Davey’s All-Star Game Memories

With the All-Star game at Citi Field fast approaching, it felt like a good time to stir the memories of former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who was in town herding his Washington Nationals this weekend. Johnson, a four-time All-Star himself (1968-70, ’73), was, of course, the skipper of the 1986 World Champion Mets when the longtime tradition tabbed him to helm the National League squad in 1987.

Johnson’s NL squad in ’87 found runs hard to come by, but they held firm until they were able to push two scores across the plate in the 13th inning and secured an All-Star shutout, 2-0. In fact, Johnson has always been associated with All-Star victories, as his NL teammates won all four games when he was on the roster in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Back then, just like it is now,” Johnson said proudly, “is always a great honor.”

Johnson’s best recollection of that game in ’87 naturally involved his pitchers. “I remember the game was out in Oakland, and the last guy to pitch for us was Sid (Fernandez) at the end of the game (who got the save).

“I had used the great Cubs closer, Lee Smith, for three innings (the longest stint by any NL hurler that night), and I guess I didn’t care about him (picture Davey smiling broadly as he said this). I needed Sid for the second half (of the Mets’ season).”

Hey, a win is a win, no matter how you get it. “We won the game, so that was pretty good.”

Johnson’s memories of his All-Star appearances are a little fuzzy, perhaps purposely, as he collected only one hit in his times at-bat, often filling in for Hall of Famers such as Rod Carew late in the game, and in ’69, he didn’t even make it into the game, which is a fate that befell many All-Stars in the days when sometimes a Willie Mays or a Hank Aaron would play the entire game.

Interestingly, Johnson’s teammates in the ’73 included eight future Hall of Famers. The AL squad placed nine future Hall of Famers onto their boxscore.

It’s always a juggling act for any All-Star manager these days of trying to win and trying to place every player into the boxscore.

“I remember I had Pedro Guerrero, just about the best hitter in the league at the time, and I didn’t start him. I gave him only one pinch-hit. I was trying to do him a favor cause I knew he had a little knee problem. But he was mad at me for a long time after that.”

Guerrero lined out in the tenth against Tom Henke in his only at-bat, pinch-hitting for Steve Bedrosian.

“Managing the game is very difficult cause you’re trying to win the game and trying to get everybody into the game,” Johnson emphasized. “They made the trip, so you want to get everybody in, but at the same time you want to pay service to your league and to the team.”

Putting the roster together is also a way to get yourself into trouble.

“There’s always going to be guys who deserve to be there and who you just couldn’t squeeze onto the team.”

As it turned out, Johnson ended up managing six future Hall of Famers – Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith, and Tony Gwynn. The AL team featured six future Hall of Famers as well – Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken, Jr., George Brett, and Kirby Puckett.

Johnson, 70, will join Mets manager Terry Collins as the two baseline coaches for this year’s All Star game at Citi Field on July 16.

Both staffs will have a definitive Mets flavor. As is the custom, the managers of the World Series the previous year run the squads, and have choice over selecting two other current managers as coaches. San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, himself a former Met (1982), went with Collins and Johnson. AL skipper Jim Leyland, chose ex-Mets Robin Ventura and John Gibbons.

“I’m looking forward to just being on the bench and helping out Bochy,” added Johnson, “and watching him squirm trying to win and trying to get everybody in.”

Posted under Andy Esposito, Boxscore, Four Games, Future Hall Of Famers, Lee Smith, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rod Carew, Sid Fernandez, Star Appearances, Teammates, Top Story, Washington Nationals

Davey’s All-Star Game Memories

With the All-Star game at Citi Field fast approaching, it felt like a good time to stir the memories of former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who was in town herding his Washington Nationals this weekend. Johnson, a four-time All-Star himself (1968-70, ’73), was, of course, the skipper of the 1986 World Champion Mets when the longtime tradition tabbed him to helm the National League squad in 1987.

Johnson’s NL squad in ’87 found runs hard to come by, but they held firm until they were able to push two scores across the plate in the 13th inning and secured an All-Star shutout, 2-0. In fact, Johnson has always been associated with All-Star victories, as his NL teammates won all four games when he was on the roster in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Back then, just like it is now,” Johnson said proudly, “is always a great honor.”

Johnson’s best recollection of that game in ’87 naturally involved his pitchers. “I remember the game was out in Oakland, and the last guy to pitch for us was Sid (Fernandez) at the end of the game (who got the save).

“I had used the great Cubs closer, Lee Smith, for three innings (the longest stint by any NL hurler that night), and I guess I didn’t care about him (picture Davey smiling broadly as he said this). I needed Sid for the second half (of the Mets’ season).”

Hey, a win is a win, no matter how you get it. “We won the game, so that was pretty good.”

Johnson’s memories of his All-Star appearances are a little fuzzy, perhaps purposely, as he collected only one hit in his times at-bat, often filling in for Hall of Famers such as Rod Carew late in the game, and in ’69, he didn’t even make it into the game, which is a fate that befell many All-Stars in the days when sometimes a Willie Mays or a Hank Aaron would play the entire game.

Interestingly, Johnson’s teammates in the ’73 included eight future Hall of Famers. The AL squad placed nine future Hall of Famers onto their boxscore.

It’s always a juggling act for any All-Star manager these days of trying to win and trying to place every player into the boxscore.

“I remember I had Pedro Guerrero, just about the best hitter in the league at the time, and I didn’t start him. I gave him only one pinch-hit. I was trying to do him a favor cause I knew he had a little knee problem. But he was mad at me for a long time after that.”

Guerrero lined out in the tenth against Tom Henke in his only at-bat, pinch-hitting for Steve Bedrosian.

“Managing the game is very difficult cause you’re trying to win the game and trying to get everybody into the game,” Johnson emphasized. “They made the trip, so you want to get everybody in, but at the same time you want to pay service to your league and to the team.”

Putting the roster together is also a way to get yourself into trouble.

“There’s always going to be guys who deserve to be there and who you just couldn’t squeeze onto the team.”

As it turned out, Johnson ended up managing six future Hall of Famers – Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith, and Tony Gwynn. The AL team featured six future Hall of Famers as well – Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken, Jr., George Brett, and Kirby Puckett.

Johnson, 70, will join Mets manager Terry Collins as the two baseline coaches for this year’s All Star game at Citi Field on July 16.

Both staffs will have a definitive Mets flavor. As is the custom, the managers of the World Series the previous year run the squads, and have choice over selecting two other current managers as coaches. San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, himself a former Met (1982), went with Collins and Johnson. AL skipper Jim Leyland, chose ex-Mets Robin Ventura and John Gibbons.

“I’m looking forward to just being on the bench and helping out Bochy,” added Johnson, “and watching him squirm trying to win and trying to get everybody in.”

Posted under Andy Esposito, Boxscore, Four Games, Future Hall Of Famers, Lee Smith, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rod Carew, Sid Fernandez, Star Appearances, Teammates, Top Story, Washington Nationals

The Buck Stops Here

The Mets used to be the masters of the motto.

All the way back to the 1980s, they came up with some catchy phrases to highlight the season.

They had “The Magic is Back” and “Baseball Like It Oughta Be” to name a few.

In 2013, though, the motto seems to be lost or at least it’s not the in your face like in past years, however if the Mets do decide to come up with one, they may want to look back to the days of Harry Truman for some inspiration.

“Give ‘Em Hell Harvey!” could be one every five days. But that leaves about 125 games to come up with another.

So while the Mets wait for d’Arnaud, they may just say, “The Buck Stops Here.”

John Buck is making his mark on Mets pitchers. His experience and ability to work with Mets pitchers have been felt over the first week of the season. All four starters pitched well, and they all credit Buck for his ability to keep their heads in the game.

He’s unbelievable. I had good catchers in my day,” said tonight’s Mets hard luck starter Jeremy Hefner. “Not to take away anything from (Josh) Thole or (Mike) Nickeas last year, JB has been around the game. He played with those guys last year. I leaned on him tonight. But the way he brings confidence and brings the best out of you. It’s refreshing.

Buck said he learned this art form from Brad Ausmus and Paul Bako  back in the early 2000s. And over the years he learned pitchers, know which ones need the silence and which ones need a good kick in the behind.

“He recognized each pitchers personality and adapted to them,” Hefner said. “He would push buttons when necessary.”

“I had good mentors,” Buck said, “who showed me what the red flags were and how to get the most out of them.”

And Hefner got his kick in the butt in the second inning tonight after giving up his only run – a homer to Greg Dobbs.

But that’s Buck’s specialty. Sure he has some power, but he won’t remind anyone of Mike Piazza. Instead, the Mets have a professional backstop, whose job is to get this young set of arms on the right course, something Buck seems to be very happy in doing.

“Younger guys have a little more teaching involved,” Buck said. “But the young guys we have, it’s more sticking to game plans. It’s not a mentoring type group, instead these are guys who belong here and it’s getting them to stick to the game plan. Obviously, I think they are in that level.”

One guy Buck really clicked with is Matt Harvey, who Buck sees as someone who would click with anyone catching him.

“He’s got good stuff,” Buck said. “So he’s got a lot of weapons when calling a game. It’s obviously why he is so effective.”

Sure it looks like a marriage made in heaven, but we all know Buck is not long for the Mets. He is a stop-gap until Travis d’Arnaud comes up and a few more stinkers by the bullpen like tonight, it may be sooner, rather than later.

However until that happens, the Mets starters, will be very happy to have their final word come from their veteran catcher.

The Buck truly stops there.

Posted under Art Form, Backo, Brad Ausmus, Catchy Phrases, Good Kick, Hard Luck, Harry Truman, Joe Mcdonald, Josh Thole, Kick In The Butt, Mentors, Mets, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Paul Bako, Pitchers, Top Story

Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Harrel, Home Park, Houston Astros, Interim Manager, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Seton Hall University, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story, Winning Shot

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Home Park, Houston Astros, Managerial Responsibilities, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Rockland County, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

Tags: , , ,

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: , , ,

K-Rod Trade Had To Be Made

As free agent signings go, Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t a bad one for the Mets.

Sure, he had the incident last season with his girlfriend’s father, but even that worked out well for the club. K-Rod received the proper counseling, the Mets were off the hook for the rest of his 2010 salary and he came as a model citizen this year.

Oliver Perez, K-Rod was not.

But the fact is the Mets needed to trade their now erstwhile closer. With $17 million looming in 2012 and Scott Boras wringing his hands in the background, Sandy Alderson needed to ship his closer away for any price and as quickly as he could.

Boras could have made the Mets life miserable over the next few weeks. Already he boasted Rodriguez wasn’t going to be a set-up man and would be “unhappy” in the clubhouse if he didn’t get the ball in the ninth.

Enter Milwaukee, who is tied in the Central with the Cardinals using John Axford who is 23 out of 25 as their closer. With 23 saves on the season, manager Ron Roenicke can use both pitchers in the ninth as he sees fit or just use K-Rod in the eight. With 34 games finished so far, Rodriguez probably won’t get to the vesting option of 55 games.

So this trade needed to be made. The Mets will get back two player yet to be named, but it doesn’t matter if they are Rickie Weekes and Prince Fielder or two A-Ball relievers, as the deal is about the addition losing K-Rod brings to the Mets.

“We thank Frankie for his contributions to the Mets and wish him well with the Brewers,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief, as well.”

Now the club can see if Bobby Parnell or even Pedro Beato are the answers at closer, or does the team have to look elsewhere next year. By giving their young pitchers a chance in the ninth this season with only an outside shot to contend, the Mets will avoid an Aaron Heilman situation where a good reliever melted as a closer when forced into the pennant race.

More importantly, though, losing Rodriguez give the Mets a much better chance of keeping Jose Reyes. Without K-Rod’s albatross option looming, the club have some cost certainty when it comes to 2012. After Carlos Beltran walks or even gets traded, Alderson will have around $55 million coming off the books, not including Reyes’s $11 million. That means there may be some wriggle room to pay the shortstop in the high teens to low $20 million range in the off-season, while dropping the payroll to a more comfortable level for the Wilpons.

This is exactly what the Wilpons hired Alderson to do. He’s cleaning up Omar Minaya’s mess. Beltran will probably be the next to go – more than likely when David Wright and/or Ike Davis come off the disabled list at the end of the month – and heck, if some insane team wants to take Jason Bay off his hands, Alderson will more than likely drive the left fielder to the airport himself.

So sure the Mets lost a closer last night, but as trade go, this is a good one.

Posted under Aaron Heilman, Bullpen, Cardinals, Clubhouse, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Mcdonald, John Axford, Model Citizen, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Parnell, Payroll, Pitchers, Sandy Alderson, Scott Boras, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 13, 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: , ,

The More Things Change….

Opening day has come and gone.  On the plus side the Mets have one  of the  best  all time winning percentages  in opening day games – and we all know how  that has worked out over 50 years.

On the down side, it looks an awful  lot like they could  use today’s game as  the oft referenced “microcosm” game for what looks like the inevitable 48th year of futility.

Pelfrey being hyped as ready to assume the mantle of staff “ace”?  In reality, he would not legitimately be looked at as the ace of any number of college teams and most,  if not all,  minor league teams. He may end up having a serviceable Bobby Jones like career, and may turn out to be a serviceable 5th starter on a major league team, but he has never found a bat that he could not hit. He may get 27 people to hit the ball directly at fielders over a 3 hour period, but he can never be really good unless and until  he can get HIMSELF out of trouble on occasion. This will not happen unless and UNTIL  he learns to change speeds.  Every pitch looks exactly the same. OK  sometimes he has good movement. Sometimes he throws a heavy ball all game – but he never changes speeds. Hell, even if he couldn’t get people out with it he should learn to do it just to put something in a hitters mind.

Which brings me to the next problem. Who does Dan Warthen have pictures of  in the Met’s organization. My guess is Jeff Wilpon. Can’t be any of the triumvirate. What are his qualifications as a pitching coach? At least Peterson had the whole kinetic research combined with psycho babble thing going – and some  sort of strategy regarding the art of pitching. Hell Leo Mazzone is out  there begging for a job. I know, I know, he doesn’t fit the mold as a speak when spoken to guy – but  he sure knows how  to be a pitching coach, with years and years of proven  results. Is Warthen’s plan to have the pitchers pound the strike zone = which they still don/t do enough. Round  up and  develop 95 MPH pitchers and teach them secondary pitches? Seems it is more like the Mets 50 year plan – just throw as much crap against the wall as you  can and hope something  sticks.

It would be considered noble, heroic, insightful, moneyballish, whatever – watching  a front office assemble a rag tag team of  no names, cast offs, rule 5’s (come on 2 out of your 9  players on the field on opening day are rule 5 players), but  this is New York. Even being the second city team in New York should make you a Billion Dollar Franchise. Not Northeast Kansas City.

Which brings us to the biggest problem. Ownership. There is no sympathy. They pocketed millions from Met fans – not  counting  Madoff’s  money  and what they knew or didn’t know. They always did just enough to act like they cared but never went all in like Steinbrenner. They never had the whatever it takes mentality like Steinbrenner and now the Red Sox and Phillies. Why? General principles?  Good business skills – which we already know they do not possess? Why? Because you can only sell so many tickets and once  you  sell them all, or all you think you  are going to sell in the best case scenario, you can stop trying to impress anybody, you can stop trying to win, you can stop spending or investing as there is no  ROI  left for you to squeeze out. The actual pennants, world series, winning and all that comes with that culture  and reputation is not important to them-and never has been for the entire  Mets history.

From the time they were born they were a joke, an attraction. They hired a guy Casey Stengel who by  that time was a washed up carnival hawker and he toured the land with his Metsies, Metsies schtick and his fabulous one liners about why they drafted a catcher first in the expansion draft – your gonna need somebody to go get the balls. They were known point blank as lovable losers. And they marketed the hell out of it  for all it  was worth. And it lasted for  50 years.

 

1969 was a MIRACLE. No other way to describe it. No other explanation for it. But it  happened and so did 1986. And that should  have been enough to open somebody’s eyes to what could be. What should  be. But it didn’t. Again, lovable losers that they are, ROI focused  as ever, just getting into the Subway Series was enough. Winning it didn’t matter. Getting maybe one curveball away from the world series in 2006 insured the max ROI for the next 3 years minimum, and take out the unscripted colossal collapses in 2007 and 2008 and they would still be living off 2006. Just like  SNY  still  lives off  1986 replays – and Yankee info and commercials. (could  you ever  imagine Steinbrenner allowing a David Wright  commercial  airing during  a YES broadcast?) The Met’s  don’t care  about that kind of stuff. They care about the  bottom line. Hell if the  Yankees  don’t pay them to run their commercials who else will?

Now having said all this, I always hated people who criticized for the sake of bitching and moaning alone.  I always felt if you weren’t part of the solution, you were part of the problem. Or at least if you didn’t have any ideas on what the solutions should be – then shut the hell up.

In this case however, the answers are obvious and can no longer be ignored or  tip-toed around.

Selig needs to have the Wilpons  sell the team – immediately if not already in the process. Otherwise he needs to move up his date and leave tomorrow and let the next guy make them divest themselves of what should be the  Pinta  or  Santa  Maria  of  MLB,  if  not the Nina itself.

The front office needs to bring in all their own people. And not shopping in Filenes Basement. It  is killing the Phillies  they can’t  go right  after  Michael Young  to fill in at 2nd base. Of  course,  they paid  more than the GNP of ¾ of  the  world for their  starting  rotation, and Howard and Utley. But don’t be shocked if  they get  desperate  enough they don’t  go  ahead  and get  him anyway.  It’s called doing whatever  it takes.

Start selling high on players  like Pagan, Pelfrey (based on last year), Reyes if he starts looking like  his old self, Beltran to an AL team if he  proves he can DH, and David Wright before he completely  flops.

Trade these guys  for aces, or  potential  aces,  or  potential  all stars. Restock the farm with top talent.  Get established  talent.   Reyes  or  Wright could have  brought a Lincecum a few years ago. They can still bring monster packages from the Red Sox,  Giants,  Dodgers, etc. Move them. Move on. Rebuild in your own image and see what happens.

We have already seen what happens  with  50 years of the wrong vision, or  no vision whatsoever. And it ain’t pretty. Somebody has to lead the poor Met  fans out of the desert. 50 years of  futility is enough.

And if we can’t go to the mountain – then we should bring the mountain  to them,  in the  form of balled up  season ticket  applications.  Stop supporting the same people who make fools out of us year after year after year after year. Stop buying 6 game packages. Stop going to the games altogether. Stop watching them on SNY. Stop watching SNY. It is the only thing these people respond to and unless and until we show them we understand how they operate the vicious cycle will continue in perpetuity. And the best we could hope for is some sort of purgitory if not outright baseball fan hell.

Posted under Bobby Jones, Dan Warthen, Fielders, Futility, Hyped, Jeff Wilpon, Leo Mazzone, Major League, Mantle, Mets, Microcosm, Minor League Teams, Mold, New York Mets, Percentages, Pitchers, Pitching Coach, Psycho Babble, Strike Zone, Top Story, Triumvirate

This post was written by Frank Salamone on April 2, 2011

Tags:

Second Shutout for Mets Starters leads to 1-0 Victory over Phillies

New York – If a doctor were to sit down and write out a prescription for the Mets it would read like this: “A shutout a day will keep the losing streak at bay.”  The New York Mets (58-57) were able to do just that behind a very strong starting performance from knuckleball specialist R. A. Dickey to blank the Philadelphia Phillies (64-51), by the score of 1-0 in Friday night baseball at Citi Field.

The Mets now have had back-to-back complete game shutouts as Santana and Dickey became the first pair of Mets pitchers to post shutouts since Pedro Astacio and Jeff D’Amico went the distance in consecutive two-hitters on May 14-15, 2002 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Notching their major league-leading 18th shutout this evening, the Mets have had their last four victories all come in shutouts.

Dickey (8-5) was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets in throwing a complete-game shutout against the National League East Rival Phillies. The righty was able to baffle the Phillies batters, striking out seven while only giving up one walk and one hit. The lone hit for Philadelphia came from opposing pitcher Cole Hamels, who laced a single to right field. Hamels (7-9) went eight innings for Philadelphia in a fine start, striking out eight Mets hitters. What hurt the lefty were the five hits that he gave up to the Mets with four of them falling in for extra base hits.

In speaking about his starter Mets manager Jerry Manuel had this to say, “Today he (Dickey) was very impressive for us. He is very much a competitor and he knew what he needed to do and he did it.”

After the game Manuel continued to say how he felt that pitching and defense was also a part of that Mets prescription for leading them to victories in the rest of the 2010 season. Well the Mets got plenty of great defensive plays in the game as in the first two innings shortstop Jose Reyes made two very nice diving plays for New York.

“We put an emphasis on pitching and defense, and we think that is our formula to win games,” Manuel said after the game, “Guys have responded very well to that formula so far.”

Mike Hessman also had two very nice defensive plays for the Mets, both coming in the bottom of the second inning taking care of two very hit ground balls and was able to make the outs against two very speedy runners. Hessman also recorded his first major league triple in the bottom of the fifth inning, but not without help of instant replay.

It seemed as if the rookie was able to hit a first pitch changeup into the crowd in left field which fell for what was originally called a home run.  That call was immediately protested by the Phillies players and manager Charlie Manuel as a fan interference play. In doing the right thing the umpiring crew immediately went into the replay booth inside of Citi Field to make the correct call. The umpires came out after a six minute delay to tell the rookie that he was going to get a triple. After the umpires call was made the 35,440 in attendance very upset immediately voicing their displeasure at the reversed call.

“The umpiring crew went to Major League Baseball for the official ruling,” Manuel explained of the overturned call. “They look at all of the different angels and they made that determination.” Hessman was awarded third base because, “When the ball hit the wall, Mike was already past second base and on his way to third; so I thought it was the right call for us.”

New York wasn’t able to cash in on that extra base hit as Hamels worked out of trouble. It would not stay that way for the Philadelphia starter as consecutive doubles in the bottom of the sixth inning by David Wright (29) and Carlos Beltran (6) was all the Mets needed to win the game.

“Having Beltran and Wright get hits tonight for us was a huge boost to our offense,” Manuel said after the game. “If we can get them both going at the same time it will be a positive thing for us offensively.”

Also contributing to the Mets offense was left fielder Angel Pagan who out hustled a very strong throw by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Pagan continued to show off his speed by stealing second and third base (28). Catcher Henry Blanco was another part of the Mets offense in the bottom of the seventh inning, when scorched a ball down the left-field line for a ground-rule double (5).

The Mets will try to continue to ride this shutout momentum, and keep to the doctor’s prescription in game two against the Phillies on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Philadelphia will send out their own doctor in Roy “Doc” Halladay (14-8, 2.34 ERA) takes on Pat Misch. The 28-year-old lefty was 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo will be called up to make the first start of the 2010 season. Mish had a taste of action with the Mets last season posting a 4.12 ERA in 59 innings.

Posted under Amico, Batters, Cole Hamels, Complete Game, Defensive Plays, Game Shutout, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Lefty, Los Angeles Dodgers, Losing Streak, Major League, National League East, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pedro Astacio, Philadelphia Phillies, Pitchers, Santana, Shortstop, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 14, 2010