Mets Merized Online » Roger Clemens Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:30:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2017 Hall Of Fame Ballot Announced Mon, 21 Nov 2016 21:00:45 +0000 manny ramirez Home Run

 The 2017 Hall Of Fame Ballot has been released, and already the speculation has begun as to who the new inductees will be. The 2016 class included one of the smoothest swings of all time Ken Griffey Jr. as well as the greatest hitting catcher of all time Mike Piazza.

The 2017 ballot contains all kinds of players, but there aren’t really any “no-brainers” like Ken Griffey Jr. was last year.

The new additions to the ballot are Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillen, Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Melvin Mora, Magglio Ordonez, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, Edgar Renteria, Arthur Rhodes, Ivan Rodriguez, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Varitek, and Tim Wakefield.

Here are the returners on the ballot, as well as how many years they have been on it: Lee Smith (15th and final), Tim Raines (10th), Edgar Martinez (8th), Fred McGriff (8th), Jeff Bagwell (7th), Larry Walker (7th), Curt Schilling (5th), Roger Clemens (5th), Barry Bonds (5th), Sammy Sosa (5th), Mike Mussina (4th), Jeff Kent (4th), Gary Sheffield (3rd), Trevor Hoffman (2nd), and Billy Wagner (2nd).

If I had to predict one player that will be inducted, my money would be on Trevor Hoffman who received 67.3% of the vote last year in his first go around. He is second on the all-time saves list with 601 and impressively finished second in Cy Young voting twice as a closer.

While Manny Ramirez and Pudge Rodriguez certainly have the numbers to be inducted, their PED history might put them in similar situations as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa.

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Syndergaard Impresses Early At Spring Camp Sat, 27 Feb 2016 04:00:51 +0000 noah syndergaard

Yoenis Cespedes’ flashy array of high end cars might have been the talking point outside Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, but the mid-90s fastball being tossed effortlessly Thursday morning was the talk inside of camp.

Noah Syndergaard’s live batting-practice session was the talk of Mets camp on Thursday, as selected Minor Leaguers stood in the batter’s box to simulate game action. The nickname “Thor” is perfect to describe Syndergaard, who stands at 6’6” with his golden hair flowing from his Mets cap. And while this Thor doesn’t wield a magical hammer, he does possess a golden arm, which he described as being in mid-season form after he retired his final batter.

thor syndergaard glove“I wish I really knew the answer to why I feel like I’m already in midseason form,” Syndergaard said. “I kind of shocked myself how good I feel so early in Spring Training.”

This is the first year that Syndergaard enters camp with a guaranteed spot in the rotation, and that peace of mind seems to give him a kind of swagger and the  right amount of cockiness he needs to continue to blossom into one of the best pitchers in the game.

When asked about his expectations for this upcoming season, Syndergaard offered this blunt assertion,

“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like this year,” Syndergaard said. “I think we’re going to go back to the World Series and win it all.”

Along with his mound presence and dominating repertoire, fans have flocked to Syndergaard for statements like that. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and is clearly enjoying every second of being a part of this once in a generation rotation. And while he seems pegged as the number three starter in the rotation, many scouts feel that he has the best stuff on the staff.

What’s exciting is that Syndergaard should be able to throw well over 200 innings this year. Including the playoffs and minor leagues, Syndergaard pitched 198 2/3 innings last season, which was 63 2/3 more than he’s ever thrown professionally. While that’s a considerable increase in workload, Syndergaard’s tremendous build and fluid pitching motion seem to give him an edge in terms of preventing future injury.

Syndergaard Noah

And we’ve only witnessed a very small sample of what he can accomplish. To put into context what Syndergaard accomplished last year, I looked at several comparable rookie seasons of other hard-throwing right-handers.

Regular Season Stats:

Syndergaard: 9-7 3.24 ERA 150 IP 166 K 114 ERA+ 1.047 WHIP

Justin Verlander: 17-9 3.63 ERA 186 IP 124 K 125 ERA+ 1.328 WHIP

Kevin Brown: 12-9 3.35 ERA 191 IP 104 K 119 ERA+ 1.241 WHIP

Roger Clemens: 9-4 4.32 ERA 133.1 IP 126 K 97 ERA+ 1.313 WHIP

Syndergaard’s numbers clearly hold well against the other three righties. I expect his strikeout totals to also keep rising, as he’s working on adding a fourth pitch to his arsenal, a slider. Looking further into his strikeout numbers, last year he averaged exactly 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. Clayton Kershaw, last year’s strikeout leader, didn’t average 10 strikeouts until 2014, his 7th year in the bigs. Felix Hernandez has never averaged 10 per 9.

Kevin Plawecki was his catcher on Thursday in Florida, and was taken aback by how free and easy Syndergaard was throwing, especially considering how early in camp it is.

“I was telling him that his command was in midseason form, his off-speed was midseason form,” Plawecki said. “He had good break in his breaking ball. His slider was really good. A couple of changeups he pushed a little bit, but he made the adjustment. He came back and threw some great ones at the end.”

Teammates were watching in awe as Syndergaard tossed his 25 pitch session, even drawing owner Fred and Jeff Wilpon over to catch a glimpse. “That ball is moving two feet,” manager Terry Collins said as he watched with delight. Come April, fans too will watch in awe and delight when they’ll flock to Citi Field to catch their own glimpse of Thor, armed with their plastic faux hammers in hand.


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A Little Advice for A-Rod Wed, 15 Jan 2014 11:00:55 +0000 alex rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez Plans To Appeal Arbitrator’s Decision

A-Rod, I have a little bit of unsolicited advice.

Just say, “My bad.”

You see, the American public is very forgiving. Fess up, take your medicine, and we’ll eventually come back around. Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it – so what have we learned from history?

Jason Giambi said “My bad.” He took his boos and eventually, we stopped caring he was tied up in the BALCO scandal and he was even being considered for the Rockies manager position last year before he decided to keep on playing.

Barry Bonds did not say “My bad.” Look at him.

Andy Pettitte said, “My bad.” He was given a hero’s welcome.

Roger Clemens did not say “My bad.” He’s getting the Bonds treatment.

Mark McGwire did not say “My bad,” at first. He didn’t want to talk about the past. Then he fessed up, said “My bad,” and now he’s been welcomed back into baseball and is coaching in a Major League dugout. He won’t get into the Hall of Fame, but he’s not being run up a flagpole, either.

Rafael Palmeiro wagged his finger in front of Congress, then he got caught. He never said, “My bad.” We still don’t like him.

Ryan Braun stood at a podium, said he didn’t do it, threw a poor guy under a bus, stomped on him a little bit and smiled for the cameras. Then he got caught again, said “My bad,” a bunch of times and he’ll get booed for a while, but eventually even what he did will all be water under the bridge for him, too.

You see, Alex – we’re not naive. We know that players are taking banned substances. Players have been cheating in some way, shape, or form since the game was first played. We know there are guys on all of our favorite teams that are taking stuff that haven’t been caught yet. Heck, two Mets were caught in the same scandal you were. We just signed another one this offseason. Bartolo Colon said “My bad,” and he got a two year contract. Jhonny Peralta said “My bad” and he got $53 million this offseason.

We know guys are cheating. That doesn’t make it right. It still makes it wrong. I don’t like that it’s in the game, but if you’re going to get caught, just fess up to it, take your punishment, and move on with life.

What we really, really, really don’t like is being lied to and treated like we’re stupid. That’s what we don’t like about Barry. That’s what we don’t like about Roger. That’s what we don’t like about Rafael. That’s what we don’t like about you.

So do yourself a favor. Stop acting indignant and making a federal case out of it. Just take your lumps, take your suspension, collect the millions more you’re still going to make, and stop paying the lawyers. Take out a full page ad in the Daily News with your picture that just says, “My bad.”


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Mike Piazza and Faith in Hall of Fame Voting Sat, 04 Jan 2014 14:00:11 +0000 Another year, another batch of worthy players kept from the Hall of Fame.

As of January 3, according to Baseball Think Factory, only four players, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Craig Biggio, have appeared on 75 percent of publicly-released Hall of Fame ballots in one of the strongest classes in history. Approximately one-fifth of all ballots have been released.

Could Piazza be snubbed from the Hall again?

Of all the projected Hall of Fame snubs, the one that hits closest to home among Mets fans is certainly Mike Piazza. For fans of both the Dodgers and Mets, he seems like a clearly-deserving candidate. However, some voters, almost 30 percent so far, have left Piazza off their ballots. A few voters have kept Piazza off their ballots based on merit, arguing that in a year where the ballot is full of all-time greats, Piazza wasn’t great enough. However, although there are some voters for whom being far and away the best hitter at a position just isn’t enough, most voters who have left Piazza out have done so because of steroid suspicion.

Of all the players on this year’s ballot, only one, Rafael Palmeiro, has ever officially failed a drug test (Sammy Sosa reportedly failed an anonymous drug test in 2003, but it was never officially confirmed by Major League Baseball) . Only one other player, Mark McGwire, has admitted to it. There are suspicions about others, but no one else has been proven guilty. Players like Piazza and Craig Biggio, each deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame, have been punished simply because they played in the same era as suspected cheatersThis is voting at its ugliest.

I have always thought that players who have cheated do not belong in the Hall of Fame. A few years ago, had I been given a vote, suspected players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would not have been on my ballot. However, Piazza’s situation over the past two years has changed my thinking. The attempts to keep  cheaters out of the Hall, at the expense of clean players, has gotten way out of hand.

To punish steroid users, and mostly suspected ones at that, is hypocritical of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It will be the first time players will be kept out of Cooperstown en masse based on the “integrity clause.” To keep steroid users out of the Hall would be to not acknowledge the racists, bigots, criminals, drunks, and drug abusers already enshrined. The writers will vote for players who have a well-documented history of those offenses, but if there is any suspicion of a player using steroids, they won’t get votes? That’s not right. Maybe those voters would have some ground to stand on if we knew for sure who cheated, but with players like Piazza and Biggio getting snubbed, they have lost me.

Ty Cobb once  climbed into the stands to beat up a handicapped fan. It’s even rumored that he once beat a man to death with the handle of a pistol. Some Hall of Famers cheated on their wives. Others were viciously racist. Numerous players even admitted to using “greenies,” since banned by Major League Baseball, in their playing days. Gaylord Perry, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Whitey Ford, all Hall of Famers were notorious for throwing illegal spitballs.

As much as I’d like integrity and character to be a part of the voting process, it hasn’t been done for the 75 years the Hall of Fame has existed. If the Hall was started all over again, then I would understand the fight to keep cheaters out. But now, after decades of voting in cheaters and generally bad people, suddenly deciding to embark on a massive witch hunt that keeps players out because of back acne and hat sizes is completely unfair. The Hall of Fame doesn’t have to be perfect, just as its members aren’t.

Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst.

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You Know You Miss Baseball When… Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:04:03 +0000 snow citi

This is a funny time of year. The previous baseball season is now well in the books and fading fast in the rear-view mirror while next season is still too far of for even the earliest of prognostics to hit the scene. It’s a kind of baseball limbo where there is little but a frosty nip in the air and spring seems like an eternity away. I’ve often found myself searching frantically for some connection to our great pastime that may tide me over until the next tidbit of hot stove news reaches me, or until there is some hope of a thaw in the weather. I thought I’d put together a brief list of some of my more desperate attempts to connect to my summer pastime. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

You know you miss baseball when you catch yourself mimicking the crack of a bat and a cheering crowd with a pencil in a dentist’s waiting room.

You know you miss baseball when you find yourself replaying old David Wright interviews counting how many times he says the word “obviously.

You know you miss baseball when you devote an entire day to the 1986 boxed set with your bobblehead collection (and your little toy parachute guy) displayed on your coffee table.

You know you miss baseball when you imagine the weather report as told by Vin Scully,

“Yes folks, this particular blizzard as a young low pressure system attended Texas A & M and was known to be quite the prankster.”

You know you miss baseball when you spend an hour in your attic going through old boxes looking for your Roger Clemens voodoo doll.

You know you miss baseball when you can’t get the SNY opening credits theme out of your head as you shovel the walk …

You know you miss baseball when you find yourself reciting Gary Cohen’s opening monologue out loud in a Denny’s.

You know you miss baseball when your browser history shows 28 compulsive hits on in the space of a half an hour.

You know you miss baseball when you devote a day to washing your baseball caps in the dishwasher (top rack).

You know you miss baseball when you start to feel the A-Rod / Selig spat was quaint in its own way.

You know you miss baseball if you clear out a 40 yard straight shot from one side of your basement to the other free of furniture or breakables so you can play catch with your kid

You know you miss baseball when 4:30 to 5:00 on weekdays is devoted to arguing various points on the Metsmerized Online comments threads.

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Big Mets Fan’s Hall of Fame Ballot Thu, 19 Dec 2013 16:11:57 +0000 This should have been Piazza's plaque being added into the Hall of Fame

This year features a very crowded Hall of Fame ballot. It features a strong set of first year eligibles as well as a lot of holdovers that haven’t yet made it, but very well can get in. A writer can only cast votes for 10 players with their ballot. If this Big Mets Fan had a ballot to cast, I’d be casting all ten votes this year. I’d actually want to cast more than 10 this year, but if I had to cast only ten…

  1. Craig Biggio – Biggio was actually a tough one for me to put in my top 10. Not because I don’t think he should get in the Hall. But I had to debate with choosing him over a couple of other players for my 10th spot on the ballot. 20 MLB seasons. 3,060 hits. All with the Houston Astros. Maybe my feelings are a bit swayed because I didn’t think of him as the Player to be Feared and thought of him as more of a compiler. He was a career .281 hitter which doesn’t bounce off the page as a super hitter – but when you take a closer look, he scores 100+ runs 8 times and 90+ 12 times. He scored 120+ runs in a season 4 times including 146 times in 1997. He had 7 seasons of 40+ doubles including 51 in 1998 and 56 in 1999. He had 5 30+ HR seasons. He hit 20+ HR 8 times. He walked 1,160 times and scored 1,844 runs. So if he was a complier, he was pretty darn good. He’s getting my vote.
  2. Jack Morris – Jack is on the ballot for the 15th and final time this year and I hope he gets in. His ERA is high for the Hall at 3.90 which has been a detriment to him over the years. He has 254 career wins. He pitched 200+ innings 11 time including 293 2/3 in 1983 with 20 complete games. He was a bulldog on the mound. It was his championships that win his vote for me. If the argument is to be made that a player’s postseason failures should be held against him, then the argument should be made for Morris to get in for his success. Jack was a 4 time World Series Champion and the #1 starter on the staffs of the 1984 Tigers and 1992 Blue Jays. He was also one of the Big Three starters for the 1991 Twins as well as that staff’s inning’s leader. He was outstanding in the 1984 postseason. He had a brilliant 1991 postseason and his 10 inning shutout in the clinching game 7 is the clincher. He rose to the occasion on the biggest stage ever.
  3. Mike Piazza – I may be a Homer, but this isn’t a Homer call. I don’t need to make my case – Mike’s in. He should be already.
  4. Tim Raines – He should have been in long before. He was a dominant threat for the 10 years of his prime. He was just overlooked in Montreal and his career was in decline and he was a role player by the time he was in a major market. Based on his 10 year prime – he should be a no-brainer Hall of Famer.
  5. Curt Schilling – Curt may not have the best regular season numbers of the HOF candidates. He his career record was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA. It was his two championship seasons that did it for me and 2004 in particular. In 2001, he was 22-6 with a 2.98 ERA and was co-World Series MVP’s with Randy Johnson. In 2004, he went 21-6 with a 3.26 ERA for the World Champion Red Sox. But it was the legendary Bloody Sock game that broke the Curse of the Bambino that makes him legendary.
  6. Roger Clemens – A lot of controversy on this one. A lot of people will say he should never go in. Do I think he did PED’s? Yes. Do I think he lied about it? Yes. Do I also think he was a great pitcher? Yes. I’m voting him in because he was a great pitcher, not because I like him. Can you imagine him and Piazza on the podium at the same time?
  7. Barry Bonds – See Roger Clemens. Nice guy? No. Great player? Yes. Even without the PED’s that took him from a player that was already Hall worthy into a Superfreak. HOF.
  8. Greg Maddux – If there’s anyone who leaves Maddux off their ballot, they’re stupid and should have their head examined.
  9. Frank Thomas – The Big Hurt was called just that because he would hurt you. He was a great player. Hit .300 and you’ll be in the Hall of Fame? He hit .301 over 19 years. He declined in his later years, but over an 11 year streak from 1990-2000 he hit over .300 10 times. Teams were terrified to pitch to him and he walked over 100 times 10 times. He scored 100+ runs 8 times. He had 11 100+ RBI seasons. He had 9 30+ HR seasons and 521 career home runs. His career OBP was .419. He was a great hitter.
  10. Tom Glavine – His career was in decline by the time we saw him with the Mets, but he did have three pretty good years. He’s a career 300 game winner. He won 20+ games 5 times. He threw 200+ innings 14 times. He was a two time Cy Young Award Winner. He’s in.


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Mets Back Off On Bartolo Colon Due To Demands Mon, 09 Dec 2013 20:55:57 +0000 BartoloColon

Updated 12/9

The Mets had a meeting today with the agent for veteran free-agent righthander Bartolo Colon according to Sweeny Murti of WFAN.

But thankfully, they were scared off by his contracts demands. We are hearing that there might be a two-year deal floating from at least one team, and we think it’s the Mariners.

Also, not as much to say by Sandy today compared to yesterday, but he did say it’s unlikely he’d give a multi-year offer to any starting pitcher.

Original Post 12/8

In a column for the Daily News, Bill Madden suggests that the Mets should consider signing free agent RHP Bartolo Colon this winter even if it means a two-year deal, to satisfy the fanbase.

My tweet yesterday, pretty much sums up my take on a two-year deal for the veteran righthander who seems to have been around since the Reagan administration.

I’m quite certain that the fanbase is not looking to be satisfied by Colon. After running a fan site for nine years, I have a pretty good sense of what Met fans are thinking and I’d say the vast majority of them would be up in arms over a two-year deal for this fat-cat.

The 40-year-old Colon is coming off a surprisingly excellent season in which he posted a record of 18-6 over 30 starts for the Oakland A’s and finishing sixth in the American League Cy Young voting with 12 percent of the votes. His 2.65 ERA was the lowest mark for a pitcher over 40 since Roger Clemens posted a 1.87 ERA with the Astros in 2005.

The Mariners, fresh over their Robinson Cano signing, are still willing to spend aggressively courtesy of their new TV deal. They are getting set to offer Colon a two-year deal according to various reports.

If I’m the Mets I am not messing around with this one.

Colon turns 41 next season and I don’t want to be the one holding the bag when his big regression comes crashing down on some poor unsuspecting team. Quite frankly, I also have big concerns about his weight, and lets not forget his PED suspension.

Colon will be looking for a deal in the two-year $25-30 million range. No thanks.


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Doc Gooden Was Great After He Stopped Being Great Sat, 16 Nov 2013 18:46:48 +0000 Photo by Ray Stubblebine/AP

Photo by Ray Stubblebine/AP

Baseball historians will say that Dwight Gooden‘s first three seasons in the major leagues were some of the best by a young pitcher in the game’s history.  Gooden took the mound 99 times from 1984 to 1986, going 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 35 complete games, 13 shutouts and 744 strikeouts – reaching 200 or more strikeouts in each season.

But after off-the-field problems came to light prior to the 1987 campaign, Gooden went from being Dr. K to being Dr. Just OK.  Or did he?

From 1987 to 1991, Doc’s numbers were clearly not the same as they were during his first three seasons.  But they were still pretty darn good.  In his fourth through eighth seasons with the Mets, Gooden went 74-34 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, striking out 797 batters, completing 22 games and tossing eight shutouts.  He also finished in the top five in the Cy Young Award voting twice.  (Gooden was fifth in the Cy Young balloting in 1987 and fourth in 1990.)  He accomplished all of this from 1987 to 1991 despite making fewer than 28 starts in three of the five seasons.

Perhaps his greatest and most underappreciated accomplishment occurred in 1991.  After seven consecutive seasons of winning 87 or more games, the Mets finished under .500 in ’91.  But Gooden still managed to finish with a 13-7 record, 3.60 ERA and 150 strikeouts in only 27 starts.  In 15 of those 27 starts, Gooden allowed two earned runs or fewer, but received losses or no-decisions in six of the games, mainly because he was surrounded by a putrid offense.

Keith Miller (.280) and Gregg Jefferies (.272) were the only players with 300 or more plate appearances to finish the year with a batting average north of .260.  Howard Johnson (38 HR, 117 RBI, 108 runs) was the sole Met with more than 16 homers, 74 RBI or 65 runs scored.  Gooden basically had to help himself when he was in the game, as he batted .238 with three doubles, a homer, six RBI and seven runs scored in only 63 at-bats.  His .333 slugging percentage was higher than the marks posted by Mark Carreon (.331 in 254 AB), Vince Coleman (.327 in 278 AB) and Garry Templeton (.306 in 219 AB).

In the five seasons immediately following the 1986 World Series championship campaign, when Gooden supposedly went from being a great pitcher to just being a very good pitcher, the right-hander’s winning percentage was .685 in 137 starts.  That was the highest winning percentage for all pitchers who made 100 or more starts from 1987 to 1991.  The rest of the top five included Dave Stieb (68-34, .667), Roger Clemens (94-48, .662), Bob Welch (88-42, .662) and Dave Stewart (95-56, .629) – pitchers who combined to win 909 games over their long and successful major league careers.

Despite his dropoff in strikeouts following the 1986 season, Gooden’s 797 Ks from 1987 to 1991 was surpassed by just one pitcher in the National League – his teammate, David Cone.  Cone struck out 945 batters over the five-year stretch.  Gooden’s 74 wins was also second in the NL to Doug Drabek, who won 77 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates from ’87 to ’91.

One other thing that Gooden was great at from 1987 to 1991 was something that never showed up in the boxscore.  During those five years, Gooden was outstanding at helping the Mets win games immediately following a loss, thereby preventing the Mets from suffering through extended losing streaks.  Doc started 65 games following a Mets loss from 1987 to 1991.  The Mets were 41-24 in those games.

Photo by Ed Leyro

Today is Dwight Gooden’s 49th birthday.  It’s been nearly three decades since he rocketed onto the major league scene with his blazing fastball and devastating curveball as a rookie in 1984.  It’s also been almost two decades since he threw his final pitch as a member of the New York Mets.

From the ages of 19 to 21, Gooden was arguably the best pitcher in the game.  Then, as his off-the-field habits started to come to light, he failed to approach his otherworldly numbers from 1984 to 1986.  But that didn’t mean he stopped being a great pitcher.  In fact, no one in baseball gave his team a better chance to win from 1987 to 1991 than Gooden, and only a handful of pitchers sent as many opposing batters back to the bench without putting the ball in play than Doc did.

Just because he wasn’t leading the league in strikeouts and threatening to throw a no-hitter in every start didn’t mean he wasn’t the Doctor anymore.  In fact, he continued to operate with surgical precision for quite some time after the 1986 campaign.

Doc Gooden never stopped being great on the mound.  It’s a shame that some people thought his greatness just wasn’t good enough.

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SNY’s Bobby V Refuses To Back Down, Wants Photo Proof That Yankees Aided New York Thu, 12 Sep 2013 19:29:19 +0000 bobby valentine 2

SNY Analyst Bobby Valentine refuses to back down from comments he made yesterday that the Yankees were nowhere to be found in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001.

His remarks led to this statement from New York Yankees president, Randy Levine:

Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today. Today is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.

Today, Valentine appeared on the Erik Kuselias Show on the NBC Radio Network, and while most thought he would take back his comments, he instead refused to back down and asked that the Yankees should present photographic proof they were out comforting victims, helping first responders or aiding in some capacity as the New York Mets were.

“All I remember is people asking for the Yankees and me making excuses for them not being there,” he told Kuselias.

This is outrageous to me…

Honestly, I’m shocked that SNY has not stepped in and issued an apology or better yet, fire Bobby Valentine…

This has nothing to do with the Mets or baseball and goes to the heart of showing some solemn respect for the tragedy of 9/11. I don’t understand what his angle is…

It’s been 12 years and now after all this time he’s pointing fingers and blame at the New York Yankees?

(Updated by Joe D.)

Original Post

Bobby Valentine was a loose cannon when he managed the New York Mets and not much has changed.

Yesterday, on a day that should be about reflection and remembrance of those lost their lives, did we really need Valentine to open old wounds and accentuate pettiness?

That’s exactly what Valentine did while speaking on WFAN, the soon to be ex-flagship station of the Mets. The former manager who doesn’t always have a filter between his brain and mouth, was at it again. The only thing missing were the fake glasses and mustache.


The Mets, as I wrote earlier, should be commended for their actions following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Mets were certainly visible as Shea Stadium was used as a staging ground for trucks unloading supplies.

Valentine and his players, in uniform, maintained a high profile helping unload those supply trucks. The Mets also made numerous public appearances to police and fire stations, as well as visiting the injured. And, with the Mike Piazza homer, no single post September 11 baseball moment was as emotional and unifying.

The Mets were to be commended, but Valentine came off as petty, not to mention wrong, when he fired a shot at the Yankees 12 years later.

“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were [not around],’’ Valentine said. “You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7.’’

What did he have to gain by saying this?

Let it be said Valentine is totally wrong and came off as reminding us why, in large part, he lost his job managing the Mets. Valentine, quite simply, has a tendency of rubbing people the wrong way. As knowledgeable as he is as an analyst, he’s way off base on this one, and tyesterday was not the day to inflame old wounds.

The old Yankee Stadium, because of logistics, wasn’t ideal for a staging ground, but I covered the Yankees then, and I know they made their share of appearances to fire and police stations. Roger Clemens, as creature of habit as there is for a pitcher, made appearances on the day he pitched.

As if Valentine couldn’t get his foot in his mouth any deeper, he sure tried.

“Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault,’’ Valentine said. “And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we [the Mets] so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’’

The way it sounds coming from Valentine, it does seem about credit. When you do something, volunteer as the Mets did, you do it without fanfare. It sounds as if Valentine is seeking a pat on the back. It comes off sounding like the Mets made all those appearances for the public relations impact. I know this isn’t true because the Mets are as generous any New York team when it comes to giving back to the community, but Valentine’s comments come off as acknowledgement.

If it really is about doing the right thing, Valentine should extend a formal apology to the Yankees, because he’s wrong. The Yankees got credit for bringing baseball back because they played in an emotional World Series that season, and let’s face it, they are more high-profile nationally than the Mets.

The Mets?

They were 82-80 in 2001 and largely irrelevant after Piazza’s ball cleared the wall. That’s something Valentine conveniently forgot, but when you operate without a filter, that happens.

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Buck Will Catch Harvey In His All Star Showdown With Scherzer Sat, 24 Aug 2013 13:02:21 +0000 harvey scherzer asg

It’s not exactly the fight of the century or even the Thrilla In Manilla, but when the Mets’ Matt Harvey and the Tigers’ Max Scherzer oppose each other on Saturday at Citi Field, it will mark the first time in MLB history that both All-Star Game starters have faced off at any point during the same regular season.

According to the Wall Street Journal, All-Star starters have only matched up twice before, both in the World Series: Paul Derringer (Reds) versus Red Ruffing (Yankees) in Game 1 in 1939, and Roger Clemens (Red Sox) versus Dwight Gooden (Mets) in Game 2 in 1986.

Whether by design or just mere coincidence, the Mets’ decision to have Harvey pitch on an extra day of rest made what should be an entertaining pitching showdown all possible.

Unlike Harvey’s last start when Travis d’Arnaud caught him against the Padres, Terry Collins said he plans to have John Buck catch his ace today at 4:05 PM.

“They’ve been together for 25 or 26 starts,” Collins said last night. “They’re pretty comfortable. And Travis will have 15 years to make up that ground.”

It’s amazing how evenly these two match up…

Scherzer is 18-1 with a 2.82 ERA and a league leading 0.89 WHIP this season. In 172.1 innings pitched, he’s allowed just 117 hits, 38 walks while striking out 185 batters.

Harvey is 9-4 with a 2.25 ERA and an identical 0.89 WHIP for the Mets, and in 171.2 innings pitched he’s allowed 122 hits, walked 31 and struck out 187 batters.

This oughta be one heck of a pitcher’s duel, so get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show.

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Battle For The NL Cy Young: Kershaw vs. Harvey Fri, 09 Aug 2013 12:54:43 +0000 The NL Cy Young race has quite obviously become a two-man race between the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and our very own Matt Harvey. And although we may all be a tad biased towards Mr. Harvey, it’s important as baseball fans to give Kershaw a fair argument. Here’s a brief breakdown of the two:

Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw is sporting a sickeningly low 1.91 ERA, and is on pace to finish with the first sub-2 ERA in the MLB since Roger Clemens did it in 2005. Needless to say, Kershaw leads the entire pack in this category. His WHIP, at a miniscule .88, is second in the MLB to his competitor for the throne (we’ll get to him in a minute). He’s also second to his competitor in strikeouts, with 166 in 174.1 IP.


Kershaw has a frankly unimpressive 10-7 record. However, it would be hard to find someone who said he didn’t deserve a better one. He’s still tied for tenth in total wins (this ain’t no American League), and while that’s not great, wins are a non-issue at this point.

Speaking of wins being a non-issue, I now present candidate B:

Matt Harvey

Harvey has gone shot for shot with Kershaw this year, and to say he’s burst onto the scene would be the understatement of the century. He falls short of Kershaw in the ERA category, but still has a strong lead for second place at 2.09. Harvey leads the National League in strikeouts with 178, 12 more than Kershaw. More impressive is that Kershaw holds a 14.2 inning advantage over Harvey, while still falling short. Harvey leads all starting pitchers with an absolutely incredible .86 WHIP. Harvey has also allowed fewer hits than Kershaw, fewer home runs and walked less people.


Luckily for Harvey, his small win total (nine) due to the Mets’ lack of ability to score runs isn’t going to hurt him. It’s an obvious two-man race at this point, but Kershaw is only leading him with one win.

We might have been looking at a completely different scenario if the Dodgers had been the Dodgers we’ve seen as of late for the entire year; Kershaw might have 15 or 16 wins. But he doesn’t, and this is a race that’s going to go down to the wire.

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Wright and Harvey Selected To All-Star Game, Full Rosters Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:24:28 +0000 wright all star


Give yourselves a pat on the back Met fans, David Wright and Matt Harvey have been elected to start the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16th! In a late surge of votes for Wright, the Mets captain managed to beat out the “Kung Who? Panda” by a whopping two million votes according to MLB PR via Twitter. Pablo Sandoval was not chosen by NL and Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy for either the reserves or the Final Vote.

This will mark Wright’s fifth time starting the All-Star Game, matching Darryl Strawberry for second in franchise history; only Mike Piazza has more with six All-Star starts as a Met. Overall, 2013 will also represent Wright’s seventh overall All-Star appearance, second in team history only to Tom Seaver who had nine in Flushing. He also becomes the second Met to start the mid-summer classic at home, the first being Ron Hunt in 1964 during Shea’s inaugural year.

matt harvey

Matt Harvey, as expected, was also chosen to represent the Amazin’s next Tuesday. Harvey becomes just the fourth Met pitcher in club history to crack the All-Star roster in his first full season, joining an exclusive list of Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Doc Gooden. Harvey is widely considered the top choice to start for the National League, which would make him the first pitcher to start at his home ballpark for the All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2004, a player many–including Harvey himself–have often compared to the Mets’ phenom.

What an incredible job by the Mets to get the word out there for David Wright, and an even more amazing turnout from the fans to make the captain one of the leading vote-getters for this year’s All-Star game, beating out Sandoval by a final tally of 6,411,381 to 4,507,219. Great to see Mets fans getting out there and voting.

Here are the full rosters…

American League

C: Joe Mauer, Twins
1B: Chris Davis, Orioles
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
SS: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Adam Jones, Orioles
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox

RHP: Clay Buchholz *, Red Sox
LHP: Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
RHP: Bartolo Colon @, A’s
RHP: Jesse Crain *, White Sox
RHP: Yu Darvish, Rangers
RHP: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
RHP: Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
RHP: Justin Masterson, Indians
RHP: Joe Nathan, Rangers
LHP: Glen Perkins @, Twins
RHP: Mariano Rivera, Yankees
LHP: Chris Sale, White Sox
RHP: Max Scherzer, Tigers
RHP: Justin Verlander, Tigers

C: Jason Castro, Astros
C: Salvador Perez, Royals
1B: Prince Fielder, Tigers
2B: Jason Kipnis, Indians
2B: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
2B: Ben Zobrist, Rays
SS: Jhonny Peralta: Tigers
3B: Manny Machado, Orioles
OF: Nelson Cruz, Rangers
OF: Alex Gordon, Royals
OF: Torii Hunter, Tigers
DH: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

National League

C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B: David Wright, Mets
OF: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals

LHP: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Reds
LHP: Patrick Corbin, D-backs
RHP: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
RHP: Jason Grilli, Pirates
RHP: Matt Harvey, Mets
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
LHP: Cliff Lee, Phillies
LHP: Jeff Locke, Pirates
RHP: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
LHP: Travis Wood, Cubs
RHP: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

C: Buster Posey, Giants
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
1B: Allen Craig, Cardinals
2B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
2B: Marco Scutaro, Giants
SS: Everth Cabrera, Padres
SS: Jean Segura, Brewers
3B: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
OF: Domonic Brown, Phillies
OF: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
OF: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Photo By Clayton Collier

Photo By Clayton Collier

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Wheeler Says He’s Not A Savior, But Will Try To Help Team Anyway He Can Mon, 17 Jun 2013 19:44:23 +0000 zack-wheelers-jerseyZack Wheeler held a 14 minute press conference with reporters at Turner Field this afternoon ahead of his major league debut on Tuesday.

Wheeler said he does not see himself as a savior.

“I don’t think I’m the savior at all. We’ve got great arms here and we’ve got great players. We might not be doing too well right now, but I know the talent of these guys and hopefully we can turn it around soon. I’m just trying to come up here and help the team any way I can.”

He doesn’t expect to treat his first MLB start any differently than any other start and doesn’t feel he has to live up to Matt Harvey.

“He set the bar so high. Matt just took off, but I’m in majors to just pitch my game and be myself.”

“Some people expected it. Some people didn’t. I’m just going to go out there and do the best that I can. People can take it how they want it. Hopefully I’ll do well and just be up there with him.”

He feels his experience at Triple-A Las Vegas was valuable. It toughened him up and taught him how to battle.

Turner Field will be packed with plenty of family and friends tomorrow night, as the Georgia native will be playing in front of his hometown crowd.

“I grew up watching Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux,” he said.

He got some advice from his brother last night who told him, “Whatever you do, don’t go up there and look up, ’cause all the lights and the fans and everybody will be moving and make you sick.”

Wheeler will wear uniform No. 45 because it’s his favorite and he’s worn it since he was 12 years old.

Here’s a video of the presser from SNY.

This is pretty damn exciting, I can’t wait…

Original Post

zack wheeler usa today

On Tuesday, during the second game of a doubleheader against the first place Atlanta Braves, Mets prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler will make his long anticipated major league debut.

For Wheeler, he will feel unlike any other pitching prospect who who is making his first big league start. He’ll be wound up tighter than the guts of a baseball and those butterflies will be fluttering in his stomach. And then it all goes from surreal to real when that first pitch is fired toward home plate… Will he hear the pop of the leather or the crack of a bat?

Before Wheeler there was that other much ballyhooed Mets debut… The one from that pitcher whose stuff wasn’t nearly as good as Wheeler’s – I’m talking about righthander Matt Harvey.

He of course burst onto the scene with an 11 strikeout gem against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was the most strikeouts a pitcher has had in his debut since Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals whiffed 14 in June, 2010 against Pittsburgh.

Harvey pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and no earned runs and for good measure went 2-for-2 with a double in his only two at-bats. Since that day, Harvey has become an unstoppable force and is now among the National League’s elite.

matt harvey usa today

Tough act to follow? Ironically enough, that’s exactly what Wheeler will be doing tomorrow as Harvey is slated to pitch the first game of the twin-bill.

When you compare Wheeler and Harvey’s minor league numbers, the similarities are so uncanny it’s scary, but will those similarities play out at the major league level? We’re all about to find out.

Last week I asked Lynn Worthy, who covers the B-Mets and has seen both of them pitch, what differences he saw in the two and he told me, the obvious similarities were how hard they threw hitting 96 miles per hour regularly.

“The fact that they were highly-touted prospects before they got here, and how after a few starts opposing hitters just started jumping on the first fastball they saw from each of them.”

Worthy remarked that of the two Harvey was very intense. “I still recall talking to him after his final start – he went just three innings, gave up four runs and walked four – and he wanted no part of talking about the season as a whole. All he could do was boil over his last start.”

While he agreed with the scouts who all say Wheeler has the best pure stuff and plus pitches, he also noted that he struggled to command certain pitches.

“When you looked at Wheeler, he didn’t give off the intensity that Harvey did. However, Wheeler always seemed confident in his stuff even when he didn’t have his best.”

While both pitchers measure in at 6’4″, Wheeler has a lanky frame at 185 pounds, while Harvey packs an additional 40 pounds checking in at 225. Both have great frames for pitchers. Harvey reminded many scouts of Roger Clemens and in fact even Clemens himself said that Harvey is the first pitcher he’s seen that reminds him of himself. I’ve seen Wheeler compared to many pitchers ranging from Matt Cain to A.J. Burnett to Philip Humber.

Tomorrow should be an exciting day for Met fans as the future of the franchise will be on full display for the first time since Sandy Alderson became the general manager. Wheeler represents what many feel is his one singular signature move. He and the team have a lot riding on what happens tomorrow.

The scouts were all wrong about Harvey having the ceiling of a number two pitcher, but lets hope they are all right about Wheeler having the ceiling of an ace pitcher.

One thing is certain though… Tomorrow you can throw away everything you ever heard about Wheeler… You can ditch all the comparisons… Forget what he did in the minors… And even trash everything the scouts and experts had to say… Tomorrow we’ll all see what we have in Wheeler for ourselves.

Here’s to another smashing Mets debut…

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Mets’ Matt Harvey Could Be The Next Big Thing Wed, 13 Mar 2013 15:59:58 +0000 harvey-2It’s not exactly the variety of a film festival when watching the Mets in spring training. It’s the Nationals, Braves, Marlins and Cardinals on a rotating basis. For the Mets in Port St. Lucie, it’s like watching the same episodes of Seinfeld over and over. After awhile, you know how ``The Contest’’ will end.

For a young guy like Matt Harvey working on a pitch, those teams don’t have to worry about the film as they can see him first hand. I’ve always wondered if that’s a disadvantage to the pitcher.Johan Santana once made his final exhibition start against a minor league team rather that against the Marlins, a team he would face in the first week.

Harvey is busy working on his change-up, which was flawless in his last start. He has no choice but to keep throwing against a team he could face five times this season.

“It’s usually the last pitch that comes around,’’ he said. “Everything went well with all my pitches the other day.’’

Considering he worked into the fifth and didn’t give up a hit, that’s kind of an understatement. While nobody expects no-hit ball every time out, the expectations for Harvey are enormous. When talking about Harvey’s low pitch count, he said that’s imperative if he’s going to pitch over 200 innings.

That’s one of the things that first struck me in talking with Harvey. He’s very unassuming and keeps an even keel, both on and off the mound. I covered Mike Mussina for years, with Baltimore and the Yankees, and I see similarities in their demeanor and confidence.

Mussina didn’t let things rattle him and had a methodical plan of doing things. Harvey is the same way in that he knows what he wants, and just as important, knows how to get it.

It is premature to say Harvey will have a career like Mussina, or Roger Clemens, or a Roy Halladay. But, spring training is for imagining such things.

Speaking of Clemens, Dan Martin of the Post has a very interesting piece where he got Frank Viola to compare Harvey to Clemens. Viola, a former Met, was Clemens’ teammate for three years in Boston.

Said Viola: “On the field, you knew Roger was the man and he showed you why he was the man. Matt’s the same way.’’

Let’s hope the comparisons end there.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I’m usually the one that tells fans to temper their expectations, but not where Matt Harvey is concerned.

While one of my colleagues said Harvey will never win a Cy Young Award, I envision more than just one for this kid.

I have seen his determination and I have witnessed the fire that burns within him.

I have seen him stare down some of the biggest and most feared hitters in the game without so much as breaking a sweat.

Matt Harvey has got the stuff to do it, nobody disagrees there. But more importantly, Harvey has got that edge  - that “Eye of the Tiger” – that fearlessness that sets him apart from everyone else… You all know what I’m talking about…

Harvey, the next big thing? Hell yeah, I can see that…

bleed orange & blue  button

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Reign Delay? Mon, 14 Jan 2013 19:59:00 +0000 As I was driving home the other night, I was listening to Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on the MLB Network Radio channel on XM. They were discussing with Jill Painter, the L.A. Daily News sports columnist, the Baseball Hall of Fame vote which took place Wednesday. This is the same Jill Painter, member of the Baseball Writers Association of America who thought it made perfect sense to cast one of her Hall of Fame votes for the former Blue Jay, Dodger, Diamondback and Met, Shawn Green. As she was engaging in verbal kabuki, explaining her vote, I could almost feel the indignation boiling over from the two hosts. Big kudos goes out to both Bowden and Stern for having the combined patience of a saint. That interview alone should earn them a few Marconi votes in my view.

It’s a good thing I don’t do radio; I wouldn’t have been nearly as diplomatic as they were. As if there wasn’t enough preordained controversy with this year’s crop of candidates, we get this nonsense and I’m not even going to enrage you with her supposed rationale. I have too much respect for you to even try. It’s almost as bad as the one vote that someone gave Aaron Sele. Again, not going to enrage you with the facts, you can look up Sele’s pathetic career statistics here if you wish. Then you have my permission to curse uncontrollably – - and yes you can practice reading that line in your best Bane voice. Or Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery as I believe they’re one in the same.

Call me naïve but I was always under the impression that those having been afforded the privilege of a Hall of Fame vote would show just a modicum of respect towards it. I’m not the only one who thinks this way as does the great Metstradamus. But this is unfortunately the year that common sense, fairness and respect for the game clearly went over the edge of the train tracks faster than a New York City subway commuter. Ouch.

Now I’ve been very sympathetic to the plight the writers have when it comes to wading through the waters that PED’s have polluted in Major League Baseball. But like Metstradamus, when voters use their privilege to make some grand statement (i.e. voting no one in), peppered with some who find it – I don’t know – comical, to vote for the likes of Sele and Green, it simply demonstrates to me that stupidity isn’t determined by who you write for or what and if you get paid for writing it.

When the likes of Marty Noble, someone I’ve always had tremendous respect for, thinks that because Mike Piazza had an abundance of—wait for it—back hair, during his time as a Dodger and decides to connect the follicles and assume that it meant Piazza used. It shows me just how far we’ve fallen as a people more than anything. We’ll believe the very worst of each other just to protect our own vanity because God forbid a player is later found to have juiced.

We can’t have writers dealing with pangs of remorse now can we? To top it off, Noble then ironically said that as a Met, Piazza had a hairless back, which is ALSO a symptom of steroid use. So if Piazza essentially played with Robin William’s back he’s using yet if he’s smoother than an Abercrombie model he’s also using? Absolutely pathetic, especially that never, not once, has Piazza been accused or named in any report or tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs.

I always believed that MLB needs to be far more proactive of a guide for the BBWAA when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and steroids. I wrote a piece for Metsmerized in early 2011 calling for Bud Selig to commission a panel exploring the effects that PED’s have on actual playing performance. Of course Selig and MLB want absolutely nothing further to do with this issue—at least not what happened in the past. One bright spot happened a few days ago when the MLB Players Association and MLB agreed to year round drug testing for Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone.

The BBWAA and their writers refused to vote for some players and based it on innuendo and unproven allegations; and that is shameful itself. In part I can understand their fear of enshrining someone who later is proven to have used PED’s as players elected cannot be removed from the Hall of Fame. My question is why is that? Hypothetically if a Hall of Famer does something illegal, whether during or after their playing career, why are they not immediately open to removal? That, in my opinion, would allow the writers to choose players based on their careers and not on speculation.

George Orwell was quoted as saying:

“Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.”

Now the real question remains, who was Orwell talking about; the players or the writers?

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Pedro Martinez Says It’s Too Difficult To Vote Bonds Or Clemens Into Hall Sat, 08 Dec 2012 17:10:08 +0000

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe caught up with Pedro Martinez who was at former teammate David Ortiz‘s celebrity golf fundraiser in the Dominican Republic yesterday.

The always outspoken Martinez had plenty to say about the steroids era as well as his own career and legacy.

“I never had a complaint. I don’t have it. I think I did it the best way possible,” he said on Friday. “What would have happened if I had a level playing field? It’s something to be guessed. This is the same body that you saw, except for a couple of more pounds.”

When asked about his thoughts on new Hall of Fame candidates Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, Martinez minced no words:

“It’s really difficult for me to choose either one. I would have loved to face Roger Clemens when he was Roger Clemens with nothing. I would have loved to face him all the time.

Regarding his future candidacy:

“I was clean. I know I was clean. That’s all I can say. I was out there and they got the best out of me. Beat me or not, that was the best I had, and clean. I wish it were the same way for every one of them.”

“In my last years with the Mets, I was pushed too far. I was going too far with the pain. I did it naturally, I rehabbed naturally. I went through struggles a lot naturally. Today I can actually sit back, relax and enjoy the flight because I did it clean and my integrity is right where it belongs.”

Pedro, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, will no doubt get in as a first ballot Hall of Famer having never had any suspicion of PED or steroid use. Martinez is one of the rare great players from the steroid era to actually gain weight after retirement rather than lose weight.

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Roger Clemens: There’s Still Some Stuff In The Basement Wed, 22 Aug 2012 12:00:22 +0000

Fans of the Rocky movies know what I am referring to. After being retired for years, Rocky was asked why he was returning to the ring in the last Rocky installment, his response was “there’s still some stuff in the basement.” In other words, he couldn’t move on with his life until the fire burning inside him was completely out. That is the fire of competition, which all athletes have burning inside them. It causes men like Brett Favre to keep coming back to the game they love, even after the game has passed them by.

Roger Clemens seems to still have some stuff in the basement. Apparently there are still some embers from that competitive fire that once burned inside of him, still glowing. We know this because it has been announced that Clemens will be starting for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent league team down in Texas, on Saturday. However, Clemens has stated this is just for fun, meaning it isn’t really a comeback…yet.

This reeks of a comeback. If Roger just wanted to have fun, he could join a men’s amateur league similar to the one I play in now (HVNABA), which is comprised of former professional and college players. That could have been competitive enough for Roger if he just wanted to have fun, so there are other options out there for him aside from professional baseball. Pursuing professional baseball at any level shows that he is attempting a comeback at 50 years old. The question is would any team give him a chance?

Roger is throwing in the high 80s right now, so if he makes a comeback, we won’t be able to call him the “Rocket” anymore. That being said, he will probably be able to help some teams, the Mets being one of them. I would swap out Chris Young for Roger Clemens without even seeing Roger’s Independent League start this Saturday. If the Mets planned on starting pitchers that throw 83mph, they should have angled Citi Field so a breeze would come in from center field, and give Chris Young’s fastballs a chance to hit 85mph on the radar gun.

Roger Clemens isn’t one of the more popular names in baseball these days, but a lot of fans would be intrigued with a comeback story. It would give people a reason to root for Roger for a change, instead of root against him. This may be a way for Roger to clear his name a little. If people see him as a vulnerable athlete, with a true love of his sport, it may lead to some forgiveness for what Roger has been accused of over the past decade.

Roger is going to see how he feels this Saturday, and who knows, maybe he will just decide to hang them up after he gets the stuff out of his basement. But something tells me that Saturday won’t be the last we see Roger standing on the hill, playing professional baseball. I don’t have a crystal ball, but some team will be inviting him to spring training in 2013. I wonder if he’ll wear the number 50?

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Clemens Speaks About Piazza Incident Wed, 16 Feb 2011 14:36:10 +0000 Almost 11 years later and Roger Clemens still hasn’t gotten any smarter. When he threw a bat shard at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, he made the excuse that he thought it was the ball. Certainly no one understands why Clemens would throw the “ball” at Piazza and not to first base. Maybe Clemens mistakenly believed that he was no longer pitching in the World Series but rather that he was back on the playground in middle school playing dodgeball.

With that in the past, you would think that Clemens would be smart enough not to bring it up again. Well unfortunately you thought wrong.

This past weekend, at a charity event, Clemens was asked about the incident. Clemens responded by saying, “”I just remember my form being really good when I threw the bat, my form was impeccable. I fielded it perfectly. My arm angle when I whistled it on-deck was a little low.”

One has to wonder what was going through Clemens mind when he decided that a joke would be the best way to address this incident. It would not be unreasonable to consider the incident an attempted battery, as it appears Clemens was trying to hit Piazza with the bat. A joke is certainly not the way to respond to such a serious question.

Even before the links were made in the Mitchell Report, people believed that Clemens’ actions might have had something to do with “roid rage”. This could be another explanation for why Clemens made this tasteless joke and also for why he has never admitted why he would have throw a ball at Piazza as he was running to first base.

It is also interesting to note the divergent paths that the two players involved in this incident have taken after their careers have ended. Clemens has been connected to performance enhancing drugs, been indicted on six felony counts related to his testimony in front of Congress, and has been accused of having extra-martial affairs. Piazza on the other hand has eased into an early retirement. He was also brought into Citi Field to catch the first pitch at the new stadium.

It is becoming more and more obvious that only one of these two players will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Let’s just hope that Roger Clemens doesn’t have anything else to say about this incident after Mike Piazza’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

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Roger Clemens Pleads “Not Guilty” Tue, 31 Aug 2010 15:31:28 +0000 Roger Clemens appeared before United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Monday at 2PM and entered a ‘Not Guilty’ plea.  The Judge set the trial date at April 5, 2011 – although that date is not permanent and the trial may be delayed due to the amount of evidence available.
Assistant United States Attorney Steven J. Durham gave the Clemens attorneys a 34 page memo outlining all the evidence.
The New York Times reported in 2009 that tests conducted on the evidence then in hand on those materials contained traces of performance-enhancing drugs and the Washington Post reported that the materials contained Clemens’ DNA.
Clemens had arrived early -10 AM – at the Federal Court House to have his fingerprints and his mug shot taken since he and his wife had an afternoon golf date.  Sure enough, after  the plea, he moved quickly to the Cadillac Escalade which brought him to the airport where his private plane was waiting to take him to Myrtle Beach.
Now that the process has begun, Roger will notice some changes – he cannot leave the United States and must check in with the Court every two weeks.
Sometimes it appears that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but at this level of the court system, they need to. The hearing accelerated Clemens’ fall from grace and led to his perjury indictment.
Even if the army of attorneys Clemens is paying can save his skin, the jury trial he has now demanded will turn his life upside down as former associates – like Andy Pettitte –  are drawn to testify.
The indictment against Clemens issued August 19th lists one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury.
If convicted, Clemens could be the first baseball star to face prison time for his role in the steroid era.
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Roger Clemens To Be Arraigned On Monday Fri, 27 Aug 2010 14:17:49 +0000 This is what A.J. Perez of MLB wrote about the Clemens news on Thursday afternoon:

Roger Clemens’ arraignment on six felony charges linked to his testimony in front of a Congressional committee will take place in Washington on Monday.

A notice of Clemens’ first hearing in the case since charges were announced last week was posted on the federal docket system on Thursday. Clemens is expected to plead not guilty in what should be a short hearing in front of U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton.

He was an extraordinary pitcher in the early days, but prone to move the batter off the plate, by any means. He had an experience with Mike Piazza that bordered on the bizarre – he actually threw at Mike’s head twice in the summer of 2000.He continued to demand special treatment and extras which only increased his already large ego.

Roger perhaps wouldn’t understand this, but he was offered an out by the Congressional Committee where he testified – in fact, the Chairman of the Committee said there was no reason for him to appear – an affidavit would do.  But Roger insisted on having TV time at the committee.  He got it – and next Monday at 2PM he appears before a Federal Court in Washington DC and has no one to blame but himself.

And here’s my two cents – I never thought Roger would persist in proving himself innocent of it all. How the mighty has fallen  and  at his own hand.  Roger Clemens was always ready to put himself first,  no matter the issue.  Raised by a widowed Mother, and with several older sisters Roger lapped up the attention he was given at home.  But it didn’t stop when he grew up and today is proof of that.

Clemens, who has denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, faces one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury tied to his testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February 2008. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner faces a fine of up to $1.5 million and a prison term of up to 21 months under current sentencing guidelines if convicted.”

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The Rocket Has Crashed Fri, 20 Aug 2010 17:21:47 +0000

Yesterday afternoon was one of those days you don’t forget – usually it’s good news you remember, but the bad news often creeps up when you least expect it and therefore clings in memory.

Roger Clemens – is there anyone in sports who doesn’t recognize that name?  And how many little boys idolized him and his accomplishments?

We last saw Roger – in public – addressing the Congress of the United States in February 2008.  He had gone to D.C. earlier that week to visit with all the members of the committee where he would appear.  This is not normal, or usual - in fact, he was told by the committee Chairman, don’t bother, just submit your statement.  But no, Roger had to make his rounds and say his piece to them all in person after which the obligatory pictures were taken.  He had to continue to be famous.

In two weeks Roger will be arraigned and the process will proceed.

Here is part of a column written today by Richard Griffin in the Toronto Star: 

“Thursday, Clemens was indicted for obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury. He has been accused of lying to Congress about using steroids. If found guilty, he will likely do some jail time.”

Why would he do it? Because his past is more important to him than his future. Because protecting his legacy as a future Hall-of-Famer was more important than playing a role in cleaning up the game and making it drug-free for the next generation of players — which included his own sons. 

Clemens was never comfortable being Roger Clemens. Legend has it that in Boston when he entered his favourite night spot, he insisted they play Elton John’s hit Rocket Man to signal his arrival. At the Jays annual golf tournament with heavy-paying sponsors in each foursome, Clemens would ask for his own golf cart and park away from the others talking on his cellphone as they waited to tee off. In the clubhouse, after a start, The Rocket would emerge from the trainer’s room with carefully rehearsed answers and when questions started to strain his playbook, he would just walk away and end it.

It will be the best thing for baseball and the best thing for Clemens if he is convicted for his alleged transgressions under oath. He should do some jail time as well. It would show a younger generation of players and some of his veteran contemporaries that the Steroid Era had better be over or they too risk hard time, and it may snap Clemens out of his two-decade long fantasy that he was a character, The Rocket and was above the laws of other mere mortals.

Don’t cry for The Rocket, but feel sorry for Roger Clemens.”   

I doubt that many will cry for Roger Clemens -  and the little boys I feel sorry for are his four sons, who will carry the shame of their father all their lives. 

I often wonder – in the search for fame and posterity how many athletes give a moment’s thought to what their quests do to their families?  I hope that we only hear about the ones gone wrong, while the good Dads go home to their kids as often as they can – they are the real sports heros.

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