17 December 2012

The Dickey Deal

I'm sorry, but the fans who view their baseball team as a boy band and insist on sulking in their rooms for 3 days when their favorite member leaves to pursue a solo career cannot be more wrong about this one.

Yes, R.A. Dickey is a remarkable human being.  Yes, the story that is the arc of his professional baseball career is a fantastic one.  Yes, he put up good years with the Mets and won the Cy Young.

Nonetheless, this trade was a good move for the baseball club.  Quite frankly, after decades of Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla, Roberto Alomar, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Jason Bay, and countless other trades and signings that still make even the biggest Dickey fans cringe, it's refreshing to see the Mets finally grasp the concept of "Buy low, sell high."  Personally, I've dreamed of the day that the Mets would trade someone at the peak of their value as opposed of their historic pattern of paying huge prices, whether it be in money or prospects, for someone on the downhill side of his career.

I've got nothing but good things to day about R.A. Dickey, but the fact remains he's 38-year-old journeyman knuckleballer.  More power to him if he can keep riding his streak of success a few more years.  More power to the Blue Jays if they get it out of him.  The reality, though, is that Dickey's carriage is due to revert back to a pumpkin any moment now.  If you're planning on contending for a title in 2013 and one more solid pitcher could be the difference between making the post-season and not, that's a risk-reward ratio you can live with.  If you're not, you get while the getting's good.

For Mets fans who for some reason keep believing that the Mets have been just one or two pieces away from contention every season since they last won the division, trading the Cy Young winner makes no sense.  I get that, but it's wrong.  For someone like me, who realized long ago that the team needed to be blown up and rebuilt from the bottom, this trade is one more step in the right direction.

Best of luck to R.A. Dickey, but even better luck to the youngsters the Mets are getting in return.

15 November 2012

Hubba! Hubba!

If this jersey were a woman, I'd offer to buy it a drink.*

For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards road jerseys anyway, but this baby is absolutely gorgeous.

Don't get me wrong, the homes are nice, too, and were it not for a year of nearly-identical blue BPs, I'd have also greeted that unveiling with boundless enthusiasm. I kinda already figuratively fired all those bullets, though.

This, though...wow.  I'd say there's about a 70% chance I'm wearing one of these come Opening Day.

*Hypothetical situation also assumes either I were still single or the wife was down with it, neither of which is going happen any time soon.

14 November 2012

Congratulations, R.A. Dickey

Anyone who's found there way to this blog already understands the many levels of awesome Dickey winning the Cy Young entails, so I'll just add that it's a good thing nobody broke the consecutive scoreless innings record this year.  Yeah, I still hold a grudge about that.

Official mlb.com release here.

08 November 2012

Fare ye well, Jason Bay.

Well, it happened.  The Mets negotiated a release with Jason Bay.  I'm sure I'm just echoing the sentiments of every other fan on the internet, but what a shame this is.  Not on anyone in particular, mind you, just a shame in general.

It's not like Bay is anywhere close to the first big free-agent flop in Mets history--or even recent history--but he's the only one I recall feeling sympathy toward.  As much as his production may have stunk, there's nothing else negative to say about him.  He played hard, he wasn't a pox upon the clubhouse.  He struggled mightily, but never packed it in.  He was at least once outright mistreated (seriously, I'd love to have a chat with whoever decided to put him on a plane from Atlanta to Denver mere hours after he was knocked senseless on the infield).  He was subjected to the criticism and boos and whatnot that come when one's performance is wholly disproportionate to one's contract, but he never once complained, never once gave an excuse, never once said something derogatory about anyone else or otherwise put his foot in his mouth.

Now, I'm not going to lie.  There were times I groaned when he came up to bat in a key situation.  I even kinda groaned a little when he came back to a lineup that was otherwise clicking right before the All-Star break.  Even so, the man was all class during his time with the Mets, and no matter how badly he may have been doing at any given time, all you could do was root for the guy and hope he somehow snapped out it.

Hopefully, this will be one of those "right time, right place" deals from which both Bay and the Mets benefit.  Why he struggled as he did in New York will forever remain a mystery, but I know more than a few Mets fans will keep an eye out and hope Jason Bay finds his groove with a change of scenery.

20 September 2012

Somebody's not paying attention.

From mlb.com:

The Mets continue to do whatever they can to smooth the road between R.A. Dickey and a 20-win season, moving up Dickey's next start so he can pitch twice more at home.

Uh, yeah.  Because as we know, nothing helps a Mets pitcher's cause more than a home game, right?

09 September 2012

Hey Bill Beaman...

...would you mind toning it down a bit?  The stadium's empty and your call is coming over the TV really clearly. It's confusing the hell out of my dog.  She keeps running to the front window looking for you.

02 September 2012

What the fudge is THIS?

Spotted in the ebay section of the Mets Police Capitalism Sidebar:

Mitchell & Ness Cooperstown Collection Daryl Strawberry Home Jersey

If, by "Cooperstown Collection," you mean a 1991-92 home jersey top with a 1987 road letting crest, or course.

Unfortunately, this particular auction expired just as I was posting this, but fear not, there is another.

26 August 2012

Yeah, buddy...

Two homers today, including a walk-off.

(Yeah, it's sad to when 2 out of 3 over the Astros results in a celebratory post, but it is what it is these days.)

20 August 2012

Barry Lyons inducted into Biloxi (Miss.) Sports Hall of Fame

Video via WLOX

Former Mets catcher and 1986 World Champion Barry Lyons was officially inducted into his hometown's Sports Hall of Fame along with 28 other local standouts in a ceremony Sunday evening.  Lyons, with whom I've had the pleasure of working in the past, is now the athletics coordinator at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Kroc Center, a 52,000-square-foot recreation, fitness, educational, and arts community center located in Biloxi.

The Kroc Center is one of many around the country built and planned to be built by the Salvation Army with funds donated by Mrs. Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.

You can read more about the Gulf Coast Kroc Center here and the history and future of Kroc Centers nationwide here.

You can join Barry for a tour of the Biloxi complex below:

03 August 2012

17 July 2012

Post-All-Star swoons aren't just your imagination

So the Mets came out of the All-Star break ice cold.  Seems like that happens a lot, huh?  Maybe, though, just like the myth of the guy who ends the inning with an awesome defensive play being the first guy up to bat the next half-inning, it's not really so.  You just notice it a lot more when it happens and simply don't pay attention the other 8/9s of the time.

I had actually thought to set out exploring the matter over the weekend and roll this post out on Tuesday morning, but just didn't get around to it.  Unfortunately, the Mets cooperated and lost again tonight--on a wild pitch after 2 great comeback attempts (my kingdom for a bullpen)--and kept the notion relevant for another day.

Of course the only way to find out for sure if the Mets always suck after the break is to look up the records, which is easy enough thanks to baseball-reference.com .  Looking back over the past 10 seasons, we see that the Mets came out of the gate in the figurative second half and:

Lost 3 out of 4 last season.

Lost 6 out of 7 in 2010.

Lost 6 out of 8 in 2009.

Lost 3 out of 5 in 2008.

Actually won 3 out of 4 in both 2007 and 2006.

Lost 2 out of 3 in both 2004 and 2005.

Lost 4 IN A ROW in 2003.

Lost 2 out of 3 in 2002.

Add to all that this season's 0-for-5 thus far, and in the past 11 seasons of baseball, only twice have the Mets gotten off to a good start immediately following the All-Star game.  It defies all reason (though I do have a hypothesis I'll share here shortly).

On the bright side, sometimes the Mets do rebound a bit after their initial stumble.  In 3 of the 8 "bad start" seasons prior to 2012, the team managed to post a 6-4 or better record over their first 10 games after the break.  The 2005 team actually went 5-1 following its 1-2 start.  We'll just have to see what the 2012 edition does.

Regardless, it's NOT just in my or your head, and my grumbling about it to Mrs. Sparks every July is not without merit: the Mets do actually suck after the All-Star Game far, far more often than not.  Maybe it's karma's way of evening out that spectacular Opening Day record.


22 June 2012

Broadcast frustration (and how to beat it sometimes)

Before I even get started about tonight, I must express my latest frustration with the MLB television rules.  Today, I finally sat down to check my recording of the All-Time Team show, and there was none because it was blacked out as out-of-market programming.  I'll never figure this crap out.  Mets Weekly?  No problem.  Kids Clubhouse?  Yeah, they'll let me see that.  All-Time Team presentation?  Nuh-uh.  The Braves might get jealous.

Anyway, on to tonight.  For some reason, there's no Mets feed on Extra Innings.  I have no clue why, as PIX games have been carried for a couple of years now.  Whatever the reason, the only TV feed I have is the Yankees broadcast from my9.  I thought maybe I could tolerate it with Al Leiter and David Cone in the booth, but the Yankees-centric discussion got old in a hurry.

So as I type this, I'm watching video from my9 and listening to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on the WFAN audio feed via SirusXM.  Ain't technology wonderful sometimes?  The only thing kinda annoying is that the audio is just a hair ahead of the video.  Were it the other way around, I could just pause the TV for a second and let it catch up, but I can't pause the radio.

Anyway, this setup still beats having to watch Fox's overproduced crap and listening to McCarver and Buck.  Speaking of which, I won't be allowed to watch tomorrow's game at all.  I get Braves vs. Red Sox, which of course means I'll be listening to Rose and Lewin with the TV off.  Can't say I'm too upset about that.  Heck, I might be out fishing during the first couple of innings anyway.

18 June 2012

11 June 2012

A quick look at some no-hitter merchandise

Often, on a quiet Sunday while the game is on, I'll browse ebay for Mets merchandise or, as is often the case, really screwed up merchandise, but this weekend, I was on mets.com and happened to notice the ad directing folks to the special "Santana no-hitter" page of the MLB shop.

As you should always expect, some of the merchandise is downright mundane (everyday Santana jerseys and tees in no way actually commemorating the no-hitter), and the rest runs the gamut from classy to creepy. What follows isn't at all a complete overview of every item, just a few notes on some I found interesting for whatever reason.


The "'NO-HAN' No-hitter Adjustable Cap" version 1 & version 2

Personally, I find the whole "No-han" thing kind of cheesy, but beyond that, I suppose neither of these is particularly good or bad.  If someone were to give me one of these, I doubt I'd ever wear it.

The (just plain) "No-hitter Adjustable Cap"

This one, I like.  The logo is sharp, and the signature is a nice touch.  It gets the point across without being loud, and there's no forced attempt at being witty.


If apparel isn't your preferred way of commemorating a historic, stat-based event, there's a nice selection of things to hang on your wall, including:

OK, this thing is awesome.  An action pic, a shot of the scoreboard, and a notated linescore.  Classy, classy, classy.  Had I not already invested in some other memorabilia quickly after the game (more on that later), I'd probably get one of these.  If I happen upon one on ebay years from now, I'll probably make a run at it.

The perfect way to let everyone know you were there on that magic night when the no-hitter drought finally ended (or got on the internet and spent $50 for a reprint, anyway).

Good idea, bad execution.  First off, if you read the full description the piece of a "game-used" baseball mounted into the collage isn't necessarily from that game, just "a New York Mets regular season game."

Secondly, the centerpiece photo appears to be a mini-Johan bursting through the abdomen of a full-sized Johan as orange blood splatters everywhere.  All I can think of when I look at this plaque is that infamous scene from Alien.

08 June 2012

Well, this sucks....

I was just polishing off my take-out dinner from Applebee's as the game started, and all appeared well for night of Mets vs. Yankees, but during the top of the second, a heavy storm decided to pass right over my house and knocked out my satellite signal.  Contrary to what the cable company tells you, that is not a common occurrence--I've watched baseball on DirecTV as hurricanes passed through with barely a blip--but, nonetheless, the one-half of a percent of time lost due to weather decided to hit during this particular game on a Friday night.

While I could pull out the XM and just listen to the audio feed, which isn't as sensitive as television, since this is a Yankees home game, that would entail listening to John Sterling, so no, not gonna do it.

Well, look at that.  Just as I was finishing that paragraph, the game came back.  Johan's not looking too good, is he?  Oh, well, plenty of game left.

04 June 2012

The Black Jersey Dual Patch Hypothesis

Photo via Yahoo! Sports
Apparently, I was late on this because the retail jerseys have been the same way since November, but only last night did I realize the black alternate jerseys have BOTH the normal baseball logo Mets patch and the 50th anniversary patch.  The black alts are the only one of the three current jerseys with that look; both the pinstripes and the whites only have the anniversary patch.

I suppose that may be because they wanted to keep the "midnight" logo (i.e., the one with the black skyline) in circulation for whatever reason, but I have another theory.  It's no secret that a) the plan was for the black alts to see very limited use in 2012, and b) the rest of the plan is to phase them out entirely in favor of a blue alt in 2013.  So what do you do if you're Majestic and the MLB fan shop, with a storage room full of authentic black jerseys that will be obsolete in 6 months?  Slap another patch on them and get them sold before then.

Surely, the tops the team was wearing weren't leftovers from 2011, but my hypothesis says if you buy an authentic for yourself, there's a good chance it is.  Think about it.  It just so happens that the black alts are the only style that didn't change for 2012, and they're also the only ones with the dual patches.  Obviously, just adding an anniversary patch is much easier and cheaper than replacing the old one.

03 June 2012

So what's it going to be like now?

[Reprint of my comment left at Faith and Fear in Flushing: Night at the Opera (Bravo! Bravo!)]

I honestly find myself wondering what’s it going to be like to live in a post-no-hitter world. It’s been such a part of the Mets fan’s consciousness, living without it, while obviously good, will nonetheless be radically different.

No more wondering every day if this will be the day.

No more groaning every time I hear that some other team has had a no-hitter.

No more announcers re-opening the discussion every time a pitcher gives up his first hit some time past the second inning.

No more nagging, endless reviews of how many pitchers threw no-hitters for some other team either prior to or after their Mets tenure every single time anyone anywhere throws one.

This must be how Red Sox fans felt after winning the World Series in ’04. We finally got the monkey off our backs, but it’s a monkey that was part of us. This is going to take some getting used to.

02 June 2012

Our Team, Our Time: Reflections on the No-No

Now I believe there comes a time
When everything just falls in line
We live and learn from our mistakes
The deepest cuts are healed by faith
             -All Fired Up, Pat Benatar, 1984 (Twain/Sabu)

The number loomed over the franchise like a giant, frustrating shadow: 8,019 games without a no-hitter.  Despite teams of Miracles, games readily identified by a single-digit number, and eras of baseball Like it Oughta Be, that one particular baseball feat continued to elude the Mets for 5 full decades.

The lists have always been well-circulated: 6 former Mets had thrown no-hitters (including the all-time leader in the feat), 10 no-hitters had been thrown by Mets-to-be.  One pitcher (Hideo Nomo) even has a spot on both lists.  But until last night, despite all the talent on the mound over the years, despite 2 World Championships, 4 pennants, 5 division winners, and 2 wild card teams, this one--THIS ONE, the one with owners accused of being small-market, the one led by an ace coming off an ominous surgical procedure, the one marked nightly by a rag-tag, injury-riddled lineup--is the one that finally led the Mets to the promised land.  For a franchise raised as "Amazin'" loveable losers turned miracle weavers, it was wonderfully poetic.

No one knows how far this crew is going to take things, but there's no arguing that this is the most likeable group of Mets in recent memory.  At the center of the show, of course, is Santana, the soul of the team who's riveted us with numerous displays of sheer guts since his arrival, often with very little in the way of return in the end.  Add to that an outfield brimming with subs, a stop-gap shortstop, a second baseman who supposedly could never play the position, and a first baseman with a lost year under his belt and the threat of being sent to Buffalo hanging over his head.  Yet, there they are, one game out to start July.  As cliche as it sounds, they by all measures are a humble, hard-working group that takes nothing for granted.
Sure, I would've loved to see a no-hitter back in the Doc & Darryl days.  It would have been wonderful to see Robin Ventura throw one across the diamond to John Olerud to make the last of 27 straight outs.  But to have this happen when it did, with whom it did on the field, just adds that much more to the magic of the moment.

After the game, Santana repeatedly made reference to the franchise's history and his knowing what it would mean to the fans to complete a no-hitter.  That sentiment was echoed by every one of his teammates when presented with an opportunity state it.  What we witnessed last night were a pitcher and his team willing themselves into history.

I can't imagine what it must have been like in Citi Field, because even from the front of a TV screen 1200 miles away, it was obvious we were witnessing 9 guys playing not just for themselves, but for their pitcher, their other teammates, 27,000 in the stands, and even some schmuck knocking on 40 in a blue BP jersey not daring to leave his recliner until the last out was recorded.

I can't help but wonder: would this particular game on this particular night have come out differently if there were a $150 million payroll on the field?  I mean, sure, we all hope these guys retire with a few rings with a Mets logo on them, but would a more experienced squad with higher-profile names have handled the game the same way they did?  Would it have meant the same to that hypothetical team as it did to the one that fate actually placed there?  I don't mean to suggest that anyone in MLB intentionally loafs with a no-hitter on the line, but last night was the perfect environment for a plucky bunch that by necessity goes all-out every night and never quits.

Let's be honest, Mike Baxter isn't making "Carl Crawford money."  Chances are he won't ever.  Making a balls-out catch to save the first no-hitter in Mets history very well may be the moment for which he's forever remembered.  Even in the deepest recesses of his subconscious, he's thinking, "Screw my shoulder, my head, or any other body part.  This ball cannot hit the ground."

And somehow, it only got better after the game.  Santana telling reporters he'd never even thrown a no-hitter in a video game and modestly showering his teammates with credit.  Terry Collins near tears, knowing if there are any ill effects on Santana's arm, he'll never forgive himself for not being the detached, wise old man who made a tough decision for his pitcher's own good.  Childhood-Mets-fan-turned face-of-the-franchise David Wright's crack about manicuring the ground around 3rd.  R.A. Dickey being his usual eloquent self in describing the gravity of the moment.

As great as a baseball moment last night's game was, in true Mets fashion, it was an even better human moment.  It may not have been a perfect game, but it was a perfect example of what keeps fans glued to this utterly maddening franchise.  Sure, you may find yourself banging your head on the wall for years on end, but when the payoff does come, it delivers in spades.

25 April 2012

Thoughts on the Reyes "homecoming"

I was just now able to watch the start of Tuesday night's game, which of course marked Jose Reyes' return to Citi Field. Gary, Keith, and Ron seemed practically shocked--shocked, I tell ya--at the crowd's tepid response to Reyes--much like so many others seemed practically shocked that the notion of a tribute video wasn't met with unanimous fan support.

Seriously, what's so hard to understand about this? When the whole video thing first hit, the idea of greeting Reyes with such a tribute was defended with comparisons to the returns of Mike Piazza and my own man-crush, Edgardo Alfonzo. The circumstances aren't even close, however.

In the cases of Piazza and Alfonzo, both, while still servicable major-league players, were clearly on the downhill sides of their careers. The Mets made the concious yet mostly amicable decision to not re-sign them in order to make room for the future of the team. Piazza and Alfonzo both appeared to at least begrudgingly--and in Piazza's case, fully--understand the the team's choice and went out of their way to thank Mets fans for their support during their respective heydays (as much as I'd love to link a photo of Fonzie's "Thank You" cab ad, I'm on Blogger for iPod right now, and I'm afraid that would end up taking all night).

Reyes, on the other hand, left the team at the age of 28 for a bigger paycheck, period. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but when it's the player making the cold business decision, one has to expect a proportionately cold shoulder from the fans in return.

Jose Reyes' story isn't one that causes sympathetic feelings of "We hate that your wonderful career is coming to a close" because that's not what happened. Reyes simply went to the highest bidder (again, not that there's anything wrong with that).

And of course it doesn't help that when Reyes DID have the fans' sympathy and the "we'll miss you" vibe was at its apex, he walked out on his farewell game after one at-bat in order to ensure his batting title. That was a Jose-first move that robbed fans of seeing him play that one last game as a Met. While the virtue of his bunt-and-run exit is debatable, there's no doubt some fans felt cheated. Having your last act in the uniform leave a bad taste in the fans' collective mouth is not how you go about ensuring a warm and fuzzy "Welcome back."

08 April 2012

Collins doppleganger

For going on two years, I've been trying to put my finger on just whom it is that Terry Collins reminds me of every time I see him. The epiphany finally hit as I was watching Sunday's post-game media conference:

Manages the Mets.

Killed fiddy men and lost his shins in WWII.

One series in, and...

...already a sweep of the Braves and a no-hitter carried into the 7th.

You can't call a season based upon a weekend, but who saw a start quite this positive coming?

07 April 2012

It may be a fair a tradeoff, I suppose...

Negative: Being forced to watch a game with the Braves' incessantly whining announcers providing all commentary.

Positive: Not having to suffer through that now-beyond-annoying Citibank card commercial another dozen times in one afternoon.

05 April 2012

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from the New York Mets

Humor is an essential part of working through failure.

Nothing is ever guaranteed.

Be careful what you wish for.

Things don't just happen on their own.

Never abondon a good plan out of panic.

It ain't over 'till it's over.

Disappointment is proportionate to potential.

Never run your mouth the night before it's your turn to pitch.

When it's over, it's over.


You can't "stay pat and stay on top," but "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

If you CAN handle the heat, you'll be great in the kitchen.

If they're gonna beat you, make 'em earn it--no intentional walks.

Numbers are far less important than personalities.

You can't buy a pennant, but you can darned sure trade one away.

Use caution when doing yard work.

Loyalty always means more in hindsight.

The truth hurts sometimes, but lies always do.

Enthusiasm is contagious. So is stupidity.

The most important thing is knowing what's actually important.

If you can beat no one else, at least beat the Cubs.

If at first you don't succeed, moving to third won't help.