It’s rare to write about Major League Baseball – the New York Mets specifically – and not fall into the usual daily depressing nitpicking, the armchair quarterbacking, that the organization seems to have provided it’s loyal fans the last few years.
The New York Mets are certainly a sports writers dream considering that they are rarely boring – if anything else. Occasionally though , we find ourselves lucky to come across someone with an idea that transcends the average everyday doldrums of meaningless September baseball. Former New York Met Brent Mayne is that man.
Brent is a former Major League catcher whose career spanned 15 seasons, from 1989 to 2004. Most of his career was spent with the Kansas City Royals, but he also played for the Mets back in 1996, the A’s, Giants, Rockies, D’Backs and the Dodgers.
Catching is Brent’s passion, as told in his book, “The Art of Catching” and his website brentmayne.com. His knowledge of what many in the baseball world have called the “tools of ignorance”, clearly shows fans and pro’s alike, that this man is no fool regarding his craft. What caught my eye about this former Met backstop was a promising idea – A Glove Drive – in which he came up with after a trip he made to Italy.
The idea, like most great ideas, start off in such simplistic ways that you tend to ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of doing that?” Brent basically had the idea for people to scrounge up their old baseball gloves and put them in the hands of kids in need. It’s not the re-invention of the wheel – but like most ideas we may come up with in our minds – very few of us put those ideas into play.
I had an opportunity to ask Brent a few questions about the glove drive and few regarding the game he’s come to love with a passion over the years – as most of us have as well.
Joe Spector – Brent thank you for your time. I was wondering what inspired you to do a glove drive and where were you looking to focus your help?
Brent Mayne – I’ve been thinking about a glove drive for a long time. I’ve actually done similar things in the past, bringing equipment down to Mexico and Nicaragua. Kind of surf/goodwill missions. Anyway, these were a big success and so I thought, with the blog and all, that I’d try a similar thing with Art of Catching.
On Brent’s website he speaks about how he’s had local charities in California (Compton and Santa Ana) and international organizations in Mexico and Nicaragua, looking to assist in this endeavor. Like he’s said it doesn’t have to be a huge event, but everyone of us out there can help. To take part in this worthwhile effort – start rummaging through your attics and garage’s and send your gloves to:
The Art of Catching
2701 Harbor Blvd. E-2, #203
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Brent has offered everyone who donates a glove, The Art of Catching stickers and signed baseball cards as a personal thank you for your goodwill.
I went on to ask Brent a few other questions.
JS– You’ve written a book, “The Art of Catching” , have you ever considered throwing your hat into the MLB managing/coaching ring – especially considering so many great managers and coaches have been former catchers?
BM– As far as managing/coaching in professional baseball, not right now. I’ve got 3 kids, 2 of which are still in the house and I want to be around home. That actually is the big reason why I retired. So, to tell you the truth, if I wanted to still take part in the traveling circus, I’d still be playing. It’s a better job than coaching, you make way more dough, and even at 41, I still think I can do it. Maybe when the time is right I’ll try my hand at coaching.
I tried to pick Brent’s mind on what he thought of Mets catcher Josh Thole, but unfortunately he hasn’t really had the opportunity to see Josh play as of yet. However, I did lob him a juicy BP pitch of a question.
JS– Brent would you mind putting on your fantasy GM hat? What would General Manager Brent Mayne do to fix the New York Mets?
BM– You know what, I haven’t seen enough of the Mets to make a quality decision as a fantasy GM. From a distance though, in that ballpark, I’d follow the same template that a team like the Padres has…that is, pitching and defense with one big bopper.
It’s certainly an idea to consider. It’s not as if the Mets don’t have a few boppers in the lineup. Defensively they’ve been one of the best in the majors this year, ranking 7th in fewest errors. Pitching of course is the key and with the recent injury and later surgery for Johan Santana, pitching in 2011 will clearly be the prominent question mark for the New York Mets, eclipsing any attention it’s garnered this year.
Baseball is a funny game. Every stat in the books can’t judge if a player is definitely going to have a breakout year or have a polar opposite. Just like when the ball rolled under Buckner’s glove – little did he know when he woke up that day he would be an out away from being a World Champion – and have that dream erased due to bad knees and even worse luck. Keith Hernandez loves to quote a former teammate of his, Joaquin Andujar, who apparently channeled Yogi Berra when he said you can sum up Baseball in one word….
“…you just never know.”
One thing I do know is that guys like Brent Mayne represent the best this great game has to offer. Maybe we should at least for a day, put aside the bickering and the consternation the Metropolitans tend to offer us and head over to Brent’s site and perhaps even more importantly, find your old unused baseball gloves and send them over to Brent.
Let’s make a difference in a kid’s life by giving them a real chance to enjoy this game we’ve all grown to love, because you just never know.