May 02

Mets win, NY wins, US wins.

I woke up around 6 , turned on the TV and he was still dead.

The flag endures.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and it will be one of those moments that  you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. For those who learned on ESPN last night, it was reminiscent of hearing John Lennon was murdered while watching Monday Football.

I was home channel surfing when I heard. I called a few friends and became mesmerized by the images on the screen. Just like when watching the Japan earthquake, Katrina, Columbine, and, of course, September 11. There is no script to history. It just relentless attacks us and grabs us by the scruff of the neck and shakes. It shook me to about 4 in the morning.

Flipping back to the Mets game, where it was tied in the ninth, 1-1 — 9-1-1. You don’t find irony or symbolism like that too often. It was  inspiring to hear the crowd spontaneously chanting, U-S-A, U-S-A. Sometimes the chant sounds forced and cliche. Not last night.

“I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right,” said David Wright when asked about the chanting.

Yes, the Mets won, but the crowd reaction is what we’ll remember and take with us, much as we do the images of that day.

I was covering the Yankees at the time and took the weekend off to move to New York from Maryland. I was on the Jersey Turnpike just north of the Philadelphia exit when the planes hit the towers. Because all the bridges were closed what was normally a five-hour trip became 11. My movers were volunteer firefighters. My furniture didn’t arrive for several more days.

That week was spent covering workouts at Yankee Stadium and watching the Shea Stadium parking lot used for a staging ground for the EMS workers. It was inspiring to see Bobby Valentine and his Mets, in uniform, help the workers load trucks.

And, when the games finally resumed, we witnessed one of the most memorable home runs in New York history, Mike Piazza’s drive that beat the Braves. The Mets and Braves were mortal enemies at the time, and their display of unity that night was another memory. It was another example of how sports can be unifying.

So much has happened in the ten years since, and we’ve changed personally and as a nation in so many ways, and for a baseball writer it goes well beyond the joys of traveling, from the pat downs to the long lines to the general uneasiness of strangers.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, and the fallout hits here, too.

What small town doesn’t have a 9-1-1 Memorial? Who among us doesn’t know someone lost in the attacks and the subsequent military actions in the Middle East? The failing economy is a byproduct of that day, and with it the foreclosure signs, layoffs and stress of trying to make ends meet. Who among us doesn’t cringe when filling up our tanks and wonder when things will ever get back to normal.

Or, is this normal?

I hope you’ll share with us what you were doing that day.

Jun 11

Mets Chat Room: There’s chemistry here.

The Mets are a flawed team, but one of them isn’t attitude.

Game #61 at Orioles

When asked what he liked best about his team he said “character,’’ that he has 25 players who mostly hustle and not give up on the play.

It has created a sense of chemistry. These Mets, unlike previous teams in recent years, really like each other and it goes beyond a whipped cream pie to the face during a TV interview.

These Mets genuinely like each other and it shows. Catch glimpses in the dugout during a game and you might see Johan Santana showing the grip of his change-up to another pitcher, or Jason Bay demonstrating hitting mechanics, in particular, how his shoulders are dropping.

The Mets have struggled at times, but they’ve never quit on Jerry Manuel and his message. Manuel has the clubhouse.

Continue reading

Apr 17

April 17.10: Chat Room, Game # 11 at Cardinals: Santana tries to stop slide.

OK, the Mets lost last night in a game they could have won. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still a loss, but as the game progressed there was a different feeling than most times this young season. That’s because Oliver Perez was pitching well, giving the Mets two strong-pitched games in a row.

There’s a different feel defensively when a team gets a well-pitched game, and the Mets were indeed crisp in the field.

Today it’s Johan Santana, who always gives the Mets a chance to win, even when the offense takes a pass as it has most games already this season.

It’s the same story with the Mets offense, which is to say they aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. Chris Carpenter pitched a good game last night, but still the Mets had a chance to put the game away before it was turned over to the bullpen.

The Mets are on national TV this afternoon. I hope you tune in and also drop by here with your thoughts.

Thanks.

Jul 19

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #91; Two in a row?

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

The Mets (43-47) close their four-game series against the Braves tonight before a national TV audience for the second straight day. Fernando Nieve (3-3, 3.03 ERA), who has received no run support in his last three starts, will attempt to duplicate what Johan Santana did yesterday.

Santana was superb yesterday, but it was only a glimmer. One game does not mean a turnaround.

The same scintillating line-up will go against Javier Vazquez:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Jeremy Reed, LF
Alex Cora, SS
Brian Schneider, C
Fernando Nieve, RP

Jan 27

Resisting Manny ….

RAMIREZ: The image that scares them off.

RAMIREZ: The image that scares them off.

Manny Ramirez is still floating out there, his thundering right-handed bat a temptation 29 teams have managed to resist. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have an offer on the table, and Ramirez’s refusal of $45 million over two years seems stunningly arrogant considering the line

Nobody knows which.

Last week, Jeff Wilpon told Bloomberg News the Mets weren’t interested, but he wasn’t speaking for manager Jerry Manuel, who, during a TV interview, said he’d love to have Ramirez on his team.

“To have a shot at managing him would be exciting for me,” Manuel said. “I’d love to have the opportunity to watch Manny hit every day.’’

Manuel called Ramirez “one of the best right-handed hitters in our generation,’’ and broached the topic of his reputation with the confidence of a snake charmer.

Manuel is convinced he would avoid this serpent’s tooth.

“I don’t have a problem with people that produce in the form and fashion that Manny Ramirez produces,” Manuel said. “We don’t spend, shouldn’t spend that much time in the locker room, anyway.’’

You don’t?

Players start drifting into the clubhouse five hours before game time, far longer than the time of game. But, if not concerned about the clubhouse, how about the field?

If Ramirez’s stars aren’t all aligned he’s been known to dog it on the bases and give up at-bats. Even though they won two World Series with him, Ramirez had no allies in the Red Sox clubhouse late last summer, including David Ortiz.

Jose Reyes has enough problems maintaining his attention as it is. Do you really want him looking up to Ramirez? And, for the money Ramirez is asking, they can sign a pitcher and a bat such as Adam Dunn.

They’ve resisted temptation so far. Hope they keep that strength.