Sports Beat “Mets sign Marcum”

The Mets’ signing of free agent pitcher Shawn Marcum wouldn’t normally generate a headline except that it is big news when the Mets spend money on anyone who has ever played in Major League Baseball. The Mets were the last MB team to sign a veteran free agent this year.

The Mets gave Marcum a guaranteed $4 million contract. As has long been the case with most Mets acquisitions, there are red flags. Marcum did not pitch much last season because of elbow issues. When healthy, Marcum is capable of winning 15 games with a good team such as former club, the Milwaukee Brewers. My guess is that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is throwing away owner Fred Wilson’s money since (a) Mets pitchers rarely stay healthy and that goes double for reclamation projects such as Marcus, and (b) the Mets offense is so puny it would be hard for any pitcher to post a good record.

While the Mets were welcoming Shawn Marcum they were saying farewell to outfielder Scott Hairston who signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Cubs. Hairston belted 20 home runs in a part-time role, but more importantly, added a much needed touch of veteran leadership to a team bereft of it.

Last Tuesday Major League Baseball held their annual fund-raising dinner for one of its philanthropies, the Baseball Assistance Team which provides financial and medical assistance to those in the baseball community facing hardship. Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain and Mets starter Johan Santana were honored for their charitable efforts although Johan couldn’t make it because of a conflicting commitment in his hometown of Covar, Venezuela.

Also attending the B.A.T. dinner was former Mets pitcher Jon Matlack who was a key contributor to their 1973 “You Gotta Believe” pennant-winning team. I asked Jon if Mets management had contacted him about honoring the 40th anniversary of that team at Citi Field. “I haven’t heard diddly!” Matlack replied with a smile. It sounds like the Mets will do for the 1973 team what they did to commemorate their 50th anniversary last season, basically next to nothing.

Former Mets managers Jeff Torborg and Art Howe were among the many attendees at the memorial service for legendary Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Marvin Miller who died at age 95 this past fall. Both gentlemen managed underwhelming teams but it could be argued that the tenure of either was a golden age for Mets fans compared to what 2013 looks to be for the not so Amazin’s. “Terry (Collins) is going to have his work cut out for him,” was the response of both ex-managers.

Are the Mets’ parsimonious ways affecting the way the Yankees do things? The Bronx Bombers watched Rafael Soriano leave for the Washington Nationals as a free agent. Soriano did a stellar job saving 42 games for the Yankees after Mariano Rivera was lost for the season with that freakish leg injury. That would never have happened if George Steinbrenner was still alive.

Cooperstown mayor Jeff Katz says that his town will not be affected by the fact that no players will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this July according to the Sports Business Journal. Likewise at last month’s New York Times Travel Show. St. Lucie County Tourism manager Charlotte Bireley told me that her area, which is the winter home of the Mets, will not suffer a drop off in tourists in March even though there is understandably little excitement about the team. Both of these folks are either incredible optimists or living in a serious state of denial.

Flushing native and longtime writer of articles in Mets-themed publications, Andy Esposito, is a highly regarded bass player. Andy teamed up with his keyboardist buddy, Joe Piket to compose and record a catchy novelty tune, “Christmas in Reverse.” While there are millions of Christmas songs, this is the only that I know of that looks at the aftermath of the holiday such as the pain of removing the tree and lights as well as the cold reality of when the credit card bills arrive. It’s available on such online music vendors as iTunes and Amazon under the band name of The Joe and Andy Show.

Since 1966 George Kalinsky has been the official photographer for Madison Square Garden but what isn’t as well known is that he is also a painter. George recently donated six gigantic portraits that he created (Knicks legend Walt Frazier, current center Tyson Chandler, Rangers legend Adam Graves, current Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, and a tribute to the cast of “The Sopranos”) to the MSG’s Garden of Dreams Foundation whose mission is to help underprivileged kids. Adding even more value to these superb portraits is that the subjects have autographed them. Garden of Dreams will be auctioning off these great pieces of art through Steiner Sports (www.steinersports.com).

“I got my start in Queens drawing sports cartoons at the Long Island Press,” George told me at last Tuesday’s press conference at which the paintings were displayed.

Adam Graves, who is currently an executive with the Rangers, told me that the shortened National Hockey League season will not be subpar since today’s players are faster, stronger, stay in shape all year, and are more aware of nutrition than yesteryear’s players.

Graves may be engaging in wishful thinking here. Last Wednesday, the Rangers won a thrilling game beating the Boston Bruins at the Garden 4-3. The next night they lost 2-1 in Philadelphia to a Flyers team that was playing without many of its stars who were out with injuries. From my vantage point in the Wells Fargo Arena it looked as if the Rangers were sleepwalking through the first two periods.

After the game, confrontational Rangers head coach John Tortorella admitted that his big players did not make any big plays. Then, as per tradition, he took the focus off of his team by attacking the questions of media members as “stupid” before walking away in a huff. Torts’ post-game shtick would be funny if he were a character in World Wrestling Entertainment but it’s thoroughly unprofessional for an NHL head coach.

The Brooklyn Nets are a good team but there are too many NBA team such as the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat that they haven’t beaten in decades it seems.

Last month CBS held a media day for their Super Bowl XLVII coverage at their Broadcast Center on West 57th Street. Network CEO Leslie Moonves called Super Bowl Sunday the most important day on the television calendar. No other program can get advertisers to happily pony up $4 million for a thirty-second commercial spot. Moonves stated that all ad time had been sold out but added with a chuckle that if a movie company wanted to promote their latest offering that he would find a spot for them if they were willing to pay $6 million for the privilege.

The toughest decision for CBS was deciding which show to air after the Super Bowl. Moonves decided to go with “Elementary,” the updated Sherlock Holmes procedural that stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Jackson Heights native Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson. “Elementary” has been successful but it has not generated a lot of buzz. CBS executives are hoping that it will become a breakout hit that will eventually find its way into syndication as “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Mentalist,” and “Two And A Half Men” because that is where the big money is in television.

Aisha Tyler, one of the co-hosts of CBS’s successful afternoon gab fest, “The Talk,” pointed out that over 43 million women watch the Super Bowl which is twice as many who tune into the Academy Awards.

Kevin Frazier, a onetime ESPN Sportscenter anchor, is currently the host of the syndicated “OMG Insider.” “Shows as “Insider,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” and “Extra” are really ‘Sportscenter” for women,” Frazier told me. I never thought of it that way but he does have a point.

I asked CBS Sports president Sean McManus if his network planned to follow the lead of both ESPN and Fox and start a Spanish language sports network. Sean told me that there are no plans for a CBS Deportes.

CBS missed the boat on establishing a strong cable presence in the 1980s and it appears that the network is blowing another revenue-generating opportunity by failing to cater to the Spanish-speaking sports community.

Although they don’t have broadcast rights to this year’s Super Bowl NBC is using the week to raise the profile of its cable Sports Network. “Crossover,” a daily 6 PM sports and pop culture program co-hosted by former YES Nets sideline reporter and ESPN Sports Nation personality Michelle Beadle and former Boston sports anchor Dave Briggs, is having its debut week with live shows from New Orleans on the NBC Sports Network.

The Super Bowl is television’s biggest event but you are not losing much if you are in your car while the game is going on because Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason will be calling the game on the Dial Global Radio Network (WFAN here in New York).

Spike TV, which likes to call itself “a network for men,” has revived “The Joe Schmo Show,” which brilliantly satirizes reality competition series. Ralph Garman, who brilliantly spoofed “Survivor” host Jeff Probst in an earlier incarnation, now sets his sights on Duane Chapman better known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter” in this go-round that airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on Spike. The premise of the show is that the competitors for the alleged big prize are all actors who play stereotypical reality show roles except for one rube (‘the Joe Schmo”) who has no clue that the whole thing is a farce. The schmo thinks that he is participating in a new reality show that will air next season called “The Full Bounty.”

Last week’s “Saturday Night Live,” that featured Maroon 5 lead singer and “The Voice” star Adam Levine as the host, was kind of like the 2012 Jets season. It started out strong and then very quickly fell apart.

If your new year’s resolutions included eating healthier, here are some ideas. Better Oats’ Oat Revolution is a better tasting oatmeal than those from either Quaker Oats and H-O and has a measuring pouch so that you don’t dilute it by adding too much water. Oatmeal has lots of Omega-3 vitamins that promote heart health. Polar Seltzer comes in many refreshing flavors, has zero calories and does not have the aftertaste that most diet soft drinks do. Finally, Dr. Lucy’s cookies are gluten-free and less caloric than those made by mass producers such as Nabisco.

Posted under Alberton, Assistance Team, Charitable Efforts, Covar, Fred Wilson, Hailstone, Johan Santana, Lloyd Carroll, Major League Baseball, Medical Assistance, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Outfielder, Philanthropies, Reclamation Projects, Sandy Alderson, Th Anniversary, Top Story, Winning Team

Pigs Finally Fly: The Mets Get Their First No-Hitter

A popular saying to describe something very unlikely to occur is “that will happen when pigs fly.” Until last Friday night the Mets had never had one of their pitchers, a group that included such luminaries as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, and Frank Viola,  toss one of baseball’s very special accomplishments, a no-hitter. Pigs must have been flying somewhere near Flushing on June 1 because ace pitcher Johan Santana finally ended the hex by tossing a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, the best-hitting team in the National League no less, by a score of 8-0 at Citi Field.

While a lot was understandably made of this first in Mets history what went unsaid was that there hadn’t been a major league no-hitter thrown in Queens since the late Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Bob Moose, threw one against the Miracle Mets on September 20, 1969 at Shea Stadium. Undaunted, the Mets went on to win the World Series less than a month later.

Mets manager Terry Collins mixed euphoria with concern at his press conference following Santana’s accomplishment. At his pre-game meeting with reporters Collins said that he wanted to limit Johan’s pitch count to around 110.

Santana missed all of the 2011 season and a great deal of the 2010 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery so the last thing that Terry Collins wanted was to have a situation where he tax his star pitcher’s harm past the 110 boundary. Collins is also well aware that Santana earns $22 million per year and the last thing that the financially troubled Mets needed was for him to lose more time out of uniform. It would have been the textbook definition of a Pyrrhic victory for Collins to have Santana pitch a no-hitter and then have him wind up on the disabled list.

The Mets manager had taken a lot of heat two weeks ago for removing David Wright from a game with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field because he did not want to risk having his team’s star player injured after a beanball war had broken out. Mets reliever DJ Carrasco plunked Brewers slugger Ryan Braun so Collins wisely figured that the Brewers relief corps would retaliate against Wright in the bottom of the inning.

Wright was livid about Collins’ mollycoddling of him and it was clear that Terry understood David’s viewpoint. There was no way that Collins was going to take Johan Santana out of a game where he could make history unless Johan himself wanted to be removed. From his post-game demeanor it wouldn’t have been surprising if Terry Collins was secretly rooting for a Cardinals player to get a hit after Santana went past the 100-pitch mark in the game so that he wouldn’t be faced with a wrenching decision. Santana wound up throwing a very taxing 134 pitches.

The Mets manager could have been off the hook had umpire Adrian Johnson made the right call when former Mets star Carlos Beltran hit shot over the third base bag in the sixth inning that was ruled a foul ball. A replay showed that the ball did in fact hit the line and Beltran should have had a double.

The Mets may have earned some karma from the baseball gods with respect to Carlos Beltran when they saluted him with a video montage of highlights from his seven-year tenure with the Amazin’s prior to the game. The crowd roared its approval and Beltran responded in kind with a tip of his hat.

Mets outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter made a sensational catch on Yadier Molina’s screeching line drive to rob him of a double in the seventh inning. Baxter smashed into the wall and was lying on the ground for some time afterwards. He was removed from the game but X-rays taken afterwards were negative. He was at his locker following the game and told the media that he had merely suffered a bad bruise.

Rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis took over for Baxter in left field and the following inning he saved the no-hitter when he raced in for a bloop fly ball hit by Cards’ second baseman Tyler Greene. Mets fans’ hearts were racing when they saw shortstop Omar Quintanilla, who was subbing for the injured Ruben Tejada, go full throttle in the other direction for Greene’s pop-up. Omar said afterwards that he heard Kirk call him off at the very last second. With so much on the line, as well as a very loud crowd, it was completely understandable how communication could have been garbled between them. In past years, Santana would have lost the no-hitter on that play and one or both of the players would have been injured in a collision. Not on this night however.

The Mets bullpen earned a rare night off but they were clearly on standby. “We tried to stay inconspicuous but we had someone ready from the sixth inning on,” revealed Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in the clubhouse following the game.

Santana clearly benefitted from the return of catcher Josh Thole who had just come off the disabled list a few hours earlier after enduring a concussion three weeks earlier. Thole certainly called a good game for Johan as the Mets pitcher did not shake off any of his signs.

As if there wasn’t enough drama, rain was working its way up the I-95 corridor Friday night. The Washington Nationals had already canceled their game while the Phillies were in a lengthy rain delay in Philadelphia. Former Mets general manager Jim Duquette who was working in the radio booth subbing for Josh Lewin said that he and Howie Rose were sharing weather forecasts with the fans as the game went on. “Everyone knew that if play was stopped even for a few minutes, Johan would be removed from the game,” he said. He went on to add that he and Howie made a conscious decision to start talking about the possibility of a no-hitter in the sixth inning.

As the late Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy used to say, “The weatherman certainly cooperated with the Mets!” After all of the Mets’ bad fortunes over the last few years their fans finally had a great memory from Citi Field.

Posted under Ace Pitcher, David Wright, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Johan Santana, Lloyd Carroll, Luminaries, Milwaukee Brewers, Miracle Mets, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pyrrhic Victory, Shea Stadium, St Louis Cardinals, Star Player, Textbook Definition, Tom Seaver, Top Story

Reyes’ Batting Crown a Bittersweet, Confusing Moment for Met Fans

In his native Spanish, the surname of New York Mets’ Dominican star shortstop Jose Reyes translates to “kings.”

Somewhat appropriately, Reyes was crowned a hitting king.

Yet, somewhat inappropriately, Reyes acted with anything but the honor a king is normally shown, when he bunted and quickly bolted from the game to secure the 2011 National League batting title in his team’s final game of the season at Citi Field, in Queens, NY, on Wednesday afternoon.

One thing’s for sure. Ted Williams never would have accomplished the feat same the way Reyes did.

Ironically, it was 70 years ago to the day, that the former Boston Red Sox legend Williams decided to risk a .400 season batting average on the final day of the season, on September 28, 1941.

Some advised Williams not to play that day with an average of .39955, which would have officially been rounded up to .400. But, with a much different attitude than Reyes showed seven decades later, Williams thought he didn’t deserve to hit .400 if he sat out.

Williams instead played both games of a doubleheader and went 6-for-8 to finish with a season average of .406, and remain to this day, the last major leaguer to hit over .400 for a season.

On the other end of that spectrum was Reyes, who decided that doing just enough to win a batting title before leaving unceremoniously, was sufficient.

Reyes is of course entitled to use any offensive weapon in his arsenal. Yet, there was something weak about him bunting – rather than swinging away – for a base hit in his first at-bat during the Mets’ 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, especially since Reyes subsequently took himself out of the game.

Worse, knowing he had raised his season batting average to a league-leading .337 and that Milwaukee Brewers’ leftfielder Ryan Braun would probably need three hits in no more than four at-bats later the same night, Reyes decided to become a spectator for the rest of the afternoon.

Classy move? No way, Jose – even though Reyes gave the Mets (77-85) their first batting title in franchise history.

There were several better options which Reyes could have followed. The best would have had Reyes trying to get a swinging single or an extra-base hit not only his first time up, but to stay in the game, and try to do the same for a few more plate appearances – the way Williams did in his pursuit of the .400 mark, and the way a batting champion would be expected to do.

And, even if Reyes decided that was still too risky, he could have at least returned to the field to play shortstop for another inning or two, before taking a walk from the Citi Field infield while acknowledging what would surely have been a standing ovation from the 28,816 fans who sat through light rain on a weekday afternoon, in large part to see Reyes for what might have been the last time in a Mets’ uniform.

Instead, Reyes very routinely walked from first base to the Mets’ dugout under a chorus of boos with manager Terry Collins taking the blame from a bewildered and disgruntled crowd for taking out the star the fans came to see.

The free agent Reyes, who makes his home close to Citi Field, on Long Island, has publicly stated that he wants to be a Met, but New York general manager Sandy Alderson expects Reyes to test a free agent market that appears to include a few teams who could be willing to pay Reyes more than the Mets (who are strapped with financial issues) might be able to afford.

Met fans have long been aware of those facts, and it’s partly why they booed Reyes, thinking that if it was indeed the last time Reyes played as a Met, it was no way for him to go out.

Braun went 0-for-4 for the NL Central champion Brewers to finish with a season average of .332, but of course, Reyes didn’t know that when he bunted himself on base on the first inning earlier in the day.

Still, Reyes’ actions were a major disappointment for Met fans.

Rather than truly competing for the batting title like Williams did for the .400 mark, Reyes took the easy, cowardly route to his hitting crown on the season’s final day.

He disrespected the game, Met fans, and himself, even though in his own misguided thinking, Reyes believed that by playing a lone inning while recording no fielding chances at shortstop and a bunt single on what has traditionally been Fan Appreciation Day, he was treating the fans to something special.
“A lot of people told me I shouldn’t play,” Reyes said. “I said, ‘Oh, no. I want to play.’ I want to be there for the fans.”
That statement was obviously laughable.
That’s not to say that ensuring the only batting title in Met history wasn’t significant, but how many Met fans have ever showed up at the park to see any Met, let alone a star like Reyes (in possibly is final game for the franchise), hoping they could catch a glimpse of that player in the field for the first inning, and in the dugout for the remainder of the game?

In the coming months, Mets fans will find out just how much Reyes truly wants to play “for the fans” in New York.

If he works out a reasonable deal with the financially troubled Mets, then this year’s batting title was as Reyes said, as much for Met fans as it was for himself, and those fans would be prepared to forever treat Reyes as the King of Queens.

But, if Reyes takes his batting crown and seeks more riches (in the form of a bigger contract) elsewhere, then like he showed after his last at-bat this year, the batting king will be all about himself while saying goodbye to the fans he so casually treated like peasants on Wednesday.

Posted under Bats, Batting Average, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dominican Star, Final Game, Jose Reyes, Major Leaguer, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Offensive Weapon, Queens Ny, Ryan Braun, Spectator, Ted Williams, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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The last day at Citi Field with the Mets had some highlights

Jose Reyes was the major agenda at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon as the New York Mets concluded their third straight losing season with a 3-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Playing his last game as a New York Met, because Reyes is a free agent, he entered the game as the National League batting leader. And it became an interesting story in the first inning, when Reyes, leading off, hit a bunt single and was removed for Justin Turner.

A majority of the slim crowd immediately offered their displeasure at manager Terry Collins. But it was Collins answering for his star shortstop. Reyes asked his manager to remove him from the game if he got a hit in the first inning. So Reyes left Citi Field in the late afternoon as the NL hit leader at .337 and was going to watch how Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers faired later in the evening, second at .335 and would need at least three hits to surpass Reyes.

“I wanted to stay in the game, but Mets fans have to understand, too , what’s going on,” said Reyes who planned to watch the Brewers game against Pittsburgh with a circle of  family and friends at his home in Long Island. If Reyes wins the batting title he would be the first Met to do so, and according to his Major League baseball contract there would be no extra incentives granted.

Reyes, doing what he did, made for plenty of controversy. He admitted after a Mets 13-inning loss, the night before to the Reds, that he would not get much sleep. He said the batting title would be a significant accomplishment and something his people in the Dominican Republic would want. And, Reyes made no reference to his free agency having more value if he secured the batting title.

Collins, who had respect of his players all season, and rewarded with an option on his contract to manage through the 2013 season said, “I heard some comments in the stands. I don’t blame them. People pay a good price to come to these games. “You’ve got to understand that I ask these players to do a lot. We worked hard to get their respect this year and they deserve ours.”

It was an emotional Collins making that statement in his last post game press conference. When asked about Reyes, Collins was obviously holding back tears. His teammate David Wright had no objection to what Reyes did, though some Major League players had their opinion in social media circles and did not agree what Reyes decided to do.

“I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion but in order to win a batting title you have to have a certain number of plate appearances during the course of a year,” said David Wright a teammate of Reyes the past eight years. “I don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t think it’s fair criticism to get one more plate appearance?  He had a great year and we are all rooting for him to win the batting title.”

Reyes was trying to become the 11th different shortstop to win the batting title and first since Florida’s Henley Ramirez hit .342 that led the National League in 2009. As to this being his last game as a New York Met, said Reyes, “A lot of stuff is going through my mind. At the same time, I know what is going on. I am going to be a free agent. So we are going to see what happens in the next few weeks.”

And Reyes heard the fans during the game, chant, “Please stay, Jo-se” They chanted again when Reyes sprinted out of the dugout after Miguel Batista threw the last pitch and got the complete game victory. “I want to stay here,” he said. “We see what happens.”

Alderson said the decision to pick up the option of Collins; contract was attributed to a lot of factors. “The way he communicates in the clubhouse and is appreciated by the players was a large part of it and he is committed to the organization,” he said.  You heard the words from Mets players all season, and most who don’t know where they will be next season were all in agreement that Terry Collins was a player’s manager.

“He is patient, taught me a lot this year,” said Ruben Tejada who Collins has always said was developing into a fine player. Tejada could be a successor to Reyes at short, if not he certainly has earned a spot to be the regular second baseman in 2012. Tejada has one hit in 15 of the last 17 games and finished the season hitting .284. He also showed a flashy glove in the infield and has developed plenty of respect in the clubhouse…

Collins said about his contract, “It’s certainly an honor. I’m very proud of the way the player’s have played. Manager’s we get extended and we get a contract because you team plays well and hard. As I said in spring training we asked them to come out and play the game right, and they have.”  He added the wins and losses could have been better, and enjoyed the experience of his first year in New York and watching young players develop….

Alderson is holding a post season press conference with the media Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. Surely questions will be asked about Collins’ coaching staff and word is all should return including pitching coach Dan Warthen though reportedly third base coach Chip Hale will take a coaching job with good friend Bob Melvin, manager of the Oakland Atheltics. Mets are leaning to returning starter Chris Capuano, a spring training signee who made over 31 starts and was the bad luck starter Tuesday night and did not fair in the decision.

“I am proud of pitching a full season and pitching every fifth day,” said Capuano who enjoyed New York City and finished with a 11-12 record and 4.55 ERA. “That was a big positive for me. The last time I threw a full season was ’06, 07. I threw over 200 inning s in ’06 and had less in ’07. There are some numbers I’d like to improve on. I guess I’d like to get that ERA a little lower….”

One uncertain player in the Mets clubhouse is outfielder Angel Pagan. Team doctors shut him down for the final three games with the Reds after Pagan sustained a mild concussion in the previous series with the Phillies. Though Pagan claimed it was not serious and wanted to play the final games. But there is more.

If Alderson can’t find another outfielder in the offseason there is talk he will be looking to convert Jason Bay into a centerfielder. Pagan, a close confident of the traded Carlos Beltran, fell in bad flavor with teammates on three separate occasions  including a game in July when he asked to be removed from a game in Texas because of the excessive heat.

He had the boxes packed Tuesday evening and was ready to return home to Puerto Rico early Thursday morning. As players packed their bags, hugged each other and said their goodbyes, Pagan quickly got dressed and stayed away from the media. A fan of welterweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Pagan plans to rest for a few weeks, go into an offseason workout plan and attend the Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas in November. It won’t be his last visit to New York this year as Pagan plans to attend the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight at Madison Square Garden in December.

“I have seven good years left in me,” he said. Packing two pairs of Nike shoes sent by Pacquiao, he said, “Someone will pick me up if I am not here next year.” He was not petitioning to keep his roster spot, and as players walked in and out of a back room to the clubhouse, it seemed the only communication was Pagan and getting out of town….

Miguel Batista, the 40-year old former Arizona Diamondback pitched the season ending two-hit shutout and was raving about his former team that is headed to the post season for the fifth time in their young history. As to his future, signed as a late season addition when cut by the St. Louis Cardinals, he said, “This is an organization with talent that will win. I felt good, my pitches had velocity and I know I can help these guys next year …

Mets finished the season with a final 77-85 record good for fifth place in the National League east, 25 games behind the first place Phillies… A final wrap up on the season with the Alderson press conference, and more from behind the scenes on the final game of the 2011 season at Citi Field coming tomorrow.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Baseball Contract, Bunt, Cincinnati Reds, Displeasure, Inning Loss, Interesting Story, Jose Reyes, Last Game, Late Afternoon, Losing Season, Major League Baseball, Mets Fans, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Ryan Braun, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 29, 2011

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Brewers Sweep Weekend Series over the Mets; Mets Drop 9 of Last 11 Games

Flushing, NY—The Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 victory over the Mets completed a three game sweep over the Mets at Citi Field. The two clubs are presently heading in very different directions. The Brewers are in first place in the N.L. Central Division after winning 22 of the last 25 games. The Mets have dropped nine of the last eleven contests and are only three games in front of the last place Florida Marlins in the N.L. East.

The weekend games provided very happy birthdays for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke (Friday) and Milwaukee’s ace pinch hitter, Craig Counsell (Sunday). Roenicke is enjoying a successful rookie season as manager of the Brewers.  Counsell, as a pinch hiller, led off the ninth with a single to right. The plate appearance as a pinch hitter and the base hit raised his career team marks to 161 and 40 respectively. Counsell, 41, is the sixth oldest player currently active in MLB.

The two starters, R.A. Dickey and Yovani Gallardo statistically threw almost identical games. Each pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, both earned, and surrendered six hits. Gallardo walked one, intentionally and fanned six. Dickey did not walk a batter and struck out three. Neither hurler figured in the decision.

The first run of the contest was scored on a two-out home run hit by Casey McGehee in the fourth. The second run for the Brewers were scored by the superstar combo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. One day earlier, both homered in the 11-9 Brewers comeback victory, the 33rd game in which each blasted a four bagger. On Sunday, Braun led off the sixth with a single, stole second and scored on a single to center by Fielder.

The Mets tied the score in the seventh. David Wright singled to lead-off. The next batter, Lucas Duda drove in two as he homered to right on the first pitch. The Mets did not score again as former Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez in the eighth and former Yankee LaTroy Hawkins In the ninth retired all the batters they faced.

The four Mets relievers, Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen and Pedro Beato surrendered four runs and five hits in two innings. After the contest, Mets manager Terry Collins expressed his regret over removing Dickey from the game, “R. A. Pitched a great game. I have to take this one [blame]. I should have stayed with R.A.”

Ryan Braun did the greatest damage to the Mets. He hit safely three times, stole two bases, his 25th and 26th, score two runs and drove in a third. Collins said, “You have to give Braun credit.”

Collins spoke of his team’s recent failings, “When Jose and Murph went down, we had to pick ourselves up and we just have not done that. We haven’t played well enough to win. We have to get them [players] to believe in themselves again.”

Fielder explained to reporters his team’s confidence and success, “I think we finally got that feeling [that we can find a way to win] on the road. I never saw that [22 of 25 wins] since Little League.”

The difference between the two teams may have been best expressed by Frankie Rodriguez, who has played for both in 2011. When Queens reporter Lloyd Carroll said to Rodriguez, “I’ll bet you’re just glad to be over here [Brewers] than over there [Mets], K-Rod emphatically replied, “Hell Yeah!”

Posted under Comeback Victory, David Wright, Florida Marlins, Game Sweep, Happy Birthdays, Latroy Hawkins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Plate Appearance, Rookie Season, Ryan Braun, Three Games, Top Story, Weekend Games

Peterson Learns Off the Field, Aims to Return to the Field Soon

The trading deadline has now come and gone, and it is usually the time of year when Rick Peterson can finally settle in and know fully the hand he has been dealt with a pitching staff. However this year has been a different one for the former Mets pitching mentor, a year spent away from the ballpark for the most part, and in a sort of “pitching lab,” working in the development of tools and techniques to help clubs and individuals attain their best performance, just not with one club.

A managerial change over the winter left Peterson, who had spent last season helping make John Axford into a closer and reshaping the delivery of Chris Capuano with the Milwaukee Brewers, a baseball nomad. The move came late for many teams solidifying staffs and left Peterson without a team for only the second time not in his career, but in his life. “It’s a little weird, but it has given me new perspective on the game and even on life, and I think it will help make me better when the phone rings again for whatever is the next job.” Peterson has not spent his time out of uniform idly sitting around and watching the waves crash in the shore near here is Manalapan, New Jersey home.  On the contrary, he has probably been busier with a multitude of tasks personal and professional than at any point in his storied career.

Trips to Italy (where he was married last month) and the Caribbean, attending school functions for his son, travelling across the country conducting seminars with Bloomberg Sports (whom he is advising on their analytic evaluation tools), helping run and manage his own company 3P Sports (which works with young players in technique and improving their game) and a great number of media appearances from Philly to Boston have kept the New Jersey resident engaged in baseball, and maybe learning more from a macro perspective than at any point in his career. “It has been great to talk to so many people, from players to agents to young developing talent, and really understand what they see as value in the game of baseball and how I can help them,” he added. “That has been really gratifying.”

What has also been gratifying to Peterson is seeing so many clubs embracing the use of data and technology to improve their on field play and protect the valuable investment they have made in players.  It is that type of data analysis that helped Peterson sculpt winning staffs with the Oakland A’s and the Mets, and helped get the Brewers back on track last year. “We have all this technology available today and companies like Bloomberg have made large scale investments into helping teams and players use technology to improve their performance, so seeing how the game is progressing is really impressive,” he added.  “Fewer guys are hesitant these days to use technology and data to improve, and that means we will hopefully see a better and more completely healthy player going forward.”

Even with his new scope of work, Peterson still longs to get back on the field, especially as summer turns to fall and the pennant races heat up. “Putting on that uniform is always a privilege, and it’s one I don’t think I ever took lightly, and I certainly take more seriously now than ever before,” he added. “This year has been one of continued growth, and now I want to take all of this work and help a club, should the opportunity arise and the situation is right.”

That situation could come this fall as clubs make their annual evaluation and changes of staff occur.  However Peterson adds, it has to be the right situation for it to work. “You need the right commitment and the right situation to be a success and what I have seen is that more and more clubs are willing to make more of an investment to win now and grow their player’s ability long term.  That is refreshing, and it makes me feel very good about where baseball is headed,” he added.

For Peterson, he hopes that he is headed back to the field sometime in the near future. It has been a year of growth and education, but for a guy who has spent so much time between the white lines and near the mound, the beach and the broadcast booth can still wait in favor of the day to day clubhouse activity, glove in one hand and laptop in another.

Posted under Analytic Evaluation, John Axford, Macro Perspective, Manalapan New Jersey, Media Appearances, Mentor, Milwaukee Brewers, Multitude, New Perspective, New York Mets, Rick Peterson, School Functions, Second Time, Staffs, Storied Career, Top Story, Trips To Italy, Watching The Waves, Waves Crash

This post was written by Jerry Milani on August 6, 2011

Tags: , ,

Long Day At The Park For The Mets

NEW YORK – There were perhaps less than 1,000 fans in the seats at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon when New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathan Niese threw the first pitch to Milwaukee Brewers leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks at 4:10pm. It was a rare twin bill of baseball in New York City courtesy of a Monday evening rain out that required two games.

Even if the games meant nothing towards post season implications, they had to be played. The Mets are finishing up another dismal campaign, third in the NL east, and the Brewers sitting fourth in the NL central also playing out the string and ready to pack their bags for the winter

Because net receipts from the gate and concessions are so important to the teams, the schedule must be played out. Even if there is a rain out the makeup game gets on the schedule if agreed by the teams this late in the season. With concession stands closed in the upper decks at Citi Field, and the noticeable empty seats it was time to play ball.

When the first pitch was thrown, and for a good part of the first game, fans in the stands and media in the press box could hear sounds of the game. A crack of the bat, fastball in the catcher’s mitt, and even players on the field heard saying “got it” or “go to first.”

“Rather play one game because as a player you are used to preparing for one,” said the Mets Chris Carter.  He would single and drive in two runs in the Mets two-run third inning of the first game. Those in the slim crowd could be heard, as the Mets started to cut the deficit after Niese surrendered six runs in the Milwaukee top of the inning.

That was one perspective of a long afternoon that went into the late evening in Flushing Queens.  The Mets would lose the first game of the double dip, 8-7. Niese (9-10) would throw 2.2 innings, on 10 hits and six runs, The Mets would battle back scoring five more runs in the fourth.

So what about those loyal fans who have once again witnessed another losing season at Citi Field? Carter, a first year Met loves their loyalty. “I love New York fans,” he said. “They’re tough, they know what to expect. I really appreciate the fans. As a player you block out the fact that there is nobody in the stands,” he said.

David Wright would hit a two-run homer in that fourth, his 28th and third game in a row with a homer, done four other times in his career and now the fifth time he has 100 or more ruins batted in, But he failed to connect in the nightcap when the Mets could not score runs, could only get 5 hits in a 3-1 second game loss.

It was not the 13 hits they had in the first game. Starter R.A. Dickey concluded a successful first season in New York. A surprise who was signed after spring training, Dickey (11-8) was talking about coming back next season. The 35-year old right hander has earned a role to start with a knuckleball that has revived his career.

“Feel I have a lot to offer and age is no consequence,” commented Dickey who gave up six hits in seven innings. “Priority number one was the ability and consistency to throw strikes.” The fans saw what Dickey offered and many times showed their appreciation.

It was a storybook season for a pitcher who got a role when Oliver Perez and John Maine left the rotation, “I feel this is what I can offer over the next five or six years of my career,” said Dickey who certainly can hang around more with a knuckleball that has consistency.

“What impressed me the most was his consistency,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel who may not be making a decision about Dickey’s role with every expectation that Sunday will be his last game at the helm. “Every time he took the ball, he gave us a chance to win.”

When the first game was over, about 7:40pm, Manuel had used eight pitchers which tied a franchise record for a nine inning game.  The supposed 28,284 in attendance, more about tickets sold, than who showed, made as much noise as they could as the Mets staged another comeback in the eighth inning that once again failed short.

And when the second game began, a half hour later at 8:16PM, many of those empty seats were still visible and another Mets player Carlos Beltran was shut down for the final four games.  Beltran would say the mild inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee would require what the doctor ordered,

“I’m happy, actually the knee’s better, I’m happy for that part” said Beltran who was having a strong September which provided optimism for next season, that is, if the Mets don’t decide to trade him in what would be the final year of a $119 million dollar contract.

“The part that I’m not happy about is just that I wanted to finish the season playing but by the recommendation by the doctor they don’t want me to play.”

Ninth inning of game two and the Mets have one last chance to make this worthwhile in another meaningless game.  The “Cowbell Man” Ed Bison was doing his usual thing in a now almost desolate Citi Field, urging fans for one last push. You would think those doing the chanting were in a late season pennant race with their team.

They did cheer for Pedro Feliciano who pitched in both ends of the doubleheader. The lefthander has 91 appearances this season which extended his franchise record that he established the night before.  And they gave Angel Pagan his usual applause when he swiped his 37th base of the season in the first inning of game two, becoming the first Mets outfielder with that many since Rickey Henderson and Roger Cedeno in 1999.

Trevor Hoffman the career saves leader got number 601 for the Brewers and Mets fans went home seeing a double dip loss.  New York, (77-81) needs to win their last four games to avoid their second consecutive losing season. Count four, when including the collapses of 2007, 2008, and of course the injury plagued Mets of 2009.

A long day at the ballpark and there are those loyal Mets fans who are willing to be patient about winning again. And the good thing about it, they have a team that knows they are around to give them support even when ballgames mean nothing in late September.

e-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chris Carter, Double Dip, Evening Rain, Fastball, First Game, Game Fans, Late Evening, Leadoff Hitter, Losing Season, Loyal Fans, Makeup Game, Mets New York, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Niese, Nl Central, Nl East, Starting Pitcher, Top Of The Inning, Top Story, Upper Decks

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 30, 2010

Audio: Mets Drop DH

Bob Trainor of Trainor Communications was at Citi Field last night as the Mets dropped a double header to the Brewers

From the AP:

“Dave Bush needed a moment to think about it: One of his best outings of the season or an RBI single off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?

“I guess today they’re equal,” Bush said. “Without it I wouldn’t get a win.”

Either way, they were both big.

Bush’s run-scoring single in the third inning was all the support he needed because he pitched six-plus innings of three-hit ball. Ryan Braun added a two-run double and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the New York Mets, 3-1, on Wednesday night to complete a doubleheader sweep in New York.”

Jerry Manuel

R.A. Dickey

Jon Niese

Ken Macha

Dave Bush

For More Info contact Bob at TrainorComm@gmail.com.

Posted under Bush Mp3, Contact Bob, Dave Bush, Double Header, Doubleheader Sweep, Ken Macha, Knuckleballer, Milwaukee Brewers, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Ryan Braun, Top Story, Trainor, Wednesday Night

This post was written by Bob Trainor on September 30, 2010

Tejada Provides A Much Needed Mets Spark

Ruben Tejada the 20-year old rookie infielder of the New York Mets has been patient realizing his playing time has also been a valuable experience. Back in April he was on the 25 man roster and struggled at the plate.

Patience is a virtue as they say. And for Tejada recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on August 7th, the learning process of being on a big league roster have probably earned him the starting second base job at Citi Field next season.

The roster move back in August came when the Mets released veteran infielder and clubhouse leader Alex Cora. “He helped me a lot, spoke to me about what to expect and how to play the big field,” Tejada said recently about his experience of playing in New York and taking Cora in as a mentor.

Tuesday night at Citi Field in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Mets trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by two runs, in a game that meant nothing but playing for pride, Tejada got his chance. He hit an inside fastball off   Brewers hard throwing left handed closer John Axford.

The ball went into the left center field gap and Luis Castillo came home with the Mets seventh walk-off win of the season 4-3. Tejada was mobbed at home plate by his teammates after going 3-for-4 The second of his two doubles became the big hit with his two runs batted in.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has always been an advocate of using Tejada as the every day second baseman which regulated the big contract of Castillo to the bench And when infielder Luis Hernandez broke his foot and ended his season on the prior home stand, the second base job and batting eighth in the lineup was permanent for Tejada.

“It was a matter of him getting some hits to fall for him,” said Manuel about the game wining hit that gave the Mets their first win of the season when trailing after eight innings. “Some things fell in for him tonight, that’s a great confidence boost for him.  He’s trying to establish to himself where he belongs on this level and he did a good job tonight,”

Tejada, who makes his off season home in Veraguas Panama has made it known that the adjustment to the big city has been a patient process, Just like being patient at the plate where he has been struggling to keep his average over .200.

“I feel great and hit the ball hard to the left fielder and won the game,’ he said after what hopefully will be many more of his walk off wins for the Mets. On the situation, he said, “I think I’m looking for my count and hit the ball to center field to tie the game.”

It was more than a game tying hit. It became the game winning hit that gave the Mets a good start to their final seven games of the season at home. “I want to finish up strong, we want to finish strong,” he said.

The three hits tied a career high that were achieved against the Pirates on September 14th. Back on September 5th, Tejada also became the second Met this season that had a five RBI game. “I saw the ball good that day,” he said and the wind was also blowing out that day at Wrigley Field.

“It’s been a great experience for me I’m learning a lot, it’s good,” commented Tejada. He will pack his bags after the final game Sunday and return home to be with his mother and members of his family, and then possibly play winter ball in Venezuela.

Something the Mets hope for is the continued development of their youngsters.  The future at Citi Field revolves around players like Tejada, and draft picks such as Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and pitcher Dillon Gee.

And as Tejada says, “I hope to be a part of that future.” A game wining hit and continued patience certainly have almost assured a welcome mat for Tejada at Citi Field next April as their starting second baseman.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Alex Cora, August 7, Clubhouse, Fastball, Gap, Luis Castillo, Luis Hernandez, Man Roster, Mentor, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Patience Is A Virtue, Playing Time, Roster Move, Ruben, Second Baseman, Teammates, Top Story, Tuesday Night, Veteran Infielder

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 29, 2010