Saturday, May 31, 2008


You may or may not have heard that Gary Carter was in the news a lot this week. He sort of started a controversy by offering himself up for Willie Randolph's job - in a very public way - before it was available. His mouth got him in trouble, and that's given people who like to pick on Carter a chance to take shots at their favorite target.

And it's probably set him back in his search for a managing job in Major League Baseball, something I've commented on before....pretty accurately, it seems.

I hate that I have to do this, but I need to explain myself and why I spend so much time writing about Gary Carter. He's my all-time favorite baseball player. During my first little league game, where I was a catcher (because I was....chubby), in between innings I had my chest protector on. The coach folded it down for me, and said, "There. Now you look like Gary Carter." 'Wow,' I thought. 'Whoever that is, I want to be like him.' And it turned out he was pretty good to have as a favorite player.

Now, if I was an adult at the time Gary Carter played, maybe I wouldn't like him. I'm certainly not crazy about some of the things he has been doing recently. But he's still the guy I loved growing up, and he's still the guy who sent me an autographed picture in response to a letter my mom sent for my 16th birthday, and he'll always be given the benefit of the doubt in my eyes.

Still, I don't fire and hire Major League managers. And I suspect none of those folks are giving Carter the benefit of the doubt. He's been unprofessional going about this whole business of becoming a Major League manager. He's a bit full of himself, and it's to the point where I've set aside his book, because it turns out you can't take too much of Gary Carter at once. (I will review the book sometime in the next month, when school is out and I finish it.) And all of his flaws make him an easy target for someone like Jeff Pearlman, who wrote that ESPN article I linked to above.

But I think Gary Carter means well. I don't think he wants Willie Randolph to be fired, I think he just wants to manage the Mets. I know you can't have one without the other, but Gary Carter likes to talk, and when you ask him if he'd take the managing job with the Mets, he's going to tell you what he thinks, whether or not someone already has that job. And I think some of the heat he's catching is a little unfair. Especially from a guy like Keith Hernandez. On the SNY broadcast the weekend this Gary Carter thing came down, Hernandez called Carter "unconscious", meaning he doesn't think much about anything or anyone. That's my interpretation of it anyway - I was in Washington, so I didn't hear it live. But I feel like that's unfair, that Hernandez has this podium, and he's taking shots at someone who can't respond.

Anyway, I agree Carter shouldn't have said what he said. I would love to see him manage in the majors someday, because I would love to root for him to do well. But I don't think, after this, that it's going to happen anytime soon. And I don't think it will happen at all with the Mets, especially under current ownership. I just hope people stop taking shots at him so I don't have to be embarrassed and feel that I have to defend my favorite player.

COMING IN JUNE: You may have noticed May was a tough month for the blog. Hopefully, with the Mets back to .500 and seeming to have turned a corner this week, we'll be back to everyday updates in June. (And school ending will help, too.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The Wife carefully planned our Memorial Day weekend trip to Washington, D.C. to see Nationals Park. The reason we did Washington this year was because she is pregnant. Originally, we were going to go to Chicago over the summer to see both of those ballparks, but I guess pregnancy makes you uncomfortable or something, so The Wife didn't want to travel that far. So we stuck closer to home, and did our traveling earlier in the pregnancy, and went to Washington.
But the careful planning factored in with the timing of our traveling. We left Massachusetts Friday afternoon, hoping to get a jump on Memorial Day traffic - it worked. We breezed to New York City, meeting my parents, and spent the night at their house. We wanted to leave Saturday morning at 6am, but by the time we got going it was after 7. No problem...we hit little pockets of traffic here and there, but we did pretty well considering Memorial Day weekend is usually a heavy traffic time, and we had lunch at our hotel a little after 1. (An aside - it's a long drive through New Jersey. And, with apologies to Justin in NYC - who's originally from Jersey - I think I figured out on this drive why Jersey is such a dump. In Connecticut, the fine for littering on the highway is $219. In Maryland, it's more than $100. But in New Jersey, it's $50. I almost threw stuff out the window just because it was such a bargain, comparatively. Everyone must do it.)

Thus began the bad decisions I made over the course of the weekend, which could have ruined everything for everyone (or, at the very least, me):

1) We walked from our hotel to the White House. That was fine. But I suggested, since we already came that far, that we go to the National Archives, which was only a little (a lot) farther, and see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. So I made my parents and pregnant wife (The Baby was asleep in a stroller) walk all that way to see that the line was an hour-plus long, and we didn't go in. We just hopped on the Metro (the subway) and went back to the hotel.

2) On our way to brunch on Sunday morning, I pulled into a parking garage that cost $12. This may not seem like a big deal, but Sunday morning is pretty quiet in Washington, DC. There was a lot of street parking. I felt pretty stupid.

3) There was a big motorcycle rally in DC this weekend. We knew that going in, and we knew there would be some sort of rally by the Capitol Building. Turns out, it was right when we were on our way to the game. We had to cross right where the motorcycles were parading. Every street I turned down was the wrong one. The Wife somehow got us across and into the game.

4) This one affects no one but me. You may or may not be aware that the Nationals' big attraction (besides the baseball, I guess, but only by a little) is the "President Race", where four big mascot-type people race, dressed as Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt (Franklin would race, but the wheelchair gives him an advantage) start in center field, run around the warning track, and end their race at a finish line down the right field line. As you can tell from my picture of Tim Redding yesterday, our seats were right at where this finish line would be. I realized this as soon as we sat down. Sadly, my first thought was, "These are going to be great seats for the President Race." Well, I assumed the race would be in the sixth or seventh innings, so come the end of the third, I decided to hit the souvenir stand, and because we weren't as early to the game as I wanted, because of the aforementioned motorcycles, I hadn't toured the park yet. So I walked around the stadium.

I came out of the Team Store behind home plate and around the third base side just in time to see Redding fan the opposing pitcher, Parra, with the bases loaded and two out (it was a long top of the fourth). So I'm walking, and the PA Announcer says, "Ladies and Gentleman, it's the moment you've all been waiting for..." or some such thing like that. I turn, and sure enough, it's the President race, and I was sorely out of position. I managed this picture - click on it, though, for an enlarged version, and you can see how engrossed everyone is. I love the people out in the outfield peering over the wall to see Jefferson go by. Incidentally, Lincoln won.

One last thing about the Nationals - Cristian Guzman was born on March 21. Wily Mo Pena was born January 23. That's a 3/21 and a 1/23, if you're scoring at home. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Today I'll spend some time giving my opinion of Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It was a nice park, but nothing spectacular. The picture above was the best I could do as an establishing shot - the really nice view of the park I would have had to cross a river to get. But my mom took a picture out of the back of the car of that view...I'll post it if it came out nice. Anyway, the park really wet my whistle thinking about how good Citi Field is going to be. Because as un-spectacular as this park was, it was still pretty great, comparitively speaking. And I know Citi Field will be better. The details:

As much as Jacobs Field reminded me of Petco Park (and I know Jacobs came first, but I went to Petco first, so Jacobs reminded me of Petco), Nationals Park was definitely inspired by Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I'm even more sure of this after watching the Nationals and remembering the Cincinnati connection of GM Jim Bowden. He must have had some say in the ballpark design. The outfield concourse especially reminded me of Cincy - there was more in Cincinnati, but the way the concession stands were set up, and the attractions (I think I described them as amusement-park like when I wrote about Cincinnati) were similar. (The Baby and I did not wait on line to use the play structure you see to the right.)

Do you notice in that picture the big blank green areas to the upper left? I think those are supposed to hold advertisements. And I think the outfield walls in Nationals Park are supposed to have more ads than they do. But the ballpark looks plain. It's weird for me to remark on the outfield walls of a Major League park as plain, because that's the way they all used to look, but nowadays everyone has advertisements on the walls, like the minor league parks. I think the Nats are having trouble scratching up some advertisers. Didn't seem like they were strapped for cash when we were there (it was the second-largest crowd of the season, and they did seem unprepared - certain vendors ran out of some elementary things like hot dogs), but maybe the fact that this brand-spanking-new ballpark is called Nationals Park instead of "Geico Park" or something is another indication they're having trouble selling the idea of baseball in the nation's capital.
See that middle picture above? That's another similarity to the Cincinnati design - there's not just a center field seating area - it's a strange part of the design. In Cincy, it's a steamship. In Washington, it's this rotunda thing. It's like they're trying to disguise that you have crappy seats.
Anyway, as I show you Tim Redding getting ready to throw the first pitch of the game, I'll tell you that I was psyched when I found out I'd have rooting interest - Redding is on my fantasy team, and he was starting against the Brewers. Redding has also been the best Nats starter by far, and he cruised for about 5+ innings. Then he fell apart. And the more I realized how bad the Nationals pitching is, the more I realized how sad the Mets' state of affairs is, because they make the Nationals' pitching look ridiculously good whenever they play them.

One weird thing about the ballpark is that in the parts where the concourse was open, there were all sorts of TVs. But behind home plate, in the areas where the concourse was closed, there were no TVs - the spot where you couldn't see the game at all. That puzzled me.

And lastly, it seems Milwaukee fans travel well. I'm always surprised when Brewers fans crawl out of the woodwork. We saw the Brewers in Cincinnati, and there were a good number of Brewers fans at that game. The Wife commented that it wasn't such a long ride for them. But there were a bunch at this game, too. And recently, although I spent part of that weekend traveling, when the Brewers were at Fenway, all sorts of Brewers fans were around town. I was surprised. But maybe I shouldn't be as surprised anymore.

Two more things (I'm squeezing all of my Nationals writing into two days, I guess, not the whole week like I said yesterday) - the ballpark is not in the greatest area, and here's another bad thing - just 5,000 parking spaces. Small little lots a block or so from the ballpark. The radio ads try to convince people to take the Metro...but we were able to park in a lot. And finally, there's no Expos history anywhere that I saw (no Gary Carter retired number - I guess all Expos records are gone), but there are Salutes to Hall of Famers throughout the building, and little bits throughout about the history of baseball in Washington.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my weekend of bad decisions, and how we still survived.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I'm done with the most difficult part of the end-of-school stuff, and although it is still busy, I should be able to write more often. I'm also back from a Memorial Day weekend trip to Washington, D.C., and I have a lot to write about that. So I'll spend most of the rest of the week writing about the Nationals, unless the Mets pull a total 180 and fire Willie Randolph. I'll address that situation within this bi-weekly analysis:

MOST IMPRESSIVE: It's too bad when I have to spend more time thinking about the impressive feats of the past two weeks than the disappointments - because there have been more of the latter than the former. As a result, this space gets a big N/A. Lots of negatives, nothing impressive.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Still not positive - Thought the Mets were past their difficulties with Atlanta, and in Atlanta. But a 4-game sweep to start the week was a surprise, and took away anything good the Mets took by winning 2-out-of-2 in the Bronx.

LEAST IMPRESSIVE: How about the fundamentals? I've never seen so many people get picked off the basepaths on a team. Carlos Beltran doubled off third to end a game (against Washington, I think) after a line drive by Carlos Delgado to first. Jose Reyes getting picked off the bases three times in a little more than a week. David Wright getting doubled off first last week against Atlanta. It's disgusting. And in Washington on Sunday, in the game I went to, Lastings Milledge was on second base, and tried to go to third on a grounder to short. He was thrown out easily. A guy in front of me started cursing the team's discipline. Sadly, I thought it was typical of a Mets farmhand.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Willie Randolph. The above story shows that it's not all Randolph - because maybe there are some fundamentals missing at the minor league level. But you're starting to realize as a Mets fan that maybe Randolph is not the guy for this group of guys. I don't know who is (I don't know that I would want to see Gary Carter get thrown into that mess, but I sure would be excited if he was), but whoever it was would probably think twice before they bring up race. Now, I'm not going to pretend to think it's a perfect world and that everyone is treated equally, because I'm sure Randolph has faced situations where he's been treated differently because of the color of his skin. And by differently I mean awfully. But I think when it comes to managing (or coaching) in New York, it doesn't matter what color your skin is - it matters if you win or lose. And for the past year, he's lost more than he has won. So bring up Herman Edwards and Isiah Thomas all you want, just note that the common denominator, past skin color, is that they lost (one much more than the other). And make sure you also bring up Dallas Green, Jeff Torborg, Bobby Valentine (who did a lot of winning that was overshadowed by losing), and Art Howe when you talk about being treated badly. They all were. Because they all lost. The only difference is the Mets didn't own a television station at the time.

MOST IMPRESSIVE: I have a soft spot in my heart for Jon Lester. Part of it is because his story is a good one, and The Wife and I were part of his comeback, when it was announced upon our arrival in Cleveland that he was starting the game we were going to - his first game back from his cancer battle. He also hasn't done anything to turn me off of him, as so many other ballplayers have done. But his no-hitter last Monday outshines his losing effort Sunday as the best thing that happened in baseball the past two weeks. Plus, he's on my fantasy team.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: The Marlins and Rays still get mentioned here, because they're both in first place. But I'm going to stick with the Red Sox once more and say the effectiveness of Bartolo Colon was pretty surprising. It was against the Royals (see below), and tonight is against Seattle, so you can argue that he hasn't been tested yet, but I'm buying into what people are saying, that he's got a bit of a hunger (no pun intended) to prove himself again, and the fact that he's not that far removed from being dominant.

LEAST IMPRESSIVE: The Kansas City Royals are back to being unimpressive. They just completed an 0-7 week, and lost again today, so they're on an 8-game losing streak. From mediocrity to much less than mediocre...all in a little more than a week.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: I mentioned Andruw Jones and the horrible season he's having. Now he's having surgery and will be out for a while - 4 weeks, I think. He continues to stink it up.

Check back the rest of the week - you might think you dialed up, but you'll be in the right place. I'll just be telling you about Washington, D.C. and Nationals Park.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I'm still crazy busy, but I had to put my two cents in. This is part of the article from about Willie Randolph's recent comments:

"Is it racial?" Randolph asked in the column, written by The Record's Ian O'Connor. "Huh? It smells a little bit."

"I don't know how to put my finger on it, but I think there's something there," Randolph said in the column. He cited the example of former New York Jets coach Herman Edwards as a coach who was initially successful, but did not last long when the Jets started losing. He also noted the treatment of former New York Knicks coach and GM Isiah Thomas, saying "Isiah didn't do a great job, but they beat up Isiah pretty good. ... There's something weird about it."

There's nothing weird about it, Willie. Win some friggin' games. Herman Edwards was fine until he started losing. Isiah Thomas never won. Where were the racial comments in 2006 when you were winning the division?

Apparently Randolph has backed off these comments, but the fact that he would play the race card at all is so disappointing. And this coming after Billy Wagner last week....this team is a mess right now.

I also formed a radical idea on my way home from work today. I can't even believe I'm going to say this...but the Mets might as well just sign Barry Bonds. They can't get much more unlikeable as a team than they are right now, and it wouldn't mess up the clubhouse chemistry any. These guys clearly hate each other and aren't responding to their manager. Might as well throw Bonds into the mix. I don't know where he'd play, but they need some kind of spark. Bench Delgado, make Bonds play first. Sign him just before interleague, make him DH, and see what happens. Moises Alou will probably be hurt again soon.

The Mets' 2008 season is not going like I'd hoped.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The Mets shuffled a lot of people around today, in a bit of an effort to shake things up:

One was out of necessity. Angel Pagan was placed on the DL, Fernando Tatis was called up. (Yes, Fernando Tatis - he of the 1999 Cardinals, with 34 homers and 107 RBI. Can you believe 1999 was almost ten years ago? And that this was the best picture of him I could find?)

Another was a move not made - with options remaining to be sent down, Joe Smith was not - he stayed with the big club.

Jorge Sosa and Nelson Figueroa were sent down, replaced by Matt Wise, who was activated off the DL, and Claudio Vargas, who was called up.

I think they should hold off on engraving the Mets onto the chamionship trophy. I'm not sure these moves qualify as a "shakeup".

And now I have to comment on this, which I just learned after the first pitch by John Maine tonight. He hit Felipe Lopez, which was apparently a message from last night, when the Mets got whupped by the Nationals, 10-4.

Apparently, and this is so utterly ridiculous I can't believe it, Nelson Figueroa got upset at the Nationals because they were rhythmically clapping in the dugout. And it rattled him. And he called them a bunch of "Softball girls", or something like that. And even the Mets announcers just called what the Nationals did "bush league".

You know what, get off your friggin' high horse. There's nothing wrong with what the Nationals did. First of all, baseball needs more cheering, and people who give a crap about what's happening on the field. And second of all, if they only did it to rattle the pitcher, and didn't give a crap whether it was inspiring their teammates, there's one way to show them it doesn't work - don't let it get to you. And Nelson Figueroa let it get to him. And gave up 10 runs to the worst team in baseball. And that's unacceptable. That's bush league. That's a softball score. You deserve to be sent to the minors after that. And not come back.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Hi. I'm sorry it's been a while. Busy time of year. Not sure how often I'll be updating over the next couple of weeks - but please keep checking back. Rest assured, though, that I have been watching plenty of baseball, and I am well qualified to give this summary:

MOST IMPRESSIVE: Lately, it's been Carlos Beltran. How about this past week? .381 Avg., 8 RBI, 5 runs scored in 21 at-bats. He's led an offense which qualifies this session as the.....

BIGGEST SURPRISE: It shouldn't be that the Mets' offense is listed under a "surprise" this year...but such is the case. The way they were playing, I was about to write an obituary last week on the 2008 season. Then the bats came alive in Los Angeles and against the Reds, and it looks like there may be hope yet. Again, the fact that this is even remotely "surprising" is disheartening, but let's accentuate the positive here (12 runs against Brad Penny, then 21 in 3 games versus Cincinnati).

LEAST IMPRESSIVE: David Wright has been slow to have his bat wake up, while the rest of the offense has been impressive. He's at 12 doubles, but I feel like he hasn't gotten a big hit in a long time.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Oliver Perez. Even when he's good he's making you hold his breath. How about this, though? This occurred to me on Sunday. Is it possible that he needs Brian Schneider as a steadying influence when he's on the mound? I haven't heard anyone mention this, but Perez had a great start to the year when Schneider was behind the plate, then Schneider got hurt, and Perez fell apart. Coincidence? Maybe. But Schneider's let's see.

MOST IMPRESSIVE: How about Brandon Webb? I sang his praises during his shutout streak last year, but this has been just as impressive. 8 starts, 8 wins. He's got a 2.41 ERA, and has one complete game. He's solid.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: I was going to go with Florida Baseball, and mention the Marlins, Rays, the Florida State League, some silliness like that. But everyone is touting Florida baseball (and rightly so). So I'll say just the Rays, who are fun to root for. And you know what, I can't not mention the Marlins, even though they're the division rivals. As long as they keep it up, I'll keep mentioning them as a surprise.

LEAST IMPRESSIVE: The Blue Jays' offense ought to be ashamed of itself (themselves?). For the team to have starting pitching that great (Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan, and Shawn Marcum have been outstanding) and be five games under .500 is ridiculous. They just can't score.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Have I mentioned Andruw Jones yet? I think it's about time. He's hitting .170 out in LA, with just one homer and 5 RBI. Even when David Ortiz was at his lowest point this year, he was still driving in runs. This is just awful.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


The Southern Bureau wrote on Saturday about Carlos Delgado:

"Will Carlos Delgado please make up his mind. Is he done or not?? A week ago he looked like his career was on the fast track to nowhere. Now he’s had a great week – including a big home run today. Johnnymets….what’s the deal??

-Southern Bureau"

Even though I know you are selfishly motivated here, Southern Bureau, I'll give you an honest answer. (Currently I'm three points back in the fantasy baseball standings...but sharing my knowledge of Delgado won't make any difference.)

You and I aren't the only people who have wondered about Delgado. Only about every other Mets fan is thinking about it.

Right now, he reminds me of Bobby Bonilla (ouch). It seems that whenever he comes up with a "big" hit, it's after the Mets are already down or ahead - nothing's very clutch. One of the things that you hear about Delgado is how proud he is. That he takes it hard when he is moved around in the batting order - he doesn't like to think of himself as an older ballplayer - he still thinks he's a cleanup-type hitter who can and will contribute.

Well, I don't think so. I feel the same way I felt about Delgado in the spring - I just don't know which version of him will show up from day to day. He'll get hot maybe for a month or two, but I think he'll fade by the post-season. The Mets will need better performances from everyone else to cover up that weakness....because Delgado is more liability than asset right now.

And now that I've said all that, expect him to turn it around and fast...because what do I know?

Monday, May 05, 2008


Took a quick trip down to Queens for a family function this weekend. One of the ol' Saturday morning arrivals, Sunday morning departures. As a result, I set myself back about a month in the "tired" department. Too much schoolwork+end of the year+traveling = less blogging. Sorry about that.

Anyway, couldn't not post some pictures of the Citi Field progress. You can see how far they've come since my last pictures. The Wife knows this wasn't her finest moment in photography. Of five pictures she took reaching across The Baby from a moving car, this was the best one to show what the stadium looks like. The coolest thing was coming east on the Whitestone Expressway (north/south? I'm just not sure) and seeing the light towers pop up over a hill. That's the hallmark of a cool new stadium - M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore was that way, off I-95, I think. Anyway, Mets are on the west coast, so I won't be seeing much of them these next few days. But I will get to some e-mail I have.

(Shea is not pictured here - it's just out of view on the right.)

Friday, May 02, 2008


Here are two ways I know it's nearing the end of the school year and I'm more tired at night than ever:

1) I fall asleep before I set my fantasy baseball lineup, and don't have time to get on the computer in the morning at school, and don't have Shawn Marcum in my rotation for a 7-inning shutout performance (I am so pissed about that).
2) The Wife is more up on the Mets news than I am. She e-mailed me this:

"You should blog about this:

Wagner rips Mets teammate
Posted: Thursday May 01, 2008 05:53AM ET
Amid the rubble of a 13-1 loss to the last-place Pirates that started with Oliver Perez's second-inning meltdown, Billy Wagner said what many of his teammates appeared to be thinking about the left-hander. Wagner blasted Perez for lasting just 12/3 innings, matching his career low, against one of the worst teams in baseball. "Perez has honestly got to step up and know that we've just used every guy in our bullpen the night before," a visibly disgusted Wagner said. "He can't come out there and decide that, gee, he hasn't got it today and so be it." Asked if talking to Perez about his notoriously short attention span was like trying to talk to a wall, Wagner pointed his finger and said: "Pretty much.""

Thanks for that...although I'm not sure the source. I'll just credit The Wife.

I guess Billy Wagner's back - he had been awfully quiet this year. And last year, really. Recently I had asked for more players to get into 2006 form - I meant in baseball performance, but the Mets had a cohesive locker room that year, so maybe Wagner opening his mouth will lend itself to a more cohesive team unit (that seems counter-intuitive...).

I can't really make an argument against Wagner here, though. He's right. And for Oliver Perez to be this up and down throughout his career, he has to be the type of guy who probably gives up on himself, says, 'I just don't have it today, so I'll wait until my next start'. I think Wagner has it right on the nose. Problem is, the question about Perez's attention span was really uncalled for, and Wagner answering it is crossing a line. That's the part that's not going to go over well.

Hopefully Perez comes back with a strong start, and hopefully the players don't start sniping at one another. Since this entry centered on Oliver Perez, I now cue the Southern Bureau.....