Sports Beat “Jay gets his day”

Bobblehead doll giveaways have long been popular promotions at ballparks. Normally the souvenir is a likeness of a current or former player. Tomorrow the Mets will probably have what has to be a first as they will be giving all who come to Citi Field a bobblehead of their longtime public relations director Jay Horwitz.

I have known Jay since 1980. Yes, we’ve had some disagreements over the years and some of the arguments have been heated, but to Jay’s credit, he has always been willing to listen; hasn’t held grudges; and most importantly, has given me the access that I need.

There is no doubt that Jay will be enshrined into the Mets Hall of Fame when he retires but that won’t be for another 30 years. Congratulations, Jay!

The most important aspect of Jay Horwitz Bobblehead Day is that a portion of the ticket revenue will be earmarked for the Hope Shines for Shannon Foundation. Shannon Forde, a St. John’s University alumnus, has been working in the Mets media relations department for 20 years. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. The costs associated with fighting that insidious disease are staggering. Amazingly, Shannon continues to work with enthusiasm and vigor while raising a family.

The National Hockey League announced that a pair of games involving the three local teams will be played at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week. The Devils will play the Rangers in one game while the Islanders take on the Blueshirts in the other. The Rangers will be the visiting team in both contests.

It makes sense that the Devils game would take place at Yankee Stadium since it’s located very close to the GW Bridge, I find it disgraceful that the NHL has turned up its nose at Citi Field.

While I understand the economies of scale of having two games at one venue, Citi Field is adjacent to the Islanders’ Nassau/Suffolk fan base. Queens has more Islanders fans than any other borough including Brooklyn where the team will be moving in 2015. It also would have created more buzz for the NHL to utilize both of New York’s ballparks.

The US Open gets underway at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday but you can catch some quality tennis there today and tomorrow for free as the US Open Qualifying Tournament for a number of wild card spots will be taking place.

The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in our area as the Barclays Tournament will take place at Liberty State Park Golf Course today through Sunday. There will be free shuttle buses running from the Pavonia PATH stop in Jersey City.

Posted under Blueshirts, Director Jay, Economies Of Scale, Fan Base, Forde, Grudges, Gw Bridge, Hall Of Fame, Insidious Disease, Lloyd Carroll, National Hockey League, New York Mets, No Doubt, Public Relations Director, S University, Stage 4 Breast Cancer, Ticket Revenue, Top Story, Two Games, University Alumnus, Yankee Stadium

Gary Carter’s Harley Davidson Up For Charity Auction To Benefit Autism

Gary Carter is still giving back.

The Harley Davidson motorcycle owned by the Mets late, great Hall of Fame catcher will go on the auction block to benefit charity on the Steiner Sports ”Perfect 25th Anniversary Auction,” it was announced today.

The on-line auction at www.steinersports.com, which also includes Don Larsen’s Perfect Game uniform and Bob Knight’s NCAA championship rings, continues through December 5.

Carter’s widow Sandy had donated the sleek, black bike to the Autism Project of Palm Beach County (APPBC), which will receive all the proceeds.

The charity’s mission is to raise money to support two specialized charter schools in Palm Beach County.  C.J., the Carters’ grandson, attends Renaissance Learning Center, one of the charter schools. (RLC) serves children who are on the Autism Spectrum ages 3 to 14 years old.  Twelve years ago RLC had only five students enrolled, today enrollment has grown to 102 with a waiting list.

The 2004 V-Rod “100th Anniversary” model HD has 3,250 miles on its odometer, and is in pristine condition. Personally-owned accessories worn by Gary and Sandy will also be a part of this unique auction package, including leather jackets with “Kid” and “Sandy” embroidered inside, as well as helmets, boots, and gloves. The reserve has yet to be determined.

The bike was a gift to Carter from the New York Mets organization upon his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Posted under 100th Anniversary, Anniversary Model, Auction Package, Autism, Autism Project, Autism Spectrum, Baseball, Carters Grandson, catcher, Charity Auction, Charter Schools, collectibles, Don Larsen, Hall Of Fame, Harley Davidson, Harley Davidson Motorcycle, history, Lead Story, Line Auction, Mets, Ncaa Championship, New York Mets, Palm Beach County, Renaissance Learning, Steiner Sports, Today's News, Top Story, V Rod

Catch The Rising Star

It was rather fitting that Channel 9 had a theme song for the Mets in 1985, called “Catch the Rising Stars.”

The country sounding tune was a intended for the young Mets like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, but in reality the Mets wanted you to catch their brightest star Gary Carter.

The Hall of Fame catcher died today after a about a nine month bout with brain cancer. Although he played on the Mets for just five years – and mainly as his prime was fading – his impact was felt throughout, not only the organization, but all of Mets Nation.

“No one loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter,” said fellow Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in a statement released by the Mets. “No one enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. He gave you 110 percent and played the most grueling position on the field and that was something special.”

The loudest cheers at the Rangers games tonight were for Carter, who received a standing ovation from the crowd when his passing was announced, while the Montreal Canadiens paid tribute to his time playing north of the border.

All of this for one of the best catchers of his generation. Carter was the final piece to the puzzle, acquired in December, 1984 for four players, to make the Mets into a champion.

“The genesis of the trade was that we wanted to add a big bat to the lineup,” said former Mets GM Frank Cashen in a statement. “He did that right away, but perhaps more importantly was the way he handled our young pitchers. He was the perfect guy for so many reasons.”

“I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound including location, what pitch to throw and when,” Doc Gooden said in a statement. “Even when I didn’t have my best stuff, he found a way to get me through the game. He was just a warrior on the field.”

When he came to the Mets, he made the Mets stable of young talented pitchers into stars. He elevated Gooden’s game in 1985, so he had one of the best seasons in the history of baseball and forced Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez to pitch inside, something the young pitchers were shy to do the year before.

Then there was his presence at the plate. Carter made the Mets lineup complete. With George Foster making the Jason Bay signing look good, the team needed a right handed hitting cleanup hitter. That was Carter, who provided protection for Keith Hernandez and took pressure off of Darryl Strawberry, allowing the mercurial right fielder to develop.

With the trade, the stage was set and Carter shined on the biggest. On opening day in 1985, Carter hit a walk off homer off former Met Neil Allen to star off his career and let’s not forget his walk off hit in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS or his two home runs in Game 4 of the World Series at Fenway Park.

And let’s not forget the rally in the 10th inning of Game 6 at Shea Stadium.

“I didn’t want to make the last out and I always maintained the theory – it’s not over ‘til it’s over,” Carter would say back in 2004. “I just went up there with the feeling of confidence and doing the best I possibly could and I was able to come through. Then Kevin Mitchell followed and then Ray Knight. Before you know it the ball went through Buckner’s legs and we had won Game 6. To me, I just go up there and remember my career. It was never a grind. It was an enjoyment. It’s amazing to think 18 years and how quickly it passed. I just went up there and said there was no way we should lose this World Series. I did everything to keep us alive.”

All during that time, Carter was the Met who had the biggest smile in the biggest market. If he was on your team, you loved him and if you rooted for another club, you hated him.

Simply put he was the symbol of the Mets in the 1980s and not a rising star but the one the shined the brightest.

He will be missed.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Brightest Star, Channel 9, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Dwight Gooden, Fellow Hall, Frank Cashen, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Mets Gm, Montreal Canadiens, New York Mets, Pitchers, Playing The Game, Rising Star, Standing Ovation, Tom Seaver, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on February 17, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Hall of Fame Catcher Gary Carter Dead at 57

The baseball world is mourning the passing of Gary Carter. The 57 year old former catcher died from brain cancer on Thursday, February 16.  An announcement was made by his daughter, Kimmy Bloomers on the website of his family at 4:10 pm.

In May 2011, it was publicly revealed that the baseball great had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Carter had been undergoing treatment for the disease since its discovery. In the third week of January, it was announced that Carter’s condition had worsened as additional tumors were found.

Despite the reality of his worsened health, Carter recently made a visit to his players at Palm Beach Atlantic University where he served as baseball coach for the past two years.

The Baseball Writers’ of America (BBWAA) awarded Carter its Milton/Arthur Richman Good Guy Award at its annual dinner in New York on January 21. As Carter was unable to travel from Florida to accept the honor, Carter’s award was accepted by his son, D.J. who read his father’s speech.

The speech was a testimonial to Carter’s feelings and connection to New York City, “I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the people and city of New York. I have nothing but fond memories of my time here in New York, highly lighted, of course, with the World Series championship in 1986. I still remember the feeling of riding in the World Series parade with over one million people lining the streets to celebrate our championship. The fans were always supportive of me and my family since my diagnosis of brain cancer in May of 2011.”

Although, Carter only played in New York with the Mets for five of his 19 seasons, those years are well remembered by the fans in New York. Carter was obtained before the 1985 season after playing a decade with the Montreal Expos, where he was one of the team’s most popular players.

Although “The Kid” was 31 years old when he came to the Mets and his personality and lifestyle did not mesh smoothly with some of the more raucous men on the squad, he was a vital part of the successful team. The Mets were World Series champs in Carter’s second year in New York. Carter contributed mightily to that World Series victory with nine runs batted in.

Large numbers of New York baseball fans, whether of the Mets or Yankees, remember with great fondness and respect, Carter’s outstanding years in the city. Lifelong Yankees fans Bill Stimers said of the Kid, “Carter turned the 1986 World Series around. He was a great player and a very fine person. We will always miss him. We pray for his family.”

Carter’s eventful years in New York ended as did the 80’s. He played the next two seasons in the state of his birth, California. He was with the San Francisco Giants in 1990 and in 1991 he played with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He concluded his outstanding career in the majors in 1992 with the organization that drafted him 20 years earlier, the Montreal Expos. Carter once recalled his career’s end in Montreal, “It was a good way for my career to end going back to the team where my career originated.”

Carter performed admirably during two decades as a major leaguer. He scored 1,025 runs and hit safely 2,092 times in 2,296 games. The dependable power hitter blasted 324 homers and drove in 1,225 runs.

His impressive stats were not compiled through longevity alone but by his outstanding play on a yearly basis. In his rookie season, Carter was runner-up to hurler John Montefusco in the voting for the NL Rookie-of-the Year. The catcher was a National League All-Star in 11 seasons. His hitting earned him the Silver Slugger five times. His ability behind the plate was rewarded with a Gold Glove for three seasons.

The achievements of Carter’s career in baseball were rewarded by a place in the pantheon of heroes in Cooperstown, New York. Carter was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2003. He is the only player inducted into the HOF wearing an expos cap.

The devoted family man is survived by Sandy, his wife of my than 30 years, and three children, Christy, Kimmy and DJ.

Posted under Annual Dinner, Baseball Coach, Baseball World, Baseball Writers, Bbwaa, Bloomers, Brain Cancer, Fond Memories, Hall Of Fame, Mets, New York Mets, One Million, Place In My Heart, Richman, Series Parade, Top Story, Undergoing Treatment

Can the Mets Dodge the Potential Effects of Wilpon’s Latest Blunder?

Ever since it was released online, a week in advance of being available via print on May 30th, much has been made of writer Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker magazine article detailing the far too honest comments of New York Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon about the stars of his own struggling team.

The article begins with Wilpon, a Brooklyn native and former high school teammate of Sandy Koufax who grew up as a diehard Brooklyn Dodger fan, stubbornly ignoring architects and imparting his own vision for an Ebbets Field-esque rotunda as the main entrance to what is now the Mets’ new home of Citi Field.

A little later in the article, Toobin writes:

“All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part,” Wilpon told me…

In the past two years, the Dodger problem at Citi Field has largely been addressed. The team added a Mets Hall of Fame, just off the rotunda, and plenty of banners and photographs of the Mets’ storied and eccentric existence are now spread around the ballpark

It’s interesting that Toobin chose the words, “The Dodger problem at Citi Field” because although Wilpon corrected the issue Toobin was describing (albeit reactively, only after receiving a lot of criticism, rather than proactively doing things right the first time), that “Dodger problem at Citi Field” can be seen as a very fitting metaphor for Wilpon and his Mets.

Ironically, it’s Wilpon’s former favorite franchise, now in Los Angeles, which began to similarly fall on hard times financially (resulting from Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt’s divorce) at about the same time Wilpon and the Mets became victims of what many now jokingly call a “Wilpon-zi” scheme.

(That too, is ironic, that a man named Bernie Madoff literally “made off” with Wilpon’s money, as is the future of team run by a man named McCourt possibly being decided in court next month).

If it weren’t all so sad, it would be comical.

But, let’s back up for a moment, to the beginning of the Toobin article again and bring that to the present day.

There was Wilpon, with a chance to make a statement in the post-Shea Stadium era and create whatever he wanted on the grounds of the former Shea Stadium parking lot to thrust the Mets into a new age that would excite the Met fanbase for years, perhaps decades, to come.

Wilpon’s response? Turning off Met fans by completely ignoring their team’s history and unveiling a tribute to his first baseball love, the Brooklyn Dodgers – which other than supplying the blue for the Mets’ team colors, have nothing to do with Wilpon’s current franchise, which he’s been a part of running since 1980 (five years before Wilpon’s first investment with Madoff).

And, later on, there was Wilpon again, with a chance to build upon the Mets’ success of their 2006 National League Championship Series appearance (even though they probably should have beaten the underdog St. Louis Cardinals and were likely good enough to beat the Detroit Tigers in had they reached the World Series that year).

But, each of the next two years, the Mets would go on to make major league baseball history by blowing the largest consecutive September leads, each to hated division rival Philadelphia, while missing the playoffs.

And yet, even after that, Wilpon remained loyal to a fault, keeping failed Mets’ general manager Omar Minaya aboard for too long, despite several poor player personnel moves and ill-fated public relations dealings by Minaya that continued to set the Mets back as a team while damaging their image among fans and the media.

While Wilpon allowed Minaya to keep ruining the Mets’ roster, he also let Minaya embarrass the franchise through such gems as flying former manager Willie Randolph out on a west coast road trip just to unprofessionally fire Randolph at 3:12 am ET, and acting too slowly to fire ex-Vice President of Player Development Tony Bernazard after Bernazard removed his shirt and challenged Met minor league players to a fight in the clubhouse. And then, there was Minaya repeatedly bungling and stammering his way through press conferences, including Minaya’s awkward public accusation of New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin supposedly angling for a job with the Mets after Rubin reported the incident about Bernazard.

It was all enough for many Met fans to wish for new team ownership back then.

That growing sentiment was fueled with reports of the Mets moving toward becoming a small market fish in the big pond of New York, as the team with the new stadium by Flushing Bay apparently saw its owner flush hundreds of millions of dollars away in Madoff’s madness.

And now, the sort of stuff you just can’t make up, not even if you were Minaya talking about Rubin.

Now, in all fairness, the context in which Wilpon disparaged the values or abilities of Mets like Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright should be noted. It’s not as if Wilpon offered those opinions to Toobin out of the blue (whether Dodger blue or otherwise).

Wilpon expressed such thoughts to Toobin while the two took in a Met game against the Houston Astros at Citi Field earlier this season.

In that setting, simply watching and talking baseball, even if discussing his own team, Wilpon can be somewhat exonerated than if it were in say, in a room somewhere, in a typical interview environment.

Yet, for a guy who built a fortune in real estate – enough to own a major league baseball team in New York – it would figure that Wilpon would know better.

When talking to a high profile reporter like Toobin for a feature piece in a magazine like the New Yorker, rule one in protecting your best assets is not to devalue them in any way.

Even Robert Nutting, the principal owner of the small market, perennially losing Pittsburgh Pirates knows that much.

Yet, while speaking with Toobin, Wilpon demonstrated once again that he just doesn’t get it when running the Mets.

Time will tell whether a current lawsuit in the Madoff case might ultimately force Wilpon to sell the Mets, or if the current financial state of the Mets (which Wilpon described to Sports Illustrated this week as a team that’s “bleeding cash” and “could lose $70 million this season) might eventually lead to new ownership in Queens. Or, Perhaps Wilpon, now 74, will get past all of this and continue to own a team that can again become financially stable and win.

For now though, how could such a successful businessman (outside of baseball) show all of his cards so openly?

Few would argue with Wilpon (as he told Toobin) that shortstop Jose Reyes might deserve a $140 million contract or that third baseman David Wright falls short of being a superstar. And, more would probably agree with Wilpon than disagree that in retrospect, Wilpon was misguided in overpaying for outfielder Carlos Beltran based on one historic postseason for Houston.

However, Wilpon is not exactly new to the art of negotiation and he’s certainly aware that he may be forced to trade any or even all of those players, and more. If that’s the case, why not build them up as much as you can?

Whether you’re selling real estate, cars, trinkets, or trying to get the most you possibly can for baseball players who you might not be able to afford to keep, you should always try to talk them up and overvalue them. Wilpon clearly knows that or he wouldn’t have ever been in a position to buy a professional baseball team in the first place.

And still, he just couldn’t help himself. Just like the Ebbets Field-styled rotunda replete with the focus on tributes to Jackie Robinson – very worthwhile, but for the Dodgers, not the Mets.

Ironically, both franchises – Wilpon’s initial favorite and the one he’s trying to save now – need to dig out of financial messes.

McCourt is desperately trying to keep the Dodgers as he struggles to make the team’s player payroll for the end of May while embroiled in a court fight with his ex-wife.

As a result, Major League Baseball has stepped in to help out one of its flagship franchises, something that some Met fans have expressed interest in seeing with their own team and which the New York media has already suggested should happen with the Mets.

A June 22nd hearing will have a superior court judge hear arguments on why a sale of the team should be ordered.

If it comes to that for McCourt and the Dodgers, many Met fans might say something like, “Go ahead and sell too, Fred. This is one time we don’t mind if you forget about the Mets and pay homage to your Dodgers.”

Posted under Blunder, Brooklyn Dodger, Dodger Fan, Ebbets Field, Fitting Metaphor, Frank Mccourt, Fred Wilpon, Hall Of Fame, Honest Comments, Los Angeles Dodgers, Magazine Article, Main Entrance, New York Mets, Rotunda, School Teammate, Top Story

This post was written by Jon Wagner on May 28, 2011

Tags: , , , ,

Do The Right Thing Mets And Retire No. 8

With all the Madoff talk, lawsuits, minority buyers, and New Yorker article talk surrounding the New York Mets, it would be hard to believe the club could every do the right thing.

But now the opportunity is staring them right in the face.

Officially retire Gary Carter’s No. 8.

With the news coming out today that “The Kid” has malignant tumors in his brain, the best way of showing Carter how much everyone cares during his fight. Carter was a key cog of the 1986 club, who meant so much to Met fans during his five years in Flushing, so an on the field celebration of his career would be a way of giving back.

If Carter starts to feel well enough to get to New York, this would be the ultimate pick me up for the Hall of Fame catcher. Any type of cancer is not easy to deal with, but brain cancer is the worst.  The best way of keeping his spirits up would be keeping his mind off the disease and show him how much he is loved.

Carter was a special player for the Mets. Without him, the young pitchers, like Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and even Doc Gooden to an extent, don’t develop as quickly. No Carter means no World Series in 1986, even with the stacked lineup for the Mets.

And the club knows that. No. 8 has not been issued since 2002, the year before Carter when into the Hall – when Matt Galante wore it. If Carter was inducted as a Met, then the club would have retired his number, but because he went in as an Expo – and rightfully so – there was no number retirement ceremony that summer, only a ceremony to honor “The Kid.”

But No. 8 stays dormant, much like Mike Piazza’s No. 31 and even Willie Mays’s No. 24. You can probably expect the Mets to retire 31 someday – in fact I was told it is on the eventual agenda for the franchise – and 24 probably will stay dormant as long as Rickey Henderson is away from the club.

Yet, there has been no explanation about No. 8. The Mets should just retire it or reissue it, instead of keeping it in some sort of limbo.

And if they want to retire it, this year is a perfect opportunity. Being the 25th anniversary of the 1986 club, the Mets can bring back the whole team for one last hurrah. They can retire No. 8 for Carter, while giving the whole team a day in their honor. An added bonus for the club would be a sellout crowd at Citi Field, something that’s a rarity these days, helping the Wilpon coffers as they try to pull out of the financial mess.

It would be win-win for the Mets and frankly the right thing to do.

With Mets management acting like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight these last few years, this is an opportunity to gets some good baseball related public relations for the club.

More importantly, though, it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s Mookie Wilson’s reaction on Gary Carter.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Cog, Do The Right Thing, Doc Gooden, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Malignant Tumors, Matt Galante, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Number Retirement, Pitchers, Retirement Ceremony, Rickey Henderson, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Top Story, Type Of Cancer, Yorker Article

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 27, 2011

Tags: , ,

Home Is Not Sweet For The Mets

FLUSHING, NY – Maybe the first New York Mets home opener on a Friday since the 1995 season would make a difference. The 50th home opener, third at Citi Field, had the same result as the season closer last October, a loss to the Washington Nationals. The 6-2 loss to the Nationals Friday reminded many in the chilled sold out crowd of 41,075 that this could be a long season.

A reminder because the Mets did not hit, and pitch and that was so reminiscent of what was seen often at Citi Field in 2010.  The debut of new manager Terry Collins got off to a good start with a warm welcome from fans in pre-game introductions. The loudest ovations went to new pitcher Chris Young and for Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ralph Kiner who threw the ceremonial first pitch.

And starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (1-1) got a loud ovation. But that changed because his knuckleball was not effective after he split a nail on his index finger in the first inning.  Dickey was one of the bright spots for New York last season, but in his two starts he has walked eight batters in 11 innings including the five he issued against the Nationals.

“I’m not going to say the split nail led to the every walk,” commented Dickey. He walked a run in the fifth after the Nationals loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out singles. The fifth walk was a career high for Dickey. “It was just very tough to get the feel,” he said about the control issue due to the nail that he claims will not hinder his next start.

But Dickey was not the only issue the Mets encountered in their season debut at home. What bothered fans, as was so often the case last season was the Mets ineffective ability to drive in runs. Coming off a season opening 3-3 road trip, the Mets have lost three straight, the pitching staff has given up 27 runs, and in the last two games they are 1-17 with runners in scoring position including the ten they stranded Friday.

Frustrating for the fans in the early going, but not for the new manager who commented, “I am a long way from being frustrated.” But on opening day, an unusual 4pm start that lasted into evening, this was not what Collins would have wanted especially coming off an 11-0 loss to the Phillies on the last game of their trip the day before.

When Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-run single to right that broke his season beginning 0-12 start, off Mets reliever Bobby Parnell that was followed by an RBI ground ball from Ian Desmond, the remaining crowd that had enough of the chill decided to call it a night. That was the deciding blow, the three-run eighth that ruined a season opener.

“We have to shake it off and do better than that,” said Collins. It is so early to be in a panic mode but if Collins does not see his team bounce back in the next few days then it could get frustrating. There was a point in the game when Collins and the fans loved a rejuvenated Jose Reyes. He dived to his left in the fifth inning and started an inning ending double play with the bases loaded that kept the game close.

Though few people give the Mets a chance to be competitive this season, a bright spot could be Reyes who may not be around by September. The financially strapped Mets may not be able to afford a new contract for their home grown shortstop and he could be traded depending on where the Mets are situated by late July.

But that is another issue for a later date. The focus will now be how resilient this team is with an early season losing streak of three games. And to forget about a home opener that took away optimism for any type of respectable season. The Mets fell to 31-19 in their home openers, 1-2 at Citi Field.

“We’ll score some runs and those guys will get on base,” said Collins about Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Ike Davis who went a combined 2-for 15 at the plate. Washington starter Jordan Zimmerman (1-1) coming off Tommy John surgery in 2009 gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Nationals pen then closed the door with the committee role manager Jim Riggleman is using.

“We walked to many guys that put us in a hole,” said Collins.  He added his team will get better. His predecessor Jerry Manuel always said they would get better. But as every Mets fan knows, it did not get better.

A fresh start at Citi Field that did not get better in the later innings and when Dickey left the game it led to many questions for the next day. “Nobody in here is hitting the panic button,” said Dickey. “We are going to stay focused.”

But the question is will Mets fans stay focused if this first home stint of 2011 does not go their way?

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Batters, Hall Of Fame, Index Finger, Knuckleball, Loud Ovation, Mets Home Opener, New York Mets, Opening 3, Ovations, Ralph Kiner, Rich Mancuso, Road Trip, Runners, Season Debut, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Two Games, Warm Welcome, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2011

Tags: , , , ,

Mets Open Hall of Fame To New Members

Flushing, NY – In a belated attempt to address criticism from fans that the New York Mets have ignored the team’s history since moving into Citi Field in 2009, the Mets inducted four new members on Sunday, August 1.  Frank Cashen,  Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson and Darryl Strawberry, into its Hall of Fame. The four all represent the resurgence of the team in the 1980′s and the club’s world championship in 1986.

This season marks the 30th anniversary of the Mets Hall of Fame. During the thirty years, the Mets have only inducted 25, including this week’s foursome, into the Hall. The most recent ceremony took place in 2002, when outfielder Tommy Agee was added. The group of four inducted on Sunday was the largest contingent added in an individual season.

A plaque of each of the newest members was added to the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, located in the Rotunda area of Citi Field. The plaques were unveiled during the ceremony, and fans were able to view them during the regularly scheduled game that afternoon. The Mets museum was opened this April in another action designed to recognize the history of the organization and salute its past heroes.

The ceremony was ably emceed by the radio voice of the Mets, Howie Rose. He began his introductions by stating, “We honor four truly iconic figures in the history of the New York Mets, men who played pivotal roles in the Mets second world championship in 1986.”

Rose introduced each who came onto the field from the outfield to receive his plaque from a previous member of the Mets HOF. A short film of the highlight of each recipient’s experiences with the Mets was shown, and then each responded with a short acceptance speech.

Although his name may be the least familiar to current Mets fans, Frank Cashen is the most responsible of the four honored guests for the success of the Mets in the 1980′s. Cashen was hired as general manager in 1980 by the team’s new owner, Nelson Doubleday.

Cashen brought success to the Mets as he previously did as an executive of the Baltimore Orioles from 1965-1975. The other three inductees were brought to the Mets through Cashen’s efforts. Godden and Strawberry were drafted by the club and Johnson was hired as manager in 1984. Cashen also obtained catcher Gary Carter, first baseman Keith Hernandez, third baseman Ray Knight and pitcher Ron Darling, all instrumental in the Mets achieving a World Series championship.

The Mets next won a division title in 1988, were competitive for several seasons, but did not become a dynasty. Cashen summarized the success of the team during his decade as general manager in a press conference at Citi Field on Saturday, “We drew three million people before anybody on the East Coast did it, did it twice. We had a great run. I appreciate it, and I appreciate going into the Mets Hall of Fame with all these distinguished gentlemen.”

After receiving his plaque from Rusty Staub, Cashen thanked all who helped him with emphasis on his wife, “The real Hall of Famer is my wife, Jean. She was the Most Valuable Player in my house.”  The 88 year-old and his wife are the parents of seven children and nine grandchildren.

Distinguished was not a word often, if ever, used to describe the 1986 Mets. The team was ranked 13th in a poll published by SI.com on Saturday of the most hated individual teams. The unpopularity reflected on many factors including the club’s success and arrogance on the field.

Davey Johnson, who Cashen knew as an outstanding second baseman in Baltimore was hired as manager in 1984. Johnson, who remained as Mets skipper throughout the decade, compiled the most wins, 595, as a manager of the team. Of 1986, he said, “I thought we really had a perfect team. We had big egos, big personalities on this ballclub, but they all loved to play baseball.” One of the 1986 Mets, Gary Carter, presented his plaque to him.

The two players enshrined, Gooden and Strawberry, have always been linked. Both began their careers in the majors with the Mets in the early 1980′s after being drafted by the organization; each earned the Rookie of the Year award in his first season in the bigs with the Mets; both showed outstanding talent on the field, and appeared to be sure bets to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame when their playing careers ended; both played with the Yankees successfully later in their careers; both were embroiled in controversies involving substance abuse and marital difficulties. Finally, both entered the Mets Hall of Fame together on Sunday.

Each of the two Mets stars spoke glowingly of entering the Mets HOF on Sunday. Strawberry dismissed the disappointment of many fans of his for  never having lived up to his initial expectations as a player and not being elected into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, “We’re going into the Mets Hall of Fame, and that’s what’s important. That’s all I really care about.”

Gooden, who later played on four other teams, admitted, “When I played on other clubs, I always called the Mets first and tried to come back here.” Gooden expressed his gratitude to the fans, “It wouldn’t have been possible without all of you [fans].”

The first Hall of Fame Achievement Award was presented to Bob Mandt. The recipient has worked for the Mets since 1962 in a variety of positions.

On a day the four men were honored for their contributions to the Mats 1985 championship, the 2010 Mets players showed how much improvement would be needed to reach that pinnacle. In describing the 14-1 drubbing by the Arizona Diamondbacks, manager Jerry Manuel remarked, “We didn’t pitch; we didn’t hit; we didn’t catch the ball.” That has been the story during too many games during the 2010 season.

Posted under Acceptance Speech, Ceremony Took Place, Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Foursome, Frank Cashen, Hall Of Fame, Mets Fans, Nelson Doubleday, New York Mets, Outfield, Outfielder, Pivotal Roles, Radio Voice, Resurgence, Rotunda, Short Film, Th Anniversary, Tommy Agee, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on August 2, 2010