Jun 19

R.A. Dickey And Roger Clemens Interesting Contrast

Earlier in the day there was Roger Clemens, one of the most talented pitchers of his era, standing on the courthouse steps after being acquitted of all charges in his perjury/steroids trial.

DICKEY: The best about sports.

Later, there was R.A. Dickey, whose salary this year probably isn’t as much as Clemens spent on his legal defense team, mow down the Baltimore Orioles with his second straight one-hit shutout.

It was a contrast in talent vs. perseverance, arrogance vs. humility, and likability.

Dickey will never have the career Clemens had, and I’m talking the pre-cheating Clemens. Just because he was acquitted doesn’t mean he didn’t use steroids. This was a sham of a trial with the government as inept in its case as the Orioles hitters were last night.

When it comes to steroid trials, the government is so useless it couldn’t have gotten a conviction with a signed confession.

The issue surrounding steroids is credibility. The public wants, deserves and needs to know what it is seeing is real. With Clemens it did not, because whatever happened behind closed doors there still is the belief he cheated.

With Dickey, whose arm forced him to go with an improvisational pitch, we know we are seeing honest effort and grit, and with it genuine joy when he succeeds.

We are done with Clemens, and have been for a long time, even before he went after Mike Piazza’s head with a fastball and later a sawed off bat in a fit of steroid rage. With Dickey, we can’t get enough of him. He is a great story of what sports should be about.

He makes us happy to watch, not disgusted.

 

May 04

Mariano Rivera Reminds Mets Fans How Fragile Things Can Be

This is a Mets blog, but also a baseball blog, and part of baseball is Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ Hall of Fame closer. Mets fans remember Rivera because he snuffed out many games over the years, including Game 5 of the 2000 World Series.

RIVERA: The end of an era? (YES)

When the ball left Mike Piazza’s bat with a crack I thought it had a chance, but like many before, because of that awesome cutter, Piazza didn’t get all of it and the ball died. It is one of baseball’s most dominating pitches, like Tom Seaver’s slider, Doc  Gooden’s fastball and Johan Santana’s change. Not many solved it.

After watching the Knicks get pulverized last night and getting bored watching the same about the Mavericks, I started to channel surf and caught the tease about Rivera being hurt and his career possibly being over.

Watching him crumpled on the warning track I recalled my eight years covering him and recalled several moments. Coming to mind immediately was his constant demeanor. Whether he sawed off another bat to end a game, or when Luis Gonzalez beat him with a bloop single to win the 2001 World Series, he was a stand-up guy.

However, one time after he blew several save opportunities in a row he got testy and said he was a human being and not a machine with oil running through his veins. It was surprising to hear, but it showed he was, indeed, human.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to chat about things non-baseball. One spring I told him a joke three days in a row. On the fourth day, he came up to me and said, “where is my joke?” I loved that.

Another time I asked if he could play any position but his own what would it be and he said centerfield. So, to see him shag fly balls was not a surprise. He did it on a daily basis throughout his career.

But, to be injured shagging flies is a freak, unusual thing. Somewhat like his cutter, it is something that can’t be explained. He wasn’t injured because he is over 40 – see Derrick Rose also tearing his ACL – but being over 40 will make the comeback all the more difficult.

Sure, I can see him retiring, but I can also envision his pride not letting him go like this.

Yes, it was an unexplainable injury, but a reminder of how fragile things can be for an athlete. Mets fans have seen more than their fare share in recent years, like Ike Davis’ ankle, David Wright playing a month with a fracture in his back, the concussions of Jason Bay and Ryan Church, and how Billy Wagner’s elbow injury might have cost them the playoffs in 2008 and subsequently brought on the Francisco Rodriguez era.

Followers of the Mets know better than most how an injury can’t be projected, but can determine the course of a team. If Jose Reyes didn’t have an injury history would he have been re-signed? How things might have been different in recent seasons without injuries to Wright, Wagner, Carlos Beltran and Duaner Sanchez.

If Sanchez doesn’t get hurt in that taxi accident, the Mets never would have traded Xavier Nady for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez.

Just think of how things could have been different.

 

Apr 01

April 1.10: Better late than never.

What the Mets should have done last year they’ll do Opening Day, and that is to honor their past by unveiling a Mets Hall of Fame. Gates open at 10:40 a.m.

“The Mets Hall of Fame & Museum honors the greatest players and greatest events in our history,” said Dave Howard, Executive Vice President, Business Operations, New York Mets, in a statement released by the club. “The museum connects generations of fans to the moments they cherish and reflects our ongoing commitment to celebrate our heritage and history at Citi Field.”

The Hall will feature significant artifacts, interactive exhibits, videos and photographic imagery, recognizing the unforgettable plays and players that are their 48-year history.

The exhibit will include plaques honoring the members of the Mets Hall of Fame, the 1969 and 1986 World Series Championship trophies, and memorabilia on loan from Mets greats, such as Tom Seaver’s 1969 Cy Young Award and Keith Hernandez’s 1987 Gold Glove Award. Also, there will be the Mookie Wilson ball Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

On loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are ball used in the first play at Shea Stadium, Tommie Agee’s glove from the 1969 World Series and the ball Tom Seaver threw to Mike Piazza for the ceremonial first pitch to open Citi Field.

ON A SIDE NOTE: Please read the post from yesterday, Murphy Down, and tell me who you’d rather see at first base until Daniel Murphy is back. Do you want the veteran MIke Jacobs or the prospect Ike Davis?

Oct 19

Is it better to have loved and lost?

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?

That’s a tough question, especially at the time when the misery has peaked. The Mets aren’t in the playoffs, they are scattered throughout the country. Some might be watching, others might not care enough to turn on their sets.

This date has not been kind to the Mets in the playoffs, prompting the question.

Today in 2006, Yadier Molina’s two-run HR in the 9th inning off Aaron Heilman is the game-winner as the St. Louis Cardinals win in seven games. The game ends when Carlos Beltran is frozen on a nasty curveball by Adam Wainwright.

The game is remembered for Endy Chavez’s home-run robbing catch of Scott Rolen’s drive, but the Mets can’t sustain the momentum and blow an opportunity in the bottom of the inning to break the game open open.

The season that unfolded with so much promise and potential was over, but little did we know at the time that so was the Mets’ window of opportunity. They blew two September leads the following two seasons and derailed completely this season.

Now, the organization is faced with the question of whether they need tweaking or an overhaul.

Also, on this date in 1999, the Braves defeated the Mets‚ 10-9 in 11 innings‚ to take the NLCS in six games.

The Mets came back from three games down to force a sixth game, and rallied twice from deficits of 5-0 and 7-3 to force extra innings on Mike Piazza’s homer.

However, Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run in the 11th inning to end that dream.

Mar 30

Time to retire Piazza ….

Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, the two greatest players in franchise history, walked out of Shea Stadium to close the historic ballpark last fall. They’ll team to throw the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

Opening Day won’t be the time to do so, but sometime this summer, the Mets should take a day to honor Mike Piazza by retiring his No. 31.