MLB Fan Fest Was Fan-Tastic

 

I haven’t done a mid-season Mets report card in a few years since around this time the last six years I’ve been sitting in a camp site upstate for a week at Boy Scout Camp, it was nice to turn in my spatula and large paddle to stir 20 gallon containers of Kool Aid to a younger group of fathers, and enjoy the All Star Festivities, which as we all know will be played in our home Citi Field.

I went to the MLB All Star Fan Fest this past weekend at the Javits Center and I thought it was fantastic.  I went with my son, which of course made the day even better, and we soaked in all the Fan Fest had to offer. I spent more money than I had wanted as we both left with Matt Harvey jerseys and All Star T-shirts along with a couple of autographed baseballs of Gaylord Perry and Rollie Fingers. I amaze myself with how excited I get when I see guys I watched as a kid and just want to say hello and tell them how much I enjoyed watching them play. My son wants to run the other way when I’m in that mode but later he laughs about my enthusiasm. He was really falling over when we met Jack Morris and all I kept telling Morris how he should be in the Hall of Fame and how I always enjoyed watching him pitch and compete. I guess it was a bit over the top as my son said “Com’on fanboy let’s get some lunch”. Sure I go overboard but on the way home all I could think of was how an event like Fan Fest just reaffirms how much I love baseball. It’s a good feeling.

One of the great displays at Fan Fest is the Fan Auction that is being conducted by Hunt Auctions. It’s a silent auction and the items up for bid range from autographed baseballs signed by Babe Ruth to a copy of the NY Post the morning after the NY Mets won the 1986 World Series that is autographed by the team. There was one section of the auction that was both intriguing and a bit sad.

It seems the estate of Warren Spahn has put up every piece of memorabilia from his outstanding career up for auction. Uniforms, caps, gloves, trophies including his 1957 Cy Young Award, all up for the highest bidder to own.   I’m not going to judge the Spahn family for putting all these items up for sale as I don’t know the family or money situation but it’s still sad to see all of Spahn’s trophies and what he achieved in a great baseball life, up for sale.

BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! To the New York Mets for inducting Mike Piazza into the Mets Hall of Fame. Well deserved!

Enjoyed listening to Kevin Burkhardt on the play by play for yesterday’s game. The beauty of having Burkhardt on the broadcast team is he can move from a reporter’s role to play by play and mesh perfectly with Keith Hernandez or Ron Darling since the whole crew along with Gary Cohen has great chemistry.  

Next post will have the Mets report card!

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Hey Dan Warthen, Babe Ruth’s Dead

You figured Matt Harvey would have a rough start here or there as he adjusts to life in the big leagues where unlike Triple A mistakes end up over an outfield fence. But Harvey, who is seen as a bit of a pitching savant, should be able to make the adjustments, if the mixed messages he hears don’t make him crazy.

For some strange reason Dan Warthen and Terry Collins love the breaking ball which is ok unless you forget all pitchers are not alike. Bobby Ojeda on the pre-game show on SNY yesterday seemed to send a cryptic message that Warthen’ approach is not the best for Harvey. Ojeda repeated that manta that Harvey is a power pitcher and he should stay working as a power pitcher and not worry about throwing off speed  and breaking pitches so much. Ojeda seemed to hint that the Harvey is a bit of a revelation as a good old fashion hard throwing starting pitcher.

My big concern with Harvey is that Dan Warthen is going to try to make him something he isn’t, a finesse pitcher.  It’s the biggest knock on Warthen, he has made this Mets staff into a bunch of nibblers instead of going with a more aggressive approach. When was the last time a Mets pitcher threw up an in on a hitter?  That approach is fine if you have a stable of Glavine-Maddox-esque pitchers but the Mets have some very hard throwers who should have better results than they do, especially in the bullpen.

Parnell hits 100 mph on the radar gun and sits at a consistent 95 mph. Josh Edgin hits 95 as does Frank Frank and Manny Acosta.sSo with electric arms such as these why is the Mets bullpen so bad? Could it be the approach taught by Dan Warthen? I think so. The Mets bullpen has a 4.26 BB/9IP rate which is only second to worst to the Cubs who have a close to 5 walks per 9IP rate. Why with a pen of hard throwers do Mets relievers have such a high walk rate, I’d have to say it’s the approach set by Warthen of nibble, nibble, nibble instead of attack, attack, attack.

Pitching is deception trying to keep the batter off balance.  I don’t think Warthen’s approach to pitching is effective in doing that. When was the last time we’ve seen a Mets pitcher go up the ladder on a hitter? How many times have you screamed at your TV set when the 7-8-9 batters reach base on a walk on off speed and breaking pitches  that miss the outside of the plate when challenging the batter should be the plan?

Terry Collins has been a loyal supporter of Dan Warthen and his teachings but I know I’m not alone wondering how Warthen was kept on staff after the purge of personnel of the Minaya era. With the ineffectiveness of the bullpen and the very valuable arms coming through the Mets farm system, it is paramount of Sandy Alderson to find a pitching coach who not only can relate and help the growth of these young arms but he also needs a pitching coach to change the mindset of many on this staff to pitch aggressively. The approach that is in play now is not working and needs to be eradicated.

 

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GAME ON !

One month from today is opening day!

Busy day so far as I had to get to work by 6 AM so I can leave early as I have a meeting with my Babe Ruth team and catch Mets-Nats as well.  I called for the meeting to held at local joint that has a back room with a TV so we can discuss business, eat pizza and watch the game.

Unlike the Mets, no one from the NY Times followed me around to cover my early morning ferry and subway ride to work.

The pitching line up for tonight will start with Dillon Gee but the guy all eyes will be on is Matt Harvey, who is scheduled to come in after Gee gets his work in. Harvey will be followed by Miguel Batista who may still be basking in his wonderful 3-0 win over the Reds on the last day of the 2011 season, then Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco to close things out.

Tomorrow we get out first look at Johan Santana. It nice to have game and performances that we can comment on finally.

While all are busy in St. Lonesome getting ready for tonight’s first spring game, The Skill Sets will be focused on the Judge Jed Rakoff’s Manhattan court room to find out if the clawback suit against them is still a go.

John Harper has concluded the reason the Mets have a lack of depth on the Major League roster is due to finances. Tomorrow Harper will report on how jumping into the Atlantic Ocean will cause you to get wet.

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TURNING THE SPORTS PAGE

I think I’m just about making my final landing from my Giants Super Bowl high to where I’m ready to concentrate on baseball.  In fact I have to go to a meeting tonight to place my Babe Ruth team in a league for this coming season. What has me excited about the league we are about to join is we will play some of our games at the College of Staten Island field that was once home to the Staten Island Highlanders and we will play games in Brooklyn at the field at Bay 8th St where many of my childhood sports highs (ROCKNE football league championship as a 12 year old) and lows (getting a tooth knocked out with a forearm playing same league as a 13 year old).

As for our Amazin’ Mets well there finally is some Mets news to talk about so let’s take a look see shall we:

Story in today’s NY Times tells us something we all know, the Mets are under that old Sicilian curse  “Fundsalow” thus Sandy Alderson and his troops have had to be creative with the nickels and dimes that are at their disposal.  The real trick to see if Alderson can truly turn water into a microbrew when one or two of the starting pitchers go down with injury and he has to find help from outside. With his options limited and desire to leave the crown jewel arms on the farm we as Mets fans should start to follow the Atlantic League and some of the other Independent baseball leagues around the country as I wouldn’t be shocked it a Long Island Duck or two pitch in Flushing this season.

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

In regard to you buying the New York Mets and your response of “Who would want to own a sports team”?  Let’s me just say “I WOULD! I WOULD!” problem is a lack of dead presidents to accomplish this.  Now you sir are a man of considerable financial means of many billions of dollars, all you would have to do is donate about $1 or $1.2 billion of those tens of billions to me so I can buy the NY Mets, with all due respect your honor, Bill Gates and warren Buffet are wayyyyyyyyyyyyy ahead of you when it comes to philanthropic ventures, a move of this magnitude would most definitely raise your charitable profile.    

Big Pelf is looking to get the sinking feeling again on the mound in 2012

What in the name of Joe Verbanic is going on in with the Bronx Bastards? First, Pee Wee Cashman’ wayward ways seemed to get out of hand as the trollop he has been stepping out on Mrs. Pee Wee  with has gone into full fatal attraction mode and now we find out that the face of the YUCK network, Bob Lorenz, was sippin’ too much Old Grand Dad, got behind the wheel of his fine automobile and was pulled over by Connecticut’s Finest.  Is this just the being of the end of the Highlander reign of terror?

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IT’S NOT IF, BUT WHEN DOES DAVID WRIGHT BECOME AN EX-MET

 

David Wright held his Vegas Night charity event in Virginia Beach last night and gave some quotes to the media about the upcoming season.  I don’t know if this means much of anything but Wright it seems, has spent a lot of time back home in Virginia that I can remember in an off season. He was at Citi Field for the unveiling of the new uni’s but since then there hasn’t been much site of Wright around town.

Wright seems already agitated about hearing about trade rumors and being quizzed on a daily basis about his next baseball destination. He’s quoted as seeing Jose Reyes getting grilled about relocation last season and he doesn’t want to go through that. I wonder what that says about Wright? Maybe I’m being too critical of Wright but maybe it’s time he grew up and realized he’s not going to be a Met 4 Life.

Doesn’t Wright see the handwriting on the wall? First, he plays for a team whose owner is like a co-worker who lives pay check to pay check and for a GM who has no emotional ties to him. Just like the GM had none to Jose Reyes. He will make $15 mil this season and has a $16mil team option for 2013 with a club buyout of $1mil. You know how many bargain basement pitchers you can buy for $16 mil?

Wright should take a page from Reyes and Carlos Beltran, especially Beltran who knew his Mets days were numbered and used it as motivation to bounce back and get sent to a contender. Wright needs to get in the same mind set, stop worrying about being traded (for Christ sake Babe Ruth, was dealt away) and not worry about the Mets and just worry about himself.

Between the Wilpon’s money woes and Sandy Alderson’s distain for long term contracts, it’s easy to see that these are the final days of David Wright as a member of the NY Mets. Is it sad? Sure it is. We all wanted to see Wright play his full career as a Met with a couple of championships and Hall of Fame credentials on his resume but neither is going to happen. Maybe the fan base needs to grow up a bit as well.

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OUT THE DOOR POST

Yesterday was a triple header day of baseball for me.  First my Babe Ruth League played a double header, yes that’s right a DOUBLE HEADER during a heat wave. We started at 8:30 AM and we finished up at 1PM winning the first game 7-6 and playing the second game to a 4-4 tie that was called due the heat after 7 innings the regulation amount of innings for Babe Ruth baseball. After a nice cool shower and lounging in air conditioning while watching the Highlanders-A’s contest from the Bronx (I muted the TV as it was Michael Kay and Paul O’Neil  doing the game and radio for Highlander games is not a option and besides I think I have a pretty good handle on the game of baseball that I really don’t need to hear the commentators unless of course it’s our own GK & R) I headed to St George for the SI Highlanders v. Tri City Cats of the Houston Astro organization. It was Boy Scout night so this was more a social call than an actual sitting and critiquing a baseball game .

So even with that I still woke up early enough to watch a replay of last nights Mets-Fish game . I think it safe to say Terry Collins went a bit to far with Chris Capuano. It looks like once you get to the third time around the lineup for Capuano, he falls apart. It will be interesting to see how Collins handles Cap in his next start as he he gets to the third at bats in the opposing line up.

Jason Bay looks like a boxer who looks toward his corner during a fight he knows he doesn’t want any more of. It’s like he wants Terry Collins to throw the towel on the field to end his season of futility. Making things worse for Bay is Lucas Duda is on fire and really needs to get into the lineup.

Maybe all this farewell to Beltran is a bit premature. What if Alderson doesn’t like the prospects offered to him for trade and says “Fuck it” and keeps Beltran for the rest of the season? Who you be surprised?

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JUST AN AWFUL DAY

After coming home from a long weekend I found out that one of the people killed in that crash in New Jersey played baseball for me for two seasons and competed against me in  Staten Island Little League for eight years.

Eric Colligan 15, was killed in the early morning of July 4th as he and his friends and his friends family were returning home from Atlantic City. Eric played baseball and football for McKee/SI Tech. He was also the ace pitcher/3rd baseman and cleanup hitter for my Babe Ruth League team up until this season. The only reason he didn’t play for us this season is due to his football career was really taking off and he couldn’t commit to baseball due to football camp.

I’m at a loss for words here, this was one terrific young man and to be taken at the age of 15 is just staggering to me. As much as I wanted to write about some Mets stuff today especially about Jason Bay, it all means nothing to me right now.

My heartfelt condolences to Eric’s family for their tragic loss

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METS BLOGGERS Q & A WITH METS VP OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT/AMATEUR SCOUTING, PAUL DE PODESTA

Last night I had the privilege to be invited to a Mets bloggers conference call with New York Mets V.P. of Player Development and Amateur Scouting, Paul DePodesta. The conference call was to start at 6:30PM and the problem I had was I had a game at that time with my Babe Ruth League team. Thankfully I have a great bench coach to run the dugout and make moves and one of the parents who is a coach as well helped out while I headed to the car to call in on the conference call, by the way, we won 5-4 to keep our first place lead at two games.  

When I do one of these calls I always like to write down about 5 or 6 questions just in case someone asks a similar question. For this call I had 8 questions for DePodesta, but when it came to my turn I decided to go with this:

“Looking at the recent draft, the breakdown of picks was nearly even between pitchers and position players. Was that the plan going into the draft? Looking at the complete draft, it seemed like there were clusters of picks that went especially towards pitching. Was this done because they were the best pick available at that time, or was this something that was planned ahead — targeting pitching especially towards the middle and late rounds of the draft?”

DePo’s response was:

“To answer the first question about the 50/50 split — to be honest I didn’t even know that, so that wasn’t necessarily our plan going in. I think that’s generally how it falls, even with our rosters. Most of our minor league clubs are going to be about 50/50 between pitchers and position players. In terms of clustering some of the picks around a certain position or around pitching, that certainly was planned. We felt there was a particular depth – an unusual depth – of pitching in this year’s draft. There were some moments where we wanted to take position players, where we felt like if we were going to get the position player we wanted we needed to take them now. And after that we felt there was going to be a pool of pitching to choose from. We attacked that pool aggressively and when that pool was exhausted we re-evaluated where we were and went back to some position players. One of the things you’ll probably see is that rounds two through five were all college pitching. Once we got to round ten it was mainly high school pitching. That was certainly a calculated decision made before the draft.”

The one thing you read about this past entry draft was it that it was deep in pitching and the Mets took advantage of that depth.

I was going to ask about how the negotiations were going with Brandon Nimmo and if we will see Michael Fulmer, Cory Mazzoni or Jack Leathersich on the MCU Park mound this summer. I really wanted to ask if the team has thought about hiring Rick Peterson as a system wide pitching czar using Peterson’s expertise in the physics of pitching and his working relationship with Dr. Glenn Fleisig of American Sports Medicine Institute. To me this is a perfect match since Peterson, Sandy Alderson and DePodesta all have a working relationship going back to their Oakland days.

I’m pretty sure I can speak for all the Mets bloggers who have been invited to these conference calls and to the events at Citi Field that we have gotten more insight into how this organization operates and are thank full for the opportunities the Mets have given us. The new front office has a great deal of respect for us and for the Mets fans and they seem to enjoy these conference calls as much as we do.

A big thank you to Shannon Forde and Danielle Parillo of the Mets for arranging the calls and events at Citi Field.

Thanks also to Michael Baron of Mets Blog and James Kannengieser and Alex Nelson of Amazin’ Avenue for putting together transcripts of the conference call.

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IN THE END, AMERCIA WINS, WE ALWAYS WIN!

What a day eh? I guess we will add to our “where were you” list our whereabouts when you heard that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Ops. I found out while checking out Twitter while watching Mets-Phillies and fighting off sleep.

The news of that filthy fucking savage Bin Laden was dead  was a like a jolt of adrenalin.  As much as I was enjoying the superb  pitching of Chris Young,  the three man ESPN booth was killing me, plus after a weekend of putting furniture together, managing a baseball game (a 13-3 opening day win for my Babe Ruth team) and a 5AM wakeup call looming, I was ready to hit the sack. My wife and kids had already went to bed early as my daughter and wife volunteered  to work the Staten Island end of the 5 Boro Bike Tour with her Girl Scout troop and my son competed in a rifle sharp shooting contest upstate and left camp at 6:30 AM with my nephew in order to make out baseball game at 10:30AM, poor kid felt asleep on the couch and he’s to damn big now for me to carry him upstairs so I had to wake him up to go to bed. That sucks.

So with everyone but me and the cats off to sleep, I settle in to watch the rest of Mets-Phillies along with checking out Twitter. As I reading my timeline I keep seeing that President Obama will address the nation at 10:30 PM. WOW! This cannot be good, everything about it a Sunday, late at night, asking for clearance from the networks? First thing I thought was word of an impending attack on the U.S. and we need to get prepared. Then I thought that Gaddafi was dead. Good for the miserable scum bag. As my timeline was updating by the second, I realized this is much, much bigger. I switched on CNN and Wolff Blitzer knew what was going on but couldn’t say. Well, fuck you Wolff. I switch to MSNBC and some D-list anchor is on there and he is ready to report this unbelievable piece of news, when a director tells him in his ear piece not to. Mother fuckers! As I’m cursing out the news media I’m checking Twitter and the word on the social media street is OSAMA BIN LADEN was killed by American Special Ops. HOLLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!!! I switch down the dial to all places FOX News and lo and behold Geraldo Rivera is jumping out of his seat relaying the news that Bin Laden is dead, he then high fives a retired General who is in studio with him. At this point I run upstairs to wake up my wife to give her the news, she gets out of bed to join me in watching the President tell the world the American finally got its man.

I am so happy and proud the American Special Ops did this prick in and from reading how they did it solidifies the fact to the whole world that there is no dedicated and braver solider like the men and women of the American Military. That’s why this country with all the faults and bullshit we endure everyday can sleep at night knowing that the U.S. Armed Services is protecting us.  There are still a bunch of scumbag wanna-be tough guys in the Middle East that think they can take down America and win those 72 virgins they’ve been brain washed into believing are waiting for them, the only thing waiting for those mindless douchebags is a bullet to the head with USA engraved on it.

Meanwhile the Mets beat the Phuck Phaces in 14 innings as Chris Young outpitched Cliff Lee and Frankie Rodriguez, Pedro Beato, and Taylor Bucholz pitched 6.1 shutout innings and Ronnie Paulino, RONNIE PAULINO!!!! Went 5 for 7 in his Mets debut as the Mets salvage a win in Philly.

I’m happy the Mets won , but there are not the news of the day and I don’t think they mind it at all.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SAN FRANSISCO GIANTS OF UPPER MANHATTAN FOR WINNING THE 2010 WORLD SERIES

If my beloved New York Mets can’t win the World Series then I’m glad my dads beloved Giants won. My father came to America from Ireland in 1929 and landed with four of his brothers in Salem MA to live with their aunt. In 1930 my dad and one brother took off for NYC and never went back. He and my uncle wanted to see Babe Ruth play as they heard all these stories about the great baseball slugger. So off to Yankee Stadium they go but one problem, the Yankees were on the road. A cop walking the beat around the ball park told them if they wanted to see a baseball game today go over the bridge into Manhattan as the Giants were playing that day.

The legend as my father told me time and time again was ,when they got to the Polo Grounds, John McGraw was barking orders to his players. My dad asked who he was and a guy next to him said “That’s McGraw he runs this team”. With that my father looked at my uncle and said, “They let an Irishman run a baseball team”? They were both flabbergasted. Remember this was back in the day of businesses putting up signs “NO IRSH NEED APPLY and “ALL DOGS AND IRSH KEEP OFF THE GRASS” so to see a man who traced his ancestry back to the Motherland in a position of authority was extraordinary.

So from that day on, my father’ baseball devotion was to the NY Giants and to Little Napoleon. My dad would tell me it was heartbreaking when the Giants moved West (I’d tell him, you couldn’t have been that broken up since I was born in 1958 eighteen years after my sister) but then in 1962 the Mets were born and he had another team to root for.

But I always remember as a kid, when the Giants and Dodgers came to Shea, it seem like it was always a weekend series, and we always went to the games when the Giants came to town. Even though his new allegiance was to the Mets, my dad always remembered the Giants were his first baseball love. I’m sure he would have loved to see this years Giants celebrate wining the World Series, not as much as if it were the Mets but I know he would light up a cigar and say “At least it’s not those god damn Yankees”

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