Oct 03

Staub Suffers Heart Attack

Sobering news this afternoon with word Rusty Staub, one of the more popular players in Mets’ history, suffered a heart attack on a United Airlines flight to New York, which had to return to Ireland.

STAUB: At Shea finale. (Getty)

STAUB: At Shea finale. (Getty)

The Mets released the following statement: “Rusty Staub experienced a medical emergency on a flight from Ireland to JFK. The flight was diverted back to Ireland where Rusty is now resting comfortably in a hospital. The prognosis is good and Rusty and his family ask that we respect his privacy during this period. He is in the thoughts and prayers of the Mets organization.”

The 71-year-old Staub played 23 seasons with the Mets, Houston, Montreal, Detroit and Texas. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986 and remains one of the most popular players in franchise history. Staub is extremely active in various charities, including starting the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Benefit Fund.

Apr 09

Memo To Harvey: Quit Whining And Just Pitch

Matt Harvey is pitching today, and with this event comes the question: Is he more interested in being a New York media darling or a Mets’ star?

It seems that way..

Like everybody else, I was enamored with the possibility of what Harvey could bring to the Mets and whether he could help them become a viable franchise again.

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

The operative word is “help,’’ because not one player can do it by himself, which I say because Harvey seems to be separating himself from the “common folk,’’ who are his teammates.

However, he comes off as someone not interested in the collaborative effort – that he knows best – but who rather marches to his own beat. So be it when you have the track record to back it up, but he has only 12 victories in the major leagues.

He is “potential over proven commodity,’’ which makes his threat for people to judge him by his pitching and not his off-the-field life laughable.

That’s hard to do because Harvey throws his off-the-field life into our faces on a regular basis, whether it be posing nude for ESPN; arguing with the front office where to do his rehab; letting himself be photographed in public kissing models or taking them to see the Rangers; or disregarding the perception of being seen at a Yankees game to watch Derek Jeter.

That didn’t go over well with management and some of his teammates, but he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t acknowledge his own recklessness of trying to pitch through obvious pain and not reporting the discomfort in his forearm could have contributed to his elbow injury.

Apparently, making that start in the All-Star Game was more important than anything else.

Take a look at his smirk in the accompanying photograph. Who, but somebody with a huge ego would allow himself to be photographed that way?

No, we don’t see the effort behind-the-scenes of his workouts and conditioning, but we do hear about his off-the-field exploits of wanting to bed as many women as Jeter and his clubbing and drinking.

Good for him. Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Mickey Mantle were New York media icons, but had the accomplishments to back it up. Harvey has won 12 games.

In the end, the nightlife killed Mantle and destroyed the playing careers of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. It is also part of why the Mets didn’t bring back Jose Reyes.

However, Harvey is young and walks with the attitude “it won’t happen to me.’’

But, it can. The questions are “when’’ and “where.’’ Will it be in Queens or the Bronx as a Yankee? Crosstown, it seems, is where he really wants to be.

At least, that’s the perception, not that he wants to be a star with the Mets, who by the way, are his employers who have the right to judge him.

Sure, I’m all for honoring Harvey’s diva-like demand to judge him on his pitching. OK,  then just shut up and pitch and don’t distract us with the other stuff.


Apr 06

Why Doesn’t Baseball Make Opening Day Special Again?

It is Opening Day damn it, it should be one of the best days – if not the very best – of every sports year. Then how come it isn’t? It’s because the people running the sport have no concept of the treasure they possess.


Inside the grocery store in my town, there’s a little bank that posts a trivia question every week. The current question is: When is Opening Day for baseball? And, it listed five choices.

Now, if that doesn’t tell you about the state of the game, then what does?

Opening Day used to mean something. For years it opened in Cincinnati, home of the Reds, baseball’s oldest team, and in Washington, the nation’s capital. You never know when it is from year to year.

There’s always Internet chatter at making the Monday after the Super Bowl a holiday. Why? So people can sleep off their hangovers?

Tell me, what are the best days in sports? The Super Bowl is one, a monster for sure. How about the NFL championship game Sunday? Or the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament?

The NFL has its Opening Weekend down pat with the Super Bowl champ starting on the Thursday before the first Sunday. Baseball’s start used to be in the nation’s spotlight, but it foolishly gave away that day, which is also part of Bud Selig’s legacy.

We’ve had the first game of the baseball season start several times in Japan, with those teams returning to the United States for more spring training games. Yeah, they had the think tank working overtime for that one.

Baseball 2015 started Easter Sunday night in frigid Chicago at the construction site known as Wrigley Field, where there were only two restrooms on the main concourse. Nobody thought to order portable restrooms, of course. Did anybody notice those photos of cups of urine lined up?

It would have been great to get a comment from new commissioner Rob Manfred. Maybe he’ll have something to say on the time of the game, which was over three hours.

The game, by the way, was broadcast on MLB Network, which much of the country doesn’t have. Today’s games include an interleague match-up with the Red Sox in Philadelphia. Interleague play is tough to stomach already, but under no circumstances should there be interleague games on Opening Day.

There are also three games that start at, or after, 7 p.m., EDT, that would be in conflict with the NCAA Championship. Two are to be telecast on ESPN. Who is the marketing genius behind that one?

Sports will conflict with each other, but can’t anybody look at a calendar to see what they are up against? Why not give the NCAA the first Monday, and let baseball have Tuesday? Go wall-to-wall games starting at noon and running to midnight. Now, that should be a national holiday.

Baseball talks about the need to market itself better, especially for the next generation, but it doesn’t get it. This little tweak can spark the imaginations of kids across the country.

My late father understood it on April 7, 1970, when he took my brother and I out of school for the day to watch the Indians on Opening Day against Baltimore. Dave McNally against Sam McDowell.

Despite his note, the school did not approve, but he took us out anyway. He reasoned we would take more from being at that game than anything we would have learned that day in class.

He was right. Baseball was very big in our home, and it still is in our family. That’s how you cultivate the fans of tomorrow.

Looking back, he was right, and it is one of my fondest memories of him.

My dad got it 45 years ago. I wonder how many fathers around the country got it today, and will get it next Monday and take their kids to Citi Field.

What I do know, is the people running Major League Baseball don’t get it.

ON DECK: What is with the Opening Day lineup?

Apr 01

Are Mets Kidding With Long-Term Talk With Lagares And Duda?

A show of hands please, who saw this coming from the Mets? I didn’t and twice in one week no less. The Mets, who have long been noted for their conservative approach when it comes to long-term contracts, are reportedly discussing multi-year deals with Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares.

Several days after an ESPN report the Mets were considering a four-year, $31-million contract with Duda, they reportedly reached terms today with Lagares to an extension through 2019 for $23 million.

While Duda is 29 and this would likely be his biggest payday, Lagares is 26 and could have two more contracts after this one.

The contract would cover Lagares’ arbitration years and the first year when he would become free-agent eligible.

Duda hit 30 homers last year and Lagares won the Gold Glove in center field where he was credited for saving 28 runs. Offensively, he hit .281 with four homers and 47 RBI.

Is this a good idea or not?

Normally, I’??m all for locking in prospects long-term, but what about Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – we can forget Zack Wheeler for now – to start with?

After all, I always favor the commitment to pitching first. However, before diving off the deep end, the prudent thing would be to get a larger window on both players, especially since they each have questions.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.


Mar 08

Darvish Injury Shows Fragility Of Pitching … And Value Of Gee

This is how it will happen if Dillon Gee is traded: A starter will go down in another camp and if that team is thin in minor league pitching talent, it might not have another choice to deal with the Mets.

Multiple media sources, including ESPN New York, say the Texas Rangers aren’t interested in Gee.

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

After throwing 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen Saturday against Miami, Gee addressed the possibility of being traded to Texas in the wake of Yu Darvish possibly needing season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“What it boils down to is I don’t make those decisions. I can’t strike a trade with myself,’’ Gee told ESPN. “I did see that [about Darvish]. In my mind all I’m really thinking about is, ‘That sucks for Darvish.’ I mean, he’s a phenomenal pitcher. And I feel sorry for him. It sucks if he’s going to be gone for a year.’’

The Rangers say they have minor league talent comparable to that of Gee. That’s not to say other teams won’t. In that case, GM Sandy Alderson’s phone could ring.

However, Alderson shouldn’t be so willing to eager to get rid of who has been a reliable and productive pitcher. Maybe not ace quality, but a grinder who will usually find a way to give the Mets six innings.

The injury to Matt Harvey two years ago, and Darvish this spring, not to mention how many teams lack starting pitching – anybody look at the Yankees’ rotation lately? – indicate how vulnerable and fragile starting pitching can be.

The Mets have a potentially valuable chip in Gee and shouldn’t be so willing to play it – not when they might need it later.