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

Happ, Bonifacio, Thole agree with Blue Jays (The Associated Press)

TORONTO (AP) — Catcher Josh Thole agreed Friday to a $2.5 million, two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, who reached one-year deals with left-hander J.A. Happ and infielder Emilio Bonifacio.

Posted under Mlb

Sports Beat “Sayonara, Cy Young winner”

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was the National League batting champion in 2011. The pending free agent did not receive a contract offer from the Mets and signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the Miami Marlins, who would go onto trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays a year later.

In 2012 Mets knuckleball pitcher RA Dickey won the Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher in the National League. Since Dickey would be a free agent after the 2013 season the Mets decided to trade him while they could get something in return for him rather than wait a year and get nothing back as was the case with Reyes. The Blue Jays apparently offered the Mets the best package of prospects. One can just imagine the conversation Reyes and Dickey will have in Dunedin, Florida when the Blue Jays open their spring training camp.

There is little doubt that the dispensing of Dickey to north of the border was done to save current and future payroll. Dickey is 38 years old, which is ancient for any traditional pitcher but not one who throws a knuckleball. On the other hand, the Mets couldn’t achieve a .500 record even with RA’s pitching heroics.

If catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the prospects the Mets received in the deal, come close to living up to the hype surrounding them, then this will be a steal for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. Of course Baseball America and other publications have long praised the well-stocked minor league systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals and yet those teams have stunk for the last twenty years.

Mets reporters will miss talking with catcher Josh Thole who will be accompanying Dickey to Toronto.  He is a great guy and his absence will be felt. To use a New York expression, he’s a total mensch.

St. John’s University, along with seven other Catholic colleges whose schools don’t have football programs, announced that they would be leaving the Big East to start their own conference. There was no reason given as to why there is acrimony between Big East colleges that field football teams and those that don’t.

In a press release issued by St. John’s, university president Rev. Donald Harrington and athletics director Chris Monasch both stated that the decision was not based on dissatisfaction with the economics of the Big East. They added however that they expect the new federation that will be created to do very well financially. I translate that as “we say that it’s not the money but in reality it’s the money!”

Former Newtown High School hoops star and current Detroit Pistons player Charlie Villanueva was back in the area last Friday night as his team took on the Nets at the Barclays Center. He expressed his concern about his alma mater being targeted for closing by Mayor Bloomberg because of poor graduation rates. Charlie also helped the Nets accounting department by purchasing 14 tickets so that friends and family could watch him play.

Jamaica High School alum Rob Parker is both a well-respected sportswriter and an ESPN air personality whose star was on the rise until last week when he put his foot in his mouth for criticizing Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III for not being attuned enough to African-American concerns or culture in rather demeaning language to boot. He was immediately suspended by ESPN brass. I have known Rob for years and I am sure that he regrets what he said on the air. We’ve all said dumb things that we wish that we could retract immediately. I hope that this incident blows over as quickly as possible for him.

Parker was substituting for another Queens native, Hollis’s Stephen A. Smith, on the contrived ESPN2 morning show, “First Take,” where the name of the game is to say as many outrageous things as possible without going over the mythical line in order to create buzz judging by the amount of attention that co-host Skip Bayless has received.

I asked Bayless at ESPN’s Upfront last May if the show is akin to college debating with a bit more of an edge. He denied that and told me that everything that he says on the show is what he truly believes. My guess is that Skip’s response to my query was that of a professional wrestler who never steps out of character for the public.

ESPN chairman George Bodenheimer, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren, legendary sports essayist Jack Whitaker, and former Giants running back and longtime “Monday Night Football” anchor Frank Gifford were among the inductees at the 2012 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame that was held last week at the New York Hilton. On the technical side, Ray Dolby, whose name is synonymous with the movie industry was also given this honor because of contributions that he and his company have made to improving the television audio experience for sports fans.

It was a nice touch by the New York Islanders to send some of the players from their Bridgeport Sound Tigers American Hockey League farm team to meet young patients at both St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside and at the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Hospital this past Monday afternoon.

The Christmas-New Year’s week is always a popular tourist time in Orlando. If you want to get away from the theme parks and enjoy a fun evening at minimal cost, the East Coast Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears have home games on both December 27 and 28. The Solar Bears are an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and play at the Amway Center, the same arena used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Minor league hockey is not affected by the National Hockey League work stoppage.

Perhaps it was because it dovetailed nicely with the celebration of Chanukah but I thought that it was a bit unusual, albeit informative, for the New York Times to dedicate a full page of their sports section last week on newly acquired Yankees free agent Kevin Youkilis’s Jewish heritage.

Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire discovered a short time ago that he has Hebrew roots and has been public about his interest in all things Judaic including making a trip to Israel over the summer. I saw Stoudemire as he was watching the Knicks’ pre-game practice against the Rockets and I wished him mazel tov on his recent marriage which occurred over Chanukah. He thanked me and shook my hand.

I then mentioned to him that he can now file a joint tax return that would probably save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liability. “Really?” he asked with a broad grin. “You mean that you didn’t check with your CPA before getting married? I replied.

Jeremy Lin’s return packed the Garden’s press box and to no surprise he was quite positive about his time with the Knicks. I told him that I liked the fact that he made the cover of the current issue of GQ but that I wasn’t crazy about the suit and sneakers outfit that he was wearing when I passed him in a Garden corridor. “That was just a guy that looked like me!” Lin said with a chuckle indicating that it wasn’t his choice of an apparel combo either.

Speaking before of Hebrew culture, theFilm Society of Lincoln Center, the folks behind the New York Film Festival which just marked its 50th anniversary, will be presenting the 22nd annual New York Jewish Film Festival from January 9-24.

An indication that you are staying in an upscale hotel is if it has spa amenities in your room such as lotions, shampoos, shower gels, and balms from the British company, Gilchrist & Soames.

For security and protection, Sentinel Management is one of the best places to go. Visit them at www.sentinelmgi.com.

The Entertainment Book has long been known for saving big dollars at restaurants but you can also get great deals on tickets to sporting events through tear-out coupons and by going to their website, www.entertainment.com.

Posted under Baseball America, Batting Champion, Catholic Colleges, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Winner, Dunedin Florida, Football Programs, Jose Reyes, Josh Thole, Knuckleball Pitcher, Lloyd Carroll, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ra Dickey, S University, Sandy Alderson, Top Story

Just Sayin’: Reaction to the Dickey trade (The SportsXchange)

The Sports Xchange takes a closer look at reaction to the deal that sent National League Cy Young Award winner from the New York Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays. After Dickey agreed to a contract extension with Toronto, the Blue Jays received the knuckleballer as well as catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. In exchange, the Mets got major league catcher John Buck, catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, right-hander Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.

Posted under Mlb

Blue Jays acquire Cy Young winner Dickey from Mets (Reuters)

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Toronto Blue Jays bolstered an already formidable starting rotation by acquiring reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in a seven-player swap with the New York Mets, the team said on Monday. Dickey, a 38-year-old knuckleball pitcher who went 20-6 with a 2.73 earned-run average last season, is the centerpiece of a trade that also sends catcher Josh Thole and a prospect to Toronto, the Blue Jays said in a statement. …

Posted under Mlb

Baseball-Blue Jays acquire Cy Young winner Dickey from Mets (Reuters)

TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) – The Toronto Blue Jays bolstered an already formidable starting rotation by acquiring reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in a seven-player swap with the New York Mets, the team said on Monday. Dickey, a 38-year-old knuckleball pitcher who went 20-6 with a 2.73 earned-run average last season, is the centerpiece of a trade that also sends catcher Josh Thole and a prospect to Toronto, the Blue Jays said in a statement. …

Posted under Mlb

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays reach deal on extension, paving the way for a trade with the Mets (Yahoo! Sports)

It’s the last obstacle in a trade that will send the Mets pitcher and catcher Josh Thole to Toronto.

Posted under Mlb

R.A. May Head North

Looks like R. A. Dickey will be learning “Oh Canada.”

The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner seems to be on his way north as the Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays are working on a seven player deal, which also includes catcher Josh Thole.

The Mets will get two of the three best prospects in the Toronto system in return, including catcher Travis d’Arnaud and right hander Noah Syndergaard along with catcher John Buck, who was recently acquired from the Miami Marlins in the Jays big deal last month.

Getting d’Arnaud is the centerpiece of the deal. A power hitting backstop who could translate into the next Mike Piazza.

“I love him,’’ one NL scout said on Saturday to the NY Daily News. “When you take into account that he plays a premium position, he was the best position-player prospect I saw in the minors all last season. He can catch, he can throw, and he can hit.

“He’s very sound mechanically at the plate. He’ll hit 20 home runs a year in the big leagues, and eventually he’ll hit .280 to .290 or so. I know Toronto wants to win now, and I think Dickey will be good for them, but I’m still surprised they’re giving this kid up.’’

Check back  for more on d’Arnaud or check this site for Super Bowl info.

This is the type of trade the Mets wanted if they were going to trade their ace. And if Dickey is gone from the Mets, it may open a spot earlier for their top prospect Zach Wheeler, who is expected to form a tandem with Matt Harvey.

Posted under Mets News

METS RECALL CATCHER JOSH THOLE FROM BUFFALO (AAA) OPTION LHP RAUL VALDES TO BUFFALO

FLUSHING, N.Y., June 24, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced that they have recalled catcher Josh Thole from Buffalo (AAA) of the International League and have optioned lefthanded pitcher Raul Valdes to Buffalo. Thole will wear #30 and will be available for tonight’s game vs. Detroit.

Thole, 23, was hitting .267 (44-165) with 20 runs scored, 19 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 17 RBI in 48 games for the Bisons. The 6-1, 205-pounder was with the Mets earlier this year from May 10-15, but did not appear in a game. Thole missed seven games from June 3-10 after getting hit in the back of the head with a bat on a backswing by Syracuse’s Josh Whitesell.

Since May 1, Thole has hit .318 (34-107) with 14 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 11 RBI in 33 games with Buffalo.

He batted .321 (17-53) with two doubles, one triple and nine RBI in 17 contests with the Mets last season.

Valdes, 32, is 2-2 with one save and a 5.10 ERA in 20 games for the Mets. In 30.0 innings, he’s allowed 34 hits, 18 runs, 17 earned, with 13 walks and 33 strikeouts.

Posted under Mets News