Eddie Yost 1926-2012

 

…….and coaching 3rd base for the Mets Eddie Yost………………

From 1968 to 1976 before the Mets would come up for their first at bat of the game, Lindsay Nelson or Bob Murphy would inform Mets fans that Eddie Yost was manning the 3rd base coaching box. Yost to most of us young Mets fans just knew Yost as a coach on the Mets (when I was a kid I never thought of Yogi Berra as a Highlander but as a Met when I got a little older and studied his career boy was I shocked!) and a guy from Queens, but Yost was as a player who lived by the baseball commandment that a walk was as good as a hit.

Yost passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Andrew Schiff and Mathew Silverman have this through biography of Yost on the SABR website that is a definite must read.

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Blown (Save) Away

Happy 87th Birthday to Yogi Berra, if you haven’t read Harvey Araton’s book Driving Mr. Yogi, you should it’s a terrific read    

 

 

Nothing pisses off a fan base more than a blown save that cost their team a win. As we witnessed in Miami last night, the Met s again unleashed their version of “5 O’clock Lightning” coming from behind again to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead as Mike Baxter has channeled his inner Smokey Burgess to become a potent late inning pinch hitter, drove in two runs with a double while batting for the offensively challenge Mike Nickeas.

I listened to latter part of this game in the car, enjoying the duo of Howie Rose and his partner Josh Lewin, who by the way has become a great listen and has blended in quite nicely with Howie making for such a pleasurable listen that even when I’m home I’ll tune in to hear a few innings, especially today when the game is on FOX, the sound on the TV goes mute and radio is turned up, but I digress.

When Baxter hit that double to score Captain Kirk and Ike to take the lead, the excitement in Howie’s voice was as jubilant a call I’ve heard from the radio booth in a long time. A 5-3 lead with six outs to go and the way the pen has been going it looked like you could start “putting this one in the books” but wait………..

Of all the players in the infield the last guy I’d predict making a crucial late inning error would be Ike Davis, I mean, no matter how awful a batting slump Ike has been in, he never brings that out to the field on defense so his costly error in the 8th that gave the Fish life was a bit of a shocker.

Give hat tips to Bobby Parnell and Tim Brydak who set up the save for Frank Francisco. All Frankie Frisco had to do was get three outs. Instead Greg Dobbs single gave the Fish their 4th walk off win of the year and their 9th win in 10 games.

That’s what makes this Frankie Frisco’ blown save hurt more, the Fish are red hot and here come the “5 O’Clock Lighting” Mets doing their come from behind magic again buoyed by another solid performance by their Ace Johan Santana (after a tough 1st inning Santana was masterful mixing mostly fastballs and slider but not many change ups to keep the Fish in check from innings 2-6 ) and looking to add to their dominant record against the NL East (now 13-6 after last night loss) but instead of killing Francisco maybe we have to credit Dobbs for hitting a pretty good pitch, a 94 mph fastball that was just inside the strike zone.

If we’ve learned anything about the 2012 Mets, this early in the season a loss like last nights doesn’t linger long with them, they’ll turn the page quickly.

I see where Rony Cedeno is at shortstop again today so my question is why is Jordany Valdespin here? If Terry Collins feels Cedeno is his guy until Ruben Tejada gets back that’s fine but if that’s the case maybe keeping Vinny Rottino around would have been the better move and let Valdespin play every day in Buffalo.  Rottino has played catcher so with two weak hitting catchers on the roster a guy like Rottino would be valuable.

 

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And A Great Time Was Had By All At The NY Mets 50th Anniversary Conference

What a terrific day it was yesterday at the New York Mets 50th Anniversary Conference at Hofstra University. A big tip of my Mets cap goes to Greg Prince who work very hard to make the 3 day conference a huge success, and in the words of Yogi Berra, “made this day necessary” Dana Brand would be so proud of the conference and of you Greg.

I came away with this thought on the way home from Hofstra last night, the Skill Sets may hold the papers to the team, but it’s Mets fan who are the real owners and for that the whole Mets organization should be thankful.

It’s always fun to meet up with the Mets Blogger-ratzi at events like this especially my blogger panel teammates, John Coppinger and Taryn Cooper, as well as Shannon, Kerel, Michael, and the Mathews Callan and Artus . Let’s Go Mets!!!!!

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THE 2012 NY METS SEASON WILL BE GOLDEN

It was quite the day at Citi Field today as the organization announced plans for the celebration of its 50th Anniversary.  I was fortunate to have been invited to the festivities of the day and as I left Citi Field I felt invigorated about being a Mets fan.

I’ve all but given up trying to explain to non-Mets fans why it is I love this team so much. It’s like looking at one of those pictures where if you stare at it a 3D figure pops off the page or when you look at a cloud formation and see a horse or George Washington’s face and the person with you says they don’t see a thing, when I see a Mets uniform or a collage of events like the video we saw at today’s press conference it’s makes you want to shout I SEE IT!  I SEE IT! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE!

Hard to imagine it is 50 years since Joan Payson brought National League baseball back to NYC. What’s even harder for me to believe that I’ve been attending Mets games for the past 47 of those years.  When  I saw David Wright come out in the retro home uni,  ivory colored with blue pinstripes and Mets in blue with orange trim and WRIGHT 5 on his back and Lucas Duda standing tall in the classy road gray with NEW YORK in old English style letters  (Ike Davis wore the snow-white uni with the same blue and orange Mets and NO BLACK SHADOW!!!!!!) all I could think of was Jack Fisher handing me a peach between games of a double header in 1965, weekend series at Shea when the Dodgers and Giants would come to town with Koufax and Mays, listening to my father talk about “this Seaver kid” in 1967, relatives and family friends who were Brooklyn Dodger s fans happy in 1968 that Gil Hodges was coming back to the Mets to be their manager, being 10 years old and shocked to find out that Yogi Berra played for the Yankees???? WOW! Crying when Jimmy Quals broke up Tom Seaver’s perfect game and brought to tears again nine years later when Seaver was shipped out to Cincinnati, the euphoria of 1969 and 1986 and the heartbreak of the 2000 World Series and 2007 NLCS. The Mets are a microcosm of life, great times, tough times, and puzzling times.

As I said Mets bloggers were invited to the presser and I was pleased to sit with Ed Marcus, Greg Prince and Matt Cerrone but there was one blogger at event today who in the words of Yogi “made this day necessary” and that’s Shannon of The Mets Police. Shannon through his site pushed management to bring back Banner Day and to drop the black jerseys and caps (I am thrilled to report that the black cap with the blue bill is gone for good) and for that we Traditionalist Mets fans are forever grateful.

With so much gloom and doom coming from the fan base so far this offseason it was nice to be a part of a positive Mets day.

Now for the hold on to your Mets cap part of the post, I got to meet David Howard today and it was a very pleasant experience (no, I’m not going soft here I’m just being honest) we shook hands and spoke  and had a few laughs and we even talked about our kids, see on the kick off of the Mets Golden Anniversary it’s all good.

 

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R.A. DICKEY, IS READY TO JOIN THE “WHERE ARE THEY NOW” CLUB

Every casual Mets fan can rattle off the names of great pitchers in Mets history, Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Gooden, Darling, but the die hard Mets fan has guys that when they  here the nam,e one of those cartoon clouds form over their head with reminisces of terrific performance of the past. The mention of their name is usually followed with the refrain “What ever happened to that guy”?

Don Cardwell was one of them, a journeyman who pitched for three full and part of a fourth season for the Mets back in the late 60’s and was on the ’69 World Champion team as a spot/starter long reliever. Cardwell was better than his record and was one of those guys who when called upon either won a game for you or at worse kept the team in a game.

Ron Taylor was another ‘69er who was key in the pen and today is a physician in his naïve Toronto and works for the Blue Jays.  His problem was he was overshadowed by a young, brash fellow reliever, Frank (Tug) McGraw

George Stone came to the Mets with Felix Milan in one of the most underrated deals in Mets history (Danny Frisella and Gary Gentry were shipped to Atlanta) and went 12-3 in 1973 and his misuse by Yogi Berra in the 1973 World Series still bothers me to this day. 

Rick Reed, Skip Lockwood, Craig Swan, Bruce Berenyi, Bill Pulshiper, Izzy and Neil Allen are guys who I think about now and then, about the contribution to the Mets teams they played or how some like Reed came out of nowhere or Stone who had the year of his life in 1973 or Lockwood an very underrated reliever or poor Puls’ one of the Titanic Trio along with Izzy and Paul Wilson, the ill fated Generation K. Craig Swan the Ace of some bad pitching staff of the late 70’s. Berenyi, a June 15th pick up in 1984 when the Mets were starting to turn things around and became pennant contenders. All these guys forever etched in my Mets fan memory of players. Now we have one more pitcher who I can add to that list, R.A. Dickey.

If the Mets go on to win a seat at the post season table, R.A. Dickey will have played a major role. Dickey is the kind of pitcher I’ve always wanted the Mets to have. He looks like a guy right out of Bull Durham. The long hair, three day stubble, the southern drawl, a real dirtbag and I say that with the utmost affection. Sometimes a guy starts to realize he has nothing to lose anymore and stops listening to others and just goes out and does things the way he wants, and it works, you just have to root like hell for him. I even like the fact that he knows Jerry Manuel wanted no part of him on the team and Dickey saying, He could care less what Manuel thinks as he doesn’t pitch for Manuel he pitches for himself and the team.

Who knows maybe in the year 2020 at Old Timers Day, R.A. Dickey will be welcomed with a huge ovation as he’s introduced or maybe he will be a guy that pops in my head when I see a homeless guy with a cap pulled down to his eyes and stubble on his face bringing cans and bottles in for nickel deposit and say “I wonder what ever happened to R.A. Dickey.”

Whatever happens, it’s a joy to watch this Mets team play. As we head toward the end of June, that Mets are a mere ½ game out of first place. Let the summer fun begin!

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CRYSTAL BLUE AND ORANGE PERSUASION

Look over yonder/what do you see?

The sun is a risin/most definitely  

Maybe all those who jumped off the Mets bandwagon will end up like a European tourist stuck at JFK, while those of us who stick by our team, through good times and bad, in pulled hamstrings and very rare good health till death or utter disgust do us part, can feel a little better about our favorite baseball team. It was more than the debut of Ike Davis that has put a spring in my Mets fan step this morning, maybe it was the opponent, the Cubbies, Sweet Lou Pinella, whose every day personality was similar to an Icelandic volcano has turned docile. This is Pinella’ last season on his managerial contract and he’s acting like a guy who is ready to go back to Florida and hit the Golden Corral for the 4PM early bird special. It’s kind of sad to see the man who once as a player for the Highlanders challenged Earl Weaver and the whole Baltimore Oriole dugout to a fist fight turn into a guy hoping Walgreen’s is open late so he can pick up his Flomax prescription.

Sure the marquee story today is Ike Davis and how nice is it to see a Met on the back page of the newspaper this morning and word to the Highlander fan, your team did not invent the shaving cream pie to the face, that ritual is as old as Yogi Berra’s tired stupid sayings, and besides A.J. Burnett started his pro baseball career with the Mets so he could have learned that skill way back then. I know most of you Highlander fans didn’t know Burnett was once a Mets farmhand. Most self-centered blowhards never look beyond what’s in front of them. (as I type this I’m listening to Beningno and Roberts first call they take is a Highlander fan who went to the Mets game last night and claimed he wore his Highlander cap to the game and was impressed by Ike. It just proves my theory that Highlander fans will drop their allegiance to their team in a Manhattan minute when things go sour and jump on the Mets bandwagon.  You Highlander fans who troll this site know I’m right. The Highlanders biggest fear is not the Red Sox, it’s the Mets. That’s why that fan base loves to ridicule us and act the fools that they are because of fear, they fear that someday the light switch in Flushing will go on and the Mets will become a contending team and take over the town. It will happen. There are far more Highlander fans that go to Mets game than vice versa and you don’t need to interrogate  them a la Jack Bauer for them to tell you our ball park is where the cool kids hang out unlike their shrine to pomposity)

Jon Niese showed what the “spit tobacco juice in a cup” baseball guys like to say, a lot of bulldog. When a pitcher has all his pitches working and is in command for most of the games, fans go overboard with praise but for me when a youngster like Niese pitches a game where he gets into jams, doesn’t panic and gets out of those situation more on the plus side and not, that is the true test of a big league pitcher. Niese threw a lot of pitches in a limited amount of innings but he threw strikes, got more ground balls than fly balls and only three line drives.

Angel Pagan has done the only thing that could stop J-Man from using GMJ, he has produced at a high level. Hopefully it continues as Carlos Beltran is off to Colorado to get his knee checked and even if he comes back with a positive report I doubt we’ll see him back until after the All-Star break.

Welcome back Jason Bay

Sure I’m overly giddy today after last night’s game, I don’t apologize for it and your right it most likely is a premature ejaculation of optimism but I just hope our baseball season started last night. Mets fans just want to have fun!!!!!

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AUGUST 4, 1975: WHAT THE HELL WAS YOGI BERRA THINKING ?

After a day of trudging through the snow, slush and ice of the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan, little did I know what a wonderful reward was waiting for me when I got home, SNY was showing the 1975 Mets Yearbook and a name from the past that only Mets fans of a certain era would know, Randy Tate was the star of the show.

What you don’t remember or never heard of Randy Tate? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I vaguely remember Tate and for good reason, he not only had just one season in Flushing but that one year been the extend of his big league career.

On the night of August 4, 1975, Randall Lee Tate of Florence Alabama came close to becoming the first Mets pitcher to hurl a no hitter. As we all know, the Mets have not had a pitcher throw a no hitter in their history, but Randy Tate joins the ranks of those who came close, as Tate held the Montreal Expos hitless for  7 innings and the Mets held a 3-0 lead. Tate was dominating through 7 as he K’d 10 and walked 4 which for Tate was a great ratio as his season tally of BB/K was 86/99 in 137.2 IP. Tate came into the game with a 4-9 record after his last start against the Cardinals that lasted just 1.2 innings and got his tits lit for 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks. Tate was a back end of the rotation guy, along with Hank Webb. The front end of the staff by the way was 22 game winner Tom Seaver along with Jerry Koosman and Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack.

The Mets scored all of their runs in the 5th inning of this game as Jerry Grote singled and went to second base on a wild pitch by Expos starter Dan Warthen (Yes, our own pitching coach Old School Dan Warthen) The 8 hole batter, Jack Heidemann (what a head of hair Heidemann had back then) walked. Randy Tate then tried to lay down a sac bunt but he bunted right at Old School Warthen who wheeled and threw to Larry Parrish at third to force out Grote. Gene Clines the Mets centerfielder and lead off man stepped up and hit a triple down the right field line that scored Heidemann and Tate. Second baseman Felix Milan hit a ball down to first base that Mike Jorgensen misplayed and Milan was safe and Clines scored the third run of the inning and the game. Jesus Alou flied out to left field and the inning was over.

Tate was strong through six but in the seventh inning he started to show signs of fatigue. He walked rookie catcher Gary Carter and Parrish but was helped out by two force plays and a key strikeout of 2B Pete Mackanin .

Now remember, the manager of the Mets at this time was one Lawrence Peter Berra, who was hanging on to his job by a bare thread. Berra was not very popular in the clubhouse especially by his pitchers as he had never lived down not going with a rested George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series with the Mets up 3game to 2 over the A’s but making a bad move by going with Tom Seaver on 3 days rest and then going with Jon Matlack on 3 days rest when he could have had both his pitchers on 4 days rest in case of a game 7.

The Mets go down in order in the bottom of the 7th with Tate making the last out. On to the top of the 8th.

Expos manager, Gene Mauch goes right to his bench as he sends up Jose Morales to hit for Pepe Frias. Tate K’s Morales. Jim Lyttle now comes up to bat for pitcher, the pride of Glen Cove LI, Don DeMola. You’d have to figure that Tate was getting a bit weary on the mound. I don’t know what the weather was that night but August nights in NYC are usually warm and humid and Tate had thrown just an average of 4.2 IP in his last five starts but Tate was just 5 outs away from becoming the first Mets pitcher to toss a no hitter, but first he would have to get Lyttle out.

There weren’t many people at Shea that night as the paid attendance of 10, 720 shows but you can bet they were making as much noise as if the place were packed. That was one thing about Shea when the die hards hung around they were a noisy bunch. I can imagine the clapping and cheering as Lyttle stepped into the batters box to face Tate.

All the clapping and cheering turn to moans and groans on one pitch that Lyttle connected with to singled to left field to break up the no-hitter and spoil the greatest day Randy Tate ever had as a major league pitcher. Now that the no hitter was by the boards, it was time to concentrate on winning the game.

You’d have to think that Yogi Berra would have his bullpen up and have a fresh arm ready to close out the last five outs and preserve the win. Well, Tate stayed in the game and then walked the next batter Pepe Mangual to bring the tying run to the plate and still no movement from the manager. Tate then gave Berra a false sense of security by striking out Jim Dwyer, so with two out and one on up stepped Gary Carter, rookie Gary Carter. Again no change in pitcher and Tate is now up into the high 120’s in his pitch count as he gives up a single to Carter that plates Lyttle to make it 3-1 Mets. So the no-no and the shutout are gone and the go ahead run in former Met Mike Jorgensen is strolling to home plate. Still no pitching change by Yogi Berra.

I would love to know what was being said in the Mets dugout as this was playing out on the field. Rube Walker was still on staff as pitching coach and of course Tom Seaver was there as well. I can’t believe that Walker wasn’t looking to get his pitcher out of the game and get a new arm in the game, just from reading the play by play of this game I’m breaking out in a cold sweat.

Now remember Jorgensen was shipped out by the Mets to Montreal along with Ken Singleton and Crazy Horse Foli for Rusty Staub , no doubt he wanted to make his ex-team suffer and sure enough he did by hitting a 3 run home run to put the Expos ahead 4-3.

What in the world was Yogi thinking of not going to the bullpen? Tate had to be on fumes at this point in the game so it seems unless his arm fell off Tate was not coming out this game. Thankfully he got Larry Bitinger ot ground out to end this excruciatingly painful inning. Tate lost his no hitter, shutout and game and maybe his career in this 8th inning. Sad.

The Mets went down without a fight in the 8th and 9th and what could you expect as their manager showed no leadership in this game.

The next day the Mets and Expos played a twi-night double header and the Expos won both games by identical 7-0 scores, after the game, GM Joe McDonald (on orders I’d imagine from M .Donald Grant ) fired Yogi Berra and named Roy McMillan the interim manager. For Randy Tate, the change of manager came a day to late.

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Tickets

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