Knuckleball ! Tough To Throw But Enjoyable To Watch !

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Had a great time last night  at the World Financial Plaza enjoying the premiere of Knuckleball!, at the Tribeca Film Festival’s Drive-In Theatre.  Before the movie there was plenty of activity on the plaza on what turned out to be a nice comfortable, rain free evening downtown. There were tents set up with different activities and free popcorn for movie goers but the area that had the biggest swarm of folks was the make shit bullpen where fans could line up and enter and get free instruction on how to throw a knuckleball.

As we stood off to the side (I was joined by my son and Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest for the evening’s movie viewing we also met up with Tayrn Cooper and her husband Ed Leyro as well as having a fine chat with Shaun Clancy the proprietor of Foley’s NY) we were witness to a grand entrance by the Four Horseman of Knuckleballing, Jim Bouton, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield and our own R.A. Dickey. The four headed to the make shift pen where a line snaked around the plaza for the opportunity to learn the secrets of throwing a knuckleball. Bouton, Hough and Wakefield were going in and out of the pen but Dickey stayed there for the full hour showing kids and some adults, the grip and release of the mysterious pitch, and seemed to be having a great time doing so.

The movie itself was very, very good. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you could still appreciate the stories of these players who with the exception of Phil Neikro, took on learning the knuckleball a last ditch effort to make it in the big leagues, so you get all the baseball footage and story line to keep the baseball junkie like me interested but you also get the human interest story for the non-fan. That is great movie making.

Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey are feature most prominently in the film, with great footage of Wakefield as a Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league first baseman and R.A. Dickey as a Tennessee Volunteer but my favorite scene in the film was a golf outing with Niekro, Dickey, Wakefield and Hough and the sit down they have afterwards discussing how each pitcher was introduced to the knuckleball.

The film will be showing during the Tribeca Film Festival and it will be out in DVD form as well, I know this because I was approached by someone from the film who was looking to get some material to add as extra footage for the DVD, so I was filmed talking about the knuckleball and R.A. Dickey and what he has meant to the Mets (the film crew loved my Mr. Mets cap) so hopefully I’ll make the director’s cut of Knuckleball!

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SECOND WILD CARD? WHY NOT US?

There is a very interesting post on NY Baseball Digest today by Joseph Del Grippo on Johan Santana and his comeback from shoulder surgery. I find myself becoming obsessed with Santana’s comeback for many reasons, his impact on the Mets winning baseball games by anchoring the starting pitching staff, coming back from a surgery that takes a much longer time to rehab from and one that other pitchers have failed to comeback from and how does he prevent his arm/shoulder from being injured again.

DelGrippo touches on Santana’s mechanics and how from watching video he sees no change in the way Santana delivers a pitch, thus his feeling is Santana’s injury problem comes from the way he delivers the ball and if he doesn’t tweak that he will hurt himself again .  Mechanics are the bedrock of pitching or I should say the ability to be consistent with repeating ones mechanic.     

What conflicts me with this is, the way Santana delivers the ball has made him a huge success and even though DelGrippo may be right that by altering his pitching motion, Santana could stay in good health but would he be effective plus at this stage of his career it may not be the easiest task for Johan to alter his delivery style.

Looks like MLB will add a second Wild Card team starting this coming season, something I have no problem with especially since it gives the Mets a little more of a chance for a post season berth. For 2012, it will still be a bit unfair as the inter-league schedule and unbalanced schedule tilts the scales in favor of some teams over others but it does validate and makes winning the division much more important and rewarding. With the Houston Astros going to the AL West next season it would make sense that a balance schedule will be implemented as with 15 teams in each league there will be an inter-league game every day.  As much as I’m not of fan of inter-league play, I’ll live with it for an extra playoff spot.

Howard Megdal touches on the Mets catching situation and his hope that the Mets would bring back Ramon Castro with the extra fins that Freddy Skill Sets has in his shallow pockets. I always like Shriek when he was here and he would be an improvement over Mike Nickeas, who it seems Mets fans are trying hard to convince themselves can contribute as Josh Thole’ backup, but the truth of the matter is Sandy Alderson doesn’t have much faith in Thole/Nickeas or any backstop in the Mets system. That’s why names like Castro and Pudge keep coming up.

I’m starting to lose faith in Reese Havens

October 4th 2012 Cincinnati Reds @ NY Mets in the Wild Card Knock Out Game at Citi Field!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who’s with me?     

 

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I’LL BE A GUEST TONIGHT ON NY BASEBALL DIGEST LIVE TONIGHT AT 8PM

 

I will be a guest on Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest Live radio show tonight on Blogtalk Radio, talking Mets and John Franco’s Mets Hall of Fame induction.

 

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NO CARLOS BELTRAN I WON’T GET OVER 2006, NOR SHOULD I

Mike Silva at NY Baseball Digest has an outstanding piece on his site this morning on Carlos Beltran and his time as a Met and his comments on Mets fans needing to “get over 2006”.

I have to say it took me a while to appreciate Beltran and his contribution during his tenure. I think the turning point in the relationship came when Beltran went to Colorado to have surgery on his knee after the club, namely Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazzard handled his medical care piss poorly.  Beltran was furious when the club made it seem he went rogue and receive an unauthorized procedure on his knee. When the truth came out it was Minaya and the team who were disingenuous.

What soured me with Beltran at the beginning of his Mets career was the double dealing he did behind the Mets back by offering himself to the Highlanders at a discount after the Mets made their substantial offer. It pissed me off because I saw Bobby Bonilla all over again. Bonilla, after getting the best offer out there from the Mets during his first free agent foray, took that offer to the Phillies to see if they would match it or go higher. By all rights, Bonilla was within his right to find the best deal possible and it was in my right as a Mets fan to call him a greedy prick.

The other problem Beltran had was not wanting to be the out front guy in the clubhouse. Some guys thrive in that spot, some guys, it’s just not their personality.  Beltran to his credit produce as well or better than any position player the Mets ever employed but his personality as seen through the media left something to be desired. But in listening to players in the clubhouse, where the opinions count, Beltran was not just respected but revered.

As for Beltran telling Mets fans to move on from 2006, it shows the major difference in how fans are more of the fabric of a team than the players.  Can I get over Beltran watching a wicked curveball break over home plate for strike three thus curtailing the Mets from getting to the World Series?  No, and I shouldn’t.  I’m a Mets fan, I can’t be traded or released or designated for assignment. I could leave as a free agent but the thought never entered my mind. I’m here for life. Players come and players go but fans are here forever. I still hold a grudge against Yogi Berra for not using George Stone properly in the 1973 World Series, costing the Mets a  championship, what makes Carlos Beltran think he’s  so special to escape my scorn?

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TIME FOR BUD SELIG TO PULL A PAULIE CICERO AND TURN HIS BACK ON THE WILPON’S

Just like Henry Hill, Bud Selig needs to turn his back on the Skill Sets   

At what point does Bud Selig say “enough” to the Skill Sets when it comes to giving permission to keep drowning the Mets in debt. The Skill Sets have turned into baseball’s panhandlers with their running nose’s and tattered Brooks Brother suits, running the NY National League’s franchise from hand to mouth.  Selig it seems, needs another trip to Washington to get an understanding that when you keep adding up debt you’re headed for disaster. Maybe it’s time Mets fans get some tents, sleeping bags and drums and head to 245 Park Avenue to Occupy The Commissioner’s Office and order him to stop being the chief enabler to the Skill Sets.  

How do the other owners not get their suspenders in a bunch over not just the special treatment that Freddy and Uncle Saul get but question on how do they get such a sweetheart deal? If I was Stu Sternberg I’d be looking for my welfare money. If I were Bob Nutting of the Pirates I’d ask for an increase in my revenue share money. If I were Frank McCourt I’d beat the living shit out of Selig. How is it the Skill Sets get such preferential treatment?

According to the report in Forbes, the Mets are over $400 mil in debt which in most cases would have MLB taking over the operations of a franchise but with Fred and Saul being FOB (friends of Bud) not only won’t that happen but Selig has given his blessing on this new scheme of infusing revenue into the team of selling minority shares of the club for a 3 % return on your investment each year for six years or you can keep your shares and brag to your friends and family that no matter how insignificant you are, you are an owner of the Mets.  Beach front property on Antarctica seems like a better investment.

Last night I was a guest on Mike Sliva’s NY Baseball Digest radio show, you can listen to the show by clicking on this link.

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I’LL BE JOINING MIKE SILVA TONIGHT ON NY BASEBALL DIGEST ON WGBB 1240AM

Later tonight, I will be a guest on Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest radio show on WGBB 1240AM at 10:30PM ET to discuss all that’s happening  with the NY Mets.

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WINNING UGLY, BETTER THAN LOSING PRETTY

Back in 1983, Tony LaRussa led a band of Chicago White Sox to the AL West Division title that were so disrespected, many opponents said of them they were Winning Ugly,  many of the East Coast sports writers felt if they played in the AL East they’d be a 2nd division club. In 2011, LaRussa is still managing and still winning and in taking the NL Pennant last night in Milwaukee, he still has his team Winning Ugly.  I’m not a fan of LaRussa as he comes off as believing the baseball Hall of Fame should have been built in his hometown of Tampa FL since it was he who invented baseball, but last night for the first time I really felt bad for him during this ugly Game 6. You could see the frustration on his face as he watched Edwin Jackson piss away a 5-1 lead in the second inning, and he had to go to his bullpen much sooner than he had hoped. If we learn anything from this post season it’s even the top echelon teams in baseball have woeful starting pitching so in order to win you need a well-stocked bullpen, something that Sandy Alderson has alluded to in his state of the Mets press conference at the end of this season.       

One more note on that 1983 White Sox team, Jerry Koosman was a stalwart of that pitching staff winning 11 games and saving 2. Many around that team felt the season turned around when GM Roland Hemond sent 2B Tony Bernazard (Yes THAT Tony Bernazard) to Seattle for 2B Julio Cruz.

Check out Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest as he has an interview he conducted with Bobby Valentine who is plugging a movie he was an executive producer on called “Peltotero” which follows tow Dominican teen agers as they pursue a career in the big leagues.  By the way, I agree with Mike’s thinking on Jose Reyes, and I bet that’s the path Alderson will take with Reyes’ contract negotiations as well. He will not get in a bidding war for the shortstop.

WOW now I know why I had such a great night sleep, Wally Backman has decided to stay in the Mets organization. A Festivius miracle I tell ya!

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GO METS! SIS-BOOM-BAH!

As first reported by Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest, LOOGY Deluxe Tim Byrdak has signed a contract extension with the Mets for next season. Seems Sandy Alderson would like to keep two lefties in the pen and so far Little LOOGY Danny (Give me a LOOGY with Hair, long beautiful Hair, shining, gleaming…..)Herrera is making his bid to be Byrdak’s stablemate.

Between having John Franco babysit Bobby Parnell and now having Terry Collins breakdown of Dillion Gee’s pitch selection and approach, it seems like Dan Warthen is on shaky ground when it comes to his job security for next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a return of The Jacket to Flushing.

How much does the stellar play of Ruben Tejeda play into the Mets maybe not going all out to re-sign Jose Reyes?  I’m sure he will never admit it but I’d bet Sandy Alderson is praying that some dumb owner offers Reyes a ridiculous contract that he can’t match so he can use the $18-$20 mil on pitching.

What a schizo team we root for. They lose four games at home to the Nats and look like they packed it in for the year. The manager calls his team out saying they “folded up” and says “the fans are right to be angry”  So they go into Atlanta, usually a house of horrors for the Mets and take 2 of 3 from a Braves team that needed to win these three games to keep the Cardinals and Giants off their heels. Amazing Mets indeed.

This is beyond disturbing!

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HIT? NO, I’LL FOLD

“Perception is reality in our game and the perception I have right now is we’ve folded it up,” Collins said in a passionate postgame news conference. “You want to see intenseness? You want to see me be intense? You guys are going to see it. I won’t play that game. You come and play the game right. I don’t care what the situation is. I don’t care about anything but playing the game correctly. That’s all I care about. Our fans should be upset. I don’t blame them one bit.”

Those are the words of Mets manager Terry Collins, who kind of erupted after the Mets latest loss yesterday. The Washington Nationals, a team that could become a big thorn in the Mets side the next few years, came into Citi Field with nothing to play for except that they are a professional baseball team that gets paid a lot of money to compete and they are managed by Davey Johnson, who actually won a championship in blue and orange clothing and was raised in Baltimore under Earl Weaver during the halcyon days of the Orioles of the 1970’s

As I was getting ready to do this post I read Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest and he hits on all the same points I was ready to lay out here so thank you Mike you’ve saved me from another 1,000 post on the demise of the Mets. Silva’s analysis of David Wright is 100 % spot on:

Although David wants to win and tries hard, he continues to allow his surroundings to get the better of him. When the team goes bad he doesn’t rise above it; he becomes part of the problem instead of the solution. He needs to realize that behavior gets him the same treatment as the other 24 players; $14 million dollar salary and All Star resume be damned. I wouldn’t trade Wright coming off this type of season, but he needs to be told that 2012 is his last chance to turn his Mets career around and show the organization he is closer to the player we saw from 2005-2008.”

You know, we all killed Freddy Skill Sets when he said that Wright was a good kid and a good ballplayer but not a guy who carries the team, and guess what? Freddy was on target. Wright is a good baseball player who would thrive on a team that has outstanding players. He’s more a supporting actor than a leading man. Quite frankly, I don’t know what value he has in the trade market over the winter but I would think Sandy Alderson will find out.

Speaking of the GM, he’s been mighty quiet during this tailspin, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is he sitting back taking notes of who has “folded up” to decide who stays and who goes?  Most likely.

So tonight let’s see if the manager is serious or just giving lip service.  I’d sit Wright and Pagan and if Bay can’t go please, enough of Willie Harris all he’s good at is preparing whip cream pies, put Nick Evans in LF and let Josh Satin play 1B. I know there isn’t much to choose from but the mangers best friend is the bench when he wants to get his message across.

 

 

 

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MORE FROM MY FRIDAY AT CITI FIELD

On Friday the Mets invited some Mets bloggers back to Citi Field to participate in Terry Collins’ pre and post game press conference and to watch the game between the Mets and Brewers from the press box.  I want to thank Danielle Parillo Director, Communication and Shannon Forde Director, Media Relations for the hospitality they’ve shown us and for the invitations to these events and the Mets management for trying and so far succeeding in changing the atmosphere around the club and bringing transparency and communication back to the fan base via the voice of the fans, the Mets bloggers.

During the evening I sat with Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest and Mike mentioned to me a post he was writing dealing with Mike Pelfrey and how the Mets should explore making Pelf the closer for 2012. We tossed the subject around with the pros and cons and mostly if Pelf can handle the day to day pressure of closing and if he could get a strikeout when he needs it. All in all it was a subject that stirred a debate and was great conversation. That being said, I was shocked to see the lightweight Mets beat reporter for the NY Daily News write the same exact story that Silva posted on Saturday in today’s paper. I won’t link the News story but if you see someone using a Daily News to pick up after their dog in the street ask if you can have the sports section to read the ripped off story.

I still feel a bit intimidated when I go to these Mets bloggers events. Before the press conference, Danielle informed the blogggers that we could ask Terry Collins a question but she warned, he wasn’t in a very good mood. Now I had a question for the manager as I wanted to know if in the Mets minor league system, of which Collins was the Minor League coordinator, do the coaches and managers have classroom sessions, kind of like they do in other sports, where they go over video of a game and correct mistakes in base running or on defense like throwing to the wrong base or being out of position and to go over the rules of the game?  

When Collins entered the room the first thing he said to Jay Horowitz was “I’m out of here at 4:05” it was 3:55 when he said that. The media in the room that I recognized were Adam Rubin, Howie Rose, Gary Cohen, George Vesey and Ed Coleman.  The bulk of the questions were about Jose Reyes and his sore hammy. It seems Reyes was able to run on a track at a training facility in Long Island and I guess the manager wanted to see him run the bases at Citi but whatever, the look and mannerism of the manager gave me the impression the last thing he wanted to do was answer a questions from the media much less from bloggers.  

When Shannon approached me with the microphone to ask a question, something in my mind told me, “ehhhh you better pass here. It’s a pretty good question but maybe save it if you meet the manager in the off season when it’s a little calmer” So I passed my turn to the next blogger, who passed to the next blogger who passed to…..Well, I guess you see my point, none of us wanted to raise the skipper ire.

One of the pleasures of watching the Mets warm up and take BP is interacting with Jose Reyes. Reyes was taking some ground balls and playing catch with Justin Turner, then hit the cage for BP. When he was done he headed to the clubhouse and as he got close to me I asked him how he was feeling and how the hamstring was and he answered. “I’m feeling good Papi, I’ll be ready soon” This was the second time I’ve spoken to Reyes (the other was during an event in the offseason)    and both times he called me Papi and you know what, it made my day both times.

Yesterday I posted the audio from the bloggers sit down with R.A. Dickey. Before R.A. came out we were hanging out in the Mets dugout. I put my bag down and hopped up on the wall in back of the benches to sit down. As R.A. came out he sat right next to me. Luck of the Irish eh? We all introduced ourselves and of course I had to add that I’m @kranepool on Twitter to which Dickey gave me a laugh and said “ahhhh ok pleasure to meet you in person” No R.A. the pleasure was all mine.

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