Apr 16

Reflections Before Mets Play In The Snow

Just because the Mets haven’t played since Saturday, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to talk about in baseball and the sporting world.

Supporting Boston …

Who isn’t disgusted with what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon? I’ve had my computer bag searched so many times I’ve lost track. Deep down I couldn’t believe the cowards would attack a sporting event. That’s changed, and as with the travel industry, probably forever.

TRAGEDY IN BOSTON (Tweet from Evan Hill)

TRAGEDY IN BOSTON (Tweet from Evan Hill)

Many Boston athletes announced prayers, good wishes and an intent to donate money almost immediately. That’s not surprising, because for all the heat athletes get for operating in a vacuum, most of them are very aware, and willing, to donate their efforts to the communities in which they play.

Among my first thoughts in watching the horrible video, were flashbacks to September 11. I was covering the Yankees at the time and remember how they and the Mets responded.

I remember a sign in Chicago that simply read: “Hate the Yankees, but love New York.’’ I also remember Bobby Valentine managing relief efforts in the parking lot at Shea Stadium.

Of course, who doesn’t remember Mike Piazza’s homer against the Braves in the first sporting event in New York after the attacks.

Boston supported New York after 9/11, and New York should do the same for Boston. Donate blood to the Red Cross earmarked for Boston. Wear a Celtics T-Shirt and Red Sox some time this week, which is a simple acknowledgement of what our fellow Americans are experiencing.

Root against the Red Sox, but love Boston. It is a tremendous city.

Go after Alex Rodriguez

Mets fans should be grateful their team didn’t sign Rodriguez after the 2000 season. They should be happy he is the Yankees’ problem.

Rodriguez admitted using steroids, but only for a three-year period in Texas. That was difficult to believe then, and impossible now.

To me, that Rodriguez attempted to buy the documents from Biogenesis containing his name is as damning as a positive test.

Ryan Braun got off on a technicality and Major League Baseball was embarrassed and has come across as vindictive. Enter Biogenesis, which also has Braun’s name, and an ugly scenario has unfolded.

If Major League Baseball is serious about cleaning up its PED problem, it has to be doubly cautious as to not get stung on a technicality again. And, if they have the evidence, they need to go after him hard.

For the money MLB has made, Bud Selig’s legacy is the steroid scandal. The cheaters are being snubbed at the Hall of Fame entrance, but MLB needs to place an asterisk next the names of the cheaters in the record books.

Doing that, plus working with the Players Association on more severe punishment is a start. That is, if it is really serious.

Eight games not enough …

A common complaint of umpires is not taking into consideration the game circumstances when ejecting pitchers and managers after bean ball incidents.

That should also apply to players in meting out suspensions after rushing the mall.

First of all, Zack Greinke was not throwing at Carlos Quentin last week. Quentin has a tendency of leaning out over the plate and will get plunked. A pitcher does not throw at a hitter on a 3-and-2 count in a close game.

No way was Greinke throwing at Quentin. At least, no one with a sense of an understanding of the game, which Quentin obviously does not. Eight games is not nearly enough. His suspension should last as long as Greinke is injured an unable to pitch.

The weather outside is frightful …

It is currently 34 degrees in Denver with a wind chill of 25. There is a 50 percent chance of rain and 30 percent chance of snow for tonight.

Yet, they will attempt to play the summer game.

There is no way Major League Baseball could have forecast the severity of this weather in Denver, but it should have been aware of the likelihood of it being nasty.

A point I brought up last week bears repeating, and that is April should be reserved for divisional play where make up games can be easily rescheduled as part of double-headers later in the season.

Non-divisional games, like the Yankees in Cleveland and the Mets this week, and interleague games such as the Mets in Denver, is pushing the envelope in the wrong direction.

Mar 29

Why The Mets Opted Not To Insure Santana’s Contract

Johan santana Subway

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, does a fine job of explaining why the Mets chose not to insure Johan Santana’s contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the remaining $31 million owed to Johan Santana because they did not insure the contract.  Why?

As premiums have skyrocketed because of escalating salaries and past payouts — such as the bailout when Mo Vaughn was owed $17 million and could not play for the Mets in 2004 — the organization began more often “self-insuring” its larger contracts than seeking outside coverage. In essence, the Mets chose to create a rainy-day fund available so that the organization would not be crippled financially by the loss of a key player due to injury.

It saves potentially a $2 million insurance premium per year to protect a contract, although the amount annually paid to an insurance company naturally decreases as the years on the contract elapse — like you’d pay less to an insurance company on a car as the years go by and the vehicle is worth less.

Across baseball, outside insurance has “declined tremendously,” according to one baseball official.

Santana was self-insured by the Mets, whereas the Mets contracts for Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Tom Glavine and Mike Piazza’s were insured externally during their Mets days as well. David Wright’s last contract also was insured externally.

You can read the rest of the article including all the details here.

Feb 10

What I Make Of Piazza Admission

I concede disappointment in Mike Piazza’s admission in his autobiography he took androstenedione, but only because it further lends to speculation he might have used PEDs.

From andro to steroids is the logical, but unsubstantiated conclusion. Once again, Piazza denied using steroids, but this certainly won’t enhance his Hall of Fame chances. Piazza received over 50 percent of the vote, but still was far short of induction. Part of that percentage was from my vote, and for that I still have no regrets.

My criteria was there was no admission of steroid use; he never failed a drug test; was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report; and nobody accused him on the record. There was only the subject of columns pointing out his back acne. To me, Piazza had the statistical career to warrant induction and the acne is only innuendo. As a journalist, I don’t operate on speculation.

Andro was not a banned substance by MLB when Piazza claims to have used it, nor was it illegal. Steroids, however, are different in that before they were banned by MLB, they were illegal in society without a prescription.

Regarding PEDs, Piazza wrote:  “Apparently, my career was a story that nobody cared to believe. Apparently, my success was the work of steroids. Had to be. Those were the rumors. … It shouldn’t be assumed that every big hitter of the generation used steroids. I didn’t.’’

Of course, Piazza could by lying. Lance Armstrong lied. Pete Rose lied. Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa lied. It wouldn’t be a shock, but for now I believe him and do not regret giving him my Hall of Fame vote.

 

Jan 19

Mets’ Farm Team Cyclones To Host Lame Promotion

I don’t know with any certainty the truth in the Manti Te’o hoax. Only he does. I am not thrilled ESPN supposedly interviewed him, but there is no video. How does a network make that concession.

Let us give him the benefit of doubt for a moment and Te’o is a victim and was duped. Then that makes the Mets’ Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones’ promotion lame on so many levels. It would be capitalizing on someone’s misfortune. But, if Te’o were in on it, then why would they want to associate themselves with such a sick thing?

The Cyclones announced June 21 will be Fictitious Friday and with Sidd Finch taking on Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights. The team also said the Beatles will perform a pre-game concert. There will also be a petting zoo for the kiddies, with a unicorn, Minotaur and mermaid.

Just one contrived thing after another. Not so much funny and clever as it is forced. You can’t force humor.

In explaining the promotion, Cyclones GM Steve Cohen said: “Everywhere you look, there seems to be another story about an athlete that was covering up something.

“People don’t know who, or what, to believe any more. That got us thinking, we should have a night where our fans don’t have to worry about what’s real and what’s not, we’ll just tell them everything planned for that night is a hoax.’’

The event seems forced and by the time June rolls around, the Te’o thing could be forgotten. But, what if it’s true? What if he were duped? That would be capitalizing on someone’s misfortune which is extraordinarily weak.

It will come off like a bombed skit on Saturday Night Live. A clever idea gone sour.

By the way, if the Cyclones really wanted to make a point about a hoax, they should have a steroid night with character athletes playing Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. And, if they did that, somebody will be sure to ask about Mike Piazza, only that hits too close to home.

This idea is weak from the start and the sooner it is abandoned the better.

Jan 13

Mets Matters: Team Considering Brian Wilson And Honoring Piazza

ESPN reported former Giants closer Brian Wilson worked out for Mets GM Sandy Alderson in California.

The 30-year-old Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery last season and could be a decent risk on two fronts: 1) he’s young enough to where he could replace Frank Francisco after 2013, and 2) if he rebounds the Mets could get something for him at the July 31 trade deadline.

Wilson is far from ready, so if the Mets bite it would be a gamble. Wilson says he’ll be ready by Opening Day. Wilson made $8.5 million last year from the Giants.

Whether Wilson replaced Francisco this year or next is irrelevant. If he’s healthy he could aid a currently weak bullpen.

METS COULD HONOR PIAZZA: I voted for Mike Piazza for Cooperstown, so I have no problem with him going into the Mets’ Hall of Fame.

Reportedly, the team is also considering retiring Piazza’s No. 31. I don’t have a problem with that, either, but there are other worthy candidates the club should think about first, notably Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and Dwight Gooden.

All were significant members of the team’s most dominant era.