CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN FRANCO BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US

Yesterday the New York Mets announced that John Franco will be indicted into the team’s Hall of Fame this coming season with the pomp and circumstance commencing on June 3rd.

There has been much speculation this winter on who would be selected as the next honoree to the Mets HOF, some folks feel Mike Piazza should have been named and of course he should but it looks like the Mets are waiting for his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame so they can throw a really big shindig with Mets HOF honors and a number retiring ceremony as well.

Franco gets the honor this season for many reasons, he played 14 seasons with the Mets, holds the record for most saves in franchise history and most importantly he’s a Wilpon loyalist. Franco holds a job with the club sort of like the Mets Ambassador to Public Functions, in which he’s perfectly suited for. Late season, he volunteered his services to mentor Bobby Parnell in finding his way to the craft of closing baseball games, which if I were the pitching coach I would have strongly voiced my opposition to but it seems the front office didn’t have a problem with since it seems the GM really has no use for Parnell as we see with the addition of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco which relegates to Parnell to fighting for a bullpen job.    

As I say, I really don’t want to piss in the punch here on Franco’s honor of Mets Hall of Famer but in my opinion, this year’s Mets Hall of Fame honoree should have been us, the New York Mets Fan.  How great a ceremony would it be to honor the long suffering Mets fan? The team could have selected the longest tenure season ticket holder to accept the award in our behalf and then commission a plaque with a nice mosaic of Mets fans who may be the most diverse of all sports teams in this town.  What better way to celebrate 50 years of Mets baseball than honoring the folks who really are the heart and soul of the organization, the Mets fan. Without us there is no NY Mets and in this upcoming season of apparent discontent, what better way to show how much we mean to this organization but to honor is with a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

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YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE A STAND

If it weren’t for the idiocy of Major League Baseball, all the talk last night and this morning would have been about the emotional and beautifully choreographed pre-game ceremony at Citi Field to honor the memory of the attack of September 11th and the first responders that gave their lives and the others who risked theirs to help others.

I was brought to tears seeing Mike Piazza lead a parade of heroes from the right field side of Citi Field and John Franco doing the same on the left field side.  Then having the ball park lights dim for a moment of silence followed by a spine tingling rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Marc Anthony. Franco and Piazza then took center stage in their snow white Mets uni tops with the words “9-11-01 we will never forget” embroidered on the sleeve just like it was 10 years ago, to deliver the first pitch of the game. In an eerie silence, Franco, a “Noo Yawk” guy through and through tossed a perfect strike to Piazza, the man who made the Mets relevant again. In fact  what struck me about last night was how sad it was for two reasons, the first was what the commemoration of the evening was for of course, the other, it reminded me when the last time the Mets were a big deal in this town, that choked me up as well.

The Mets wore the same snow whites that they had on 9-21-11, the first sports event in NYC since the demise of the Twin Towers, but on their heads that night were the caps of the FDNY, NYPD, and PAPD the three groups the club had become very close to due to their working side by side during the awful aftermath of the attack. At the time MLB said the Mets couldn’t wear those caps during a major league game and the Mets in turn led by Bobby Valentine told MLB to kiss their New York City ass, we’re wearing them.  What did MLB do? Nothing, just like every other bully that is stood up to. The Mets wore the first responder caps and celebrated in those caps when Mike Piazza, he of the NYPD batting helmet as well, hit his home run that put a smile on faces that thought they’d never smile again. It was not just a classic NY moment or one the best moments in Mets history it showed that baseball, just like during all of the countries dark times, came through once again, it always does, its what makes baseball the great pastime it is.

The Mets of 2011 asked MLB if they could have permission to wear the hats of the first responders again as they did 10 years ago. MLB said no, just like they did 10 years ago. This time though the Mets rolled over, scared to take a stand. There was no Valentine, or Franco, or Ventura, or Zeile on the team to tell MLB to take their no cap memo and shove it up their tight ass’s. The players thought about ignoring the order but claimed the organization would have been severely punished if they did. If the Mets banded together and wore the caps, what was MLB going to do? Absolutely nothing.  Again to beat the bully you need to stand up to the bully.

I don’t know if I’ve told this story here but if I did I apologize but I think it should be told here.  As I’ve mention on numerous occasions, I manage a 14-15 year old Babe Ruth Team on Staten Island.  During the heat wave of the summer, a day that was 97 degrees, I had scheduled a practice. We try to have at least one practice a week during the season to work on some deficiencies and to go over the pitching rotation for the upcoming games. We also take a round of infield/outfield drills and batting practice, in all it runs about two hours. The place we like to practice is Miller Field in the New Dorp section as it was a one time air base during WWII and has plenty of fields to choose from. Now because of the heat I was ready to cancel practice and let the boys enjoy their pools or whatever they were doing to stay cool. Every kid that I called said, “ah coach it ain’t that hot we can practice” my son told me he was getting texts from some players asking him to convince me to hold practice. What could I do? They want to play, fine let’s go practice. So with the equipment and a case of water, off to Miller Field we go. We were the only people in the park. Acres of land at our disposal. As we were half way through batting practice a federal parks department employee pulls up to the field asking “who is in charge here”? “ Well, that would be me”, “do you have a permit to play here” Ms. Fed asks. “A permit? For what? To play baseball”? “Yes” she said, “Ah no” I say “Well, she says then you will have to leave”.

After I stopped laughing I ask here to clear her cart from the pitcher’s mound so we could continue to play. Again she ask me if this was an organized team and where was our permit and on and on really annoying the living shit out of me. I told her the organization we played for and that we had permits to play games here but being a programed bureaucrat all she knew was I didn’t have permit for the field and I had to leave. At this point I asked her what her title was and she rattled off some administrative rank, I then told her to call someone with authority to make me leave, like the Federal Park Police, and while I wait for the police to come, we will continue to play baseball.

Well, instead of calling the police, she called her supervisor who in turn called the league president who had to come down to the park to make me leave the park.  So while I’m being screamed at with threats, I told my assistant coach, to continue with the practice this way I’ll go argue with these women long enough for all the players get their batting practice swings.   For a good half hour, we argued back in forth about the lack of common sense being applied here, which was enough time for the team to finish practice. When the coach told me practice was over, I thanked the ladies and said “yeah you know what, your right we don’t belong here, we’ll leave”.

I didn’t give a shit about the two Federal Flunkies but the woman who ran the league was so mad at me she stopped talking to me. It didn’t bother me in the least, you know why? She couldn’t do anything to me, what could she do, tell me I can’t manage the team anymore? No. Luckily I had all the parents of the kids behind me 100 %. That’s why I took the stand. I knew there was nothing anyone was going to do to me to make me regret my decision.

As I told the Feds, this will make a great story in the Staten Island Advance “Youth Coach and kids Thrown out of Park For Playing Ball” or maybe one of the local TV stations would love to expose the story, I had me some bullets in my gun.  Sometimes you have to take a stand.

That is what has me pissed off at the Mets, especially David Wright. If Wright led the way and wore the NYPD cap he wore in the dugout on the field what was MLB going to do? NOTHING! If the whole Mets team would have worn the caps on the field what was MLB going to do? NOTHING!

The bad publicity from this should be a huge embarrassment to MLB and I can’t believe no one in the P.R. department didn’t beg Bud Selig or Clueless Joe Torre, who by the way showed is true colors as a big time phony,  to let the Mets wear the caps.

You know what in the long run maybe MLB was right did it really matter if the Mets wore the first responder caps? No one was watching anyway, especially with the Jets-Cowboys game on NBC.

Enjoy those single digit post season ratings in the post season Bud, you douchebag.

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MR. SKILL SETS, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!!!!!!!

Took a day off from blogging and social media to celebrate my son’s birthday by spending the day in the city and taking in a performance of Spider Man Turn Off The Dark. The show itself was entertaining it’s no Guys and Dolls but hey what is! I was disappointed in the music since Bono and The Edge wrote the score and the only song I really enjoyed was when Patrick Page, who really saves this show as his role as Green Goblin was the highlight of the performance, sings A Freak Like Me Needs Company to open a second act that salvaged the show for me. The high flying Spider Man and Green Goblin scenes are spectacular as is the make up job doen on Page as the Green Goblin .  Just the fact that Spidey made it this far on Broadway is an accomplishment.

On to the Mets, in no particular order:

The news that John Franco and Mike Piazza will be the participants in the first pitch of the game on September 11th and the Mets will wear caps of the first responders of that tragic day, will help bring some joy to Mets fans on what should be proclaimed a National Day of Mourning. It’s still hard to believe that it will be 10 years since the attack, of all the scenes of carnage and despair of that day, the vision of seeing the smoke smoldering from the wreckage of the Towers, from my bedroom window still haunts me.

When I first heard about Howard Johnson playing for the Rockland Boulders this weekend so he could join his son Glen I thought it was a silly stunt but then I thought it’s an Independent League so really who cares?

Jason Bay to center field? Flanked by #ImWith28 and The Dude? Better find some pitchers with a high GB/FB ratio.

Safe to say something will happen with the dimensions of the Great Wall of Flushing, like cutting the wall in half to 8 ft. I’ve stood on the warning track under that Great Wall and that is some rarified air up there. Bringing in the fences is not needed but an 8 ft left field wall will make a big improvement and hopefully help the stigma that David Wright and Jason Bay seem to have with the wall.

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DON’T SLEEP IN THE SUBWAY

Don’t sleep in the subway, darling

Don’t stand in the pouring rain
Don’t sleep in the subway, darling
The night is long
Forget your foolish pride
Nothing is wrong
Now, you’re beside me again

So here we are arriving yet again for another Subway Series that has surpassed his expiration date a while ago.  As Mets fans, we have to endure anther three days of watching Luis Castillo drop a pop up and Rogers Clemens take off Mike Piazza’ head because we live in a city where the main stream media, both print and electronic have thrown in the towel on creativity and substance.

In reading some of these stories this morning about both teams you’d think the Highlanders were having some kind of special season, maybe they are in a negative kind of way. The Mets on the other hand are mocked because they have suffered a series of injuries that have forced the club to go with players summoned from their Triple A team in Buffalo. Why this is supposed to be embarrassing is beyond my comprehension, shouldn’t it be a positive that the club has lost Johan Santana and then Chris Young to shoulder surgery, Ike Davis to a sprained ankle, David Wright to a stress fracture in his back, Pedro Beato to tendonitis, and Angel Pagan to the chic aliment of sore oblique muscle and still play winning baseball (17-11) after a horrendous start of the season?  So the players that have been brought in to replace the injured have stepped up in such a way that the team is playing as good as any team in baseball. Isn’t the mark of a good team that they have guys who step up when other guys go down with injury?   

It’s ok to say that Terry Collins is doing a fine job as manager. It’s ok to say that slowly but surely Sandy Alderson is changing the culture of the organization. It’s ok to go to Citi Field and root for this team.

Are there any Mets fans who feel the Highlanders are “rivals” to the Mets? Because they’re not. The Highlanders are more of a nuisance than anything and their fans a very good source of comedy relief. Yesterday after the Mets win, I left the radio when the Sports Bloviator came on. I was in the midst of writing up a bunch of paper work so I left him on. Boy, am I glad I did. When he went to the phones, he took calls from Highlander fans in a rage over Joe Girardi taking out Bartolo Colon and replacing him with Mariano Rivera.  I cannot believe I just typed that last sentence and Francesa couldn’t believe these callers were saying these words of blasphemy.  

It’s the same attitude many Highlander fans have with Derek Jeter. Mets fans have a higher regard for Frank Taveras than the Highlander fan has for El Capitan. Why? Beats me, some things just can’t be explained.

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WHAT HAVE THE HIGHLANDERS DONE TO PERPETUAL PEDRO?

There were a few interesting Mets news items so while I try to wake up and start to focus on the series with the Phuck Phaces let’s take a gander:

The Pedro Feliciano Highlander/Mets feud just won’t end. The Mets, particularly Old School Dan Warthen, seem to be the most level headed in this whole deal. Warthen told the truth, that the Mets felt giving Feliciano a multiyear deal was dumb since they worked the shit out him the last three years. Now Pedro has a broken heart and had decided to take his frustrations on, Ike Davis? What the hell did Ike do to you Perpetual Pedro? Very surprised by the way Feliciano has reacted. He always came off as muy macho. I guess when you don those Highlander pinstripes in turns you into a whinny bitch.

Speaking of Old School, it seems he’s like Felix the Cat as he unveils his bag of tricks, on wheels no less.

There are still plenty of tickets left for the Friday home opener and for Saturday’s game you could get a ticket for the less than the price of a Shake Shack burger. When I clicked on the Mets website I see they have now added a coupon for a $10 credit for food or merchandise to be used the day of the game you purchase tickets for. At least there is a sign of creativity coming out of Citi.

People ask me why I’m not a big Mike Piazza fan, well read this and click on the link to the radio interview of Piazza and Roger Clemens and that should explain why.

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FLUSHING’S MOST WANTED

Psssst….check it out, check it out Black Mets jersey’s and caps……check it out, check it out…..I got PIAZZA, REYES, RODRIGUEZ, WRIGHT……check it out…………………OH SHIT THE COPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Its almost getting to the point where I’m sympathetic of the plight of the Skill Sets.  It’s bad enough that Bernie Madoff fucked them over but how about their beloved pasty face clubbie Charlie Samuels and the way he took the owners trust and as in turned robbed the team blind?

With all the stories during the off season into spring training about the Madoff scandal and the fall out of the words of the Trustees of the victims of the scandal the Samuels’ saga has gone unnoticed until the last couple of days as the NYPD and Queens DA’s office have descended on St. Lonesome to get some answers and to build a case against Samuels.

The cops are talking to players especially Frankie Rodriguez who was so close to Samuels, he slept on his sofa during when he was bounced out of his home after his assault charge, and to Mike Piazza who also confided  with Samuels.

While the cops are in Florida getting statements, cops here in NYC are trying to match the stolen property from the Mets clubhouse to memorabilia dealers in the area to solidify their case against Samuels  .

This will be just one more bullshit distraction that seems to follow this organization.  If the Skill Sets can save their ownership of the team I hope they learn a lesson from all this and stop being so naïve and start running the Mets like a business instead of some mom and pop candy store

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WHO’S #1 IN THE TOP METS METS OF ALL TIME? WHO ELSE BUT…..

The Greatest!!!!!!!

This off season Ed Marcus (a/k/a RustyJr) of Real Dirty Mets took on the project of asking his readers to send in their list of the Top 50 NY Mets of All-Time. What’s great about the list that Ed tabulated as we enter the 50th season of Mets baseball, there are three generation Mets fans, the oldtimers (my crowd) who have lived through the best and worst of this franchise, the early to mid 40’s Mets fan who aligns very close with the old timer but didn’t witness the ’69 Championship but reveled in ’86. Then there is the young guns of the Mets fandom, the 20-30 something’s who are sick and tired of the previous generations (especially the old-timers) talking about the halcyon days of the franchise.

When I look at the list (Ed has the list of the top 50 posted today but you should look in the archive of that site to read the essay he put together on each player which are well researched and well written especially for you neophyte Mets fans who need a history lesson) there were some pleasant surprises and a few head shakers as well.

At the last game at Shea Stadium, Felix Millian(#50) was introduced and fans my age were clapping and imitating Millian batting stance complete with choking up half way up on our makeshift Mets magazine/bat. More surprising to me was Little Al Jackson coming in at  #35 who has been in the organization as a player/coach/instructor from day 1. Robin Ventura was a shocker at #9 as he played only three seasons with the Mets with 1999 his best, the other two were so-so although like I told Ed I still have my “Mojo Risin’” t-shirt from the 1999 post season.

Of course I feel Ed Kranepool should have placed higher but that’s my personal bias. I can see Mike Piazza at #2 even though I’m not a big Piazza fan (Jerry Grote is still the best catcher in Mets history with Gary Carter close second) and of course the #1 choice will always be the #1 choice as he is then, now and forever THE FRANCHISE, George Thomas Seaver

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THE SKILL SETS, WHAT THEY DO

All you fellows who have someone
And you really care, yeah, yeah
Then it’s all of you fellows
Who better beware, yeah yeah
Somebody’s out to get your lady
A few of your buddies they sure look shady
Blades are long, clenched tight in their fist
Aimin’ straight at your back
And I don’t think they’ll miss

I don’t know what is more of a mess the Skill Sets finances, the shity weather or my garage but I know one thing I’m sick of all three.

Last night on the Baseball Bloggers Alliance Baseball Talk, Ed (Rustyjr) Marcus of the Real Dirty Mets joined me for the half hour podcast, where we discussed the Skill Sets and Sandy Alderson’s stewardship it is well worth a listen.

Tomorrow at 11:05AM ET I will be a guest on Gotham Baseball LIVE with Mark Healy and Joe McDonald.

So it seems Sandy Alderson shopped Carlos Beltran and David Wright this off season and to that I say good for him. Nothing against Beltran or Wright but this is what a GM does. Instead of Mets fans getting all up in arms about these trade innuendoes, you should be happy that there is someone in charge of the organization that is not personally attached to the players. No matter how good or bad Beltran performs this season this is his last go round as a Met. As for Wright, I’d love to see David play his whole career in Flushing but if there is a deal out there that brings back talent that could fill one or two positions of need (starting pitcher and second base) you’d be foolish to go against it.

Mike Piazza was at the Thurman Munson Dinner last night and of course the subject of the Skill Sets finances came up. Piazza made it known he won’t be making a bid but it sure seems he feels the organization needs new leadership:

I’m being very optimistic about it,” Piazza said. “I think sometimes there’s a silver lining to these situations. Maybe whoever gets involved with the team will want to go in the direction they need to go.

“Again, you do as an ex-player, now as a fan, you hate to see turmoil in the organization. But, on the same note, maybe there will be a positive that comes out of this and they’ll take on someone who truly loves the organization and wants it to get back to the top because, lord knows, they have some work to do.”

With all the Skill Sets stories out it took none other than Jonah Keri to put it in the right perspective, looking at the whole body of the Skill Sets work they’ve done a bad job of running this organization.

Too bad Jeff Pearlman wasn’t around 100 years ago

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ANGEL PAGAN AND MIKE PIAZZA TO BE HONORED AT THURMAN MUNSON DINNER

Angel Pagan and Mike Piazza (among other sports stars) will be honored at the 31st Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, Tuesday February 1at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in NYC . Both Pagan and Piazza will be honored for the work with various charity endeavors.

Pagan, 29, is a rising star with the New York Mets, with the 2010 season rating as his strongest to date during a five-year career. An outstanding fielder, Pagan made strides with the bat last season, setting  career highs in hits (168), runs scored (80), home runs (11), RBI (69),and stolen bases (37). The native of Puerto Rico was originally drafted by the Mets in 1999, but reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Pagan made an impact off the field for the Mets in 2010, and was the Mets nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. He was one of the first Mets to participate in the June “Teammates in the Community Week,” planting new trees in community gardens in Spanish Harlem. Pagan also proudly supports City Harvest, food and rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children. He hit the streets of Manhattan this year to raise awareness for City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign and has visited Hour Children Food Pantry in Long Island City to help distribute more than 1,000 pounds of food to needy families during the busy holiday season.

Piazza, 42, may have been the top offensive catcher of all time. A .308 career hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza played for 16 seasons, including an eight-year stretch with the New York Mets following a three-team trade from the Dodgers via the Marlins. The 1993 Rookie of the Year, and a 12-time National League All Star selection, Piazza was peerless amongst catchers with the bat during his career, and the Norristown, Pennsylvania native is the all-time leader in homers for a backstop. In a career filled with big home runs, Piazza’s most memorable long-ball was a go-ahead two-run shot off of Atlanta Braves’ reliever Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular Met also contributed to the team’s 2000 World Series appearance by hitting 2 key homers in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Piazza participates in Michael Jordan’s Make-A-Wish charity golf and softball events, and has worked closely with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188

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WALKIN’ IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

I hope you are all enjoying this St Stephen’s (my namesake) Day nice and warm as we here in NYC are looking at a foot-foot and half of snow with blizzards conditions tonight which should make the morning commute just a joy.

Of course there is no Mets news but I did read an interesting post today by my buddy Mike Silva, where he ranks his top ten Mets teams of all time. As I commented on Mike’s site, it’s hard not to just award the top two spots on this kind of list to the 1969 and 1986 Mets, as they are the only teams to bring home a championship trophy to Queens.

Silva mentions the 1997 team in his honorable emotions and when you look at that team, there are some much underrated players in Mets history on the roster. Todd Hundley doesn’t get the mentions he should as his spilt with the club was not amicable, as he lost his job for the fact that Mike Piazza was a catcher and when he was asked to move to the outfield he was offended and really didn’t help himself with his playing left like a kid given a plate of Brussels sprouts.   It wasn’t all Hundley’s fault as the front office didn’t handle the situation as they should, such as dealing Hundley.

That team could get on base led by John Olerud with a .400 OBA followed by Hundley at .394 (and a team leading OPS of .943 on the strength of 30 homers) Edgardo Alfonzo at  .391 and Lance Johnson at .385

The pitching was good too led by Bobby Jones and his 15 wins and Rick Reed who won 13 games was the ace of the staff. The bullpen led by John Franco closing out games and Greg McMichale taking care of the 8th inning moved this club to a +17 over the  ’96 team in the win column in Bobby Valentine’ first full season as Mets manager.

Besides the World Series winners, who do you think were the best teams in Mets history?

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