Oct 17

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Trying to get it in.

It’s not raining now, but the forecast is not good. It’s a crucial game for the Angels, who gift-wrapped Game 1 last night. Three errors and there should have been four. I could have driven to the Stadium, ran onto the field and caught that pop-up. It was in the air that long.

AJ Burnett, 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in his first season with the Yankees, gets the ball tonight.

“By all means I know how important my start is,” Burnett said. “I have the least amount of postseason experience, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Play ball … or cancel it and let’s go to the movies.

Oct 17

Not a good forecast ….

Proving they can play baseball in the afternoon, that’s when the Yankees and Angels will play tomorrow should tonight’s game be rained out. Then, they’ll fly to LA to play tomorrow afternoon. Of course, if Philly and the Dodgers weren’t already scheduled for tomorrow night, that’s when the Yankees would play.

Had today’s game been scheduled for this afternoon, there’s a chance they could have gotten it in. But, no, it has to be at night to placate the networks. But, if you’re going to prostitute yourself you have to do what they say.

So, the fans and players in New York have to sit through the slop, and the fans in LA get to see two tired teams play in Game 3. But, FOX is happy.

Oct 16

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Tale of two pitchers.

Two pitchers, one the Mets didn’t want and one they’d love to have, will be on display today in the second round of the playoffs.

Pedro Martinez, whom the Mets cut ties with in an effort to get younger and move toward the future, will start Game 2 of the NLCS for Philadelphia against the Dodgers. John Lackey, the pitching prize of the free-agent market, starts for the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.


If Martinez wins, it will send Philly home with a 2-0 games lead. If Lackey wins, he will give the home field advantage to the Angels.

The Mets are watching at home for the third straight season.

After a series of injuries the past few years, the Mets decided they could live without Martinez, 37, will make his first playoff appearance in five years against the Dodgers, the team in broke in with in 1992. Martinez made nine starts with the Phillies, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

He told me last year he thought he could still pitch again, and proved it this year in a limited capacity. Weary of the injuries, and confident Mike Pelfrey would progress and they’d finally get something out of Oliver Perez, the Mets said good-bye to Martinez, who did not want to come back in a limited role or with a limited contract.

If he will be content with a No. 5 slot, he’ll get some attention this winter. No, the Mets won’t be one of the teams, but he could stay in Philadelphia.

Martinez likes the team and it will be good again next summer.

Martinez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, but manager Charlie Manuel isn’t concerned, saying, “I think he knows how to pitch.’’

Martinez’s last playoff appearance was in 2004 with Boston, and one of the story lines today will be facing former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

“Well, nobody can say I know how to pitch Manny.” Martinez said. “Manny is such a great hitter, and he’s someone that makes adjustments as he sees the game develop.”

The Angels are a team in a zone, having swept Boston in the Division Series. They’ll face CC Sabathia tonight at the Stadium.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.


The Angels know how to beat the Yankees, dispatching them from the playoffs twice since 2002. The teams split 10 games this year.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to measure yourself against an organization like the Yankees. It might take a century before you would get there,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I think our guys feel good at the way they go about their business, the way that they play the game hard, the way that they push the game.’’

But, it all begins with pitching, and tonight that is Lackey, who beat the Yankees in July when he gave up two runs in seven innings.

“I’m not going to get intimidated by anybody,” Lackey said.

Lackey is a bulldog type, he gives innings when he’s healthy, but he’s missed considerable time in each of the past two seasons. That will give the Mets pause as they were bitten all year by injuries. It would just be the franchise’s luck to sign him and have him go down.

Lackey leads a relatively thin free-agent market that includes Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Randy Wolf.

There are some good names, but nobody outside of Lackey who could be called a No. 1.

Oct 16

It’s about heart ….

In watching the Phillies play, I would think Mets fans would fall in love with this team if they played in Citi Field. They show the heart and hustle and spunk Mets fans demand from their team, but haven’t received in a long time.

The Phillies make things happen, and as powerful as they are, it isn’t always with the long ball. In that regard, they and the Angels are the playoff teams having the grit Mets fans desire for their team.

The Yankees?

The Yankees are the Yankees, they’ll always be good because they can’t accept losing. Mets fans would love that mentality from their management. But, the Yankees, and their fans, also carry a sense of entitlement with them that is annoying.

I believe, that after the disappointment of the 2006 season, the Mets carried with them a sense of expectations of winning. That’s good, but the reality was they overestimated themselves and believed they were better than they were, which isn’t good.

Hopefully, and I have my doubts, the Mets learned from the 2009 train wreck. If they believe that just being healthy will put them over the top, they are mistaken. This team has talent, but not enough. It lacks the pitching, the fundamental base, and all too often, the heart of a champion.

There were far too many times this season when they mailed it in.

Oct 13

Lunch break ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

A little slow out of the gate this morning. I’m sure you’ve all had your morning coffee, so let’s call this a lunch break.

The LCS hasn’t started for either league, but on this date in 1960, Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski ended the World Series with a dramatic home run to lead off the ninth against Ralph Terry and beat the Yankees, 10-9.

Despite the score, which meant a lot of hitters, it was the only World Series game in the 20th Century without a strikeout. One of the most interesting numbers from that game were that the Yankees outscored Pittsburgh, 52 to 27, in losing in seven games.

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They Said It

They Said It

Former Mets reliever Billy Wagner is considering retirement instead of attempting to pitch one more season and pursue 400 saves.

Said Wagner: “I don’t plan on talking to nobody. … I’ve got nothing else to [accomplish].”

In what could be Wagner’s final appearance, he gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in Boston’s Game 3 loss to the Angels. Wagner, 38, returned this season from Tommy John surgery. He is 15 saves shy of 400, a milestone he always said he wanted to reach.

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BY THE NUMBERS

224: Homers hit by Philadelphia to lead the National League.