Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rip Van Winkle Not Coming Back To The Phillies

According to several published reports, including this one, 85-year-old Jamie Moyer will not be returning to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. Despite the news, the octogenarian will not be retiring from baseball even though he is already collecting money from Social Security.

In what some might consider a surprise, Moyer will be pitching in the Dominican League this winter, as he attempts to come back from shoulder surgery that ended his final season with the Phillies in July.

Although pitching in winter ball might be a good way to attract attention from scouts in an attempt to continue his quest for 300 wins (Moyer has 267), there may be another reason for his choice of country to showcase himself.

Is it possible that Moyer is going to the Dominican Republic to obtain a falsified birth certificate? Adrian Beltre did it. So did Miguel Tejada and former Little League "legend" Danny Almonte.

If Moyer can convince scouts that the reason he's been able to pitch effectively for so long is because he's really 37 and not 47, he'll stand a better chance to be signed and continue to approach 300 wins. Of course, since he made his major league debut in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, he'd have to explain how a 14-year-old was able to get a job in the big leagues.

That's simple enough. All he'd have to do is say that he used to be known as Henry Rowengartner before legally changing his name to Jamie Moyer when he turned 21. Here's a photo of Jamie Moyer when he was known as Henry Rowengartner as a Cubs rookie.

Assuming Jamie Moyer remembers to wear his adult diaper under his jock strap, perhaps he can make a successful return to the major leagues. Teams are always on the lookout for southpaws to stymie left-handed hitters.

However, if Jamie Moyer fails to hook up with another team, he might still be able to have a job in baseball. The Florida Senior Leagues are always looking for a few good men.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: Predictions For A Yankee-less, Phillie-less World Series

Greetings, Mets fans! Welcome to the latest edition of Joey's Soapbox, where today I will give you my predictions for this year's World Series to be played between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants.

If you recall, last week I correctly predicted that both the Rangers and the Giants would be representing their respective leagues in the Fall Classic. (Click here if you don't believe me.)

Now I have the difficult task of picking a winner for this year's World Series. It was tough last year because I wanted both the Yankees and Phillies to lose. I hoped for Armageddon to arrive before the Series began so that we would be spared having to watch one of our hated rivals win a championship. Needless to say, the Yankees won their millionth World Series title and the Phillies were number two, which is the most appropriate number I can think of for them.

This year, I was rooting for both the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants to knock off those two teams from the previous paragraph, (I can't even make myself say their dreaded names again for fear that I'll lose my appetite.) so now that they have, how can I root against either one of them?

Regardless, I am a professional. I must perform the task at hand. You came to this blog because you either wanted my World Series predictions or you Googled "gluteus maximus" and after the first dozen or so matches, Studious Metsimus showed up and you clicked on it out of morbid curiosity. (What I'm curious about is why you would be searching for "gluteus maximus" to begin with...)

Therefore, without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2010 World Series.

World Series

Texas Rangers vs. San Francisco Giants

Because the National League won their first All-Star Game since before Al Gore invented the Internet, the World Series will begin in San Francisco.

The Giants were 49-32 at AT&T Park, while the Rangers were 39-42 on the road. However, Texas' road difficulties did not carry into the postseason, as the Rangers have played brilliantly away from home, winning five out of six road games against the Rays and Yankees in the ALDS and ALCS.

Both teams parlayed hot months into a division title. Texas was 21-6 in June, but was barely above .500 (69-66) in the other five months. Similarly, San Francisco took apart the league in July (20-8) and September (18-8), but split their other 108 games, going 54-54 in the other four months.

Texas has great hitters. If Josh Hamilton doesn't hurt you, Vladimir Guerrero will. If Guerrero doesn't come through, Nelson Cruz will. The list goes on and on. The Giants don't have that kind of offensive firepower, but they might not need it if their pitching staff shows up for duty.

The starting rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner is among the best in the league. Yes, Texas has Cliff Lee, who is already searching for a bank large enough to stash away his hunka-hunka burnin' cash that he is sure to receive once he becomes a free agent. But although C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter have all blossomed this season, they're still not in the class of the awesome foursome from San Francisco.

Another thing to consider is the bullpens. Neftali Feliz had an incredible rookie season, but he has not been tested in October. Because every Ranger victory in the postseason has been by at least four runs, Feliz has not pitched in a save situation yet.

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson has racked up five saves in nine scoreless innings of work. If the teams are deadlocked in the late innings, Wilson's pressure-packed successes in this postseason will prove invaluable to the Giants, whereas we're still unsure if Feliz's butterflies will get the best of him if he's thrust into a tight ballgame.

As I said before, this series is tough to predict, but since I'm contractually obligated to do so (although my colleague still hasn't shown me this contract...I might have to talk to my agent about that), I will say that the World Series will go six games. Unfortunately, both teams will have won three of those games.

Who will win Game 7? It will be the...Oops! Apparently, it's Bedtime for Beartran. Too bad. Guess I won't be able to tell you that tonight. Besides, does it really matter who wins this World Series?

As Mets fans, we're all winners because we don't have to watch Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and C(onstantly) C(hewing) Sabathia playing this year. We also don't have to hear Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane "The Cryin' Hawaiian" Victorino whine about every call that doesn't go their way. That, my friends, is why this will be a true Fall Classic. Enjoy the World Series!

What Would Keith Say To Sergio Romo And Brian Wilson?

By now you've seen the Bosom Beardies from the San Francisco Giants. I'm talking about Giants' relievers Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson, both of whom are sporting a facial forest. If not, perhaps the photos below will help.

Sergio Romo is the pitcher who is not in the Witness Protection Program, or is that Brian Wilson?

The hirsute heroes from the Bay Area formed a solid one-two punch in the Giants' bullpen this season, combining for 136.2 innings, striking out 163 batters and giving up only 108 hits. However, they became even more unhittable in the NLCS, where together they pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and striking out ten Phillies.

How did they manage to dominate the league this season? Perhaps Keith Hernandez would like to offer his opinion. Keith?

Thanks so much for inviting me to guest-write on your blog, although I have no idea who you are and why you would want my opinion. I'll make this brief so I can beat the traffic home.

I think the reason Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson have pitched so well is because they're hiding something in their beards.

Romo had never pitched more than 34 innings in a season before this year. Then all of a sudden he grows a beard and pitches in 68 games for the Giants. That's not a coincidence. I think Romo is hiding an emery board or petroleum jelly in his beard. Since the umpires are afraid to check it for fear that they won't be able to find their way out of it, Romo has been getting away with it.

Similarly, I recently read that Wilson, despite his affiliation with the Beach Boys, is not from the state of California. In fact, he was born and raised in Londonderry, New Hampshire. What's New Hampshire most known for? That's right, kids. Being next to Vermont. That means Wilson had a ton of maple syrup at his disposal. It would be quite easy to hide some of that maple syrup within his massive beard. The spitball might be illegal in baseball, but there's nothing in the rule book that prevents pitchers from throwing a syrupball.

I'm not saying that Romo and Wilson are cheating, but when two relief pitchers on a team start growing their beards out, then tell all the members of the media that it's because they're starting a ZZ Top cover band that will tour during the off-season, let's just say that I'm willing to bet a box of Tootsie Pops that something fishy is going on there.

If Romo and Wilson really wanted to get the media to believe them, they should have just dropped my name. In five easy minutes, they could have just told them that they were the new spokesmen for Just For Men and everything would have been kosher.

After all, Emmitt Smith couldn't continue to shoot more Just For Men commercials with Walt Frazier and yours truly because he's far too busy right now. (Like winning on Dancing With The Stars and being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is more important than appearing with me in a commercial.)

We wouldn't even have had to shoot any new commercials. The producers could have just digitally removed Emmitt Smith from his scenes and inserted Romo and Wilson. Of course, we'd also have to change any football reference to a baseball reference and I'd have to re-do my line and say "your beards are weird", but that wouldn't have taken very long to memorize.

It's so sad. Romo and Wilson have done so well this season. I hope the news of their beard-assisted cheating doesn't ruin their careers. If only they had asked Jeff Francoeur how he got away with growing a beard without any speculation of wrongdoing, perhaps I wouldn't have blown them out of the water like I just did.

That's all for now. Hope everyone can still enjoy the World Series, despite the Romo/Wilson follicle follies. It's time for me to go back to my six-month vacation. Why do I get six months off as opposed to other people? The answer is simple, really. After all, I'm Keith Hernandez.

Where Were You 24 Years Ago Today?

Where were you 24 years ago today? The date was Monday, October 27, 1986. Sound familiar? If you're a long-time Mets fan, that date should be permanently etched onto your brain. The dream came true for many Mets fans that night, as their beloved Mets captured their second World Series championship.

Game 7 was originally scheduled for Sunday, October 26. However, a steady rain forced the postponement of the game until the following night. Red Sox starter Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was supposed to start the seventh game against Ron Darling. However, with an extra day of rest, the Red Sox chose to bypass Boyd (who had given up six runs to the Mets in his Game 3 loss) and gave the ball to Bruce Hurst.

Hurst had already defeated the Mets in Game 1 and notched a complete game victory against them in Game 5. Although he was pitching Game 7 on three days rest, the Mets were still wary about Hurst. His performances against the Mets in the World Series were reminiscent of Mike Scott’s outings in the NLCS. If the Mets were going to beat Hurst, Ron Darling was going to have to match him pitch for pitch. Unfortunately, that was not the case in the early innings.

Bruce Hurst was his usual strong self in the early innings, keeping the Mets off the scoreboard. Ron Darling? Not so much. After a scoreless first inning, he gave up three runs in the second inning, including back-to-back home runs by Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman.

By the time the fourth inning rolled around, Darling had already given up six hits and walked a batter. He then hit Dave Henderson with a pitch to lead off the fourth inning. After facing two more batters, Darling was relieved by fellow starter turned reliever Sid Fernandez. The score was still 3-0 in favor of the Red Sox and the game was slipping away from the Mets. It was up to El Sid to stop the fire from spreading.

In perhaps the guttiest (no pun intended) performance by Fernandez in his Mets career, he shut down the Red Sox. After walking his first batter (Wade Boggs), Sid retired the next seven batters he faced, with four of them coming via the strikeout. Fernandez did everything he could to keep his team in the game, but his efforts would go in vain unless the Mets could finally solve the puzzle that was Bruce Hurst.

With time running out on the Mets and their dream season, Davey Johnson was forced to make a difficult move in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Rafael Santana grounded out to start the inning, the Mets were down to Sid Fernandez’s spot in the batting order. Would Johnson take Sid out for a pinch hitter, hoping that the Mets would start a rally or would he leave him in the game, possibly giving up on another inning in which to mount a comeback against Bruce Hurst? Johnson chose to pinch hit for Fernandez and it ended up being one of the best managerial decisions he ever made.

Lee Mazzilli stepped up to the plate in lieu of Fernandez. He greeted Hurst with a single to left. Game 6 hero Mookie Wilson followed Mazzilli with a hit of his own, followed by a walk to Tim Teufel. The base on balls loaded the bases for Keith Hernandez and brought the crowd of 55,032 to its feet. The cheering rose to a crescendo when Hernandez delivered a two-run single to center, scoring Mazzilli and Wilson and sending Teufel to third. Since Teufel represented the tying run, Davey Johnson sent in the speedier Wally Backman to pinch run for him as Gary Carter stepped up to the plate. Carter came through as he drove in Backman with a ball that would have been a base hit to right had a confused Hernandez not been forced out at second base when rightfielder Dwight Evans rolled over the ball. Hernandez had to freeze between first and second until he knew that the ball had not been caught.

Despite the out being recorded, the Mets had tied the game at 3. They had finally gotten to Bruce Hurst and hope was alive at Shea. That hope became greater when Ray Knight came to bat in the seventh inning against a familiar face.

Calvin Schiraldi had been brought in by the Red Sox to start the seventh inning. Schiraldi was the losing pitcher in Game 6, having allowed Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight to deliver hits off him in the tenth inning. This time, he was facing Knight with no one on base, trying to erase the bitter memories from his previous outing. Knight would not provide him with the eraser.

On a 2-1 pitch from Schiraldi, Knight got under a pitch and launched it to deep left-center, barely clearing the outfield wall. A jubilant Knight celebrated as he rounded the bases. The Mets finally had their first lead of the game and they were going to make sure that they weren’t going to give it back. The hit parade continued in the seventh inning, as an RBI single by Rafael Santana and a sacrifice fly by Keith Hernandez gave the Mets a 6-3 lead. The Mets were in front, but the Red Sox weren’t going to go away quietly.

Roger McDowell had come into the game in the seventh inning once Sid Fernandez had been pinch hit for. He continued where Sid had left off by retiring the Red Sox in order in the seventh. However, things went a little differently for McDowell in the eighth inning. Bill Buckner led off the inning with a single. Jim Rice followed Buckner with a single of his own. After Dwight Evans doubled into the gap in right field, scoring both Buckner and Rice, the lead had been cut to a single run. The Red Sox were down 6-5 with the tying run on second base and nobody out. It was time for Davey Johnson to make one last move, with the World Series on the line.

Jesse Orosco came in from the bullpen, hoping to shut down the Red Sox to preserve the lead for the Mets. His first batter, Rich Gedman, had homered earlier off starting pitcher Ron Darling. This time, he hit the ball hard again, but in the direction of second baseman Wally Backman. Backman caught the line drive in the air, holding Evans at second base. The next batter was Dave Henderson. He had given the Red Sox the lead with a home run in the tenth inning of Game 6. Now he had a chance to duplicate the feat, as a home run would have given Boston the lead. This time, the only thing he made contact with was the air. Orosco struck him out on four pitches and then induced Don Baylor to ground out to short to end the threat. The Mets were now three outs away from a championship, but they weren’t finished scoring yet.

The Red Sox called upon Al Nipper to face Darryl Strawberry to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. Nipper was trying to keep the Mets’ lead at one so that the Red Sox could make one last attempt in the ninth inning to tie the game or take the lead. It didn’t take long for that one run lead to grow. Strawberry greeted Nipper with a towering home run to right field that almost took as long to come down as it did for Strawberry to round the bases. After Darryl finally finished his home run “trot” (To call it a trot would be putting it mildly. It was more like a stroll and it led to a bench-clearing brawl the following season in spring training when Nipper and the Red Sox faced Darryl Strawberry and the Mets again.), the Mets had a 7-5 lead.

After a hit, a walk and an RBI single by Jesse Orosco on a 47-hopper up the middle (how appropriate since 47 was Jesse’s number), the Mets had regained their three-run lead. After being held scoreless by Bruce Hurst for the first five innings of the game, the Mets had exploded for eight runs in the last three innings to take an 8-5 lead into the ninth inning. Orosco was still on the mound, hoping to throw the season’s final pitch.

With the champagne ready to be uncorked in the Mets clubhouse, Orosco went to work on the Red Sox batters. Ed Romero popped up to first base in foul territory for the first out. That was followed by Wade Boggs grounding out to second base for the second out. The Mets were one out away from a championship. Nothing was going to stop them from winning this game. Well, nothing except for the pink smoke bomb that was thrown onto the field.

That did not matter to Jesse Orosco or the Mets. After the smoke cleared, Marty Barrett stepped up to the plate. Barrett had already collected a World Series record-tying 13 hits, trying to set the record and keep the season alive for the Red Sox. However, that was not to be. We now turn the microphone over to the late Bob Murphy for the final pitch.

“He struck him out! Struck him out! The Mets have won the World Series! And they’re jamming and crowding all over Jesse Orosco! He’s somewhere at the bottom of that pile! He struck out Marty Barrett! The dream has come true! The Mets have won the World Series, coming from behind to win the seventh ballgame!”

The Mets had completed their dream season with a World Series championship. After 108 regular season victories and a hard-fought six-game NLCS against the Houston Astros, the Mets were able to bring the trophy home. At times, it seemed as if the season was going to come to a screeching halt, but through determination, perseverance and perhaps an extra pebble or two around the first base area during Game 6, the Mets came through for themselves, for their fans and for the city of New York.

In 1986, the Mets owned New York. They were a blue (and orange) collar team for a blue-collar city. Twenty-four years ago today, the Mets became the World Champions of baseball. Victory never tasted so sweet.

One final postscript on the whereabouts of Jesse Orosco’s glove: I’m sure many of you who watched Game 7 remember Jesse Orosco flinging his glove up in the air after striking out Marty Barrett to end the World Series. Have any of you wondered what happened to that glove? Now it can be told!

If you have the 1986 World Series DVDs, watch the final out of Game 7. After Orosco throws the glove up in the air and falls to his knees, he gets up just as Gary Carter and the rest of his teammates mob him at the pitcher’s mound. If you slow it down a little, watch closely as Bud Harrelson (wearing #23) runs around the crowd of players to the left of them. He has nothing in his hands as he goes around the pile of ecstatic players. Right before he goes off-camera, you can see him start to bend over. When he comes back a split second later to celebrate with the team on the mound, he has a glove in his left hand. That’s Jesse Orosco’s glove!

I hope you enjoyed this happy recap of the final game of the 1986 World Series. The memories I have of that classic game remains vivid in my mind as if it had happened yesterday. I wish I could have blogged about it when the game happened, but Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet.

Stay positive, Mets fans. Our dreams of another World Series will come true again. Whether it be next season or a number of seasons from now, always remember to keep the faith alive and keep rooting for the orange and blue. Let’s Go Mets!

Broken News: Alderson To Become Mets GM

Welcome to the latest edition of Broken News, where other people break the news and we break it some more to the point where forensics experts can't even identify it. In today's edition, we discuss the hiring of Sandy Alderson as the new Mets general manager.

According to numerous tweets, including one by Jon Heyman and one by Joel Sherman, the Mets have notified both Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes that a decision has been made and that Alderson is their choice to be their next GM.

Since Major League Baseball generally frowns upon major announcements on days when World Series games are being played, the Mets will more than likely not make this signing official until Friday. The Giants and Rangers have an off day between Games 2 and 3 as the Fall Classic moves to Texas over the weekend.

Alderson brings a decade and a half of GM experience to the Mets, as he was in charge of the Oakland Athletics from 1983-1997. Under his reign, the A's won four division titles and three American League pennants. Oakland won the World Series in 1989, when they swept the San Francisco Giants in the series known more for the devastating earthquake that struck the Bay Area before Game 3.

It was Alderson who introduced sabermetrics into the world of general managing, a system that he passed along to his successor, Billy Beane. By using sabermetrics, both Alderson and Beane were able to put together competitive teams while spending as little money as possible by focusing on statistics that help teams win ballgames, but don't necessarily lead to exorbitant contracts. (One such stat is on-base percentage, as detailed in Michael Lewis' book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game".) It was this cost-effective system that helped Beane become one of the best and most coveted general managers in baseball.

So now Alderson will be on hand to help turn the Mets around from a fourth-place team to a contender. His plate will definitely be full at the start.

From Hisanori Takahashi's soon-to-expire contract to the search for a new manager to the acquisition of a starting pitcher (especially when you consider the uncertain status of incumbent ace Johan Santana), Alderson will have to make many key decisions early on in his tenure as general manager. It will be these decisions that will serve as the seeds for what Mets fans hope are a return to respectability and contention.

A change is in the air, Mets fans. Let's hope Sandy Alderson is the man who will bring it to us.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Texas Toast To Jeff Francoeur

Jeff Francoeur was an interesting character on the Mets. Personality-wise, he was great. He gave candid interviews and made no excuses for lousy performances.

Francoeur also didn't feel the need to speak in cliches, like a certain local baseball player who claims to have an edge. (To protect his identity, we will use an alias when referring to this edgy player. For now, let's call him "Derek Jeter" to protect the innocent player.)

Frenchy held himself accountable for his actions. If he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, he would man up and not blame it on a runner leading off first distracting him at the plate. If he overthrew the cutoff man, he'd be the first to say it was his fault.

Despite his low on-base percentage, he was still the type of baseball player you'd want on your team. He was aggressive (sometimes too much so at the plate) and was not afraid to play hard. He was a gamer who accepted whatever role he was given, such as when Carlos Beltran returned and Angel Pagan became the everyday rightfielder.

Although Frenchy knew his time at Citi Field was limited, he never badmouthed the team and never punched any fathers-in-law. He was classy all the way, even after he was traded by the Mets to the Texas Rangers for the ugliest man in baseball since the days of Willie McGee.

While Joaquin Arias, the man with fewer career home runs than Johan Santana, fades into Mets obscurity (we hope), Jeff Francoeur is having a Texas-sized good time in Arlington.

With last night's 6-1 victory over the New York Yankees, Frenchy and his Texas Rangers advanced to their first ever World Series. The team that was born as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961 and moved to Texas in 1972 finally won the pennant with something that had eluded them for what seemed like the entire history of the franchise - pitching.

I mean, considering that Kenny Rogers is second on the all-time Texas Rangers list for wins and only five pitchers in Washington Senators/Texas Rangers history have picked up more than 68 career wins in 50 seasons, clearly pitching has never been the focal point of this franchise.

To this day, David Clyde might be one of the best pitchers who ever put on a Rangers uniform when he went straight from high school to the big leagues. How many wins did he pick up as a Ranger? Seven.

Now with an ace like Cliff Lee anchoring the staff and a better than average rotation, featuring Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter, teams can no longer depend on outslugging the Rangers. They have to outpitch them as well.

Jeff Francoeur has now joined this eclectic mix of star athletes (Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz), flashy speedsters (Julio Borbon, Elvis Andrus) and the aforementioned pitching staff. Although his role has been limited, he performed well enough at the end of the regular season to be included on the post-season roster.

Now he is moving on to his first World Series, where the Rangers will be playing either the San Francisco Giants or that other team. After playing on a less than mediocre team in New York for a year and a half, Frenchy is now heading to the biggest stage of them all, the World Series, where he hopes to be at the bottom of another celebratory pile.

For everything he had to go through in New York, for all the complaints that Mets bloggers made about him, for having to live with Oliver Perez being his teammate for over a year, we'd like to offer a toast to Jeff Francoeur.

Frenchy may not have been the best player to don a Mets uniform. He might not have even been the best player to wear #12 in Mets history (clearly that honor belongs to Alvaro Espinoza). But Jeff Francoeur played the game hard and played it with a smile. He shrugged off all the negativity that was thrown his way and still played to the best of his ability every day he took the field.

Good luck to the Jeff Francoeur in the World Series. He may have taken the long road to get there and he may not play as much as he used to, but he is now a champion. It's too bad his former teammates in Flushing (the ones who make far more bread than anyone on the Rangers do) haven't learned how to be winners themselves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If It's October 19, It Must Be Molina Time

Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was known as Mr. October to baseball fans, primarily because of the three home runs he hit on three pitches in the deciding sixth game of the 1977 World Series.

If Mr. Candy Bar was Mr. October, then the Flying Molina Brothers (Yadier and Bengie) can both claim to be Mr. October 19.

Last night, big brother Bengie became the second Molina to hit a crushing home run against a New York team on an October 19. With the Rangers down 3-2 to the Yankees in the sixth inning, A.J. Burnett intentionally walked David Murphy to pitch to Funky Cold Molina.

Earlier in the game, Burnett harpooned the rotund Molina with a pitch. This time, Burnett decided to add a sixth inning insult to the third inning injury by choosing to pitch to Molina rather than Murphy with two outs in the inning. This time, Molina was the one who hit Burnett hard, as he whaled a pitch over the left field wall for a go-ahead three-run HR. The shot put the Rangers ahead 5-3, a lead they would never relinquish.

New York had been stung by another big home run by a member of the Flying Molina Brothers, as four years ago to the day, little brother Yadier hit a go-ahead two-run homer against former Met whipping boy, Aaron F. Heilman in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Editor's note: We'd show you a photo of Yadier Molina hitting the home run off Aaron F. Heilman, but instead we'll show you the cover of the Faith and Fear in Flushing book, written by the Tom Seaver of Mets bloggers, Greg Prince. Go read the book (and the blog of the same name). It's an Amazin' read!

The third member of the Flying Molina Brothers (Jose Molina) played for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, but he was a member of the World Champion Yankees last year. However, he did not get a chance to play on October 19 last year (Game 3 of the ALCS), as the Yankees were taking on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the Western Hemisphere of the Planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy. His sole appearance in a major league game on October 19 came during Game 1 of the 2002 World Series, as a member of the then one-named Anaheim Angels, when he came in as a ninth inning defensive replacement for his brother, Bengie.

Perhaps Jose Molina is adopted, as he has not delivered a crushing blow to a New York team on October 19, which is the biggest national holiday in Molinaville.

Bengie Molina celebrates not being the fattest man in baseball, a title held by the man in the Yankee dugout, C(onstantly) C(hewing) Sabathia.

Regardless, Bengie Molina can now say he is a true Molina, as he joined Yadier in delivering series-changing home runs against a New York team on the 19th of October.

Reggie Jackson might have had a candy bar named after him and might have made the Hall of Fame despite holding the major league record for career strikeouts, but his legacy was cemented by his repeated post-season heroics, earning him the nickname "Mr. October".

In addition to sharing a last name, Yadier and Bengie Molina can now share the "Mr. October 19" moniker. Move over, Reggie Jackson. There's a whole family coming after you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Will Frankie Knuckles Feed His Children?

Frankie Knuckles (the closer formerly known as Francisco Rodriguez) settled his grievance with the Mets earlier today. In doing so, the rest of Frankie's contract will remain guaranteed, but the Mets will not have to pay him the $3,142,076 that he would have earned from August 11 (the date of the "alleged" beatdown he laid on his never-to-be father-in-law) until the end of the season.

A remorseful K-Rod once again apologized for the incident and acknowledged that his fisticuffs led to the thumb injury that put him on the disabled list.

Frankie is due to earn $11.5 million next season. The Mets also hold a $17.5 million option for 2012, with a $3.5 million buyout. Of course, that all depends on whether Frankie is wearing a Mets uniform or an orange jumpsuit, although the Daily News is reporting that the two sides in the criminal case against K-Rod are discussing a settlement.

Regardless of what happens in this case, this much is certain. Frankie Knuckles is out $3.1 million for this season. He will also either lose his freedom or be forced to hand over a large chunk of change to the grandfather of his children. That's a lot of green that the man in red sunglasses will have to give up.

Perhaps he should talk to former Knicks All-Star Latrell Sprewell. They seem to have quite a bit in common.

On December 1, 1997, Sprewell was also involved in an at-the-workplace altercation when he choked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, during a practice session with the Golden State Warriors (his team at the time). The Warriors tried to void the rest of his contract, but an arbitrator disallowed the action. The NBA did suspend Sprewell for the remainder of the season, which amounted to 68 games.

Sprewell was later traded to the Knicks, where he played from 1999-2003. After the Knicks traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2003, Sprewell went on to help the Timberwolves reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they eventually fell to the Lakers.

Of course, when the Timberwolves attempted to give a three-year, $21 million contract extension to Sprewell, he was not at all pleased with the "small amount of money" being offered to him, famously proclaiming to the media that he had a family to feed.

Sprewell's NBA career ended in 2005 when he played his last game for the Timberwolves. Since then, Sprewell has been involved in numerous lawsuits and his homes in Milwaukee and Westchester County have been foreclosed.

For Sprewell, it all started with one act of violence. Then everything spiraled out of control and he now leads a ruined life full of financial trouble.

Frankie Knuckles can still get his life and career back together. Today's statement of regret and promise to turn his life around must be more than just words to get back on the good graces of the media, the Mets and their fans.

If Frankie can't carry out the promise he made today, then he can forget about feeding his children. He'll have a hard enough time figuring out how to feed himself with all the problems that will rain down upon him.

If he can keep his hands on the baseball and not on the faces of family members, then perhaps there is hope for the man we call Frankie Knuckles. Unfortunately, for some athletes, that's easier said than done.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: LCS Picks That Appeal To All New York Sports Fans

Hello, everybody! I'm your sometimes prognosticator and always big masticator, Joey Beartran. Now that we've advanced to the American League and National League Championship Series, it's time for some new predictions.

I didn't do too well when I made my Division Series predictions last week, picking only one winner (San Francisco) correctly out of the four series. However, I'm not disappointed about it. After all, Oliver Perez can't even throw one strike every four pitches, so as long as I'm more effective than El Perez-idente, I know I can continue to be Studious Metsimus' resident baseball psychic.

So why is the title of the blog "LCS Picks That Appeal To All New York Sports Fans"? Read my predictions and you'll see exactly what I mean.

American League Championship Series

New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers

The Yankees have never lost to the Texas Rangers in the playoffs, defeating them in the ALDS in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Over those three seasons, both teams had explosive offenses, but the Rangers did not have the pitching to contain the Yankees' high-powered bats, finishing the regular season with ERAs of 4.65 in 1996, 4.99 in 1998 and 5.07 in 1999.

This year is another story, as the Rangers finished the regular season with a team ERA of 3.93. It was the first time since 1990 that the Rangers kept their ERA under 4.00, when Bobby Valentine was their manager.

Note: To this day, Valentine remains the Rangers' all-time leader in managerial wins, in addition to his second-place standing on the Mets' all-time ranks.

The previous Ranger teams that were disposed by the Yankees could not compete with their softball league pitching staff. This year's team has a legitimate ace in Cliff Lee, who sports a perfect 6-0 postseason record and a sparkling 1.44 ERA in seven career playoff starts. In addition, he was undefeated in three starts against the Yankees this year, including a complete game victory on June 29, when he was a member of the lowly Seattle Mariners.

Lee isn't the only Ranger starter who pitched well in 2010, as C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35 ERA) and Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73 ERA) also excelled during the regular season.

Consider this. If the series goes seven games, the Rangers will get two starts from Cliff Lee and one start against A.J. Burnett. That looks like three victories there. Also, one cannot expect that the tandem of Wilson and Hunter, who combined to go 28-12 this season, will go winless during the series.

The Yankees might have had the Rangers' number in previous postseason meetings, but this time Texas is armed and ready for them. It'll be a hard-fought series, but Cliff Lee in Game 7 (against a Yankee starter NOT named C(onstantly) C(hewing) Sabathia) will be the difference.

Rangers in 7.

National League Championship Series

San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies may have the odds-on favorite to win this year's Cy Young Award in Roy Halladay, but the Giants have the pitcher who's won each of the last two Cy Young Awards in Tim "No, I Was Not In Dazed And Confused" Lincecum. Therefore, even a no-hitter by Halladay might not be enough against the Giants, who boast one of the best and most complete pitching staffs in baseball in Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan "I Threw A No-Hitter Before Halladay Did" Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner.

The difference in this series will come down to two things - who scores first and who has the better bullpen.

The Phillies and Giants had the two best records in the major leagues when they scored the first run of the game, with the Phillies going 64-13 and the Giants finishing 63-19 in games where they put up the first run. Since runs may be few and far in between, the team who scores the first run might be the team who scores the only run.

So once the starters come out of the game, it'll be up to the bullpens to keep the runs off the board. That's where the teams differ. The Phillies have Ryan Madson (6-2, 2.55 ERA) and Brad Lidge (27 saves, 2.99 ERA), but none of their other relievers posted an ERA under 3.34, and that ERA was claimed by 99-year-old Jose Contreras, who once chose Jackie Robinson as his idol because "he hit his changeup better than anyone else could".

The Giants, on the other hand, can trot out four excellent relievers. Ramon Ramirez gave up a two-run HR to leading NL MVP candidate Joey Votto on August 25. Those were the only earned runs he gave up as a San Francisco Giant. His 0.67 ERA in 25 appearances led the bullpen, but the three-headed monster of Sergio Romo (2.18 ERA, 0.97 WHIP), Santiago Casilla (1.95 ERA in 52 appearances) and closer Brian Wilson (1.81 ERA and a major league leading 48 saves) aren't too far behind.

The Phillies may have a number of weapons on offense, but the old baseball adage of good pitching defeats good hitting will determine the series. The Phillies have excellent starting pitching, but the Giants have outstanding pitching both in their starting rotation and in their bullpen.

Philadelphia will not become the first National League team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to three-peat as pennant winners. They will leave their pennant in San Francisco.

Giants in 6.

So let's get back to why these picks will appeal to all New York sports fans. Clearly, if you're reading this, you're more than likely a Mets fan or a confused person who's wondering how on Earth you got to a site where a bear is making baseball predictions. Let's assume you're the former and not the latter.

No Mets fan is going to want another Doomsday Series in which the despised Phillies play the hated Yankees. Those Mets fans have probably turned off baseball for the season and have now moved to football and hockey. Perhaps the football fans root for the New York Giants. Maybe the hockey fans root for the New York Rangers.

Therefore, for those Mets fans, you can take comfort that this year's World Series will feature your Giants and your Rangers.

Say it with me. Let's Go Giants! Let's Go Rangers!

Maybe this won't be such a bad postseason after all.

When The SUMMER Is Gone, MY FAMILY Will Remain

See the glowing Mets fan to the left? That's no David Wright fangirl. That's the Coop, writer extraordinaire. For the past three years, she has shared her thoughts on the Mets and everything associated with the team on My Summer Family, one of the most unique and respected Mets sites around.

However, it has come to our attention that the Coop has retired My Summer Family, as announced in her most recent work, "Roll Call 2010: A Very Special Post".

The Studious Metsimus staff could only think of one word that could describe our feelings accurately regarding this surprise retirement, and that word is...


My Summer Family was always one of the first places we would turn to for thought-provoking, insightful and entertaining pieces on the Mets. Where else could we be told to "just forfeit" to avoid suffering from "Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder"?

The Coop was never afraid to tell it like it is, even if it involved using language that only soon-to-be Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven would love.

There has been an overwhelming display of love and support for the Coop from the blogging community. From Joe D at Mets Merized Online to Greg Prince at Faith and Fear in Flushing, there has been no shortage of respectful goodbyes for the writer known to the Studious Metsimus staff as "The Better Half".

Wait. The Better Half? What, you didn't know? That's right. The Coop and I have taken the plunge and tied the knot in an Amazin' Met-rimony.

For those of you who don't understand my not-so-cryptic previous paragraph, I'll come right out and say it. WE'RE MARRIED, Y'ALL!!

Although our wedding day was on Cinco De Mayo (which celebrates the Mexican Army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862), there was one particular Mexican-born pitcher who was not invited to the day's festivities. Sorry, Ollie.

So the My Summer Family era has come to an end. But don't worry. Although you won't see the My Summer Family blog anymore, the Coop will find a way to make her presence felt. Whether it be applying for the still-vacant Mets' GM position (COOP FOR GM!!) or trying to arrange the latest Citi Field Sit Out, her unique perspective will always be at the forefront of any discussion on the state of the Mets. If you build it, Coop will come.

Ted Williams retired after hitting a home run in his final turn at bat. So did Todd Zeile. There's now a threesome in that department (Señor Solly and Bert Blyleven would certainly approve of that statement), as My Summer Family is going out on top.

Retirement is never easy. Just ask Mike Schmidt. (see video below)

Congratulations to an excellent writer, a passionate Mets fan and the most incredible and loving wife in the world. I'll try my best to continue what you began at My Summer Family here at Studious Metsimus, but I know I'll never compare to you.

You have been my inspiration, my muse and my reason to continue writing about anything that pops into my head regarding the Mets. The sun has set on My Summer Family, but it will never set on us. I love you and wish you the best wherever that takes you. Just promise to take me along for the ride.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some, Draw None

It has been well-documented that attendance at Citi Field suffered a significant drop-off from its inaugural season in 2009 to the just-completed 2010 season. Last year, a total of 3,168,571 tickets were sold to Mets home games. That number dropped to 2,559,738 in 2010.

The significant drop-off in home attendance can be attributed to numerous things, such as the luster of the new ballpark wearing off and the team's second consecutive losing season.

The new ballpark might have been enough to attract fans in 2009, but a good product on the field is what usually keeps fans in the seats. The Mets were not able to give the fans a good product on the field, so they didn't show up as often as they did in 2009, averaging only 32,401 fans per game in 2010.

Fair enough. The home fans had no desire to invest their time and money on a team that couldn't compete for a post-season spot. So how do you explain what happened to attendance figures once the Mets went on the road?

Believe it or not, out of the sixteen teams in the National League, the Mets finished dead last in road attendance. That's right, my friends. The Mets drew fewer fans on the road than the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'll give you a moment to take that in...

...moment's up. The Mets drew an average of 29,318 fans per road game, slightly lower than the Washington Nationals' average of 29,664. No team in the National League brought fewer people to the ballpark on the road than the New York Mets. (By contrast, the New York Yankees led the major leagues in road attendance with an average of 34,939 fans per game.)

So what could possibly be the reason for the lack of interest in Mets road games? There may be a few.

The Mets don't have the marquee name that fans in other cities want to see. The Nationals, despite their last-place finish in the NL East, had phenom Stephen Strasburg on the mound for 12 starts, five of which were on the road. The following numbers are the attendance figures for Strasburg's five road games, followed by the average home attendance figures per game at that particular venue:

  • June 13 @Cle: 32,876 (17,385)
  • June 28 @Atl: 42,889 (30,989)
  • July 16 @Fla: 27,037 (18,825)
  • July 21 @Cin: 37,868 (25,438)
  • Aug. 21 @Phi: 45,266 (45,027)

The average attendance for those five Strasburg road games was 37,133, which was 7,469 more than for an average Washington Nationals road game. Other than the road game in Philadelphia, which normally sells out all home games regardless of the opponent, the other four teams saw significant increases in their attendance in games that were started by Stephen Strasburg.

Who do the Mets have that fans in other cities want to see? Johan Santana? David Wright? Jose Reyes? Although they're all good players, they no longer have the superstar label attached to them. Fans don't stop what they're doing to see Johan throw another change-up and they don't rush back from the concession stands whenever Wright or Reyes step up to the plate.

The Mets haven't had a must-see, get back in your seat-type player since the early days of Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Until they bring up a can't miss phenom (something they don't currently have in their minor league system) or sign/trade for a potential Hall-of-Famer in the prime of his career, the Mets won't be appealing to fans on the road, especially if they continue to be a mediocre team. This brings me to the other reason.

The Mets are just not interesting enough for fans in other cities to come watch them play. Among the leaders in road attendance in 2010 were the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Giants, Rockies and Braves, all of whom either made the post-season or contended for a playoff berth. Two non-contending teams (Dodgers and Cubs) finished in the top five in road attendance, but those teams have huge followings nationwide and will draw fans on the road regardless of their won-loss record.

Teams like the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox can boast recent success and teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants have the history that attracts fans to the gates. The Mets can't claim either recent success or the long-term history that the other teams can.

Let's say the Mets are playing at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. A Pirates fan doesn't have much to root for on his/her own team, so he/she might choose to attend a Bucs game depending on the opponent.

If you were a Pirates fan, who would you rather pay to see? The perennial contenders from St. Louis, featuring the most complete hitter in the game, Albert Pujols? The cross-state rivals from Philadelphia, who have All-Stars wherever you look? The westerners from San Francisco, who can give you a Cy Young-caliber performance from Tim Lincecum and others? Or the New York Mets?

More than likely, that fan would choose any of the other teams listed above before choosing to see the Mets, especially if he or she is there to see players not dressed in Pirates uniforms.

Mets fans in New York are not going to come out to Citi Field in droves until management can put a competitive team on the field that will be playing meaningful games well into September and perhaps October. Similarly, if the Mets don't give fans in other cities a good enough reason to come out to the ballpark other than the promise of mediocrity and good, but not great players, empty seats will continue to follow them wherever they go.

Looks like the only place the Mets are making themselves at home is at the bottom of the road attendance figures.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What If Roy Halladay Had Been Traded To The Mets?

In Game 1 of the National League Division Series, played Wednesday between Philadelphia and Cincinnati at Citizens Bank Park, Roy Halladay did what no other National League pitcher had ever accomplished in a postseason game. He held the opposition hitless. The masterful 104-pitch performance helped the Phillies take a 1-0 series lead over the Reds.

The former (and perhaps soon-to-be) Cy Young Award winner had pitched for the Blue Jays from 1998-2009 without ever sniffing the playoffs. If he had any butterflies churning in his stomach before his first postseason start for the Phillies on Wednesday, they certainly did nothing to prevent him from making history.

Ever since the Phillies acquired him via a trade with Toronto, Halladay has been nothing short of brilliant. He led the league with 21 victories in his first National League season and pitched a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in May.

But what if Omar Minaya had swung a deal with the Blue Jays to acquire Halladay before the Phillies did? Would it have been the Mets playing in October and not the Phillies? A quick look at Mets history should provide us with the answer.

Had Omar Minaya acquired Halladay, the bearded righty would have succumbed to an injury in May. Needing his leadership on the mound, the Mets would have rushed him back to the rotation (especially since the longer he stayed out of the rotation, the better chance that Jerry Manuel would have given Oliver Perez another chance to start). That would have led to a period of ineffective starts, which would have also included key losses to the Phillies and Braves.

Once Halladay righted his ship, Dead Manuel Walking would have tried to save his pitcher from overexerting himself by removing him from games after a number of seven-inning, 90-pitch efforts. Since the Mets never had quite the firepower found in the Phillies' offense, Halladay would have found himself leaving games with small leads that Frankie Kunckles would eventually give up.

Therefore, had Halladay been a Met, he still would have had a good season, but he would have led the league in no-decisions. He also would never have pitched a no-hitter or perfect game because signing with the Mets automatically prevents any pitcher from ever throwing one.

Perhaps it's for the better that Omar Minaya didn't trade for Roy Halladay. For one thing, we might never have seen R.A. Dickey become the quality starter he became. (You can ignore the fact that Dickey lost his only head-to-head matchup against Halladay at Citizens Bank Park on August 8). Also, it is a well-known fact that bearded players don't do well in blue and orange. Just ask Jeff Reardon.

Face it, Mets fans. Roy Halladay was never going to become a Met. Neither was Cliff Lee last season at the trade deadline. Neither was Roy Oswalt at this year's trade deadline. They all went to the Phillies because our now ex-general manager didn't have the clout he thought he once had.

Five years ago, Omar Minaya could just show up at any star player's door and say "if you can live with the fact that I say 'that being said' every other sentence, then I can give you more years and more money than anyone else is willing to give you." Now, players stay away from Flushing like if it had blue and orange cooties.

Jason Bay came to New York last year because no one else was willing to give him the exorbitant deal the Mets gave him, not because of Omar Minaya. The bottom line is that Omar Minaya couldn't give players what Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. could, and that was the promise that his team would be successful.

The Phillies have become one of the best teams in recent memory, while the Mets have become the team no one wants to play for. Roy Halladay is lucky the Phillies traded for him. Had he been a Met, he'd be trying to leave through the same door that Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel used on Monday.