Saturday, February 21, 2009


Perhaps reactionary, perhaps always in the works, the Mets unveiled a patch that they will wear on their hats this season to commemorate the first season at Citi Field.

I say reactionary, because you may remember that the Southern Bureau was among the first to comment on how terrible the design is for the sleeve patch the Mets will wear this season. Others followed in the criticism.

Anyway, the Mets are not doing away with the sleeve patch, but they have added a hat patch (a 'hatch'?) for the season.
All told, it's a better patch...but one's enough. And this is the one that should have been on the sleeve in the first place.

The real crime here is that this hat sells for $35.99. When did the hats get so expensive? I used to collect MLB fitted hats - gave it up about 13 years ago or so...but I don't remember spending more than $25. Maybe $21.99? Seriously, $35+ for a hat?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Reasons to Look Forward to MLB 2009

Funnily enough (I like using the word 'funnily' every so often), I don't much care for the World Baseball Classic. Maybe I'll watch it, maybe I won't.

For me, it's more of an inconvenience than anything else. Players will get hurt. The season won't start until April 6th. The USA will get embarrassed by other nations.

But I have a theory about the World Baseball Classic, which I'm about to share with you. It could just be the salve to the Mets' late-season struggles we saw in 2007 and 2008.

You may have noticed I used the World Baseball Classic logo from 2006. That was intentional. 1) I couldn't find one from this year (or I didn't look hard enough - one or the other). But, more importantly, 2) 2006 is Exhibit A (and really the only exhibit) in my argument.

In 2006 the World Baseball Classic was held and the Mets put together their most complete season in the past 20 years. Even when they went to the World Series in 2000, and appeared in the post-season in back-to-back seasons in 1999 and 2000, they weren't as good.

The next two seasons following '06 were utter disappointments.

We all know - the team folded in the final two weeks of September. Now - I ask you to think back to 2006 - remember the Mets' struggles in mid-September, when they lost 3 games in a row to the lowly Pirates when they were attempting to clinch the division? They had a terrible September then, too, but it was overshadowed by the fact that they had built such a huge division lead.

What I'm here to tell you is this - the World Baseball Classic gave the Mets some prep time on the season, so that everything shifted up a couple of weeks. Like every funk, the Mets would have played their way out of the funks of '07 and '08 - they just ran out of games. In 2006, the funk came at the same time, games-wise, but earlier in September, because of the WBC. Then October came and the Mets righted the ship....until Game 7 of the NLCS.

I know it's slightly backwards logic - I hope you're still with me. But it makes sense. The other caveat is that more of the Mets' players will be tired because they will be involved in the games, which they weren't in 2006. I don't necessarily agree - I think the same thing will happen with the slumps those individuals (read: David Wright) would have gone through anyway.

So while I agree with those who say the World Baseball Classic is a bad thing, for this Mets fan, it's going to pay dividends in some fashion. Expect a big year in 2009....provided Wright doesn't get hurt playing third base for the U.S.

This idea was going to originally be "Reasons to Look Forward to the Mets in 2009", but I realized there are probably going to be some general baseball reasons as well as Mets reasons. So I've expanded it. Most will have to do with the Mets (like this one). Also, I'm counting up, rather than down, as we head towards the baseball season, because I'm just not sure how many items there will be in this feature. We'll go until we hit Opening Day.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Unlike last year, when I made an impulse buy of a terrible baseball preview magazine the night of our fantasy baseball draft, this year I bought my trusty old "Sporting News" Baseball Preview well in advance. It has lots of editing errors, which always drives me nuts, and also doesn't have any baseball move made after mid-January at the latest, which has always bothered me, but I like its layout and I find it the best of the selection...especially with our fantasy draft always waaaay earlier than normal fantasy drafts.

But - I have mentioned this in the past - I take a different approach to reading a baseball preview. Usually I save the Mets until last, but since we draft only from the AL and NL East, I now read those two sections first. And I spend a lot of time looking at players' birthdays.

This year, it struck me that there are a lot of players with my birthday. And Gary Carter's birthday - those are two specific dates that jumped out at me. And there are also a lot of baseball players with some pretty cool birthday numbers that made me want to write about them. So here they are:


(Inspired mostly by Grady Sizemore, who has an 8/2/82 birthday, which I discovered on my souvenir cup on my trip to Cleveland a couple of years ago)

Mark Reynolds, Arizona - 8/3/83

Jamie Walker, Baltimore - 7/1/71

Jacob McGee, Tampa Bay - 8/6/86

Huston Street, Colorado - 8/2/83 (hmm, now that I've typed that one it looks less cool to me)

Craig Breslow, Minnesota - 8/8/80

Mark Worrell, San Diego - 3/8/83

Travis Denker, San Diego - 8/5/85

Mark Ellis, Oakland - 6/6/77

Angel Salamone, Milwaukee - 6/8/86

And the Mets have a pretty strong contingent in this department:

Sean Green and J.J. Putz share a 2/22/77 birthday

Brian Stokes has a nice palindrome - 9/7/79 (Justin in NYC's birthday, incidentally, which is quite popular among major leaguers, I noticed)

And Jon Niese, potential number 5 starter -10/27/86 - I don't remember when he was up last year that he was born on the day the Mets won the 1986 World Series. That should grant him total immunity from ever being sent down or traded - Met for life. And it should definitely not go as unmentioned this year.


John Buck, Kansas City, 1980

Alfredo Figaro, Detroit, 1984

Brandon McCarthy, Texas, 1983

Luke Montz, Washington, 1983

R.J. Swindle, Milwaukee, 1983

Leyson Septimo, Arizona, 1985


I can't believe how popular this birthday is. It must be a day for athletes to be born, as well as creative types who excel at sedentary sports:

Carlos Santana, Cleveland, 1986

Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore, 1979

Bobby Wilson, L.A. Angels, 1983

Eric Patterson, Oakland, 1983

Kason Gabbard, Texas, 1982

Eddie Kunz, N.Y. Mets, 1986

Diory Hernandez, Atlanta, 1984

Yonder Alonso (great first name - he's a first baseman - it'd be awesome if he went to make a tag and the runner beat him by jumping over the tag - "He's safe, because he jumped over Yonder!"), Cincinnati, 1987

Chris Iannetta, Colorado, 1983

Matt Antonelli, San Diego, 1985

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Was it worth it?

It appears as if the Pedro* era is over for the New York Mets.

The Mets have signed Livan Hernandez to a minor league deal, and now it looks like that may have been Pedro's* spot on the team.

Omar Manaya quoted as saying, "I think we are pretty much set and we're going to go forward with the guys that we have."

Translation: No Pedro*.

So now the question has to be asked - was signing Pedro* worth it? Was he worth that four year, 53 million dollar deal?

From a perfomance standpoint - the answer is an obvious "no". He was great in 2005 and the beginning of 2006. Missed most of 2007 and 2008. And when he did pitch in 2008 - his ERA was over 5.50. Probably not what the Mets were looking for, but obviously what the Red Sox expected when they did not give him the fourth year.

But did Pedro* make the Mets important again? Absolutely. His was the first big signing in the "NEW" Mets. He opened the door so guys like Beltran, Degado, Wagner, and Santana would even consider coming to New York for a reason other than the Yankees.

So was it worth it? I think you'd have to say yes.

But was it worth it for Pedro? What's his Mets legacy after the last few seasons? The broken down years, the high ERA, not delivering a Championship, pushed aside for Livan Hernandez....
I wonder if HE thinks it was worth it?


Saturday, February 14, 2009


Ah, Valentine's Day. A day some spend appreciating what they have, while others pine for what they don't. Or just ignore completely.

While I'd love it if the third category applied, since I'm not a fan of February 14th, and I do spend a lot of time doing the appreciative thing, today I'll focus on the middle category - sort of love lost/never had.

And I really don't think words do as good a job as the pictures, so I'll get right to it with the only disclaimer that my dad asked if I wanted them for any reason, and I said, "Maybe I'll put them on the blog."
There's also this, just for those gluttons for a little extra punishment:

Friday, February 13, 2009


Used to be that this was a lull in the sports calendar for me.

The Super Bowl was over. Pitchers and catchers were reporting, sure, but baseball season for real was still a full month-and-a-half away, and March Madness was something I counted the minutes until.

But then I discovered a whole new reason to live for mid-February. And that time has once again arrived.

I speak, of course, of the Daytona 500. And NASCAR season in general.

OK, I'll admit - I don't really love NASCAR for the sport of it. I don't know strategy, I don't know much about the drivers/owners/teams. It's the only sport I've watched in which my fantasy league drove the interest.

But that was the whole point. I played Fantasy NASCAR to get me through these dull months between football and baseball...and it far exceeded my expectations. I look forward to the NASCAR races every Sunday afternoon - and when there's a Saturday night race, watch out! I love it.

I get disappointed when there's a rain delay. And I greatly enjoyed my one experience attending a race...even though there was a rain delay. And cancellation of the remainder of the race.

I don't get too upset after a race either. A successful fantasy week gives me a feeling of satisfaction. A bad week is forgotten after an hour or so.

And this year's season comes with an added bonus - the Major League Baseball season starts late because of the World Baseball Classic.

So don't worry about me when it's the fifth of April and the first game of the season is only just getting played that night. I'll have my NASCAR to keep me busy until then.

Starting Sunday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Thanks to some other website, some tips on retirement etiquette. Let's see how Brett Favre did.
1) Discuss in advance with your direct supervisor that you will be retiring.

How far in advance? It doesn't say. But I guess the Jets knew it could come at any moment since they acquired him before last season. So maybe this wasn't a discussion that was desperately needed. But Favre did only tell Jets management shortly before e-mailing the media...thank goodness it happened in that order.

2) Give plenty of notice so that a replacement can be found and trained completely. Notice time varies, but it is better to give way too much notice than not enough.

Well, this all depends on how you look at things. When you consider how Favre held the Packers hostage last year, this is like a year's notice out of Favre. And at least the Jets have the draft coming up to try to get a quarterback to build around. (ESPN's Todd McShay is projecting USC's Mark Sanchez to the Jets at #17 in the draft - can't say I'm not excited about that possibility.) But when you think of it in terms of football games, it's not long enough. Read: all the Jets have right now is Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge.

3) Six weeks' notice should be the minimum because it takes at least one week to run an ad and get responses, one week to interview and choose a successor, and then the successor must give two weeks' notice at his/her job. This would allow a two-week training period. If in a supervisory or managerial position, give more than six weeks' notice; tailor the time to your situation.

Quarterback is a very supervisory/managerial position, and should be regarded as such when one retires. It's very hard to find a replacement. You need to give a year's notice if you're the type of player who a franchise depends heavily on. Otherwise you're left with the likes of Clemens, Ratliff, and Ainge.

So Favre is a little bit to blame for some seemingly poor retirement etiquette. But, as they have done so many times before, the Jets might not have made the best decisions here.

Of course, Brett Favre did announce a year ago that he was retiring from football, only to play again in 2008....

Sunday, February 08, 2009

All his fault.

There he is. The man who quite possibly single-handedly ruined the Mets 2009 season.

John Smoltz.

You'd think Smoltz heading to the American League and taking his career 18-15 record, 24 saves, and 3.44 ERA vs NYM would be a good thing.

You're wrong.

John Smoltz started a bad list of events that led to the Mets doing the ONE thing they should not have done this offseason. Lets recap:

DEC 1, 2008: The Braves decline salary arbitration to John Smoltz. The future Hall of Famer is now free to sign elsewhere. The Braves - by all indications - fully expect Smoltz to return.

JAN 3, 2009: Derek Lowe rejects Mets 3yr/36mil contract.

JAN 7, 2009: Smoltz is expected to sign with the Red Sox.

JAN 8, 2009: The Mets and Derek Lowe are far apart on a possible contract.

JAN 9, 2009: John Smoltz makes it official, and signs with the Boston Red Sox. And here's where it all starts to fall apart.

JAN 13, 2009: The Braves, having lost Smoltz, completely freak out and offer Lowe a four year deal worth 60 million dollars. Four days after Smoltz's signs with Boston, Lowe signs with the Braves.

FEB 8, 2009: Ben Sheets - believed to be one of the backups if Lowe signs elsewhere, will miss almost all of the 2009 season with an elbow injury. I'm assuming the Mets figured this out weeks earlier, but probably not before they lost out on Lowe.

That left the Mets with no choice. Because John Smoltz signed with Boston, the Braves then lost their mind, then their backup plan got hurt, so the Mets were left with only one pitcher left to sign.

Oliver freaking Perez.

I've said my piece many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many times about this clown. But in 2009, I'll give him a break. Its not his fault.

So on October 4th - when the Mets are tied with the Phillies for first place on the last day of the season, and Oliver Perez is struggling to get through the 6th inning against the Astros - remember this Mets fans: Its all John Smoltz's fault.

- SB

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Reasons to Look Forward to MLB 2009

I know it already exists, but there's a huge difference between the MLB Network in-season and in the off-season.

First of all, my prediction about what the MLB Network should feature wasn't terribly far off. And that makes me happy. (Unfortunately, some of the great games they have been showing have been ones that I didn't particularly want to randomly come across on a cold January night - like Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Endy Chavez's catch is a lot less dramatic when you know how that game ends.)

Nextly (like that?), some of the off-season programming has been promising, leading me to believe that the regular season stuff will also be good. I can only watch so much speculative talk, so I haven't spent much time watching the Hot Stove Report...but I like some of the analysts (always liked Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds is good, and some of the other rotating cast members have been good...although there are other elements I do not like at all, like Josh Lewyn and Hazel Mae...haven't seen them yet...but this is a topic for another post), and it will be a flat-out better show when there are actual games to report on.

Another important piece of the MLB Network's Hot Stove Report show has been the response by other networks. ESPN has added a Hot Stove element to its SportsCenter and ESPNews segments that I don't remember in the past. It's probably to try to keep their baseball fans on their channel. So that's been a positive result.

I've mentioned this before. The NFL Network is good. But all things considered, I'd rather have an MLB Network. And now I do. And 2009 will be the first season with full coverage on the network. And that's something to look forward to.

This idea was going to originally be "Reasons to Look Forward to the Mets in 2009", but I realized there are probably going to be some general baseball reasons (like this one) as well as Mets reasons. So I've expanded it. Most will have to do with the Mets. Also, I'm counting up, rather than down, as we head towards the baseball season, because I'm just not sure how many items there will be in this feature. We'll go until we hit Opening Day.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Reasons to Look Forward to MLB 2009

(Note the reversal of the title and subtitle, for those of you keeping close track)

All right. I'll admit it. David Wright isn't exactly a superstar. Perhaps some of the shine has come off because he slumps at the times the Mets need him the most. But he's far from a disappointment - in fact, he's one of the top players in the game. I'd put him at the level just below superstar (a spot occupied by his teammate Johan Santana, among others).

And he's still a reason to look forward to the new baseball season.

First of all, he's a homegrown talent, and he's fun to root for. I swear - the day I find out David Wright isn't a genuinely good guy is the day I stop rooting for any professional athlete. He's a stand-up guy who hasn't backed down from the media in any situation - good or bad (and every season he's had with the Mets has ended in a disappointing fashion). He also has done everything to indicate that he is a quality individual.

He's also an exciting ballplayer. Though he strikes out a lot, and he hasn't proven to be tremendously clutch at this point in his career (he did have the Mets' lone RBI in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS), he's a lock to hit around .300, get somewhere around 30 HR, and collect more than 115 RBI. And he's improved from year to year, particularly on the defensive side.

I have my own little obsession with Wright as well; his assault on the all-time doubles record...or at least a team record. This will be an interesting year as far as that goes - Wright has always hit around 40 doubles. We'll see how Citi Field plays and whether or not it results in more doubles as a gap park, or maybe as more of a homer park, hurting his chances in this department.

The bottom line is that David Wright is one of the bright spots on what has become an otherwise disappointing team. And the fact that he alone can help me look forward to this season, coming off back-to-back heartbreaking playoff-missing seasons, makes him a very special player...if not a superstar.

This idea was going to originally be "Reasons to Look Forward to the Mets in 2009", but I realized there are probably going to be some general baseball reasons as well as Mets reasons. So I've expanded it. Most will have to do with the Mets. (Like this one.) Also, I'm counting up, rather than down, as we head towards the baseball season, because I'm just not sure how many items there will be in this feature. We'll go until we hit Opening Day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


From 200 Miles From the Citi on November 11, 2006:

The Mets are reportedly going to announce on Monday that their new field, which will open in 2009, will be called "Citi Field", which is because Citibank (or Citigroup) is buying the naming rights. As far as corporate names go, that's actually pretty good. I'm pleased. Could be much worse. It could be one of those company names that people hate, and instead it would be called "The New Shea", or it could be a company that's going to go out of business and the name would have to change again (like a dot-com, or like Enron). Citibank is stable (although banks are prone to takeovers and mergers), and "Citi Field" is pretty cool for a stadium in a city. I'll take it.

Well, I certainly didn't see this coming. Ah, the ignorance of three years ago, when I thought banks were only prone to takeovers or mergers.

Let me start with this - I don't know if I've ever said this before, but I never understood the 'stadium naming rights' practice. Does rooting for the Astros over the Rays mean I am any more likely to drink Minute Maid products rather than Tropicana? Does the fact the Padres play at PETCO Park do anything for anyone except for me, with my little "Where the Mets go" joke? (I swear if someone ever steals that they had better credit me.)

I never understood why a company would throw hundreds of millions of dollars at a team just to have their name on a stadium. Never understood it. And I understand it less now, with a company that is in serious serious financial trouble pretty much wasting $400 million to call the Mets' new stadium Citi Field.

Now, as I re-wrote above - I love the name "Citi Field". It has a good feel to it, for a good city team like the Mets. It also would have been a good corporate name, because unless you really knew what you were dealing with, you didn't really know it as a corporate name. Except now everyone and their brother knows, because Citi, and somewhat by extension the Mets, have become laughingstocks because of this idiotic deal.

Part of me hopes the naming rights are forced to change because of how stupid this whole thing is. But another part of me (probably a bigger part) wants to keep the "Citi". First of all, I named my blog after the new park, for crying out loud. Secondly, if there's anyone else who has kept as close an eye on the birth of Citi Field, I'd like to meet them and shake their hand. And read their blog...that sounds like something I'd love. I just feel an attachment to the park and its name. (With that in mind, I've put a small photo history of Citi Field at the end of this post - click it to enlarge.)

In the end, something else I wrote in November of 2006 might ring even more true: it's a shame these naming rights scenarios even had to come about. And maybe the old fashioned-way of naming stadiums after people was the way to go...or at least, I'll re-offer a suggestion for the naming rights if there has to be a switch:

Some people are saying it's too bad the "Shea" name is going by the boards...I agree, but it's the way of the world right now - hopefully William Shea will be remembered by Mets fans without the stadium bearing his name. And there is one sponsor that would have been better, which Mets fans apparently voted on somewhere - MetLife.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I hate to burst your bubble, you underdog-rooting football fan, but the Cardinals' ride has ended.
I think I'll be rooting for Arizona in the Super Bowl...I don't think I can really be sure until I actually see the teams and the game starts. The weird thing about the Steelers is that I should hate them, since they kill the Jets, but I really don't. Maybe because I like a good yellow/black combination in my uniforms...I don't know.

I do know that when it comes to these big games, championships specifically, defenses trump offenses. I realize the Cardinals are not your ordinary offense, and I do realize that their defense has played much better during this playoff run.

But the Steelers are head and shoulders better than them defensively, and are more than capable of holding their own offensively.

If the roles were reversed, and the strong defensive team was the underdog, a la the Giants last season, I'd be ready to pick them. But I can't really see the Cardinals getting another win. (Not that I've been lighting the world on fire up until now with my picks these playoffs.) So I think it's the Steelers, and the final score is only as close as this because I think the Cardinals tack something on late for the squares pools:
And here are a few prop bets (I love Super Bowl prop bets):

WILL KURT WARNER PASS JOE MONTANA'S CAREER RECORD FOR SUPER BOWL PASSING YARDS (1142 - WARNER WOULD NEED 364 IN SB XLIII) - I say No, though it will probably be close, because the Cardinals will be slinging playing from behind. I think Warner ends up with 330. (This also means I think Kurt Warner will not surpass his other two Super Bowl passing performances - 414 and 365 [incredible Super Bowl numbers, incidentally] - which is another prop bet.)

I love these - WHO WILL CATCH A PASS FIRST - HINES WARD OR SANTONIO HOLMES? I'm going to say Holmes, though Ward will have the more important catches.


PLAYER TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN FIRST: WILLIE PARKER OR LARRY FITZGERALD? I don't think Fitzgerald will get in the end zone, believe it or not. I think the Steelers will shut him down. I'm not 100% confident in Parker getting there either, but I'll go with Willie Parker.