Apr 08

My Favorite Opening Day Memories

Major League Baseball always talks about the need to market itself, especially to the younger generation. A national Opening Day could be a good first step. A good second step would be for school districts around the country to shut it down for a day when their hometown team plays its home opener.

I don’t know how to go about it, but if I had a son or daughter I would take them out of school to go to Opening Day. That’s what my late father did 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. Damn, that was a good matchup.

Despite his note, the school did not approve, but he took us out anyway. His reason was we would take more from being at that game with him 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 46 years ago. I wonder how many fathers around the country will it today and take their kids to Citi Field.

My other favorite Opening Day memory was last year. I had been hurt the year before and spent nearly seven months in a hospital and didn’t go to the park for an Opening Day for the first time since 1988. I remember watching on TV from the hospital and promised myself I would go the next year.

Which, I did. There was a sense of accomplishment I will always remember.

I’ve watched on television Opening Days since 1966, but the memories of plays are scattered. Both those two memories were personal and that’s why I remember them vividly. To me, baseball’s Opening Days are about being personal, about who you watched them with and the circumstances in your life at the time.

So, what about you? What are your favorite Opening Day memories?

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Apr 03

Today In Mets’ History: Win Seaver In Hat Lottery

On this date in 1966, Tom Seaver’s name was picked from a hat in a special draft, awarding him to the Mets over the Indians and Phillies.

SEAVER: Mets hit lottery with him. (Topps)

SEAVER: Mets hit lottery with him. (Topps)

In 1965, Seaver was originally drafted by the Dodgers following his 10-2 sophomore season. However, the Dodgers balked at Seaver’s $70,000 salary demands and he re-entered the draft for 1966. This time, the Braves took him.

Seaver signed with Atlanta, but the contract was voided by then commissioner William Eckert because his USC college team had played two exhibition games (although Seaver didn’t play).

When Seaver’s father threatened a lawsuit, Major League Baseball backtracked with the hat lottery.

There are some interesting “what ifs” had history played out differently. For example, had the Dodgers agree to Seaver’s original salary request, he and Don Drysdale could have formed an interesting tandem. No, he never would have played with Sandy Koufax, but they might have gone to spring training together in 1966, which was the Hall of Fame left-hander’s last season. Koufax retired after the World Series that year because of an arthritic condition in his left elbow.

More delicious, however, would have been had he gone to the Indians, where he could have been part of an interesting rotation featuring Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant and Sonny Siebert.

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Feb 07

Looking At Mets’ Early Schedule

Since the Super Bowl is considered a national holiday, I’ve always considered it the end of the winter holiday season, and consequently “baseball season” begins tomorrow. So, I figure this is a good time to fast-forward to the Mets’ April schedule.

I’ll bitch about this later, but the first game of the season shouldn’t be interleague. However, if it is going to be that way, then why not make the first series be against the World Series opponents? I mean, if MLB is hell bent on interleague play, then this should be a new Opening Day tradition. It won’t be because the schedule is released before the end of the World Series.

OK, there are two games against the Royals on the road, followed by three-game series at home against the Phillies and Marlins.

That’s followed by three games at Cleveland – the Indians have one of the best rotations in the sport – and three more against at Philly and Atlanta.

The Mets end April with three games with Cincinnati and two with the Giants, who also have one of the game’s best rotations.

A key last year was the Mets’ fast start, highlighted by the long winning streak that put them 10 games over .500 to give them a solid buffer to help hold of the Nationals later in the summer. The Mets need to do the same this year as they have a considerably tougher May schedule with a game against San Francisco, seven against the Dodgers and six against Washington.

That’s 14 games against playoff caliber teams.

As for the Super Bowl, I am pulling for the Broncos.

 

Dec 07

Former Met Murphy’s Potential Landing Spots

On the first day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, there’s considerable speculation as to where 2015 playoff slugger Daniel Murphy could land. But, back to the Mets isn’t one of them, despite them saying he’s still on their radar. If he were, they would have given him more than a qualifying offer.

The Mets can’t be a serious contender because of their stated preference for Ben Zobrist and several internal options, among them Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera.

MURPHY: Where will he go. (AP)

MURPHY: Where will he go. (AP)

Not surprisingly, many of the potential teams having an interest, or need, for Murphy are in the American League, where he could also get at-bats as a designated hitter.

The Angels are among them, but they could also be players for Zobrist. At one time, it was thought the Dodgers could be interested, but they just signed Chase Utley.

Murphy to the Yankees is always in play, but they are saying no. As I wrote with Zobrist, I take their denials with a grain of salt.

If I were Murphy, I would seriously look at Baltimore as he could develop that October show of power in bandbox Camden Yards. Murphy could play first, second and third for the Orioles.

He could also do the same for the White Sox and Indians.

ON DECK: Mets need power, but not Yoenis Cespedes.

Dec 07

Mets Face Competition For Zobrist

If the Mets really want Ben Zobrist, they might have to give in on that fourth year as there’s a growing line of suitors for the versatile infielder, who, by the way, is an accomplished hitter who can also play the outfielder.

The reported dollars start around $50 million and he’s looking for four years. The Mets want three, and in what should be regarded as bluffing more than anything else, say they could still re-sign Daniel Murphy.

Reports have the Giants having interest, but where he’ll play is the question. They could stick him in left, but their infield is set. I doubt he’ll want to go there just to be a role player, but if Zobrist wants to win the Giants will get his consideration.

The Mets will also get competition from the Washington Nationals, and Zobrist would bring some stability and professionalism to their dysfunctional clubhouse. I also don’t need to remind you the Nationals have deeper pockets than the Mets.

One report recently had the Dodgers showing interest, but they just signed Chase Utley. That signing should also preclude the Dodgers as a potential landing spot for Murphy.

The Yankees continually say they aren’t in the market for Zobrist, but I’ll never discount their propensity for bluffing.

Meanwhile, the Angels, White Sox, Indians and Orioles could all use a second baseman. Of the four, the Angels appear the most willing to write the big check.

ON DECK: Potential landing spots for Murphy.