Sep 12

New Chat Room; time for second guessing.

What was written then is coming to pass, the back end of Johan Santana’s contract appears to be choking the Mets. It was widely written, by me and others, that six years is too long a deal for a pitcher who had already accumulated a lot of innings.

Santana’s velocity has been in decline, and now he faces shoulder surgery that ESPN is reporting could keep him out for up to two years. This is a tough surgery with a long and arduous rehab program. It won’t be easy for Santana and there are no guarantees on the back end.

That said, the Mets will likely come to regret the $77 million balance on the contract, but they knew going in that was a strong possibility for the final two years, OK, now it could be three.

The Mets overpaid because both the Red Sox and Yankees backed out, but the circumstances of the times must be realized. The Mets, having lost in 2006 and collapsed in 2007, were in dire need of starting pitching.

The Mets needed an ace and Santana came back to them, and Santana has pitched like the ace he was portrayed to be.

Where the Mets failed or miscalculated is not in signing Santana, but not giving him the adequate run support. Had Santana pitched for the Yankees instead of the Mets, with their superior run support and Mariano Rivera, he might have won a Cy Young or won 20 games.

Santana has more than carried his share of the load since coming here. Injuries are always a risk, but he has more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

To access the New Chat Room, click on to the Chat Room icon to the left. Enjoy Jon Niese as you channel surf to the NFL games.

Aug 20

We’re not stupid.

I know it is too much to ask for, but I would like some direction from the Mets’ organization. I know they are under the misguided impression  they have to put on a competitive face to sell tickets in September, but we all know that part of the season has been over since the West Coast trip after the All-Star break.

The Wilpons won’t fire Manuel and Minaya now – they probably will keep Omar because of his contract – because there’s no sense paying two people to do the same job.

But, I would like them to tell us what direction the team is heading. Is it rebuilding, which seems to be obvious or are they delusional like Manuel and think there’s still a season?

The public will come out and support this team next year if they are honest with us. But, if they keep leading us on is when we’ll turn on them and leave Citi Field empty.

They feat they can’t be open because they think they are in competition with the Yankees for the city, but they really aren’t. Yankees fans are Yankees fans and Mets fans are Mets fans. There might be some “baseball” fans who follow both teams, but each team generally has its own fan base.

The Yankees fan base has no doubt the direction of its team. The Mets should feel the the same. We’re not stupid. Tell us you’re rebuilding and be done with it.

We are willing to give the benefit of doubt if you’re honest with us.

Jul 30

Favorite Doc and Straw moment

Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame this weekend. Both players brought a certain electricity to Shea Stadium.

Each player had the ability to grab the crowd by the scruff of the neck.

For Strawberry, it was the sense of anticipation with every at-bat. He was one of the few players who kept you riveted every time he came to the plate because there was the prospect of hitting a mammoth home run like the one he hit off the scoreboard clock in St. Louis.

For Gooden, during the summers of 1985 and 1986 there was a buzz at Shea whenever he took the mound. I remember how the crowd would rise and scream whenever he got two strikes on a hitter. Gooden had electric stuff, the kind that made you wonder if this would be the night he’d throw a no-hitter.

Eventually, he did. But, fittingly in the tormented history of this franchise, he did so for the Yankees.

Is there a special Doc or Straw moment for you?

Jul 13

Steinbrenner passes; his legacy endures.

“It was a beautiful thing to observe, all 36 oars working in unison.’’ – late Cardinals announcer Jack Buck quipping he had seen George Steinbrenner’s yacht.

It is a timeless quote about a timeless subject, George M. Steinbrenner, the demonstrative, cantankerous and blustery owner of the New York Yankees, who died today of a heart attack at age 80.

STEINBRENNER: Always King George

Buck’s comment has long been the perception of Steinbrenner by the public through screaming headlines and video and audio sound bites. The man was positively driven to win and it didn’t matter the cost in dollars or whom he stepped on. The Yankees would throw millions at players, and if they didn’t win Steinbrenner was ruthless in his handling of his managers and front office staff.

It was that way from the day he purchased the Yankees in 1973 for less than $10 million from CBS and said: “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operation of the Yankees. I’ll stick to building ships.’’

What he did was rebuilt the dynasty – twice.

By the time I started covering the Yankees in 1998, Steinbrenner’s legacy was well cemented in that he revived a struggling team and turned professional sports’ most revered franchise to a billion dollar empire.

The Yankees Brand is world-renowned and that is Steinbrenner’s legacy on the grand scale, but for me I’ll remember him like most beat reporters for the exhilarating paces he put us through.

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Jul 11

The Voice of God meets God

Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankee Stadium PA announcer called the Voice of God for his dignified and resonate tones, has passed away at age 99.

You’ll hear stories the next few days about how he would race to the elevator after the final out of games at the Stadium. I’ll always remember how nice he treated me when I covered the Yankees; he me treated with respect and kindness, the way he treated all people.

Bob Sheppard is being remembered for his work today, but it should be noted he was a people person. Bob liked people, but people liked Bob. That’s the highest accolade you can give anybody.