The Emotion of Baseball

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So if you weren’t sitting with two boxes of Kleenex last night during the Say Good-Bye to Mariano Rivera segment of Yankees-Rays, you’re a heartless bastard with no feelings or emotions.  At least that was the consensus on social media last night.

No doubt it was a special moment at Yankee Stadium last night when Rivera came in to pitch for the last time at home (or anywhere) and I watched and thought it was great but did it punch my emotional buttons? No. Did I get misty eyed with Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter came out to remove Rivera from the game? Nope, sorry. Did I think it was a nice moment? Sure.

Mariano Rivera is without a doubt the greatest closer in baseball history. He is a sure first ballot Hall of Famer –he won’t be a unanimous first ballot honoree because we all know some shithead from the BBWAA will leave him off their ballot in “a look at me moment”-but  since he was not a New York Met, then my emotions stayed in check.

Sorry if that pisses off the ultra-sensitive types but I save my baseball tears for the New York Mets, both happy and sad occasions.

I don’t get why the baseball writing eggheads get so bent out of shape over events on the field that fall under the “unwritten rules” of baseball. Seriously, what is it about this code of conduct that baseball players have amongst themselves that pisses you off? Is it that it doesn’t fall under your view of baseball through the eyes of statistical analysis? This is no way a knock at the analytic work done by many of these folks, if you are a MLB organization that doesn’t have a fully staff analytic department, then you’re in the working in the dark ages. I love how  baseball execs have so much data to look at and study to make help make important decision in player personnel to help achieve the ultimate goal of winning the World Series.  You still have to take the human side into account as well.    

When Brain McCann waited at home plate for Carlos Gomez to arrive after putting on an embarrassing display of being an ass hat when he hit a home run of Paul Maholm, I thought it was one of the best on field statements I’ve seen in baseball in a long long time. McCann just standing there explaining to Gomez just what an asshole he was and daring him to go through him to touch home plate showed me that McCann was standing up for his pitcher, his teammates and his organization. He should be applauded. Sadly some folks didn’t see it the same way I did and to tell you the truth I was a bit surprised by some of the reaction.

As I said, it was mostly the people who seem to be the baseball intellectual types that thought McCann was a jerk.  None of the McCann bashers mentioned that Gomez was still holding a grudge from being hit by a pitch from Malhom (who throws about 85 mph tops and that’s with a running start) earlier in the year. The first pitch of the at bat, Gomez nearly swung himself out of his uniform as he wanted to hit the pitch to Buckhead . He damn near succeeded on the next pitch which he hit a towering home run. Gomez stood and admired the shot then glared at Maholm to which Freddie Freeman screamed at him and he yelled back at Freeman while he leisurely strolled the base paths like he was out for a constitutional on the deck of the Queen Mary. As Gomez went down the 3rd base line, staring into the Braves dugout, he was startled by McCann standing in his way of touching home plate, a destination Gomez never arrived at. At that point the benches emptied and the Braves went after Gomez and any Brewer that stood in their way.     

Now why anyone who watches, covers or has played baseball was surprised at McCann’s actions baffles me. It’s the same way I can’t understand people getting upset when Tiger Woods curses after he hits a bad shot.  Those people have obviously never been on a golf course, same with the folks who are appalled by baseball player’s behavior on the field.  

What do they think happens on the field and in the dugout and clubhouse? This may come as a shock to some of the finger sandwich and high tea crowd but baseball players use very bad language at times, in fact they use the bad language a lot on the umpires. Ball players (I hope I don’t offend anyone here) also spit nasty tobacco juice and sunflower seed shells and (hold on to your pearls Francis) blow their nose without a tissue. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. The floor of a dugout is as nasty as a subway platform.

As much as baseball has to go forward using statistical analysis in decision making it also cannot forget the on field emotion of the game as well. I don’t know about you but my love of baseball didn’t come from a calculator it came from first watching it, then playing it , then embracing the camaraderie of being on a team. There’s no better feeling than being on a team that has each other’s back. There’s no better feeling than playing on a team that wins. There is no better compliment in baseball than “he plays the game the right way”.  If you can’t understand that, then I have pity on you, you’re missing a great game.

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“Ya Gotta Remember” The 1973 NL Pennant Winners the NY Mets

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I haven’t seen nor heard anything pertaining to the NY Mets having a day/night to honor the 1973 NL Pennant winners.   I really hope that there is something in the works to bring back the surviving members of that team for a celebratory remembrance.   It would an awful shame to let this 40th Anniversary of the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets   go unnoticed by the organization the ’73 team’s season for its comeback ability should be given be revered and honored just like the ’69 and ’86 champions as the Ya Gotta Believe mantra of Tug McGraw was no showboat move it was what had this team come together to have one of the great runs not just in Mets history but baseball history as well.

The ’73 Mets were awful from May to July winning 32 games and losing 49 with the low make of the season coming on July 4th when the Mets found themselves 12.5 games behind the first place Chicago Cubs in the NL East. July was still a bad month for the team as they put up a dismal 12-18 record but from August on the Mets went 49-22 while all the other NL East teams went into the dumper no team hit the skids worse than the Cubs who went an astonishing awful 30-52 during that stretch.

This team was no offensive juggernaut that’s for sure with Rusty Staub the leading hitter driving in 76 runs on 12 HR and a .781 OPS. John “The Hammer” Milner lead the team with 23 HR and 72 RBI and surprisingly Wayne Garrett hit 16 HR as well. The club was in the bottom third of every offensive statistic in the league that year except for Walks where they had the 6th best rate in the NL.

What ran this Mets team in ’73 was the pitching especially a solid stable of left-handed pitching plus The Franchise. Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and George Stone supported the Ace Tom Seaver in the rotation , one of the best in baseball that year, along with swing man and veteran pitcher Ray Sadecki and of course their Fireman (that’s what the closer was known as back then) Tug McGraw.

1973 was also the swan song or Willie Mays who after a few embarrassing missteps in centerfield knew it was “time to say good bye to America”.

How great would a day at Citi Field be to honor this Pennant winning Mets team by having Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Rusty Staub, Jerry Grote, Wayne Garrett , Ed Kranepool and of course The Franchise, Tom Seaver  etc. on the field for a pre-game ceremony?

Please, please, please we cannot let this anniversary go without a day of remembrance. It’s already a big disappointment that a Salute to ’73 day is not on the season calendar already.

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Metscellaneous

 

Before I get started with some Mets-cellaneous items, a moment of silence please to remember both Earl Weaver and Stan Musial two baseball titans who passed away this past Saturday.

 

 

I would like to congratulate David Wright on the announcement of his engagement to his long time squeeze Molly Beers. I’ll be checking the mail for my wedding invitation

The Bitter Bill got to meet R.A. Dickey last Saturday night at the New York Baseball Writers dinner and found out what everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting and talking to R.A. discovered, he’s not only a gentleman but one of the most interesting people you’ll ever run into in your life.  

It took me awhile to wrangle this but I am proud to announce I was able to purchase the sponsorship of Ed Kranepool’s player page on Baseball-Reference.  The other pages I sponsor are, Ken Boswell, Duffy Dyer, Jay Hook, 1947 NY Giants, and 1977 NY Mets. It’s the least I can do for all the info I pluck from the Baseball-Reference site.

So Sandy Alderson made a funny at the baseball writer’s dinner:

There’s been a lot of talk about our outfield. And I want you to know that I’m in serious discussions with several outfielders I met on the Internet. There’s one I really like. He says he played at Stanford.’’

 and some folks are upset that he made a joke about the Mets outfield situation. Really? Seriously? Lighten up!

The San Francisco Giants honored their New York roots this past weekend by bringing not only the 2012 World Series trophy to town but the great Willie Mays as well.  By the way, with all the debate over retiring numbers that we Mets fans seem to love argue about, how a dialog about retiring #24 to honor the greatest player in baseball history?

You should also read this column by George Vecsey on the Giants World Series trophy tour of NY.  I let out a big “SIGH” when I was done reading.

Oh the Cubs had a FanFest over the weekend. Tip O’ the Mets cap to Mets Police for the linkage and for putting me in a more pissed off mood about the baseball team I love.

Hey look whose back, Perpetual Pedro all recovered from shoulder problems and full of Highlander bucks has come home albeit with a minor league deal. Feliciano will join Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, Darin Gorski, Aaron Laffey, and post-op Tim Brydak as the Mets attempt to form the first all left handed bullpen in history of baseball.

My podcast mate on Mets Kult of Personalities Tayrn Cooper, has penned a guest column on Jeff Pearlman’s website, taking up the cause for Mike Piazza’ enshrinement into the Hall of Fame and calling out the voters for short sightedness in not voting Piazza in his first year of eligibility. Pearlman will also be guest on Coops Gall For All Seasons Podcast this week as well.

 

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Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times: 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times, has put together a 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw column that looks at 50 of the best and most interesting moments in Mets history that are not the obvious choices, such as:

 May 2, 1963: Skipper Casey Stengel decides to do something different. He inserts catcher Choo Choo Coleman in the batting order’s leadoff slot. To this day, it’s still the only time any catcher has led off for the Mets. New York wins, 10-3

 WOW  who’da thunk that?  I would have bet either John Stearns or Mackey Sasser would have hit at the top of the order during their Mets career.   I bet Josh Thole hits in the leadoff spot at least once as a Met

Aug. 9, 1963: Jim Hickman hits a walk-off grand slam for the Mets, an achievement that’s extra special because it ends the 18-game losing streak of Roger Craig, the team’s best pitcher in their early horrible years.

Jim Hickman had terrific power and hit some home runs as a Met but the lure of obtaining Brooklyn born and bred (and Boys High baseball and basketball standout) Tommy Davis from the Dodgers was too strong so Hickman was shipped to LA for Davis. Davis by the way played one season for the Mets in 1967 and was dealt in the off season to the White Sox for Tommie Agee and Al Weiss.

Sept. 16, 1975: Since 1950, quite a few baseball games have ended on a walk-off walk, but none have happened as late as this one. The Mets top the Expos 4-3 when Montreal’s Don DeMola walks Del Unser with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 18th inning.

 

It has always seemed to me that the Mets have played more long extra innings games than any other team in baseball history

 

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LET’S RAISE A GLASS TO THE ’86 METS

Man, 25 years ago. So where was I 25 years ago tonight when the most famous ground ball in baseball history went through the wickets of Bill Buckner?

I wasn’t at the game, I was home watching with my wife as we were in month seven of our marriage. The only game of the series I attend was Game 1, the game that turned on a ball getting through the legs of Tim Teufel, a play that gets lost in the Buckner Blunder, ruining a beautifully pitched game by Ron Darling with help from Roger McDowell.  

One of the issues with watching Mets games on TV back in ’86 was Bay Ridge Brooklyn was NOT wired for cable television back then. There was a whole quagmire with franchise rights by the cable companies, if you wanted the lucrative Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights account you had to take the less desirable East New York, Flatbush area as well. So after all the graft and bribes were dished out, I think it wasn’t until 1988 when we Bay Ridgeites  got  hooked up to Time-Warner Cable, so back in ’86 I spent most of my time in the numerous bars of Bay Ridge that were equipped with these enormous satellite dishes on their roofs to watch Mets game televised on SportsChannel.  So when games were on “free TV” I’d give my wallet and liver a break and stay home.

Game 6 was on a Saturday night, I remember we went for an unusually early dinner (my kids have a hard time believing that the same couple who fall asleep on the couch at 9PM used to go out until 4 or 5 the next morning on a regular basis. It’s the same way their stare at our wedding picture in which I have this incredible crop of curly brown hair. The tilt their heads from side to side like it’s some abstract painting in a gallery trying to figure out who the guy is with their mom. Lovely.) and then came home. Before getting home I stopped at the deli on 5th Ave to pick up some Molson Golden for my game libation. My wife sat with me for the first few innings (she is not big on watching Baseball or any sport on TV, she’ll go a games in person and enjoy it but to sit and watch on TV? Ain’t happening) then decided she go to the bedroom and watch something else. Of course she fell asleep, so it was just me, Vin Scully (Mets fans were very upset with Scully’s critiques of the Mets during this series)  Joe Garagiola and my six bottles of Molson.

Everyone knows about the bottom of the 10th inning of this game but the inning that gets lost in history is the bottom of the 8th where the Mets were down a run. Former Met, Calvin Schiraldi comes in for the Red Sox to help preserve the lead and bridge to Bob Stanley, the Boston closer. After a Lee Mazzilli (pinch hitting for Jesse Orosco) leadoff single, Davey Johnson went against the Earl Weaver book he was weaned on, to play small ball. Lenny Dykstra comes up (by the way after six Molson on top of the cocktails I had at dinner, I’m now talking to the TV like I’m sitting with Scully and Garagiola. I wish there was Twitter back then, my drunked Tweets would have been memorable) and lays down a sac bunt that he beats out, so now the Mets have 1st and 2nd no outs.  Wally Backman comes up and he lays down a sac bunt that moves Maz to 3rd and Nails to 2nd after an Intentional Walk to Keith Hernandez to set up a double play at any base, up stepped Gary Carter.

Here is why Mets fans love Gary Carter, nobody loves a pressure situation and came through in those situations like Kid.  That’s why when you sit in Citi Field and the Get Well Soon video comes on the screen, everyone stops and watches. That’s why when I see Ron Darling in the Stand Up For Cancer PSA, with his I Stand Up For My Catcher sign, I get a lump in my throat. Gary Carter was a great Met, retire his #8 PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I digress, Kid comes though with a Sac Fly scoring Maz and we are tied at 3.

After the top of the 10th where Rick Aguilera gave up 2 runs, all I need is a hand gun as I’ve turned into Elvis Presley , looking to shoot my TV. After two quick outs in the bottom of the 10th I am one ornery intoxicated Mets fan, with my TV remote in my hand I was ready to turn off the set as there was no way I was watching the Red Sox celebrate this World Series (the pain of 1973 was flashing through my mind) but then, he comes that man again, Gary Carter with the base hit but here I was pissed at Kid for that hit. Please put me out of my misery already but my misery turned to ecstasy.

“HONEY, WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THEY WON!!! THEY WON!!! THE METS WON!!!! YYYYYYEEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!! GAME FUCKIN’SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

My wife thought I’d lost my mind, I told get up and get dressed we got to go out. She looked at me like I was nuts but then she heard all the commotion coming from 5th Ave and then the phone started ringing as friends and family wanting to talk about the most improbable win in Mets history. There was no sleep that night/early mornings, bars and clubs of Bay Ridge were hoppin’ till sunrise and so was I.

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TAKE A CYBER MONDAY BREAK FOR SOME METS MUSSINGS

 

On this date in 1966, the Mets traded Jim Hickman and Ron Hunt to the Dodgers for the pride of Boy’s High in Brooklyn, Tommy Davis. Davis lasted one season with the Mets as he was delt along with Jack Fisher to the White Sox for Tommie Agee and Al Weis .

I think we can now stop with all the questions of Terry Collins about the 1999 Angels and his eight year old DUI. I give Collins a lot of credit and it shows he has patients as I would have told the media to go fuck off by now.  Collins has also shown he won’t throw players under the bus as in all the stories you hear about that Angels team, the main culprit in the uprising was Mo Vaughn, one of the biggest fucking quitters in baseball history.  

Nice to see Ollie Perez is the Tom Seaver of the Mexican Winter League. Maybe Sandy Alderson can work out a deal with any team in the Mexican League for Perez. I’d take a couple of roosters (for cock fighting purposes, of course) two cases of Bohemia Beer and an enchilada to be named later.

Ed Ryan makes the case that Carlos Beltran’s contract might not be so prohibited that he could be dealt. The way Ed puts it out there, with the Mets picking up $5mil of the deferred dough in the deal that would live Beltran owed $13 mil for the season.   Would Theo Epstein be an interested buyer?

I wouldn’t be looking for John Maine Bobble Head Day on the 2011 promotional schedule.

R.I.P. Frank Drebin and don’t call me Shirley.

Joe Janish brings up a name from the past RHP Pedro Beato, that at one time had my blood boil. Beato pitched for Xaverian H.S. in Bay Ridge and was drafted by the Mets, who due to their lock step way with the Used Car Salesman, were talked out of going over slot to sign him. Beato went back into the draft the next year, and was drafted by the Orioles who had no problem going over slot to give the right handed putcher the same $1mil bonus the Mets were told they couldn’t give out. Well, Beato could be a Rule 5’er and maybe an interesting pitcher to place in the Mets bullpen for 2011.

Who has December 1 in the “When will Pat Riley take over as coach of the Heat”?

Finally an athlete figures out that God doesn’t give a shit about a sporting event.

Javier Vasquez signs a one year deal with the Fish for $7mil with a no trade clause (duh!) and a provision that the Fish cannot offer Vasquez arbitration. Not bad for a suck ass pitcher.

Tom Brady is the NFL MVP and the best QB in the game and one of the three best of all time (Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, then Brady who is ready to move past Montana) if you want to argue this, talk to the hand.

Joe Posnanski hits another blog post out of the park, this time taking on the “closer”. I’m really, really hoping that the new Mets brain trust thinks like Posnanski and uses Frankie Rodriguez (if he’s still with the team) in the 7th and or 8th inning.

Tonight is hockey night as I’m headed to MSG for Rangers-Penguins. If you are not of the hockey fan persuasion, the NY Rangers are what we could hope the Mets will be in 2011. They have a lot of young, talent and dedicated players, who while learning the ropes of the NHL, grind out game after game. They have two superstars in Henrik Lundqvist  and Marian Gaborik and two young players in Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, who are having break out seasons on the ice and in the locker room as the new leaders of this team. The team also sticks up for one and other (something that has not been seen with the Rangers in years) and are becoming a tough team to play. Cindy Crosby better have some vagina protection on tonight.

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R.I.P. BOBBY THOMSON

Just heard the sad news that former NY Giant,and the man who hit the most famous home run in baseball history, Bobby Thomson has passed away.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Thomson and if you didn’t better, you’d never know he was not just an ex-baseball player but a player who hit the Shot Heard Around The World. He was very soft spoken and awfully polite when I met hm at an event to commemorate the 1951 season (my dad was a die-hard Giants fan and Thomson and Carl Hubbell were his two favorite Giants of all time)  but when the name of Sal Yvars was brought up, it brought out the Scottsman’ temper. Yvars was the player who claimed he gave Thomson and other Giants tip offs on what pitches were coming by stealing the opposing catchers signs using a telescope while Yvars was perched by a window in centerfield of the Polo Grounds.

Condolences to the Thomson family

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ALMOST HALL OF FAMOUS

 

I guess congratulations are in order to Andre Dawson for his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hawk was a solid baseball player and from what you read, was a very nice guy and it seems as long as you’re a very nice guy to the media, you eventually get in the Hall. That would explain why Albert Belle is no longer on the ballot. Belle was an unbelievable offensive player putting up big numbers and one of the great run producers of his time, but the guy made Ron Artest look stable. It’s not just that Belle was a nasty sumnabitch, I honestly think the reporters covering the teams he played for and the out of town media we’re scared shit of him. The only way for payback is to not just keep in out of the HOF but knock him off the ballot altogether.

The only segment of baseball fans that doesn’t have bad feeling for Robbie Alomar not getting in the HOF, are Mets fans. During the reign of the Alomar disaster in Queens, I was dining in one of my favorite spots, the RF food pavilion at Shea Stadum, when I encounter a guy wearing an ALOMAR 12 uni top. When I mentioned that he was one brave Mets fan to wear that jersey, he told me his was a cousin of Alomar’s. We spoke for while and I ask Robbie’s cuz, “what’s the problem with your cousin” he told me the whole family was stumped. He said Alomar was so happy to be in NYC as there was a lot of family there to keep him happy but the cuz then said “he feels like he can’t do it anymore”  The problem that Mets fan had with Alomar was he was coming here off a strong year in Cleveland .336/.415/.541/.956 20HR 100 RBI 30SB so when the deal was made to come to the Mets, we were farting through silk WHAT AN ACQUISTION!!! But what followed was one of the classic crash and burns of a player in baseball history. All said in done, Alomar should have gone in as a first ballot HOF’er his Mets years aside, he is one of the greatest 2nd basemen of all time.

Supposedly 5 voters sent back blank ballots, two of which are Jay Mariotti and Lisa Olson of AOL. Mind-boggling!.  I know it’s in vogue to call Mariotti a douche bag but a few years ago, Mariotti did a radio show on the defunct One On One Radio Network (620 AM here in NYC) along with Jim Lytke of the AP. It was one of the better sports radio shows I’ve listened to. Mariotti was not the dickhead he has evolved into today. As for Olson, she has always sent in a blank ballot since becoming eligible to vote. I don’t know what to say about that but why even be a member of the BBWA?   The Hall of Fame would be better off letting bloggers pick the Hall members; at least we’d take it seriously.

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YOU CAN’T RETIRE 16 AND 18 BEFORE 7, 17, 8, 31 OR 36

 

I have had the pleasure of meeting both Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and both are delightful guys. Even with all the troubles they have had in their personnel lives, they are still embraced by Mets fans and they have both found renewed love for the franchise and it’s fans. A Doc Gooden start at Shea was a happening, a festival a celebration of Mets baseball that has not been matched since. The sight of Darryl Strawberry whipping that bat and hitting tape measure home runs reminds us of when the Mets were the toast of the town and I am so happy that both guys have come home again and have nuzzled in the Mets family bosoms but with all that I’m not ready to retire their numbers.

 

I agree 100 % that management needs to embrace its past more and the one knock I’ve heard about $iti Field is the lack of a presence of Mets history. I’m still waiting to here what the plans are the 40th Anniversary of one of the most famous teams in baseball history winning the World Series (and why no patch on the uni top sleeve for this anniversary?) . Not just that, in this the first season of $iti why couldn’t management bring back the old fan favorites like Banner Day or an Old Timers Day (I still like my idea of brining back every player who ever played for the Mets for the opening day ceremony to start a new era in Mets history and passing of the torch if you will)

 

Maybe someday the Skill Sets will re-connect with its fan base a fan base that is true Orange and Blue and gives way more to the organization than it ever gets in return.

 

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IT WAS NEVER ABOUT THE BABE-A BOOK BY JERRY GUTLON

 

As much as I love the Mets, I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the Boston Red Sox. Part of that comes from Boston being the place my father settle in with his brothers and sister came to the U.S. from Ireland and that I have family there and I love spending summers on Cape Cod. As a kid whenever the Sox played on the Game of the Week or against the Highlanders I always made it my business to take in those games. In his new book It Was Never About The Babe,(published by Skyhorse Publishing) author Jerry M. Gutlon breaks the myths of curses and bad luck that have become folk law in Red Sox Nation.

Gutlon uncovers how misguided anti-Semitism by AL President Ban Johnson towards Harry Frazee (Frazee was not Jewish but Johnson believed he was) that forced Frazee to trade Babe Ruth to the Highlanders. The author also uncovers the racism and wild decisions made by Tom Yawkey under the influence of alcohol that were an embarrassment to the organization and set the franchise back decades.

Now under the guiding hands of Theo Epstein, Larry Luchino and John Henry the Red Sox have become the model franchise in baseball combing statistical work along with good old fashion bird dog scouting and using their vast revenues to build the team on the major league level and keep the farm system fertile.

Even if you are not a Red Sox fan, Gutlon’ book is a great read for any one interested in baseball history.

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

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