I Still Hate You Jimmy Qualls

Tom Seaver is probably siting in a nice quiet spot in his Northern California vineyard, rehashing the events of July 9th 1969 in Flushing, NY  

 

Another hot and humid New York City summer day on July 9th 1969, I’m up early just like every day in the summer time. Eat some cereal, lace up the Chuck Taylors, grab my stickball bat and Spaldeen and head for the P.S. 105 school yard. Meet up with the rest of the fellas’ to begin our day. Stickball from 8AM to 10AM, then basketball inside the 105 gym (as broke as the city was back in those days they still had summer programs. We played basketball for the P.S. 105 over 5’2” team in the District 20 league) after that lunch at the corner deli and then to the Dust Bowl for baseball until dinner time.

During our lunch of ham and cheese heroes and Nedicks orange sodas, I grab a NY Post (the city’s afternoon paper) to check out the pitching lines for tonight’s MLB games.   “Hey guys, Seaver ‘ pitching tonight against Kenny Holtzman” I yell out, the response from the Mets fans in the group was “yeah fuckin’ Seaver he’s gonna kick the Cubs ass tonight”.  A few Yankee fans in the gang asked “whose goin’ for the Yankees tonight”? in unison the young Mets fans reply “Who gives a fuck about the Yankees”? Hahahahahahahaha!

The night before Jerry Koosman beat Ferguson Jenkins to cut the Cubs lead over the Mets in the brand new NL East 4 ½ games. This was all new to Mets fans as it was July and the Mets were in a pennant (division?) race.

“Yeah I gotta watch this one tonight” I say. The game as always was on WOR Ch9. One of the constants of life back then was WOR was the home of the Mets, Knicks and Rangers (plus the Million Dollar Movie and The Joe Franklin Show) and in the summer every night was watching the Mets with the narration by Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner. They were the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

I don’t remember all of the particulars of this game.  What I remember is it was unbearably hot and humid that night.  We had an air conditioner in the living room but the wiring in the 3 story walk up we lived in was so bad that my dad kept a box of fuses next to the table that held his most important possessions, a pack of Marlboros, lighter, ash tray and a cold Rheingold.

The Mets did their damage in the first two innings (thank you Retrosheet) scoring a run in the first and two more in the second to run Hotlzman out of the game for Ted Abernathy.

The game went by quickly after that. At the 7th inning the Cubs went down 1-2-3, you could hear a lot of talking outside on our block.  You could just feel it, this was not just any hot summer night, this had the feel of an historic summer night.

In the 8th inning Gill Hodges makes some defensive changes, Bobby Pfeil goes to 3rd base Ed Charles comes out of the game, Wayne Garrett comes in to play 2nd and Rod Gaspar replaces Ron Swoboda in RF.

As the Mets bat in the 8th, I can see my father is getting anxious about this game. A NY Giants fan from the time he arrived in NYC from County Sligo Ireland in 1931, was lighting up another Marlboro, he looked over to me and said “Buddy, Seaver is the best I’ve seen pitch since Hubble, did I ever tell you about Carl Hubble” Yeah pop about 1,000 times. King Carl Hubble was one of my dad’s favorite Giants along with Mel Ott, JoJo Moore, Willie Mays and of course Bobby Thompson .  As the Cubs come to bat in the 9th my head is spinning. There is so much commotion outside on the street with everyone watching this game with windows open, screaming to neighbors on every pitch. Lindsay Nelson and the 50,000 fans at Shea ratcheting up the anticipation of what looks to be the greatest game in 8 year history of the New York Mets.

The bottom of the Cubs order is due up, Randy Hundley, some tomato can name Qualls and the pitchers spot.  Seaver gets Hundley on a comebacker for out 1. Just two outs away from a perfect game. Srcubeanie Qualls and a pinch hitter just standing in Tom Terrific’s way.

I’m at the edge of my seat; I’m tempted to ask the old man for a Marlboro that’s how nervous I was. “Com’on Tom 2 more baby, 2 more” It’s like a circus now outside my window most of the block has there TV’s set to Ch.9 everyone waiting for what should a wild celebration. Lindsay Nelson sets it up, “Seaver checks the sign from Grote, he winds and deals.. the pitch………….a base it to left field………………….

Jimmy “Fucking” Qualls. I hated you on July 9th 1969 and I still hate you today.

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Frank Cashen: The Man Who Saved The NY Mets

 

To appreciate what Frank Cashen meant to the New York Mets, you had to be around here in the late 1970’s. You think it’s bad now? Not even close to 1978 and 1979. That was rock bottom for the Mets and Mets fans. Back in those days I had season tickets to the NY Rangers, one night I wore my Mets cap to a Rangers game, first guy from my row I see greets with “what the fuck you doin’ wearin’ that stupid cap”? It was rock bottom.

Little by little the Amazin’ Mets started to crumble. We lost out heart and soul, our general Gil Hodges right before opening day in 1972. Then in 1975 our beloved Joan Whitney Payson left us and that’s when things really went downhill.

Mrs. Payson daughter Lorinda de Roulet took over the team after her mother’s death and was assisted in running the club by M. Donald Grant. To best describe Grant was he had the look and demeanor of an undertaker but without the sense of humor.  As bad as we feel about the ownership of our beloved Mets are today they are nowhere near to me as hated as M. Donald Grant. He was Satan in a Brooks Brother suit.

After the trade of Tom Seaver, the franchise was on the brink of disaster. Joe Frazier, who may be the most underrated of all Mets managers, was replaced by Brooklyn’s own Joe Torre. Back then Torre was best known for being a solid 3rd baseman for the Braves and Cardinals and for finally after years of the subject of trade rumors a Met, in fact Torre was the Mets Player/Manager in 1977. Even the allure of Torre and matinee idol Lee Mazzilli couldn’t help this bunch of awful Mets.

After what I would say is the worst season in the history of the franchise, 1979, the team went 63-99 but more importantly drew less than 800,000 fans to dilapidated Shea Stadium, Ms. de Roulet and her father Charles Payson knew it was time to get out of the baseball business. The team was sold to Doubleday & Company along with some other investors including one Mr. Fred Wilpon. Wilpon took over as President of the NY Mets right after the sale was approved.

Look for advice on how to revive this floundering franchise, Doubleday and Wilpon reached out to Jerry Hoffberger owner of the Baltimore Orioles who led them to Frank Cashen. Under Cashen things started to change in Flushing. There was hope at last.

Little by little the Mets fans started to comeback to Shea. The 1984 season was when the Mets renaissance really began. Frank Cashen was putting together a team we could get excited about. Keith Hernandez came over in ’83, Ron Darling and Walt Terrell were sent here from Texas for Lee Mazzilli. At the time Maz was as big as any Met, Mazzilli was the face of the franchise but Cashen could not have cared less and by trading Maz he not only received a great pitcher in Ron Darling but he then flipped Walt Terrell to the Tigers for Howard Johnson. That is some great general managing.

Frank Cashen will always be remembered by me and many Mets fans as the man who brought us back from the dead. He gave the Mets organization and Mets fans back their self-esteem. No longer would anyone ask me why I was wearing that “stupid fucking hat”.

Frank Cashen gave us 1984, the year Mets knew something great was about to happen and of course 1986. The walk up crowds at Shea on game day to buy tickets were just waves of Mets fan humanity.  Games where Dwight Gooden pitched were must be at games.   We weren’t there to eat overpriced food or drink some bullshit fancy boy beer, we were there for baseball, we cheered for  a bunch of “we don’t give a flyin’ fuck about anyone” baseball team that was built by a man whose personality and demeanor and brilliance was the complete opposite of the team he constructed. That was the genius of Frank Cashen.

Rest in Peace Frank and thank you for one of the greatest rides a baseball fan could ever have.

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Kult of Mets Personalities Podcast 6-28-14

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It’s free form sports talk radio at its best

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…And So It Goes…And So It Goes…

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It gets tougher and tougher to write about my favorite baseball team. After a solid start to the season, finishing April with a 15-10 record, The Mets have gone 22-34 since. Not exactly awe inspiring baseball.

The team gets a solid pitching performance nearly every game and the bullpen that was a liability has been solid even as it’s been over worked but the inability to score runs and worse putting together a big inning has hurt this team immensely.

The Mets are playing below what their Pythagorean Record of 41-41 indicates. The Mets have given up 3.9 runs a game and have scored 3.9 runs per game but their record is 37-44 and a season high 7 games out of first place in the NL East.

The Mets have a losing record against every division in the NL, with their best showing against the NL East at 15-16. They have a losing record at home and of course on the road. When they play teams at .500 or better they are 19-28 against teams with less than a .500 record they are barely ahead of them going 18-17. One of the barometers on how good or bad a team is; is how they fare in close games. The Mets are 10-19 in one run games. Awful. The club loses more than the win when the game goes to extra innings (5-7) and when a right handed pitcher starts against them (29-37)

We watch the games; we know driving in runs for this team is a chore. We know that the way this roster is put together is laughable with 7 outfielders for just 3 spots and no real infield backup/utility player to spell Luis Aparicio Ruben Tejada.

Speaking of Tejada, seems the broadcast booths both TV and radio are falling in love with Ruben. This is the same Ruben Tejada that Sandy Alderson told WFAN’s Mike Francesa that he was not considered a core player and it was “like pulling teeth” to get him to do extra work. For all the love Tejada is getting the past couple of weeks, the truth is he still isn’t a league average offensive player. To his credit, he has played better than I ever thought with a very good walk rate (13.6 %) which has inflated his OBP of .354. His defense has been good as well at least getting to balls hit to him and occasionally making a voice raising play  but this team would still be better off with the bat of Wilmer Flores everyday than Tejada’s since Flores has more pop in his bat and would be an asset batting with runners on base .

Can someone explain to me how it makes sense to bat Travis d’Arnaud 8th and Tejada 2nd ? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

So that this isn’t a total gloom and doom post, credit Sandy Alderson with making the right choice at first base by going all in with Lucas Duda.

Here would be the lineup I would use on and every game or close to every game level

Granderson  7

D’Arnaud 2

Murphy 4

Wright 5

Duda 3

Lagares 8

Nieuwenhuis/Campbell 9

Tejada 6

Pitcher

You could give EYJ a couple of starts in LF and move Grandy to RF or move Campbell to 1st base v. LHP and stick C Young in RF but on most nights I feel this would be a better and more productive lineup than the revolving batting order Terry Collins love to employ.

 

 

 

 

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A Special Kult of Mets Podcast w/Mets P.R. Czar Jay Horwitz

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NY Mets VP of Media Relations Jay Horwitz joined the cast of Kult of Mets Personalities for a Q & A session. Horwitz doesn’t do many interviews so a big hat tip to our leader Nik Kolidas for setting this interview up.

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Keane on Sports Podcast 6-25-14

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On this episode of Keane on Sports Podcast my guests were Ed Valentine of the NY Giants website Big Blue View as we discussed the recent OTA’s the Giants just held and thoughts on the upcoming season.

In the second half of the podcast I was joined by John Mack Ade of Macks Mets to discuss the State of the NY Mets on the major and minor league level.

 

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I Hate When The Mets Do This To Me

Let’s stay a bit positive today shall we. Our Meties have taken 3 of 4 games from the Fish are just 5 games away from the top spot in the NL East. Are the Mets a contender? That’s hard to say as no one in the division is a world beater and when you get the kind of starting pitching the Mets have received the past week it’s hard to dismiss them.  The Nationals and Braves are at the top of the division and have better bats than the Mets but as far as pitching goes it’s pretty even.

The bullpen is so much better than it was the beginning of the season with Carlos Torres leading the pen men along with call ups Vic Black, Josh Edgin and Dana Eveland joining Juerys Familia, Gonzalez German and closer Jenry Mejia in a changed on the fly bullpen. I gave Sandy Alderson hell for putting together a lousy pen in the beginning of the season so I have to tip my Mets cap to him for fixing it as he did in mid-stream.

The tide on offense looks to be turning as well. I think even the most ardent Ike Davis supporters would admit that Alderson made the right move in dealing Ike and keeping Lucas Duda. Duda has looked very comfortable at the plate (maybe not so cozy at 1B but good enough) hitting with power and driving in runs and upping is OPS to .805. David Wright is finding his stroke as well and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that with Curtis Granderson and his hot bat along with Daniel Murphy batting 1-2 in front of Wright and Duda and days the Bobby Abreu hit behind him that have opposing pitchers having to pitch to Wright.

What has me bugged with the shortstop situation is the justification of playing Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores. Andy Boy Martino of the NY Daily News (can you believe that the price of that paper went to a buck and a quarter today? A BUCK and a QUARTER and that’s without the Night Owl Edition at Night and the Bulldog in the morning. A BUCK and a QUARTER !!!!) can count me as one of those fans infatuated with Flores and my glassy gaze is due to Flores hitting with power and driving in runs in the minors and Tejada never showing much of a bat at all. Is Flores the answer at shortstop? no and he seems to be another Mets prospect without a position but how much do you really lose defensively playing Flores over Tejada? Not much and you get a potentially potent bat in the lineup with Flores.

As for the catchers when Travis d’Arnaud comes back maybe today, the question is which catcher goes, Taylor Teagarden or Anthony Recker. How about DFA Teagarden, assign Recker to LV and call up both TDA and Juan Centeno?

I can’t remember the last time the Mets were on the road came home for two games then go back on the road.

Yeah this team is sucking me back in, can’t help it too many years a Mets fan will do that to a guy.

 

 
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Shouts From Shea Podcast 6-17-14

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On this episode of Shouts From Shea Ed Marcus (Metsmerized Online) and me were joined by Danny Abriano and Rich Sparago of Rising Apple Mets blog. 

 

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Really Terry Collins???? Really???

 

I was sitting at home enjoying the wonderful performance of Bartolo Colon when I was given the order to shut the TV “we’re ready to go” My wife got tickets for If/Then staring the very talented Indina Menzel , so my wife and daughter decided my son and me were getting tooooo comfortable watching the Mets, besides I had Howie and Josh with me for the ride into the city.

So as we trudged along in traffic, Howie and Josh painted a beautiful picture of Colon’s day of pitching artistry and his hitting prowess. YES! Bartolo hit a double in the 6th and scored on Eric Young’s double to tie the game at 1-1. Josh Lewin had one of the great lines of all time in describing Colon running the bases “like a guy carrying a hot cup of coffee”

I love watching Colon pitch. Nothing rattles him. Hit a homer run off him, big deal. He shows no emotion he just holds his glove out for a new baseball. Turn the page.

Colon was in great form yesterday, sinker, slider then a fastball here a fastball there each pitch hitting the mark as the Cardinals put the ball in play (just 1K for big Bart) and the Mets defense made the plays. Everything was going great and for sure the Mets needed this game as the losses pile up and Colon was stepping up big time.

JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDDING ME!!!!!! FOR CHRIST SAKE!!!!!!. My kids here me screaming in as we sit in traffic on 46 St as we pass 8th Ave. My wife yells WHAT, WHAT HAPPENED!!! I bellow to them TERRY COLLINS IS TAKING COLON OUT OF THE GAME!!!!! HE’S AN IDIOT!!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!!!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I now have three sets of eyes on me ready to kill me. Really dad??? Really ??????

Colon was cruising. In the 7th inning here threw 7 pitches all for strikes and retired the Cardinals 1-2-3. In the 8th inning it took  3 pitches more and one more batter to get out of the inning. Through 8 full innings Colon and the Mets were ahead 3-1 and Colon was at 86 pitches. How great is that. The Mets bullpen gets a well-deserved day off, Colon get to finish off the Cards for a complete game win and for once in a long time some positivity out of the Mets.

But wait, Howie tells me that Bobby Abreu is PINCH HITTING FOR BARTOLO COLON. That’s when I lose my mind in the midtown traffic. Then to make matters worse, even though Howie and Josh react in a more composed manner as I did about Colon coming out, they start to make excuses for Collins. Terry Collins is treated like the kindly old Grandpa by the media. Everyone who covers the team knows he is an awful in game manager and they want to rip him but for whatever reason they all bite their tongue.  Eat your heart out Rex Ryan.

There was no need for this move and Collins couldn’t even give a good reason why he did it? At first Collins said it was due to the hot weather in St.Louis and he didn’t want Colon to strain. Well first off Bartolo is Dominican not Nordic so he loves hot weather. Second, what strain? The guy was pitching a gem without stress or strain. Then Collins, not done with is idiocy says he didn’t want Colon to face Matt Holliday. Really Terry? Do you even know Colon? You think he gives a shit if it’s Matt Holiday or Billie Holiday? Face it Terry you nearly made the biggest mistake of your baseball life.

If you are a fan of Terry Collins (both of you) even you have a hard time defending the move yesterday. I’m happy the Mets won and I’m even happier that Bartolo Colon pitched an outstanding game but part of me wonders what would have happened if the bullpen would have blown that game, would Terry Collins still be Mets manager today.

 

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Hey Sandy, You Mad Bro?

Todd Pratt was at Citi Field yesterday with a bunch of folks from the Mets Fantasy Camp. Pratt is the kind of player Mets fans love and want to have around the organization. I was at the NLDS game that Pratt won with his home run to put the Mets in the NLCS. We all remember Pratt running on the field to hoist Robin Ventura over his shoulder to celebrate the “Grand Slam Single”. The Mets organization needs Todd Pratt. They need his coaching, his enthusiasm, his love of baseball and his love for the NY Mets.  BRING BACK TANK!!!!!  

 

I was set to post something here on Saturday but the hurt from Friday’s NY Rangers elimination from the Stanley Cup Final put a damper on that. Then yesterday with it being Father’s Day and whole day of festivities left as fatigued  as Dwayne Wade and his Miami teammates. So today I’m refreshed and ready so let’s go.

Thank you NY Rangers for one of the great rides in my 40+ years as a Rangers fan.  Special thanks to Henrik Lundqvist who put on one of the best displays of goaltending you’ll ever see.  Put Hank on the Kings he not only wins the Cup but the Conn Smythe as well. He is now and forever The KING.

Thanks to Brian Boyle who made me look smart as all season I’ve defended you from all the critics who watch hockey but don’t understand it.  If you call yourself a Ranger fan and you’re critical of how Dan Girardi played you’re an idiot. Yes he had a tough Final but he is a D-Man you can count on every game every shift. I’m sure you will hear in a day or two that he needs some kind of medical treatment.

To all the snarky Islanders fans and Devils fan you can all go back into obscurity. Both your teams are not a blip on the New York sports scene. The newspapers don’t even send a beat reporter to cover your away games. The Islanders are broadcast over a college radio station A COLLEGE FUCKING RADIO STATION. The Devils are just a bunch of no names that has had multiple owners and would not be a shock to anyone if they moved to Seattle, Kansas City, or Quebec City. And if they did, no one would give a rat’s ass since they already have gone from being the KC Scouts and Colorado Rockies. In fact they should move back to their original home and resurrect the Scouts.  Your teams can win cups, move to Brooklyn and have sex with their in laws but they will never, ever be the NEW YORK RANGERS!  ORIGINAL SIX YOU SONS OF BITCHES!!!!!!!

Now to the Mets, what happened Sandy Alderson? We used to be pals. You embraced the Mets bloggers hell; we’ve had some nice conversations on the field and on conference calls. Where did our relationship go sour? Why are you telling the season ticket holds to ignore us and go put a load on instead?  Sure we’ve lashed out at you and ownership over the poor product that has been put on the field before us but what do you want us to do? Lie? Sorry we can’t do that. Do you think any of the Mets blogging community is enjoying being angry? We’re Mets fans no; check that the Mets are our passion. You even said on one occasion how you admired us for the passion we have for the Mets and how we do what we do out of love for the Mets.

Listen this team can lose every game for the rest of the season and you could leave and the manger could leave and 25 new players could arrive and a new owner could take over(praying to God) but the one constant is us Mets fans. We’re “WE-BEES” We be here when you got here and WE-BE here when you’re gone”. Hey we didn’t sign Chris Young, that’s on you Sandy.

Speaking of Chris Young, something has to come to a head with this guy. He’s not only is an automatic out at the plate he’s nothing special in the outfield either. Just think when he signed he said he’d win the everyday centerfield job, yeah right.  The word around town was Young was promised playing time that’s why he signed with the Mets. Well Chris, you haven’t earned playing time and I get the feeling if you don’t get the playing time you want, you will become one big pain in the ass.

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