way out here? I mean, I know that Omar Minaya is willing to go to the Caribbean and to Japan and Korea and what not, but all the way out here? The mountains? Maybe Omar will give me a signing bonus.

As I moved closer I could faintly make out the figure...

"Excuse me", I said to the imposing figure. "Are you my ace?"

"Ah, you are the seeker of the ace. You have an envelope for me?"

"How did you know about the envelope?"

"Young lad, you'd be surprised what you can see from the top of a mountain."

So I handed him the envelope hoping that he could make a little sense out of it. Surely, the envelope would tell the gangly figure with the hard fastball that he was to come to Shea immediately for his press conference.

"Young lad, the message inside the envelope says to...beware Tim Leary."

"That's it?" I asked. "Jeff Weaver sent me all the way to Tibet so that some guy could tell me to be wary of a guy who blew out his arm 25 years ago?"

"No my lad, not the pitcher...the LSD guy."

"Damn that Jeff Weaver and his counter-culturalist lifestyle!"

"Son, do realize what you get when you translate Tim Leary to Japanese?"

"No, what is the Japanese translation of Tim Leary?"


"So Jeff Weaver sent me to Tibet to find you so that you could tell me that the Mets shouldn't sign Tomo Ohka?"

"I guess so."

"But sir...your fastball! You're phenomenal! I was sent to look for an ace and I found you with your fastball and your bare foot and your flugal must be my ace!"

"Dude, I'm 50 years old...I'm nobody's ace."

"Well we got two guys who are pushing fifty, you'd fit right in."

"My young friend, you've learned much in your travels. If you learn nothing else this whole trip, learn this: Sometimes you have to travel the earth to find out that what you're looking for is right under your nose."

"So there's an ace under my nose?"

"My friend, with your newfound knowledge I'm sure you can figure that out."

"Anything else you can tell me?"

"Yeah, protect the plate, step on the egg, and squash the bug."

And with that, I returned home for with the popping of fastballs a distant memory, yet a constant echo. I've looked far and wide only to find out that home is where the ace is. Which ace? Who knows. I suppose we'll find out when the mitts start popping in Port St. Lucie. If they sound anything like what I heard in Tibet...well maybe that ace will indeed have been right under our noses all along.