Oh Yeah #IMWITH28

There is nothing better than watching your favorite team come from behind to win a game, then to top it off, one of your favorite players not only makes a game saving defensive play but then comes up to the plate with the winning run in scoring position and comes through with the game winning hit.

There is something different about Daniel Murphy so far this season. I saw some of it this off season when I got the chance to interview him at the Thurman Munson dinner with other writers and media people but when the main streamers moved on, it was just me and Murph. I shut off my recorder so I could have an “off the record” conversation with Murphy as we talked about some stuff other than baseball, mostly how the weather in NYC this winter was almost as nice as his native Jacksonville, where he worked out all winter and his getting a kick out me trying to sell him on living in Brooklyn as I brought up his short stay as a Cyclone.  We also spoke of the negativity that from outside forces that was surrounding the team and Murphy gave me a smirk and told me that stuff doesn’t bother him or his teammates as the players, coaches and especially the manager won’t let negativity enter the clubhouse.  So far Murph was right this team as the club seems to have stayed below the noise with this hot start.

I agree 100 % with what Bobby Ojeda said in the post-game show though, everyone is sky high happy as they’re winning ball games, what you want to look at is if this attitude remains during the first 4 or 5 game losing streak as Bobby O pointed out, in the past this team would wilt and get real quiet during the tough times. That will be the real test for the 2012 Mets, their reaction to adversity.

I’ve said it before that sometimes I enjoy seeing a pitcher who is struggling try to find himself during a game and righting himself than watching a guy dominate a line up and last night Mike Pelfrey gave one of those find yourself performances.  His first inning had me squirming in my chair after three straight hits by Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche as it looked like it was going to be an early Big Pelf meltdown but only one Nat crossed home plate so disaster averted. Pelf threw a lot of pitches and it seemed he was getting squeezed by home plate ump Todd Tichenor especially in the 6th when it looked like he stuck out Xavier Nady to end the inning but Tichenor blew the call and gave Nady life and on the next pitch Nady singled to center, prolonging the inning and ending Pelfs night and his attempt to go 6 full innings.

Pelf threw strikes and walked only one but he was tagged for ten base hits. He relied a lot on his sinker and slider most of the night but cranked up his four seamer to 90+ MPH when he needed it. It wasn’t a great start or an awful start but it was better than normal Big Pelf start.

I want to see the Mets get into a bench clearer this season just to see who is dumb enough to take on Jon Rauch, that’s one guy I’d hate have mad at me.

Ed Marcus a/k/a Rusty Jr over at Real Dirty Mets has a great review of R.A. Dickey’s book. If you haven’t bought Dickey’s yet shame on you.

By the way I will have a special announcement of a contest I will be running here on Friday that you won’t want to miss.   

 

 

 

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INTERVIEWS WITH R.A DICKEY, DANIEL MURPHY AND CARLOS DELGADO AT THE THURMAN MUNSON DINNER

Last night I attended the media hour before the Thurman Munson Dinner to benefit AHRC of New York. Among the many guest invited to the event were Mets Daniel Murphy and R.A. Dickey and a surprise guest that I chatted with, former Met Carlos Delgado.

In talking to Murphy he has to be the most optimistic person of Irish ancestry I’ve ever met.  As you can hear in this clip, Murphy feels the Mets can contend in the NL East and beyond.  He also speaks of the work he has to do in order to play 2nd base this season and the fact that he has been working out with the cooperation of the fine weather in his hometown of Jacksonville Florida .

After Murphy, R.A. Dickey was made available to us for a Q & A session and of course R.A. was in fine form with thoughtful answers about his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, his hope that Johan Santana can come back and reclaim his spot as Ace of the pitching staff and his pragmatic view of the upcoming season for the Mets in a very tough NL East as you can here is this clip and this clip.

After talking to both Dickey and Murphy, I thought about all the angst and anger of Mets fans over this off season towards ownership of the team. I thought about all those who say they won’t come out to Citi Field as they feel it’s a show of support of the Wilpon’s.  To those fans I say, I feel sorry for you. While talking to Dickey and to Murphy , the thought came to me that I can’t wait for the season to begin because I can’t wait to root for both these guys as they are more than worthy of positive support.

Murph is the guy who blocks out the negativity. When the media scrum dispersed from the group Q & A, I was lucky enough to hang around and got to talk to him one on one (I turned off the recorder because I just wanted to have casual conversation) and one topic we discussed was the negativity of the organization from a segment of the media and the fan base and does that negativity ever creep into the clubhouse. He told me it doesn’t because the manager, who I believe Murph has tremendous respect for, would never allow it and he also felt that the guys in the clubhouse are united in such a way that “woes is us” would never make it past the outside clubhouse door.

From Dickey I get a guy who is very confident in his ability and seems to have grown as a big league pitcher but the days of struggle are always in the forefront of his mind. Where Murph seems to be the half full guy, I wouldn’t say that Dickey is a glass half empty guy but more of a realist who has been around a while and knows the score.

A pleasant surprise of the evening was running into Carlos Delgado who looks in great shape (dare I say The best shape of his life?) and was quite gracious in giving me a portions of his time to talk about the Mets of the present and his experience as a Met and playing in New York in this clip.

When I was done talking to Murphy and Dickey I went over to the refreshment table to grab a bottle of water, it was there I met up with legendary  St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca, who was on hand to present an award to Chris Mullin at the dinner. Again I didn’t have my recorder on as my conversation with the Coach was more a casual deal than an interview.  He told me about having dinner with John Franco on Monday night and how happy he was that the Mets will honor him on June 3 with induction into the Mets Hall of Fame. It was easy to see the love and pride Carnesecca has for Franco, the coach then asked me if I thought Franco would get into Cooperstown, I was as diplomatic as could be in saying it would be very tough. I went on to tell the coach about my wedding day and how happy I was there was a TV in the limousine, as I’m seen and heard in our wedding video wanting to watch St. Johns-Auburn second round NCAA Tournament game.  Carnesecca laughed and then said “Jesus, you remember that game”? He then asked me to sit down with him and talk about basketball. That was quite an honor.

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JOSE WHO?

Courtsey Gary Finkel and 7th Inning Sketch 

I have to say, I don’t get surprised by too many things but the response to my post on how the Mets will handle Jose Reyes’ first game as a Marlin at Citi Field really caught me off guard. I would have bet my Bruce Boscliar rookie card that Mets fans would have been on board for a video tribute for Reyes but I guess Mets fans are more in tune with Mets management who seemed to forget Reyes’ contributions in a 50th Anniversary video montage. I have to say I’m stunned, I’m just wondering if this is just a small sample who are giving Reyes the “don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord spilt ya’”

I mean there was a guy who made a cottage industry off Reyes with t shirts and unrelenting  self-promotion as well as  zealots on Facebook who organized protests to stop and dealing away of Reyes so I’m sure that group of Mets fans will be organizing on Reyes first trip, I just wonder if they will be in the minority.   

Mets fans circle March 19th on your calendar as that is the date the trail of the Mets Half Century will take place as Irv Picard takes on Freddy Skill Sets and Uncle Saul in a special handicap match. Special referee Jed Rakoff will officiate.  I could picture Uncle Saul coming to court in a gold lame suit.

Along with R.A. Dickey reciving the Thurman Munson Award at the annual Thurman Munson Dinner on Tuesday night January 31st, Daniel Murphy will also recived an award, the inauguaral “Rising Star Award”

Here are the details of the dinner, the guest list and how you can get tickets to attend:

 New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy will receive the inaugural “Thurman Rising Star Award” at the 32nd Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, January 31, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, it was announced today by AHRC New York City Foundation.
 
Murphy will be cited for his perseverance in returning from injury and for his community spirit and involvement in a wide variety of Mets community programs, particularly in reading for youngsters and the military. The 26-year-old Jacksonville, Florida native hit 313 in his rookie season in 2008 in limited action, and a torrid .320 last year. Murphy has battled several knee injuries since joining the Mets, and is a second base hopeful in 2012.
 
Murphy joins Yankee Hall of Fame icon Yogi Berra, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, St. John’s/N.B.A. recently inducted basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, and Georgetown/N.B.A. star center Dikembe Mutombo as this year’s honorees.
 
The gala, which remembers the late, great Yankees catcher and captain, benefits AHRC New York City Foundation.  Berra will receive the Legend Award in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 World Champion Yankees, while Mutombo, Teixeira, Dickey and Mullin will each receive “Thurmans.” For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner call 212-249-6188.
 
Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend her 32nd straight benefit, having been involved since its inception, raising nearly $11 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Thurman Munson Awards are presented for success on the fields of play and philanthropic works off the field.
 
The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City.  AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 12,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.


 

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R.A. DICKEY TO RECEIVE THURMAN MUNSON AWARD

R.A. Dickey will be awarded the Thurman Munson Award for his charitable works at the annual Thurman Munson Dinner on January 31st at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan . Here are some details about the dinner and write up about the good deeds of R.A. Dickey:

New York Mets standout pitcher R.A. Dickey joins New York Yankees and Mets beloved Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, Yankees star first baseman Mark Teixeira, and newly-inducted Basketball Hall of Famer and former St. John’s and N.B.A. star guard Chris Mullin as the honorees at the 32nd Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, January 31, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, it was announced today.  The gala, which remembers the late, great Yankees catcher and captain, benefits AHRC-New York City Foundation. Berra will receive the Munson Legend Award in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 World Champion Yankees, and Dickey, Teixeira and Mullin will each receive “Thurmans.” For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner call 212-249-6188.

About R.A.Dickey
R. A. Dickey, the right-handed knuckleballer for the New York Mets, has become a mainstay in the starting rotation with his cagey performances in the past two seasons. The veteran hurler is a leader and refreshing presence in the locker room. He has also pitched for the Rangers, Mariners, Twins and Brewers., Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers organizations. In recent years, Dickey has since made the transition to becoming a knuckleball pitcher, and is one of just two knuckleballers on active rosters, the other being Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox.

Dickey was an English Literature major at the University of Tennessee, where he earned a 3.35 GPA and was named Academic All-American.

Dickey first signed a minor league contract with the Mets in 2010, was assigned to Buffalo, but joined the big league club in May. He has pitched well ever since. His second start was a 8-0 shutout of the Phillies, going seven innings and striking out seven. He also flirted with a non hitter with against the Phillies later that season, on August 13, throwing a complete game one-hit shutout, the only hit a single by pitcher Cole Hamels. He finished the 2010 season with a very strong ERA of 2.84, which was 7th best in the National League and 10th in all of baseball. In  2011, he continued to flourish with a 3.28 ERA that ranked 12th in the NL while posting career bests with 32 starts, 208.2 innings and 134 strikeouts.

Dickey and his wife Anne have two daughters, Maria Gabriel and Lila Anne, and a son, Van.  A born-again Christian, he helps operate the Ocala, Florida-based Honoring the Father Ministries which provides medical supplies, powdered milk and baseball equipment to the impoverished in Latin America.

This January, Dickey will scale Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and funds for the Red Light District Outreach Mumbai, which combats human trafficking in India.  He got his inspiration to climb the mountain from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” which he read in eighth grade.  Makes numerous appearances at hospitals to cheer up children.

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COME HAVE LUNCH WITH RON SWOBODA THIS TUESDAY AT GALLAGHER’S STEAK HOUSE

New York Mets 1969 World Series hero, Ron Swoboda will be hosting a charity luncheon at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan this Tuesday at 12 Noon. The details are:

Swoboda At Gallagher’s Tuesday:  Legendary 1969 World Champion Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda will host the “Power Hitter Power Lunch” on Tuesday, June 28, at noon at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan.  The event features a special luncheon menu as Swoboda takes a look at the New York Mets past and present.  The event is priced at $62 and includes: three-course “Power Lunch,” Q & A session with the World Series hero, and one autograph per customer.

Gallagher’s is located at 228 West 52nd Street in New York City. Reservations are recommended by calling 212.245.5336. Swoboda made the greatest catch in World Series annals when he robbed the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson in Game 4 of the ’69 Fall Classic.

Gallagher’s will donate a portion of the proceeds to the AHRC New York City Foundation to benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  AHRC New York City Foundation presents the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner; the 32nd edition is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2012.

Swoboda will also host a meet and greet on the evening of June 28 at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Entertainment Lounge (free admission), where fans will have the chance to win a signed collectible of his famous world series catch, autographed by both Swoboda and Robinson

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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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“DON’T YOU WISH YOUR MASCOT WAS HOT LIKE MINE”

I swear to Jesus Feliciano, I don’t remember when the Highlanders tried to go with an in stadium mascot but this story in the WSJ is quite ammusing on many counts, first the name of the company that created the ill fated bundle of felt, Acme Costumes has me think of this guy as it’s CEO, then the fact they made the character to remsemble Thurman Munson and right after his debut, Munson dies in a plane crash, putting the mascot in moth balls for awhile until it was determined that this was one of most ridiculous ideas in the Bronx since putting the Highlanders in track suits to work out with training coach Hopalong Cassidy.

I guess the Highlanders have learn a lesson by looking to thier neighbors in Queens as the undisupted heavyweight cahmpion of mascots resides, never mess with perfection.

Oh the name of the Highlnader mascot, DANDY as in DANDY DICKHEAD

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MUNSON: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A YANKEE CAPITAN & SATCHEL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND

 

 

I know as Mets fans this is not the best time to talk about a book dealing with the Highlanders but MUNSON: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel(Random House) is a must read as Thurman Munson was a not only a revered Yankee but he was respected by everyone in the game. At the time of his death, which is approaching its 30th Anniversary (W-O-W!!!!) the big debate with baseball fans when it came to the catcher position was Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Munson. All three could hit and Bench was the better receiver and Fisk the more durable but none were tougher or more of a clutch hitter (back in the 70’s we believed in clutch hitting) than Munson.

 

As tough and productive as Munson was on the field he was as complex off it and if anyone could give you a look at the complexity and the esteem that Thurman Munson held with his teammates and his peers it’s Marty Appel.

 

Appel was the long time Yankees PR Director in the heyday of “The Bronx is Burning” era of Yankee baseball.

 

Put your team alliance aside for now and pick up MUNSON: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel as it is not only gives you an inside look at baseball back in the 70’s but it chronicles the life and times of a player who was headed for the Hall of Fame who was taken at young life as he tried to juggle his responsibility as a husband, parent, teammate and leader.

 

MUNSON: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain can be found in book stores and at

Amazon

BN

BORDERS 

 

 

One of the things about baseball that it has head and shoulders over other sports is it’s characters and one of the greatest of all time was Satchel Paige. In SATCHEL: The Life and Times of an American Hero, (Random House) Larry Tye goes in depth about not just Paige the pitcher but Paige the man taking us from his childhood in Mobile, Alabama through the Negro Leagues, to his Barn Storming Tours to finally making it to the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and winning AL Rookie of the Year at the age of 42.  After reading SATCHEL : The Life and Times of an American Legend, and ask yourself where does Paige rank on the list of all time pitchers and if you didn’t think he was a top 10 before you may be surprised you change your mind after reading this book.

 

SATCHEL: The Life and Times of an American Hero can be found at book stores and at

Amazon

BN

Borders

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