Thursday, July 30, 2009

Big Papi David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez Caught Red Handed

Well, Red Sox Nation, I hope you are happy.

The two centerpieces of the Red Sox World Championship runs in 2004 and 2007 have been revealed for taking steroids.

Both players were two of the one hundred players listed in the Mitchell Report that was released during the winter of 2008 that had tested postive for steroid use during the 2003 season.

For Ramirez, this just confirms that his recent bout with steroids was no fantasy. Ramirez was caught in April for taking a female steroid and had to serve a 50 game suspension because of it.

As for Ortiz, this story is all about him. Ortiz has consistently denied ever having used steroids and has been very critical of any baseball player who had ever taken the cheating drug. Now, he has to eat his own words; oops. Story.

Who will be next? Curt Shilling? He has denied steroid use. Albert Pujols? He has denied steroid use. Mike Piazza? Ken Griffey Jr.? Ricky Henderson, who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame this past weekend? The merry-go-round continues to turn and turn and turn. Brass ring, anyone?

Mets Win Streak Hits Five


Hey, National Leauge! Here come the Mets! That's right the New York Metropolitans.

The New York Mets pounded the Colorado Rockies in game one of a day/night double header, 7-0 behind ace Johan Santana.

For one of a few times this season, Santana had a lot of run support with which to work. For most of the season, Santana has had to pitch near perfect games because the Mets struggled to score runs when he pitched. Not today.

In the second inning with two runners on, Corey Sullivan lined a single to shallow center field to drive in Dan Murphy to make it 1-0. Next, Omar Santos singled to drive in Jeff Francoeur. The hit parade of the unknowns continued as Angel Berroa (ANGEL BERROA!?!?!?!) doubled into the right center field gap to drive in Sullivan and Santos to make it 4-0.

David Wright continues to heat up. He had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth and an RBI double to deep right to drive in Alex Cora to make it 7-0. Box Score.

Santana was brilliant. He pitched seven strong innings of four hit ball without surrendering a run. After a month of struggling to strike people out, Santana fanned eight Rockies in the contest to silence one of the most potent offenses in baseball.

The Mets are 5 1/2 back of the wild card, leading San Francisco Giants. They have already knocked the Rockies off of their perch on top of the wild card standing, and, with a win tonight, could jump over the Milwaukee Brewers and be just 4 1/2 out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Omar Minaya's Job In Jeopardy

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Omar Minaya's job status is up in the air ever since the general manager went on an uncalled for rant about New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin.

Tuesday night, owner Jeff Wilpon gave his support behind Minaya saying that he "was his GM." That is the ultimate kiss of death. Remember last year when Minaya told reporters that Willie Randolph "was his manager"?

Wilpon went on to say that Minaya had "embarrassed" the organization with his blow up on Monday, but he felt the GM has learned from his mistakes and felt sorry for lashing out at Rubin.

Stay tuned. If Minaya wants to keep his job, he may have to swing a big trade in the next couple of days, or do something to earn the trust of ownership back. He is on thin ice!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thank God! Brett Favre Decides To Stay Retired

It's over! It's over! Thank the gods of football; it's over! The Brett Favre Saga which has gone on and on and on and on for sixteen months is finally over!!!!

Brett Favre announced that he will remain retired from football FOREVER! ESPN release.

Favre told ESPN that he is not physically cabable of playing this season; he complained of nagging knee, ankle and shoulder pain during his workouts with high school students in Mississippi.

This should serve as a big relief to Vikings fans and the Vikings ogainization. They will not have to be surprised, like the Jets were last fall, when they
traded for Vengeful Favre last August 7. Still, the Vikings might suffer a bit from the Favre fiasco.

They had to wait in suspended animation for months until Favre came to this obvious decision. Now, they can focus on training camp and their 2009 season. More important, all of us can actually focus on the other interesting stories that emerge over the next five weeks before the start of the regular season.

Favre's last season was not a good one with the Jets. It started off well enough, leading the Jets to a 8-3 record through Thanksgiving, and his Jets number 4 jersey became the number one selling product on the NFL market.

But injuries and locker room turmoil soon turned Favre's star presence in New York into a nightmare. The Jets lost four of their final five games with Favre throwing nine interceptions during that span. His painful,lasting video image was an interception he threw to a Dolphins linebacker in the season finale that resulted in a Dolphins touchdown. The Dolphins won the game 24-17, ending the Jets season and sending Chad Pennington and the Fish to a AFC East division title.
Au revoir, old warrior of the gridiron; we'll remember you most fondly in your earlier Hall of Fame incarnation.

Yankees Rumored To Be Interested In Bronson Arroyo

With three days left until the non-wavier trade deadline, the Yankees are rumored to be interested in adding another starting pitcher after it came down today that Chien Ming Wang is out for the season with shoulder trouble.

The Yankees are rumored to be in discussions with the Cincinnati Reds for Bronson Arroyo, who is having a weird season in Cincinnati. He is 10-10 with a 5.17 ERA. At times, he has been as good as any pitcher in the big leagues, and then there are days that he will give up 9 runs in one inning. Arroyo is a former Red Sox and knows a little bit about pitching in Ocotober, and, with the Yankees powerful offense, it won't matter how badly Arroyo pitches.

However, if the Bombers want a more stable option, there are rumors that the Seattle Mariners would be willing to send Jared Washburn to the Yankees. Washburn is having a great year. He is 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. It would be a boon for the Yankees to land Washburn since he is a ground ball pitcher, something they could use in the band box that is the new Yankee Stadium.

Kazmir Shuts Down Powerful Yankees


When a team is supposed to face a struggling pitcher whose ERA is 6.69, they are supposed to win the game. When this same team is countering with their ace, they are most definitely are supposed to win the game.

Well, that is why the play the game, n'est pas?

The New York Yankees, winners of 10 of their last 11 games, were dominated by struggling Scott Kazmir through seven innings, in which he gave up only five hits and one run, while striking out four. Only Hideki Matsui and A-Rod could do any damage on the Rays young lefty. Mastui had two hits and two RBI, while A-Rod had two hits. That was really it for the Yankees all night long.

As for C.C. Sabathia, he really struggled. Sabathia gave up six runs, five earned, in 5 and 2/3 innings. He just didn't have it last night; in this fashion,so has the season gone for C.C.. There are days that Sabathia looks dominant, yet there are others in which he looks completely lost on the hill. Not exactly what one wants from a pitcher that is being paid $161 million.

The Rays got to Sabathia in the third inning. B.J. Upton lined a single to right to start the inning. Then Carl Crawford tripled to right field to drive in the speedy Upton to make it 2-0. Next, Evan Longoria reached on a terrible throwing error by A-Rod to drive in Crawford, making it 3-0.

Finally, in the fifth, Longoria blasted his 20th homer of the year down the left field line to give the Rays a 4-1 lead.

The Yankees now fall to 61-39 and remain ahead of Boston for first in the AL East. Box Score.

Rejuvenated Mets Streak Hits Four Games


Stop the presses. The Mets are hot.

For the first time since late May, the New York Mets have won four straight games to pull within 5 1/2 games of the wild card leading Rockies and Giants.

Usually, momentum is as good as the next day's pitcher, so there had to be some concern that the Mets would have a letdown after last night's emotional victory with the inconsistent Mike Pelfery on the mound for the Metropolitans.

Instead, Pelfrey was solid. He pitched six innings, scattering seven hits, while striking out five. He even induced a double play in the fourth inning to get out of a bases loaded jam to end the game. It was the kind of performance the Mets needed from their number two pitcher, a performance that he has not delivered this season on a consistent basis.

Offensively, Daniel Murphy continues to show signs that he is coming out of his funk. Murphy led off the second inning with a double to right to set the table for a scoring opportunity. Next, Jeff Francoeur laced a single up the middle to drive in Murphy with the games first run; that stroke represented Francoeur's 16th RBI since becoming a Met two weeks ago. He certainly is enjoying his stay in Queens thus far.

Fast forward to the third inning; Luis Castillo's ground ball to short drove in Alex Cora from third to make it 2-0; then in the fourth, Brian Schneider's sacrifice fly moved in Murphy with his second run scored of the night to make it 3-0 Mets.

The Mets are now 48-51 on the season and are beginning to show signs of the confidence they didn't show at all last year. Box Score.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tatis Lifts Himself & Mets In Emotional Victory


This is the time of the year that makes a team or breaks a team.

For the past two months, the Mets have been riding the train to nowheresville ever since their lineup became depleted by costly injuries, and the team suffered the most crippling loss of the year when Luis Castillo dropped a sure pop out on one fateful Friday night in the Bronx.

Now ... after watching the Metropolitans stagger through the month of July playing error filled, listless and careless baseball the team may be marching to a different drummer.

Too little, too late? That remains to be seen; there are several scenes to witness in this drama that has become the 2009 season.

The Mets entered Monday's first of four games against the wild card leading Rockies trailing 7 1/2 games. The Mets needed a miracle to become even a part of the conversation for the rest of the season.

Fernando Tatis may have provided that stirring oratorical flourish.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mets showed rare aggressiveness. Castillo drew a walk on a full count; David Wright walked on four pitches, and Dan Murphy laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move Wright and Castillo to second and third. With Corey Sullivan on deck to hit after Jeff Franceour, the Rockies wisely walked Franceour to load the bases for the weak hitting Sullivan who was up next for the Mets.

Here is the moment where Rockies manager Jim Tracy over managed; he should have kept right handed pitcher Juan Rincon in to pitch to Sullivan; instead, he took Rincon out for the lefty Franklin Morales. Result: major mistake.

Jerry Manuel smartly removed Sullivan from the game for pinch hitter Fernando Tatis. Tatis, who has not had a lot playing time lately and has not had a big hit for the Mets since May 13 when he hit a grand slam to tie a game against the Atlanta Braves, hit another one, big time.

Tatis lifted the 1-2 pitch to deep left center, sending it over the sixteen foot wall for the grand slam, giving the Mets an emotional 7-3 lead. Citi Field exploded in jubilation and relief for the first time since the Mets last played in old Shea Stadium.

K-Rod closed down the Rockies in the ninth for the victory; this was the first time in a very long time that this team has shown true grit. They currently enjoy, tonight, a three game winning streak, their longest winning streak since May, and they are now 6 1/2 games out of the wild card.

This team has a chance, as long as they continue to play at a high level, something they have not done all summer long. If the Castillo drop was the nadir of the season in an earlier act of this drama, could this be its turning point? Stay tuned. Box Score.

Mets Fire Bernazard, and Lash Out At Daily News

Why do the Mets have to take something so easy and make it into the most bizarre story of the day?

Today, the Mets did two things: one, they got right: the other was totally uncalled for.

What the Mets got right: They fired disgraced VP of Baseball Operations Tony Bernazard after more than a week of turmoil when it was revealed that Bernazard ripped off his shirt in front of the Mets double-A affiliate and challenged the team to a fist fight.

Okay, that is the good news. Then, the news conference took a very twisted turn: Minaya went on a rant about how Daily News reporter Adam Rubin apparently tired to lobby for executive position within the Mets organization.
"You got to understand this. Adam, for the past couple of years, has lobbied for a player development position. He has lobbied myself; he has lobbied Tony," Minaya said.

Rubin was seated near the back of the room and buried his face in his hands after hearing his name come up. He took a moment to gather his thoughts, then he asked Minaya if he was alleging that he had conspired to get Bernazard fired.

"No, I'm not saying that," Minaya replied. "I am saying, in the past, you have lobbied for a job.

"Over the years he said a number of times that he would like ... he asked me personally ... to work in the front office," Minaya said. "In my front office. Not only me, but he's asked others." (SNY.TV)

Rubin denied the Minaya's claims, stating that he never asked Minaya about available positions with the organization; he only asked how one gets a job in baseball.

The New York Daily News later put out a statement in support of Rubin and his story on Tony Bernazard from last week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Holliday Joins St. Louis Cardinals In Trade With A's

The game's most prized free agent-to-be is now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Matt Holliday, around whom, for months, speculation has swirled as the subject of a big mid-season trade by Oakland A's was sent to St. Louis for minor league third baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson, and pitcher Clayton Mortensen. Read Story.

After being dealt from the Colorado Rockies, the team he led to the World Series in 2007, Holliday struggled in his first couple months in Oakland. By the end of April, he was batting .240 with only one home run, and by May 4, he was batting a season low .223. Holliday just didn't like his short time in Oak Town.

Now he won't even have to finish what was likely to be his only season there. He goes from the terrible A's to the first place Cardinals, who already have the best player in baseball in Albert Pujols. Pujols, in case you were not paying attention, leads the world with 34 homers and 90 RBI so far this season.

This figures to be a lethal combination for the Cardinals. Pujols followed by Holliday will definitely make the Cardinals a huge contender for the National League crown for the third time in this decade.

It will be interesting to see how Holliday takes to his new team. The Cardinals are one of the best franchises in baseball, and, next to the Yankees, are MLB's most successful team with 10 world championships and decades of great tradition and history. Moreover, the Cardinals have the "best fans in baseball," typically very loyal and supportive of its players even if they are not putting up huge statistics.

Perhaps the Yankees and Mets better think twice before they make plans to pursue Holliday in the off-season because, if things go well in St. Louis, they ought not to be shocked if Holliday decides to stay there.

Yankees Continue To Rock & Roll


Not even a two hour rain delay could stop the Yankee Express. The Yankees continue to dominate the American League this month with, yet again, another come from behind victory.

Tonight, the Bronx Bombers were up against a kid from Jersey, Vin Mazzaro, who was looking to beat his home town team in the new Yankee Stadium. Mazzaro got off to a solid start, shutting out the Yankees through the game's first three innings, but he soon fell victim to the mighty Yankees offense in the fourth and fifth innings.

With the Yankees down 3-0, Mark Teixeira blasted a two run home run into the second deck in right field to cut the A's lead to 3-2. After Alex Rodriguez singled and stole second base, Jorge Posada drilled a double into the left center gap to drive in Rodriguez with the tying run. Eric Hinske soon followed with a single to right to bring home Posada to give the Yankees a stunning 4-3 lead.

Mazzaro never recovered and neither did the A's. Box Score.

After a rough start, C.C. Sabathia pitched seven strong innings, surrendering only three runs and scattering nine hits. Sabathia struck out four to earn his 10th victory of the season. Phil Hughes came in to the eighth and shut down Oakland, pitching two perfect innings in relief to earn his first ever career save. The A's managed only three hits after the fourth inning, which is not a formula for success.

The Yankees are now a season high 21 games over .500 and hold a 2.5 game lead over the Boston Red Sox.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mets Reject Possible Halladay Trade

Maybe Omar Minaya better think again if he believes his job is safe.

According to SNY and WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman, the New York Mets rejected a possible trade with the Toronto Blue Jays that would have required the Mets to send only, ONLY Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell to the Blue Jays for staff ace Roy Halladay.

In other words, the Blue Jays were willing to take the Mets junk minor league prospects for one of the greatest pitchers in the game not named Johan Santana.

The Mets could have had a whirlwind top two starting rotation with Santana and Halladay. Those two at the top would have made the Mets almost unbeatable when they are completely healthy on the offensive side of the game, of course. Trading for Halladay would be a move for not this year, but for the next two years at least, but that appears to be as dead as a doornail.

This is a horrible mistake by the Mets. It is not like the Blue Jays were asking for David Wright and Carlos Beltran, which would have been a much more fair trade from the Blue Jays perspective, but, no, the Mets still feel that the oft-injuired Martinez, and the unproven Niese are too valuable to let go.

Once again, Omar Minaya finds a way to baffle us all.

Godzilla Reigns Again! Matsui Leads Yankees To Win Over O's


The Yankee express keeps on rolling, rolling, and rolling to October baseball.

Once again the long ball, and a late inning walk off win did it for the Yankees; for the ninth time this season at new Yankee Stadium the Bombers found a way to turn the lights out and send the faithful home happy.

After falling behind early, the Yankees threatened to blow the game wide open in the bottom of the first inning. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeria singled to start the inning, and Hideki Matsui drew a walk to load the bases. However, Robinson Cano popped out to end the Yankees threat and keep Baltimore in front 1-0.

The Orioles momentum didn't last long. Recently acquired Eric Hinske led off the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to tie the game at one.

The two teams would remain deadlocked at one until the bottom of the ninth inning. Alex Rodriguez, typically, choked in the spotlight, grounding out to second to lead off the inning. Next, Matsui blasted a solo home run deep into the right field bleachers to give the Yankees the 2-1 victory. After rounding the bases, Matsui was greeted with a cream pie in the face from pitcher A.J. Burnett. Box Score.

Pies in the face are now commonplace in the Bronx these days; it is almost as tasteless as Jose Reyes' dancing at the top of the Mets dugout after every Met home run, but the Yankees are a team in need of some clubhouse fun.

The Bombers are now 55-37 and still just a game behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

Wang Suffers A Set Back In His Rehab

Chien Ming Wang must hate the year 2009 at this point.

After getting off to a horrific 0-4 start with a 34 ERA, only to return and not pitch any better, Chein Ming Wang's season is in jeopardy.

Wang has been suffering from a strained right shoulder for most of the season, and while playing catch today before the Yankees game against the Baltimore Orioles, felt "tender" in that troubled shoulder.

“We’re going to give him a few more days and some more strengthening before he goes back out,” Girardi said. “I think anything you’re dealing with cuff issues or shoulder tendinitis or whatever you want to describe it as, I mean, there’s concern. And whatever he’s able to do, we would love to have. But I think any time someone is injured and you’re not sure when they’re exactly going to be back, you can’t really count on them in a sense.” (Yahoo Sports)

Wang is 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA this year, with his only win coming against the lousy Mets back on June 28. The Yankees have been trying desperately to find a decent replacement for Wang, with Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Marte making spot starts. Neither has really grabbed the bull by the proverbial horns.

The Yankees will likely need to make some kind of move before the trade deadline in 11 days. Some have speculated that the team should go after Toronto ace Roy Halladay, but in-division trades rarely happen, especially ones that involve the teams best players. Maybe they can go after a Bronson Arroya of Cincinnati who has 11 wins, and is a veteran of big games in October having been a former Red Sox.

Mets Beat League's Worst Team


There is little consolation in beating the worst team in baseball, especially when the one team is struggling to beat anybody this season. Yet, the Mets found a way to punch out enough offense to give the struggling Livan Hernandez enough support to get the victory.

The Mets jumped all over rookie pitcher J.D. Martin, tagging him for five runs on eight hits in just four innings of work. In the top of the first inning, Angel Pagan singled to lead off the game, setting the tone for a rare offensive outburst for the Mets. Two batters later, Dan Murphy drilled a double to right to drive in Pagan to make it 1-0 Mets.

Later, newcomer Jeff Francoeur drove home Murphy with a double down the left field line to make it 2-0 Metroplitans.

In the second, the Mets put this baby away. Pagan singled to center to drive in Alex Cora with the game's third run. Luis Castillo drove home Pagan with a single of his own, and Murphy brought home the speedy second baseman with a single to shallow left. Before anyone knew it it was 5-0 Mets.

Hernandez was decent. He pitched seven solid innings, surrendering only two runs on five hits, while striking out three. Hernandez is now 6-5 on the season, but three of those six wins have come against the Nationals.

Finally, in the top of the ninth, Francoeur continued to make a good impression with his new team, as he smacked a solo home run to left to make it 6-2. Francoeur has seven RBI with the Mets since being traded to New York. Box Score.

Manuel & Minaya Are Safe...For Now

According to some sources, Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya will be back with the New York Mets in 2010.

Owner Fred Wilpon has pinned blame for this disastrous season on the injuries that have riddled this club all season, and he assured both Manuel and Minaya that their jobs were safe in a private meeting a few weeks ago.

However, when questioned about his job security tonight, Manuel told reporters that he never heard from ownership that his job was secure for next season.

The team has played considerably worse over the past three weeks, but according to Mets blog, the Wilpons have not reversed their decision to keep both Manuel and Minaya.

"Yet Wilpon has continued to insist internally that there will be no major changes in management for the rest of this season and maybe not even for next season. However," the source said, "nothing has been assured for 2010."

The source said Wilpon would be hesitant to fire Minaya because the GM's three-year contract extension does not begin until next year and that firing him also would mean firing assistants close to Minaya who also have contracts beyond this season.

Manuel is signed through 2010, and the organization "is not displaying a strong inclination at present to sacrifice him for this disappointing season." (qtd. Mets Blog. com 7/20/09)

Clearly, we will have to wait and see how this season pans out. If the Mets totally fold, and end up losing 90 plus games this year, it will be interesting to see how patient the Wilpons will be. Keep in mind this was a team with NLCS and World Series aspirations before the season started, and have the highest payroll in the NL at $143 million.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Old Timer's Day; Why The Yankees Get It & Why The Mets Never Will

I am a Met fan.

Yet, I am a Met fan who has tremendous respect for the history of the game, and the Mets many rivals including the crosstown Yankees. No team knows how to represent its franchise's history better than the Bronx Bombers; 26 championships would do that I venture to guess.

But that doesn't give the other team in New York any excuse not to honor their own history, which, even though it's not the Yankee history, it is nothing to sneeze at.

Today, the Yankees held their traditional Old Timer's Day festivities in the Bronx. There was Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Goose Gossage, Don Zimmer and even former Mets Lee Mazzili, Doc Gooden, and David Cone, along with many more current, and former Yankee players and coaches sharing the stage to give back to their loyal fan base.

Call it team spirit.

The Yankees are a fraternity of players and coaches and a sorority of their wives, all of whom made appearances today, a special gathering of folks who find ways to stay together long after the games of their youth have ended .

The Steinbrener family deserves credit for keeping this group of fine athletes together over the years, honoring them with retired numbers, plaques and annual festivities at both old and new Yankee Stadium.

Yet across town on Roosevelt Avenue, across the street from an eyesore known as Willets Point, sit uncle Scrooge and son, Fred and Jeff Wilpon. By their own admission, the Wilpons are Dodger fans; look at the stadium they built which looks like Ebbet's Field. Look at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda which honors a great man, but one who never wore a Met uniform.

The pennants that the Mets won over the years are hidden behind the Mets Disney Land-like Shake Shack where nobody can see them. I saw them for the first time while watching the game on TV; even Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were shocked that the pennants were hidden from the view of the fans.
The retired numbers ... well ... as many know, the Mets have only three retired numbers: Casey Stengel (the great Yankees manager from the 1950's), Gil Hodges, and Tom Seaver. That's it and that's all!

The Mets for some reason, in spite of constant pleading from their fans, refuse to retire Kieth Hernandez's 17, Mike Piazza's 31, Tommy Agee's 20, Gary Carter's 8, and Darrell Strawberry's 18. In fact, 17 is still in use on the field at this moment in time. Fernando Tatis is one of many players to wear Kieth's number since the All Star first baseman left the team in 1991.

Needless to add, the Mets have not had an Old Timer's Day since the early 1990's. For some reason, the Mets feel that Old Timer's Day is a waste of time. Last fall's ceremony at Shea Stadium was the first time in my lifetime that I have seen the Mets welcome back all of their famed players, and, knowing the Wilpons, it probably will be the last. Thank God I recorded it!
It is time for the Mets to break tradition and start honoring their history.

Yes, there were the dark days from 1974-1984, and the wasteful, spendthrift days of the early 1990's and the terrible wasteland of the years of the three-headed monster known as Steve Phillips, Jim Duquette and Art Howe managements.

In spite of this, the Mets have had some really good years.

The Miracle Mets of 1969; Ya Gotta Believe in 1973; 1985-1988, the best period in Mets history that included two division titles, two trips to NLCS and a World Championship; 1998-2001 when the Mets turned the corner to become one of the NL's most dangerous teams.

The players are as legendary as any group of players on any team in baseball history: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Ron Swboda, Tommie Agee, Dave Kingman, Tug McGraw,Rusty Stab, Kieth Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Gary Carter, Darrell Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Al Lieter, John Franco, Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, John Olerud, and Todd Ziele to name a few.

Are they all Hall of Famers? No; nor was everyone welcomed to Yankee Stadium this weekend possessed of a ticket to Cooperstown either.

The camaraderie on display at Yankee Stadium this weekend is another huge difference between the two New York teams. Anyone who wears the pinstripes has a great respect for those who came before them; whenever you see Derek Jeter posing with Yogi Berra or Whitey Ford for a picture is an example of that.

Is there such a respect for history in the Mets clubhouse? Regrettably, no. Last season, Jose Reyes almost got into a fist fight with Keith Hernandez on a team charter when Reyes got word that Hernandez was critical of the short stop's lack of hustle.

The point of Old Timer's Day is to give back to fans, to show fans that all the cheers, the boos, the patient waits with the team through tedious rain delays, and even the near capacity park attendance when times were not so bright, are all greatly appreciated.

It is an opportunity for fans from different generation to come together to remember days gone by. It is what makes baseball great because unlike any other sport, baseball is about the games and the events that shape and transfigure our lives.

The Mets don't have to be the "other team" in the city; they can look back and celebrate as well; there is nothing to be ashamed of. But the actions from the front office down through the clubhouse leaves them looking lost, forlorn.

I might speculate, too, that that lack of spirit is what troubles the team the Mets field today. It's about tradition, comradeship, good times, and bad times. It's too bad in a way because it is the Met fan who has to miss out on something of which they are a part. That spirit is a living thing, as certain as the anticipation of the advent of spring training, when things are fresh and promising and full of promise, and we are all boys of summer once again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Billy Wagner Opens His Mouth

Billy Wagner had some choice things to say on Wednesday about his status with the Mets for the rest of this season.

Wagner, who is rehabbing from Tommy John's surgery, is expected to return to the Mets bullpen by late August, but the vocal lefty is in no hurry.

Wagner, who was interviewed by New York Post writer Mark Hale , didn't sound optimistic that he would have a big role on the team when he returns. "No. Not at all. I can't see it. I think that would be foolhardy to ever insinuate something like that," Wagner said in reference to the possiblity of pitching late in games. "I think what I would be is a Brain Stokes-type of player."

You have to appreciate Wagner's honesty here. He is right; if he should return to the Mets this season, he will likely be reduced to lefty-lefty matchup, and maybe, maybe, seventh inning duty, that is if J.J. Putz returns at the same time to reclaim his job as K-Rod's set up man.

However, some other comments that Wagner have quite interesting implications.

"I'm not killing myself to get back for them ... I want to get back because of Fred Wilpon and that's it."

Who is the "THEM" that Wagner refers? Is it his teammates? Is it Jerry Manuel? Omar Minaya? Wagner has developed a reputation as a divisive teammate; ask Pat Burrell about their days together with the Phillies earlier in the decade; ask about what a great teammate Wagner had been.

Still, the "THEM" fascinates. Remember 2007 when Paul LoDuca told reporters that the Latin players in the clubhouse spoke English as well? That created a huge media frenzy. Remember last summer when Wagner asked the media, "Why do you keep talking to me ... oh,wait -- the others are not here"? This was an indirect reference to the Carols Delgados Jose Reyeses and Carlos Beltrans of the world, three prime players who very rarely face the media after a loss?

Could there still be some residual aftertaste affecting the clubhouse for the disastrous 2006 NLCS, the 2007 collapse, and the 2008 collapse? Or is Wagner just looking at the standings and the roster and reaching the conclusion that the current season is lost before it even starts?

One will never know, but it certainly raises questions about what has truly bothered this Mets franchise since Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. It's a story that must be explored and told by the people who were there. In the final analysis, we will have to wait with bated breath.

Yankees Expected To Sign Cuban Defector Chapman

During their heydays in the late 1990's, the Yankees made a pitch for a young man who defected for Cuba. That young man was named Orlando "el Duque" Hernandez; the reliable right hander with his trademark high leg kick became a key element in the Yankees run at four world championships in five years from 1996 to 2000.

Now, it appears, the Bronx Bombers are on the verge of signing yet another Cuban defector.

On the 4th of July, Aroldis Chapman left the Cuban national team; nobody had any idea as to his whereabouts. As it turned out, some 10 days after his disappearance, Chapman was discovered, incommunicado in Europe with his agent, Leonel Majia.

What makes Chapman so special are three things: 1) he is a left- handed pitcher, 2) he is a left-handed pitcher who can throw a baseball up to 100 mph. 3) he is a young left-handed pitcher who is only 21-years-old. How many 21 year old, left handed pitchers can you think of that can throw a baseball in the high 90's? Johan Santana comes to mind, and, well, that is about it.

Chapman went 24-21 with a 3.72 ERA in his Cuban career and went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in this years WBC.

According to the New York Post, don't expect to see Chapman in America for the stretch run this season. He still has to clear the legal hurdles of becoming a U.S. citizen. "He's probably a minimum six months away. He has to establish residence, clearance. He's probably getting signed sometime in the summer of next year," one unnamed American League source told the Post.

The Yankees will more than likely be in the running for his services. They could use a starter, considering Andy Pettitte's age, Joba Chamberlain's inconstancy and the strange evaporation of Chein-Ming Wang's mojo.

The Post speculates that the Red Sox and Mets could also be in the running for Chapman when he is ready to come to the States, legally, to pitch. If either the Yankees or Mets could get him, it might be the steal of the 2009-2010 off-season.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pedro Martinez Is Heading To Philadelphia

Take that Met fans! Take that Omar Minaya! Take that Fred Wilpon!

Pedro Martinez is ready for vengence on his former team, as he is prepared to ink a contract with the Mets most hated rival, the Philadelphia Phillies. Who's your daddy, now?

Today, Martinez passed his physical with the Phils and could sign on the dotted line by tomorrow morning, if not sooner. The press conference annoucing the signing of Martinez is slated for tomrrow.

Adding Martinez is the Phillies way of sticking it to the Mets. Martinez spent much of February and March trying to convince anyone, including the Mets, that he still had something left in the tank.

Martinez was impressive in two starts with the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic, but it was not enough to convince Omar Minaya to re-sign his former ace, mostly because of money. Martinez was asking for a contract that would pay him between $5 to $8 million dollars, way too much for a pitcher who was producing minimal returns over the past three seasons.

After a brilliant 2005 campaign that saw Martinez win 15 games with the Mets, he dropped off the radar. Injuries in each of his last three years with the Mets caused many to wonder whether the Mets overpaid for a washed up All Star before the '05 season. Martinez developed into a mediocre five inning pitcher last season, showing little velocity on his pitches and failing to get through a game without giving up three or four runs.

If Martinez can light it up in Philadelphia, it will surely make Met fans vomit.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mets Offense Wakes Up Against Reds


So the Mets do know how to hit a baseball!?!?!?! Wow, the Mets 16 hit, 9 run performance on Sunday was reminiscent of mankind discovering fire Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb.

The Mets knocked around Red ace Aaron Harang for five runs on eight hits in a mere three innings of work. It was the most aggressive the Mets have played offensively in more than two months.

With the Mets up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, the offense exploded. Luis Castillo and David Wright got things going with back-to-back singles to set the table for Gary Sheffield. Sheffield then lined a single to center to drive in both Castillo and Wright to make it 3-0 Mets.

Dan Murphy showed signs of coming out of his two and a half months long slump when he doubled to drive in Sheffield to make it 4-0. Murphy went 2 for 5 with two RBI on the day. Murphy is hitting .333 (4 for 12) in his last three games.

In the bottom of the fourth, it appeared the Mets were putting this baby away; Sheffield singled to center to drive in Castillo, and Murphy drove in Sheffield with a line drive to right field to make it 7-0.

But the Reds came back.

In the fifth inning, Mike Pefrey ran into big trouble. He walked Ramon Hernandez, balked, and then walked Edwin Encarnacion. Adam Rosales drilled a ground rule double to right center to plate Hernandez, cutting the deficit to 7-1. Chirs Dickerson followed that with an RBI single to center, and Willy Taveras drove in Rosales to make it 7-3 Mets.

Pelfrey eventually settled down, pitching two shutout innings to complete his afternoon.

Offensively, the Mets were not finished tacking on runs. Brian Schneider smacked a solo home run off the overhang in right to give the Mets an 8-3 lead. It was the first home run for the Mets in almost two weeks. Seconds later, Fernando Tatis hit his fourth homer of the year to make it 9-3. A lead that appeared insurmountable. (Emphasis on appeared).

The Mets bullpen did what the Mets bullpen does best; it started to blow the Mets huge lead.

Sean Green started the eighth inning with a bang. He gave up singles to Taveras and Johnny Gomes, and then surrendered an RBI single to Brandon Phillips to cut the lead to 9-4. Green was pulled for Pedro Feliciano, and the results were not any better.

Lance Nix was the first batter Felicano faced, and the outfielder lined a single off Feliciano to load the bases. Feliciano was pulled immediately in favor of Bobby Parnell. Parnell gave up a single to Hernandez to drive in Gomes, making it 9-5. Jerry Hairston followed with an RBI ground out to cut the Mets lead to 9-6.

In the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez struggled once again to get through another inning. He walked Paul Janis and gave up a single to Ryan Hangin before inducing Phillips into a fielder's choice to drive home Janis, cutting the lead to two. With runners on the corners, K-Rod got Nix to strike out swinging to end the game. Box Score.

The Mets head into the All Star Break breathing, to say the very least. After a nightmarish June and Fourth of July weekend, the Mets might finally be getting things together. They stand at 42-45, 6.5 games behind Philadelphia. The Mets will have their work cut out for them for the rest of the season.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mets Make A Rare Trade with Rival Braves

The New York Mets have made a trade!

No they didn't get Matt Holiday, nor did they get Roy Halladay.

The Mets got Jeff Francoeur formally of the Atlanta Braves.

The Mets sent Ryan Church in a one-for-one swap with their division rival for an outfielder who is hitting only .250 with five homers and 35 RBI. Francoeur is only 25 but had developed the reputation as an all or nothing type of player.

Francoeur struck out 129 times while batting .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBI in 2007, and struck out 111 times while batting .239 last season. He has yet to really become the great power hitter that the Braves thought he could be.

As for Church, the Mets have had something against Church since he arrived in Queens last season. Last summer the Mets botched the handle on Church's concussions, forcing the outfielder to make several cross country flights with the team when he clearly never felt well.

This year, Mets manager Jerry Manuel proclaimed that Church would have to earn a starting spot in the outfield if he wanted to play every day. Church got off to a good start this year, batting .356 through April 27. Then a series of inexplicable benchings later, Church lost his mojo for the season.

According to SNY's Kevin Burkhardt, Francoeur and his wife are "really excited" about their new opportunity to come to New York.

Yankees To Face Tough Test In Anaheim

At 51-34 the New York Yankees stand tied with the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East. With just three games to play before the All Star break, the Yankees are well on their way to securing a playoff spot holding a four game lead on the L.A. Angels, and a four and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Bombers have had a special season for sure.

They have eight players with double digits in home runs totals, 79 of which have come inside the bandbox that is the new Yankee Stadium. They have received superb performances from their top free agent pitchers, C.C. Sabathia (8-5, 3.70 ERA) and A. J. Burnett (8-4, 3.77 ERA), yet this weekend will be a true test of the Yankees mettle.

They have taken full advantage of the less superior teams on their schedule: 7-0 vs. the .500 Twins; 5-1 vs. the fumbling Mets; 5-3 vs. the horrible Indians. But the concern remains about how good the Yankees fare against stiffer competition.

They are 0-8 against the Boston Red Sox this year. The Sox have played with no fear against the Yankees, tattooing Yankee pitching and playing aggressive baseball to the Yankees passiveness. The Red Sox are 51-34 this year as well. The Bombers have had problems with the Rays (47-39) holding a 3-4 record against the defending AL Champions.

In a season where the Yankees have yet to see the Chicago White Sox (44-41), the Detroit Tigers (46-38) and the Angels (46-37), the Yankees did succeed in beating the Tigers in a short two game series in April, and beat up an injury riddled Angels team in April, but they have not encountered either team lately.

For the first time this year, the Yankees will travel to Anaheim, a house of horrors for the Yankees for the past decade. The Yankees have seen October dreams come crashing down in Anaheim and have never had much success against the Angels in the regular season either.

If these Yankees are indeed back to their old championship form of the late '90's, then they will come out and take two of three from the Angels. They will come from behind to win a game this weekend, something that has become commonplace this year. The Yankees lead the league in come from behind victories this year.

Therefore,tonight's game will be pivotal. The Yankees used up their entire bullpen to beat the Twins Thursday afternoon, so it will be important for tonight's starter, Joba Chamberlain, to provide the Yankees with some length. Going deep into games is not Chamberlain's forte. He has only one start this year where he has gone farther than six innings. Overall, Chamberlain throws a million pitches in a short amount of time. By the fourth or fifth innings of games, Joe Girardi has had little choice but to call his pen when Chamberlain starts.

If Chamberlain struggles to get past five innings tonight, it could be a long evening. The only saving grace is the Yankee offense. From top to bottom the Yankees have the ability to erase any deficit at any time, even if their starters are not delivering quality stuff. Mark Teixeria has been a G0d-send to the Yankee lineup. His ability to hit in the clutch and run the bases with reckless abandon is something the Yankees have not had in a long time. His bat will be key in this series.

Saturday could be a tough test. Jared Weaver is having a incredible year for the Angels. He is 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA and is the owner of a 3-1 record against the Yankees in his career. He will square off against Andy Pettitte, who has gotten beaten up in two of his last three starts.

The finale should be the rubber game of this series, and it features a great pitching match up. Sabathia will look to lock down his ninth win of the year, and third in his last four starts, when he squares off with Angels ace John Lackey. Lackey has not been great this year. Ever since he came back from an injury, Lackey has struggled. He is 3-4 this year with a 5.18 ERA, which included a six run smack down by the Texas Rangers.

As for the Angels offense, they have woken up after a slow start to the season. Tori Hunter is having a big year, batting .305 with 17 homers and 65 RBI. Hunter has really stepped it up in the middle of the order, considering that Vladimir Guerrero has been horrible this year, (.290, 4 HR and 21 RBI).

Former Yankee Bobby Abreu (.304 6 HR, 52 RBI) has been terrific this year, and former Yankee prospect Juan Rivera (.313 16 HR, 52 RBI) has finally arrived as the next great power hitter.

This should be a dramatic series. If the Yankees win the series, then we can begin to assume that the Bombers are indeed back to the form of a champion. If not, the questions about how the Yankees play against the better teams will raise its head once again.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yankees Keep Rolling Along in Minnesota


Life is good in the Bronx. Really good. The Yankees stomped past the Minnesota Twins for the second straight night, to earn their 50th win of the season, keeping them just one game behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. 

Anthony Swarzak made the start for the Twins tonight, as a late substitution for Glen Perkins, who was skipping the game due to illness. Maybe Perkins was aware of his 1-3 record with a 7.71 ERA against the Yankees lifetime, good reason to feel ill I guess. 

It didn't bother the Bombers, as the torched Swarzak early and often. In the second inning, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano all singled in succession to load up the bases. Nick Swisher grounded right to the pitcher, who threw to first for the easy out, allowing Matsui to score the games first run. 

Next, Brett Gardner singled up the middle to bring home both Posada and Cano to make it 3-0 Yankees. 

But, the Twins would not go away. In the bottom of the third, Denard Span was a pain in the neck for A.J. Burnett. First, Span led off the inning with a single, stole second, and later advanced to third on a wild pitch. Span finally scored on another Burnett wild pitch to cut the Yankees lead to 3-1. Next, potential A.L. batting champion Joe Mauer drilled a double to left to bring him Brendan Harris to cut the Yankees lead to 3-2. 

The Twins would never get any closer.  Burnett lasted six and a third innings, gave up only two runs while walking four and striking out two. He improves to 8-4 on the season. The Yankee bullpen held their own, as Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera shut the door in the game's final two innings to peserve the 4-3 lead. 

The Yankees are now 12-2 in their last 14 games. Box Score

Perez Returns With Solid Outing, Mets Actually Win


Met fans can exhale for at least one night. 

With the Mets struggling to find any consistency at the plate or on the mound, the Mets finally put together an improbable effort against the Dodgers on Wednesday night to earn their 40th victory of the year. 

The lead: Oliver Perez. Perez made his first start since landing on the DL May 2 with arm trouble, and put together his most impressive start of the year. Even though he walked seven batters, Perez worked in and out of trouble all night long, getting the big outs when he needed them.

In the third inning, Perez walked the bases loaded for the Dodgers most potent hitter this year, Andre Ethier. The Mets had the bullpen warming up, just in case Ethier took the usually wild Perez deep, but Perez bared down. He was able to get Ethier to line out to David Wright at third to end the Dodgers threat and keep the game tied at one. 

In the bottom of the third, the Mets offense woke up. Dan Murphy doubled over the head of Manny Ramirez to get things going. Then David Wright drove Murphy in, with a rare for him, clutch hit to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.  After Gary Sheffield walked, Ryan Church reached on a fielder's choice to bring in Wright to make it 3-1. Finally, Jeremy Reed delivered his fifth RBI of the year with a single past a diving Orlando Hudson to drive in Sheffield to make it 4-1. 

That seemed to be enough for Perez. After allowing Matt Kemp to score on a Rafael Furcal single, he was able to get Hudson to ground out into an inning ending double play to end the threat. Perez's night concluded with some more drama. After walking Casey Blake and Russell Martin, Perez once again got Ethier out, this time with a lazy fly out to center field to escape once again. 

K-Rod struggled in the ninth. He was handed a 5-3 lead, but surrendered an opposite field home run to Manny Ramirez to cut the Mets lead to just one run. Next, K-Rod walked Blake and gave up a single to Russell Martin, but the Mets found a way out of trouble again. And once again, Andre Ethier was their target. Ethier grounded into a game ending double play. Ethier went 0-5 for the Dodgers and left 8 men on base for L.A. 

The win is the first Mets victory since last Thursday. Box Score

Paradise Lost for 2009 Mets, Paradise Regained for 2010

Last night, before the Mets got blasted to smithereens by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 8-0 loss, Mets GM Omar Minaya addressed the media, again, about the Mets current injury status and its affect on the club for the rest of the season and beyond. 

"There is not a deal out there where I can bring in a player better than what we have," Minaya explained. "I am not going to find a shortstop better than Jose Reyes. I have to not only keep an eye on '09, but on '10, '11, and '12." 

This is not exactly what Met fans want to hear from their GM, especially one who has never met a big name that he didn't like: Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and Francisco Rodriguez to name a few of the star-quality players Minaya has brought to the organization over the past four years.

In a year when the Toronto Blue Jays are rumored to dangle their ace Roy Halladay in front of Minaya and every other GM in baseball in a proverbial carrot-and-stick game, Minaya's words were a concession of sorts for the 2009 season. 

The Mets are on the precipice of an apocalypse. At 39-43, the Mets are staring into an uncertain future, lying in wait like Dante, only there is no Virgil to guide the Metropolitans through the depths of Hell then up through Purgatory to the paradise of a championship season.

Right now, paradise is lost on the Mets.

Jose Reyes had another cortisone injection in his hamstring; nobody knows when or if Reyes will return to the field in 2009.

Carlos Beltran avoided surgery on his banged-up right knee; instead, he will have to rest that bone bruise until it heels itself. Right now, Beltran is not expected back until the end of July.

What about Carlos Delgado? Well, what's the point. He's 37 years old and is rushing back from hip surgery, so don't expect last-July-and-August form from Delgado when and if he ever does return.

In a way, anyone who throws Minaya under the bus for not making a move is being unfair. The Mets are strapped by their NL-leading $143 million salary cap. Adding more salary during one of the worst economic climates since the Great Depression is not exactly a formula for success, especially with a little more than three months left to play on the season.

The depth of this 2009 roster is where Minaya has to be faulted.

He could have brought in Orlando Hudson and didn't.

He could have traded Scott Schoeneweis to Chicago for Jason Marquis and didn't.

He could have signed Derek Lowe; instead, he signed Oliver Perez.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, to quote Bill Murray from Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter." 

Minaya received a contract extension last October that will keep him in the Mets organization through 2012, and unless Fred Wilpon turns into George Steinbrenner, Minaya is not going anywhere.

Blame the injuries for the Mets' troubles in 2009.

Blame the salary cap and the economy.

The Mets will have to wait until Halloween for the contracts of Delgado, Wagner, and even ex-manager Willie Randolph to come off the books for 2010. Once that happens, the Mets will have over $30 million of cap room and the ability to sign whomever they want before the holidays. 

Some have thrown manager Jerry Manuel under the bus for his erratic managing style this year, but can you blame him?

If anyone had a roster of Dan Murphy, Nick Evans, Luis Castillo, Alex Cora, Fernando Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Ryan Church, Tim Redding, Oliver Perez, Fernando Nieve, and a badly-slumping All-Star third baseman in David Wright, he would want to jump under the bus without a prompter. Not even Joe Torre, nor Bobby Valentine, nor Bobby Cox, nor Tony LaRussa could win with this roster. 

The key for the Mets going forward is simply this: What to do next? Stop thinking a package of Evans, Murphy, Jon Niese, and Bobby Parnell will bring you Roy Halladay and Alex Rios from the Toronto Blue Jays. Forget about trading a similar package to the Oakland A's for Matt Holiday. 

The best gift Minaya can give his fans for 2010, 2011 and 2012 is to ride the storm now and reap the benefits later. That means waiting until the offseason to make the big moves that will turn Citi Field into a party and not a funeral parlor every single night. It will start with shredding the excess salary from the cap at dawn of October 3.

This means finding a taker, i.e. the Nationals, Orioles, Rangers, for the services of "Captain Drop" Luis Castillo, who will have only two years left on his idiotic four-year contract.

That means pursuing Orlando Hudson, seriously this time around, even if the team has to give him a three-year contract to play second base.

That means taking a flier on injured Diamondbacks ace and free agent-to-be Brandon Webb, so Johan Santana can actually have a true No. 2 guy behind him.

That means signing Holiday to a huge contract by Christmas and plugging him between Beltran and Wright in the middle of the batting order. 

That means forcing Fernando Martinez to learn right field A.S.A.P. for 2010. 

That means going out and swinging a deal for a decent first baseman who can provide some pop and hit for a high average, i.e. Lyle Overbay, Aubrey Huff, or Mike Jacobs, until the team actually makes the effort to develop a superstar at the position.

Nobody knows what the future holds, not even the Shadow, but if the Mets want to ensure that their future will be bright after this season, they are just going to have to wait. Patience is a virtue you know.