May 06

Today In Mets’ History: Happy Birthday Willie Mays

In 1969, the 100th Anniversary of Baseball, Joe DiMaggio was voted the game’s greatest player. That was wrong then and certainly was for the next 30 years of DiMaggio’s career. The voters slighted Mays.

You could make valid arguments for Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron. You might also lobby on behalf of Willie Mays, who on this day in 1931 was born in Westfield, Ala.

My vote goes to Babe Ruth as the greatest player in history, with Mays second. In addition to his prodigious power and five tools, Mays will always be remembered for his catch in the 1954 World Series (video) against Cleveland.

Mays’ professional career began in 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. His major league in 1951, the year DiMaggio retired. They faced each other in the World Series that season.

Mays is first, and foremost, a Giant. He became a Met in 1972 when he was traded for Charlie Williams (perhaps the ultimate trivia question answer) and $50,000 in cash. The driving force behind the trade was, of course, money.

MAYS: Not the best memory. (AP)

MAYS: Not the best memory. (AP)

Giants owner Horace Stoneham, who moved the Giants to San Francisco, was operating a team hemorrhaging money. Mays was nearing retirement and the Giants could not guarantee a job when he stopped playing. The Mets could and brought the icon back to New York.

/a>Mays played a year-and-a-half with the Mets, appearing in only 133 games, but played in the 1973 World Series, in which in went 2-for-7, but is best remembered for falling down in the outfield and his plea after being called out at the plate.

Mays looked like he was playing hurt, and later said, “growing old is a helpless hurt.’’

Mays’ last at-bat was grounding into a force play in Game 3. He retired after the season with a career .302 average with 660 home runs. He appeared in a record 24 All-Star Games. He was a 12-time Gold Glover and three-time MVP.

Mays was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year of his eligibility, but amazingly didn’t appear on 23 ballots.

Dec 08

Hodges Falls Short Of Hall Again

What you and I both expected came to fruition when Gil Hodges was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee; in fact, no players from the Golden Era were elected.

An eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Hodges was instrumental in leading the Dodgers to seven NL pennants and two World Series titles.

To Mets’ fans, he’ll always be the recalled as the manager who guided the team to the 1969 World Series championship.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough for the voters. Damn.

Oct 29

Who Really Cares About The Ratings?

Word is the ratings for this World Series have been among the lowest ever. Probably because San Francisco and Kansas City aren’t marquee franchises.

Funny, but hasn’t Major League Baseball’s biggest argument for revenue sharing was to give the “small market’’ teams a chance at being competitive?

The Bay Area is a substantial market, but the Giants aren’t the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Red Sox, the so called glamour teams.

All along, MLB has been clamoring for competitive balance and when they get it, the gripe is nobody is watching.

Major League Baseball isn’t happy about this pairing, and FOX Sports isn’t happy. And, the fans of tomorrow and the elderly fans aren’t happy because the games are on too late.

Hopefully, somebody is enjoying this Series. Ratings? I don’t care about ratings. All I know is I am watching.

Mar 02

My Favorite Baseball Movies: Field Of Dreams

It’s difficult to make a good baseball movie because of the physical requirements involved from the actors. Quite simply, some of them can’t go through the swinging and throwing motions that make them look realistic.

imgresThere are also unbelievable story lines, historical inaccuracies and the concept of editorial license gone out of control. Even so, in honor of the Academy Awards tonight, I’d like to share with you my top five favorite baseball movies:

FIELD OF DREAMS: It’s the story here matters, plus the bond between fathers and sons, which is the essence behind the film. The acting is superb and the writing terrific. James Earl Jones’ monologue on baseball being woven into the fabric of American history and life is priceless.  Yes, they have Ray Liotta – Shoeless Joe – batting right-handed, which really is unforgivable, like wearing cross trainers in a gladiator movie. Even so, the interaction between Kevin Costner and Jones is terrific, and Burt Lancaster, for a small role, is a driving force in the film. And, the end, when Costner meets his dad, is a powerful scene. “Dad, wanna have a catch?’’

EIGHT MEN OUT: They at least have Shoeless Joe batting left-handed in this one, but it is a realistic telling of a historical story that carries this one for me. The in-game scenes were well done and there doesn’t appear to be the stretching of editorial license, as was the case in *61. Another thing I like in this film is there is no super star actor that diverts your attention from the story. I liked this movie even before Charlie Sheen’s “Two And A Half Men.’’  I liked everything about this movie, and loved the ending when John Cusack was watching a Jackson in a semi-pro game twenty years later.

COBB: Yes, that was Roger Clemens in a bit role. By the way, for his tough guy reputation, had Clemens played in Ty Cobb’s era he would’ve been eaten alive. Cobb would have bunted down the first base line and run up his back. No telling what Cobb would have done if Clemens threw a piece of a broken bat at him. It’s a powerful biography that shows Tommy Lee Jones depicting Cobb in a less than flattering light.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES: Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in a sentimental tearjerker. Of course liberties were taken, but the movie reveals the human and fragile side that was Gehrig. There were times when it was hard to tell whether Cooper was playing Gehrig or Will Kane, the stoic sheriff who stood up to the evil Frank Miller to save the town.

42: The most realistic version of the Jackie Robinson story ever on the screen. The scene when Branch Rickey – played by Harrison Ford – tries to bait Robinson in his office is as good as it gets. “I want a player with the guts not to fight back,’’ Rickey tells Robinson before offering him that historic contract. It’s hard to pull off a historic moment, but they got it right when Pee Wee Reese put his arm around Robinson. One other thing, Chris Merloni plays a good Leo Durocher, put I still see him as Detective Elliot Stabler.

 

MISSING THE CUT

Bull Durham: Fun movie, but too many clichés. Did love the scene on the mound when they were figuring out what to wedding present to get. Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh just didn’t look like a pitcher.

For the Love of the Game: Another with Kevin Costner. They lost me when Costner’s catcher wore his Tigers cap outside the stadium. That just doesn’t happen.

Bang the Drum Slowly: Sorry, too sappy. Plus, Robert DeNiro is a gangster.

The Natural: I know what they were trying to get at, but hitters don’t carry homemade bats in a violin case and knock the cover off the ball.

I would love to know your favorites.

Feb 24

Wrapping The Day: Collins Talks Injuries; Syndergaard Throws; Trade Discussions With Mariners

Several hours after Ike Davis admonished a reporter for a story saying the first baseman concealed an oblique injury for much of last season, New York Mets manager Terry Collins did the same – to the player through the press.

Collins had to be embarrassed when he found out through the media Davis hid the injury using the logic he didn’t want to come off as an excuse maker just as he was about to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

“There’s got to be a conversation,’’ Collins told reporters Monday in Port St. Lucie. “And then certainly it’s up to me to decide which way to proceed.’’

In addition:

* ESPN reported the Mets are talking with Seattle regarding shortstop Nick Franklin.

* Prospect Noah Syndergaard threw two simulated 20-pitch innings of batting practice. Syndergaard is scheduled to pitch in an intrasquad game Thursday and face the Braves in an exhibition game next Monday.

* Among the pitchers scheduled to work in Thursday’s intrasquad game are Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Carreno, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Jose Valverde and Steve Matz.

* After conferring with outfielder Curtis Granderson, Collins amended his stance on playing time and said he’ll give him a lot of at-bats. Granderson said he wanted to see more pitching because of the time he missed last season.