Archive for the 'General' Category

Dynasty

With the San Francisco Giant’s game seven win on Wednesday night, they capped their third world championship in five seasons. The Giants defeated the Texas Rangers in 2010 then the Detroit Tigers in 2012, and now the Kansas City Royals, all on the losing team’s home field. You have to consider the Giants of San Francisco to be a dynasty franchise. It is truly remarkable with the company they keep.

There are only a few teams that have accomplished what the Giants have done when you consider the clubs that have won three world championships within five seasons. Only eight other clubs (five franchises) have done the same or better in baseball history.

Two World Series victories within five years are outstanding. A number of teams have done that (The Mets are not one of them).  Baltimore, Cincinnati, the Dodgers, have all won two World Series within a five year stretch. And of course there are teams that have won more than one World Series within ten years. Are they chopped liver, of course not. But three World Series victories or more within a five year span is truly remarkable and as the statistics show, quite rare.

Prior to the Giants win this season, the last team to win three or more fall classics within five years was the Yankees. It should be no surprise to anyone that they have done it numerous times. In fact, the Yanks are the kings of post season baseball with twenty-seven world championships (40 appearances).

Between 1996 and 2000, the Yanks won four world championships, and likely the most impressive streak in franchise history when you take into account the modern playoff format compared to post season play prior to 1969. The Yankees won four consecutive series from 1936 through 1939 (then won the series again in 1941). The Bombers also won three World Series within the years 1958 to 1962. And perhaps something that will never be repeated is when the Yanks won five consecutive World Series from 1949 through 1953. Other teams that have won at least three World Series within five years include the Philadelphia Athletics of 1910, 1911, and 1913, the Boston Red Sox of 1912, 1915, 1916 (also won in ’18), the St. Louis Cardinals of 1942, 1944, 1946, and the Oakland Athletics of 1972, 1973, 1974, and the A’s of Oakland did so in three consecutive years after divisional play began.

Mentioning the San Francisco Giants with some of the legacy teams from the past may seem a bit overstated but perhaps it should be the other way around. Consider that prior to 1969 teams won their league pennant based on the regular season record of 154, then 162 games following the 1961-62 expansion. There were no divisional playoffs or wild cards. Therefore the only post season series was the World Series requiring just four wins to hoist the trophy. Today, a team must win a minimum of eleven games if they were division winners or twelve games if they entered the post season as one of the two wild cards (this season plus last). In other words, it is much more difficult to do what the Giants just accomplished (and the Yankees of the late 90’s) then it was for their predecessors. It took the ’49 through ’53 Yankees twenty wins to bring home five World Series trophies. It took the Giants of ’10, ’12, and ’14 34 wins to acquire three trophies. With all the waxing poetic in regards to the “great days of baseball past”, make no mistake that these are the great days of baseball.

It’s always difficult to compare eras in baseball. However, with today’s schedule and travel and the full month of playoffs following the regular season, plus 29 other teams to compete against, what the Giants have accomplished is truly incredible. They will be remembered as one of the great franchises of all time. The San Francisco/New York Giants move into second place on the all-time list of World Series appearances with 20, moving ahead of the Cardinals’ 19. They tie the Red Sox in fourth place with eight wins, three in San Francisco and the others in New York (1954, 1933, 1922, 1921, and 1905).

Here’s one more thing to consider adding to the argument of San Francisco being a truly elite team. It has become rare that a team wins three or more world championships within a five year period. As mentioned the last team to do so, the Yankees, did it almost twenty years ago. Outside of the Oakland Athletics of the mid-seventies, it only happened prior to the first wave of expansion in the 1960s and divisional play. From 1965 through 1972, only the Baltimore Orioles won more than one series, once in ’66 then again in ’70 but they did make four appearances.   After Oakland’s streak of three ended in ’74, only one team won three World Series spanning all of the years till the Yankees assault on the American League began in 1996. That was the Cincinnati Reds who won in ’75, ’76, and again in 1990. In fact from 1979 through 1990, there was a different World Champion each year. Again, that’s applied to teams winning more than once within a five year stretch. The Cardinals won two World Series during that time but six years apart. The point here is that it has become quite a phenomenon when a team wins three world championships in such a short amount of time.  The Boston Red Sox won three World Series since 2004. That’s outstanding but it’s not three wins within five seasons.

Of course when you think of baseball capitals in the US, you expect to hear New York, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and even Cincinnati for historical purposes. Now you have to throw San Francisco into the conversation. No two ways about it, the Giants are a dynasty.

For us Mets fans, the only thing we can hang our hat on is that the Mets made two World Series appearances in a five year stretch once. They won the Series in 1969. Four years later they came within one win of defeating the Oakland Athletics in 1973, during the A’s three in a row streak. The dominant Mets teams of the late 1980s were not dominant enough, making the playoffs just twice in ’86 and ’88 but only winning the Series once against Boston in ’86. The last time the Mets were in the World Series was in 2000, the last of four wins for the Yankees in a five year stretch.

First Time Match Up

At the conclusion of the regular season, ten teams made the post season. Of the ten teams making the playoffs, five in each league, there were twenty-five possible combinations of teams that could make the World Series.  Nine of the ten teams have made at least one appearance in the World Series. Washington (previously Montreal) never made the fall classic. Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (called that at the time) were in the series just once with the remaining seven making the World Series multiple times, St. Louis the most. Of the teams having made the World Series before, here is a list of the teams that have played each other in the past.

Detroit vs. San Francisco – 2012: Giants 4-0
Detroit vs. St. Louis – 2006: Cardinals 4-1, 1968: Cardinals 4-3, 1934 Cardinals 4-3
Anaheim vs. San Francisco – 2002: Angels 4-3
Oakland vs. San Francisco – 1989: A’s 4-0, 1913: Philadelphia A’s 4-1 (over NY Giants), 1911: Phila. 4-2 (over NY)
LA Dodgers vs. Oakland – 1988: Dodges 4-2, 1974: A’s 4-1
Kansas City vs. St. Louis – 1985: Royals 4-3
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh – 1979: Pirates 4-3, 1971: Pirates 4-3
LA Dodgers vs. Baltimore – 1966: Orioles 4-0
Baltimore (St. Louis Browns) vs St. Louis 1944: Cardinals 4-2
St. Louis vs Oakland (Philadelphia A’s) – 1931: Cardinals 4-3, 1930: A’s 4-2
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 1909: Pirates 4-3

As mentioned, the Nats never played in a World Series, therefore if they had made it to the Series, it would have been a first time matchup regardless of whom they played, obviously. Other first time matchups included -

Detroit vs. LA Dodgers
LA Angels vs. LA Dodgers (that would have been fun)
LA Angels vs. Pittsburgh
LA Angles vs. St. Louis
Oakland vs. Pittsburgh
Baltimore vs. San Francisco
Kansas City vs. Pittsburgh
Kansas City vs. Los Angeles
Kansas City vs. San Francisco (Bingo)

So with all these teams having played each other more often than not, we get a first time matchup that should be very interesting. It’s not a ratings grabber by any stretch of the imagination but witnessing the pitching that both of these clubs demonstrated in the post season so far, it should be a closely matched, well played series.

Realize between both of these teams there have only been two losses so far, both by the Giants. The Royals have won eight in a row starting with their wild card win over Oakland. The Giants were also a wild card, the number 2 wild card for that matter. It’s the first time a number 2 card has made the Series. San Francisco lost one in the division series against Washington and one against the Cardinals in the NLCS.

Because of the ridiculous All Star rule that determines home field advantage (even a coin toss would be better), the series starts Tuesday night in Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium. If the series runs seven games and barring any rainouts it will end on Wednesday, October 29th.

2-4-2

The Mets went 2-4-2 on the just completed road trip. Two wins, four losses, and two games they should have won had Terry Collins and Dan Warthen had enough sense to remove Jenrry Mejia with a six run lead on Saturday night in Colorado and obviously fooling no one. Then on Monday night in Miami when Dice-K was walking the ballpark. he should have got the hook after the first two batters reached on walks. Sorry, but I think those two are on Terry.

Anyway, just when you thought the Mets were turning the corner, they take a step backwards. Personally I would like to see the Mets start promoting some of those young arms for the bullpen. Put Mejia in the pen and let Dice-K start. Looks like Flores is coming up to be the work-in-progress shortstop. The Mets have to do something to wake up this anemic offense.

Oh, Ike Davis went 3 for 4 this evening in Pittsburgh. I know, he has not really been doing well but what Met has gone 3 for 4 lately?

Rubber and Hope

Tonight’s game is the first rubber game of the season. What’s a rubber game you ask?

It’s the game that decides who wins the series when there are an odd number of games in the series and both teams have won an equal amount of games. Most rubber games in baseball occur in a three game series after the teams split the first two games. But it is possible for there to be a rubber game in a rare five game set that may have to be scheduled because of previous postponements.  The seventh game of the World Series could be considered a rubber game but generally it isn’t because of its extreme importance. But what is the origin of the term, rubber game?

It’s difficult to say with certainty but apparently it is a very old term that has been used for other types of competitive matches where a deciding game was played. It likely is from England and the term pre dates the substance we think of when we hear the word “rubber”. Rubber is a synonym of eraser, to rub out. It likely meant that after the deciding game or the “rubber” game, the scoreboard (perhaps chalk on slate) would have been erased or rubbed out so a new match could begin.

So anyway, tonight’s “match” against the Braves will be the Mets first rubber game of the season. Trailing 0-2 in games to Washington in the opening series then leading Cincinnati 2-0 in the weekend series meant the final game in each of the first two series was not a deciding game.

Beyond this fascinating exploration of term origins, I am seeing some positive signs from the Mets. Even in last night’s loss, there were good things that happened.

First was Zach Wheeler. His stuff is electric and he had Jason Heyward struck out in the top of the first. Unfortunately, the home plate umpire called a fastball over the outside corner of the plate a ball when it should have been strike three. That caused Wheeler to throw more pitches that Heyward kept fouling off before he parked one in the right field stands. Wheeler was pretty solid after that until things unraveled in the fifth.  Once Zach figures out his secondary and tertiary pitches, he is going to become one awesome pitcher. In fact, I predict in a couple of years, he will be the ace of the staff. Perhaps down the road when you think of the Mets top three it will be Wheeler, Syndergaard, and then Harvey but time will tell.

The other positive was the Mets coming back in the top of the ninth. True they fell a run short but they didn’t give up and got a key hit from Travis d’Arnaud. If this kid starts to hit the way he has in the minors then maybe the Mets truly have a budding star in their stable. It’s all wait and see at this point but even at 3-5, clearly there is some hope here.

Knuckleheads

So Boomer and Mike, Daniel Murphy should have made his wife schedule a C-Section before the start of the baseball season so he would not have to miss any games? That’s your take?

This is why I do not listen to sports talk radio. Look, I love baseball, it has been (for good or worse) one of the great distractions in my life. But I am sorry, for the most part, jocks are morons and so are sports talk show hosts who were not good enough to be on the field.  Here is the quote from Boomer Esiason, co host of WFAN’s Boomer and Carton radio program.  “Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts.  I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

Let’s take the points Boomer made. He says “this is what makes our money”.  Yes true, as a baseball player, Daniel Murphy will make his money playing baseball. But as a baseball player, Murphy is also entitled to take three games off for paternity leave. That was collectively bargained by the players union and the baseball owners. Please explain to me how Murphy is putting his baseball income in jeopardy by being with his wife while she gave birth to their first child. I think he would be more appropriately concerned in that regard if he batted .215 for the season.

Giving that child every opportunity to be a success in life has not been threatened by Murphy doing what every father in this country is entitled to do. Murphy will continue to make his income and provided he and his wife are smart investors, that child of theirs should do just fine. Murphy will make almost three million dollars this season and of course that does not count what he has saved prior to this season and any endorsements he may have.

What I really find offensive is how Esiason is so cavalier in stating Murphy’s wife simply should have scheduled a C-Section prior to the season, as if she were having her teeth cleaned. A C-Section is major surgery requiring up to six weeks recovery time. The procedure was not nature’s intent but a modern solution to a problem that in the past threatened the life of the unborn child, the mother, or to both. His remark is completely insensitive to the scale of the seriousness of the situation. We are talking about her health as well as the child’s.

Of course the real issue for these clowns with microphones is not about Murphy’s wife and the couples’ new born. It centers on the fact that both Esiason and Craig Carton, his loud mouthed co-host, are pissed off that the Mets have started the season at 0-3. As if Murphy’s appearance in the lineup on Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening would have made a difference in this train wreck of a franchise. Murphy was in the lineup yesterday afternoon and had a hit and a walk in three at bats. See the difference? Look how it changed the outcome of the game? What….? Oh, right. They lost.

Baseball is a game folks, it’s not life or death. As much as C-Sections are routine, they still are considered major surgery and with that comes the potential of something going wrong. Murphy did the right thing. His place was by his wife’s side, being there through a major event in their lives.

If this Mets season, that has started out so badly, continues in this trend, it will be defined by a bullpen that can’t get anyone out and an offense that chronically cannot score runs. Murphy’s absence during the first two games will have nothing to do with it. And really, picking on Daniel Murphy? What Mets players is more of a gamer than Murph? Love him or hate him, he busts his butt every day on the field. He played in 160 games last year.

Mike Francesa backed off somewhat, as the coward often does, because of all the flak he received for making similar comments. He claims that what he meant was a guy like Murphy, who has a unique position, should not be allowed to take the time off.  That’s a slippery slope. So I guess if you are fortunate enough to make lots of money and be in the public eye, you are no longer entitled to the same rights everyone else has. Francesa’s true colors always seem to come out. He had previously stated that no man should be able to take time off for something like this (maternity), that it was a scam to do so. Yeah, Mike, I guess they’re just takers just like the unemployed, impoverished, and mentally ill in this country. Gee, I wonder who you voted for in the last election.

But really why are we so upset? Does anyone really take seriously what these knuckleheads say day in and day out? The reality is they really don’t know too much about anything, including sports in many cases I might add. But who really should be concerned about these remarks, even more so than most of us, is the wives of Esiason and Francesa. Hopefully they are now aware not to plan any major surgeries on days these two bozos are on the air.

No Wins for the City

So what New York team will blink first? Both the Mets and Yankees have yet to win a game. My Yankee fan friends are beside themselves wondering how a 189 million dollar team can’t beat a 21 million dollar team. As a Mets fan- well we always have low expectations. I never expect my team to win anymore. Hey,  if anything, it keeps team merchandise nice and cheap. Have at it Zach.

Mike, Tom, and the Hall

There are a number of reasons a person may get acne, even on their back. It can happen due to heredity. It can be caused by a hormone imbalance. Clothing can also cause the problem, especially if a person sweats a lot. Also, back acne can be caused by some medications including steroids.

And there lies the problem with why the greatest hitting catcher of all time is still not in the Hall of fame. We are talking about Mike Piazza, a player who not only hit the most home runs of any catcher but one who hit impact homers. In my opinion what truly sets a great player apart from a very good one is a player who can rise to the occasion. A player who gets the big hit when it is needed most. Piazza was one of those players.

Many players in the Hall of Fame today are compilers. They are in because the back of their baseball card is filled with numbers. A guy with 3000 hits or 500 homers is almost automatically in, unless of course they are connected to steroids. Mike Piazza is connected to steroids. Not because he has confessed to using them, was caught using them, was turned in by other players or those around the game that know things. No, none of that has happened. He’s on no list that we know of. Lists that include Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmero to name a few, do not include Piazza. Nope, Mike is not on any of them, at least so far.

So in a country that decrees it is better for a guilty man to go free than an innocent one being locked up, apparently many writers feel Piazza was a user and therefore should not get into the Hall of fame, at least not yet. And why, because a writer in the Mets locker room once reported that Piazza had back acne, a symptom of steroid use. And there is also other circumstantial evidence. Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick who became one of the greatest catchers ever. Hmm, sounds suspicious to me (sarcasm intended). If you can prove to me that a 62nd round pick only had to take steroids to make him the greatest hitting catcher of all time then where do I get some?

This is a guy who worked his butt off to become the player he was. There are coaches of his from far and wide who will attest to it. He worked constantly to improve himself during the season and in the off season. And his career arc is much in line with other greats before the steroid era. In the case of the players who we know for sure that were using, they were producing at ages that were not common. Piazza began to break down in his mid thirties as most non users did. If he had hit 40 homers at the age of 37, maybe I would have some suspicion.  His last big homer season was 2002 when he hit 33 at the age of 33. At age 34, he hit 11 in an injury plagued season. He ended his Mets career hitting 20 and 19 homers in his final two years in Flushing respectively.  At 37, Mike hit 22 with San Diego before his final season in 2007 when he hit just 8 homers for Oakland.

If the steroid witch hunt had never happened in baseball, Piazza would already be in. But writers have made it clear they are taking a stand regardless of evidence and facts. Piazza will eventually get in. He’s the only player on the ballot who picked up votes this year. That’s no guarantee he’ll get more next year but he should. And in my opinion the Mets should retire his number regardless. Being elected to the Hall or not should be no criteria for his number not hanging on the Citi Field wall.

Personally, there is enough factual information, yes facts, that support that steroids did not make as much of an impact as writers and others in the media claim. The Steroids-and-baseball website is a great source of factual information in regards to steroids and baseball. That doesn’t mean there should be no rules to prevent their use. After all Steroids are illegal and taking them improperly will likely threaten a person’s health in the long term. However, there is a lot of information to suggest that the increased power numbers had more to do with expansion (and with expansion comes more watered down pitching), smaller ballparks, harder maple bats, and a tighter wound ball. Steroids may have aided in players being able to recover faster from injury but many studies are showing the increase in home run production was negligible, if at all! Again, I’m not defending the use of steroids but I am suggesting that the writers get a clue and stop using their vote as some kind of morality statement.

There are many in the Hall of Fame already who were users of steroids and other drugs. Some threw spit balls too and sharpened their spikes with the intent of hurting other players. Should we throw them out now?  Alcohol has ruined more families in this country then any illegal drug combined. Should we throw Babe Ruth and others out of the Hall who routinely tied one on? And of course alcohol reminds us of the utter hypocrisy that has baseball and all sports touting just say no to drugs while you chill out with a Bud. Let’s also not forget at the height of the steroid era, owners turned a blind eye because the turnstiles were spinning out of control. Steroids have been a part of baseball and all sports for a very long time, just ask Lenny Dystra who at the end of his Mets tenure showed up to spring training looking like Charles Atlas winking at anyone who caught his eye.  I think baseball should be commended for their new anti-drug policy but it’s high time we all move forward and leave the past to the history books.

Mike Piazza’s numbers speak for themselves. He performed as a perennial All Star in two of the most pressure packed markets of Los Angeles and New York. He hit home runs and drove in runs that were very often in meaningful situations. He was one of the best clutch hitters in the game. He was a better defensive catcher in terms of handling pitchers and blocking the plate than what he gets credit for. And his offensive numbers and awards are simply outstanding. Pizza belongs in the Hall, plain and simple.

Mets fans hate Tom Glavine for two reasons. One, he gave up seven runs in the first inning of the final game of 2007, completing a Mets collapse down the stretch of epic proportions.  Two, he said he was disappointed but not devastated of the outcome. This remark infuriated Mets fans who most always felt he was a Brave in Mets clothing all along. Oh well, there will be no convincing them of the truth but…

Glavine certainly made a tactical error in not demonstrating more remorse over that final game. Even if he faked it, his departure from the Mets would not have been so conspicuous. But I got his point and in his world of family first, his point was it is just a game and although infuriating, perhaps that was his way of trying to minimize the huge disappointment he most certainly felt as an athlete. You don’t win 300 games in baseball if you truly don’t give a shit about winning. But make one thing clear. Following the Mets down that horrendous September of 2007, you simply cannot pin the Mets demise entirely on one Tom Glavine. Night after night, starting pitching failed then gave way to a beleaguered bullpen that was simply out of gas. If a team cannot hold a seven game lead in early September, how the hell can you blame one pitcher on the final day of the season? Yes I get it but think it is very unfair.

And one more thing… like Glavine or not, regardless of going into the Hall wearing a Braves cap (which of course he should), one fact will always be true. Glavine won his 300th game as a Met. He did not do it as a Brave. He did it in Chicago against the Cubs wearing burnt orange and royal blue. That can never be taken away from us, a great moment in Mets history regardless of how you feel about Glavine. Also Glavine suffered what so many other stars did when coming to the Mets. The front office has historically never put a supporting cast around a new shiny face on the team.  It’s like spending $40,000 on a car and not going with the heated seats. The same can be said in Glavine’s case. The Mets simply do not follow through and build an entire roster. They put lipstick on a pig and hope for the best. Seldom does that work.  However, let’s remember that Glavine helped the Mets become a winner again starting in 2005, the playoffs in 2006, and up to game 162 of ’07.

The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum and it is a business. Fans of baseball can debate for hours on end of the merits of what players deserve to be there and what ones do not. We know the greats—Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Christie Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio and so forth. These are players that are heralded as the true greats of the game. They are players who dominated at their position either in the batter’s box or on the pitcher’s mound for extended periods of time. There is no question of their deserving of the honor to be a member. But over the years, it seems more players are getting in based on numbers alone. The fact a player stayed healthy, was very good, and amassed big numbers does not mean they necessarily were dominant during their era. But never the less, those players are getting in. Who was more dominating a hitter than Don Mattingly for a short period of time? But the powers that be say he wasn’t dominating long enough. I’m not saying that Mattingly should be in the Hall but his numbers are extremely comparable to Kirby Puckett. Puckett is in, Mattingly is not. But Piazza has the numbers and he also was that dominating player at one of the most difficult positions in all of professional sports. He should be in already and it is a crime he is not.

The writers being judge and jury without evidence, is simply wrong. There have been cheaters in this game since it started and it will continue. If not drugs, then something else will be discovered to give the player an edge. It’s ugly but it’s the nature of the business.

Mike Piazza deserves to be in the Hall. He was the dominant player at his position for over a decade. He won Rookie of the Year, MVP, helped teams to the playoffs three times and got the Mets to the World Series. No one will ever forget his home run on September 21, 2001 that united a city. And although he made the last out of the 2000 World Series, had the wind not have been gusting in so strong over Flushing Bay, it’s likely Piazza’s drive would have tied the game instead of landing in Bernie Williams glove.

If you have the proof Piazza was cheating, then show it otherwise do the right thing and vote the man into the Hall of Fame.