Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I had no idea what Jacobs Field looked like. Sure, I've watched plenty of Indians games, and I've seen the big wall in left (an ode to Fenway, if I remember correctly when it was built), but I didn't really know many details about the park, other than the fact that it was one of the beautiful new ones. I was very surprised how the park looked from the outside - but in a good way - the park is indeed one of the prettier parks in the majors.

What I like best about Jacobs Field is that it is original. Yes, they took parts of older stadiums and incorporated them into their look, but along with Camden Yards, Jacobs Field was among the first of the "new" ballparks, so much of what it looks like is an inspiration to other new parks...not inspired by them. The thing I was most shocked by was Jacobs Field from the outside - it has a very unique look. Remember last year when I was confused by the shell-like exterior of Petco Park (where the Mets go)? I thought it looked nothing like a baseball stadium...well, it does. It looks like Jacobs Field. (Note the outside walls in the pictures below - it's kind of tough to see in the Cleveland picture, but I think you get the point.)

As I've mentioned before, The Wife planned this trip, and we had an excellent hotel - right in downtown Cleveland. The view from the window:

You can see Jacobs Field on the left above that parking garage...and that's Quicken Loans Arena on the right. I have no idea how they handle the crowds when the Cavaliers and Indians play the same night - it must be insane. I wonder if the Indians were home any nights when there was an NBA Finals game. The city must have been jam-packed. Funny thing is I took this picture on a Sunday, when downtown Cleveland had nothing going on. Note the empty parking lot. The next morning, the parking lots were jammed, and the parking garage on the left was packed, with people going to work.

Anyway, we walked to the game, which is always a nice experience. If you take the path to the left of the parking lot in the picture above (obscured by the trees), you get the view of the ballpark at right, entering the gate above the left field wall. This picture was taken as we were heading home - in the fifth inning - The Baby didn't take too well to the game. We had great seats - 11 rows back, sitting down the left field line...but unfortunately we were surrounded by Red Sox fans. This wouldn't have been a problem, except the Sox scored four runs before an out was recorded, and this created a high level of excitement and volume in our area, making The Baby a little upset. So I spent an inning in the seats, and the remainder of our time at the game walking around, mostly hanging out down the left field line by the foul pole in the standing room section. We left after Jon Lester (in his return) pitched out of a bases loaded jam.

Also as a result, I didn't get a chance to explore the entire ballpark. I never made it down the right field line. But from what I saw, there weren't very many extras at Jacobs Field. It isn't as much of an attraction (as you'll see later in the week with Cincinnati) as it is a ballpark - and I'm quite all right with that. It's a really beautiful park. The food was just OK - but I didn't get too adventurous - a hot dog and a sausage late in the game. The Wife and I split a souvenir drink. The coolest non-baseball part of the park is what you see at left, which was above and behind our seats - a really well-placed restaurant. In Arizona the restaurant is out in left field, in fair territory - I like where this one is better.

As for the field, I love the wall in left, and the Indians have a great scoreboard behind the left field wall. As a fan, the seats were comfortable, and our seats down the left field line didn't necessarily point us towards home plate, but they weren't at all uncomfortable. The concourses were open down the lines, closed between third and first behind the plate...but there were TV's by the concession stands - including a huge screen behind third base by a picnic area. I mentioned above The Wife and I had a souvenir drink - on the cup was Grady Sizemore and his stats - and his birthdate. 8/02/82. Pretty cool.

For what it's worth - the Indians play some great music as they introduce their lineup - it's the best I've heard for a home team...and it's a looped intro to some song, I just don't know which one. Good choice, whatever it is.

Overall, a trip worth taking. I would not recommend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if you're taking a trip to Cleveland (too much stuff in too small of an area), but definitely make sure you check out Jacobs Field.

REMEMBERING BILL ROBINSON: Lost in the attention given to the death of Bill Walsh (attention which he deserved, incidentally) is the fact that Bill Robinson passed away on Sunday. Robinson was the Mets' hitting coach for most of the 80's, including the 1986 season. I'm reading reports that he invented one of the Mets' handshakes that year - the "Low Two", opposite of a high five. As a player he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 70's. He was a good player, with good numbers, but by all accounts Bill Robinson was a great person. And at age 64, he passed away way too young.

TRADE REACTION: Not much to react to. The Mark Teixeira deal became official, and I'll just say this: The Braves have been scoring runs. In their 8 wins since the All Star break, they've scored 4 runs once, 5 runs 3 times, then 7, 10, 14, and 10 runs. The problem is they've lost 9 games, where they didn't score as many runs. My point is, they've been capable of putting some runs on the board, I don't know that Teixeira makes a huge impact, which I mentioned yesterday.

The Phillies added Kyle Lohse. I think that just makes them even more beatable.

The Red Sox have a pretty formidable bullpen with the addition of Eric Gagne. They certainly gave up a lot for him, though, in Kason Gabbard, David Murphy, and this 16-year-old prospect who is supposed to be very good.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I don't expect you all to be monitoring my whereabouts at all times, but I will tell you that I am back in Massachusetts after logging roughly 1800 miles on the Johnnymets-Mobile (see graphic above). I think I've mentioned this, but since The Wife took over the scheduling of the stadium trips, the whole experience has been much more fluid and organized. Instead of hitting a random stadium on a whim, we have well-thought-out trips that cover a couple of places. This year, it was Ohio - visiting Jacobs Field in Cleveland and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. We also stopped in Rochester, New York on the way out, and drove through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on the way back. All very nice stops (except Rochester...not much going on there).

For those of you wondering, The Baby did very well considering that's a lot of time for a baby to be cooped up in a car. She's so good. There will be more on the trip later in the week, but before I get to a recap of what's happened with the Mets in the past week, a few of the highlights during the trip (not counting the ballparks) and since we've gotten back:
  • A real treat on the ride from Cincinnati to Gettysburg (aside: The Wife originally thought this was a 4-hour trip, which would have been a breeze. She discovered last week it would be a 7-and-a-half hour trip. Whoops. It was not a breeze.) - While looking for some good radio to keep me awake one hour into the long trip (lots of Christian music out there, incidentally), I found ESPN Radio - Mike & Mike in the Morning, with Mike Greenberg and Tim Kurkjian. And they had as a guest none other than Hall of Famer Gary Carter. This was Thursday morning, and he was preparing for Hall of Fame festivities, and plugging something for MasterCard. Then, I started to lose reception on ESPN Radio right after that interview, so I found Fox Sports Radio, and they had none other than Hall of Famer Gary Carter plugging MasterCard. Back-to-back Gary Carter interviews....good start to the day.
  • Before I left, I used the search function on TiVo to find a 'Scrubs' episode in syndication - the episode where Janitor organizes an air band. When we came back, it was waiting for us, so that was a nice mini-surprise. It's probably my favorite episode, a laugh a minute, though I wanted there to be more air-banding. It really came in the 'Scrubs' wheelhouse, too - where they were treating Mrs. Wilk, and Mandy Moore was J.D.'s girlfriend. That was a great stretch of episodes. On a related note, Comedy Central seems to have done away with the 11am-12 noon back-to-back 'Scrubs'. That was always a nice treat for The Baby and I for her 11:30 bottle...we'll have to change our routine...because we don't watch MADTV.
  • Also a bonus - two 'Flight of the Conchords' waiting for me on the TiVo. The first was the first bad episode I've seen...I deleted it so it doesn't ruin The Wife's blossoming enjoyment of the show - she doesn't have to know about that episode. The second one from this past Sunday was funny enough - lots of Murray, that's always good.
  • The digital camera worked all through Cleveland, and then for the Cincinnati Zoo...but when we got to Great American Ballpark, the camera gave some sort of error message. After a lot of cursing and frustration, I went to Plan B (Plan A is that I need plenty of pictures of these stadiums, using the digital camera), buying a disposable camera at the team store. $20. Yikes. So the Cincinnati pictures need to be developed from a store, and then I'll write about the trip - that's why Cincinnati comes late in the week (approximately Thursday. Cleveland will be tomorrow.)
  • Did lots of reading over the trip, mostly Harry Potter. For those of you wondering, the final Harry Potter was a much more satisfying ending than The Sopranos. I like my closure. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I'll give this piece of advice - it was very helpful for me to re-read the sixth book before reading number 7. I had forgotten a lot of important details. JK Rowling is a genius.

ONE MORE NOTE BEFORE THE METS: MLB.com has what seems to be a cool contest going for the post-season. You've probably seen the commercials, with Dane Cook (why?), that have the actober.com website. They are releasing certain sets of classic post-season games on their website, and fans can re-create the moments however they want...the cleverest would win tickets or some such thing. I'm going to keep checking back, and when I see a scenario that inspires me, I'm going to win that contest. I have not been inspired yet...and I'm not sure I even understand all the rules yet. But I will.


So the Mets played Pittsburgh and Washington while I was away, and they did OK. They took two out of three from the Pirates, and then split 4 games with Washington. The Washington series was a bit of a disappointment because of the way the Mets lost Saturday night's nightcap of a day-night doubleheader (the first day-night doubleheader at Shea Stadium in 35 years - pretty wild stat, I thought). They fought back a couple of times to tie the game, then gave up the lead one last time, and had a rally fall short.

People are criticizing Willie Randolph for a complicated situation Saturday night where he pinch hit Marlon Anderson, after he already knew he had to insert Ramon Castro into the game because Paul LoDuca got hurt running the bases (he might be hurt bad, incidentally). By putting in Anderson, Randolph used his last bench player, and was forced to pinch hit Tom Glavine in the ninth inning. The problem here is Carlos Beltran, who is hurt again, but hasn't been placed on the DL yet, so the Mets are wasting a roster spot waiting for a decision. He'll probably go on the DL Tuesday. Randolph defended his move, and I'm fine with his defense (that Anderson is a pinch-hitter, Castro is less comfortable in that role), and the bottom line is that the Mets had another chance to tie in the next inning and left a runner at third, so that wasn't the deciding play of the game. But I think Randolph's hands are tied with the Beltran situation.

The Mets have injury problems right now - Moises Alou is back, but Beltran and LoDuca might be out for a while now. Mike DiFelice was called up to replace Mike Pelfrey, who was needed for the doubleheader, and DiFelice gives the Mets depth at catcher, and then David Newhan was called back up and Anderson Hernandez was sent down because the Mets need outfielders, with Beltran now out (though not yet on the DL) and every other outfielder seemingly injured. Expect another roster move in the next couple of days if Beltran is disabled.

All told, though, the Mets are holding on. They're 3-and-a-half up on the Phillies, who play the Cubs Monday night in the only National League game. The Braves are a game behind the Phillies.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: The reports right now are that the Braves have agreed to a deal for Mark Teixeira in which they get the first baseman and pitcher Ron Mahay in exchange for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and another top prospect. They're saying this is going to shift the balance of power in the NL East. I know that Andruw Jones is playing better now, Tim Hudson has been pitching great, and Chipper Jones is having a very good season, and I acknowledge that Teixeira is a better option at first base than ex-Met Julio Franco, but I don't think Teixeira is a difference-maker. (He might be in East Coast Bias, where my lead is slipping more and more everyday...but that's another story. Hurry back, Pedro*.) I think it makes the Braves better offensively, but I don't know that it gives them the oomph to pass the Mets in the division.

The Mets have just countered (at this writing) by trading two minor leaguers for Luis Castillo. Castillo is coming from Minnesota, but you'll remember him making his mark in Florida. The important thing to note here, and what makes this a great trade for the Mets, is that Castillo has been an outstanding hitter over his career at Shea Stadium. He had one of the longest (if not the longest) hitting streaks at Shea for a visiting player, and definitely has a great career average there. He hasn't done as well recently, but the career numbers are staggering - I'm sure they'll be all over the papers tomorrow...I don't even know where to search for them right now...maybe Yahoo!.....they don't split the career stats. Castillo was 1-for-13 at Shea this year for the Twins. Maybe now that he's back in the National League, though.....

COMING TOMORROW: Jacobs Field Review, lots of trade reaction, I'm sure, too

Sunday, July 29, 2007

This Week:

I'm back in town...I'll be back to blogging tomorrow. Here's what to look for this week:

Monday: Johnnymets Returns
Tuesday: Jacobs Field Review
Wednesday: (Open - Possible Tom Glavine 300 wins reaction)
Thursday: Great American Ballpark Review

As always, your e-mails are welcome: johnnymetsmail@yahoo.com

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Cleveland, OH - Writing a quick update from the hotel in Cleveland, right across a parking lot from the Quicken Loans Arena...just beyond which the light towers from Jacobs Field are visible. That's where we (The Wife, The Baby, and I) will be Monday night for the Red Sox vs. Indians.

It's an exciting game for The Wife because she's seeing her Red Sox. It's exciting for The Baby because she's going to be wearing her cute little pink Red Sox outfit, and she's hoping the NESN cameras will find her. For me, that was going to be the exciting part of the night as well, besides seeing the stadium. Wednesday night will be a bobblehead night in Cincinnati - I just felt the American League game was lacking something. Not anymore.

The news came out today that the Red Sox will be recalling Jon Lester for the start on Monday night in his return to the Majors after a battle with cancer. That's a far cry from a Julian Tavarez start. I'm really psyched. I should have realized something was up when earlier in the day I saw that the Southern Bureau had picked up Lester in the fantasy league. I liked watching Lester pitch - I like seeing some of these young guys come up and do well - and by all accounts Lester seems like a good guy to root for. Which I'll be doing in person Monday night.

METS INJURY NEWS: Lots has been happening while the Mets have been out West, thought it was worth catching up on.

Thursday (or maybe it was Wednesday) the Mets signed Marlon Anderson - I forget where he was released from this year - but the former Mets' bench specialist has been getting significant playing time in left field this weekend. Now that I think of it, Anderson might have been released by the Dodgers before the Mets signed him. I could look it up...but I'm on vacation.

Then Jose Valentin fouled a ball off his leg on Friday night, and it turns out the leg is broken. I saw Valentin limp off the field Friday night as I was packing heard the injury news driving across New York state on Saturday. The Mets recalled Anderson Hernandez (Name Game alert - Marlon and Hernandez = Anderson Anderson!), who had been hitting very well recently at Triple-A. Ruben Gotay will still see the majority of time at second base. I hate to say an injury is good news, but Valentin was hurting the Mets by being in the lineup - his knee was really in bad shape, and he said he was playing through the pain to reach an incentive for at-bats in his contract which I think kicked in another year for him. And Willie Randolph kept playing him, even though he was visibly only at 50-60%. So it's nice that now there's no choice in the matter...unfortunately, Valentin might not be back all year.

Finally, from the injury front - about a month until the return of Pedro Martinez*.

OOPS: I don't know what I did to poor Mike Maroth - but he gave up 10 earned runs in his last start for the Cardinals, and he's just been awful since coming over in a trade. I hope he turns it around.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


With the Mets out west, and no game observations by me to write about (two out of three against the Padres with a win Wednesday night would be pretty good for the Mets), here are a couple of housecleaning issues:

WORK LIFE: So I'm trying out a new website - ArmchairGM. It's pretty good - I recommend you go over and check it out. I've written a couple of articles already...and it's pretty much run by and for fans. Anyone can sign up and write/comment on each other's articles. There also seems to be a fan-created/added-to encyclopedia. There's a ton of stuff there. I used my usual method as a measuring stick as to quality of a piece of sports work - the 1986 World Series...and Game 6 in particular. Someone put together a comprehensive summary of the entire series...and a very thorough summary of Game 6. So it passes my test. It also is another place to find my writing...which I guess passes another test of mine.

LIFE AT HOME: What do Harry Potter, Sudoku, and Johnnymets all have in common? They're all things that The Wife thought to be extremely silly until she gave them a fair shot and realized there was true potential behind each...and soon became obsessions of hers. (Especially Johnnymets.) Well, I'm working really hard at adding "Flight of the Conchords" to that list...but it's been a struggle. I get a good laugh at the show - I realize it's not the funniest thing ever - but I really enjoy it...and I want her to appreciate it as well. It's a slow go - I want her to give it at least three episodes. We'll see.

LIFE ON THE ROAD: The Wife, The Baby, and I are about to take off on our stadium trip for the year. We'll be hitting Cleveland and Cincinnati, and we leave on Saturday. I'll probably post until then...but there's a chance with the packing of everything for the car trip I'll be caught up in other things. There's also a chance that I'll be able to post from the hotels on the road - Please check back all next week to see if there are postings. There will definitely be recaps of the trip and the stadiums when I'm back next week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I'm just as guilty as all the other Mets fans...I fully expected the Mets to be in the post-season this year, and pretty much cruise to the World Series, where they would finally meet some tough opposition. Though the Mets are still in first place in the division, we've certainly seemed to hit a bump in the road, haven't we?

The problem is, I haven't changed my ways, even with the Mets stumbling through the summer months. My thoughts (especially with 10pm starts that I can't stay awake for the end of) have been wandering lately to the NFL, which is right around the corner, and how I'm feeling partly excited for September, and college and pro football, to get me through to the baseball playoffs. The problem with that is it's shaping up to be a pretty important September for the Mets - one in which they could find themselves fighting just to get into the post-season.

I went back into my archives to prove the March/April version of myself wrong - how I probably said the season was going to be a breeze, and that turns out to be not the case. But I'm proud to say - I just about hit the nail on the head:

"In my limited spring training write-ups, I've been somewhat critical of the Mets. It's not that I don't think they'll be good...it's just that I don't think they'll be as good all season as they were last year. But I think this team has the chance to hit its stride at the most important time - September and October - which is the opposite of what happened last year." - March 21, 2007

I went on to predict that the Mets will pull away from the much-improved Phillies (who are again playing the way I expected them to at the beginning of the year) when Pedro Martinez* returns in August.

Then there was this:

"I was checking out the Mets' schedule. July looks particularly tough. There are 10 home games, and 16 road games. It looks more intimidating on the schedule than it sounds...but there are a couple of lengthy road trips." - April 3, 2007

Turns out July has been tough (not to mention June...didn't see that coming), and it's tough as we speak. The month started on Sunday, July 1st, in Philadelphia - a loss. The trip through Colorado and Houston was more challenging than it should have been, and the Mets were 2-6 on that road trip in July. (It's 5-6 when you go into the last few days of June, and include the three wins over Philly that preceded the loss...but we're focusing on July.) The Mets took 3 out of 4 at home against Cincinnati, and now are back on the road, traveling across the country, to San Diego and Los Angeles, where they are already 0-1, after losing to the Padres Monday night. I'll try to keep a positive attitude, but keep in mind the Mets were already in Los Angeles this year (just about a month ago, really), where they were outscored 18-5 in a three-game sweep. So this doesn't bode too well.

The Mets might take two out of three in San Diego, and a split with the Dodgers would be acceptable. Then you look at their second half of the season so far, and things look pretty good, and there's no need to worry. But, unfortunately, the way the Mets have been playing, that's not a foregone conclusion, as it might have been last year. This year, it seems, the Mets are going to have to prove their worth right up until the end.

NAME GAME: I missed a golden opportunity Monday night in the ol' name game. I've explained this before, but I'll go through it again. Basically, it's fun with baseball names - I like saying, "What if Wendell Kim married Turk Wendell? He'd be Wendell Wendell." It's stupid...but sometimes these things come up during three-hour baseball games. Well, Monday night, pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, was Braden Looper. And then as I was switching around during the Mets game, who is pitching for the Oakland Athletics? None other than Dallas Braden. Hello, Braden Braden. There have been times with the Name Game where players have opposed one another, being on opposite teams in the same game. But I'm not sure there's ever been a pitching matchup with opposing names. I look forward to the day the A's play the Cardinals, and the Bradens match up.

-On a somewhat related note - I mentioned the NFL before - I saw in the transaction wire that the Jets signed a receiver named Juan Wong. That's pretty cool. Doubt he makes the team, considering I've never heard of him - but I'll try to catch him in a preseason game, just because.

Monday, July 16, 2007


By Jonathan Mahler

I've been doing a lot of reading this summer, mostly non-fiction, and mostly non-sports. So most of what I've been reading is irrelevant when it comes to the blog. And Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning was not even originally in my stack of summer reading books...but the last time I saw Steve in Queens, he said I should read it, gave it to me off his shelf, and so I read it.

The book's been out for a couple of years - maybe you've already read it. Or maybe you're watching the miniseries on ESPN. I was going to watch the miniseries, but I set the TiVo for 10pm, when it was supposed to air last Monday night. It didn't end up airing until about 5 after 11pm, and I never saw a rerun. The Home Run Derby is ridiculously long. So I'm not going to watch the miniseries, even though that's the reason I tore through the book like I was on a deadline. The benefit - you get a review quicker than you would have.

It's OK. It's a great idea for a book, actually. There was a lot going on in New York in 1977. You can't really beat the Yankees angle - Reggie Jackson's first season in pinstripes, under Billy Martin, who doesn't want him, and then there's George Steinbrenner, who paid an exorbitant amount to get Jackson, and dictates where he should hit and how he should be played. There's the Thurman Munson-Reggie Jackson dynamic. And there's info on a young Willie Randolph, and how he handles the Jackson situation (he allegedly froze out Reggie, like the rest of the team...except for Fran Healy. The same Fran Healy who Mets fans had to suffer through for years announcing Mets games. It's comical where Healy appears in these books about the late '70's Yankees - I need to see if someone did a biography on him - it would be hilarious.).

Then there's the New York aspect...the social scene in the city...the financial problems...a mayoral primary (featuring Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo)...the blackout...and the Son of Sam murders. All of these get equal - if not more - time with the Yankees march to the World Series. And they're all spread out - interspersed with game notes. The difference is the Son of Sam story - it's played out only over 25 pages towards the end of the book - and it's probably the most gripping part of the story.

I actually think this book is better if you're looking for a book about New York City history, with some baseball sprinkled in...rather than a baseball book with some New York City history sprinkled in. It'll be less likely to disappoint that way. Then you can go read some of the books that are actually sources for this book - like the Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, and Billy Martin biographies that the author relied heavily on when writing this book - and you can get your baseball fix that way. (And while you're at it - read The Bronx Zoo - that'll cover the late '70's Yankees better than this one.)

MARLINS REELING: The Marlins suspended pitcher Scott Olsen two games for insubordination. The Marlins won't go into detail, but Olsen reportedly had an altercation with another player - Sergio Mitre. Scott Olsen is a hothead - he's always yelling at someone in the dugout...I think he and Miguel Cabrera got into it during a game against the Mets last year. I like seeing other teams in the division going through some sort of turmoil. Don't worry about Olsen though - his suspension is for Tuesday and Wednesday...he's not scheduled to pitch again until Friday. So he loses two days of pay...but no playing time.

METS ON THE WEST COAST: Jorge Sosa comes off the DL to pitch in San Diego Monday night. To make room for Sosa, Mike Pelfrey, who had been relegated to bullpen work, was sent down. Big stretch for the Mets here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It's a good thing that the Mets took 3 out of 4 from the Reds, but I'm not thrilled. I guess it's because of the way they lost the one game they lost...with John Maine giving up 4 runs before he got an out on Friday. The Mets could have very easily swept this series. All I've asked, though, is for the Mets to dominate the rest of the way, and if they play .750 ball the rest of the season, I guess they'll be OK.

It's also a good thing that Oliver Perez looked so good coming back from his back injury. Really, he wasn't hurt - he was reportedly just a little uncomfortable. If it was a different part of the season, he would have played through it. But he had about two weeks off, and came back and pitched very well on Sunday.

Perez did serve up a Cincinnati highlight, though - a bomb to Adam Dunn - I think it's the longest home run I've ever seen at Shea Stadium. Dunn hit the right-hand side of the scoreboard, which has the out-of-town scores, and hit about three scores up. He damaged it too - too bad it wasn't a night game - there probably would have been some fireworks. If you get a chance to see a highlight of the homer - check it out. The good news was it was a solo shot, and the Mets still won...so I can appreciate the homer even more. Click here to watch it now.

Lastings Milledge had a good game on Sunday...and has played well so far in his return from the DL. He was 1-for-3 in the Mets' 5-2 win, with a 2-run double. But what I've liked about Milledge in these past four games or so has been his opposite field power. His double was to the right-center gap, and even some of his outs have gone a long way the other way. Some nice hitting...whether or not scouts from possible trading partners are noticing that is another story.

TOUGH TRIP: The Mets will really show us something with their next 7 games. The Reds are/were terrible...though they had played well coming into the All Star break. Now, though, the Mets go right out to California, with no day off, and play three at San Diego and then 4 at Los Angeles (their second trip to LA - the first one was a disaster). There could be a little revenge worked into this trip, and hopefully some pride. The Mets need to establish themselves as the team to beat - because that is not what they've been the past month and a half or so.

KINER'S KORNER: I think the Mets did a really good thing Saturday night by honoring Ralph Kiner before the game. Unfortunately, the game was on local TV, so I had no chance of seeing the ceremony. But Kiner has been a fixture for the Mets, and it's nice that they took some time out to give him his due. The best thing about it is that right now, Ralph Kiner needs the Mets a lot more than they need him. And the Mets still give him some appearances on SNY, they take care of him and look out for him, and that's spectacular. They're definitely doing the right thing when it comes to Ralph Kiner. (They've also made it clear that Saturday night's celebration is in no way a retirement...just a celebration.)

I've said this before, but it's worth saying again - he's still got it. Kiner has made a lot of progress since he was struck by Bell's Palsy a couple of years ago - his speech is much clearer now. And every time he's in the booth, he makes me laugh. He tells the same stories he's been telling for years, but they're still entertaining, but he also shows he's still in touch with the game, by bringing up relevant details about contemporary players. Say what you will about Kiner's on-air mistakes and missteps throughout the years, and what you can attribute them to, but I'm glad the Mets are keeping him around, and I'll miss the day when he's gone. And that day will not be because the Mets asked him to leave - I'm sure of that.

IN OTHER BROADCASTING NEWS...: From an announcer I love to one I don't love. I had to watch the Cincinnati feed for Sunday's game, which means I was lucky enough to listen to Thom Brennaman. How about this one: In the first inning, Oliver Perez walked Norris Hopper. With two outs, he kept throwing over to first base, trying to pick off Hopper. Brennaman: "That's not a good move. Actually, that's a downright awful move." (about Perez's pickoff move). Two throws later, Perez picks off Hopper. Great call, Brennaman!

GO PIRATES: I was watching a little of the Pirates-Braves game on Sunday. They have some sort of special coming up on their success from 1990-1992. It's been far too long since the Pirates have been competitive. I want them to do well...it's a real shame. They have a beautiful ballpark and a great history - and right now they mean zero to Major League Baseball. What a disaster. I don't know why - maybe it's because I read that Roberto Clemente book last year, or because of all the Ralph Kiner attention lately, or maybe because yellow is my favorite color...but I want the Pirates to be a winning ballclub again. (In the American League it's the Royals...and part of it is because I like their ballpark too - I've always loved their fountains.)

Friday, July 13, 2007


There's really nothing to be afraid of, if you're a Mets fan, on a day like Friday the 13th. Superstition doesn't usually work against the Mets, usually it works in their favor.

Case in point, the picture at the left, where the cursed Cubs began a tailspin from their perch atop the NL East in 1969, and the Miracle Mets overtook them, though they were as far back as 9-and-a-half games in August. The reason for the Cubs fall? The black cat, which ran out onto the field at Shea Stadium, and crossed the Cubs' path, circling Ron Santo.

Another instance would be the fact that even though the Mets were down to their last strike against the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, facing elimination, they were still able to come back and win the game, and the series.

Now, none of this happened on a Friday the 13th - but they're evidence that when it comes to superstition, don't mess with the Mets.

That's a big heads-up for the Mets' opponent on Friday the 13th, the Cincinnati Reds...right now the Reds have a 7-1 lead on the Mets...but it's still early. And it's Friday the 13th...unluckily for Cincinnati.

COMMENT ON THE COMMENTS: An anonymous comment, but a thoughtful and well-written one, has appeared on my post about Erik Bedard from a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to anonymous for reading, and contributing. But please don't be anonymous - throw your name on there...or an alias or something. Since you chose to be anonymous, though, and you wrote that you are also a fan of Erik Bedard, you leave me no choice but to assume that you were indeed Erik Bedard. So thanks for reading, and posting a comment Erik! Hope you come back and read some more.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The Mets had a busy day back from the All Star break - here's the breakdown:

RICKS - Down (far left) is out, Henderson (near left) is in. Rick Down was fired as the Mets hitting coach. The Mets have not yet named a replacement. Rickey Henderson is the newest Mets coach, but his specific role has not been announced. The speculation is that Howard Johnson will become the new hitting coach - he was a hitting coach in the Mets' minor league system, and was the hitting coach for the Norfolk Tides when David Wright came through (and possibly at other levels with Wright). That's the speculation. If that happens, does Henderson assume the first base coach role? Would anyone understand a word he says if he does become first base coach? Lots of questions from this move...some of the answers should come on Friday.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE YOUNG - The Mets released Julio Franco (far left) in order to make a roster spot available for Lastings Milledge (near), back from the minors and an injury. At first the thought occurred to me that after a day or so the Mets would give Franco a coaching job, but I read on mets.com that Franco would have asked for his release in a week or so, because he has been disappointed with his playing time over the past year and a half. He wants to play until he's 50 (he'll be 49 in about a month and a half), and he needs more playing time, he says, to be ready for that. I wonder if there was some truth to the rumor that Franco was stirring up some discontent in the clubhouse. He was not upset that he was released...I haven't heard reaction from his teammates.

FALLOUT - I heard an interview with Willie Randolph before Thursday's game - he didn't seem too happy with the firing of Down, one of his guys.

Just throwing this out there...but might one of my guys become the hitting coach? Maybe bring in Gary Carter...and that's why he hasn't been working this year? Maybe the Mets knew someone like Down was on a short(ish) leash, and he's on standby for a job? This is more wishful thinking on my part...but there's some logic there.

I don't know how the team will react to the Franco release. I know lots of players understand the business aspect of the game - but one of the reasons Franco was here was to be a mentor to the young part of the team. How will those young guys react?, I wonder. The other piece of Julio Franco's release is that Ramon Castro will now get more pinch-hitting appearances. With Sandy Alomar, Jr. up, as a possible injury replacement at catcher, the Mets can spare Castro.

HISTORY IN THURSDAY'S GAME: Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay led off the first inning for the Mets with back-to-back homers off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo - the first time in Mets history that has happened.

Speaking of leadoff men...Scott Hatteberg hit leadoff for the Reds. That's weird.

INJURIES: Oliver Perez should be back to make his start on Sunday.

How about this - I heard Gary Cohen report on SNY that Ruben Gotay started on Thursday because Jose Valentin hurt a finger trying to break up a fight over the break. Wonderful. He's already battling a sore knee...he is in really bad shape and shouldn't even be playing...but he's got incentives to meet in his contract and is trying to battle through the injuries.

BEAT THE STREAK: FYI - I'm at 10 games through Thursday. I'll highlight the milestones.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I hate to bore you with an update on my fantasy baseball season, but it's the day after the All Star Game, and this is the only game in town.

I am not a good fantasy baseball player. I play with my heart, not with my head. I have mentioned this a few times. I've also mentioned that the past few years, I have been in a different type of league, where there are only 4 players, and the baseball players can only come from the NL and AL Eastern divisions. So that narrows down the player universe a little bit, and allows me to go more with my head than heart. (It does not eliminate the Mets, however, but I try to limit the number of Mets on the team.) We also use some non-traditional stats, like walks allowed by pitchers.

This year I also did another league with the boys, but there was an automatic draft, I quickly fell into the bottom third of the standings, and I've been less invested in it (the goal now is to try to get as many guys to appear on my 'team log' as I can - I might as well shake up the team since it's done so poorly).

Anyway, I'm doing very well in the first league I mentioned, "East Coast Bias". So well, in fact, that my team (General Mills) has been in first place, fairly comfortably, since the opening weeks of the season - say, mid-April. But I'm not happy about it. Usually I'll jump out to a lead, get surpassed quickly, and then try to play catch-up all year. I've held out longer this year...and it's just stretching out the inevitable. This year, I wake up every morning with a sense of dread, ready to check the standings with the understanding that "Today is the day I'm no longer in first place." I fear that day will come soon, especially since the players right behind me, let's call them, I don't know, Justin in NYC and the Southern Bureau, have shaken up their rosters and are gaining ground.

I am not giving up hope. I'm going to fight tooth and nail to win this league. I have an ace in the hole, quite literally, in the person of Pedro Martinez*, who might help propel me to victory in the final month. I just hope I'm still in it by then. There's a lot at stake:

Last year I had a last-chance desperate push on the final day of the season, where I needed about 7 pitchers to have complete game shutout wins in order to catapult into first (instead, I dropped from second to third. Needless to say, I didn't get the shutouts.). I can't wait until the last day of this season. If for no other reason than the fact that I need a good night's sleep.

ALL STAR GAME NOTES: Of all the luck. Yesterday I hoped Tony LaRussa would be able to use Billy Wagner in a save situation...he went with him in the 8th, and Wagner gave up a 2-run homer that proved to be the difference in the game. I just hope that doesn't come back to haunt the Mets.

I went to bed right after the homer Wagner gave up (in fairness to Wagner, I have been watching a good deal of the Indians lately, and Victor Martinez has been 1) clutch, and 2) hot...so that's a tough matchup). The National League, apparently, threatened in the bottom of the 9th, scoring two to make it a one-run game, then loading the bases (all with two out) before the final out was recorded. Too bad.

-To bring this conversation full-circle, I'll go back to fantasy sports, but incorporate the All Star Game. I always thought that it would be neat if you were rewarded somehow for having the most All Stars on your fantasy team in your league. I don't know what would happen - maybe an extra point in the standings - but I always like watching the All Star Game and pointing out which guys were on my fantasy team.

BASEBALL BACK THURSDAY: Each year it seems like more and more teams are off the day following the All Star break. Slowly that break is becoming four days instead of three. There is just one National League game on Thursday, and thankfully, it's the Mets. The Mets host the Reds at Shea for four games coming out of the break...and the Mets need to get on track and just blow away these National League teams in the second half.

-FYI - I haven't mentioned this on the site - Carlos Gomez broke his hand when the Mets were in Colorado...he's out until September. So the revolving door in left field swings once more - and Lastings Milledge might finally be healthy enough to rejoin the team. It'll be interesting to see if he earns himself a job, or showcases his talent just in time for a trade deadline deal.

-Remember you can always get the latest Mets news by going to the feed on the right, which has the 5 latest Mets articles from mets.com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007



It's been a few years, but Major League Baseball is still going with the "This One Counts" tag for their All Star Game, as though this is the only one that has ever counted. It bothers me. I remember writing about this last year...they really should go with "It Still Counts", or something like that.

But like it or not, the All Star Game matters, especially to a team like the Mets. And like last year, the Mets had three players in the starting lineup Tuesday night who could have a major influence on the game in Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran. I'm writing this in advance of the game, so I can only hope, but with the Mets' closer on the roster, if the National League should take a lead into the 9th inning, I hope that Tony LaRussa would allow Billy Wagner to close out a win, and give the Mets the chance at home field advantage in the World Series.

A COUPLE OF WORDS ON BARRY BONDS: I forgot to write about this when the votes for the All Star Game were tabulated, but I think there was something fishy going on when Barry Bonds suddenly surpassed Alfonso Soriano on the last day of voting to get into the starting lineup. I suspect if he wasn't starting, Tony LaRussa might have left Bonds off the roster, and I feel like someone at the MLB offices had an eye towards history, and wondered how it would look if the year he became the all-time leader in home runs, Barry Bonds was not even in the All Star Game. So I think there was some ballot box stuffing going on in those offices.

Meanwhile, he's kind of the "host" player for this game, being the Giants representative for the game in San Francisco and all. That's kind of like the guy no one likes in college, but who's still pretty important, who throws a party, and you still go, because all your friends and colleagues are going, and it's still going to be a great time...but he's still the "host". The other All Stars must feel in the back of their minds bothered by that part of it...although, according to the articles I've read, Jose Reyes was excited by the prospect of batting in front of Bonds, and Carlos Beltran was looking forward to picking Bonds's brain about hitting.

ALL STAR DESIGNING: Kudos to the designers of all things 2007 All Star Game.

I love the batting practice jerseys the players wore during the Home Run Derby...and I love the logo (all seen at left). I guess with these new ballparks, and all of their quirks, it's kind of a playland for the people who design these things.

I love how the Golden Gate Bridge was worked into the jerseys.

Another word about the All Star uniforms...I love how in the baseball All Star Game the players wear their team's uniform. I love that contrast on the field - where it's just whites and grays, but all different.

FORMAT: You've probably noticed some changes to the site. I'm hoping that we can increase traffic a bit, but I've also just upgraded the look a little. Obviously, there have been some major changes, like the colors, but there are also some new features on the right hand side, among them:

-links to some of my favorite sites (updating still in progress)

-a feed from mlb.com that updates the latest Mets news, because, as I wrote about a week or so ago, I'll be writing in more general terms, less specifically about the Mets' day-to-day results

-a link at the top right to the site e-mail and the blogtalkradio show

-I've also changed the name of the blog, since "John's Mets Page" wasn't too exciting. It's a change a long time coming. I'd appreciate your feedback, and if you have a name that might grab people, and you think it's better than "The Official Unofficial New York Mets Site", send it in. I'd love some suggestions. I like what I have right now, but I'm not married to it...I feel like it's a little long. So send along your suggestions...and thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Saturday was a big day for me. Not only was it my birthday, but it was pretty much THE birthday I've been looking forward to since I was little. 7/7/07. It's a small consolation for being born a year too late, in my opinion, which would have had me born on 7/7/77. I'm jealous of those people who have that birthday. But we celebrated during the day Saturday (Justin from NYC tells me he threw a huge, worldwide concert in my honor of my 29th birthday - and the codeword was to substitute "John" for "Earth". I had just read in the paper all about this "Concert for the John". He's a great guy.), and then on Saturday night, watched most of the Mets' big 17-inning win against the Astros (and watched Carlos Delgado homer at 7:07 [Central time] on 7/7/07...I love it!). And it got me thinking...how often did the Mets do well on my birthday? How often have they even played on my birthday?

As a kid, my birthday parties usually revolved around the Mets - we'd have cake at my house, then pile into a car and my dad (God bless him) would take a bunch of little boys to a baseball game at Shea. But this rarely happened on my birthday - either it was the All Star break, when no one played, or the Mets were not playing at home. So I decided to actually look up the information, and found out some great stuff (this is only since 1978, on the day that I was born):
  • The Mets are 13-11 all-time on my birthday ...2-9 at home, 11-2 on the road.
  • Including Saturday night, there have been 3 extra innings games, with the Mets winning all three.
  • The Mets have had 3 3-game losing streaks on July 7th's, and have never won more than two consecutive years, which they've done six separate times.
  • Gary Carter went 1-for-8 in two games on my birthday (1985, 1986).
  • Todd Hundley homered three consecutive years on my birthday (1994, 1995, 1996).
  • Andy Benes pitched a one-hitter against the Mets on my birthday in 1993, and the Mets' loss that day was one of the hard-luck Anthony Young losses that year- it dropped him to 0-12.
  • In 2000, I remember watching the Yankees beat the Mets 2-1, on what I believe was a Friday night. El Duque outdueled Al Leiter. The next day, Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza. That was the angriest July 8th I've ever had.
  • How about Sid Fernandez, the official pitcher of my birthday - he pitched in 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1992! In the 1992 game, El Sid got the win, Anthony Young came in for the save.
  • And then there's Saturday, which I couldn't make all the way through - I conked out in about the 12th inning. But it'd be tough to beat as an all-time July 7th (into the 8th) classic. David Wright and Carlos Delgado homered in the first nine innings, then it was scoreless for the next 8, until Carlos Beltran drove home the winning (go-ahead) run. Beltran also saved the game defensively with a Mays-esque over-the-shoulder catch going up the hill in center field with two men on and two out in the extra innings.

ALL STAR BREAK: Not sure what I'll be posting this week - I'll try to do an All Star recap, since there are some Mets implications...but I do have some work this week, Monday through Thursday. So there's definitely not going to be a radio show this week.

BEAT THE STREAK: An update - I'm taking a 9-gamer into the break. That's fun.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


As you know by now, the Rockies are 6-0 at home against both the Mets and Yankees, and are 36-43 against everyone else...18-18 at home against non-New York teams. Rarely do I sympathize with the Yankees, but this is one of those rare occurrences where I think it is warranted. It's not like Colorado is an offensive juggernaut anymore, either - but they steamrolled the Mets and Yankees - outscoring both teams 47-17, and becoming the first team to sweep two New York teams in the same season in 51 years. The 17-7 win by the Broncos...sorry, Rockies... was a fitting ending to the New York trips to Colorado this year.

Now, with the Colorado dominance over New York, it's made me a little self-conscious, being a native New Yorker and all. This is where I feel I must take possession of the Yankees, if for only one posting, and defend New York against all things Colorado.

It's not like Colorado is, I don't know, Montana or something. They're well represented in sports, and even in Congress. Colorado has a sports team in the 4 traditional/major sports, and they do have 7 reps in the House (Montana has just 1). New York, though, has 29! So suck on that, Colorado!

Colorado does have more counties than New York - 64 to 62 - but New York dominates as far as population - 19 million to 4 million.

Skiing gives a decided edge to Colorado...but I've only ever skied in New York, so I have no knowledge of the Colorado slopes. Plus, it's about the only time in my life I've ever gone skiing. So I'm going to give skiing a push.

Colorado did produce The Fray, one of my favorite bands of the moment (although, I must say, their concert was underwhelming...and took them down a couple of pegs in my eyes...and the Rockies' sweep of the Mets doesn't really help matters), but New York has my all-time favorite, Billy Joel.

Clearly, the recent results were a fluke. The Rockies played their first-ever game against the Mets, back in 1993. So there's almost a father-son type bond between the cities of New York and Denver. I think of the dual sweeps as the first time you beat your father at something...almost accidentally. Where maybe he was sort of letting you win, but you were good enough to hold your own, and actually won...but it wasn't the point where you were consistently beating him - next time out he kicked your butt to show you who was still boss. That's what I liken this to. So, in other words, Colorado, you caught the Mets at a bad time (Jason Vargas!). Watch out next year.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


SMy opinion is increasingly insignificant these days, but here's who I think deserved to be on the All Star teams, and whose place they should have:

1) I have to start in the American League, because the biggest crock is that Manny Ramirez made the team over someone like Kevin Youkilis. The most amazing thing to me is that any manager would select Ramirez to the team in a good year - he doesn't want to be there....and Ramirez is NOT having an All-Star caliber year. Youkilis is. He's outhitting Manny in every category - trailing him only in homers, and that's by two...where Manny should be outhomering Youkilis right now by about 10 or 11. Does the American League really need 8 outfielders? This is absolutely unacceptable - I was out of the loop when the teams were announced...I don't know the reasoning here, but this is a horrendous job by Jim Leyland.

2) Yes, I understand the Mets got a few All Star starters - David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran (the only one who doesn't deserve the nod). And I know Billy Wagner also got named to the team. But John Maine also deserves a spot on the team. It's hard to pick someone who should be out, so that Maine can be in, but my finger points to Cole Hamels. I like Hamels a lot...more than I should like a member of a rival team. But I don't think he's having a better year than Maine, and it's not like the Phillies are under-represented (they have Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand). Quick comparison - Maine: 9-4, 2.74 ERA, 84 K in 102 IP. Hamels: 9-4, 3.87 ERA, 116 K in 111 IP. Maine has given up 79 hits, 38 walks. Hamels - 107 (!) hits, 29 walks. Seems to me that's the wrong call.

3) I can not believe Erik Bedard is not on this All Star team. It makes me really sad for him. What more can you do as a pitcher? Brian Roberts, deservedly, made the team, as the only Orioles representative. I'm having trouble finding someone who should not have made the team instead of Bedard - but I think I'd put Bedard ahead of Youkilis, and send Ramirez home for Bedard. The most ridiculous thing is that Bedard didn't even get put on the extra five-man ballot for the fans' extra vote. Too bad...I guess his poor start to the season did him in.

Those were the ones that jumped out at me and made me a little mad. I've been off the All Star Game in recent years - but I was kind of into it last year, and I'm going to try to pay attention this year. It will be great to see Jose Reyes and David Wright playing in it this year - remember, last year, on my birthday actually, the Friday night before the game, Reyes slid headfirst into first base against the Marlins, and hurt his hand...and couldn't play in the game. So it will be nice that there are Mets who can make a difference - and maybe force Games 1 & 2 of the World Series to be played at Shea Stadium.

INJURY UPDATE: Jason Vargas started for the Mets in Colorado on Tuesday night, as Oliver Perez was placed on the 15-day DL. He joins Jorge Sosa, who was placed on the DL Sunday. Mike Pelfrey replaced Sosa on the roster. A bit of an injury bug biting the Mets right now, but it's mostly so that the team is healthy in the second half. Willie Randolph says if it wasn't approaching the All Star break, or if the Mets were playing more important games, he would have asked Perez to fight through it. It seems this is working out well for everyone involved.

As for me, I am almost fully recovered from my injuries. The shoulder is still sore, but we'll get there. There was almost an emergency room scare with the leg on Friday, but we avoided that. The interesting thing is that I think I pulled my quad, or at least strained it. That's what has been bothering Moises Alou, who hasn't played since early May. I know I've got about 12 years on him, but I would have been ready to go again after my injury in about a week, maybe a stint on the 15-day DL. Just saying, for comparison's sake.