Jul 31

Today in Mets’ History: Orosco beats Pirates twice.

Jesse Orosco had one of those days relievers only dream about on this date in 1983 when he beat the Pirates in both ends of a doubleheader, winning the first game in 12 innings, 7-6, and the nightcap, 1-0, also in 12 innings.

OROSCO: Iconic image.

Orosco, who pitched for the Mets, Dodgers (twice), Indians, Brewers, Orioles, Cardinals, Padres, Yankees and Twins (those last three teams all in the 2003 season), appeared in a major league record 1,252 games.

Orosco is the subject of one of the most enduring World Series photographs when he tossed his glove into the air after striking out Marty Barrett for the final out of the 1986 Series.

OROSCO CAREER

 

 

Jun 25

I’m glad Davey is back

Of all the managers I’ve covered, Davey Johnson might be the most intriguing. He heard, and marched to one drum, that being his own. He might be the only person to be named manager of the year and fired on the same day.

JOHNSON: He's back.

Many of the memories I carry from covering Major League Baseball for over 20 years happened off the field and not during a game, such as the afternoon in Baltimore when I was sitting next to Johnson during his pre-game press briefing.

Johnson was winding things down, when unprompted, threw out this nugget. Maybe it was to mess with our upcoming off day.

“You know,’’ he began in that slow drawl of his, “I’ve been thinking of moving Cal Ripken to third base.’’

Nugget? For an Orioles’ writer then, it was a bombshell. And, to make it more interesting is he floated the idea without talking to Ripken. He knew we’d all flock to Ripken like ants at a picnic, and this might have been his way of testing the waters.

Another time, Bobby Bonilla – the ultimate team player – didn’t want to play as the DH, this coming several weeks after saying he’d do anything to help the Orioles.

When he name wasn’t in the lineup, Johnson told us Bonilla had a sore ankle and underwent treatment. When asked about his ankle, Bonilla let loose the following obscenity: “Why don’t you ask the (bleeping) manager how it is?’’

Johnson was shaming Bonilla to DH.

Any team Johnson manages is his team, and he takes crap from nobody. Not an iconic figure like

Ripken, not a faux star such as Bonilla, and not a prima donna rookie.

Johnson had his way of dealing with players, and one was to utilize the press, and we were all willing to scoop up what he said.

The Orioles were in Milwaukee one year and going through a miserable stretch, and on this day they blew a game to the Brewers in the late innings. The clubhouse at old County Stadium didn’t have a manager’s office. Instead, there was a desk adjacent to the trainer’s room and players passed by us throughout the interview.

Speaking loud enough where everybody could hear, Johnson took apart his team, basically holding a team meeting in front of the press. No cursing, no yelling, no name calling. But, it was clear he was angry and not in a tolerant mood.

Johnson, of course, as he did with the Mets, got his point across.

Later in that series, Johnson made a decision I didn’t understand.

“Davey,’’ I asked. “I’m not being a wise guy. But, I don’t know as much baseball as you and don’t understand that decision. Could you explain?’’

As Johnson stared at me for a couple of seconds, I felt his glare go through me, but I never released eye contact. He realized I wasn’t kidding, that I didn’t understand, so he laid it all out for me.

So sarcasm, just teaching. Johnson loves to talk about the intricacies of the game. He’s a great teacher, and he’s going to a team in the Washington Nationals that could learn from him.

When it comes to strategy and analyzing a game, few can do it like Johnson and the Nationals are lucky to have him in their dugout. He will make that team smarter and concentrate on the fundamentals.

The Nationals still don’t have the overall talent to compete this year or next, but they will be better.

I’m glad Davey is back in the game and can’t wait until the Nationals are in town.

 

Jun 17

Today in Mets History: Marvelous Marv.

Maybe it isn’t so odd this occurred the day after the Mets lost on a balk in the tenth inning, a disappointing end to what was a good road trip that dropped them below .500 once again.

MARVELOUS MARV

 

On this date in 1962 – the year when the Mets seemed to have invented the word `amazing,’ – it was all about Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who personified those early teams.

Throneberry appeared to hit a two-run triple against the Cubs in the Polo Grounds, but was called out for failing to touch second base. When manager Casey Stengel raced out of the dugout to argue the call, first base coach Cookie Lavagetto stopped him and said, “Don’t argue, Case. He missed first base, too.’’

How can that not make you chuckle?

There were a lot of great stories about the 1962 Mets, several of them involving Throneberry.

Throneberry played for the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Orioles before playing the first two seasons in Mets’ history.

He was demoted to the minor leagues in 1963 and replaced by Ed Kranepool. He retired after that season as a .237 hitter with 53 homers and 170 RBI.

THRONEBERRY CAREER NUMBERS

There was a gentleness about Throneberry, who maintained a sense of humor. Many years after retiring, Throneberry appeared in the Miller Lite ads that featured sporting legends.

THRONEBERRY COMMERCIAL

WARNING: If you click on to this you might spend an hour watching the other links to commercials.

Throneberry passed away at age 60 in 1994.

Oct 26

Wishful thinking to think Yankees’ fans chased away Cliff Lee

It is wishful thinking to think the reported boorish behavior of Yankees fans toward Cliff Lee’s wife during the ALCS will keep the talented left-hander out of the Bronx.

THE LEE FAMILY: NYC could still be home.

It certainly won’t enhance the Mets’ chances.

There are several factors – some still to happen – that will determine where Lee ends up this winter. The Yankees long appeared to be the frontrunners to land Lee, and that still holds true because they have the ability to write the largest checks.

Lee was traded by Cleveland, Philadelphia and Seattle in large part because those teams weren’t going to re-sign Lee. Now, there’s no guarantee Texas will, either, regardless of what happens in the World Series.

“Lee wants to go through the free agent process,” one agent said. “He may very well stay in Texas, but he’s going to test the market.”

Lee has not been quoted as saying he won’t play in New York, for either the Yankees or Mets, so until he does we can’t eliminate the market. Lee will surely not rip New York over this because it will reduce his leverage in the free-agent market.

Because of the tax situation in New York in comparison to Texas, a New York team would have to blow the Rangers out of the water to land him. Reports have been the package would have to be $20 million to $40 million greater in New York to compensate for the tax issue.

Neither the Mets nor Yankees have established their budgets for 2011, but it is a solid assumption the Yankees’ will be far greater.

Small town Mike Mussina was no great fan of New York when he played with the Orioles, but in the end he left for New York and adapted. As much as Lee might be a country boy, if the Yankees’ offer is far superior to that from Texas or another team, he could still end up with the Yankees.

In comparison to the Mets, the Yankees can offer more money and a better chance to immediately win. That speaks volumes. And, the Yankees can offer a lot of financial love to apologize for their boorish, entitled fans.

And, when it comes to free agency, money usually speaks loudest.

Jun 14

What your confidence level in the Mets?

In a way, he’s playing just like his team.

David Wright is swinging free and easily, which is exactly how his Mets are playing as they enjoy the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today before starting a three-game series in Cleveland.

WRIGHT: Has found his stroke.

“There doesn’t seem to be any anxiety or rush to his swing,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said of Wright, who homered twice Sunday in Baltimore. “It’s kind of like it is sitting on a tee for him.’’

Well, the Orioles were like a ball on a tee over the weekend, a team ready to be swatted, but the Indians, a team also struggling is playing better of late.

So are the Mets, who are 1½ games out of first in the National League East and a season-high seven games over .500. The Mets are playing exactly like the promised they would.

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