Oct 27

Happy Birthday Ralph Kiner

Today is the 90th birthday for baseball legend Ralph KIner, once a slugging All-Star first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates and currently a guest analyst for the Mets on home weekends for SNY.

KINER: One of a kind.

I remember the first time I met Ralph. It was in Houston in the early 1980s when I was interning with the Houston Astros in their marketing/group sales department. I was interested in radio work and was given the opportunity to work with the visiting radio-TV crews feeding the guys notes and stats.

Growing up in Ohio I’d spend parts of my summers watching the pitiful Mets, but enjoyed listening to Ralph, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson. They were a joy to listen. I loved their stories and how they described a game. Far better than the Cleveland Indians broadcasters I watched at home.

Now I had the chance to hear those stories personally, and he was gracious with his time and the stories were so much better because I got to ask questions. Somewhere, I have an autographed ball with Kiner, Murphy and Steve Albert, a fellow Kent State grad like myself.

Kiner has led a grand life, one we’d all be envious of. Once a Navy Pilot during World War II, which is an awesome achievement in itself, Kiner graduated to the major leagues and while playing for the lowly Pirates, lead the National League in homers seven times. He played in baseball’s Golden Age, competing against fellow Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron.

Kiner hit 51 homers in 1947 while striking out less than 100 times. Who can imagine that in today’s game?

The left field porch in old Forbes Field was dubbed “Kiner’s Korner,” the name he used for his postgame show after the Mets’ telecasts.

It was in the both where Kiner gained great acclaim as an analyst working with Nelson and Murphy, spinning yarns about the inner workings of the game and the characters who played it. He provided a combination of humor and insight.

Kiner became known for his malapropisms, which only can be defined as priceless. The following are a list of his best:

* “All of his saves have come in relief appearances” 

* “All of the Mets road wins against the Dodgers this year occurred at Dodger Stadium.”

* “Cadillacs are down at the end of the bat.” 

* “Darryl Strawberry has been voted to the Hall of Fame five years in a row.”

* “Hello, everybody. Welcome to Kiner’s Corner. This is….uh. I’m…uh”

* “He’s (Bruce Sutter) going to be out of action the rest of his career.”

* “If Casey Stengel were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave.”

* “I think one of the most difficult things for anyone who’s played baseball is to accept the fact that maybe the players today are playing just as well as ever.”

* “It’s (Phil Niekro’s knuckleball) like watching Mario Andretti park a car.”

* “Jose DeLeon on his career has seventy-three wins and one-hundred and five rbi’s.”

* “Kevin McReynolds stops at third and he scores.”

* “Now up to bat for the Mets is Gary Cooper.”

* “On Fathers Day, we again wish you all happy birthday.”

* “Solo homers usually come with no one on base.”

* “(Don) Sutton lost thirteen games in a row without winning a ballgame.”

* “The hall of fame ceremonies are on the thirty-first and thirty-second of July.”

* “The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on only once this inning.”

* “The reason the Mets have played so well at Shea this year is they have the best home record in baseball.”

* “This one deep to right and it is way back, going, going, it is gone, no off of the top of the wall.”

* “There’s a lot of heredity in that family.”

* “Tony Gwynn was named player of the year for April.”

* “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox.”

* “You know what they say about Chicago. If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.” 

It was good to read these again and laugh. I hope Ralph has a lot of laughs on his birthday today, and every day.

 

 

Sep 26

Alderson On Wright And Dickey

Listening to Sandy Alderson last night on SNY gave me little hope the contract extensions for David Wright and R.A. Dickey will reached any time soon, but he did say there’s more a sense of urgency with the latter.

“R.A.’s situation is a little bit different in the sense that there is more immediacy there,’’ Alderson said. “Here’s a guy that’s 37 years old and is pitching and presumably doesn’t have the same horizon that a David Wright might.

“So at the end of the season we’ll talk with R.A. and see what he’s thinking and try to have him back. He’s been a great story this year. He’s been a great asset over the last three years, really.’’

Dickey has been solid since getting here, but this season has been a breakout one for him as he’s on the cusp of winning 20 games. While Wright has already had one payday, this will be Dickey’s only chance.

Dickey said he’d like to stay, but also realizes what’s at stake. Just last week he said it would take more than one piece to make the Mets a legitimate contender. He and Wright are two of those pieces, but the team needs more, including the bullpen, the outfield and catcher.

Based on published reports, the Mets aren’t going to splurge in the free-agent market, with their resources earmarked for these two. Subsequently, you can’t expect 2013 to be much different than this year. The hope for improvement is from within and injured starters Johan Santana and Dillon Gee coming back.

Both players said they’d wait until the offseason, which is now a little more than a week away. Both have stated a preference of staying with the Mets, but also acknowledged the economics of the sport.

“Our intent is to work hard to try to keep them both,’’ Alderson said. “They’ve both been great for us this year. David has been here and is the face of the franchise — has been. We’d very much like him to stay. I think he wants to stay. I’m sure he wants to know where we’re headed and the things that we intend to do to make it a winner. We’ll have that conversation at some point.’’

That last comment is in response to Wright saying last week there are no moral victories in finishing strong and it is all about making the playoffs.

If a deal can’t get done, Alderson said trading becomes an issue.

“If we felt that there absolutely wasn’t any way that we were going to get something done, then we would probably approach something,’’ Alderson said. “But I think we tend to be optimistic and see where it takes us.’’

 

Aug 25

What If Selig Treated Mets The Way He Did Dodgers?

Over a year ago the Dodgers and Mets were in deep financial distress when Commissioner Bud Selig strong armed Los Angeles owner Frank McCourt into selling the team by first taking financial control?

SELIG: What if? (AP)

He did so despite claims McCourt had worked out a regional television deal that might have eased most of the Dodgers’ problems. The Dodgers were eventually sold to a group that includes Magic Johnson, and yesterday they had the resources to pull off a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox and take on over $250 million in payroll. This, after trading for Hanley Ramirez.

Obviously, the Dodgers have deep pockets. Today, while watching R.A. Dickey win his 16th game and break the Mets’ latest five-game losing streak, I couldn’t help but wonder what might be had Selig treated the Mets’ ownership of Fred Wilpon with the same tenacity he directed at the Dodgers.

If for sale, what could the Mets, with the team, SNY and Citi Field brought on the open market? If the Mets had deep pockets I wouldn’t have made the trade the Dodgers because of the players involved.

But, seemingly unrelated resources could have bought other worthy players this team needs. Just wondering.

 

May 25

Jenrry Mejia Promoted To Triple-A Buffalo

During last night’s Mets telecast on SNY, general manager Sandy Alderson announced that RHP Jenrry Mejia will be promoted from Binghamton to Triple-A Buffalo today.

Mejia made his fourth start of the season pitching for the B-Mets yesterday and went five innings against the New Britain Rock Cats, giving up four runs (all earned) on five hits, with five strikeouts and three walks. He threw 75 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Terry Collins had previously said that Mejia could join the big-league club and pitch out of the bullpen in relief at some point this season. Alderson echoed those sentiments and said it’s possible Mejia could join the Mets bullpen later this season.

Mejia is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in four rehab starts between Single-A and Double-A this month.

Man, it’s really getting crowded in Buffalo… But it looks like the top three starters for the Bisons will now be Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and now Jenrry Mejia. Meanwhile back in Binghamton, look for Darin Gorski to replace Mejia and get back into the rotation. At least that’s what Pete tells me…

May 18

David Wright Continues To Shine

National League fans have known for years how exciting a player David Wright can be. This weekend, Toronto gets to see the National League’s best third baseman, and arguably the best in the majors.

WRIGHT: On fire. (AP)

At least this year he has been. Another day, another key hit by Wright, who is in one of the hottest stretches of his career. His average is over .400 and his on-base percentage is over .500. Terry Collins wasn’t just blowing smoke when he compared Wright to Barry Bonds.

While Wright hasn’t hit with Bonds’ power, he is displaying the a similar plate presence and patience. Wright is laying off the down and outside pitch; he’s going the opposite way when he needs to; and he’s yanking the inside pitch down the line. And, when the pitch isn’t to his liking, he’s taking the walk.

Today, he had three of them in reaching base five times.

I watched a SNY special last night on the 50 greatest Mets. Wright was in the top ten, ahead of Jose Reyes. Before his career is over, and I’m betting he’ll finish it in Flushing, he could be second or third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.