Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I spent my last day of summer vacation, in part, watching a documentary about the Chicago Cubs on HBO. It's been on for a while, I was just never able to catch it in its entirety.

The documentary reviewed the longtime suffering of the Chicago Cubs and their fans...spotlighting a few fans in particular.

It was a pretty good documentary, and the Mets were featured in a pretty good amount of it, as a lot of time was spent on the 1969 collapse. The following is my review, in bullet form:

  • I think the thing that is worth mentioning first and foremost is that Cubs fans still hate the Mets because of 1969. I guess it's reasonable, since I hate the Cardinals because of how they've beaten out the Mets over the years (1987, last year, for example), but it seems a bit extreme. First of all, it's been almost 40 years. Secondly, the Cubs played horribly down the stretch that year - I'm sure there are scapegoats on that team. Here's a story that exemplifies the stupidity of the hatred - Bryant Gumbel was a featured Cubs fan in the documentary. He talked about doing a 'Game of the Week' with Tom Seaver, and how he couldn't stand to be in the booth with Seaver. Seaver at one point asked if he had done something to tick off Gumbel, and Gumbel told him it was 1969, or something to that effect. The irony here, I think, is that from all I've heard, Bryant Gumbel is the most hated man in show business. So go ahead and hate Seaver. Idiot.
  • Another point about 1969 that I had never thought about - some of the players, Ron Santo in particular, said that the players were tired that year. They talked about how they were dragging towards the end of the season, and a big part of why the Cubs couldn't be successful was that they were always playing in the sun, during the day, and there were no night games. I'm not sure about that - sounds like fishing for an excuse...but it's an interesting point.
  • Of course, the documentary focused on Steve Bartman for a few minutes, and how some fans blame him, others don't. How about this - watching the video again, I'm realizing that there was a fan who reached farther than Bartman, and interfered with Moises Alou more than Bartman. And he's gotten a free pass. Someone hunt down that guy and ruin his life.
  • Finally, there was one fan, who is a cardiologist, who has been to 17 Chicago Cubs fantasy camps. Those are the events where old guys go to Florida to play baseball for about a week with former players from their favorite teams. And this guy has been to 17. That's a bit much. Now, when I was a kid, I thought those fantasy camps reeked of desperation. I still do...kind of. But I've reached a conclusion that if someone were to send me to a fantasy camp, as a gift, I would gladly accept the gift...and I would enjoy the fantasy camp. I'm kind of convinced it's the only way I'm going to meet Hall of Famer Gary Carter. I think I would also only go if someone I knew was going with me - I think it would be more fun that way. So - bottom line - I would go...but I wouldn't go 17 times.

OVER THE WEEKEND: I mentioned earlier in the week that I spent Sunday at a sporting event I had never before was the final round of The Barclay's golf tournament. It was pretty awesome. I had never before been to a golf tournament, and it's very similar to the U.S. Open tennis tournament - you have access to the entire place - practice at the driving range, practice at the putting range, you can follow certain players, or you can set up camp at a hole and watch everyone come through. I would definitely go to another golf tournament. It's very reasonably priced, and if the weather is good, it's a great day. The fact that the day I went was the final round of the first ever PGA Playoff tournament is just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


August 24th seems like way too late in the season for me to be attending my first Mets game of the season. It is, but such was the case this year. At least it was a good one.

Oliver Perez pitched an excellent game agianst the Dodgers, Jose Reyes single-handedly manufactured the first two Mets runs, David Wright homered for the third, and Billy Wagner held onto the game for the save. (We weren't around for the ninth inning, but that's another story for another day.)

The story on Friday night was our seats, or, really, what weren't our seats. Here's what happened. This has been in the works for a while. Let me give you a slight bit of background - my parents' best friends are a couple they have known since they were kids. They both had sons the same year - 1978. So my best friend growing up was their son. We've grown apart - different high schools, different paths since high school, me leaving the neighborhood for Boston (although I do want to do this type of thing again - it was great to hang out again), but we always went to Mets games together as kids. Every great game I saw growing up, I saw with Steven - the day after the Mets clinched the NL East in 1986; the day SpiderMan got married before the game, then Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson had their face-to-face collision; even football/hockey - we were together the day we saw the Jets lose to the Colts, 9-6 in the rain, then ate dinner at Rusty Staub's restaurant in Manhattan on the way to Rangers-Devils (the Rangers won, 2-1). We met Rusty Staub that day - another story for another day.

Anyway, we wanted to do a reunion-type game, so me and my dad and Steven and his dad went to this game together. It was great. Steven's dad was able to get us a window table in the Diamond Club - the Mets' restaurant at Shea. I had never eaten there before, so at least I had the chance to do that before the place gets torn down. The buffet was good - the only problem was that it really didn't feel like you were at a game, despite the fact that the game was going on right outside the window. Also right outside the window - Rusty Staub! He walked by on his way to his seats. He looked a heck of a lot better Friday night than he did when we met him and he signed autographs for us. And since I'm dropping names, I'll throw this one at you - Keith Hernandez took the elevator to the press level with us as we were heading to the Diamond Club.

Next, Steven's dad talked to an usher, and we were out sitting in the press box level in the Diamond Club seats. Not quite like sitting in a luxury box, but pretty good. Cushioned seats, waitress service, good sightlines. Much more like sitting at the game - since you're part of the crowd.

The one thing about the Diamond Club is that it's so secluded. If you're not looking for it, you'd never find it. And as a result, you'd never find the Mets Hall of Fame, where this is located:

I'm not sure I've ever told the story about my attendance at Gary Carter's induction into the Mets Hall of Fame. Another story for another day. Anyway, I hope the Mets Hall of Fame is more prominently located at CitiField.

The only other negative about the night was that I didn't get as good a look at the construction of CitiField as I would have liked. I did get this one shot below (note the upper deck garbage/people catcher at the top center of the picture), but I don't feel like it does justice to the tremendous progress being made. You can really make out the shell of the ballpark these days. The best thing for you to do would be drive up the Whitestone Expressway -that's always the best view I get, but I'm always driving, so I can't take the great picture.

SATURDAY AT SHEA: As I was in New York for the weekend, I was able to watch the Mets-Dodgers national telecast on Fox Saturday afternoon. Tim McCarver was doing the game, and during the third inning, Fox reunited McCarver and Ralph Kiner for the inning. Unfortunately, this happened during some high-stakes poker after the fantasy football draft, so I didn't hear much of it. Thanks to the Southern Bureau for making the effort to let me know about this event - I had read about it in the Daily News the day before. But if the Southern Bureau or anyone else who saw/heard it can write in and let me know how Kiner fared in front of the nation, I'd appreciate it. I hope he was as enjoyable as I've been telling you he is.

Monday, August 27, 2007


The Mets control their fate this week. They can put away the Phillies and the Braves with a good stretch of road games (their strength this year), and use the month of September to set up their pitching rotation for the post-season. Or, they can play like they did Monday night and make sure that September is filled with competitive baseball right up until the last day of the season.

The Phillies took it to the Mets in the first game of the big 7-game road trip through Philadelphia and Atlanta. The Phillies pounded out 9 runs on 18 hits en route to a 9-2 win. But they still don't scare me.

The Mets now have Tom Glavine, Oliver Perez, and Orlando Hernandez in their next three games against the Phillies. And while the Phillies have done well against the Mets this year, none of their wins have come as lopsided as Monday's - and that was against Brian Lawrence. He's got a grand total of about one start left with the Mets this year, if everyone stays healthy.

A split in Philly for the Mets is good - it means the Phillies pick up zero ground. The Mets just have to win one game to see their magic number decrease by two (it's at 28 right now - with 32 games to go). Then it would be nice to see the Mets take a series from Atlanta this year - but to be honest - if the Braves keep beating them two out of three, all they're picking up is one game at a time.

Bottom line - this is a big week for the Mets. But it's a crucial week for the Phillies and Braves.

PEDRO* REHAB UPDATE: I mentioned above that this might be the second-to-last start for Brian Lawrence, and that's because there should just be one more rehab start for Pedro Martinez* before he rejoins the Mets. Pedro* pitched for St. Lucie again on Monday night, and had his best outing yet - he went 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and one unearned run. Expect him back for the Astros series around September 7th.

OTHER INJURY NEWS: The Mets are near completely healthy. Paul LoDuca was back in the lineup Monday night, and Endy Chavez will be back most likely Tuesday, although the Mets could wait for September 1st to make their roster move. Also worth noting - the Phillies are healthy, too, as they got Shane Victorino back over the weekend, and Chase Utley was back on the field Monday night against the Mets. Utley picked up where he left off with his bat, too, getting three hits, including a homer.

THIS WEEK: Coming this week on

-I saw my first Mets game of the season Friday night against the Dodgers, and sat where I never sat before. I'll have that, plus a look at the CitiField construction.

-Sunday I attended a sporting event I never attended before. I'll tell you what it was, who won, and why I'll be going back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Enjoy this now, because it might not happen again for another twenty years. Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks is chipping away at one of my favorite kinds of records - a streak.

In this case, it's a consecutive-scoreless innings streak. Webb, after pitching a complete-game shutout against the Braves on Friday, is now at 42 straight scoreless innings, 17 away from the record, set by Orel Hershiser in 1988. Hershiser broke a record set in 1968, which broke a record set in 1947 (I think). So, this being 19 years since Hershiser, we stand a shot at seeing it broken...and I'm loving it.

Webb pitches again on Wednesday night against the Brewers, and what's nice about this streak is that it doesn't matter if Webb gets a decision - the streak will continue. For instance, if Webb uses a lot of pitches, but doesn't give up a run, and comes out after six innings, he'll pick it up in the next game. If he goes nine, but the Diamondbacks can't get him a run, it doesn't matter - he's continued his streak. It's unlike a perfect game or a no-hitter in that regard - whether or not he factors into a decision doesn't factor into the continuation of the streak.

This is one of those types of streaks that I always tried to build in video game baseball. Sometimes, if I was on a roll against the computer, I'd try to lower my ERA by having one of my pitchers get on one of these scoreless innings streaks. Even in doing that, though, I don't think I could challenge Hershiser's 59...that's how impressive this is.

Webb extended his streak in pretty strong fashion Friday night - he stopped a hot Braves offense cold in its tracks. He will need to do the same Wednesday night against the Brewers - they scored 8 on Saturday, 6 on Sunday, and 9 in beating Arizona on Monday...and they have some big bats in their lineup. Good luck, Brandon Webb - for your next few starts (so long as they don't interfere with my fantasy stats or Mets playoff hopes), will be rooting for you.

BIG WIN: The Mets blew a few leads Tuesday night against the Padres, but pulled out a dramatic win in the bottom of the ninth inning against Trevor Hoffman.

John Maine struggled, but left this game with the lead - and Scott Schoeneweis (not helped by a misplay by Lastings Milledge in right field), Jorge Sosa, and Billy Wagner all almost turned that into a loss. The Mets trailed 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth (Carlos Beltran did exactly what I called for him to do on Monday - he stayed hot coming back home - he had all 5 RBI for the Mets up to this point), when Milledge redeemed himself with a leadoff single. Mike DiFelice (doing great work filling in for the injured Ramon Castro and Paul LoDuca) bunted Milledge over, then pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson tied the game with a single up the middle. After a Jose Reyes bloop single, Luis Castillo continued his near-perfect play since joining the Mets with a game-winning base-hit, scoring the hustling Anderson from second.

The Mets need some wins like this - to remind them that they are the type of team that can win games like this. The Mets lineup is clicking right now.

-The Braves lost, but the Phillies won, so Philly stays 5 games back, the Braves are 6.

-I'll be in New York through the weekend, so this is the last post for a bit. I'm going to Friday night's Mets-Dodgers game, so when I'm back writing next week, I'll have an update on the progress of CitiField.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Right now, there is no problem at second base for the Mets...and there might not be for a few years. Luis Castillo was a great trade acquisition - by far an upgrade over Jose Valentin - and the Mets would be wise to give him a three-year deal at year's end. But that doesn't hide the fact that the Mets have had problems at second base for the past three years, all because of one man - Kaz Matsui.

It's not that Kaz Matsui was so awful with the Mets (though he certainly wasn't good...and I was an ally of his for a long time). It's more what the Mets missed out on by committing to him for as long as they did.

First of all, the Mets dodged a big bullet in the failed "Move Reyes" experiment. When they first signed Matsui, the Mets wanted to appease him by putting Reyes at second base and allowing Matsui to stay at shortstop, his preferred position. Reyes risked injury, and Matsui was an average (at best) shortstop, so that came to an end after one season. Thank goodness.

When the Mets had signed Matsui, they were coming off a year where a young man named Marco Scutaro had shown promise in a September callup. Scutaro was shipped to Oakland as Matsui became a Met. Scutaro put up decent numbers in the Bay Area on some playoff teams...those could have been years where he was a Mets second baseman. But he wasn't, because of Kaz Matsui.

The Mets traded Ty Wigginton in 2004 because he had become their regular third baseman, and they needed to open up third base to bring up David Wright. The Mets traded Wigginton because they couldn't move him to second base (despite his tremendous versatility), because that position was being blocked by the money they had invested in Kaz Matsui. Wigginton has been a very good hitter and player with a few teams since his Mets days - but imagine if the Mets had been able to keep him as a second baseman - they would have had three-fourths of their infield coming from their own farm system. Too bad.

Finally, and most recently, there is the case of Jeff Keppinger. I've liked Keppinger since his quick call-ups, and followed him for a while in the minors. I had thought that when the Mets finally gave up on Matsui, the position would be handed over to Keppinger. There was a time last year when I thought Keppinger actually earned the job out of spring training. You may also remember a couple of years ago when Keppinger was hot at Triple-A, and was on the fast track to a call up, and he was spiked on a sort-of-cheap-play at second base, and ended up breaking a leg. Anyway, I feel like the Keppinger star has been rising for some time - but it may finally have arrived. Keppinger was called up about a month ago by the Cincinnati Reds (the Mets had traded him to the Royals a year ago for Ruben Gotay...who, incidentally, is hitting .340), and since then has been on fire. Keppinger is hitting .368 in about 30 games, with 20 RBI. Another missed opportunity for the Mets.

But all's well that ends well...and though I may wonder what could have been with some of these young guys manning second base for many years, I'll take the here and now, where an established veteran could be filling the role of what had been the missing piece on a championship team.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


The Mets have wrapped up another road trip and are coming back to Shea. Uh-oh.

In one of the stranger differences of the year between the 2006 and 2007 Mets, the team has struggled at home, while putting up some impressive numbers on the road. The 2006 Mets were a very good road team...but when they played at Shea, they had a home field advantage. The 2007 Mets have a much better record on the road:

Home: 50-31 .256 avg., 96 HR, 383 RBI, 3.76 team ERA
Away: 47-34 .272 avg., 104 HR, 417 RBI, 4.56 team ERA

2007 (123 games)
Home: 32-27 .270 avg., 60 HR, 247 RBI, 3.87 team ERA
Away: 38-26 .277 avg., 71 HR, 305 RBI, 4.09 team ERA

I'm surprised when I look at those numbers. For the Mets to be hitting .270 at home and be that close to .500 is surprising. And then factor in how much higher that average is than last year, you'd think the Mets would be dominating at home. Sure, the ERA is higher, but it's not that much higher, and it's still a very good ERA. The road averages are very impressive, and certainly explain the good road production, but I'm surprised at the stat comparison there.

The biggest reason, I think, for the Mets' struggles at home, is Carlos Beltran. Beltran has struggled at Shea, and that has continued this year. Even last year, his best as a Met, Beltran was awful at home. Here's a breakdown of Beltran's last three years at home and on the road:

(This was a bad year all around, and Beltran actually played well at Shea)
Home: .275, 6 HR, 34 RBI
Away: .258, 10 HR, 44 RBI

Home: .224, 15 HR, 38 RBI
Away: .317, 26 HR, 78 RBI

2007 (so far, and keep in mind he has had a stint on the DL)
Home: .251, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Away: .275, 19 HR, 52 RBI

The past two years' differences at home and on the road for Beltran are eye-popping. Last year, Beltran was protected by a great season by Carlos Delgado, who spread his power pretty evenly between home and road games (18/20 HR, 55/59 RBI....though he hit just .226 at home while going .304 on the road). This year, with the slow starts the Mets' hitters have gotten off to, no one has been picking up the slack, and the Mets' record has suffered as a result.

The Mets now come home to face San Diego and Los Angeles - the Padres, incidentally, have the best pitching in the majors. The Mets are coming off another very good road trip - 5-1 against the Pirates and Nationals. (I know it was the Pirates and Nationals, but the Mets swept Washington, which is good, and they always struggle in Pittsburgh. They should have swept the Pirates, but for the Mets to just blow one game in Pittsburgh as opposed to two or three means this was a great road trip.) The Mets need to carry that momentum into this homestand...and while they're at it, continue to put some distance between themselves and the Phillies and Braves. And Carlos Beltran needs to pick up where he left off, with two homers on Sunday in Washington.

WRIGHT WATCH: It's back. Here we are, with a month and a half to go in the season, and David Wright is making his annual run at the team record for doubles. Wright hit three between Saturday and Sunday in Washington, to take over the team lead, and get to 30 on the season. In a few years the Wright Watch will become his chase for the all-time doubles record (792), but for now we'll focus on Bernard Gilkey's 44.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


No One Wants to Win The National League Central

Any division in which the 2007 St. Louis Cardinals still have a chance to win is a disgrace...and right now, the National League Central is a disgrace. Here's what the division looks like as of Thursday night:

Milwaukee, 62-59 --

Chicago, 61-59 0.5

St. Louis, 58-60 2.5

In 2005, it was the National League West, where the Padres won a subpar division by 5 games with an 82-80 record (winning 5 of their last 6 games to make that even more presentable than it was). Last year, in the same NL Central, the Cardinals were awful all season (83-78, winning the division by a game and a half), did just enough to make the playoffs, and then got hot. Now it's this year's version of the NL Central making the National League look bad.
The Brewers have had a hold on first for much of the season, but they always seemed like too young a team to run away with it. They seemed like last year's Tigers - there was always the possibility of a fade towards the end of the season - but I didn't think it would happen this soon, or this fast.

The Cubs, for a while, looked like they were going to take advantage of the Brewers' slipups and run away with the division - they have a good mix of veterans on their team and it seemed like they were getting hot at the right time. Then they started to tank - I'm thinking the weekend the Mets were in Chicago was one of the turning points for them, especially when Alfonso Soriano got hurt on Sunday night - and the Cubs, after taking over first place for a week or so, are still in second place.

And now the Cardinals have come out of nowhere to get back into the race. They just swept the Brewers, and have a weekend series coming up against the Cubs in Chicago, where they can move into second place. It's August - a team with a record that close to .500 should not be in a division race this late in the season.

But that's what's going to happen in the NL Central for the rest of the year. The teams in competition are going to be playing each other the rest of the way, and this race will remain tight. The records will remain subpar. I will say this - I don't think the team that wins the Central will go on the kind of hot streak the Cardinals went on last year - I foresee a first-round exit in the playoffs. And I hope the Mets draw whoever comes out of the division in the first round. And that part of me hopes it's a below-.500 Cardinals team.

Who knows who it will be, though. At this rate, the 10-games-back, 52-68 Cincinnati Reds aren't even out of it. And who on earth would have picked them to win the division this year!?

Friday, August 10, 2007


If you've been reading, you know I've been overdoing it a bit with the mascots in the past couple of days. So this is it (for a while), I promise.

The Southern Bureau brought to my attention this article, all about Mr. Met. Apparently, he's up for induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame. You can vote for him here, and you know he deserves it. If you aren't sure yet, just read the article.

I'll be taking the next few days off - the boys from East Coast Bias are in town. Back sometime next week.


Inspired by the Steelers' bold move of not only creating a mascot (Steely McBeam, left), but giving him a stupid name, has learned that a few other teams are less reluctant to release their less-than-intimidating mascots. To wit:




OK, sadly, this imginary creation of mine for the Jets actually existed for one season. I'm not sure what happened, but quietly, one season, there was a mascot at Jets games (I don't even know what its name was), which sort of resembled this cartoon above. He was gone the next season. Unceremoniously brought in, unceremoniously eliminated. I tried to find a picture, but it seems the Jets have (perhaps rightfully) erased all evidence that this character ever existed.

Comments: dave in brighton said...
The inside story behind Jumbo the Jet's demise: Drafted by the USAF during the chaos of the fall of the Soviet Union, he was shot down over China by a MiG-27. Jumbo the Jet is still listed as missing in action.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


One of the most satisfying things about the 2006 season was that it seemed like the Mets had turned the tide against the Braves. Instead of going to Atlanta and getting beat, and having the Braves come to Shea and whipping them, it looked like the Mets were going to even the record a little bit.

It's now looking like last year was more of an aberration than a rule, as the Mets are now 4-8 on the season against Atlanta, dropping two out of three in each of the four series the two teams have played.

If you're looking for signs of encouragement, the games haven't been one-sided. The Mets have had a chance in almost all of them. But the fact is, they've come out behind more often than on top, and that could end up being a problem.

I honestly believe the Mets will win the division, and that their losses to Atlanta will end up giving the Braves nothing more than a little false hope. But you can't avoid the fact that these games with Atlanta are big, and could be previews of October baseball...and if that's the case, the Mets will not fare well.

Thursday's afternoon game was more of the same against the Braves this year - the Mets jumped out to an early lead, blew it (another rocky start for John Maine - one thing about him - he has these bad stretches of two or three bad starts, then comes back and is lights-out...I'd be interested to see how well he pitches very soon), then rallied at the end and came up just short.

Now, I must admit, I fell asleep and missed the very end of Thursday's game, but apparently Willie Harris robbed Carlos Delgado of a game-tying home run in the ninth inning. So, a little more luck, and the Mets could have won this game. Again, that's the encouraging thing - it's not like the Mets haven't been in these games. They also blew their opportunities early on Thursday - they ended the first inning up 1-0 against Tim Hudson, but it could have been a lot more.

Bottom line - these games against the Braves, and the Mets' lack of success therein, aren't the end of the world. But they could be one of the signs that the end could arrive sooner than we fans had hoped.


Meet Steely McBeam, the mascot the Pittsburgh Steelers just introduced to help celebrate their 75th year of football. He just looks so cuddly.

Many are 'jawing' about the fact that he bears a striking resemblance to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher. I wonder how Steelers fans will feel about that when Cowher comes back next year with the New York Giants...or, worse, the division-rival Cleveland Browns. That'll be a sight, Cowher on the sideline for an opponent, with his likeness prancing around trying to rev up the crowd.

All in all, not a mascot that will drive fear into the hearts of opponents. They should have gone with a steagle...or at least a tougher-sounding name.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Barry Bonds hit career home run number 756 on Tuesday night, and in so doing, he gave us a prime example of what's wrong with the sports world.

I understand that times change, but I just wish there was less celebrating "me", and more humility (2 days in a row with humility - this is becoming a theme). And let me say up front that I realize this happens with my team and with players I like as much as it does with the players I don't like (see: Bonds)...but this one happened on the world stage, and I think it's embarrassing.

When Hank Aaron became the Home Run King, he ran around the bases like he had done it 714 times before. There was no celebrating until after the fact. Here's the moment...

You might not be able to tell, because the batter in the picture above isn't celebrating immaturely, but he just hit a ball out of the park.

Then there was Tuesday night. Barry Bonds became the "Boom King", so to speak (a little 'Flight of the Conchords' reference for you in there...I couldn't help thinking of "Boom King" every time anyone used the words "Home Run King" Wednesday morning), as he launched one to left-center off the Washington Nationals, and stood and watched it, raising his hands in glory, looking like, well, the fan in the first row:

I understand that this is a great accomplishment (all tainted aspects aside), but how big does your ego have to be to be this self-congratulatory? I really can't stand that every time they show this record-breaking home run, you'll see grandstanding to this degree. The man in the picture above deserves a baseball in the ear, not applause. I don't care how many home runs you hit - that's unacceptable.

Speaking of unacceptable, when did it become common practice for people to maul each other for these baseballs? (That's a rhetorical question - I know it was when these baseballs started fetching upwards of a million dollars.) I can't believe the pushing and shoving that goes on. There are women being knocked around, kids with crowds pushing in on them...when I see scenes like this, it makes me think I should never take my daughter to a ballgame. I've talked about how uncomfortable it sometimes makes me to go to games these days...I won't dwell on this...but I just feel like it gets worse and worse. It's just unsafe.

I can't go without saying this, though - the man who got the ball was from Queens, New York (as he told everyone in the area).

And didn't it seem like the cops were a little rough with him, too? I don't think there can be enough security at events like this.

YANKEES-BLUE JAYS: Seems like the Yankees also thought there might be a chance Roy Halladay would make it three days in a row where A-Rod got plunked. Rodriguez was not in the starting lineup for the Yankees-Blue Jays game on Wednesday night.

PEDRO*: Pedro Martinez* made his first rehab start in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday night - through 3 innings, he gave up 6 hits and 5 earned runs. That's a bit startling...but better in his first rehab start than his first major league start back.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Thanks for coming back. I should be starting with an in-depth article on the Jets' strengths and weaknesses for the upcoming season. Dissecting how they will fare coming back from an unexpected playoff year, and a tough loss in the playoffs to a division opponent.

But I came across this, and I don't think I can let it pass unnoticed. Today, Tuesday, August 7, 2007, the Jets introduced their dance team/cheerleading squad, the 'Flight Crew'.

Yep. Looks like the Jets will no longer be losing ugly. I don't quite know how to react to the squad's name, though. Part of me thinks 'Flight Crew' is clever, part of me thinks it's politically incorrect. Oh well. So the girls will now carry the flags after the Jets score, and they will be involved, so the people in charge say, in all aspects of the game - from player introductions through the end of the game. Sure beats the way the Jets used to do it:
Thanks for coming back after a long off-season. I'll try to get some posts out before the school year gets going, including my prediction for how the Jets will fare this year.


We're almost at the three-fourths mark of the season - 11 games left until that point. Since I didn't do a mid-year check, I'll do it at the 70% mark.

This year has been strange. It seems like the Mets have been fighting an uphill battle all year, but they still have the best record in the National League (and third best in the majors). It seems like most of the offense is still trying to get it they have been since April. Even David Wright, who has heated up considerably since his early part of the season, doesn't seem like he's clicking on all cylinders.

Some things you had to see coming - I said early in the year that neither Jose Valentin nor Damion Easley would be the second baseman for the Mets come October. I didn't exactly foresee Valentin going down to injury, or, for that matter, either one playing as well as they did most of the season, but the fact that Luis Castillo is now the Mets' second baseman is definitely an improvement I've been hoping for since March.

But there were other things you didn't see coming - Shawn Green is just five back of Carlos Beltran in terms of games played in the outfield this year - who would have thought he would have logged the most games in the outfield this year? And after he seemed to have turned the corner last year, Beltran is back to his struggling self as a Met - looking like he's never seen a curveball.

The pitching has been by far the biggest, and most positive, surprise. From John Maine, who is having an outstanding season, to Oliver Perez, who has been a solid starter, to consistent Tom Glavine, giving the Mets a chance to win each time he goes out, to even the contributions of Jorge Sosa, who is now pitching out of the bullpen. The pitching has saved the Mets' season, because it took the offense so long to get going. The bullpen has not been as good as last year, but the most important member of that bullpen, Billy Wagner, is having one of his best seasons.

A lot of people were down on the 2007 Mets from the beginning of the year. But so far they've proven those people wrong, hanging onto first place from the get-go (or, at least, mid-May). Now, they are poised to get some key players back (Pedro Martinez*, Carlos Beltran), while some other key players start to find their way (Delgado, even Wright and Jose Reyes). That could result in the 2007 Mets looking a lot more like the 2006 Mets heading into October.

MONTHLY RESULTS: I haven't updated this in a while, but it seems worth doing, since May seems so far away:

April: 15-9
May: 19-9
June: 12-15
July: 13-14

The Mets are off to a great start in August - 4-1 through Monday. They have a lot of ground to make up after a couple of pretty poor months there.

YANKEES-BLUE JAYS: This Alex Rodriguez thing isn't going away. The Blue Jays threw at A-Rod on Monday - retaliation for when he yelled to try to distract the third baseman on a pop up earlier this year. Then, on Tuesday, Josh Towers threw at A-Rod. I would bet that if the opportunity presents itself, Wednesday's starter will also throw at A-Rod. The Blue Jays seem to have been extremely, extremely bothered by this incident...and it looks like they've been waiting for this series to exact revenge. I just hope no one gets hurt - you know how I feel about brawls.

NEW FEATURE: I draw your attention to the poll on the right. I don't have many readers, so this won't be the sample size of, say, other sites, but I thought it looked neat. Please, give us your two cents.

JOHNNYJETS: I hate to toot my own horn, but I was checking out today, and I was pretty entertained by what I wrote at the end of last year. Therefore, I have decided to give the Jets site the same revamped treatment as this here Mets site. Check it out when you get a chance...there's also an update, and there will be more periodically leading up to the season.

Also, please let me know if you have ideas for the name of either site - I'm still reconsidering a change to this site name, and the Jets one definitely needs one. I invite your feedback.

FOOTBALL H.O.F.: Speaking of football, I didn't watch the induction ceremony, but I did see the highlights of the NFL Hall of Fame inductions. I've never been a fan of Michael Irvin...but hearing the clip where he talks about how last year's NFL Hall of Famers are all great people, in addition to football players, made me almost like him. Almost. A little humility (meaning humbleness, not embarrassment, just so we're clear) goes a long way, Michael.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Congratulations to Tom Glavine on career win number 300. It was a really nice moment to witness as a Mets fan, and as a baseball fan. It was nice to see Glavine smiling at the end of the game in the dugout - it was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders - and certainly this was a long time coming. Figure in his Mets career he's easily had 10 wins taken from him, certainly more, by the bullpen, or lack of offense. His last start, even. So he should be sitting at around 310 or more right now. But it's nice that he finally got to 300, and now the Mets can shift their focus to the march towards the post-season.
300 wins is a significant accomplishment. You need to be durable, which Glavine certainly has been, you need to be a little bit lucky, you need to be very good in order to take advantage of the luck, and you have to stick around for a long time. You don't back your way into 300 wins. There are some great names among the 23 300-game winners. But what's more significant is the names that aren't on the list - showing just how exclusive this club is.

It's very hard to be a dominant young pitcher and have the staying power to win 300 games. To wit: Dwight Gooden - no less than 15 wins in each of his first 5 seasons...but a total of 192 career wins (of course there were other distractions in his career - but that's another pitfall of early success, and another impediment on the way to 300).

You can be a good pitcher throughout your career, and still not come close to 300 - see: Orel Hershiser - 204 career wins.

How about being one of the most dominant pitchers of any era? Sandy Koufax, maybe? A short career resulting in just 165 wins. Bob Gibson? A longer career, netting 251.
All this to say, this is a very difficult thing to achieve, and it's even tougher to achieve in Glavine's era - with 5-man rotations and excessive use of the bullpen. And there's the question: Will anyone else reach 300 career wins? Randy Johnson is 16 wins away, but he's very hurt and he's 43 years old. To enter the club, you need to average 15 wins, if you play for 20 years (Glavine's in his 21st). That's ridiculous consistency. I'm not sure if any of the young pitchers playing now have that type of consistency in them....and I don't think many of them are able to stay healthy for as long as they need to in order to reach 300.
Barry Bonds will pass Hank Aaron - but he'll be passed some day. What we saw Sunday night out of Tom Glavine might not happen again in our lifetimes. It was a special achievement. One with a touch more history than I think we're all realizing right now.

MAGIC NUMBER: I don't think it's too early. We're looking at a magic number of 47 (that's Mets wins combined with losses by, right now, the Phillies and Braves), with 51 games remaining in the season.
SLOWNESS: While The Wife and I were watching our chances in the 'New Baseball Pool' slip away this weekend (a Cardinals sweep by the Nationals), we saw Dmitri Young get nailed at the plate by a good ten feet on an excellent throw from the outfield...but also a poor decision by the third base coach. The Wife's take? "Man, I'm faster than him." The Wife, it should be noted, is one of the slowest people I know.
MATCHUP: The Mets play the Braves at Shea starting Tuesday night - Oliver Perez owns the Braves, he pitches Tuesday against '60's folk artist Buddy Carlyle (really - that's the Braves' pitcher's name).

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The Mets lost to the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field, 6-2. John Maine got rocked in the third inning - he went two-and-two thirds innings. Hate to see him pitch poorly - but outings like this have definitely been few and far between. The ridiculous thing is that Maine looked absolutely dominant through two innings...and Ted Lilly looked hittable. The opposite turned out to be true.

The Mets came out on the wrong side of a call at first base in the Cubs' big inning - Ryan Theriot hit a slow roller up the middle which Jose Reyes fielded and gunned to first, but the umpire called Theriot safe. Replays showed he looked to be out. Should have been the third out...the Cubs went on to score 6. Tough break for the Mets.

The good news to come out of the game - Moises Alou is still alive and well - he hit two homers to account for both Mets runs. And Luis Castillo looked like he has a clue at the plate, which had not been the case through his first few games as a Met.

CLASSY ACT: This is the real reason I decided to write today, and you might want to bookmark this, because I'm about to say something nice about the Braves. I forgot to mention this the other day, when I wrote about Renteria's injury, and the Braves crumbling against Houston. Before the game, the Braves recognized Craig Biggio, and his 3,000 hits. That's nice enough. But they gave him a check for $3,000 for the Sunshine Kids, the organization Biggio has represented for about as long as I can remember. You may remember Biggio wearing the pin in his hat with the organization's logo - at the right. If I'm not mistaken, and sadly, I don't think I am, Major League Baseball asked Biggio to stop wearing the pin because it violated uniform code. I think he still wears it during spring training. Anyway, he did a nice job of raising awareness for the organization, and it was very, very nice of the Braves to recognize Biggio's accomplishment in that way. There. I said it. The Braves did a nice thing. Now I hope they lose the rest of their games.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Things I forgot to mention/didn't realize:
  • I was reading through the Indians yearbook (the Indians don't sell programs - they sell their yearbook for about 5 bucks, and then throw in a scorecard...the Reds sell "Reds Magazine"), and I guess new this year is an area called "Heritage Park", celebrating the Indians' history. It looks very nice, and I'm sorry I missed it. It's out beyond centerfield, and it opens at 4:30 for 7:05 games. Maybe that's why they keep the other gates closed for so long (remember, we didn't get in until 6pm). But they do not do a very good job of advertising it - there were a lot of people just waiting outside the gate we were at, and no one seemed to have any inclination to check out Heritage Park.
  • The Reds have cheerleaders - I only saw them make one appearance - they did a dance about a half-hour before the game started, and we didn't see them again.
  • Thom Brennaman is riding the coattails of his dad, Marty...because he seems to be very popular in Cincinnati. They have all these ad campaigns, with people with signs that say, "We love Marty and Thom!" I'm sure people just really love Marty, and they don't want to offend Marty by saying, "We love Marty, and we're quite indifferent to Thom, but we don't want to upset Marty, so we'll just say 'We love Marty and Thom!'". Luckily we went on Frank Robinson bobblehead night. Sometime this month the Reds are having Marty and Thom bobblehead night.

SWEET ENDING: Thursday night's Astros-Braves game was pretty awesome. I turned it on in the seventh inning, and the Braves were up 9-5. With a man on first, there was a grounder to short, and Edgar Renteria turned his ankle bending down to field it (this part wasn't satisfying - Renteria was placed on the DL on Friday). What was satisfying was that when Renteria left the game, Chipper Jones was moved from third base to short, and Willie Harris moved from the outfield to third base. Naturally, the next player hits it to third, and Harris boots the grounder, so the bases are loaded. Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb then hits a grand slam. 9-9. Turned out the Astros took an 11-9 lead in extras, but the Braves tied it, then the Astros finally won in 14.

NL EAST/NL CENTRAL CHALLENGE: The Mets did some damage to the Brewers by taking two out of three, and now have a chance to help Milwaukee against Chicago. The Mets beat the Cubs in a good win on Friday afternoon, scoring 4 in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie...too late to support El Duque's great start - he got a no decision - but a good win nonetheless. Meanwhile, the Phillies, after playing the Cubs, swap with the Mets and now take on the Brewers. The Cubs and Brewers are tight in the Central race - the Mets are still keeping their distance from the Phillies and Braves.

INJURY UPDATE: Pedro Martinez* has thrown a simulated game, but the Mets are apparently being very cautious about his return: if and when it will be. It's sounding a little too cautious to seems like the date for his return is getting pushed back further and further, and now the information is vague. Hopefully he comes back and is effective...

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Note: A temporary malfunction with the digital camera forced me to buy an overpriced disposable camera for the Cincinnati game. The flash was brutal, and not a lot of these pictures came out too well. Also, the CVS where I had the film developed does not have the capability to do a photo CD, so I had to scan the pictures. Therefore, there are not many....and the good ones didn't even come out. The above picture is not mine. I took one just like it, where the flash must have failed me. But it was a beautiful picture, of that I'm sure. apologizes for any inconveniences this situation may have caused.

Whereas Jacobs Field is all business (you go to see a baseball game), Great American Ballpark is an experience (you go, and if you have time, sit in your seat and take in the baseball game). The park itself is beautiful, sitting right on the water. And I didn't realize this, but across the river is Kentucky, and The Wife and I actually stayed in Kentucky for our trip to Cincinnati.

I can't quite put my finger on why I love traveling to these ballparks so much...but there are a couple of conclusions I've drawn, and it could be one of these or a combination of them. 1) I'm crazy. 2) I like the new ballparks and the architecture involved. 3) I like using them as an excuse to see different cities and the rest of the country. So many of these ballparks/stadiums are the centerpieces of their cities, and I think 4) the biggest thrill for me is driving into a new city and seeing the skyline, with the beautiful ballparks in the middle. This wasn't so much the case in Cleveland, at least the direction we drove, with Jacobs Field - we drove straight towards the Browns stadium, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But when we drove into Cincinnati, and there were Great American Ballpark and the Bengals stadium, I loved it. It's a wonder we make it through these trips without me crashing the car.

We got to the ballpark early, and I had the chance to walk all around and explore (unlike Cleveland, the gates were opened an hour and a half before the game...for some reason Jacobs Field only opened at 6 for a 7:05 start). This was Frank Robinson bobblehead night, so we got our bobbleheads...but upon arriving home, discovered one was not a bobblehead at all - it was a severedhead. (As you can see in this poor photograph.) I'm considering writing the Reds a letter.

Part of my problem with PNC Park in Pittsburgh was I felt like the Pirates had a lot of history that wasn't captured in their new park. That was not a problem in Cincinnati. The Reds have a Hall of Fame right outside the ballpark (you can access it from the street or from the ballpark), and I think ticketholders get in free on the night of a game. We checked it out without actually going in - it looks great. They had a feature on Pete Rose (who was actually at the same game as us, I discovered later), and they have all the pennants the Reds have accumulated over the years. In the concourses, there are bigger-than-poster-sized newspaper headlines from Reds history hanging from the ceiling.

The concourses are gigantic. They're closed right behind home plate, open everywhere else. And they're divided. So behind a wall, down in right field, behind where we were sitting, there was a sort of playground and all kinds of activities for kids, like running to first and getting timed, and seeing how fast you can throw a ball. There's also a stage where they have live music leading up to game time.

Out in center field, there is a deck that looks like the deck of a ship. My investigative journalism (I asked the teenager taking tickets) revealed that the deck was exclusive to Cincinnati Bell employees. I don't know if he meant only that night, or if that is always the case - but that would stink if you could only get into that area if you worked for the phone company. Although, I guess our seats were better, not sitting there.

The food, like Jacobs Field, was nothing to shout about - notably, though, the Reds don't have souvenir cups at the drink stands. The seats, to be honest, weren't the most roomy things I've ever sat in either. And one more complaint - from our seats, when the sun was setting, the glare off the scoreboard in left was so bad you couldn't read any statistics at all.

And this is worth saying: One of the neatest things about these ballparks is how nice everyone is who works there. It's like they go through these training sessions where they make the people who work at the stadiums be nice to everyone who walks through the turnstiles (the nicest people by far were the people in San Diego...but why wouldn't they be nice? They live in San Diego.). And don't get me wrong - most of the people in Great American Ballpark were very nice - the souvenir stand girls who directed me to the 4th floor to get a ripoff of a disposable camera saved my night from feeling like it was ruined. But when we got to the fourth floor, and took some pictures from the upper deck, and asked one of the ushers if he would take our picture, we met our first not-nice person of our stadium trips.

He was standing off to the side, watching these tourists (us) take pictures with their crappy disposable camera. If you could read his mind, I'm sure he would be saying, "These people BETTER not ask me to take their picture." But we did. And he said, "I'm not a very good picture-taker." I gave him the camera anyway, and we stood and smiled. He goes, "What am I supposed to do? Press this button here?" Now, keep in mind, this wasn't one of them new-fangled digital cameras. It was a crappy green disposable camera. There's only that one button. "Yes, sir, press that button." Now, truth be told, he didn't take a bad picture - the flash failed him like it failed me (although I took note that his finger was in front of the flash...and made sure the girls behind us at our seats took another safety picture). But I guess the Reds knew what they were doing when they put this guy on the fourth floor...much less populated up there...and he was definitely not a people person.

Finally, the other attraction of the game - I guess occasionally the Reds have a former Red come and sign autographs before the game. This night it was ex-Met George Foster. I walked by him when I was exploring the park, and seriously considered stopping to take a picture. I didn't. I wanted to tell him that he was the guy who set the example from which I learned about people getting fired. But I didn't. Maybe if The Wife and Baby were walking with me I would have stopped...but I was alone, and didn't have the gumption. I felt like he might not like me. I'll say this about George, though - he looked almost exactly as he did in his playing days - which means he was a powerful, compact man. That guy on the left hit 52 homers in a season back in 1977. That's some kind of strong.

Incidentally, in the game, the Reds beat the Brewers. The Baby handled this game much better, and we stayed until the game slowed considerably after six innings.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I'm a little upset with my mom right now.

When I was young, the majority of Mets games were on WWOR-TV, Channel 9. The broadcasters were mainly Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner, with a rotating cast of others, Steve Zabriskie is the first to come to mind. This is why I have a sentimental attachment to Tim McCarver, despite the fact that so many people don't like him - he reminds me of 1980's Mets baseball.

In the late 80's, or thereabouts, WWOR-TV started a segment during Mets games called "Ask Tim & Ralph". In the segment, viewers were encouraged to send a postcard with your name and address and a question for Tim & Ralph. I don't remember whether the segment was meant for viewers to try to stump Tim & Ralph with some sort of trivia (as we shall see, this is how I interpreted it), or if the viewer was meant to seek analysis of a situation, like, "Is this Juan Samuel really worth the Mets trading Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell?"

I wanted to get a question on the air. I don't think the question that was selected won anything, other than the glory of the sender seeing his or her name on TV, and Tim & Ralph answering their question on TV. But that was good enough for me in the late '80's. So I sent in my question, and waited for my name to turn up faithfully, every game, waiting for the segment to come on...then never seeing my question.

I only sent one postcard, so my chances were probably one in a million. But that one always had me clinging to the hope that one day I would see my question come up in a bottom-third graphic, and there would be my name on the TV! The segment lasted a couple of years, if I remember correctly, and I remember thinking it must have been a popular segment, if they never had the chance to get a 9-year-old's question on the air.

This failure became my punchline. I had a cousin who was lucky enough to get down on the field and meet some Yankees. I used to tell her, "Wow. You're lucky. I couldn't even get my question on 'Ask Tim & Ralph'." Whenever someone had something good happen to them, that was my response, "I couldn't even get my question on 'Ask Tim & Ralph'."

Turns out that one in a million chance was actually a zero percent chance. My parents, as you well know, are cleaning out the house. Last weekend, when we were visiting on our way back from vacation, my mom came up to me and said, "John, look what I found, isn't this cute?!" And imagine my surprise when she showed me this:

She never mailed it. I never had a chance.

COMMENT ON THE COMMENTS: In response to the Southern Bureau's comment - Rochester had a really good free breakfast buffet at the Marriott Residence Inn. I can't say enough good things about Residence Inns - love them. That's about all I have to say about Rochester. Except I much preferred driving through western/upstate New York than western Pennsylvania.