Mets Merized Online » Rusty Staub http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 06 Dec 2016 03:27:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 A Father’s Day Tale: Heroes Don’t Always Hit Home Runs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/a-fathers-day-tale-heroes-dont-always-hit-home-runs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/a-fathers-day-tale-heroes-dont-always-hit-home-runs.html/#comments Sun, 19 Jun 2016 13:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215222 johnny bench tom seaver

It was my first baseball game. And it was almost my last.

In the summer of 1972 I was pushing Tonka trucks around the floor in a one bedroom apartment in The Bronx. I noted the wide range of emotions my Dad went through watching a 2 ½ hour baseball game. Happiness, frustration, cheering, despair. I’d casually glance up at the Zenith B&W. Slowly my toys became secondary and I found myself sitting on the sofa next to my father.

There were the multi-colored sport jackets of Lindsey Nelson, the malapropisms of Ralph Kiner and the velvety cadences of gray-haired red-faced Bob Murphy, who my dad said was, “As smooth as a duck’s tuchus.” That made me laugh.

But my dad was the one who taught me baseball. He explained the game to me, the game within the game, the intricacies. And I got hooked. I watched, I listened, I learned

The following season, with some apprehension, he decided to take me to my first game. Watching on TV was one thing, but would this seven year old become distracted and grow restless and impatient? After handing over some change to park our Plymouth Scamp, we got out of the car.

My chin hit the asphalt. I was blown away. The stadium was huge, enormous. It was like the Roman Coliseum and it was right here in Flushing.

shea stadium 2

Clusters of people–older, younger, boys my age and icky girls–were all walking toward something in unison, moving together as one cohesive unit. For the first time in my life I became a part of something bigger, something that extended far beyond my bedroom and my classmates. I was now one of tens of millions of baseball fans.

With Dad’s hand on my shoulder, he guided me between the throngs of fellow Mets fans, passing blue and orange panels hanging from cables on Shea’s exterior. Dad handed over our tickets to an usher wearing an orange jacket and blue slacks.

“Enjoy the game, son.”

I was too busy gazing around in awe when dad nudged me. “What do you say to the man?”

“Uh…Let’s Go Mets.”

Dad laughed. “Anything else?”

“Oh, yea, thank you.”

Seconds later I was bequeathed something in a wrapper. Whoa, cool! A real authentic plastic Mets helmet. Did they give these out every day? Or maybe just to me since it was my first game. Christmas in April. Little did I realize it was Helmet Day. I tore open the packaging, placed the item on my head…and my lips quivered. It was too big. Dad adjusted the interior settings and now it fit perfectly.

He saved the day.

Before heading to our seats, we walked through the passageway in the Loge level. My eyes bulged out of my head, my heart leapt in my chest. Watching on WOR didn’t do it justice. I couldn’t grasp how gigantic the field was. It went on forever. The scoreboard was colossal. I’d never seen grass so green. The grounds crew watered down the infield, causing brown dirt to contrast strikingly with pristine white bases.

Thwack.

Thwack.

Baseballs, like little round missiles, were rocketing all over the place as players took batting practice. Yeah.., I could get used to this.

“Daddy, daddy!” I shouted, jumping in place nearly wrenching his arm out of his socket. “There’s Rusty!!!”

rusty staub square

Rusty Staub was my favorite Met. I don’t know why I took to him. I had yet to grasp the significance of confusing stats and complicated numbers. I didn’t quite comprehend batting average or Earned Run Average and didn’t know if Rusty was good or not. Maybe it was his unique hair color, or his strange batting stance which was upright and stiff with his backside sticking out. Maybe it was the fact he and I shared the same initials or perhaps it was simply due to his cool nickname, Le Grande Orange.

Yea, I definitely could get used to this.

We watched BP for a while before heading to our seats. We went inside the stadium and took the escalator up. And up. And up again. And up some more.

I don’t know what happened, don’t know if the guy who sold dad the tickets gave us the wrong seats. But we were sitting in the very last row in the grandstands, the upper deck. The grating was against our backs. Miles beyond my shoulder was the NYC skyline with the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers that had just opened two weeks earlier. It felt like I was closer to the cement sidewalk four levels below than to the field. Planes landing at LaGuardia were practically on eye level. The players were tiny. I couldn’t tell who was who. Which one is Rusty?

The seats in the stratosphere, however, was secondary. The date was April 21, 1973. It was cloudy, overcast, there was a crisp bite in the air, the wind whipped around with gale force ferocity. Baseball was played in the summer but winter seemed reluctant to release its grip. My hands were shoved deep in my pockets, my feet growing numb, my teeth chattered. I knew the words to the song but right now I didn’t want anyone to buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I just wanted a hot chocolate.

Dad lit up a cigarette. (Hey, it was 1973) “You okay?”

“Ss-ss-sure, da-da-daddy, this is gr-gr-great.” I may have been fighting frostbite but I didn’t care. I was at my first ballgame.

Moments later, he tapped my shoulder. “C’mon.” He took my hand and led me down the steep steps. On the walkway he approached an usher. My dad was a salesman and went into selling mode. “Look,” he began pleasantly, “This is my son’s first game. And if I bring him home with pneumonia, my wife will kill me. She’ll never let me take him to another game and you’ll lose a fan for life. You gotta get us into better seats.”

The usher pointed to a different usher a few sections over. That guy told us to speak to someone else. The third guy directed us to someone in an office. We went inside the concourse and hurried to this other guy. My little legs had difficulty keeping up with my dad’s long loping strides.

This new guy informed us we’d need to discuss it with someone different.

Organ music emanated from massive speakers as Jane Jarvis began the opening notes to Meet the Mets.

Along another concourse we went. My dad now jogging, me running alongside.

Shea Stadium 1969

The voice of the PA announcer boomed across Flushing like the voice of God. “Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls. Welcome to Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets.”

A roar went up. Fans cheered. But my dad and I were running around like Matt Damon would be forty years later in the final twenty minutes of “The Adjustment Bureau.”

Dad picked up the pace. “C’mon, Rob!”

We went into another office. This guy in a white shirt and tie directed us to an office on the second level.

We took off again.

“We ask you to remove your hats and please rise for the singing of…”

“Daddy!” I shouted.

“What?!” he clipped, understandably frustrated.

“It’s the National Anthem.”

He gave me a look, then couldn’t help but laugh

Oh, Canada, Glorious and Free….

“What’s that?” I asked, scrunching my face.

“We’re playing Montreal. That’s the Canadian National Anthem,” he explained.

“They have a different one than us?”

Moments later, the more familiar, Oh, say, can you see…

I stood motionless, respectfully removing my brand new helmet, patriotically placed my hand over my heart and sung.

And the home of the brave.

And off we went again.

“Here are today’s starting lineups and batting orders. First, the visiting Montreal Expos.”

Boo!

“Daddy, the game’s starting!” I cried out, gasping for air. My short legs ached, I had sticking pain in my side from running so hard and so fast. I liked running. I was one of the faster boys in my second grade class. But even this was getting excessive.

There was no one around, everyone already in their seats. We bulleted around a corner and were dashing down a wide ramp full speed.

My side was stabbing but not from running so hard. Instead it was cause of my Dad. He was really old, the ripe old age of thirty and I’d never seen him run before. I tried to keep up but was giggling so hard, I pulled up short and angled forward, laughing uncontrollably.

The hilarity of the moment quickly turned to tears when my helmet slipped off my head, hit the concrete and fractured.

Twenty yards ahead, Dad turned, came back and took a knee by my side. He sympathetically lifted my splintered helmet and embraced me. “I’ll get you another one,” he whispered while hugging away the tears.

I’m not sure how he did it but somehow he made sure everything worked out.

lindsey nelson ralph kiner bob murphy

With mere seconds to spare before the first pitch we ended up in our own private press box Reporters from local newspapers and TV stations close by. Three booths to our right were the Mets play-by-play announcers. Lindsey’s jackets were even brighter in person. “There’s Ralph,” Dad pointed reverentially, even at thirty somewhat awed by the presence of Kiner’s greatness.

I learned a lot that day.

During the middle innings, Expos manager Gene Mauch got ejected for arguing a call. Dad wasted no time in pointing out, “See what happens when you don’t respect authority.”

The Mets had a pitcher named Tom Seaver who was supposedly pretty good. Dad had stated repeatedly, “He’s gonna wind up in Cooperstown one day.” I guess if you’re good you go to Cooperstown, whatever that means. But Seaver didn’t pitch that day. Neither did Jerry Koosman who was on the mound when the Mets won their only championship four long years ago in 1969. It wasn’t even the lanky fella named Jon Matlack. Toeing the rubber this day was spot-starter Harry Parker.

But that didn’t matter.

My guy, Rusty, didn’t get any hits, but walked three times and scored twice.

But that didn’t really matter.

willie mays

I got to see some guy wearing number 24. He was supposedly pretty good, too, probably also going to that Cooperstown place. He used to play here in NY with a team called the Giants a long time ago and made some catch in a World Series. Willie Mays went 0-for-3.

But that didn’t really matter either

I got to see my first Home Run, a two run blast in the 8th off the bat of John Milner, The Hammer. The Mets defeated Montreal 5-0. Harry Parker pitched 7 shut-out innings before Tug McGraw recorded the final 6 outs

But no, that didn’t matter either.

What did matter was not the specifics–who won, who lost.

Over the next several decades I was privileged enough to see first-hand many great players. Some like Seaver, Mays, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza wore a Mets jersey. Others I saw like Mike Schmidt, Don Sutton, Willie Stargell and Pete Rose did not.

I saw Seaver and Rusty go away, only to return years later. And I saw Tug McGraw and Gary Carter go away, never to return.

Gary-Carter-John-McDonough-Icon-SMI

I went as a 7-year old with my dad. I’d go with my uncle, with friends from school, with buddies from college, with girlfriends and with wives. I saw one of Mookie Wilson’s first games and one of Jesse Orosco’s last. I went from eating chocolate and vanilla ice cream in little cups with wooden spoons to drinking beer. I saw Shea go from a ‘state-of-the-art’ modern sports venue to an archaic outdated relic. I saw rallies in the bottom of the 9th, bench clearing brawls, grand slam home runs, walk-off home runs, inside the park home runs, championships won, a no-hitter and I even caught a foul ball. I got to see Hank Aaron hit two of his 755 Home Runs.

But honestly, none of that mattered either.

What did matter is that this was my first Major League Baseball game. And despite seats up in the ether freezing my tuchus off, fighting frostbite, and my very first article of Mets attire breaking after only thirty minutes, my dad made it something memorable, something I’ll never forget, something I’ll always cherish. My dad saved the day and made everything better.

Sometimes heroes are not the guys who hit 700 Home Runs or get 4,000 hits.

Footnote:

I still have that same helmet forty three years later. It’s in a box, alongside yearbooks, scorecards, programs, old Mets caps that are frayed and tattered with age, my old glove, a signed Baseball by Davey Johnson—all stored away with memories of my childhood. Despite my dad’s offer to get me a new helmet, I refused. I wouldn’t change a thing from that blustery April day and if I could, I’d go back in time and relive it all over again, relive that very first baseball game I went to with my father.

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Rusty Staub To Throw Tonight’s Ceremonial First Pitch http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/rusty-staub-to-throw-tonights-ceremonial-first-pitch.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/rusty-staub-to-throw-tonights-ceremonial-first-pitch.html/#comments Mon, 12 Oct 2015 14:03:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=195377 rusty staub

A team source confirmed with the Daily News that beloved Mets icon Rusty Staub will be on hand tonight at Citi Field for Game 3 of the NLDS and that he will throw the ceremonial first pitch.

Staub suffered a heart attack on a flight from Ireland to JFK airport last weekend, and his flight was diverted back to Shannon Airport in Ireland where Staub was tended to by emergency medical personnel.

It will be great to see Rusty tonight and what a wonderful way to begin what should be an amazing night of playoff baseball.

October 3

Mets icon and star of the 1973 NL Championship team, Rusty Staub, suffered a heart attack during a flight from Ireland.

The following is a statement just released by the team:

“Rusty Staub experienced a medical emergency on a flight from Ireland to JFK. The flight was diverted back to Ireland where Rusty is now resting comfortably in a hospital. The prognosis is good and Rusty and his family ask that we respect his privacy during this period. He is in the thoughts and prayers of the Mets organization.”

United Airlines flight 24 had left Shannon Airport in Ireland and was over an hour into its journey when the crew turned around to get Rusty to medical personnel. The Boeing 757 jet touched down safely and was met at the terminal by ambulance and paramedics.

One of the most beloved personalities in Mets history, our prayers and thoughts go out to Rusty, and we wish him a very speedy recovery.

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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). 

williemays-swing - Copy

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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Around the Diamond: The Straw That Stirred Right Field http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/around-the-diamond-the-straw-that-stirred-right-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/around-the-diamond-the-straw-that-stirred-right-field.html/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 17:41:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138730 darryl strawberry

No other position has seen more turnover at the starting spot for the Mets than Right Field. In 52 seasons, they have seen 33 different players who would be classified as the “primary” player at the position. Darryl Strawberry was the man for eight of those seasons. The other 44 seasons saw 32 different players. The last 16 seasons have seen 15 different regular right fielders for the Mets.

The following are the top eleven players to have regularly manned right field for the Mets.

10 – Alex Ochoa (1996-97) – 170 games (132 starts). In 1996, Ochoa hit .294 with 4 HR and 33 RBI.

10 – Carl Everett (1995) – 170 games (136 starts). In 1995, Carl Everett hit .260 with 12 HR and 54 RBI.

9 – Jeff Francoeur (2009-10) – 192 games (183 starts). In 2011 (with the Mets), Frenchy hit .311 with 10 HR and 41 RBI.

8 – Bobby Bonilla (1992-93) – 229 games (226 starts). In 1993, Bobby-Bo hit .265 with 34 HR and 87 RBI.

7 – Roger Cedeno (1999, 2003) – 238 games (189 starts). In 1999, he hit .313 with 4 HR, 36 RBI and 66 stolen bases.

6 – Joe Christopher (1964) – 263 games (244 starts). In 1964, he hit .300 with 16 HR and 76 RBI.

5 – Jeromy Burnitz (2002) – 290 games (262 starts). In 2002, Burnitz batted .215 with 19 HR and 54 RBI.

4 – Joel Youngblood (1979-80) – 309 games (244 starts). In 1979, Youngblood hit .275 with 16 HR and 60 RBI.

3 – Ron Swoboda (1967-70) – 434 games (372 starts). In 1967, Swoboda batted .281 with 13 HR and 53 RBI.

2 – Rusty Staub (1972-75) – 535 games (531 starts). Rusty had some solid years for the Mets and in 1975 he batted .282 with 19 HR and 105 RBI.

1 – Darryl Strawberry (1983-90) – 1,062 games (1,022 starts). A former number one pick, in 1987, Darryl hit .284 with 39 HR, 104 RBI, and 36 stolen bases.

Presented By Diehards

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: Random Thoughts On Bartolo Colon http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-on-bartolo-colon.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-on-bartolo-colon.html/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 17:04:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135333 bartolo colon

Last night as I was getting comfortable on my couch, I was scanning the twitterverse and lo and behold what breaking news did I see but the unofficial announcement that the Mets had signed veteran starting pitcher, Bartolo Colon to a 2-year/$20 million dollar contract pending a physical. Obviously this set Mets Twitter on the verge of nuclear meltdown, the likes that no one has seen since Jason Bay agreed to that fateful 3-year/$66 million dollar contract.

Then I got to thinking: What does this mean to the average Mets fan and how does this affect the Mets over the course of the next 2 years? So here are some random thoughts on the signing of Bartolo – or as the newly signed outfielder, Chris Young refers to him as – ToeLo.

Bartolo’s uniform number should be the same as his waist size (50).

Part of Colon’s contract is that he gets his own show on SNY called Bartolo vs Food.

I wonder who would win in a Sumo wrestling match in a ring filled with Jell-O, him or Mo Vaughn ?

With Bartolo on the mound there is no need for infielders – because he is the infield.

Bartolo makes me look svelte.

He gets his own personal “Shake Shack!”

I bet he doesn’t find salmon tasty.

And lastly, and in all seriousness, this is a good signing that hopefully will help the Mets compete in 2014.

And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!

Sadly on this date in 1992, Rube Walker – the Mets pitching coach/guru from ’68-’81 – passed away.

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder, Jim Gosger and utility infielder, Bob Heise to the San Francisco Giants for middle reliever, Ray Sadecki and reserve outfielder, Dave Marshall on December 12, 1969.

In what can and should be considered one of the worst trades in Mets history, the New York Mets traded outfielder, Rusty Staub and minor league pitcher, Bill Laxton to the Detroit Tigers for starting pitcher,  Mickey Lolich and reserve outfielder,  Billy Baldwin on December 12, 1975.

Lolich was supposed to help strengthen the Mets pitching rotation but finished his lone season with a record of 8-13. He retired after the season ended so that he could open a doughnut shop, but then he unretired in ’78 to pitch for the San Diego Padres !!!

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder, Gene Clines to the Texas Rangers for outfielder, Joe Lovitto on December 12, 1975.

Lovitto ended up being released by the Mets during spring training.

The New York Mets traded middle reliever,  Roy Lee Jackson to the Toronto Blue Jays for utility infielder,  Bob Bailor on December 12, 1980.

The New York Mets signed free agent back up catcher,  Orlando Mercado of the Minnesota Twins on December 12, 1989.

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder,  Alex Ochoa to the Minnesota Twins for reserve outfielder, Rich Becker on December 12, 1997.

The New York Mets signed free agent José Valentin of the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 12, 2005. This was one of then General Manager ,Omar Minaya’s best under the radar signings

The New York Mets traded middle reliever,  Scott Schoeneweis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher, Connor Robertson on December 12, 2008. After the way Scho pitched that last game of the season everybody knew he wouldn’t ever return to the Mets.

The New York Mets granted  reliever and alleged murderer, Ambiorix Burgos granted free agency on December 12, 2008.

The New York Mets claimed starting pitcher, Jeremy Hefner on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on December 12, 2011.

Hefner pitched admirably if not uneven the last two seasons for the Mets in a limited role. Lets hope his surgically repaired pitching arm is ready for the ’15 season .

Mo Vaughn is looking forward to chewing the fat with Bartolo Colon!!!

If you want to hear the rebroadcast of last night’s “Shouts From Shea” podcast featuring myself as well as Steven Keane from “The Kranepool Society” please click here. Our guests include Joe D of this fine blog as well as Danny Abriano from the “Rising Apple” blog.

mmo

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: Random Thoughts On Granderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-on-granderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-on-granderson.html/#comments Sun, 08 Dec 2013 16:31:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134810 Orioles at Yankees

When the news broke late Friday morning that the Mets had finally came to an agreement with outfielder, Curtis Granderson I admit I did the proverbial  “happy dance” while driving in my car. Yes Granderson is not the “savior” that the Mets need to help this team escape from mediocrity as well as ineptitude. But his signing is a start and I do agree with Daily News columnist, Andy Martino, that his signing is the type of signing that shows other free agents that the Mets are trying to field a team that is trying to win.

Is Granderson a game changing free agent like Pedro Martinez or Carlos Beltran like the Mets signed before the 2005 season? No, but I feel he will be more of a leadership type ala Cliff Floyd, and a good complimentary player that will take the pressure off some of the other players including David Wright who now doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

Is he worth the contract that he signed? Well he got a contract that reflects the robust free agent market this season. Would I have gone a fourth year? Obviously if I didn’t have to I wouldn’t, but hopefully by the end of his contract he will still be healthy enough to produce and that his career doesn’t mirror that of George Foster.

Lastly, I do not believe Mike Francesa’s “sources” that Jeff Wilpon had to twist Alderson’s arm to go the fourth year on Granderson. I’ll go with Mike Puma’s version of events, who tweeted that the fourth year was all Sandy. Now lets just hope the Mets GM can do some adding-on this week in Orlando.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today include:

The original “Crazy Horse”, shortstop Tim Foli is 63 (1950). Foli was one of the players that was dealt in the trade that brought Rusty Staub to the Mets. The Mets would bring him back seven years later as a utility infielder.

Other transactions of note include:

The New York Mets purchased the contract of outfielder, Richie Ashburn from the Chicago Cubs on December 8, 1961. Ashburn was the first Met to ever bat over .300.

The New York Mets traded reserve infielder,  Elio Chacon and starting pitcher, Tracy Stallard to the St. Louis Cardinals for  outfielder, Johnny Lewis and middle reliever,  Gordie Richardson on December 8, 1964.

The New York Mets traded  former Rookie of the Year pitcher, Jon Matlack and power hitting first baseman/outfielder, John Milner to the Texas Rangers for first baseman, Willie Montanez, as well as reserve outfielders, Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve on December 8, 1977. This trade definitely goes down as one of the top 10 worst trades in Mets history!

The New York Mets traded fan favorite Jerry Koosman to the Minnesota Twins for future closer, Jesse Orosco and Greg Field on December 8, 1978. Koosman demanded to be traded when he saw how the Mets front office dismantled the team the season prior. M. Donald Grant granted Kooz his demands and it would take four years until we realized that the Mets got the better end of that deal.

The New York Mets traded utility infielder, Bob Bailor and spot starter/middle reliever, Carlos Diaz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher, Sid Fernandez and utility infielder, Ross Jones on December 8, 1983. This in my opinion was one of the biggest steals in Mets history

The Florida Marlins signed first baseman, Dave Magadan of the New York Mets as a free agent on December 8, 1992.I always felt is was a no brainer that “Mags” should have been the heir apparent to Keith Hernandez‘s job after “Mex” was let go. But the Mets management didn’t see him that way and paired him with various players in a platoon role. One has to wonder what coulda been if he was given the role full time.

The Florida Marlins signed starting pitcher,  Al Leiter of the New York Mets as a free agent on December 8, 2004. Although Mets fans saw Leiter as a clubhouse lawyer type it is not crazy to say that was one of the best pitchers over the last 20 years to wear a Mets uniform.

Mo Vaughn thinks the Grandy Man can!!! He was heard singing the confectionery jingle, “I Want Candy.”

Presented By Diehards

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Featured Post: New York Mets and the “Cardinal Way” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/featured-post-new-york-mets-and-the-cardinal-way.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/featured-post-new-york-mets-and-the-cardinal-way.html/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 17:18:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131428 st. louis cardinals nlcs champsWith the St. Louis Cardinals eliminating the Dodgers and reaching the World Series again, New York Times sportswriter Tyler Kepner claims it’s easy to understand why some people think of the Cardinals as the Yankees of the National League. Only the Yankees have won more World Series championships than the Cards. This fall’s World Series stop marks the fourth time the Redbirds have made the big dance since 2000 and eleventh time they’ve made the post season.

Although many might believe that kind of success is the stuff of a sustained run, Kepner explains how the Cardinal magic is actual the result of two different runs. runs ignited by two contrasting management philosophies.

From 2000 to 2006, the Cards built their championship teams around acquiring star quality players through trades. A major part of the ‘Cardinal Way‘ at that time was to use young minor league prospects as trading chips to bring in more established stars.

Interestingly, the Mets utilized a similar ‘big star’ strategy during that era incorporating both trades and free agency as their primary tools of acquisition.. Carlos Delgado did arrive in New York in 2005 in a trade for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, and Grant Psomas. Paul Lo Duca came by trade during a Marlin purge. “El Duque” was added in 2006 in a trade for reliever Jorge Julio, and Shawn Green joined the Mets in a trade for pitching prospect Evan MacLane.

The Mets were active in the free agency hunt for baseball talent as well. Big name players like Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran, Mike Cameron, Pedro Martinez, Tom GlavineBilly Wagner, and Kazuo Matsui were all procured through free agency signings.

Baseball’s new labor agreement and the advanced ages of many of their baseball stars helped the Cardinals change their management philosophy. That shift evolved slowly over time beginning about 2003-2004. Anticipating the consequences of aging stars and the new labor agreement, rather than try to obtain high octane baseball talents from other teams, the Cardinals made a concerted effort to start developing that talent through their own minor league system. For example, rather than give up future draft choices in trades for established talent, the Cardinals stockpiled draft choices for development in their own system.

The majority of Cardinals advancing to the World Series this fall are home grown. For the most part, only Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday came by signing or trade. Kepner adds that the Cardinals have used seven home grown pitchers in post season play this month that weren’t on the roster two years ago. Neither were three starting infielders; Mike Adams at first base, Matt Carpenter at second and Pete Kozma at third.

Kepner leaned heavily on comments from Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis in his piece. “They’ve got a system and it works. They have an organizational philosophy that’s obviously successful, and these guys keep coming in waves and waves and waves,” Ellis told him.

Ellis says the Cardinals look for young players with a similar make up, often college position players, sprinkle in a few high school prospects and go after young power pitchers they can develop.

Michael Wacha, the young Cardinal pitcher who has electrified the baseball world this fall, was a compensation draft pick the Cards picked up when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels.

As I read this fascinating article, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the “Cardinal Way” and what appears to be the “Met Way.” The steps the Mets have made over the past three years share many similarities with those already put into place in St. Louis.

wheeler harveyThe Mets, too, have adopted an organizational philosophy of developing baseball talent from within. Like the Cardinals, the Mets have concentrated first on stockpiling power pitching arms they can develop. And, taking another page from the Cardinal management book, the make up of the prospects they select is a priority consideration.

One big missing piece for the Mets front office so far is the ability to execute the maneuvers needed to bring in those two or three position players who are difference makers, guys like Beltran and Holliday for the Cards. Many underestimate the impact two or three key bats can have on a lineup.

I’ll never forget the unbelievable start the Mets had in 1972 and then how they plummeted like a rock after Rusty Staub broke his wrist diving to make a catch in right field. Prior to Staub’s injury the Mets lineup produced. After Rusty went down the lineup was a powder-puff and promising pennant winning hopes evaporated into thin air. One or two added accomplished major league hitter’s can make the entire lineup better, even a lineup like the one employed by our Mets.

St. Louis owner, William DeWitt Jr. told Kepner that it’s one thing to have a plan and an entirely different matter to execute it. That’s a brilliant observation and one the Met management should consider seriously.

The addition of two or more ‘difference making’ bats in the line-up over the off-season will accelerate the Met rebuilding plan, a plan much like that used by the Cardinals built around home grown talent. Off-season moves of that sort would also be symbolic, a signal to an increasingly despondent fan base that the baseball improvement they have been promised is more than a plan, it’s a multi-faceted strategy that will result in competitive baseball and serious contention for post season play, now rather than later..

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Video: Mike Piazza Inducted Into Mets Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 17:55:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130341 photo (32)

Very rarely is a team graced with a player of the stature and talent of Michael Joseph Piazza. Subsequently, very rarely does a fanbase and a city mutually bond with a player like Michael Joseph Piazza.

Today as Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, fans were able to share yet another special moment with the greatest offensive catcher of all time.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate,” said Piazza in a press conference prior to his induction ceremony. “I was just meant to be here. That’s that feeling I was talking about. You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things. And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.”

piazza

Piazza emerged from the home dugout and onto the field for a sellout crowd as master of ceremonies Howie Rose introduced the 12-time all-star. Met greats such as Doc Gooden, Rusty Staub, John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernanez, Buddy Harrelson, Al Jackson, Mookie Wilson and Ed Charles were on hand to celebrate the 45-year old.

After Rose announce September 29th Mike Piazza Day in the city of New York, a number of teammates including Alfonzo, Franco commended him on his tremendous accomplishments as well as Al Leiter who did so via video message from MLB Network’s Studio 3.

piazza

Then came the induction, in which Franco and Alfonzo presented Piazza with his plaque, to which he proud held overhead for all 41,891 fans see.

piazza

In Piazza’s speech, he continued to thank the fans as well as God for his incredible baseball career. He then spoke to his mother and father, in a tearful moment in which he thanked them for all of their hard work in getting him to where he is today, his father visibly emotional.

Piazza then moved into an unfamiliar location, the mound, to throw out the first pitch. Mets captain David Wright acted as the catcher, in a fantastic moment in which Piazza delivered a perfect strike on the left side of the plate, much to the pleasure on an elated crowd, yet another beautiful moment between him and the fans.

piazza

“I think, my relationship here with the fans, like any relationship; when I got here they didn’t know me too well,” said Piazza. “They didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know if I was going to stay. They didn’t know if I was completely committed to staying here. And I had some rough patches. I obviously struggled a little at the plate driving in runs and they let me hear it, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I can do one of two things: I can run and go to somewhere a little more safer and comfortable. Or I can meet this head-on and try to prove to these people that I want to belong and want to play for them and perform for them.’”

Mike Piazza, who with a swing of the bat brought New York City to their feet following the attacks on 9/11, was able to do so with a smile and a wave one more time in a tremendous ceremony of a Mets great.

Hopefully sooner rather than late, we will be able to celebrate Piazza once again, when number 31 is officially in left field among the other immortalized Mets; where it belongs.

(Photo Credits: Clayton Collier)

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A Relieved D’Arnaud Says Last Night’s Walk-off Hit Was Indescribable http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/a-relieved-darnaud-says-last-nights-walk-off-hit-was-indescribable.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/a-relieved-darnaud-says-last-nights-walk-off-hit-was-indescribable.html/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 15:38:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129397 travis d'arnaud single

It honestly felt like no one on the roster needed that walk-off yesterday more than Travis d’Arnaud. I do not need to sit here and highlight the fact that our young backstop has been struggling recently — considering it’s already been brought up over and over on talk radio, Mets Twitter and what have you.

The problem, of course, is that a healthy d’Arnaud was supposed to help anchor us offensively — but the actual results have made him out to be less effective than Anthony Recker so far. There are a lot of factors that are at play here, however, from his general rookie status to the fact that he’s rusty working his way back from that freak injury. The most important thing down the line for D’Arnaud, I believed, was for him to demonstrate that he could just stay healthy with the MLB club and get to know his pitchers. It’s impossible to have a statistical impact on the game while injured, so finishing the season without any injuries and going into 2014 with a clean bill of health would put him on the right path.

There are a lot of things to like about d’Arnaud — intangibles being one of them that seldom get discussed. I am bringing them up for a reason, however, because of something I noticed while at the game yesterday.

travis d'arnaud

At first glance, I thought d’Arnaud didn’t smile or anything during the whole over-the-top celebration, because he looked so uncomfortable throughout the whole thing in person. I even commented to Stephanie S. that he looked like he was trying to get as far away from them as possible. Upon watching the replay of the whole thing, I did see that he cracked a smile with his teammates and seemed genuinely happy about winning the game — but he did still look like he was actively trying to get away from the whole carnival atmosphere.

What furthered this for me was his entirely serious demeanor in the post-game interview — and he looked pretty ticked off after being pied in the face. If I had to venture a guess at his feelings, I think they’re on par with what a lot of Mets fans felt after the win yesterday. It was a good feeling, no doubt, but they barely managed to squeak by a Miami Marlins team that had shut them out for 11 innings prior — and they almost stranded the bases loaded in that inning itself! A win is a win, but we’re still what, 20 games back? If his serious demeanor was a result of feeling like we were going overboard and wasn’t just because he secretly dislikes Martino too, then I think I respect him a little more for that.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Satish, you weren’t the only one who noticed that. It was clear that D’Arnaud seemed uncomfortable with the raucous celebration that took place after his single put the remaining 1,000 fans at Citi Field out of their misery and leaving with a smile.

I had recap duties last night while many of our MMO writers were at the game and it was very terse and to the point. Not the usual for me. I thought the way the Mets were celebrating was too extreme and inappropriate, especially in light of an insignificant win in the battle for the worst team in the National League. Two teams that could not score one single run between them for nearly twelve innings and four hours. Pathetic actually…

Then on top of that, here comes Justin Turner and his pies… Man do I hate that crap… Sometimes I just wish he’d go away…

Getting back to d’Arnaud, I was happy for him. He admitted that he had been pressing lately and it was great to see him finally snap his 0-for-17 streak with runners in scoring position.

“I was just waiting for a pitch I can handle, put a good swing on it and fortunately it went through,” he said. “Extra innings, bases loaded. To get that hit, it’s an indescribable feeling.”

D’Arnaud looked a bit confused at the celebration that ensued on the field and wasn’t hopping and screaming for joy like many of his teammates. I wondered if he thought, like me, that the Mets had just beaten the Marlins in the battle for the NL East cellar and nothing more than that.

I wonder if this kid was pulling a Rusty Staub, who after a game-winning hit once said, “We won the game, that’s nice. I wish we’d have won the division instead. Next question.”

It would be cool to have that kind of winning attitude in that clubhouse moving forward.

By the way, I’s well aware that SNY’s Andy Martino is one of the least liked beat writers the Mets have had over the last decade. The amount of hate he gets on Twitter is unreal. That SNY would choose him to fill in for Kevin Burkhardt shows how everything they do is so questionable and second rate.

But that said, what was the deal with a player planting a pie to his face in the middle of performing an interview?

Again, what are these players thinking? Whose idea was it? Was there a message attached to it?

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To Boldly Go Where No GM Has Gone Before: Why the Mets Will Never Win with Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 12:50:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129154 Mets-fan-sad

A couple of nights ago I’m on Facebook checking out a page for fellow Mets fans. We’re all rejoicing in the Yankees misery. I, too, add a few comments and threw in a joke about ‘A-Roid.’ Someone else commented about us playing spoiler and knocking the Nats further back. Then, it hit me. This is what we’ve become.

We have nothing hopeful to cheer for, so yet again this season, we are reduced to the role of spoiler. (Of course, we don’t even do that well since Washington swept us). And while we celebrate the failures of the Yankees, do you think they even care about us? They’ve got more important things to worry about. We’re not even a (blue and orange) fly on the ass of a (pinstriped) cow.

The 2013 Mets will finish under 500 for the fifth straight year, something this club hasn’t done since the early 1990’s. And despite Sandy Alderson’s (ahem) “plan,” he is now weeks away from completing his third season as Mets GM and each year, our win total has gone down. We own the worst home record in baseball, 7th worst overall.

Remember just a few years back when we were laughing at small market clubs like Pittsburgh and Kansas City?

When our Mets were resurrected from Grant’s Tomb, ownership and GM Frank Cashen provided hope. Things improved, albeit slowly. We signed slugger George Foster, one of the most prolific home run hitters in the game, we reacquired Dave Kingman for power and to excite the fan base, brought back Tom Terrific. Sure, a lot of these plans failed, but we had hope, we had excitement and we had promise that a brighter future was on the horizon. After three years of the Alderson regime, are you more or less optimistic? Do you think this team is heading in the right direction? To steal a line from past presidential elections, are the Mets better off now than they were three years ago?

Our decreasing win total and plummeting attendance show the direction we’re heading.

alderson-on-reyesAlderson’s big accomplishment—and really his only one—was getting Zack Wheeler. And while Wheeler has turned into our de facto ace due to the injury to the Minaya-acquired Matt Harvey, Carlos Beltran’s bat would sure help right now. During 2012 and thus far in 2013, Beltran has clobbered 55 HR’s, knocked in 173 and hit .288. One fact that gets overlooked is that Alderson also handed over $4 million to San Francisco along with Beltran for Wheeler.

Frank Cashen knew about building a winner. He turned the Orioles into a perennial contender in the late 60’s and kept them relevant through the entire next decade. He did the same upon arriving in NY. Alderson, however, has never re-built a team. I’m not faulting him. He’s just in over his head.

In 1984 while GM of Oakland, Alderson traded 25 year old Rickey Henderson who was just coming into his prime. In exchange for dealing the greatest lead-off hitter in history, Alderson got back five players. The only one of substance was Jose Rijo. However, just as Rijo was maturing and developing, Alderson turned around and traded him away for a 37 year-old Dave Parker. Rijo would go on to guide Cincinnati to a World Series, become a NL All-Star and lead the league in strikeouts. And that Rickey Henderson guy? He did okay, too.

Still have faith in…(insert dramatic music)…The Plan?

rickey-henderson-hall-of-fame-speech - Copy

Alderson has persistently maintained that he will build a winner from within and not rely on signing players. Many Mets fans initially agree. After all, we’re not the Yankees. We don’t buy pennants. We build from our own talent, just like we did in 86 and 69, right? Wrong!!!

No team, not even our Amazins, has ever won solely on homegrown talent. It helps and sure, it’s rewarding to win with guys from your farm system. But it’s never been done exclusively. As Mr. Spock would say, “Illogical.” To win, you need that perfect blend of rookies AND veterans, of your own youngsters AND proven winners.

In the 80’s, Darryl Strawberry was the best offensive prospect the Mets ever brought up. And Doc? Well, Doc broke more records than were shattered during Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. In spite of the fact these two seemed a lock for Cooperstown, Cashen realized he needed more. He traded for Keith Hernandez, a World Champion, former MVP and proven winner. He added Gary Carter who had an unquenchable thirst to win. He obtained fiery Ray Knight. And while Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez were solid, Cashen acquired Bobby Ojeda from Boston, whose 18 wins would lead the staff in 1986.

Can anyone picture the Mets winning in ’86 without Keith, Gary, Ray and Bobby?

Can anyone out there envision Alderson bringing that caliber of player to New York?

When the Mets won the pennant in ’73 and came within one hit of winning it all, sure, we had Tug and Cleon and Buddy. But the player who led the team in hits and batting average that season was Felix Millan, a second baseman acquired from Atlanta. Rusty Staub came in a trade from Montreal and was the team leader in RBI’s. And the pitcher with the best winning percentage was not Seaver, Koosman or Matlack, but rather George Stone, yet another player obtained via a trade. Stone was 9 games over 500 for a team that finished just 3 games over 500. Take away Millan, Staub and Stone—players acquired through trade—and there’s no pennant.

gal-60mets-31-jpgThe same holds true going back to 1969 when trades were rare and largely unheard of. Buddy Harrelson stated that when the Mets acquired Donn Clendenon that June, the players began to believe. Clink was a legitimate home run threat. And as Seaver won his first Cy Young Award and Cleon hit .340, it was ex-White Sox and former Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee who was the team leader in homers and runs scored.

Anyone out there holding their breath that Alderson will obtain a former Rookie of the Year?

In addition to Alderson’s long history of never making a blockbuster trade—and I won’t even mention about getting losing of a batting champion one winter followed by getting rid of a Cy Young winner the next – his decisions when it comes to managers is even more baffling. It is evident that Wally Backman will be gone soon, discarded by the front office after years of loyalty (and years of winning) as if he was an old rosin bag. Wally does not fit in with the Mets plan. He’s too abrasive, too demanding, too hard. He battles the front office too much. So, instead of promoting a proven winner, we’ll stick with Terry Collins and his .459 winning percentage.

No Mets manager ever butted heads with his GM more than Davey Johnson did with Cashen. And Cashen knew that ahead of time. He was Baltimore’s GM in the 1960’s when Davey was their second baseman. Cashen was fully aware of the tinderbox he was creating by hiring Davey. But Davey had won in the minors, Davey knew his team and the young players—Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra—were loyal to him. Cashen overlooked his own feelings for the good of the team. He didn’t care about the clash of personality. He accepted the challenge because he had the smarts to realize that Davey Johnson, like Wally, was a proven winner. This is an area where Alderson is plainly deficient.

World-Series-Game-7-4 - Copy - Copy

While GM in Oakland, although his skipper was successful, Alderson let him get away. The brash, unorthodox and outspoken Tony LaRussa took his baseball experience and acumen to St. Louis where he guided the Cardinals to 10 post-seasons in 15 years, including three pennants and two championships. During Alderson’s later stint with the Padres, he had no qualms about letting Bruce Bochy slip through his fingers. Bochy headed north to San Francisco where he brought the Giants their first title since moving to the west coast in 1958. Two years later, Bochy brought them another one.

“This is a wait and see season, here just to be survived by fans until the real fixing can be done. We knew this year would be painful.”

I thought the above quote I discovered was poignant. And also, ironic. It appeared on a website on May 25, 2011, three seasons ago. Since then, the Mets have lost 228 games. Seems like not much has changed.

So, we’ll continue to wait…and wait…and wait some more for Alderson’s “plan” to magically take hold. He makes promises, losses pile up, players get injured, and the future looks no brighter…but we continue waiting. We’ve now waited 27 years for a championship. We’ll keep waiting. We’ll watch other teams play into October, we’ll hope Alderson shores up the bullpen this winter, signs a couple of bats, we’ll look for updates on Matt Harvey—and I’m sure we’ll get a few funny jokes via Twitter from our GM while the Red Sox or Pirates or Tigers get fitted for World Series rings. He may not know how to win, how to improve a team, how to rebuild a franchise…but, hey, he’s funny. So, at least we’ll laugh while we wait…and wait…

Once upon a time there was a baseball team. They were good, very good. Solid, well-balanced. They had three players with over 80 RBI’s. Two of their starters won 20 games and had ERA’s under 3.00. Of the eight position players, five hit over 300, including the catcher who hit .344. This team won 100 games, enough to capture the NL pennant. They went to the World Series where they fell short, losing to Detroit in six games.

This team was the 1935 Cubs. And although it had been 27 years since their last World Championship in 1908, I’m sure they felt optimistic about their future, too. Granted, 27 years was a long time to wait, they must have thought, but “I’m sure we’ll win soon. We must have some sort of plan.”

Amazin?

Or as Mr. Spock would say…Mr_SpockFascinating

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The Separated At Birth Edition http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-the-separated-at-birth-edition.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-the-separated-at-birth-edition.html/#comments Sun, 18 Aug 2013 14:17:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127397 It is funny how sometimes we look like famous people. I for example have been told that I look like a bloated Danny Partridge or a late in his career Rusty Staub (hence my nickname Rustyjr). But it is amazing when some of our favorite current Mets players and coaches look like other famous people.

So here I am happy to revive an old feature I used to do at another blog called …….

METS PLAYERS SEPARATED AT BIRTH…

First off is current Mets outfielder, Marlon Byrd

Byrd

And R & B legend, Jermaine Jackson

190px-JermaineJackson2007(cropped)

Up next is Met manager, Terry Collins

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And actor turned accused murderer Robert Blake (Uncanny !)

Blake

Next up is Ace Pitcher, Matt Harvey

matt harvey kisses

And “Everyone Loves Raymond” co-star, Brad Garrett.

Brad-Garrett

Then there is the case of  utility infielder, Justin Turner

i

 

And a Leprechaun

Lep

There is also the curious case of Josh Satin

josh-satin-mug-e1315784750840

And Bert from “Sesame Street

Bert2002

And lastly I present to you Mets pitching coach, Dan Warthern

Dan

And Hank Hill.

Hank

So what do you think ? Do you agree/disagree ? Is there any other Mets player that bears a striking resemblance to a celebrity that is currently living or dead ?

Please feel free to post in the comments section below.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

Mets third base coach from ’97-’99, Bruce Benedict is 58. Benedict also piloted for the Norfolk Tides in 1996.

Reserve outfielder from the ’85 season, Terry Blocker is 54. Blocker was the Mets first round pick from the ’81 amateur draft. His career never did pan out, and he was out of the majors by 1990 after a short stint with the Atlanta Braves.

Spot starter/middle reliever from ’09-’11, Pat Misch  is 32. He is currently pitching for the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens.

The New York Mets purchased the contract of middle reliever, Dave Eilers from the Milwaukee Braves on August 18, 1965. Eilers would spend two seasons with the Mets, compiling a record of 2-2 with an ERA of 4.44 in 34 appearances.

The New York Mets traded centerfielder Brett Butler  to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league outfield prospects, Scott Hunter and Dwight Maness on August 18, 1995. Butler was one of the very few reasons to watch the Mets in ’95. He would later manager the Gulf Coast Mets during their ’04 season

Mo Vaughn bears a striking resemblance to the Wrestler Mo from Men On A Mission !!!!

Mo

SEE!!!!!

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Is Matt Harvey Overexposed… Literally? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/is-matt-harvey-overexposed-literally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/is-matt-harvey-overexposed-literally.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 16:07:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124115 matt harvey nude

In the summer of 1990 the Yankees were playing the White Sox in a relatively unimportant game. “Neon” Deion Sanders walked to the plate and with the end of his bat he drew an “S” in the dirt with a line through it. A dollar sign. The Sox catcher immediately wiped it away. Undeterred, the 22-year-old Sanders again marked the area in front of home plate with a dollar sign. “That’s why I’m here,” he stated to the catcher. The catcher that afternoon was 43 year-old veteran Carlton Fisk, an old school ballplayer in every sense of the word. The future Hall of Famer wiped it away a second time and stated defiantly, “You do that a third time, Sanders, and I’ll bury you there.”

“Pudge” was a big time throwback. In his own way he taught Sanders that this is baseball and that kind of behavior won’t be tolerated in a game so steeped in tradition and history.

As I’ve stated before in previous blogs, I am a complete traditionalist when it comes to our National Pastime. I cherish the history, the records, have memorized stats and view the all-time greats as if they were Greek Gods from Mount Olympus. So, when the fabric of the game is possibly tarnished, it doesn’t sit well with me. When it’s one of the Mets, it’s hard to accept.

I am old-fashioned. Perhaps too old-fashioned. And maybe I have too much time on my hands. I like to hold baseball and those who play the game to a higher standard than athletes of other sports.

On July 12th, ESPN will release their annual ‘The Body Issue’ in which athletes are featured nude, albeit with strategically placed items covering genitalia. 21 sports stars will be included in the 2013 issue. Only two baseball players are included. One of whom is our own Matt Harvey.

Granted, Harvey is a young and buff 24-year-old professional athlete. He’s obviously fit, tone and muscled. His chiseled form would make Hans and Franz jealous. Again, I’m old-fashioned but again, I like to hold ballplayers and especially my Mets to a higher standard. I won’t say he was wrong for doing it. But I can’t say I’m in favor of it either.

Danica_Patrick_03 - CopyNow, many women who look at the pictures will have no problem with the physical specimen Harvey is. Many guys will say, “I don’t need to see that.” But is this necessary? Are the photographs “art?” Maybe, maybe not. Art is subjective. Some consider the Mona Lisa a masterpiece. Others consider a collection of Campbell Soup Cans a masterpiece. Each to his own.

Some will argue that “If it was a woman, you’d have no problem with it.” But I must disagree. If someone wants to be recognized for their achievements in a competitive sport then they should not resort to using their own sexuality. Danica Patrick gets angered when she’s treated differently than one of ‘the boys.’ She wants to be judged on her individual merits and accomplishments. A professional athlete, a NASCAR driver. But then she goes out and poses in a bikini lying across the hood of a car. Natalie Gulbis gets upset when she is treated like a sex object and not a professional golfer. But then, she turns around and sells her annual calendar in which she appears in various provocative outfits.

True, I have no problem with the double-standard displayed by Patrick or Gulbis or others. But they are golfers and race car drivers. Not baseball players.

Football has cheerleaders. Basketball has cheerleaders. And while I’m not a fan of either sport, I have no problem with that. But I am glad baseball does not. In the mid 1980’s, Cubs ball girl Marla Collins found herself in the national spotlight as WGN broadcast games from coast-to-coast. Collins took advantage of her notoriety and posed for Playboy. She was quickly fired.

Over the last three plus months Harvey has been compared to Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden. I know times have changed. And baseball has changed. But can anyone picture a 25-year-old fit Tom Seaver doing a “photo shoot” of this nature?

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Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball star ever. He was an icon that became bigger than the game itself. He was America’s first sports hero. Yet, he managed to accomplish this level of stardom without ever appearing spread eagle in a Speedo across the hood of a Studebaker. (I’m assuming he never did. I was too afraid to Google ‘Babe Ruth Speedo.’) The most important player to ever walk onto the diamond was Jackie Robinson. But the No. 42 was retired by all major league clubs and April 15th is known as Jackie Robinson Day because of what Jackie meant to the game and to America, not because he ever stretched across second base at Ebbets Field wearing only a strategically placed batting glove.

I’m a man. And I’ll be the first to admit it’s a man’s world, be it in the job market where men are paid more or movies which are mostly geared to men. Even advertising makes it abundantly clear: Drink our beer and you go home with the hot chick. Put on a splash of our cologne and you’ll go home with two or three hot chicks.

So, is there a double standard? Absolutely. But it goes both ways. Matt Harvey is pitching superbly and therefore gets a pass. Now, what if one-win-10-loss Shaun Marcum, another physically fit athlete, did this? For 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the heartthrob of female fans nationwide. Yet, I am fairly sure the Captain of the Yankees has never been photographed like this. A friend of mine who is an avid Mets fan has had a schoolgirl-like crush on Mike Piazza for years. Yet, Piazza somehow managed to establish his place in the hearts of Mets fans by being a winner and hitting a home run days after 9/11. And he did this while leaving his clothes on.

1977-1000-poster-01 - CopyGrowing up in the 70s, my bedroom wall was adorned with numerous posters and photographs. As expected, I, like most boys my age, had the obligatory posters of Farrah Fawcett and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. I also had a poster of Fonzie with his thumbs up and a caption reading, “Heyyyyyy.” (Fonzie being Henry Winkler, not Edgardo Alfonzo.) But I also had baseball related pictures. Each year I scotch taped that year’s team picture of the Mets, as well as posters of Rusty Staub, Tom Seaver and George Brett. The only ‘suggestive’ posters were the ones of Farrah and the Cowboy Cheerleaders. The one of Seaver was in mid-wind-up, the ones of Staub and Brett were standing at home plate. I doubt that any eight year Mets fan will be putting these types of pictures of Matt Harvey on their wall.

Again, I’m old-fashioned. And perhaps, this is much ado about nothing. It probably is. And really, I should be old enough and wise enough at this point in my life to realize that ballplayers are just people and not Gods from Mount Olympus.

Congratulations to Matt Harvey for being selected to his first All-Star Game. Let’s just hope (at least us guys) that he remembers to be wearing his uniform when he takes the mound next week.

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Our 100 Loss Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-our-100-loss-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-our-100-loss-season.html/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 13:05:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123659 butch-cassidy-and-the-sundance-kid-robert-redford-and-paul-newman

Over the years there have been plenty of great 1-2 combinations: Ruth and Gehrig, Spahn and Sain, Jackie and Pee Wee, Mays and McCovey, Seaver and Kooz, Newman and Redford, Fielder and Cabrera, Bonds and…Huh? Newman and Redford???

In 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Paul Newman and relative newcomer Robert Redford teamed up to star in one of the greatest and most fun westerns of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A good portion of the movie centers around Butch and Sundance eluding a posse. Frequently throughout the film, Newman and Redford are shown peering out from a cliff or looking down into a canyon trying to determine who the leader of the pursuing posse is. On several occasions an agitated Butch asks his sidekick, “Who are those guys?”

As the Mets of late have come back to life, showing some fire in the belly and willingness to fight back, I can’t help but wonder if some of the National League looks at our roster and asks the same question Paul Newman posed to Robert Redford: Who are those guys?

Let’s be honest. Matt Harvey aside, Josh Satin, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Jeremy Hefner are not exactly household names. Many thought that John Buck and Marlon Byrd were out of baseball. Most experts, pundits and fans—myself included—knew without a doubt that 2013 would be a lost season. And the first 2 ½ months were downright abysmal and frustrating.

But a funny thing happened on the way to our can’t-miss 100 loss season. The Mets have started playing solid baseball.

It was May when, while honoring the future Hall-of-Fame closer for that other NY team, little Jeffy Wilpon commented, “Wish we could see you in the World Series. But I’m sure that’s not going to happen.” In spite of Mets ownership showing no support for their own product, this season is far from over. Wilpon’s lack of “believing” (pun intended) is downright disgusting.

Maybe little Jeffy should study Mets history. The Mets had no chance in 1969 either.

matt harvey i got this

Just recently Brian Lewis of the Post brought up an issue some have started wondering about: Matt Harvey’s pitch-count. We are at the half-way point of the season and Harvey is up to 117 IP. Last year, between Buffalo and New York, Matt threw 169 1/3 innings. Currently he is on pace to toss 249. These are Sabathia-like numbers. And Sabathia is known as a workhorse, an innings eater at the end of his career. Harvey is a 24 year old kid with his entire career ahead of him.

Brian Lewis has a valid point. However, what perturbed me was he raised the issue about Harvey’s workload under the guise of the Mets being out of contention. Noah Jarosh of SB Nation argued his point of a limit on Harvey by writing, “With a post-season bid growing more unlikely by the day…” My question is Who are THESE guys? Did they go to the Jeff Wilpon School of Optimism?

Do I think the Mets can make the post-season in 2013? No way. Of course not. We have no shot. No chance. Right? Good, now that that’s settled consider this:

I’m not basing a 162 game season on a couple of weeks. However, the fact can’t be denied that the Mets have played some damn good baseball over the last two weeks. We’ve won 10 of our last 15. That’s 667 ball. There are still 82 games remaining. Plenty of time. If Harvey continues to pitch well and if Hefner and Gee can keep it together and if Zack Wheeler doesn’t get overwhelmed by the hype or messed up too much by Dan Warthen and puts up some good numbers, anything is possible.

The Mets have played .667 ball for two weeks. If we continue to do that for the rest of 2013, we will go 54-35 in the second half. That puts us at 89 wins for the year and at the doorstep of the post-season.

I’m not intoxicated as I write this. I haven’t been smoking anything funny. But here’s something else to ponder. The Mets are 35-45, 12 ½ GB of the Braves. 11 out of the wildcard.

"Positive thinking breeds positive results."  ~  Tug McGraw

Consider where we were exactly 40 years ago today. On July 3, 1973, the Mets got a serious butt-kicking at the hands of the Expos. We got soundly crushed, 19-8. In relief, Tug McGraw allowed 4 hits and 7 ER in 1 1/3 innings, raising his ERA to an astronomical 6.07. 75 games into the season—almost half-way through the year—Rusty Staub led the team in RBI’s with “whopping” 26. John Milner had 12 HR’s and only 2 guys, Felix Millan and Cleon Jones, were hitting over 280. The 19-8 drubbing to Montreal dropped the Mets to 33-42, dead last and 11 ½ games back. Yet things turned out pretty well for us.

Maybe Jeff Wilpon’s remark was correct…but in reverse. Maybe we’ll be there in October and Mariano’s Yankees wont.

Now, do I really expect us to play into late October? Do I see the 2013 Mets joining the 1969 club in the category of a Miracle? Can I picture champagne being sprayed in the clubhouse while Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson are being handed the World Series trophy by Bud Selig? No. No way. Of course not.

But I do know that there are 82 games remaining and anything can happen. Do we have a legitimate shot? I say we have as good a shot as we did in 69 or 73.

And maybe, just maybe, after this season, some American League club will be shaking their heads, scratching their chin, looking over at the celebration in the Mets locker room and asking themselves, Who were those guys?

addicted to mets button

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The Mets’ Hardscrabble History Of Drafting Outfielders http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/the-mets-hardscrabble-history-of-drafting-outfielders.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/the-mets-hardscrabble-history-of-drafting-outfielders.html/#comments Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:02:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121065 darryl strawberry

The Mets have drafted 72 outfielders in the first 5 rounds (top 100 picks) during the 48 year history of the MLB draft. Of those 72, 18 made it to the majors.

Of those 18, six of them enjoyed what can only be described as cups of coffee with a variety of teams. They were, John Gibbons (24th overall 1980), John Christensen (38th overall 1981), Terry Blocker (4th overall 1981), Stan Jefferson (20th overall 1983), Rod Gaspar (40th overall 1967), Ike Blessitt (56th overall 1967).

Seven had careers as back-ups or bench players:

Lastings Milledge: (12th overall 2003) A toolsy outfielder out of Bradenton, Florida, once ranked as the best 16 year old player in the nation by Baseball America. He was considered by many a top three pick who fell to 12th overall because of a history of sexual misconduct. Lastings was much maligned in the Met clubhouse for his enthusiasm on the field and his choice of music in the clubhouse and was eventually traded to the Nationals. His best season was 2008 with the Nationals when he hit 14 homers and had 61 RBI’s. He is currently playing with the Yahult Swallows in Japan.

Jason Tyner: (21st overall 1998) Speedy outfielder out of Texas A& M was traded to the Rays and had one good season with them when he stole 31 bases in 105 games and hit .280. With various stints with Minnesota and Cleveland in the ensuing years he mostly bounced back and fort from AAA to the majors as a back-up.

Jay Payton: (29th overall 1992) Spent several seasons after being traded by the Mets as a 4th outfielder bench player type. Had a couple of seasons as a regular and one really good season (2003) with Colorado when he hit 28 home runs with .302 average, but never really established himself anywhere.

Shawn Abner: (1st overall 1984) Labeled a “can’t miss” prospect, Shawn never played up to his potential and was eventually traded to San Diego in the Kevin McReynolds deal where he played occasionally. His best season was 1992 with the White Sox when he hit .279 in 208 at bats.

Kal Daniels: (58th overall 1982 but did not sign with the Mets in the January phase, signed with Cincinatti in the June phase). Had a couple of pretty good seasons with Cincinnati and one excellent season with the Dodgers when he hit 27 home runs and had 94 RBI with a .296 average.

Herm Winningham: (9th overall 1981) – became a useful bench player and pinch hitter over several seasons with Montreal / Cincinnati.

Randy Milligan: (3rd overall 1981) several seasons of 20 or more doubles, one 20 home run season (1990) with the Orioles. Walked a lot — had a career OBP of .391 – but otherwise unremarkable.

Only five Mets first round selections out of 72 ended up as All-Stars:

Lee Mazzilli: (14th overall 1973) His best seasons were 1979 and 1980, he got on base, stole bases (41 steals in 1989), and had decent pop with 15 and 16 home runs respectively in those two seasons. Mazzilli was an All-Star in 1979 and was the best player on the Mets for several of the dark late 70’s years otherwise I would have probably included him in the former primarily “back-up” list — he became more well known as a pinch hitter and bench player later in his career.

Darryl Strawberry: (1st overall 1980) Perennial All-Star MVP candidate. One of the greatest players of his generation. Central figure in outstanding Mets teams during the late 1980’s including the 1986 World Series winner. Greatest Right Fielder in club history.

Ken Singleton: (3rd overall 1967). Was traded in 1972 for Rusty Staub. Singleton went on to be a perennial middle of the order All-Star with Montreal and Baltimore. Ended up with 246 career homers and 1065 RBI’s over a 15 year Major League career. Singleton was part of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series winner.

Jeromy Burnitz: (17th overall 1990) Solid Major League outfielder with good power and decent defense mostly with the Brewers. Had 5, 30 + homer seasons and 4 seasons of 100 or more RBI.

Todd Hundley: (39th overall 1987) drafted as an outfielder, Hundley spent most of his career as a catcher. had two All Star seasons and one MVP caliber season (1996), During the height of the steroid era his power jumped from 16 and 15 home runs in 1994 and 1995 to 40 and 30 home runs respectively in 1996 and 1997. Hundley was featured prominently in the Mitchel report as both a user of steroids and a person known for connecting other players with means and access to PED’s.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In the 48 years since the draft was first instituted, the Mets have drafted five outfielders in the first five rounds who ended up having careers as Major League regulars. Four when you consider one was really a catcher. 48 years, 4 players. That’s one player every 12 years.

David Schoenfield of ESPN recently pointed out that the last time the Mets drafted an all star was 2002 (Scott Kazmir). Prior to that you have David Wright in 2001 and then you have to go back to Bobby Jones, who was drafted in 1991.  People talk a lot about spending on free agents, but when you look at teams who’ve spent recently, the Yankees, the Angels, and the Dodgers, you realize spending big on free agents doesn’t guarantee anything in today’s game. The Mets, as a team, are not struggling solely because they haven’t spent on free agency, they’re struggling because they haven’t drafted well. Teams are becoming better at locking up young exceptional players to long term deals and free agency no longer provides the panacea of talent it once did.

If the Mets are to build a winner they have to do it through the draft, and historically Met drafts have been littered with busts and question marks, particularly in the outfield. The Mets could help themselves tremendously if they pick the right players in today’s draft. I like Hunter Renfroe for his power and defense and as a college player he could progress quickly. Austin Wilson might be a good one, Aaron Judge is another with a huge presence (6’7″) and massive power potential. I also like Billy McKinney for his outstanding bat speed. We should have a shot at at least one of these guys.

Whomever the Mets select today and tomorrow, if they are to field a competitive team in the next few years they’re going to need some decent young outfielders, and relying on free agency may not provide the quality and consistency a championship team requires. A case in point, next year’s free agent outfield pool is headlined by the likes of Hunter Pence and Shin-Soo Choo … decent players to be sure, but not exactly game-changers.

You could go the trade rout, but trades are always a risk as you have to give to get, and given the current Mets farm system, the Mets would almost certainly be giving up pitching talent — something I’d be hesitant to do when you consider pitching is what wins in the playoffs and good pitching is exceedingly hard to come by. Nope, if the Mets want to develop a championship caliber outfield I think the best bet is to focus on drafting some solid outfielders … a scary premise historically for the Mets.

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3 Up & 3 Down: Mets Served Up Some Bad Home Cooking Edition http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/3-up-3-down-mets-served-up-some-bad-home-cooking-edition.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/3-up-3-down-mets-served-up-some-bad-home-cooking-edition.html/#comments Mon, 13 May 2013 13:20:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=118563 Terry Collins

Usually, it isn’t until after the All Star break, when we need to combine series to come up with 3 Ups and 3 Downs. This week was an exception with the Mets winning 2 out of 6 games against the Chicago White Sox & the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unless the Met offense wakes up real soon, we’re going to be in for a long season. Sorry to say, a first baseman batting .190 in the middle of May does not belong on the big club. Anyway here are this week’s 3 & 3.

3 up

Harvey Winless Twice: On Tuesday night Matt Harvey pitched a gem. It’s pretty safe to say we will probably never again see another nine inning, one-hit shutout, with the starter leaving the game getting a no decision. It was a darn shame the Met offense couldn’t squeeze out a run for Matt on Tuesday. On Sunday, Matt was once again very masterful. At this point it appears that young Mr. Harvey may be lone Met to make the All Star Game at Citi Field.

Robin Returned: One of my all time favorite Mets, Robin Ventura returned to Flushing. It was great to see Robin, who was one of the great Met leaders from 1999-2000. All the best to Ventura and the White Sox.

Baxter’s Big Hit: Mike Baxter is starting to remind me of Rusty Staub, with his pitch-hitting skills. It was Baxter who had the game-winning hit in Tuesday night’s game, driving in Marlon Byrd in the bottom of the tenth inning, and not totally wasting Harvey’s one hitter.

3 down

Offense Is AWOL: Where was the Mets offense this week? 28 strikeouts in the last two games alone? Outscored 21-7 in their last three losses to the Bucs? This team is in huge trouble here. Other than Wright, who are the established hitters? Buck and Murphy are in horrendous slumps, Ike Davis should be in Area 51, and not Flushing… I could give a rat’s behind what he did last season, he’s done squat this year and his team is losing. I don’t even want to get into the “who will replace him argument.”

Niese Not Nice: For the second start in a row Jon Niese looked horrible. Niese’s role this season is to be a front of the rotation pitcher and the Mets were banking on that. It hasn’t been happening so far in May. Niese needs to get his act together. They tell me the Met’s farm is ripe with good, young arms (I’ve heard this before). If the hype is to be believed, Niese may find himself as a back end guy.

Talk Of Change: Naturally, as the team struggles, people want to see Terry Collins replaced. In my 40 years of watching baseball, other than a handful of player-managers, I’ve never seen a manger, swing the bat in a game. I like Terry Collins, but this disaster isn’t on Terry. Does the GM even go to the games? Does he see the garbage he’s assembled? First base is a black hole. The outfield is a disaster, the bullpen has been better, but still stinks. I’ve said it before, Sandy needs to get some bats in here. He needs to stop the skid, and stop it now. Firing Terry isn’t the answer, whoever the new guy is will still be stuck with the same awful hand.

Old NL East rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, will be hosting the Mets for a four game set beginning tonight. The Cardinals are a true example of how an MLB franchise should be run. Sandy and the Wilpons should take notes. As usual, Lets Go Mets!!

winner

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Is Keith Hernandez Slipping? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/is-keith-hernandez-slipping.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/is-keith-hernandez-slipping.html/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 16:09:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117898 keith-hernandez-jpgI don’t know what’s up with Keith Hernandez lately. I mean he’s always been kind of funny, provides great insights, is definitely entertaining and amusing, and he keeps each Mets broadcast light-hearted and serious all at the same time (when he’s there).

The truth is that love him. I was crazy about him as a player, and I’ve felt as though we became buddies, through the magic of TV, when he joined Gary and Ron in the booth.

But lately he’s been kind of cranky and he seems to pick on some of our players a little too much at times.

The other day, MMO staff writer Drew Staley wrote about his exchange with Ron and Gary about Lucas Duda. He’s completely frustrated with him. He doesn’t like this “approach” we keep hearing about and he went a little overboard when Duda didn’t swing at a first pitch strike during the Braves series with Wright at second.

I remember something he said last season the day after Duda came back from his banishment to the minors. “No improvement. It’s the same old Duda. It’s the same old hacker.”

At the time he said that he was actually right. Duda looked just as bad as he did before he went down.

But fast-forward to 2013 and we see a completely new Duda. Someone who is being more selective which is something he didn’t do much of last season. So far it’s given him a great OBP and OPS, but the raw numbers could probably be a lot better and he needs to get those up. Baseball is still a game that is based on the law of averages and I do think the RBI’s and run production will come as long as he sticks to his new approach.

The point is that Hernandez complained about Duda being a hacker last season, and now he’s complaining that he’s not a hacker this season. Pick a side and stick to it.

Okay, enough on that. There were a few interesting comments on Hernandez on out threads yesterday and while there’s no way for me to affirm their veracity, it thought it merited a debate and closer examination.

Phil Phil – May 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

According to Mets reporter Bob Klapisch, Keith told reporter around the country not to vote for Darryl Strawberry for MVP in 1988 when Darryl had a huge year.

Keith was a real good player, but a lot of times he has an agenda. Beware of listening too closely to what he says. He knows baseball, but he also holds grudges and uses the media to go after guys.

I don’t think he likes the hitting coach, Sandy A., or some of the players. He didn’t like Jose Reyes. He almost got into a fight on the team plane.

Lisa – May 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

My friend works for SNY and told me the reason Keith doesn’t like the taking pitches and high OBP strategy is it makes the games longer and he wants quick games so he can go home and have a nice glass of vino.

Keith also hates extra innings. My friend said to listen for sighs when the game is tied thru 9 innings.

Metsie – May 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

LOL Lisa yes there is a LOT of truth in what your saying about Keith and the notion of getting out of there as quickly as possible….

But when he was a hitter he also practiced what he preached… He always said that in a Hitter’s count or with a man on base he wanted to look for that GOOD PITCH he was more likely to get and get what he calls a Rib Eye Steak!

And no one was a better hitter than him when he had the Pitcher on the ropes. So it’s not like he just came to this opinion he has exhibited it his entire playing career.

Lisa – May 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Ha, ha! Keith’s dream is a nice, crisp 1-0 game that finishes in 1 hour and 45 minutes so he can make it to the steakhouse to have a nice rib-eye steak and a bottle of high end wine. Ideally, Rusty Staub and Tom Seaver would be in town to join him!

Metsie – May 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm

LOL you can probably name about 10,000 Things Keith would rather be doing than being in that booth if you just listen to him during a game!

I actually understand it since when I work Baseball games about the worst thing that can happen is when it rains, Extra Innings or gets postponed and rescheduled as a Double-Header on getaway day.

Most techs who work on the game get paid per day and don’t get any overtime until after 12-16 Hours. And we have to be there about 4-5 Hours before game time even starts.

But he shouldn’t really let that get out when he’s on the air especially as obvious as he makes it sound.

It’s almost become common dialog for Gary and Ron to joke about Keith’s frequent tardiness, his propensity for leaving early, and the many days off he takes throughout the baseball season.

He certainly has shown that he can hold a grudge and led the parade when Jose Reyes came out of the game on the last day of the 2011 season to preserve and win his NL Batting Title.

Again, let me reiterate that I love Keith Hernandez the player and for the longest time Keith Hernandez the color commentator for SNY. But lately I get the perception that he would rather be anywhere else but in the SNY booth. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just reading too much into things. But when I saw those comments on last night’s game thread I realized I was not alone in this thinking.

Another thing…

For the longest time I have enjoyed the combination of GKR, they are no doubt the best broadcast team in the game. But I gotta tell you that I was incredibly impressed and entertained during the game that Kevin Burkhardt called on FOX two Saturday’s ago.

Burkhardt was so refreshing on my ears and he was a joy to listen to. I couldn’t believe it… Here I was listening to a Fox Mets broadcast and throughout the entire time I never once felt as though I was missing GKR.

Tom Verducci and Burkhardt teamed up and formed a great tandem, and their insights and analysis was beyond reproach.

I’m thinking it may be time to stick to with GKR, but maybe we should consider swapping out Keith for Kevin.

Sorry if you disagree, but that’s how I feel.

Chill out guys and stop looking so bored.

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Mets Summer of ’73: The Birth of “Ya Gotta Believe” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-summer-of-73-the-birth-of-ya-gotta-believe.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-summer-of-73-the-birth-of-ya-gotta-believe.html/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2013 12:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113351 gal-70smets-13-jpg

TUG McGRAW: Coined one of the best slogans ever.

As far as team slogans go, the 1973 Mets’ rallying cry “Ya Gotta Believe’’ may not rank with Knute Rockne’s “Win one for the Gipper,’’ but it stood the test of time, lasting far longer than Reingold’s “Ten Minute Head.’’

Had it been a movie, the late and great Roger Ebert would have given it a thumbs down for it’s corniness.

Going into the season, the 1973 team was arguably more talented than the 1969 Miracle Mets, with the additions of Rusty Staub, Jon Matlack, John Milner and Felix Millan. This was a team to be feared and sprinted out of the gate at 4-0, and was in first place by late April. However, overcome by injuries, the Mets nose-dived into the cellar, 7 ½ games behind by July 26. They dropped to 12 games below .500 with 44 games to play on August 16.

Even so, they were still within shouting distance in the mediocre National League East. It would be tough, Mets Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant thought, but there were all those tickets to home games in September that needed to be sold.

MCGRAW: You win with heart, too.

MCGRAW: You win with heart, too.

Grant addressed the team and told them not to quit because there was time to turn things around. After all, he had had recent history to fall back on as the 1969 team overcame an eight-game August deficit to the Cubs.

That’s when closer Tug McGraw stood up and shouted, “that’s right, we can do it, Ya gotta believe.’’ It was a moment of “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,’’ exuberance that stuck with those Mets.

The Mets, Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs tripped over each other for much of September, but Yogi Berra’s team was the most consistent, and had to be considering the ground it had to make up.

The Mets won 24 of 35 games to make up those 12 games and move into first place on Sept. 21, with a 10-2 rout of Pittsburgh behind Tom Seaver.

It was a fragile lead as only 2 ½ games separated them from fifth-place Chicago.

“We’ve been hot,’’ Berra said at the time. “But I have to say it’s still wide open.’’

The Mets swept a two-game series with St. Louis and split a two-game series with Montreal before heading into Wrigley Field that final weekend with a one-game lead. On Friday the Mets were rained out, but Montreal beat Pittsburgh. The scenario repeated itself on Saturday.

By now, St. Louis leapfrogged Pittsburgh and trailed by 1½ games going into Sunday. The Mets split a double-header to go to 81-79 while the Cardinals were 81-81.

That set up another double-header for Monday with the Mets needing a split to win the division title, which Seaver gave them by winning the first game.

This might have been the Mets’ grittiest team, and it’s soundtrack being McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ as he slapped his glove on his thigh.

Although McGraw repeated the slogan with the 1980 Phillies, and Philadelphia fans tried to resurrect it several years ago, it didn’t have the same impact as it did when it woke up New York, the team and the city, during the Summer of 1973.

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Mets Opening Day: Pre-Game Festivities At Citi Field! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/pre-game-festivities-on-opening-day-at-citi-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/pre-game-festivities-on-opening-day-at-citi-field.html/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 04:30:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112567 Opening Day citi field

The roster is set. The grass is cut. Citi Field is ready for a near-sellout crowd as the New York Mets begin their 2013 season taking on the San Diego Padres. To kick-off the Opening Day festivities, the Mets have planned quite a pre-game ceremony for those lucky enough to be in attendance.

The Mets will honor heroes and volunteers who have played an integral role in the response to Hurricane Sandy in a pre-game, on-field ceremony that begins at 12:30 p.m. More than 500 first responders will be honored and the Mets have donated 1,000 Opening Day tickets to citizens who were heroic in their response to Sandy, and those who were affected by the devastation. A nice move by the Mets to dish out so many Opening Day tickets to those who have helped to restore our area following Superstorm Sandy.

rusty staub square

Throwing out the ceremonial first-pitch for the Mets will be none other than “Le Grand Orange” himself, Rusty Staub. You saw Rusty on his Google Hangout last month that included MMO’s own Stephen Hanks. The hangout took place in an effort to raise awareness for his charity, the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Benefit Fund, started by Rusty in 1985 to help the widow’s and children of New York first responders killed in the line of duty.

“It’s a thrill to represent my teammates from the 40th anniversary of our N.L. Championship club,” said Staub. “It’s particularly special given the others who will be on the field that day — the heroes in the Sandy relief effort. I was born in New Orleans and saw what storms can do to a region.”

In addition to throwing out the first pitch, Rusty turns 69 today! Perhaps we should sing Happy Birthday to him prior to his first pitch!

We’ve seen a number of antics by Mets Vice President Jay Horowitz this winter thanks to his Twitter account, wonder if we should expect “Le Jay Orange” come game time.

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Emmy Rossum, singer, actress and star of Showtime’s Shameless, will perform the National Anthem backed by 50 choir members from the Scholars’ Academy School Chorus from the Rockaways.

handsonheader

Keith Carradine, Allison Case, Kathleen Monteleone and David Larsen — stars in the popular Broadway show “Hands on a Hardbody” — will perform God Bless America. The popular show opened on March 21 and is based on the 1997 documentary of 10 hard-luck Texas who fight to keep one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it.

mets 2013 tickets

Standing Room Only tickets start at $45 and are on sale at Mets.com. I will have a place to sit for today’s game! Way up in the 500′s!

Finally, the phenomena known as the Harlem Shake has invaded Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and now Flushing with none other than Jay Horowitz getting things started. My favorite part has got to be at the 0:33.

Hope everyone is ready for some Mets baseball!!! I can hardly wait! MMO will have nine of our guys (myself included) on hand at Opening Day to give you all the sights and sounds of Opening Day! Let’s go Mets!

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Memorable Mets Moments: Rusty and the Rundown http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mysterious-magical-mets-moments-rusty-and-the-rundown.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mysterious-magical-mets-moments-rusty-and-the-rundown.html/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 13:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112162 In the course of the many years I have been a Mets devotee, I have witnessed countless contests between the Amazin’s and their various opponents where the end result was either a victory or loss for the Flushing crew, but nothing much beyond that unless something truly remarkable occurred to mark the game in my memory. Those games, where something truly out of the ordinary happened, have popped up from time to time and by virtue of their very scarcity have helped reinforce a belief that there are indeed “baseball gods,” that only occasionally deign to let us acknowledge their handiwork. Perhaps I wax a tad philosophical, but when recounting those Met moments that seemingly transcend the box score, it seems only natural.

What I seek to provide here is my recollection of certain small chapters in Mets’ history that stand out from the pack, not necessarily for their place in a championship campaign or a particularly important game, but for their unique qualities which occasionally move them into the realm of the strange or even at times, the poetic.

RUSTY AND THE RUNDOWN

Rusty-StaubThe first of these instances involves one of my favorite Mets of bygone days, Rusty Staub. During his first go-round with the Mets, Rusty provided more in the way of consistent offense and heady play than fans had come to expect from a Mets team that relied primarily on the arms of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack , Tug McGraw and whatever offense could be scrounged from the day’s lineup. In 1973, two years into their second decade of existence, the Mets had still not had a player produce a 100 RBI season. The team would make its second trip to the World Series that year, but would wind up second to last in the NL in runs scored with a paltry 608. As a result, defense was a key component to go along with that vaunted pitching staff. In June of that year, the Mets were playing a series at Shea against the Dodgers. The Saturday game of that set (on June 9th) was Old Timers’ Day and a good crowd was on hand. The offensive heroes for the day were Staub, with two doubles and 3 RBI, and Willie Mays who homered for the other run in what would be a 4-2 complete game win for Jon Matlack.

It wasn’t Rusty’s offense that made this game memorable for me, but his defense- specifically, his role in a play that took place in the top of the seventh inning.  By virtue of a pinch-hit double by future Met Tom Paciorek and a bunt single by Davey Lopes, the Dodgers had runners at the corners with no one out and Bill Buckner (of all people) coming to the plate. The Mets were clinging to a 3-2 lead at this point that looked to be in jeopardy. Buckner was an up-and-coming young batsman of 24 at this time, but was coming off a season where he had hit .319 and shown a penchant for making contact. With Lopes dancing off first, Matlack made a successful pickoff throw and a rundown ensued.

Rundowns always make me nervous if it’s my team trying to execute one. We’ve all heard how, if properly done, only one or two throws should be needed to nail the runner. Invariably, as the number of throws involved in the play increases, so does the percentage that one will ultimately wind up in the stands, the dugout, or the outfield while the runner advances.  On this particular play the infielders involved, Bud Harrelson, Felix Millan, and John Milner, were no slouches with the glove  but Lopes was fleet and managed to elude a tag. A number of throws were made, back and forth, with Paciorek looking for a chance to score from third. Ultimately, with the middle infielders out of position, Lopes dashed for second, seemingly uncovered until…Rusty Staub, having run in from his position in Right Field, took the throw at second, slapped a tag on Lopes diving for the base, then fired a strike to the plate to catch Paciorek trying to sneak in with the tying run. Double play! Buckner flied out to center and the inning ended with no damage done.

As a mere 16 year-old at the time, my depth of baseball knowledge was not substantial, but I had been bitten by the bug at a young age and had read more about the game’s history than many of my peers. Nowhere had I come across an account of a similar play, which, while not the weirdest thing to happen on a baseball field, was without a doubt the most heads-up piece of fielding I had ever witnessed.

Rusty went on to play heroically in the LCS (3 HR’s and a great catch where he badly injured his shoulder), and World Series that year (hitting .423 with a 5 RBI game while playing hurt). In 1975, he became the first Met to reach the century mark in RBI while setting a club record with 105. Management rewarded this by trading him to Detroit for a washed-up Mickey Lolich and fans were left to pin their hopes on Mike Vail. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out too well.

Regardless, Rusty’s place in the annals of Metdom is assured, but is just that much more deserved, in my opinion, because of that nifty double play.

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Special Feature: Saluting The 1973 Mets; The Start Of A Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/special-feature-saluting-the-1973-mets-the-start-of-a-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/special-feature-saluting-the-1973-mets-the-start-of-a-series.html/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:59:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111966 mays

MAYS: ENDURING IMAGE OF A FORGOTTEN TEAM

The Mets have made four World Series appearances, with each of those seasons and Octobers giving us cherished memories.

But, only one – the nearly forgotten 1973 team, with the still memorable rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ – identifies with the tumultuous ride this franchise has been on since its birth as the replacement child for the kids New York really loved – the Dodgers and Giants.

Think of it, the Mets’ colors are Giant orange and Dodger blue. The early rivals, before realignment with divisions, were against the teams that fled, namely because the wounds were still fresh.

Ah, c’mon, we don’t have to think that much. Let’s not go forty years to analyze. Go back only four when the owner of this team was criticized for honoring his beloved Dodgers at the opening of Citi Field – complete with the Jackie Robinson rotunda – more than his own team.

The Summer of 69 was special in that it was the first. It was the summer of Vietnam, the year after the race riots than burned numerous cities in America, including nearby Newark, and, the close of the decade seeing a man walk on the moon.

Countless times that summer, the improbability of the Mets’ drive to the World Series was compared to the moon landing. They were the Miracle Mets, but often overlooked in that season was dominant pitching, and dominant pitching usually wins.

That team doesn’t totally identity with the franchise because of how close it was to its birth. Seven years after first pitch in the Polo Grounds and the Mets are champions? That stuff only happens in the movies, and while it was a special, sometimes the ride is still hard to believe. Then again, there are some who still can’t believe man walked on the moon.

The 1986 champions did not identify with the franchise’s personality in that it was brash, bold and overwhelming, hardly descriptors fitting the Mets. During the season it bullied the National League. Only in the playoffs and its two Game Sixes, did it show the comeback, gritty nature associated with the franchise.

The 2000 team lost to the Yankees in the “Subway Series,’’ which was a marketing salute to a past that existed before the Mets were even a gleam William Shea’s eye. Wasn’t the whole build up of that World Series just a love-fest for what baseball was in the Fifties, the Golden Age of the sport in New York?

Remember, that was age that didn’t include the Mets and the Yankees won.

The World Series run that most identifies with this franchise’s nature was the gritty season of 1973. The Mets, as usual, were underdogs to Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the division, to Cincinnati in the NLCS, and Oakland in the World Series.

When the Mets won they’ve had good pitching. Tom Seaver was still here and joined by Jon Matlack, but they didn’t have a 20-game winner that season. They also didn’t have a .300 hitter and were at the bottom in runs scored. Save the 1986 monster and a few subsequent seasons with the Darryl Strawberry-Keith Hernandez-Gary Carter core, the Mets have rarely been a masher franchise. That’s just not them.

They were in last place as late as August 26. Then came the free-for-all pennant race in September, with the Mets getting a disputed call that enabled them outlast the Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs. The Mets won the win the division with a muddied 82-79 record, the worst in baseball history for a division winner.

For the number of teams involved, it was one of the more compelling pennant races in history, but lost in the mediocrity of the combatants. The still new divisional alignment required another step, which was the expected slaughter at the hands of the Big Red Machine, which was on its own historic run.

The Mets brawled their way through the NLCS with the enduring image being Bud Harrelson going afterPete Rose on a play at second. The Mets rallied to beat the Reds and hung tough against Oakland with their arms, those on the mound and Rusty Staub’s dangling at his side.

It was a season that showed the improbable, yet resilient nature that has been the Mets. The record typifies the franchise, which has lost more than it has won in fifty years. At 3885-4237, there has been more frustration than glory. The irony is it was managed by a man, Yogi Berra, whose career was all about winning.

From start to finish, the 1973 season most typifies the ride of this franchise than any of the other pennant winners. The 1973 team tells the story, with its collection of non-descript players joined by its best player and an iconic star on his last legs. The 1973 team overachieved, which has been a Mets’ signature, but left us unsatisfied and wanting more, feelings all Mets’ fans know so well.

The story of the Mets is captured in two images.

There’s the unabashed joy of Jesse Orosco in 1986 after striking out Marty Barrett to end the World Series as champions. There’s also the pain and anguish of Willie Mays – somebody else’s star – on his knees, pleading for a call in the 1973 Series.

Now, which picture best shows us fifty years of Mets’ baseball?

This season I will salute the 1973 team on New York Mets Report, with a series that each week highlights a game, event or player profile. Hope you enjoy.

Thoughts from Joe D.

John, I’m very excited to be working with you again on another new Mets feature. I loved the 1973 season. As I look at the image we have on the top of this post, I can’t help but notice how symbolic it is of our plight during the last 51 years of Mets baseball. So close, but yet so far… Next week, we’ll retell the tale of how the slogan “Ya Gotta Believe” first came about. All you newbies out there pay attention.ya gotta believe button

This season me and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerized Online will be collaborating on this new feature saluting the 1973 Mets.  Both on MMO and here on New York Mets Report, each week we will highlight a game, event or player profile commemorating that unforgettable season. Hope you enjoy.

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Charity Auction For Signed Rusty Staub Bobblehead! Bid Now! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/charity-auction-for-signed-rusty-staub-bobblehead-bid-now.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/charity-auction-for-signed-rusty-staub-bobblehead-bid-now.html/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 04:22:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110795 Staub bobbleheadThere is only about 15 minutes remaining to bid on a signed Rusty Staub bobblehead in a charity auction to support the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund. 100% of the proceeds from the auction go toward supporting the families of local heroes who were killed in the line of duty.

Bid Here Now

Rusty signed the bobblehead during his Google Hangout Podcast  last week in which he sat down with a panel of Mets bloggers including our own Stephen Hanks representing Mets Merized Online.

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In case you missed it, you can watch the entire hangout with Rusty here:

The Benefit Fund’s mission is to provide assistance to the families of New York City Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Port Authority Police and EMS Personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. The Benefit Fund gives financial assistance to grieving families immediately after they lose their loved one. Our goal is to raise enough funds to provide meaningful annual distributions to our beneficiaries for the remainder of their lives.

Since the Benefit Fund’s inception in 1985 by Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub, the Benefit Fund has distributed over $123 million to the families of New York City police and fire personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. Though the Benefit Fund was initially created to assist families of New York City Fire Fighters and Police Officers, we now include the families of Emergency Medical Services and Port Authority Officers as well. In 1987 we provided 320 families with annual financial assistance and by 2010, we made the same commitment to nearly 700 families. Our need has certainly grown, but our mission remains pure: help children and spouses who lost a loved one in the line of duty, charged with the task of keeping our families safe.

So help support the cause and bid now!

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