Mets Merized Online » Mickey Mantle http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 An All Star Game To Remember http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/an-all-star-game-to-remember.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/an-all-star-game-to-remember.html/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:44:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160725 beatles2_1024

1964 was a bustling time in our nation’s history. With America still reeling from the shock of our president being assassinated on the streets of Dallas, we were under invasion by a group of four long haired lads from Liverpool. New President Lyndon Johnson declared a ‘War on Poverty.’ Average annual income in America was $6000, a new house cost $13,000, a new car $3500. For $1.25 you could purchase a movie ticket, for $4.50 you could fill your car.

Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win an Oscar for his role in “Lilies of the Field.” Ford unveiled a new sports car called the Mustang, a game show named “Jeopardy” premiered and another group from England, this one calling themselves the Rolling Stones, released their debut album. In New York, a group of twelve young men were arrested for their rebellious act against the establishment. In what is regarded as the first anti-war protest of the decade, they publicly burned their draft cards in protest of our growing involvement in a place half way around the world most Americans could not locate on a map. A place called Vietnam.

People in NY were excited. Not only were we hosting the World’s Fair but with the opening of Shea Stadium, NL baseball was officially back in NY. With this new state-of-the-art modern facility that could be modified for football, Mets fans were ecstatic. In only the 31st game ever played at Shea, Jim Bunning tossed a Perfect Game. It was the seventh perfecto in history and the first in the NL since John Montgomery Ward tossed one against the Buffalo Bisons in 1880.

Now it was time for our home to appear in the National spotlight. 50,850 packed Shea as the Mets hosted the 35th All-Star Game. The 1964 midsummer classic is regarded by historians as one of the best ever. Walt Alston managed the NL club and Al Lopez piloted the AL players. Current Mets manager Casey Stengel and future Mets manager Gil Hodges were coaches. Dean Chance took the mound for the AL, Don Drysdale for the NL. The Mets own Ron Hunt started at second base. Of the 18 starting players, eight wound wind up in Cooperstown.

Batting Orders

American League                                                                 National League

Jim Fregosi  (SS)                                                                  Roberto Clemente   (RF)

Tony Oliva   (RF)                                                                   Dick Groat         (SS)

Mickey Mantle  (CF)                                                              Billy Williams    (LF)

Harmon Killebrew  (LF)                                                         Willie Mays     (CF)

Bob Allison    (1B)                                                                 Orlando Cepeda  (1B)

Brooks Robinson  (3B)                                                          Ken Boyer     (3B)

Bobby Richardson  (2B)                                                        Joe Torre      (C)

Elston Howard     (C)                                                             Ron Hunt       (2B)

The AL wasted no time taking the lead. Fregosi opened the game with a solid hit to left field, moved to second base on a passed ball and scored two outs later on a rocket to left off the bat of Harmon Killebrew. 1-0 AL.

1964-allstar-game-ron-hunt - Copy

LA Angels’ Dean Chance baffled the NL for three innings. In the fourth he was replaced by John Wyatt of the Kansas City A’s. Billy Williams welcomed Wyatt to the game by leading off the fourth with a solo home run. Later that inning a solo blast by Ken Boyer put the NL on top, 2-1.

The NL added to the lead in the fifth. With two outs, Clemente singled up the middle off of Camilio Pascual. Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat doubled, Clemente raced home and the NL was up 3-1.

The American League rallied to tie the game in the sixth. After Oliva was fanned, Mantle and Killebrew singled. Brooks Robinson hit a line drive to the power alley in left-center. The ball rolled to the wall, Mantle and Killebrew scored. 3-3.

The AL recaptured the lead in the seventh when Elston Howard was hit by a Turk Farrell pitch. Pinch-hitter Rocky Colavito doubled, making it second and third. Fregosi hit a sac-fly to center that scored Howard and put the AL back on top, 4-3.

Boston’s Dick Radatz came in and once again the NL hitters were baffled. Radatz struck out 4 of the 6 batters he faced in the 7th and 8th. Juan Marichal made quick work of the AL in the top of the 9th. Radatz took the mound in the bottom half of the frame needing only three outs. But he’d have to face the heart of the NL’s potent lineup.

1964All-StarGame

Mays opened the inning with a walk and stole second. With the tying run in scoring position, Mays’ teammate Orlando Cepeda dug in. He hit a pop fly to short right that dropped. Mays scored easily to tie the game at 4-4. Cepeda, who took second on the throw home, was replaced by pinch runner Curt Flood. Ken Boyer popped out for the first out. Reds catcher Johnny Edward was intentionally walked to set up the DP. With runners on first and second and the game knotted at four in the bottom of the ninth, who was due up but none other than our own Ron Hunt, the Mets sole representative.

Manager Alston, however, decided to pinch hit for Hunt with Hank Aaron. The future HR king was fanned and it seemed like Radatz would get out of the jam when Phillies outfielder Johnny Callison stepped to the plate. Callison sent the first pitch high and deep and the ball sailed over the right field wall and gave the NL an improbable come from behind 7-4 victory, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth. The Phillies outfielder joined Ted Williams and Stan Musial as the only players to win an All-Star Game on a walk-off HR.

It was a great and memorable All Star moment and it happened right here in Flushing, right here at Big Shea.

MMO footer

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Amazin’ Moments: Willie Comes Home http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/amazin-mets-moments-willie-comes-home.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/amazin-mets-moments-willie-comes-home.html/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112167 As we all know, the Mets were created fill the gap left after the departure of the Giants and the Dodgers from the city of New York following the 1957 season. In the four year period before the advent of the Amazin’s, Gotham’s National League fans were left to follow their teams as best they could from afar (remember, no cable TV at this time nor webcasts, and radio coverage was spotty at best if you were following a west coast team). 

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For die-hard fans, and there were many, this was a hardship that was duly noted by the fledgling Met ownership which sought to assuage (or exploit, depending on how you look at it) their feelings of abandonment by bringing in notable Dodger greats like Gil Hodges and Duke Snider for a last go-round in a Met uniform.

But for fans of the “New York baseball Giants” as they were once referred to, there were no remaining links to the glory days of the team. Instead, they were left to scan the box scores or change their allegiance to the Yankees. The latter choice was anathema to most of the Giant faithful, including my father, who had regaled me with stories of following the 1951 pennant race by radio as many had done, and had exulted with much of the city as Bobby Thomson’s  “Shot Heard Round the World” was broadcast. His favorite player was not Thomson, however. It was the Giants’ wunderkind, Willie Mays.

Mays had a place in New York baseball folklore as part of a triumvirate of great center fielders along with Mickey Mantle and the Duke, but had a penchant for near-mythical displays that seemed to supersede his contemporaries. Who could forget “The Catch” where he tracked down Vic Wertz’ missile in the 1948 World Series or “The Throw” where he ran to catch a shot in the right field gap and spun on the dead run to unleash a throw like no one had ever seen to catch the Dodgers’ Billy Cox at the plate? Not to mention an MVP season in 1954 and a 1955 season where he clubbed 51 homers, a feat that was downright uncommon in the pre-steroid era.

willie2Mays would go on to more glory with the Giants, including a pennant in 1962, another MVP in 1965, Gold Gloves, perennial All Star appearances, and all the things that fans bask in when their team and their favorite player are in the limelight. But Mays was San Francisco’s now, even if those fans more readily embraced Willie McCovey. New York fans were left with their memories…and the Mets.

So, when the buzz began in May of 1972 that a deal was in the works to bring Willie back to the east coast, the “sleeping Giant” so to speak, of 1950’s New York baseball fandom began to stir. And lo, so it was, for a mere $50,000 and a middling right-hander named Charlie Williams, the Mets finally obtained what may have been the most symbolic link to the city’s baseball legacy.  And, largely symbolic it was, because at 41 years of age, Mays was clearly a shadow of his former self as a player. Still, his mere presence in a Met uniform was enough to drive fans into a state of excitement usually reserved for visits from the President or the Pope.

Fans flocked to Shea for the series against Mays’ now former employers the Giants. Willie was set to make his debut as a Met in the Sunday game on May 14th, but when the team needed a pinch hitter in the Friday game prior, fans began clamoring for manager Yogi Berra to send him to the plate. When John Milner emerged from the dugout instead, he was booed roundly “for not being Willie Mays” as I recall the announcer Lindsey Nelson reporting. Finally, the big day arrived and Mays was in the lineup, leading off and playing center field.

willie-mays2My dad and I watched the game together. He had been a fairly hard core NY Giants fan but had come over to the Met side of the dugout for the most part as his kids had “caught baseball fever” as a MLB marketing campaign had urged and gotten swept up in the championship run of 1969. But today was all about number 24 and his return to the fold.

If you are familiar with the game, you know that it began auspiciously for the Mets, with Giants pitcher Sam McDowell walking the bases full and then surrendering a grand slam to Rusty Staub. By the bottom of the fifth however, the Giants had tied the score and McDowell had been lifted in favor of right hander Don Carrithers. Mays led off the inning and unloaded on a fastball. As the ball cleared the fence in left and Mays trotted around the bases for the 647th time in his career, my father stopped grinning long enough to tell me “That’s the way it should be.” Cornball, but I swear it’s a true story.

That homer provided the winning edge as the Mets prevailed 5-4, and even though moments like that would be few and far between for the balance of Mays’ Mets career, the memory of that triumphant return and its near-poetic climax (hitting the homer in the bottom of the ninth would have clinched the poetic part, but let’s not squabble over details) remains indelible. The Mets and Mays had helped the New York branch of Giant fans to reclaim at least part of their legacy and gave the team that abandoned them a swat in the process. For that day, it was enough.

mmo presented

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Ike Davis and Athletes Being Athletes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/ike-davis-and-athletes-being-athletes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/ike-davis-and-athletes-being-athletes.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:42:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148930 ike davis cage 2

Before the furor grows over the Ike Davis revelation that he played almost the entire season last year with an oblique injury, Met fans should slow down and consider what that fact means relative to Davis’s current standing on the team. I expect Davis will be roundly criticized for not disclosing the injury. In fact, it was not Davis’s intention to disclose his physical limitations at all. He only affirmed the injury when other sources, aware of his physical issue spilled the beans.

Playing hurt is old school baseball, expected baseball behavior of past generations, but something that seems almost alien against modern standards when a toenail can keep a player off the field for a month. As proof of that fact here’s Walter Bingham writing about Mickey Mantle in Sports Illustrated in 1962.

“It was nothing less than a cold and ruthless gamble. Faced with a losing streak and the distasteful prospect of not winning the pennant for a change, the New York Yankees rushed the most valuable property in baseball back into action last week and ran the risk of losing him forever.

Mickey Mantle’s legs had not yet healed, as anyone could see. He limped when he walked and staggered when he swung. He ran stiff-legged and he was unable, or afraid, to make turns. He was not, in short, ready.

The front office denied that it had ordered Mickey’s early return, insisting that Mantle had made the decision himself (and ignoring the fact that most ballplayers—and particularly Mantle—will always insist that they are ready to play, even flat on their backs), but it was undeniable that the Yankee brass had permitted Mantle to play before he had fully recovered. It was a decision made out of desperation.”

Bingham was right then and his words ring true now – most ballplayers of that era, ignoring their physical reality when facing injury, insisted they were ready to play, when in fact they were not. The same egos that helped drive an athlete to commit the time and dedication required of acquiring the skills needed to play a professional sport, often skew reality when evaluating physical limitations when playing hurt. No one challenged Willis Reed’s loyalty to his team when he pulled himself on the basketball court dragging one leg behind him to play in a Game Seven championship game for the New York Mets.

Now, before you have my head, in no way am I implying Ike’s playing through oblique issues matched the heroic former deeds of guys like Mickey Mantle and Willis Reed. I’m simply making the point, a point every high school or youth sports coach inherently understands; when facing a sports injury an athlete will almost always minimize the injury and attempt to play hurt.

Rather than throw ice water on Ike for not being a team player using the fact he played injured as another reason to dump him, stop and take consider what the injury may have meant to his performance last season and to the possibility of a dramatic uptick on the baseball diamond this summer.

In a Sunday column he wrote for the Daily News addressing the Braves signing their homegrown talent to long term contracts, sports columnist Bill Madden makes an interesting point about Atlanta’s willingness to sign an emerging Freddie Freeman to a big money multi year deal. Here’s what Madden says. “The bigger picture here for baseball is the vanishing 25-30 homer hitter and the accompanying law of supply and demand. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were only 30 hitters in baseball last year with 25 or more home runs, which was the lowest total since 1992. There were 65 in 2001, the height of the steroids era, and 55 as recently as 2009, three years after baseball began testing for amphetamines.”

Ike Davis is one year, a year we now learn he played with oblique issues, removed from hitting 32 home runs. The news of Davis playing hurt, regardless of how foolish that was on Ike’s part, doesn’t minimize what it means relative to Ike’s potential to hit the long ball.

Rather than add fuel to the fire that the Mets should be racing Ike for the exit doors, Ike’s admission of having played hurt should slow down such conjecture and put caution and reason into play when evaluating his future as a Met.

Was withholding medical information that he was suffering from oblique issues last season an informed smart move for Ike Davis? Of course not. In holding back his physical limitations, Ike seriously limited his playing capacity, thus placing his career in jeopardy. That fact does not minimize the fact that Ike Davis had and still has power potential, an incredibly shrinking asset in the modern game of baseball, something that should not be minimized because Ike let his ego get ahead of his reason and played hurt. In fact, news of Ike’s physical woes, not supplied willingly by Ike as an excuse, could help explain his horrid batting performance making it even more important Met brass slow down and take a wide angled, long-term look at what Ike could mean to the future of the Mets.

Presented By Diehards

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Could Matt Harvey Become A High Maintenance Super Nova? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/could-matt-harvey-become-a-high-maintenance-super-nova.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/could-matt-harvey-become-a-high-maintenance-super-nova.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 12:39:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148915 Could the New York Mets have a potential problem with Matt Harvey?

There are already signs of him being high maintenance … signs he enjoys the trappings of New York too much … signs he doesn’t handle injuries well … signs of being too sensitive … signs he knows he’s good and isn’t afraid to let you know.

Harvey has never pitched a complete season and is 12-10 lifetime. While we’re not talking about the second coming of Tom Seaver, Harvey seems to be carrying himself with a sense of entitlement and a “you can’t touch me’’ aura.

The latest is his reported reluctance to want to undergo his rehab in Port St. Lucie, which the Mets prefer, and desire to work out in New York.

After Harvey threw for the first time Saturday, general manager Sandy Alderson backed off saying where the 24-year-old 2010 will rehab, but made clear his preference.

“As a general rule, our players rehab in Florida,’’ Alderson said Saturday. “But that’s not a decision we’re going to make or mandate [now]. When we get to the end of spring training we’ll see where he is, and I’m sure there will be discussion between now and then.’’

MattHarvey1For somebody with 36 career starts, why should there even be discussion? If Port St. Lucie was good enough for David Wright and Pedro Martinez to rehab, it should be good enough for Harvey.

In fairness, we haven’t heard Harvey’s reasoning for his preference of New York, which leads to speculation, with little of it showing him in a good light.

Making this more touchy is this could go before the Players Association, as the collective bargaining agreement mandates a player can refuse his rehab in a spring training locale during the season for longer than 20 days.

“The CBA imposes limitations. Yeah,’’ Alderson said. “But in the past, for the most part, our players have been here and it’s been a good situation.’’

We know New York is Harvey’s home, has superior Italian food and a better nightlife than Port St. Lucie.

But, what’s the purpose here?

New York’s nightlife makes one wonder, as Harvey clearly enjoys the perks of being a star – even though that might be a premature characterization of his professional status. Harvey likes the clubs and openly spoke about his drinking in a Men’s Journal magazine piece.

“I’m young, I’m single,’’ he was quoted as saying. “I want to be in the mix. … I have a 48-hour rule. No drinking two days before a start. But, those other days? Yes, I’m gonna go out.’’

The bottom line: If you’re 24 and a high-profile figure, you shouldn’t need a rule about drinking. If he finds it necessary to have a rule, he shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.

Everybody these days has a phone with a camera. Harvey has already been caught several times in incidents of public displays of affection with his former supermodel girlfriend, Anne V. at Rangers and Knicks games, where he is gifted the tickets. More trappings.

He’s now seeing another model, Ashley Haas, which has his comments of wanting to be like Derek Jeter resurface. Of course, It is doubtful Jeter would have ever posed nude.

“That guy is the model,’’ he said. “I mean, first off, let’s just look at the women he’s dated. Obviously, he goes out – he’s meeting these girls somewhere – but you never hear about it. That’s where I want to be.’’

New York’s nightlife has burned out dozens of athletes. Look what it did for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Imagine what Mickey Mantle would have been able to accomplish with a little less drinking and womanizing.

And, as for Jeter, he’s not the Teflon he’s made out to be. Stories of sending his conquests home with a gift basket of memorabilia and forcing house guests to surrender their cell phones don’t portray him in a flattering light. Mom must be so proud.

Shortly after the magazine piece came out, Harvey complained about being misquoted and taken out of context. A reporter for a magazine profile records everything, so it is doubtful the quotes were manufactured. Backing off his comments shows a lack of accountability.

Harvey also got into it with WFAN talk-show host Joe Beningo, ripping him on Twitter and then deleting the post.

When it comes to fighting with a radio personality or the media in general, it is futile as it comes off as petty and unprofessional, plus, he’ll never have the last word.

The media isn’t as easy to bully as was former teammate Jon Rauch, whom Harvey forced out of town after challenging the former Mets reliever to a fight because he didn’t appreciate the rookie hazing, which included getting doused with water while sleeping on the trainer’s table.

If Harvey had a problem he could have confronted Rauch in private rather than making for a very uncomfortable clubhouse scene. That’s something somebody with a professional grasp on things would have done. Instead, he came off as behaving like Jordany Valdespin.

That’s not the only thing Harvey hasn’t handled well. Twice he wasn’t immediately forthcoming in disclosing injuries to the training staff, and arguably it led to his elbow surgery.

I want the best for Harvey. I want him to have a long and brilliant career. However, he has a long way to go, on and off the field. He hasn’t always shown good judgment and a case can be made it cost him this season.

He needs to reign himself in off the field, and that includes not making a big deal about where he rehabs. If reflects poorly on him and makes one wonder if this isn’t about carousing the bars with Haas and watching the Rangers.

If he maintains this course, instead of a franchise pitcher, he could end being a high maintenance super nova.

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A Yankee Lesson For Nimmo, Cecchini and Some Mets Fans http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-yankee-lesson-for-nimmo-cecchini-and-some-mets-fans.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-yankee-lesson-for-nimmo-cecchini-and-some-mets-fans.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 17:58:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140436 Jeter

A good friend of mine recently sent her only child, a son, off to college. I remember those times as heart wrenching moments when each of my three children left the nest. To occupy my mind, I would usually wrap myself around some kind of project. That may have been my friend’s strategy, too.

Knowing that I love reading about baseball, especially autobiographies, she appeared with a stack of sports books that she and her son had read over the years. Cleaning out the house is sometimes a good mind occupying project.

I got the chance to read “The Life You Imagine, Life Lessons For Achieving Your Dreams.” That’s a tome from the pen of Derek Jeter written in 2000 during the earlier years of his career.

As a Met fan and a contributor to Metsmerized and MetsMinors.net, I have read several threads over the last two years on many a Mets site, where people almost bayonet the Met front office for their first round draft selections of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. When both logged rather modest statistics during their first full season of baseball with identical .248 batting averages the howls were harsh and loud.

Imagine what the reaction may have been had either Met prospect brought home Derek Jeter’s stats during his first professional year. Moving directly from high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a 17-year old kid, Jeter was overwhelmed by his start in professional baseball. Jeter laughs at his naivety when he remembers his request to the Yankees to delay his professional baseball start for a week so he could spend July 4th at home with his parents and girlfriend, a request the Yankees politely nixed.

Jeter was miserable that first summer. USA’s top high school baseball player in the country and the Yankees number one draft pick had batted .557 in his senior year at Kalamazoo High with 7 HR’s and had struck out only 1 time the entire season. Jeter’s professional baseball debut came during a doubleheader where he went 0-7 and struck out 5 times. It took Jeter 15- at bats before he would register his first professional hit. The future Yankee great hit .202 that first year in Class-A for Tampa in the Rookie League.

Jeter was overmatched and depressed. He talks about doubting his lifetime dream of becoming a Yankee for the first time, of crying himself to sleep at night, and running up telephone bills back home to his Mom, Dad and girlfriend, of between $300 and $400 dollars a month. That was tough to do in those days.

Luckily, Jeter had a strong support network. His Dad reminded him over and over again that Chipper Jones had only hit .229 during his first year in the minor leagues. The Yankees didn’t dwell on his statistics, identifying characteristics of his batting approach that they liked and emphasizing those instead.

Jeter’s batting stabilized some during his second minor league season when he batted .295 with 5 HR’s and 71 RBI’s, not quite the mark of Kevin Plawecki, but a huge upgrade indeed. But, during his second campaign, Jeter’s defense was a mess. The future Yankee Hall of Famer made 56 errors for Class-A Greensboro.

Could you imagine the ruckus if Cecchini (who has committed 13 errors in his first two seasons) had comparable shortstop fielding stats. My ears would still be ringing.

Once again, Derek’s Dad was supportive reminding his son that Mickey Mantle totaled over 50 errors as a shortstop during his second minor league year. The Yankees rushed Gene Michael, the “Stick.” to Greensboro to counsel and work with Jeter and signed him up for the summer Instructional League to focus only on defense. Jeter was a designated shortstop who only played defense in games after 3 hours of morning skill drill work, 24/7. The young shortstop received one-to-one tutelage from Brian Butterfield the only student for Butterfield that summer.

Nimmo and Cecchini

Let’s make this perfectly clear. In no way am I suggesting or even hinting that I think Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini is going to become a Derek Jeter. I’m only pointing out that like it was for Jeter, two years in the minor leagues is not sufficient to determine the value of a baseball prospect.

Like Jeter, as a professional baseball team’s number one draft pick, both Nimmo and Cecchini have played the game at the highest plateaus at the amateur level. That’s still no guarantee of major league baseball success. Only with time and patience will the answer of whether or not the two Met prospects contribute as major leaguers will become more clear.

That said, it often leaves me shaking my head when I read some comments here and elsewhere that almost sound like some Met fans are hoping Nimmo and Cecchini fail just so they can hammer the front office some more. Whether you are happy with a front office draft selection or not, it makes sense that every Met fan should hope these entry level prospects do well. God knows we could use the help.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Fan Shot: An Open Letter To The Baseball Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mmo-fan-shot-an-open-letter-to-baseball-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mmo-fan-shot-an-open-letter-to-baseball-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sat, 04 Jan 2014 19:13:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138832 cooperstown hall of fame hof

An MMO Fan Shot by Steven Pacchiano (MLBGM)

To Whom It May Concern:

I know this will have no influence over any voting as current members and writer’s only vote, but I felt I had to express my opinion and observations not for myself, but ALSO for my son who is 3-years old.

I’m 38 years old and live in New York. I grew up a big Mets fan and I got to see the Mets win the World Series when I was a kid. God I loved watching baseball and that was some team to watch. A lot of those players drank and did drugs, cocaine specifically. I also watched players cork their bats and fill their bats with batteries to give them an advantage at the plate. It was baseball and fun to watch. Players always did and always will do what they have to do to get an advantage.

I have seen Mike Scott scuff balls and of course there was the Joe Niekro incident when he was suspended for having a nail file in his pocket and scuffing the ball. Kevin Gross was caught with sandpaper, Gaylord Perry was famous for his spit ball as well.

mickey-mantleI have heard stories from my grand father of how Mickey Mantle was a big drinker and Speed user and how Ty Cobb would sharpen his cleats so to give him an advantage sliding into second base. Many players back then did a lot of Amphetamines, this is not a secret and Amphetamines are also a PED.

Red Faber, Stan Coveleski, and Burleigh Grimes are among the 17 pitchers who were allowed to keep throwing the spitball under a “grandfather” clause when the spitball was banned.

These players got caught, I’m sure this wasn’t the 1st time they cheated and im sure its wasn’t the last. I am also sure that there are others that have done the same and gotten away with it. Everyone who cheats doesn’t always get caught. There was that “list” with 100 players on it who were caught doing PED’s, but how many players weren’t caught? 200? 300? More? We will never know.

I can continue but I know you get the jist of this. Corking bats, stuffing bats with batteries, throwing spit balls and scuffing balls is cheating. And yes so is PED’s.

I now see players drinking “Protein drinks” to get an edge. I see players on the bench drinking cans of red bull to get them selves UP for their next at bat. Is this also performance enhancing?

A player has always done and will always do whatever they can to have an advantage. This will never change. Weather its, sharpening his cleats, corking bats, popping speed, snorting cocaine, doing steroids, or HGH and whatever is the next thing that comes around that can enhance a player’s performance. And make no mistake there will be more PED down the road.

Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Piazza, Griffey, Biggio, Bagwell, Clemens, Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, Arod, Sheffield, Manny, etc – Some were caught some were not, Some did it, some maybe didn’t, they were all great and a part of the history of the game and were some of the best ever players in baseball.

I hope when my son is old enough I can take him to the Baseball Hall of fame and not only show him Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle, but also the amazing players that played when I was a kid.

But like I said, I know this letter will have no impact, so if some of the greatest players of all time never get voted into the Hall Of Fame, when I bring my son I will also have to bring my old news paper clippings and baseball cards of players who I watched and who put up some amazing numbers. I will have to teach him on my own which players were dominant during their time. Or maybe there will be another Baseball Museum I can go to with all the great players from the 80′s and 90′s.

I want my Son to know the history of baseball, just like I was told about The Mick, the Bambino, the Georgia Peach, and all the others. I will tell him about Bonds and McGwire and the rest of the 1990’s players who also put up amazing numbers. He will know how great and dominant they were and also what they did, just like I know how great Cobb and Mantle were but also what they did.

Hopefully the HOF will continue to have all the best players that have played the game to be on display. A history and showcase of the greatest players ever. …That’s the whole concept isn’t it? If not I hope there will be a place I can take my son to show him all these players in baseball history who were the elite of their time. Weather they sharpened their cleats, scuffed balls, threw spitters, corked bats, popped speed, snorting cocaine, drank Red Bull, took caffeine pills, used caffeine inhalants, did steroids, or HGH. And what ever comes next.

They are all the greatest players to ever play this game.

Isn’t the Hall’s Motto “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.”

PS – Banning Pete Rose from Baseball makes sense, keeping him from working for a team and out of the actual game is his sentence for betting on baseball. BUT keeping him out of the HOF makes no sense at all – again the HOF is a history of the games best.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Steven Pacchiano (MLBGM). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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New York Sports Icon Bill Mazer Passes Away At 92 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/new-york-sports-icon-bill-mazer-passes-away-at-92.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/new-york-sports-icon-bill-mazer-passes-away-at-92.html/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:37:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131624 324_WGRTV_Mazur_Bill_2One of the legendary New York sportscasting icons, Bill Mazer, died today in Danbury, CT. at the age of 92.

The New York Times reported the news, calling Mazer the voice and face of sports coverage in New York for decades, pioneering sports-talk radio and becoming a television fixture while earning the nickname the Amazin’ for his encyclopedic recall of sports facts and figures.

His son, the actor Arnie Mazer, confirmed the death, at Danbury Hospital. The elder Mr. Mazer had lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., until moving to an assisted-living facility in Danbury two years ago.

When Mr. Mazer retired in 2009, he had spent more than 60 years in broadcasting — 20 of them as a nightly sports anchor and the host of the weekend roundup “Sports Extra” on WNEW-TV, Channel 5. Before then he had been a host of sports-talk radio when the very idea of the format was new.

Mr. Mazer had been covering sports at radio and TV stations in Buffalo for 16 years when he was hired by WNBC-AM in March 1964. It was unveiling an innovative talk format.

The station invited listeners to pick up their phones and “talk sports with Bill Mazer from 4:30-6 p.m.”

After several years at WNBC, Mr. Mazer had a general interview program on WOR-AM and provided color commentary for the CBS television network’s hockey game of the week. He also did commentary for the Knicks, the Nets, the Rangers and the Islanders before moving to WNEW-TV in 1971 and anchoring its nightly sports coverage.

It was the news anchor, John Roland, who proclaimed Mr. Mazer the Amazin’ after Mr. Roland started tossing him arcane sports questions during the broadcasts, the answers to which he almost invariably knew.

Mr. Mazer was also the host of lunchtime interview programs from Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on Central Park South for WFAN for several years after it made its debut as an all-sports station in 1987.

I’m gonna miss Mazer, who I grew up listening to as a kid.

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Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, and a Yankee Lesson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/brandon-nimmo-gavin-cecchini-and-a-yankee-lesson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/brandon-nimmo-gavin-cecchini-and-a-yankee-lesson.html/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 07:57:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131167 derek-jeterA good friend of mine recently sent her only child, a son, off to college. I remember those times as heart wrenching moments when each of my three children left the nest. To occupy my mind, I would usually wrap myself around some kind of project. That may have been my friend’s strategy, too.

Knowing I host a weekly radio show, she appeared with a stack of sports books that she and her son had read over the years. Hoeing out the house is sometimes a mind occupying project. Last weekend, I plowed through “Ya Gotta Believe,” the book penned by Tug McGraw as he was dying of cancer. It was a fascinating read and the primary focus of Friday’s radio show.

This weekend saw me busy at work reading “The Life You Imagine, Life Lessons For Achieving Your Dreams.” That’s a tome from the pen of Derek Jeter written in 2000 during the earlier years of his career, a topic the Dawg and I hope to cover on a future show.

As a Met fan and a contributor to Metsmerized and MetsMinors. Net, I have read several threads over the last two years where people almost bayonet the Met front office for their first round draft selections of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. When both logged rather modest statistics during their first full season of baseball with identical .248 batting averages the howls were harsh and loud.

Imagine what the reaction may have been had either Met prospect brought home Derek Jeter’s stats during his first professional year. Moving directly from high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a 17-year old kid, Jeter was overwhelmed by his start in professional baseball. Jeter laughs at his naivety when he remembers his request to the Yankees to delay his professional baseball start for a week so he could spend July 4th at home with his parents and girlfriend, a request the Yankees politely nixed.

Jeter was miserable that first summer. USA’s top high school baseball player in the country and the Yankees number one draft pick had batted .557 in his senior year at Kalamazoo High with 7 HR’s and had struck out only 1 time the entire season. Jeter’s professional baseball debut came during a doubleheader where he went 0-7 and struck out 5 times. It took Jeter 15- at bats before he would register his first professional hit. The future Yankee great hit .202 that first year in Class-A for Tampa in the Rookie League.

Jeter was overmatched and depressed. He talks about doubting his lifetime dream of becoming a Yankee for the first time, of crying himself to sleep at night, and running up telephone bills back home to his Mom, Dad and girlfriend, of between $300 and $400 dollars a month. That was tough to do in those days.

Luckily, Jeter had a strong support network. His Dad reminded him over and over again that Chipper Jones had only hit .229 during his first year in the minor leagues. The Yankees didn’t dwell on his statistics, identifying characteristics of his batting approach that they liked and emphasizing those instead.

Jeter’s batting stabilized some during his second minor league season when he batted .295 with 5 HR’s and 71 RBI’s, not quite the mark of Kevin Plawecki, but a huge upgrade indeed. But, during his second campaign, Jeter’s defense was a mess. The future Yankee Hall of Famer made 56 errors for Class-A Greensboro.

Could you imagine the ruckus if Cecchini (who has committed 13 errors in his first two seasons) had comparable shortstop fielding stats. My ears would still be ringing.

Once again, Derek’s Dad was supportive reminding his son that Mickey Mantle totaled over 50 errors as a shortstop during his second minor league year. And, the Yankees rushed Gene Michael, the “Stick.” to Greensboro to counsel and work with Jeter and signed him up for the summer Instructional League to focus only on defense. Jeter was a designated shortstop who only played defense in games after 3 hours of morning skill drill work, 24/7. The young shortstop received one-to-one tutelage from Brian Butterfield the only student for Butterfield that summer.

Nimmo and Cecchini

Let’s make this perfectly clear. In no way am I suggesting or even hinting that I think Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini is going to become a Derek Jeter. I’m only pointing out that like it was for Jeter, two years in the minor leagues is not sufficient to determine the value of a baseball prospect. Like Jeter, as a professional baseball team’s number 1 draft pick, both Nimmo and Cecchini have played the game at the highest plateaus at the amateur level. That’s still no guarantee of major league baseball success. Only with time and patience will the answer of whether or not the two Met prospects contribute as major leaguers will become more clear.

It often leaves me shaking my head when I read threads that almost sound like some Met fans are hoping Nimmo and Cecchini fail. Whether you’re happy with a front office draft selection or not, it makes sense that every Met fan should hope these entry level prospects do well. God knows we could use the help.

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Death. Taxes. Beltran. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/death-taxes-beltran.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/death-taxes-beltran.html/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 17:21:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131056 carlos beltran cards dodgers

Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!

Some people live for the big game.  Joe Montana saved his best efforts for the many NFC Championship Games and Super Bowls he won.  Michael Jordan was excellent at sinking clutch shots and the spirits of opposing teams in his six NBA Finals victories.  (I’m a Utah Jazz fan.  I should know.)  And then there’s one Carlos Ivan Beltran.

Carlos Beltran has never been a player who has sought the spotlight.  But come October, the spotlight has always found him.  And how could it not?  After all, he may just be the best postseason baseball player in history.

On Friday night (and early Saturday morning), Beltran provided all the offense for the Cardinals and prevented the Dodgers from producing some offense of their own.  In the third inning, Beltran doubled above the outstretched glove of Andre Ethier to plate the tying runs.  The game was still tied when Mark Ellis hit a one-out triple for the Dodgers in the tenth inning.  But Carlos Beltran caught Michael Young‘s shallow fly ball and fired a perfect throw to catcher Yadier Molina to nail Ellis at the plate.  Beltran kept the game tied in the 10th.  He untied it in the 13th.

With two men on and one out, Beltran line a Kenley Jansen offering down the right field line to score the winning run for the Cardinals – a hit that would have scored both base runners had the first run not ended the game.

That’s not the first time Beltran has driven in every run his team scored in a postseason game.  It’s actually the fourth time, and the second time he’s done it in a victory.   Beltran’s two-run homer in Game 1 of the 2006 NLCS gave the Mets all the runs they would need in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals.  (Without it, the Mets might never have made it to a Game 7.)  Beltran also drove in the only run scored by St. Louis in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS , a 2-1 loss to Washington.  In addition, Beltran homered and drove in all three runs for the Cards in their 5-3 defeat against Pittsburgh in Game 3 of this year’s division series.

Hey, someone’s got to pick up the slack when his teammates aren’t doing their part.  And who better to do that than Carlos Beltran?

Let’s look at Beltran’s career numbers in the postseason, or rather, let’s marvel at them.

Three is a magic number.  Yes, it is.  It's a magic number.

Three is a magic number. Yes, it is. It’s a magic number.

Beltran turned in a postseason performance for the ages with the Astros in 2004, batting .435 with 11 extra-base hits (eight homers, three doubles), 14 RBI, 21 runs scored and six stolen bases in 12 games.  He reached base a whopping 30 times in those dozen contests and recorded a 1.557 OPS – a number that looks like a typo if we weren’t talking about Carlos Beltran.

In 2006, Beltran continued to rake the ball in the postseason.  Beltran was held without a hit in his first two playoff games with the Mets, but still reached base four times in the dual victories over the Dodgers.  After his two oh-fers, Beltran batted .323 over the Mets’ next eight playoff games, collecting three homers and five RBI.  He also continued to score better than one run per game, as he crossed the plate nine times in those eight games.  And once again, his OPS remained at an otherworldly level, as Beltran registered an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.062 in those final eight games.

After a five-year playoff absence (which surely made opposing pitchers quite happy), Beltran returned to the playoffs in 2012 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.  What did he do in 12 postseason games with the Redbirds?  He absolutely raked it.  Beltran batted .357 with nine extra-base hits (six doubles, three homers), six RBI and eight runs scored.  He also reached base 22 times in the 12 games and had a 1.154 OPS.  And lest ye forget, in the fifth and deciding game of the division series, Beltran started the pivotal ninth inning rally against the Nats with a double and scored when Daniel Descalso hit a game-tying two-run single.  That leadoff two-base hit in the ninth was the fifth time Beltran reached base in the game.

That brings us to this year.  Fourth verse, same as the first (and second … and third).  In six games versus the Pirates and Dodgers, Beltran has reached base nine times and driven in nine runs, including all three runs in Friday’s Game 1 victory over Los Angeles.  He has also made excellent contact in this year’s postseason, striking out just two times in 27 plate appearances.

To sum it all up, Beltran is batting .345 in 40 career postseason games.  He has reached base an incredible 80 times in those 40 games and has 28 extra-base hits, including 16 home runs.  His .750 slugging percentage is the third-highest mark in postseason history and his 1.199 career OPS ranks fifth.  Only seven players have hit more postseason home runs than Beltran, but all seven (Manny Ramirez, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols, Jim Thome) needed at least 267 postseason plate appearances to show off their prodigious power.  Beltran has come to the plate a mere 178 times.  And just think, Beltran has never gotten the opportunity to add to those tremendous postseason numbers in a World Series game.  But that might change this season.  And Beltran might have a lot to do with it.

There are very few sure things in life.  One is death, as it will come for all of us eventually.  Another is taxes, as even Jerry Koosman and Pete Rose couldn’t evade the IRS.  But if there can be only one other certainty in life, it has to be that Carlos Beltran will turn the postseason into a one-man wrecking crew.  He’s not perfect (who put that Crazy Glue on his bat before Wainwright’s 0-2 curveball?), but he’s as close to being perfect on the October stage as any player in baseball history.

Death.  Taxes.  Beltran.  Is there anything more certain in life?

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Marlon Byrd Might Do What No Met Has Done Before http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/marlon-byrd-might-do-what-no-met-has-done-before.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/marlon-byrd-might-do-what-no-met-has-done-before.html/#comments Mon, 19 Aug 2013 21:11:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127486 Power hitters don’t usually run very well.  And speedsters aren’t prone to hitting home runs.  So it would be reasonable to say that players who are among the league leaders in home runs don’t usually find their names near the top of the triples leader board.  Of course, there have been some exceptions over the years.

Hall of Famer Stan Musial led the league in triples in 1948, 1949 and 1951.  He hit 39, 36 and 32 homers in those years, respectively.  More recently, in 2007, Jimmy Rollins led the league with 20 triples while hitting 30 homers to capture the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Only three players in the modern era of baseball (since 1900) have led their respective leagues in triples and homers in the same season.  Those players are Willie Mays (13 triples, 51 homers in 1955), Mickey Mantle (11 triples, 37 homers, also in 1955) and Jim Rice (15 triples, 46 homers in 1978).  All three are in the Hall of Fame.

As you can see, it’s quite rare for a player to be among the league leaders in both triples and home runs.  Just nine players have finished in his league’s top ten in triples and homers over the past 20 years, as seen in the chart below.

Player

Year

Triples

Place

Home Runs

Place

  Sammy Sosa

1994

6

T-6th

25

9th

  Ellis Burks

1996

8

T-5th

40

T-5th

  Vladimir Guerrero

1998

7

T-8th

38

T-6th

  Barry Bonds

1998

7

T-8th

37

9th

  Nomar Garciaparra

1998

8

T-4th

35

T-10th

  Vladimir Guerrero

2000

11

T-2nd

44

T-4th

  Luis Gonzalez

2001

7

T-8th

57

3rd

  Ryan Braun

2007

7

T-6th

37

T-4th

  Carlos Gonzalez

2010

9

6th

34

4th

  Curtis Granderson

2011

10

3rd

41

2nd

Of the nine players in the last 20 years who have finished in the top ten in both three-base hits and homers, only Vladimir Guerrero accomplished the feat twice, doing so for the Expos in 1998 and 2000.

But notice that none of the nine players played for the Mets.  That shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, only 16 Mets have ever cracked the year-end top ten in triples.  And of those 16 players, none of them hit as many as 20 homers. (Jose Reyes‘ 19 homers in 2006 are the most.)  Obviously, that means no Met has ever finished in the top ten in both triples and homers in the same season.

That could all change this season.  And it might be done by an unlikely candidate.

WORD…

Marlon Byrd currently has five triples and 20 home runs.  His five triples are good for a ninth place tie in the National League, while his 20 homers are tied for the eighth highest total in the Senior Circuit.  Should Byrd finish in the top ten in the league in triples, he would be the first Met to hit 20 homers in a season in which he cracked the top ten in triples.  In addition, should Byrd remain in the top ten in both triples and homers, he’d become the first Met ever to do so.

Not Jose Reyes.  Not David Wright.  Not Darryl Strawberry.

Marlon Freakin’ Byrd.

No one expected Marlon Byrd to do much for the Mets this year.  He was supposed to be part of a rotating outfield who could perhaps hit well against left-handed pitching.  But instead, he’s become the team leader in home runs, runs batted in, and slugging percentage.  He also has a chance to be among the league leaders in both triples and homers.  That’s something very few players can claim over the past 20 years.  That’s something no Met has ever been able to claim.  Until now.  Maybe.

This has truly been a remarkable season for Marlon Byrd.  And it also has a chance to be an historic one.

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2013 All Star Game Menu and David Wright’s Home Run Derby Jersey http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/2013-all-star-game-menu-and-david-wrights-home-run-derby-jersey.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/2013-all-star-game-menu-and-david-wrights-home-run-derby-jersey.html/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:09:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=122755 david-wrights-2013-all-star-game-jersey

Here’s a look at David Wright’s All Star Game batting practice jersey… It complete with the “C” as one of the official captains for the Home Run Derby.

These are the jerseys that they will be wearing for the Home Run Derby and are different from the actual All Star Game jerseys that do not feature the skyline.

Both Wright and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees will don the “C” as captains of their respective Home Run Derby squads.

WRIGHT VOTE NOW!

As we reported on Sunday, David Wright has overtaken San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval for the voting lead at third base in the latest update. The Mets third baseman was trailing by more than 100,000 votes as recently as ten days ago and has now taken a 128,831 vote lead. There are only six days remaining to vote.

Cast Your All Star Vote For Wright Here!

bears all star

Joey, Iggy and Ed Leyro were all on hand Wednesday, as the Mets unveiled their All Star Game Menu at the Caesar’s Club in Citi Field.

They did a superb culinary roundup of all the world class delights which features a centuries old recipe for their All Star Meatball Sub. The meatballs are made using a combination of prime beef, milk natured veal and pork cheeks, and is then smothered in a delicious Sicilian tomato sauce with melted authentic buffalo milk mozzarella imported from Italy. A topping of deep-fried sweet basil completes this decadent delight.

allstarpromo

Go to Studious Metsimus for all the tasty and delectable details…

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Coming Soon To A League Near You: The Designated Hitter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/coming-soon-to-a-league-near-you-the-designated-hitter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/coming-soon-to-a-league-near-you-the-designated-hitter.html/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 13:32:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=122889 matt harveyImagine waking up tomorrow morning, checking out MMO and reading that Matt Harvey got injured. Our jaws would drop, our stomachs would sink and our heart would skip a beat. Then, to take it one step further, imagine if our ace and the pitcher we intend to build our future around was injured not by pitching, but while taking a turn at bat. Wouldn’t it be that much worse?

The question I raise is this: Is it time for the NL to adopt the DH?

Let me begin by saying I am a traditionalist when it comes to the grand ol’ game. I think artificial turf is stupid. I’ve never warmed to the idea of three divisions. And yes, even though extra wild card spots add excitement until the very last day, it bothers me that 1 of every 3 teams make the post-season. This is Baseball, not Basketball.

And honestly, I’ve never liked the Designated Hitter. I’ve always thought that to have a guy on your roster who can only do ONE thing—HIT—is lame. I believe that guys who spend the bulk of their career as a DH, like an Edgar Martinez or David Ortiz, should not be considered for the Hall of Fame. If they are Cooperstown-worthy, then why not Jose Oquendo?

What if a guy had no talent other than a strong arm? Should he play right field as a Designated Outfielder? In 1975, the eccentric Charlie Finley included Herb Washington on the A’s roster. Washington had no baseball skills whatsoever. His only attribute was that he was speedy. He was baseball’s one and only Designated Runner. (The experiment lasted one season)

Pitchers get hurt. We, as Mets fans, realize that better than anyone. Approximately one third of our 2013 payroll, $24 million plus, is locked up in a LHP who may never pitch again. So, yes, injuries are a part of the game. Injuries to pitchers are devastating. But when pitchers get hurt doing something they’re not paid to do, it’s that much worse.

If a Buster Posey gets run over blocking the plate and misses 4 months, well, that’s part of the game. If Jose Reyes pulls a hammy running the bases, well, that’s part of the game. But when a pitcher gets injured hitting?  Well, that’s just…different.

Several weeks ago, Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants was having his first solid start of the season. In the fifth inning, he swung at an inside pitch. The ball came in, effectively breaking the pinky finger on his pitching hand in two places. See you in 6-8 weeks, Ryan. From 2006 to 2008, Josh Beckett, Randy Johnson, Bartolo Colon, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Zambrano, Chien-Ming Wang and Scott Downs all missed significant time due to injuries sustained from hitting or running the bases.

Had the DH been around for most of the last century, how different would the history books look? In 1934, Babe Ruth played part time because he was too old to field his position. Yet, he still hit 22 HR’s in 365 AB’s. In 1928, Ty Cobb saw limited playing time due the fact he was 42 and his legs were gone. Yet, he still hit 323. Had Cobb DH’d several more seasons, Pete Rose would not be all our all-time hits leader. And we can only imagine what kind of numbers Mickey Mantle would’ve compiled had he not been relegated to patrolling the expansive outfield of the old Yankee Stadium on bad knees.

Mickey  Mantle Lying on Couch with Covering on Injured KneePerhaps it’s time—and I cant believe I’m actually typing these words—for the NL to adopt the DH.

It was 1973 when, for the first time in history, the AL and NL played under different rules. For the following 3 years, pitchers had to bat in the World Series. Beginning in 1976, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn decided to alternate the DH. One Fall Classic with, one without. In 1986 that rule was changed to the DH allowed when the AL champions played host.

Over the last decade and a half, however, the glamour of interleague play has lost some of its luster. It’s no longer the novelty it once was. Attendance during The Subway Series as well as games between the two teams in southern California, northern California, Chicago, Texas and Missouri have decreased slightly for a few years now.

And with 15 teams in each league and an interleague game every day of the week for the entire season, the NL is at a huge disadvantage. On most AL teams, the DH is usually one of the best hitters on the team and hits in the 3, 4 or 5 hole. By contrast, the NL must resort to inserting someone who would normally be a bench player—a fourth outfielder or a back-up first baseman.

Even in the most recent Subway series where we swept the Yankees (and what a beautiful thing it was), John Buck was used as our DH in one game, allowing Anthony Recker to play. Recker’s batting average was .160. The other game in The Bronx Lucas Duda DH’d and Mike Baxter found a spot. Baxter and his 228 BA batted ninth. Meanwhile, the Yankees DH was Travis Hafner. Big difference.

And of course, it does not balance out when the NL plays host to an AL team. Can anyone say the difference between Hafner to Recker is offset by Matt Harvey batting as opposed to Hiroki Kuroda?

Since the advent of interleague play, the AL has a .525 winning percentage. I believe a large part of this is due to the advantage of a DH as opposed to a fourth outfielder.

Just thinking (or writing) out loud, what about a compromise? A DH is allowed—but he must bat in the #9 spot in the batting order.

Granted, putting the DH in to the NL would indeed take away strategy. And strategy has always been one of baseball’s bright spots. We’d see less double-switches, less pinch hitters, less walking of the #8 hitter forcing the manager to decide if he should pinch hit for his starter. I love that stuff. We all do.

On the flip side, how many times when a pitcher steps to the dish with a man on base and less than two outs, we already KNOW he’s going to bunt. How much strategy is that?

Those in favor of the DH say they don’t come to the ballpark to watch the manager think. I agree. On the flip side, how many come to the ballpark to watch the pitcher hit? We go to games to see pitchers pitch and hitters hit.

As Baseball fans and Mets fans, there are certain stats we have logged in our brain. Cy Young’s 511 wins. Walter Johnson’s 110 shut outs. We all know Seaver won three Cy Young Awards and that Doc was 24-4 in 85. However, does anyone know what their batting averages were? I sure dont.

This week the Mets will face the White Sox and their DH Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn. Do we have anyone on the bench to adequately counter them?

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The Unforgiving Road To The Show Starts With The MLB Draft http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/the-unforgiving-road-to-the-show-starts-with-the-mlb-draft.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/the-unforgiving-road-to-the-show-starts-with-the-mlb-draft.html/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 20:45:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121105 bryce harper 2With the MLB Draft on tap this evening, it’s a good time to look at the unforgiving road to The Show.

A little over 60 percent of first rounders make it to the big leagues—that’s a little more than half. We aren’t even talking about being an impact player, we are talking about playing in a major league game. And after that first round, the percentages slowly dip as you get deeper into every draft.

Since the time we are young ball players, we are told that with hard work and dedication, we could play in the big leagues some day. That is only about one-third truth. While hard work and dedication is helpful, many more things come into play.

You’ve heard it before—ninety percent of the players who sign professional baseball contracts will never play an inning in a major league game. That’s a staggering number. We all know that becoming a professional athlete is rare, but what is the difference between the ten percent that make it to The Show, and the ninety percent that don’t?

Think about it. That ten percent of players that make it to the bigs aren’t more talented. Maybe one or two percent are the Mike Trout’s and Bryce Harper’s of the world, but everyone else who signed a contract to play professional baseball have similar talents.

The terminology that the players are “a dime a dozen” comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are varying levels of skill and ability in the areas of the coveted five tools, but for the most part, the players all trying to climb through the minor league systems have similar abilities.

The one thing that separates a guy that is going to play in the big leagues one day, from the other guys that won’t, is the mental makeup of the player. Confidence, self-assurance, intelligence, and the ability to deal with adversity are all the things that eventually separate the pack.

It’s well known in baseball circles that the jump to Double-A is what really tests the players. Why is that so? It’s because that is the level where players have to make adjustments and rely on more than just God given talent. The pitchers have to understand the art of pitching. They have to exploit the hitter’s weaknesses. They have to be able to get out of jams without relying on simply blowing a fastball by a hitter. Everyone can hit a fastball at Double-A, if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be there.

For hitters, it’s all about how they handle adversity. As you climb through the ranks, the pitchers get better and better, and it makes it more difficult for hitters to break out of slumps. Pitch recognition, discipline, and remaining confident will be the difference for the hitter coming through the system.

And now it’s easier to see why baseball prospects can be such a crap-shoot. In the NFL, players are given a test called the Wonderlic. The prospects are given twelve minutes to answer 50 questions which are used to test the players’ mental makeup. It’s sort of an insurance policy for the team who is about to make a big investment, and a way to see if the player will be able to survive the mental rigors of being a professional athlete. Vince Young was a much more prominent player coming out of college than Ryan Fitzpatrick. But Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a perfect score on his Wonderlic and Vince Young had one of the lowest scores of all-time. Who’s still in the NFL?

multilpe choice testOne might wonder why a test like this isn’t used when evaluating baseball players before the MLB draft. It seems logical until you take into account that the NFL draft consists of approximately 224 players, and the MLB draft often consists over 1,000 players. You can see why the MLB has probably avoided issuing the test, as it would be pretty difficult to administer the test to that many potential draftees.

However, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use some sort of test on some of the higher draft picks that get paid significant signing bonuses. Unfortunately, there may not be any test out there that can truly measure whether a player can withstand the mental rigors of professional baseball.

As if the rigors of the game of baseball are tough enough, take into account the lifestyle of a minor league player, and all of a sudden baseball doesn’t feel like a game anymore—it becomes unforgiving. Many of these young men are leaving their friends and families for the first time in their life, sometimes playing in towns and cities they have never heard of before. They ride buses for hours, sleep in motels, and barely get enough meal money to go to McDonalds twice in a day. The lifestyle can indeed be unforgiving, and many times these guys break. We read stories about prominent players being pushed to the limits by a culmination of things snowballing, and no story is more prominent than that of Josh Hamilton.

For those of you who didn’t read Hamilton’s book, he led a very sheltered life growing up. His parents often traveled with him on the road when he first broke into professional baseball. But when they stopped, he suffered through a rash of injuries, and the combination seemed to take him off the road to the show and lead him down the road to nowhere. Here we had one of the greatest talents the game has ever seen, so great in fact, that he was compared to a youngMickey Mantle. Yet even this player carved out of stone by the baseball gods themselves couldn’t handle the mental rigors of the game. He was written off as what could have been.

josh hamilton hvrI got a chance to see Josh Hamilton in his first season of professional baseball. He played a handful of games with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the NY-Penn League that year, and I was in college at the time. I had a summer job working in Dutchess Stadium (the home of the Renegades), and I remember the buzz in the crowd when Hamilton joined the team. But he got off to a horrible start, going 1/20 at the plate if I recall.

I remember standing and talking to a co-worker and college teammate in the stands about how we weren’t impressed with Hamilton, and maybe he was going to be a bust. The crowd was rich with scouts. They were all in attendance to see the young phenom, and one must’ve overheard my friend and I speaking. He came over to us and said “Hamilton is a future hall of famer. You guys heard of Mike Schmidt right?” My friend and I said “sure.” “Well,” the scout said, “Mike Schmidt got off to a terrible start in the minor leagues too, but nobody remembers that now, do they?”

That statement from the scout always resonated with me. It was almost like he was saying that nobody gives a crap what Josh Hamilton does at A-ball, he was destined for greater things. This isn’t supposed to be a post about Hamilton, but just an example about how the mental rigors of baseball, coupled with that unforgiving lifestyle of the minor leagues is the main reason why only one in ten prospects ever play in a major league game. Luckily for Hamilton, he was so incredibly gifted, he was able to overcome all of his challenges, and used his faith in God to help conquer the mental aspect of the game.

It’s crazy to think that there are nine guys sitting on their couch that have similar talents and abilities of the guys they’re watching playing on television. The truth is, not everyone who is good enough to play professional baseball ever actually does—maybe life events take them away from the game, maybe they prefer to play some other sport, maybe they just live in some remote place and nobody ever noticed them before.

The difference between sitting at home watching the game, and playing the game on ESPN Sunday Night baseball is not much more than having the luck of being acknowledged and liked by a scout, and the ability to deal with adversity and having confidence in themselves as players. If a young prospect can master those last two things, then the sky is the limit.

Check out more writing like this at MetsMinors.net, where the future of the Mets begins.

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Baseball’s Paradox: The Road To The Show http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-road-to-the-show.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-road-to-the-show.html/#comments Sun, 24 Mar 2013 14:00:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111658 bryce harper 2You’ve heard it before—ninety percent of the players who sign professional baseball contracts will never play an inning in a major league game. That’s a staggering number. We all know that becoming a professional athlete is rare, but what is the difference between the ten percent that make it to The Show, and the ninety percent that don’t?

Think about it. That ten percent of players that make it to the bigs aren’t more talented. Maybe one or two percent are the Mike Trout’s and Bryce Harper’s of the world, but everyone else who signed a contract to play professional baseball have similar talents.

The terminology that the players are “a dime a dozen” comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are varying levels of skill and ability in the areas of the coveted five tools, but for the most part, the players all trying to climb through the minor league systems have similar abilities.

The one thing that separates a guy that is going to play in the big leagues one day, from the other guys that won’t, is the mental makeup of the player. Confidence, self-assurance, intelligence, and the ability to deal with adversity are all the things that eventually separate the pack.

It’s well known in baseball circles that the jump to Double-A is what really tests the players. Why is that so? It’s because that is the level where players have to make adjustments and rely on more than just God given talent. The pitchers have to understand the art of pitching. They have to exploit the hitter’s weaknesses. They have to be able to get out of jams without relying on simply blowing a fastball by a hitter. Everyone can hit a fastball at Double-A, if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be there.

For hitters, it’s all about how they handle adversity. As you climb through the ranks, the pitchers get better and better, and it makes it more difficult for hitters to break out of slumps. Pitch recognition, discipline, and remaining confident will be the difference for the hitter coming through the system.

And now it’s easier to see why baseball prospects can be such a crap-shoot. In the NFL, players are given a test called the Wonderlic. The prospects are given twelve minutes to answer 50 questions which are used to test the players’ mental makeup. It’s sort of an insurance policy for the team who is about to make a big investment, and a way to see if the player will be able to survive the mental rigors of being a professional athlete. Vince Young was a much more prominent player coming out of college than Ryan Fitzpatrick. But Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a perfect score on his Wonderlic and Vince Young had one of the lowest scores of all-time. Who’s still in the NFL?

multilpe choice testOne might wonder why a test like this isn’t used when evaluating baseball players before the MLB draft. It seems logical until you take into account that the NFL draft consists of approximately 224 players, and the MLB draft often consists over 1,000 players. You can see why the MLB has probably avoided issuing the test, as it would be pretty difficult to administer the test to that many potential draftees.

However, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use some sort of test on some of the higher draft picks that get paid significant signing bonuses. Unfortunately, there may not be any test out there that can truly measure whether a player can withstand the mental rigors of professional baseball.

As if the rigors of the game of baseball are tough enough, take into account the lifestyle of a minor league player, and all of a sudden baseball doesn’t feel like a game anymore—it becomes unforgiving. Many of these young men are leaving their friends and families for the first time in their life, sometimes playing in towns and cities they have never heard of before. They ride buses for hours, sleep in motels, and barely get enough meal money to go to McDonalds twice in a day. The lifestyle can indeed be unforgiving, and many times these guys break. We read stories about prominent players being pushed to the limits by a culmination of things snowballing, and no story is more prominent than that of Josh Hamilton.

For those of you who didn’t read Hamilton’s book, he led a very sheltered life growing up. His parents often traveled with him on the road when he first broke into professional baseball. But when they stopped, he suffered through a rash of injuries, and the combination seemed to lead him down the road to nowhere. Here we had one of the greatest talents the game has ever seen, so great in fact, that he was compared to a young Mickey Mantle. Yet even this player carved out of stone by the baseball gods themselves couldn’t handle the mental rigors of the game. He was written off as what could have been.

josh hamilton hvrI got a chance to see Josh Hamilton in his first season of professional baseball. He played a handful of games with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the NY-Penn League that year, and I was in college at the time. I had a summer job working in Dutchess Stadium (the home of the Renegades), and I remember the buzz in the crowd when Hamilton joined the team. But he got off to a horrible start, going 1/20 at the plate if I recall.

I remember standing and talking to a co-worker and college teammate in the stands about how we weren’t impressed with Hamilton, and maybe he was going to be a bust. The crowd was rich with scouts. They were all in attendance to see the young phenom, and one must’ve overheard my friend and I speaking. He came over to us and said “Hamilton is a future hall of famer. You guys heard of Mike Schmidt right?” My friend and I said “sure.” “Well,” the scout said, “Mike Schmidt got off to a terrible start in the minor leagues too, but nobody remembers that now, do they?”

That statement from the scout always resonated with me. It was almost like he was saying that nobody gives a crap what Josh Hamilton does at A-ball, he was destined for greater things. This isn’t supposed to be a post about Hamilton, but just an example about how the mental rigors of baseball, coupled with that unforgiving lifestyle of the minor leagues is the main reason why only one in ten prospects ever play in a major league game. Luckily for Hamilton, he was so incredibly gifted, he was able to overcome all of his challenges, and used his faith in God to help conquer the mental aspect of the game.

It’s crazy to think that there are nine guys sitting on their couch that have similar talents and abilities of the guys they’re watching playing on television. The difference between sitting at home watching the game, and playing the game on ESPN Sunday Night baseball is not much more than the ability to deal with adversity and having confidence in themselves as players. If a young prospect can master those things, then the sky is the limit.

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The Tragedy That Is Dwight Gooden http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-tragedy-that-is-dwight-gooden.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-tragedy-that-is-dwight-gooden.html/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 23:45:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=109810 It usually is not a good sign when a name not recently in the news shows up on the “What’s Trending Now,’’ list when one logs onto the Internet.

Dwight Gooden was there this morning and we can expect to see future postings as his latest issue with the law unravels.

GOODEN: Once upon a time. (AP)

GOODEN: Once upon a time. (AP)

Gooden, long out of baseball but not forgotten by Mets fans, allegedly threatened his estranged wife, Monique, on Friday, when he should have been on a back field in Port St. Lucie tutoring what he once was – a hot, young prospect.

It would have been nice if Gooden had a second career in the sun, literally and figuratively. It’s not like he hasn’t had chances. The Yankees gave him several when George Steinbrenner was alive and he would have been welcomed by the Mets had he not struggled with drug, alcohol and law issues.

Monique Gooden called police and filed a restraining order. He was forced to move out of the house he and his wife are living in until their divorce becomes final.

Reportedly, Gooden threatened his wife, saying: “All bets are off and I will hurt you and your family. You’ll see, just wait.’’

A DUI, well, a team can live with that on a player’s record. Not pleasant, but doable. It is especially possible if the player had a remarkable career and once was a face of that franchise, as Gooden was with the Mets.

However, such a threat, especially if carried out, is not the image a team wants to project. There has to be considerable damage control if Gooden is to ever again represent the Mets.

Or, any other major league team for that matter.

That is, of course, unless something bad happens to him, such as jail, or worse.

Gooden will no longer have visitation rights with his two children until a hearing, March 11. In the interim, Gooden can contemplate where it all went wrong.

The drug problems began shortly after the 1985 and 1986 seasons, which were his early days with the Mets, and unfortunately, the highlight of his career. There once was a night a decade later, when nearing the end with the Yankees, he threw the no-hitter one expected of him whenever he took the mound at Shea Stadium.

Throwing what Kevin Costner said in “Bull Durham’’ was “ungodly stuff in the show,’’ Gooden was the inspiration of the “Ks’’ banners and cards that fans hung over the stadium railings. Gooden was electric in those days when he owned the summer nights at Shea.

We knew it wouldn’t last forever as it never does, but were shocked and angered and saddened knowing Gooden was throwing away his career with drugs and booze. We once were enthralled with the hard- partying Mets of 1986 and even glorified them, but also knew at the same time knew life on the ledge couldn’t end happily.

For different reasons, but ultimately the same one – a lack of self-control – it didn’t well for Gooden. For Darryl Strawberry. For Lenny DykstraWally Backman is still paying the price.

Nearing the end of his life, Mickey Mantle talked of role models and said, “don’t be like me.’’ At one time, there wasn’t a kid around who didn’t want to be like Gooden, standing alone on the mound awash in the cheers and adulation that comes with being the greatest.

Gooden is again alone as he faces another life crisis, but there’s nobody who wants to be like him.

And, that’s just sad.

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Brooklyn Dodger and Baseball Legend Duke Snider Passes Away http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/brooklyn-dodger-and-baseball-legend-duke-snider-passes-away.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/brooklyn-dodger-and-baseball-legend-duke-snider-passes-away.html/#comments Mon, 28 Feb 2011 03:22:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=45305 Duke Snider passed away earlier today in Escondido, CA. The former Brooklyn Dodger great was 84.

He was Brooklyn’s CFer during what has been called ‘The Golden Era of Baseball in New York.’ And Golden it was. While Duke played CF for Brooklyn, Willie Mays covered CF for the New York Giants and Mickey Mantle played for the Yankees. Three of the greatest Center Fielders in history, all playing at the same time. And in the same city.

For the 11 year period from 1947-1958, at least one New York team played in the World Series every year, other than 1948.

He was born Edwin Donald Snider in Los Angeles on Sept 19, 1926. One day, the young Snider was walking home from a little league game. He had a good day at the plate and there was a strut in his walk to go along with his beaming smile. His father noticed the bounce in his son’s confident gait and commented jokingly, “Here comes the Duke.” The name stuck.

Snider broke into the majors in 1947 but struggled early. He played only 93 games his first two years, hitting just 241 and 244. He was a wild swinger. It was Branch Rickey who turned around and perhaps saved Snider’s career. He would have Duke stand at the plate during BP, bat on his shoulder and NOT swing. Instead, he wanted the young outfielder to call out if the pitch was a ball or a strike. This taught Snider the strike zone.

And now, he became The Duke of Flatbush.

In a lineup filled with future and should-be Hall of Famers such as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Carl Furillo, Snider was the Dodgers’ only LH power hitter. The RF wall in Ebbets Field was only 297 feet away, but it stood  38 feet high, higher then The Green Monster.

The Duke of Flatbush would go on to lead the NL in HR’s for 5 straight seasons. From 1950 through 1957, Snider averaged 36 HR’s and 111 RBI’s to go along with a 306 BA.

Brooklyn fans always stated ‘Wait ‘til next year.’ ‘Next year’ happened in 1955 when the Dodgers won their one and only championship in Brooklyn. And Snider was in the middle of it. He has perhaps his best year, hitting 309 with 42 round trippers and 136 RBI’s. In the 7 game series vs. the Yankees, Snider went deep 4 times and knocked in 7. In spite of his great numbers, he failed to win the MVP, losing by one vote to teammate Roy Campanella. Snider never did win an MVP.

In 1958, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Snider walked up to a young Giants rookie just before his first game in the majors. “Good luck, Orlando,” he said to rookie and future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda stated years later, ‘He was one of my idols. I almost fainted.’

In 1963, Snider returned to New York for one season with the Mets. The following year he returned to the west coast for what would be his final season in the majors. He played for the Giants. Another future Hall of Famer, Willie McCovey said of Snider, ‘He was just an all around first class guy.’

Duke retired after the 64 season. He ended his career with 407 HR’s, a 295 career batting average and 1333 RBI’s. He was an 8 time All-Star, winner of 2 World Series’ and was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1980.

By the 1980’s, the premier LH power hitter for The Boys of Summer had to make appearances at Baseball card shows where he charged for his autograph. He had very little in savings, did not earn a lot as a player and had made some bad investments over the years. In 1995, Snider plead guilty for Tax Evasion. He had failed to report $97,000 he made while appearing at card shows. Sentence was handed down at the Brooklyn Federal Court House, just blocks from where Ebbets Field once stood.

Edwin Donald ‘Duke’ Snider passed away earlier today. He leaves behind 4 children, his wife Beverly, whom he married in his rookie year of 1947 and throngs of fans who idolized him. Snider was the last surviving member of the 1955 Dodgers who were on the field when they won their one and only championship.

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Would You Let Your Child Root For This Team? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/09/would-you-let-your-child-root-for-this-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/09/would-you-let-your-child-root-for-this-team.html/#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2010 04:31:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=35926 Lets be honest. We all could have been Yankee fans. We could be wearing Derek Jeter jerseys, praying every night to our God Mickey Mantle and ending all debates with the robotic illogical response, “27 Championships.”

But we’re not. We’re Mets fans. And like a marriage, we’re in this for better or worse. Lately, however, it’s becoming hard to remain faithful and to love, honor and cherish this team.

Why exactly did we become fans of this team in the first place? Was it an older brother, a parent? For me it was my dad, a former Brooklyn Dodger fan who followed the Mets since their inaugural game. When I first learned baseball and incorporated Mets hats, jackets and t-shirts into my wardrobe, it was easy. The year was 1973, we went on to be NL Champions and were a good, competitive ball club. We had players, heroes, that a young boy could easily idolize. But what if it was now?

Imagine you have a son or nephew or younger brother who wants to become a Baseball fan in 2010. Would you steer his allegiance to this team? Why would you ask an impressionable child to devote a lifetime of baseball loyalty to a team and an organization such as this? Especially when there’s that other team in The Bronx?

It’s now approaching 25 years–a quarter of a century–since these Mets were Champions. To a young child, that is an incomprehensible amount of time. 25 years ago??? You might as well be talking about Babe Ruth. In the same time that we have won 1 championship and 2 pennants the Yankees have taken home 5 Championships and 7 pennants. They have won more Series’ in the last 11 years then we have won in almost 50. Now try to convince that young boy or girl to root for the Mets instead.

But it runs deeper then that. There is losing–and then there is losing. The Red Sox were cursed for 86 years but yet Fenway sold out seemingly every night and Red Sox Nation stayed faithful. The last time the Cubs were champions was 1908. Christy Mathewson led the league with 37 wins and Tim Jordan of the Brooklyn Superbas led the league in HR’s with 12. But yet, can you think of a more devoted fan base then the Cubs? The last time the Giants were Champions the highlight of that series was ‘The Catch’ by Willie Mays. The Giants, despite having some of the best HR hitters in the last half-century, have yet to win since leaving The Polo Grounds for San Francisco. Yet, their fans remain dedicated.

We, too, are no strangers to losing. For the first 8 years in our history we averaged 105 losses per season. But we were ‘lovable losers.’ Sure, we lost, but at least we were funny. Entertaining. It was Casey Stengel who said, ‘I’ve been in this game 100 years and I find new ways to lose every day I never knew existed.’ In the late 70’s/early 80’s we lost, too. The players we had were barely one step above AAA. But they hustled and they played with heart. And although Shea had 45000 empty seats every game, no one booed. We still cheered for them because at least they tried. One rare highlight during those dark days was when we won 5 of our last 6 games in 1979 to stay under 100 losses for the season. Times were so bad we were actually proud of that “accomplishment.”

When my father taught me the game, I asked plenty of questions. But they were all baseball-related. What’s the difference between a sacrifice and a suicide? What’s the difference between a passed ball and a wild pitch? But nowadays if your son is asking questions, they are of a different nature. How does one explain to their son or daughter why your closer beat up his father-in-law. Or explain Rape to a young child when they read about accusations surrounding your ace. Or explain why certain members of this so-called “team” refused to go to a hospital to visit wounded soldiers.

Even our own heroes have checkered pasts. I was too young to remember 1969. But when I asked my dad where those players were now the answers made sense to a 7 year old. Ed Charles retired. Donn Clendenon became an attorney. Tommie Agee owned a restaurant. Ron Swoboda was the sports anchor on Channel 2.

Move forward. How do you answer your 10 year old when they ask, ‘Whatever happened to Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry?’ Try to explain why part of the reason Keith Hernandez is not in the Hall of Fame may be due to his cocaine use. Or why Ray Knight, although series MVP in 86, was gone the following year for more money. Whereas my dad explained to me what a balk was nowadays one must explain what Rehab means.

Even our expensive new stadium has done little to increase interest. As bad as things may seem now, imagine how bleak they may look in 15 years. The kids of today are becoming the Yankee fans of tomorrow.

It’s difficult to be proud of anything Mets-related. What happens ON the field has taken a back seat to what happens OFF the field. This club has been transformed from a major league team to a reality show. But this season will end shortly. Jerry Manuel? Omar Minaya? Howard Johnson? Luis Castillo? Who will be voted off next? Stay tuned…

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