Mets Merized Online » United States http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 31 May 2016 20:55:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.14 Mets Blood Drive At Citi Field On Thursday http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-blood-drive-at-citi-field-on-thursday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-blood-drive-at-citi-field-on-thursday.html/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:19:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172640 blood drive

The Mets will hold their annual winter blood drive on Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at Citi Field’s Caesars Club, the team announced.

All donors will receive a voucher redeemable for two tickets to a Mets home game in April, excluding Opening Day.

Donors can park in Lot G off 126th St. and enter Citi Field via the Hodges VIP entrance. For those seeking photo opportunities, Mr. Met will be in attendance from noon to 1:00 pm.

The Mets are hosting their drive in conjunction with the New York Blood Center, one of the largest community-based, non-profit blood collection and distribution organizations in the United States.

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Mets Are 13th Most Followed MLB Official Team Account http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mets-are-13th-most-followed-mlb-official-team-account.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mets-are-13th-most-followed-mlb-official-team-account.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:30:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165763 twitter-bird-on-baseball-social-media

In the social media and Twitter world, Mets fans are known to be very vocal. For those of us that are active on the medium, we are very familiar with the hashtag #MetsTwitter.

So when it comes to the actual number of accounts that are following the Mets on Twitter, where does our team rank?

To no surprise, the Yankees rule the Twitterverse, with nearly 360,000 more followers than the next most followed team. While the average Met fan may be down on the team right now, considering we’re still in the largest media market in the country, surely the Mets would be near the top, right?

Not quite. The Mets have the 13th most followers, more than 46,000 behind the Cincinnati Reds and less than 5,000 ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees have more than quadruple the number of followers than the Mets.

By sheer numbers, not only has attendance dwindled and frustration set in among fans – nearly twice as many people are interested in hearing what the Braves have to say than the Mets.

So how many followers do each of the MLB teams official twitter accounts have (as of Sunday evening, September 14th, 2014)

  1. Yankees -1,214,518
  2. Phillies – 855,619
  3. Red Sox – 853,444
  4. Giants – 645,743
  5. Dodgers – 572,513
  6. Braves – 535,743
  7. Cardinals – 500,509
  8. Blue Jays – 495,041
  9. Tigers – 487,450
  10. Rangers – 421,587
  11. Cubs – 385,803
  12. Reds – 328,461
  13. Mets – 282,251
  14. Pirates – 277,501
  15. Orioles – 249,417
  16. Indians – 239,075
  17. Twins – 233,445
  18. White Sox – 218,233
  19. Mariners – 217,213
  20. Brewers – 216,062
  21. Royals – 213,110
  22. Angels – 212,725
  23. Athletics – 204,930
  24. Nationals – 204,701
  25. Rays – 187,280
  26. Astros – 161,079
  27. Diamondbacks – 149,675
  28. Rockies – 149.115
  29. Padres – 134,422
  30. Marlins – 133,357

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Mets Select Outfielder Michael Conforto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/2014-mlb-draft-thread-mets-select-outfielder-michael-conforto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/2014-mlb-draft-thread-mets-select-outfielder-michael-conforto.html/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 00:13:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=157728 Michael-Conforto

The Mets have selected Oregon State OF Michael Conforto with the 10th overall pick in MLB draft.

That wraps up the evening for the Mets as they forfeited the second round pick to sign Curtis Granderson.

Conforto, a 6’2″ and 217 pound outfielder, is considered a good power prospect with a great approach.

Through 43 games this season the left-handed hitting Conforto is batting .351 with seven home runs, 18 doubles a .557 slugging percentage and a .508 OBP representative of his 55 walks.

During his college career, he hit .341 with a .463 OBP, 43 doubles and 31 home runs in 179 games.

Here’s what Baseball America had to say about the player and the pick:

The Mets feel like they’re about to turn the corner in the big leagues and are well stocked with young pitching, so they would like a college bat who could move through the system quickly. Turner would be tempting if he’s available, but Conforto is the consensus best college hitter and has the polished approach the team is looking for.

The Mets greeted Conforto, a two time Pac-12 Player of the Year, on Twitter:

6:00 PM

MMO’s Clayton Collier has arrived and discovered a surprise guest in Mike Piazza who will join Frank Viola.

5:00 PM

The MLB First Year Player Draft begins tonight at 7:00 PM EST, when the first two rounds of the draft will be conducted.

The New York Mets have the 10th pick in the first round, but forfeited their second round pick when they signed free agent Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million dollar deal during the last offseason.

The draft resumes on Friday at 1:00 PM EST, beginning with the 3rd round and ending with the 10th, and finally concludes on Saturday when they wrap up rounds 11-40 beginning at 1:00 PM EST.

2014 Draft Schedule

Thursday – Live Draft (Round 1, Comp. A, Round 2, Comp. B) on MLB Network and MLB.com

Friday – Live Draft (Rounds 3-10) on MLB.com

Saturday – Live Draft (Rounds 11-40) on MLB.com

Mets Draft Information

Paul DePodesta has stressed more than a few times, that they don’t go into the draft with a mindset of taking either high school or college players. Each draft is different and their focus is on taking the best players available regardless of their age. They also look at each draft through the prism of a 4-year outlook down the road.

Draft Bonus Spending Pool

The Mets have $5,308,300 to spend which ranks 22nd among all other teams. In other words, 21 other teams will have more to spend than the Mets. If the Mets exceed their spending allotment, penalties come into play.

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Mets Sign 1B Matt Clark To Minor League Contract http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-sign-1b-matt-clark-to-minor-league-contract.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-sign-1b-matt-clark-to-minor-league-contract.html/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:11:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=146837 Matt-Clark-300x226The Mets announced they have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league contract and have invited him to big league camp.

A career minor leaguer, Clark played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan last season and batted .238 with 25 home runs, 70 RBI, and a .785 OPS.

Clark, 27, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 12th round of the 2008 draft. He last played for them in 2012 when he batted .290/.367/.506 for the Triple-A Tucson Padres in the Pacific Coast League. The lefthanded slugger belted 22 home runs and drove in 77 runs that season.

Clark has hit for power at every level of his six year pro career, averaging 24 homeruns and 90 RBI over his four full seasons in the Padres system. But with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda already on the roster, he will certainly be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas when camp breaks.

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Lessons In Latin America: A Brief Cuban History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-cuban-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-cuban-history.html/#comments Sun, 05 Jan 2014 15:18:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137174 jose abre cuban caseball

I would like to share to many, details into Cuban baseball history, which is an excerpt of my senior thesis. I hope you enjoy. This will be an ongoing feature with different countries, and will have a surprise interview at the end.

There is no question about where the root of Caribbean Baseball was as it started in Cuba, but the stories of how it got there are very different from person to person. According to Viva Baseball, a documentary created by the Spike Channel about Latin American players, upper class White Cuban students who had been studying in America, learned about the sport from Americans around the time of the Civil War. According to Viva Baseball, they brought it back and taught it to others.

Another story, according to Kurlansky, told of American influence directly onto Cuban Baseball when the embargo ended in 1814 with Spanish controlled Cuba. During that time trade was happening between the United States, and Cuba, so with the trade came Baseball in the 1860’s.

What both sources agree on was why baseball was cemented as the Cuban pastime. The sport was a form of defiance by the Cubans against the Spanish, by using their economic opposition’s pastime, America against the Spanish. It was an easy choice, according to Viva Baseball, considering many Cubans were not fond of soccer, Spgymain’s pastime. Soon after being introduced, many different amateur teams started to sprout up all over the countryside. American influence was a large reason for Baseball spreading, not just to Cuba, but to each Latin American country in general, and it wasn’t just by how the United States asserted itself into countries, but also by the sugar trade.

Sugar started booming in the 1860’s in Cuba. Baseball boomed with it. Cuba was a large host to the sugar trade, and at that time became one of the largest export of sugar in the world The sugar trade summoned foreign sugar cane workers called Cocolos from different islands around Cuba, who played the sport in their scarce, yet valued break time. Entrepreneurs then spread the sport through their own businesses to places such as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Cuba’s league started to gain fame to American players. At times in the early 1900’s, American teams like the Cincinnati Reds came down to play in warm-up games. The Cuban teams started to become very good, and were noticed for their talent, especially when pitcher José Méndez kept the Reds from scoring a run for 25 innings in 3 games.

Yankees legend Babe Ruth, after a warm-up match was so impressed, that he believed if they signed some of these Cuban players, the team would likely run away with the division by June. So some American teams started to sign White Cuban players. Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida debuted together as the first two Latin American players in the Major Leagues in 1911 with the Cincinnati Reds.

martin dihigoWhile Cuban whites were allowed to play, up, darker players in Cuba had to stay in their leagues until Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey broke the Color Barrier, or go to others such as the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Venezuelan, and Negro Leagues in the United States. Had it not been for racism, players such as Martin Dihigo would have had a place among High American Baseball Honors.

Dihigo was a wonderful example of how American Baseball would have progressed earlier if not for racism. He was a dark-skinned Cuban, who had played every single position, and really just dominated. To many, he was well revered as a legend for Cuba, and went and played in many leagues that weren’t the Majors, such as the Mexican, Venezuelan, and American Negro Leagues. He was famous in every league, pitching first no-hit game in the Mexican League, and competing for the Triple Crown, year after year with Josh Gibson, who was said to be the Black Babe Ruth (Or some say, even better). In the Mexican, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Negro Leagues, he entered the Hall of Fame.

The Washington Senators really started the first mass-signings of White Cuban players in the mid 1930’s. Clark Griffith, who was owner of the team, hired scout Joe Cambria, to start bringing in new talent to their team. While the team was an utter disaster, aside from legendary pitcher Walter Johnson, they did provide a new bridge into Latin America. “Papa” Joe Cambria found a way to stroll the Cuban sugar fields, and nearly kidnap Cuban players, by signing them to incredibly cheap bonuses and sending them to Washington to compete.

After Robinson and Rickey broke the color barrier in 1947, blacker players came in to the mix from Latin America. Although Rickey wanted to integrate first into Brooklyn, he could not find a Latin Ballplayer with a demeanor that would endure racism the way Jackie Robinson did. Rickey integrated the Major Leagues with players who weren’t the best in their leagues, but people say he was certain could endure hardship. In Jackie Robinson’s recent biopic 42, Rickey exclaimed he wanted a player “with the guts not to fight back.” The players he chose who were Latino, were more high-strung than the black players.

Minnie Minoso, however, was not. In 1951, Minoso broke the Black-Latino color barrier with the Chicago White Sox, which started the floodgate of many Latin American stars coming in. No one, however believed that this would have been done without help from Robinson and Rickey four years before. However, Minoso endured more than Robinson, not just for color, but because he was Latin as well. But, while Cubans like Minnie Minoso and RHP Luis Tiant pioneered Latin-black integration, Cuban recognition was then suddenly shut out by politics when Fidel Castro came to power and an embargo happened between the United States and Cuba in 1960.

What was worse for the Cuban and United States’ embargo was that the most prominent winter leagues were played in Cuba. So America then moved to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela to continue to play in the hot sun with some fierce competition. Cuban baseball, however, never exactly diminished on the Island because of being cut off from American leagues, and still boasts the best talents. Many stars from Cuba, seeking better bonuses than what the island had to offer, defected from Cuba to sign large team deals with Major League teams. Jose Abreu is one of the newest examples of Cuban talent, signing with the White Sox for 4 years, and $64 Million Dollars.

Presented By Diehards

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Hits & Misses: Tron Has Become Mythical, Chasing Unicorns, Fix My Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/hits-misses-tron-has-become-mythical-chasing-unicorns-fix-my-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/hits-misses-tron-has-become-mythical-chasing-unicorns-fix-my-team.html/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 13:49:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131040 Carlos = Beltran

Last night, Carlos Beltran continued to cement his status as one of the greatest post season players of all time with yet another incredible performance. Having already delivered a two-run double to tie Game 1 of the NLCS at 2-2, the former Met would hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th inning to clinch a dramatic 3-2 win over the Dodgers for the Cardinals.

Beltran also kept the game alive for the Cards earlier in the game, when he unleashed a tremendous throw from right field to nail a runner at the plate in the 10th to keep the game even.

The walk-off single ended the longest playoff game in Cardinals history and the sold out crowd had Busch Stadium shaking from its foundation as Cardinals poured out of the dugout to meet Beltran and celebrate the huge win.

“I’ve got to give the glory and honor to God. He’s the one to give me the opportunity to be able to play in October, and this is what it’s all about,” Beltran said after the game. “You work so hard during the offseason, Spring Training, the regular season to get to this point, and we’re fortunate to be here.”

Wow… If Homer were still alive, he’d probably pen a glorious epic about Tron…

unicorns-9-magical-mystical

I got not one, but two emails yesterday,asking me what I meant two days ago when I wrote that the Mets were in the market for a unicorn. It was just my way of saying that the front office and even a great deal of fans find fault with any quality player that doesn’t fit into their price point.

I actually alluded to it somewhat on Twitter the other day:

I’m tired of holding every player to this imaginary “he’s not a difference maker” standard as well. Sandy Alderson first used the term after he retreated from his stance that he wouldn’t trade R.A. Dickey and then a week before trading him said “I won’t trade Dickey unless it’s for a difference maker.”

As we all sit back and wait for the front office to deliver this run of sustainable championships they keep talking about, we’ve not added one difference maker to this team at the major league level. The fact is we’ve traded those difference makers away for minor leaguers and never anyone who could make that same kind of an impact on the team.

So here we are chasing unicorns – looking for the most perfect offensive difference maker we can find at the lowest rock-bottom price.

It feels like I’m rooting for a front office who isn’t grounded in reality and has no idea how to navigate in today’s market. And yes, I’m well aware that the offseason hasn’t even started yet, but I’m still hearing them say the kinds of things I’d expect from my 10-year old nephew rather then a front office that is among the most highly compensated regimes in the game.

To improve this team, the Mets require many upgrades in over a half dozen different areas. They don’t have to be difference makers, they only have to be better than what we’ve been trotting out there for the last three seasons under Sandy.

But instead of getting excited about the available players in this market, you instead hear or read things like Carlos Beltran is too old… Mike Napoli is too expensive… Shin-Soo Choo wants a four year deal… Jose Abreu is one-dimensional… And so on and so on…

I got an idea… Let’s do nothing… Let’s just stay awful… There’s plenty of teams that don’t mind staying awful, so let’s be like them…

This team needs quality players that will either cost us money or prospects. Get that through your skulls.

And this front office needs a quality season in 2014 which will require cunning, resources and risk, but mostly guts, which I’ve yet to see from this front office.

Stop looking for flaws in every quality player and start taking notice of the myriad of gaping holes this team has accumulated over the last three seasons. The New York Mets are in tatters right now… Fix My Team!

bleed orange & blue  button

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MMO Flashback: We Rebuild, But We Never Forget http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mmo-flashback-we-rebuild-but-we-never-forget.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mmo-flashback-we-rebuild-but-we-never-forget.html/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 13:46:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=95858 WP_000108

Photo By Clayton Collier

The fires are long extinguished, the debris has been cleared from the streets, the rebuilding is well underway at Ground Zero, but the wounds are very much still open.

9/11 is a day that is still very heavy on the hearts of every New Yorker, and every American. One is hard pressed to find anyone in the Tri-State area that didn’t know someone, or knew someone that knew someone, who was in Lower Manhattan on the day the towers fell. The shock has not yet faded, videos and photos of the attack, the pain on the faces throughout the world still sends shivers down our spines. Yet here we are, 11 years later, emerging from the ashes as a stronger nation. We are damaged, we are wounded, but we have emerged bolder, wiser and proud to call ourselves citizens of the United States.

Ground Zero has been transcended from a smoldering pile of death and anguish, into a place of healing. It is a location for families –like those pictured above– who never received anything from their fallen loved ones to go for a sense of closure. The reflecting pools list the names of all 2,996 Americans who went to work, boarded a plane, or put on an oxygen mask on that day and did not return as well as the half of a dozen who perished in the bombing in 1993. As someone who has seen the memorial first hand, I can say from a first hand experience, that it brings unwelcome memories to the forefront of your mind and makes everything seem much more real, however at the same time has an eerie, calming silence.

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It is a place of serenity, a place of peace, a place for mourning, but a symbol as well. It shows us that we are rebuilding, the new World Trade Centers are nearing completion, life will once again be revived into zip code 10048, but we will always remember. That horrific day is etched in the minds of all of us, whether we want it to or not.

That day is now twelve years old, but it feels like just yesterday. Today is a day for mourning, for remembrance, but also a day to show that we may be damaged, we may be wounded, but America will never falter and we will ultimately emerge stronger and stronger than ever before.

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”

- President George W. Bush, Nov. 11, 2001

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Japanese Phenom Masahiro Tanaka Will Likely Bolt For MLB After Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/japanese-phenom-masahiro-tanaka-will-likely-bolt-for-mlb-after-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/japanese-phenom-masahiro-tanaka-will-likely-bolt-for-mlb-after-season.html/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 12:09:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=128998 masahiro tanaka

Brett Bull of the New York Times reports that 24-year old Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka, who improved to 20-0 on the season after a 3-2 complete game victory last night, will request to be posted for Major League Baseball at the end of this season.

News media outlets in Japan are suggesting that Tanaka will request the Eagles put him up for auction via the posting system later this year. Such a move will make him the most sought-after Japanese export since Yu Darvish, one of baseball’s best pitchers, and a member of the Texas Rangers for the last two seasons.

With last night’s victory, Tanaka now has 24 consecutive wins, a streak that matches the major league mark in the United States set by the New York Giants’ Carl Hubbell in 1936-37.

Interestingly enough, his latest win came thanks to a tie-breaking homer from former Mets Kazuo Matsui. After recording the final out on a called third strike, he emphatically pumped his fist toward third base as the home crowd of 22,316 roared.

“It was a true team effort,” Tanaka said. “In the future, I’ll do my best to continue.”

The 6-foot-2 right-hander has an arsenal that includes a fastball that touches 95 mph, a sharp-breaking slider and a split-finger fastball. In his 24 starts this season, he has 1.24 ERA while striking out 155 batters over 181 innings. It’s the third straight season he’s has an ERA under 2.00, and earlier this season he had a streak of 42 scoreless innings.

What’s amazing here is that he’s only 24 and getting better. Earlier this week, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweeted the following:

If his team does post him this Fall or Winter, expect some high bids from teams like the Dodgers, D’Backs, Rangers, Mariners, Yankees and Braves. All six teams were on hand to see him win his 20th game.

“I’ve always liked his slider, but his split-finger has really come on in the last couple of seasons,” said one MLB scout. “He definitely has enough velocity to play at the major league level, and the other two pitches would compete for sure.”

I know I’m just dreaming, but I miss the days when the Mets wouldn’t be discounted from any serious pursuit of players like Tanaka or Cuban sensation Jose Abreu. That said, Sandy Alderson has insisted that acquiring a veteran pitcher for the rotation will be a top priority this offseason. Depending on the the second opinion on Matt Harvey, the veteran starter could be a top of the rotation pitcher or a middle of the rotation type. “The Harvey decision will dictate the quality and number,” Alderson said.

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Priorities Realigned As Terrorism Takes Aim At The Sports World http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/priorities-realigned-as-terrorism-takes-aim-at-the-sports-world.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/priorities-realigned-as-terrorism-takes-aim-at-the-sports-world.html/#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:00:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=114755 boston-marathon-explosion-horizontal-gallery

The world awakens this morning seeking to right itself after a pair of explosions rocked Boston yesterday afternoon.  Lost are three souls, with no fewer than another one hundred and thirty-two injured.  Also lost in the day’s events, a nation’s sense of security when it comes to sporting events.

Long thought to be a potential target, major sporting events are often subjected to increased security measures.  To date, the United States had been successful (or lucky depending upon your point of view) to avoid such disasters, however April 15, 2013 will live on in infamy as the day the sports world was no longer immune to a direct attack.

The aftereffects of yesterday’s events remain to be seen, but as families, the city of Boston and the nation as a whole mourn this loss, its fair to assume that our shattered sense of security will send ripples through the sports world.  Decreased attendance can only be countered by increased protection in an effort to reassure fans that they’re safe.  At what point will your trip to the stadium resemble a tour through your local prison system?  At what point are fans treated like inmates? More importantly, at what point is such treatment necessary?

Boston-marathon-woman-crying_2930351Long gone is the innocence of physically attending a game, ruined by the majority of fans who feel the price of admission grants them the freedom to drink like a fish and curse like a sailor without repercussion.  That arrogance, until yesterday thought by most to be the worst you could encounter during a trip to the ballpark, is now miniscule by comparison to the violence seen in the past twenty-four hours.  So what now?

Ultimately, too much energy is lost debating the successes and more frequently, the failures of our favorite sports franchises.  That faux pas takes place on a daily basis throughout social media and on sites just like this one.  I’m just as guilty as many of your reading this.  We’re debating a game..something that shouldn’t be life or death.  Its unfortunate that it takes such tragedy for things to fall in line once again, but it has become apparent that this is the world we live in now.  So remember, the next time your headed out to Citi Field, be cognizant of those around you, because not everyone is on the same team.

Follow me on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.

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Nelson Figueroa: Hometown Kid Shines In WBC Spotlight http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nelson-figueroa-hometown-kid-shines-in-wbc-spotlight.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nelson-figueroa-hometown-kid-shines-in-wbc-spotlight.html/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2013 16:40:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111110 nelson figueroaI always regarded the WBC as Dancing With The Stars with spikes. It’s a manufactured competition, but with its roots in nationalism.

However, last night’s USA-Puerto Rico elimination match was compelling, far more interesting than your average Mets-Marlins spring training game. That interest was generated by the passion in the stands. The WBC means more in terms of national pride to the teams and fans in Asia and Latin America than to the United States.

Puerto Rico is now in the international sports spotlight. The American players who are always in the spotlight can now return to their major league teams and big contracts.Nationalism represented some of the motivational fuel for Nelson Figueroa, a journeyman pitcher who has toiled for six teams in parts of nine years – including the Mets – but pitched like a star last night in sending the United States home for the third straight time.

Figueroa was special, doing what he used to do at times with the Mets, which was burn innings. But, last nigh he gave Puerto Rico six shutout innings in his 80-pitch allotment. Working both sides of the plate effectively with everything but an electric fastball, he gave US hitters nothing to hit.

Putting on a show was the rest of his motivational fuel.

“We were supreme underdogs against that lineup,’’ Figueroa told reporters. “It was motivation to show them what kind of pitcher I was.’’

Maybe he showed what kind of pitcher he can be to somebody with the power to make a decision on his career as so many other have done.

Figueroa was signed by Arizona to a minor league contract as organizational depth in December. If Figueroa were higher on the pitching food chain, but not good enough to be a given, he might have been better off in spring training.

However, in this case, showing what he could do against major league hitters should count for more points than a couple of innings against the Dodgers minor leaguers.

Sometime this year, the Diamondbacks or somebody else, will have a sudden need for an arm and think back at how Figueroa toyed with the US lineup.

Figueroa is not flashy. He does not have a great fastball or singular dominant pitch. What he has is command of the corners and guile. When both are on he’s tough to beat.

“I don’t throw very hard, but I pitch inside,’’ Figueroa said, giving us his personal scouting report. “It was a great exhibition of what can be done without a plus fastball. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that good pitching beats good hitting.’’

That’s the way it always has been and always will be. From a fundamental perspective, that’s baseball’s essence. From a human perspective, Figueroa is also the essence of the sport.

History has given us far more Figueroas in the game than Matt Harveys or Stephen Strasburgs. Harvey and Strasburg have power potential and will always get a shot. Things must break right for Figueroa to get his.

Figueroa has bounced around the globe in search of a job, last pitching in the major leagues with Houston in 2011. He’s been with the Phillies. Toronto and the Yankees released him without his cup of coffee. He has pitched in the winter leagues, for Mexico, for just about anybody who would give him the ball and a few dollars.

Figueroa pitches because that’s what he does. The sport is in his blood, rushing through his veins and consuming his soul. Until he’s physically unable, or run out of teams, Figueroa will pitch. It is players like him, perhaps even more than players like Justin Verlander, as the reason we watch.

Verlander is elite. Figueroa is more like us, who once dreamed of the big leagues. However, unlike us, he persevered through rough times, rejection and defeat to get the taste we will never.

wbc puerto rico

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No Guts, No Glory: David Wright and a Wounded Combat Veteran Named Felix http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/no-guts-no-glory-david-wright-and-a-wounded-combat-veteran-named-felix.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/no-guts-no-glory-david-wright-and-a-wounded-combat-veteran-named-felix.html/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 18:36:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110253 In the following video you’ll find a touching story about the bond third baseman David Wright has forged with a disabled Iraqi war veteran named Felix, and how their relationship has grown over the years. The wheelchair bound veteran tells an inspiring story of what his United States flag means to him and the role it has played during his tours when he carried it in the deserts of Iraq and how it made its way into the clubhouse after Team USA pulled out a dramatic comeback to clinch a spot in the semi-final round during the 2009 WBC.

Mets third baseman David Wright drove in the game winning run in that game with a walk-off hit to clinch the victory for Team USA. After the game, combat veteran Felix, a die-hard Met fan, shared in the celebration as Team USA all signed his flag for him.

Hat tip to Kay for the link.

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The National Pastime: A Philatelic History – Part 1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/the-national-pastime-a-philatelic-history-part-1.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/the-national-pastime-a-philatelic-history-part-1.html/#comments Mon, 21 Feb 2011 15:28:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=44789 The United States Postal Service has recognized our National Pastime on many occasions over the past 72 years. In 1939, the USPS issued the very first baseball stamp to commemorate the first 100 years of the game, and since then they have continued to produce commemorative baseball stamps through 2010.

As a child growing up, I collected stamps for a few years – something I picked up from my uncle who was, and still is, a huge philatelic enthusiast. I always thought of them as little works of art, and sports stamps were always my favorite.

In all, there have been 55 commemorative postage stamps issued with a baseball theme. Most of them were part of a special series such as Baseball Legends, Black History Month, and even Baseball Parks. However, 14 of them were single issue stamps covering a variety of baseball-related topics.

In the first of a two part series, I will cover the 14 single issues.  

The very first baseball commemorative was issued on June 12, 1939 to honor baseball’s centennial. The artwork features boys and girls playing on a typical sandlot in Anywhere, USA.

 Issued in 1969, this stamp honors 100 years of professional (salaried) baseball. Can you see the similarity to the original MLB logo? Well that same year was when MLB began using the red, white and blue silhouette logo.

Also issued in 1969, it commemorates one of America’s best known and beloved artists, and one of her most famous works which depicts residents of a small town in rural America gathering to watch kids playing baseball.

In 1982, Jackie Robinson became the first baseball player ever to appear on a postage stamp. This stamp was part of the very popular Black Heritage series that also commemorated Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Scott Joplin.

A year later in 1983, Babe Ruth became the second iconic baseball player to be commemorated. The Sultan of Swat wore what was a resemblance to a Yankees uniform, but no official markings were used.

Issued in 1984, this stamp pays tribute to the legendary American athlete, Jim Thorpe. Known best for his Olympic and football achievements, Thorpe played in the Major Leagues for six seasons mostly with the NY Giants.

In 1984, Roberto Clemente was commemorated ten years after his HOF induction and eleven years after his tragic death. He was the first foreign born baseball player to be commemorated and the Puerto Rican flag is featured prominently.

In 1989, Lou Gehrig was honored, and MLB finally granted permission to use a team logo for the first time. It coincided with the 50 year anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame and was officially released in Cooperstown, New York.

Baseball debuts in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Unfortunately, Team USA got shutout of the medal rounds. Cuba won the Gold led by phenom Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. USA stars included Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra.

The very first fictitious baseball player, and the most famous, gets his day in the sun in 1996. This was part of a set commemorating American folk heroes. Other stamps in the set depicted Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Pecos Bill.

Issued in 2000, this baseball stamp was part of a set four stamps that commemorated “Youth Team Sports in America”. The other team sports featured were basketball, football, and of course soccer.

The most popular baseball song of all time, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2008. The song was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth, who wrote it after seeing a sign about an upcoming game at the Polo Grounds.

Issued in 2010, these two stamps commemorate Negro Leagues Baseball, and Andrew “Rube” Foster, who is considered to be the “Father of Negro Leagues Baseball.” The left stamp shows a classic scene of a close play at home plate.

* * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow, I will complete this series with all of the spectacular Baseball Series that have been issued over the years by the USPS.

Thanks to  Collectibles Stamp Gallery, Stamps. Com, Mystic Stamp Co. and the United States Postal Service for their assistance in putting together this post.

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Roger Clemens Pleads “Not Guilty” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/08/roger-clemens-pleads-not-guilty.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/08/roger-clemens-pleads-not-guilty.html/#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 15:31:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=35243 Roger Clemens appeared before United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Monday at 2PM and entered a ‘Not Guilty’ plea.  The Judge set the trial date at April 5, 2011 – although that date is not permanent and the trial may be delayed due to the amount of evidence available.
 
Assistant United States Attorney Steven J. Durham gave the Clemens attorneys a 34 page memo outlining all the evidence.
 
The New York Times reported in 2009 that tests conducted on the evidence then in hand on those materials contained traces of performance-enhancing drugs and the Washington Post reported that the materials contained Clemens’ DNA.
 
Clemens had arrived early -10 AM – at the Federal Court House to have his fingerprints and his mug shot taken since he and his wife had an afternoon golf date.  Sure enough, after  the plea, he moved quickly to the Cadillac Escalade which brought him to the airport where his private plane was waiting to take him to Myrtle Beach.
 
Now that the process has begun, Roger will notice some changes – he cannot leave the United States and must check in with the Court every two weeks.
 
Sometimes it appears that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but at this level of the court system, they need to. The hearing accelerated Clemens’ fall from grace and led to his perjury indictment.
 
Even if the army of attorneys Clemens is paying can save his skin, the jury trial he has now demanded will turn his life upside down as former associates – like Andy Pettitte –  are drawn to testify.
 
The indictment against Clemens issued August 19th lists one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury.
 
If convicted, Clemens could be the first baseball star to face prison time for his role in the steroid era.
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The Rocket Has Crashed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/08/the-rocket-has-crashed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/08/the-rocket-has-crashed.html/#comments Fri, 20 Aug 2010 17:21:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=34578

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Darryl Strawberry And Dwight Gooden Enter Mets Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/darryl-strawberry-and-dwight-gooden-enter-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/darryl-strawberry-and-dwight-gooden-enter-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Fri, 30 Jul 2010 16:54:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=32504 Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden enter the Mets Hall of Fame.

Sure this sounds nice and it is a good PR move and maybe it will sell some more tickets for Sunday afternoon.

But it’s a mixed blessing.

This is my problem with it.

The mid eighties, when both came up to the big team were the years that – my niece and I- spent a lot of time on the third tier behind home plate.  She called it ‘heaven’ and would sit and fill out her scorecard ever so neatly.

We saw the early games of both men – in fact we saw Doc’s first game and also his first home run.  You could see that big grin from way upstairs as he ran the bases.

Strawberry had so many home runs, that it became the usual for him.

However, even early on – particularly with Gooden – there were absences and/or days he was under the weather.  And the word “Smithers” came into our conversation.  Remember – he didn’t even make it to the parade when they won the series.

Now I know that both of them have tried to get their lives in order and Darryl has recently made progress, but Doc has regressed again. In fact it was the late George Steinbrenner who tried to help both these men, but few knew about it.

Sports – all sports – have a big problem on their hands – as drug usage grew – the players union and Bud Selig ignored it.  Even now it is a complicated issue.  A player like Alex Rodriguez ( almost a Met once) used steroids for years under the Selig administration, then apparently switched to HGH even though steroids and similar drugs have been illegal in the United States since 1993.

So, yes there will be a big celebration on Sunday, and I hope that the house is full as it used to be for Doc and Darryl.

This time my eyes will be on Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen.

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