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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Which of these Yankee games is the most essential?

Squawker contest alert: We're giving away four A&E Essential Games DVD sets - two of Yankee Stadium's best, and two featuring Shea Stadium's top games. Go here for further details, and enter the contest.

Here are the six games on the Yankees' DVD set (details courtesy of A&E Home Video):
  • 1976 ALCS GAME 5 VS. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: Chris Chambliss' walk-off HR sends the Yankees to their first World Series since 1964.
  • 1977 WORLD SERIES GAME 6 VS. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson's historic three home run-game propels the Bronx Bombers to another World Series Championship.
  • 1995 ALDS GAME 2 VS. SEATTLE MARINERS: This 15-inning drama ended with Jim Leyritz's walk-off home run and featured home runs from Don Mattingly, Paul O'Neill, and Ruben Sierra. WIth 3 &1/3 innings in relief a young Mariano Rivera notched the win.
  • 1996 WORLD SERIES GAME 6 VS. ATLANTA BRAVES: After New York lost the first two games of the 1996 World Series, they won the next four and finished with a Game 6-celebration that shook Yankee Stadium with delight.
  • 2001 WORLD SERIES GAME 4 VS. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: History unfolded when Tino Martinez hit a 2-out, bottom of the 9th, two-run homer to tie the game. Then in the 10th, "Mr. November" Derek Jeter's game-winning home run ended another remarkable victory.
  • 2003 ALCS GAME 7 VS. BOSTON RED SOX: With a World Series appearance at stake, aces on the mound, and white knuckles everywhere, Aaron Boone stroked the game-winning home run to seal the Yankees' 11-inning victory.
So, I'm curious which of these games Yankee fans treasure the most. For me, Reggie Jackson's three home run game is number one. And, much like Chris Chambliss' home run was the first great moment of the George Steinbrenner era, Aaron Boone's homer was the last great moment of that era.

But what do you think? Tell us your favorite game, and enter our contest!

Meet the Mess - err, Mets: Some more thoughts on this weekend's Subway Series

Did you know that CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera both had more RBIs in this weekend's Subway Series than David Wright did? The Yankee pitchers had one RBI each. The Met third baseman - nada. Strange but true.

Here are some more thoughts about the first-ever Subway Series at Citi Field:

At the Sunday game we attended, Squawker Jon and I saw Mr. Met pose for photos in Kiddie Field, the kid's section of Citi Field. Surprisingly, most of the people lining up to get their picture taken with Mr. Met were grownups. And many of them were Yankee fans!

Longtime Squawker readers know how much I dig Mr. Met. One of my favorite moment at Shea Stadium was when I got to meet the Met - Mr. Met, that is. So it was funny to see that I'm not the only Yankee fan who likes Mr. Met!

Anyhow, I wanted to line up and get our photo taken with the Met icon. I thought it would make a great pic for the Subway Squawkers blog. But Squawker Jon said no! Can you believe that? What is this, the no-fun zone? Sheesh.

* * *

On Monday afternoon, I watched the clip of Francisco Rodriguez's walk of Mariano Rivera. That's what great about the Subway Series - you never know when you'll see something you've never seen before.

Aside from the humor in watching Mo at bat, the funniest part of the walk was Alex Rodriguez's gleeful reaction in the dugout. Good stuff.

* * *

As previously noted, the food and drink selection at Citi Field is so much better than Yankee Stadium that it's not even funny. Message to Lonn Trost: Why can't a first-class organization like the Yankees have some first-class food available to all?

I've been to Citi Field four times this year, and I still haven't sampled all the great food there.
On the other hand, Yankee Stadium has a really good, albeit expensive, steak sandwich, and some pretty good, albeit expensive, sushi. And that's about it for great food at the new ballpark. That is, unless you have the money to spend on a luxury seat.

Citi Field even does better in the adult beverage department - many more choices, and cheaper prices to boot.

It's a shame the Yanks really spit the bit, as George Steinbrenner would say, in this department.

* * *

I noticed when entering the ballpark through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda this weekend that there are some Mets-related pictures inside Citi Field. Of course, you have to be on the luxury suite level to see the photos (oversized baseball card images of Met players.)

The Mets really spit the bit on honoring their own team. How difficult would it be to put up some photos in the ballpark?

And by the way, whatever happened to Dwight Gooden's autograph on the Ebbets' Club wall? Is it still being shamefully hidden?

* * *

Jon and I attended three of the six Subway Series games (all Yankees' victories.) We did notice that there was some intensity missing in the crowd, especially at the Yankee Stadium game we saw.

The most back-and-forth banter we heard was at this Friday's game. But it still wasn't as intense as in recent years. With so much to do in both ballparks, it seems like some fans are less focused
on the game itself.

What did you think of the Subway Series? Tell us about it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A DeRosa by any other name would be just as pointless

Things are bad and getting worse. The Mets finally get some offense, but the magic ends for Fernando Nieve. After seeing opponents regularly take advantage of Met mistakes, Brewer third baseman Casey McGehee drops a pop and the Mets capitalize with two runs. But unlike Luis Castillo, McGehee redeems himself with a grand slam.

At least Trevor Hoffman didn't get walked with the bases loaded tonight.

Now the Mets are in third place, and the calls will doubtless rise for the Mets to trade for help at any cost. Bobby Parnell gave up two more runs, raising his ERA to 5.22. Maybe he is not so untouchable after all. But maybe the Indians would not have wanted him for Mark DeRosa at this rate.

But I am glad they did not trade Parnell or anyone else of potential value for DeRosa. One decent player will not turn the Mets around. Unfortunately, they need a lot more than that.

The Mets are now 9-17 in June. With Beltran in the lineup this month, they were still only 6-10. Certainly the Mets are much better off with Beltran than without him, but the current lineup is so weak that even adding a star will not sufficiently improve things.

The Cardinals were willing to trade Chris Perez, who was supposed to be their closer of the future, for DeRosa because they thought they were one piece away. But the Mets are several pieces away. At this rate, they might need to trade for someone just to finish over .500. And that is not worth mortgaging the future.

If the Mets are going to approach the trading deadline as if they are a contender, they need to start playing like a contender first.

Time to gloat and do the Snoopy dance over the Yankees sweeping the Mets

I guess I should be all empathetic and make murmuring noises to Squawker Jon about how I feel bad for him that his Mets got swept by the Yankees. Because he and his fellow Met fans would do the same for us, right? Wrong.

C'mon, who are we kidding here? If the Mets swept the Yanks, Jon would be doing the Snoopy Dance and talking trash about the Yankees, as would many of his Met fan brethren. You know, like the way they did last year, when the Mets beat the Yanks 4 out of 6 games.

To the victor goes the spoils and all that jazz. If you want to dish it out, you have to be able to take it, too.

And while I have complained about how some Yankee fans have been leaving games early, Met fans were just as guilty of that this weekend. Don't complain about the Yankee fans taking over your ballpark if you don't stand up for your team and stay for the whole game.

I've also heard some Met fans act as if they should get a pass because of how many regulars are on the DL. Yet they didn't cut the Yankees any slack last year when the Bombers were ravaged by injuries. Nor would the Yanks have gotten a pass this year, even though so many of their players, including the captain, were sick with the flu this weekend.

Besides, the Met losses in the Subway Series had little to do with injuries. Let's review the five Yankee wins/Met losses:
  • Game 1 - Luis Castillo drops the ball. Nothing to do with injuries, unless you call catching the ball with one hand an affliction.
  • Game 3 - Johan Santana is touted by Mets fans as the best pitcher in baseball. Yet he had his worst start ever against the Yankees, and the Mets lost, 15-0, with Santana giving up 9 runs. Even if the Mets had scored more runs, it's kind of hard to overcome a 15 run deficit!
  • Game 4 - Are brain cramps considered an injury? If so, the Mets are tremendously afflicted with them, given that the three errors they committed in one inning helped the Yanks get a 4-0 lead.
  • Game 5 - A.J. Burnett only gave up one hit to the Mets. Maybe having the full lineup would have helped the Mets, but even David Wright and Gary Sheffield were unable to do anything against the Yankee pitcher.
  • Game 6 - Again, sloppy play and brain cramps, which contributed to the Yankees getting three runs in the first inning, contributed to the loss, as did the extremely dopey decision to walk Derek Jeter to load the bases. And I always hear from Met fans about what a great closer Francisco Rodriguez is. Well, how in the world did he walk a reliever pitcher who has had all of two regular-season at-bats? Besides, the Mets got essentially shut down by Chien-Ming Wang, somebody whose ERA was 34.50 not too long ago.
As for the other usual Met fan complaint - payroll disparity - why did their team essentially stop spending after picking up Francisco Rodriguez last year, and why haven't they tried to make a trade now? After all, the Mets are making money hand over fist with the new ballpark, especially on the food. Tell Frugal Freddy to open up his wallet!

At any rate, Yankee fans have the right to do the Snoopy Dance today. Enjoy!

Mariano Rivera walk worse than Luis Castillo drop

If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me.

Bruce Springsteen - "The Wrestler"

Looks like I picked the wrong year to go to three Subway Series games.

The scariest thing is that the Luis Castillo game is beginning to look like the best of the bunch. At least the Mets looked like they were going to win that game. At least they had an offense then, one that even rallied to go ahead off of Mariano Rivera.

Hell, at least the Mets had a LEAD in that game!

I actually thought the Mets had a chance last night. It was a one-run game most of the time. Granted, the difference in the game was that Daniel Murphy had allowed an extra runner to stay on base by bizarrely throwing to third instead of getting the sure out at first. The Yankees immediately capitalized and it seemed somehow fitting that would be the difference in the game.

But it was still a one-run game, and anything could happen.

Little did I know that "anything" meant Francisco Rodriguez walking Mariano Rivera with the bases loaded.

The Mariano walk did not decide the game - the Mets already trailed, 3-2, and were unlikely to come back against Rivera in the bottom of the ninth, especially with this lineup.

But it was even more unforgivable than Luis Castillo's drop, because K-Rod issued an intentional walk to load the bases. If your pitcher is having control problems, how do you deliberately put him in a position to fail?

When Derek Jeter was intentionally walked, I told Lisa this was a mistake. I did not think that K-Rod would actually walk Mariano. But if K-Rod is afraid to face Jeter, who is recovering from illness, he should not be out there. Pitch to Jeter and do your best to get him out.

Oddly, in the first Subway Series game, K-Rod also issued an intentional walk that backfired, walking Mark Teixeira to put the winning run on base. I liked that move because Teixeira was red-hot at the time and A-Rod was slumping. The strategy worked when A-Rod popped up for what looked to be the final out. Then Luis Castillo settled under the ball...

SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you don't want to know how the movie "The Wrestler" ends.

At the end of "The Wrestler," Randy the Ram leaps into the air in preparation to slam into his opponent. Randy has been warned that wrestling again will kill him. So his triumphant leap could end in winning the match, but is more likely to end in a fatal heart attack.

The movie ends with a freeze frame of Randy in the air, enjoying his last moment of triumph before his probable death.

My highlight show of this year's Subway Series would end with a freeze frame of A-Rod's popup still in the air, A-Rod's bat slamming to the ground, K-Rod starting to pump his fist, Yankee fans starting to boo A-Rod, and Met fans starting to cheer.

There hasn't been a whole lot to cheer about since then. And there may not be much to cheer about the rest of the season.

Gotta go to Mo for 500th save - and first career RBI!

How sweep it is!

The Yankees made history a few times last night. Not only did Mariano Rivera get his 500th save (and his first-ever RBI!), but the Yanks' sweep of the Mets is the first-ever one in Citi Field.

Here was another historical moment last night - Squawker Jon and I actually agreed on something baseball-related!

As soon as Francisco Rodriguez started to intentionally walk Derek Jeter in the ninth inning to load the bases, Jon said it was a bad idea. I agreed - it made no sense, especially given that third base, not first, was the open base.

I also said to Jon that all it would take to add another run was for Rodriguez to end up walking Mariano Rivera. And that's exactly what happened, of course! How funny.

The game was also the first time Chien-Ming Wang won a game in over a year. Everybody, Wang won last night (everybody, Wang won last night!)

Anyhow, after that three-run first inning for the Yanks (which Daniel Murphy helped with his shoddy defense), I expected the game to be a blowout. But Livan Hernandez was surprisingly effective for the rest of the game, giving up only one hit.

While it's not like the Mets are a Murderer's Row right now, Wang still only gave up two runs.

And David Wright didn't get a hit the entire weekend. What's up with that?

* * *

A few other observations from the game:

We got to the game early enough to brave the Shake Shack lines. But even 90 minutes before the game, the wait was still a good 15 minutes long!

Later on in the game, we shared fries from Box Frites. They were good, although I thought the Shake Shack fries were a bit better. And the Box Frites sauces were not very good. We've tried three sauces this season with those fries - the bacon, chipotle, and pepperoncini ones, and found all of them mediocre.

While I didn't bring a broom, another Yankee fan did. But it was confiscated - to the cheers of Mets fans - when he waved the broom around in the ninth inning.

Squawker reader Jennie stopped by our seats to say hello before the game. It was very cool to meet her.

Not much back-and-forth chanting at this game until the ninth inning. It would have been a run-of-the-mill game, until one closer walked another closer to walk in a run. How often does that happen!

I'm wondering where this game ranks for worst Met loss of the year. And to think that Jon and I were at three of the six Subway Series games, and the Yanks won all three. Whoo-hoo!

What did you think of last night's game? Leave us a comment!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

David Wright: No longer a home run hitter?

What's up with David Wright's power numbers this year? How is it that somebody who averaged over 28 homers a year only has four home runs this season?

Yes, I know that Citi Field is getting the blame. And I know that Wright is also hitting .346 this year. But why is it that even Wright's own teammates are outdoing him with homers, even with a lot fewer at-bats? Here are the Mets who have as many or more homers than Wright does:
  • Gary Sheffield: 9
  • Carlos Beltran: 8
  • Daniel Murphy: 5
  • Carlos Delgado: 4
  • Omir Santos: 4
Wright has had 272 at-bats this year, more than anybody else on the team. The vastly less-talented Santos has as many homers as Wright, with 150 fewer at-bats. Gary Sheffield is about to turn 60 years old, and he has five more home runs than Wright, in over 100 fewer at-bats.

The Yankees are also outdoing Wright in the home run department. Of course, they play in a bandbox, but still, it's kind of shocking to see that Melky Cabrera has three more homers than Wright does:
  • Mark Teixeira: 20
  • Johnny Damon: 14
  • Nick Swisher: 14
  • Robinson Cano: 12
  • Alex Rodriguez: 11
  • Hideki Matsui: 10
  • Jorge Posada: 10
  • Derek Jeter: 9
  • Melky Cabrera: 7
Wright's RBI numbers are also nothing to write home about. He has 39 RBI, the same as Nick Swisher. As WFAN's Sweeny Murti noted on his Twitter account, A-Rod has only two RBIs fewer than Swisher, and that's with 100 fewer at-bats - and with having a lousy season so far.

And several of Wright's own teammates - like Gary Sheffield and Omir Santos - are driving in RBIs at a higher percentage than the Met third baseman is.

I don't know what to make of these numbers, other than to note that Wright gets more of a pass for this than many other players would. He seems to have that Derek Jeter untouchable aura, only without the four rings!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

A.J. Burnett shuts down Met bats - again

A.J. Burnett - Met-killer? He's now pitched 14 shutout innings against the Mets. And he had a one-hitter last night. If it weren't for Alex Cora, we might be talking about the first-ever Subway Series no-hitter. And Squawker Jon would be in even more despair than he is now!

And while it's true that the Mets have a depleted team right now, the Yanks have also been missing several players - like Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon - due to whatever flu it is going around the Yankee clubhouse. Yet that hasn't held the Yankees down this week.

Tim Redding reminded me of Pedro Martinez last night in this way - once he got to 100 pitches, he completely fell apart. Four pitches - and four hits - in a row? It reminded me of when Redding pitched for the Yanks against the Red Sox!

So much for Citi Field not being a home-run haven. Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada didn't seem to have much of a problem getting the ball out of the park.

And yes, I am getting the broom ready for the sweep, even if Chien-Ming Wang is pitching. Sorry, Squawker Jon!

Maybe, if we're lucky, the cat who showed up at Citi Field on Opening Night (see picture above) will make another guest appearance tonight, when we're in the ballpark. It would make this weekend purr-fect.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

At least it wasn't a no-hitter

Oh for the good old days when the Mets would blow leads late. Even the Luis Castillo game is starting to look good by comparison. How often do the Mets look like they have a chance in the late innings these days?

As soon as the Yankees erupted for four runs in the sixth, the game was over. Last night, the game ended in the second inning. The 11-0 game Wednesday turned out to be even more of an anomaly than feared - the Mets have only 11 hits in the four other games played around it.

The Mets have faced three top pitchers in a row - Chris Carpenter, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett - and might have been hard-pressed to score a lot of runs with their regular lineup. But it's one thing to get a couple of runs and another to fight to avoid a no-hitter for the second night in a row.

Tomorrow, the Mets face the Yankees' version of Oliver Perez - Chien-Ming Wang. Let's hope the Mets don't have to worry about breaking up a no-hitter this time around. Monday, the Mets face old friend Braden Looper.

But later in the week, the Mets must go up against the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo and the Phillies' Cole Hamels. At least Hamels probably won't be able to call the Mets choke artists this time around - you have to have a lead to be able to choke it away.

***

Squawker Lisa and I will be at tomorrow night's game, and it could get ugly. It wouldn't surprise me if some Yankee fans bring brooms to the game (I think Lisa is painting pinstripes on a broom now). Let's hope security has something to say about fans bringing wooden sticks to the game. It could end up being like braving Bat Day in the bad old days of the Bronx.

But just when the Mets seem completely out of it, they have always risen from the dead so far this year. I thought the Yankees would take two of three this weekend, and it could still happen. Leave that broom at home, Lisa!

A-Rod and Brett Gardner homers unglue Elmer Dessens

My partner in Squawking already covered much of what we watched last night at the Subway Series, and what we ate. Here are my observations:

  • Unlike the Subway Series game we saw at Yankee Stadium, where there appeared to be only 20-25% Met fans in the house, there were at least 35-40% Yankee fans at Citi Field. And the energy of the crowd was at a much higher level because of it. Lots of competing "Lets Go Yankees/Yankees suck" chants.
  • The rain was like a monsoon - it didn't rain all afternoon, then the cloudburst happened just when we were getting off the subway. As I get claustrophobic with crowds, I didn't want to wait on the covered steps of the subway station. So I made a run for it myself to the ballpark, and Jon headed in a few minutes later.
  • But, as Jon noted, the Stadium itself was just as crowded and claustrophobic when it was raining. Good grief.
  • Should the Mets send Elmer Dessens to the glue factory? He looked terrible against the Yanks, giving up homers to A-Rod and Brett Gardner.
  • Oh, and Gardner, who had his first five-hit game, also has three homers this year. David Wright has only four. What's up with that?
  • Unlike the Yankees, who did a whole heap of nothing at the Subway Series, the Mets had both a singer for the National Anthem, and people (the new Knicks draft picks) to throw out the first pitch.
  • Was cool to see A-Rod move up on the records chart with his homer overtaking Reggie Jackson. Did they show Reggie's reaction on the YES Network?
  • One thing SNY seemed to show a lot of was Kate Hudson. Wonder why she's such a big Yankee fan now!
  • Was hoping for a CC Sabathia no-hitter. Mets, of course, still haven't pitched a no-hitter. But hey, maybe they can set the record for the game with the most errors!
What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Waiting out rain delay at Citi Field was no 'Thriller'

The raindrops started falling just as our 7 train pulled into "You'll have to pay the MTA for using a corporate name" station. By the time Squawker Lisa and I were in the station, the steps leading down toward Citi Field were filled with people waiting out the torrential downpour.

Rain delays at Shea or the old Yankee Stadiums were nightmares - fans crammed into concourses and entryways. Things would be different at Citi Field. And we could always while away a rain delay by getting some food at Taste of the City.

Wrong!

Even when the rain let up, conditions were deemed dangerous enough that fans were warned to take cover. We briefly wandered into an uncovered area and an usher made us move away from a railing.

(Ordinarily, I would throw in some crack here about the Mets being so injury-prone this year that one of them would probably get hit by lightning, but ex-Met Geremi Gonzalez was tragically killed that way a couple of years ago. Besides, the Mets are perfectly capable of injuring themselves on their own.)

So rather than waiting out the delay on a line for Shake Shack one of the other options, we made our way to Taste of the City only to find that the whole area was CLOSED!

Since people kept moving toward Taste of the City without realizing that it was closed, we found ourselves crammed into the very sort of rush-hour crowd we expected to avoid.

Yankee fans around us began to complain that the concourses at the new Yankee Stadium were a lot wider than those at Citi Field, which might be true, but the main reason that this situation would not be the same at the new Stadium is that there is no one place that all the fans would want to flock to. Sorry, Johnny Rockets.

We left the area near Taste of the City and it was definitely easier to wait elsewhere. Eventually, we returned and were toward the front of the crowd when Taste of the City finally opened. We raced to Blue Smoke and got on line, only to find that it was closed!
All of the restaurants there were shut.

After about ten minutes, the shutters came up on Blue Smoke's windows and the waiting crowd cheered.

You know your team is not having a good night when two of my biggest cheers were for the reopening of a rib joint and Luis Castillo catching a pop up.

We got our food quickly, but then ran into another problem - getting back to our seats. We were sitting in Section 136, which is quite close to Taste of the City, but the area was so mobbed that it made no difference - we found ourselves stuck for awhile. It was so bad that I wondered if we would have been better off taking the escalator up to the 300 level, then going down the steps later. We'll have a chance to test this out Sunday night when we are sitting in the 300 level.

We finally made it back to our seats, only to be a little disappointed by the ribs. In fairness to Blue Smoke, I'm not sure what food would have been worth the aggravation we went through to get it. But they were not as good as the first time we were there in April. We got the chicken wings for the first time and I enjoyed them more than Lisa did.

Later, we split a fried flounder sandwich, which was fine, though I could have done without it being drenched in tartar sauce (Lisa liked the sauce).

As much as I like the food at Citi Field, the novelty of good ballpark food might be starting to wear off for me. Wanting to sample everything is beginning to seem more like overeating, especially since I will be back there tomorrow.

Then again, obsessing over the food at last night's game is better than obsessing over the game itself.

The only good moment in the game for my side came just after someone sitting in front of us offered us some chicken fingers he was not going to eat. Even though I wasn't hungry by this point, the chicken fingers looked good. (Hmm, maybe this is why I felt like I was overeating last night.) The guy was wearing a Mariano Rivera shirt, but he was offering the food to Lisa first, and she was wearing an A-Rod shirt, so I figured it was OK.

As soon as I bit into the chicken finger, Gary Sheffield homered into the section next to us. CC Sabathia had retired the first twelve batters up to that point. Where do we get more of those magic chicken fingers?

As for the seats themselves, Section 136 row 15 had its ups and down. Sitting in field level, we were closer to the outfielders at least. We got a decent view of the main action, though from out in the outfield. Our view was obstructed on deep flies to left and center, but we could pick them up on the video screens.

The seats are covered, which would have been good if it started raining again. But it also meant that we could not see either big scoreboard. That was a big minus.

There were a lot of Yankee fans in our section, which Lisa and I attributed to these seats being the ones that were available through drawings that fans from both teams had likely entered.

Knicks' top pick Jordan Hill threw out the first pitch (along with their other first-rounder, Toney Douglas). Interesting choice considering that Hill may not be long for the team if the Knicks can pull off a trade for Ricky Rubio.

After all the hoopla about the eighth-inning singalong, the Mets completely dispensed with it last night. Lisa thought they should have played a Michael Jackson song and I agree.

The night after the game, I am feeling a lot less charitable about all the errors and beginning to realize that my attitude toward the Citi Field food should no longer be "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough."

And after last night's listless performance, I hope the Mets now "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."

Squawker Media Alert: I will be on South Florida radio this afternoon

If you want to hear me pontificate on the Subway Series, I will be on Fort Lauderdale's station WFTL Sports (640AM) this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. I will be talking with The Amigo Larry Milian about last night's Subway Series game. You can listen live here- just go to the 640 link. Check it out.

Mets back on 'E' train in Subway Series

The first Subway Series game Squawker Lisa and I attended this year ended with the infamous error by Luis Castillo. Tonight, Luis was flawless in the field, but EVERY OTHER MET INFIELDER made an error in the SAME INNING and the game was over by the middle of the second. The Lisa jinx is back!

As annoying as the errors were, I can't get too upset over them for a couple of reasons. First of all, CC Sabathia was going to win tonight whatever the Mets did. I'm just glad he didn't pitch a no-hitter.

Also, the errors came from players who belonged in the lineup and were playing at their proper positions, which has not always been the case this year with the Mets. The five-error L.A. game culminating in Jeremy Reed forced to play first base and making a bad throw to end the game was a lot worse. Tonight, you had David Wright, doing something that is all too familiar - a nice pickup followed by a bad throw. But Wright leads the league in hitting, which more than makes up for a few bad throws.

Alex Cora's error was particularly costly since it could have been a double play, but Cora gets a pass from me because of what he has meant to the Mets this year. When Jose Reyes went down, Cora filled in ably until tearing ligaments in his thumb. He was supposed to be out for six weeks. Instead, with apparently no other qualified shortstops in the entire organization, Cora rushed back as soon as his 15-day DL stint was up and has had only one day off since returning three weeks ago.

The third error came from Nick Evans, just back in the bigs and suddenly playing before a sellout crowd. And after the first two errors, bad fielding could have been getting contagious.

What's less excusable is Mike Pelfrey giving up a solid run-scoring single to an American League pitcher.

My biggest gripe of the game came when Jerry Manuel pinch-hit Argenis Reyes in the fifth with two on and two outs. The way Sabathia was pitching, it was the biggest opportunity the Mets were likely to have, and Manuel was right to hit for Pelfrey. But he had to use his best available hitter, and that was Daniel Murphy.

Murphy has consistently gotten pinch hits this year against both righty and lefty pitchers. In fact, Murphy's overall numbers this year are BETTER against lefties, against whom he is hitting .276 and slugging .414. His numbers against righties are .249 and .367.

Argenis Reyes is a career .218 hitter. And he's much worse against lefties, with a career average of .167 as opposed to .241 against righties.

There is no way A. Reyes was going to get a hit off of Sabathia. Murphy would have at least had a chance. But Manuel seems to have a blind spot with Murphy. It took him a long time to try him at first base, when Murphy was actually a better fielder than Carlos Delgado. And Manuel does not seem to realize that on this roster, Murphy is one of his better hitters, certainly a lot better than Argenis Reyes.

Murphy pinch-hit in the eighth with two outs, none on, and the Mets down, 7-1. He flied out.

The Mets were down 7-1 because mop-up man Elmer Dessens gave up three runs in the top of the eighth, including two homers. Note to Dessens: This game was at Citi Field, not Yankee Stadium. Start getting those headlines ready about Elmer going to the glue factory.

The worst thing about Dessens' lousy performance is that he made Lisa's prediction of a homer by A-Rod come true. (Granted, Lisa predicted a homer every time A-Rod came up tonight.)

The Mets are still only half a game out of first. But it's no fun to lose two games in a row to the Yankees by a combined score of 24-1. I'll be back out at Citi Field on Sunday night with Lisa the jinx, hoping for a better result.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Squawker Lisa's Subway Series predictions

Squawker Jon is all pleased to start this weekend off with his Subway Series predictions. Me, not so much.

I'm a bit hesitant to make Subway Series predictions for this series. I had such good predictions the last Subway Series. Among other things I said, the Yankees won two games, and they were the ones I picked them to win. I also correctly surmised that A.J. Burnett would outpitch Johan Santana. So I doubt I can top the accuracy of these predictions.

And geez, I hope I don't jinx anybody - well, at least I hope I don't jinx anybody in a Yankee uniform!

Anyhow, I am going to predict the following:

* Yanks will win Saturday, lose Sunday. Friday is a tossup, but the edge goes to the Yankees.

* A-Rod will continue his hot hitting, and break Reggie Jackson's record. Kate Hudson will be spotted at Citi Field.

* David Wright will not hit a homer.

* Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Bruney will get the biggest boos.

* Yankee fans will give a standing ovation to Luis Castillo.

* Squawker Jon will tick me off at least once at tonight's game, and once at Sunday's game.

* If the Yankees win the series, the Met fans will gripe about payroll and injuries.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Squawker Jon's Subway Series predictions

The Mets finally won a series and are looking better as they head into the Subway Series, but the Yankees started hitting again in the last few days. So it looks like another two out of three series for the Yankees.

The Mets only have one favorable pitching matchup, Livan Hernandez vs. Chien-Ming Wang on Sunday, but I'll predict that will not be the game the Mets will win. After all, if they can beat Chris Carpenter with one good inning, they can do the same with CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett.

Other predictions:

Gary Sheffield will not be able to play in all three games because he is more seriously hurt than the Mets are letting on, at least when it comes to playing the field.

Tim Redding will show that he's the one who should be dropped from the rotation when John Maine returns.

Jeremy Reed will get a start in center and will have a good game, after which Jerry Manuel will return him to the bench for Fernando Martinez, who will, as Keith Hernandez would put it, continue to be on the interstate.

The Mets will hit one homer this weekend and it will come from an unlikely source. Then again, any Met homers are unlikely these days.

A-Rod will homer to pass Reggie. It will come in the game the Yankees lose.

The player who will get the biggest cheers will be Luis Castillo, since he will be the only player cheered by both Met and Yankee fans (though not of course for the right reasons).

Squawker Lisa will finally see a Met win at Citi Field (we are going tonight and Sunday).

Subway Squawkers' Subway Series contest: Win some 'Essential' baseball DVDs

Still missing the old Yankee Stadium, or even (shudder) Shea Stadium? Here's your chance to relive some of those ballparks' greatest moments.

Once again, our friends at A&E Home Video are providing DVDs for a contest for us. We're going to give away two Yankees Essential Games DVDs, and two Mets Essential Games DVDs. They retail for $44.95 each.

So how can you get your chance to win one of these cool sets? All you need to do is email subwaysquawkers@gmail.com with your name, address, and your preference as to whether you want a Yankees or Mets set. The deadline to do this is Friday, July 11 at 5 p.m.

Squawker Media Alert: I'm going to be on the radio this afternoon

If you live in or near Albany, you can hear me break down the Subway Series this afternoon on the Sound-Off With Sinkoff Show on 104.5 The Team (WTMM.) You can also hear me live online by going here. I should be on the show at around 4:20 p.m. or so. I've been a frequent guest on this program a lot over the past year, and I always have a great time on it.

Off the Wall: Reflections on Michael Jackson and A-Rod

When watching Alex Rodriguez having a great game against the Braves last night, and tying Reggie Jackson's career homer record, I was reminded tonight of what it's like to see undeniable talent in action. And why he is the most famous player of his generation. Watching all the Michael Jackson clips today after his untimely death yesterday reminded me of how much undeniable talent he also had. And why he was the most famous artist of his generation.

Both A-Rod and Jackson had that star quality and charisma that set them apart from their peers. They also both achieved stardom at an early age, and liked to wear white gloves. When A-Rod is "on," as he was against the Braves last night, it takes your breath away. It was much like how seeing an 11-year-old Jackson belt out "ABC" or an older Jackson moonwalk to "Billie Jean" amazed fans.

But then there's all that other stuff - the tabloid fodder, the weirdness, the lackeys and yes-men telling them what they want to hear, the use of dubious substances. It all takes away from what they should be remembered for. Heck, I was just using Jackson as a punch line hours before his death.

It's kind of sad that it was only after Jackson's passing where fans could remember him for being something other than Wacko Jacko. The Los Angeles Times noted the reaction of some employee of Jackson upon hearing a nearby fraternity house blare the King of Pop's music after his death:
"Oh, now they’re playing Michael Jackson," the suited man declared in exasperation into his phone.
Tying all this back into the Yankees, I hope we get more of A-Rod the great player, and less of A-Rod the freak show, over the next 8 1/2 years. I don't want to see him become another cautionary tale of the perils of fame and fortune at a young age.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Thoughts on two Yankee captains: Thurman Munson and Derek Jeter

Birthday wishes go out to Derek Jeter, who turns 35 today. Jeter' B-day got me to thinking about another Yankee captain, Thurman Munson.

Marty Appel has a new book coming out about the catcher - Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain. I have an advance copy of it - it looks to be a compelling read.

I still get sad thinking about Thurman, and how he was dead at such a young age. He was just 32 when he was killed in that plane crash. To put that in perspective, Jeter is 35 today. Alex Rodriguez will be 34 next month. Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada are 37. Mariano Rivera is 39.

Although August 2, 1979 still seems to be just like it happened yesterday, a whole generation of Yankee players were born after Thurman's death, like Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and of course, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera.

And an entire generation of Yankee fans only knows of Munson after his death. Maybe this year, the 30th anniversary of his passing, they'll know a little more about his life.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Mets thriving in 'Bad' times

To commemorate the death of Michael Jackson, the 'Ropolitans have unearthed an extended video of "Bad" in which one of the dancers is wearing a Met cap.

The video came out in 1987, when the Mets were defending champions and it was trendy to be seen wearing their cap.

It still doesn't look like this is going to be a championship year, but suddenly the Mets are just half a game out of first after taking three of four from St. Louis.

The first-place Cardinals turned out to be not so intimidating. They have a similar lineup problem to the Mets - there's just one scary guy in there, so the other team can pitch around him unless the bases are loaded.

Now the Mets must face the Yankees without their two best pitchers of late - Johan Santana and Fernando Nieve. But Gary Sheffield is coming back and Nick Evans is staying in the lineup. The Mets should have beaten the Yankees two of three last time. Could it happen this time? I would have been more tempted to say yes before A-Rod snapped out of his slump tonight, but I am hopeful that I will have a better time at the ballpark this weekend than Squawker Lisa, the celebrity jinx.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Show your Yankees or Mets flair and win first class seats at Citi Field for the Subway Series

Here's your chance to see Joba Chamberlain and Daniel Murphy in person - and win some premium seats for the Subway Series in the process.

Delta Airlines, the official airline of the Yankees and Mets, is sponsoring a first-class ticket giveaway. Just show up at Pershing Square wearing your best Yankee - or Met flair - Friday at noon. Pershing Square is at 42nd Street and Park Avenue (across from Grand Central Terminal).

The first 50 Yankee fans and 50 Met decked out in team-based attire will be eligible for the contest. Chamberlain and Murphy will each pick a winner for their respective teams. The winners will each get two "first class" field level premium seats for Sunday's Subway Series game at Citi Field, with access to the exclusive Delta Sky360 Club.

Anyhow, I hope some of our readers check this out, whether to enter the contest, or just see Chamberlain and Murphy up close and personal.

That joke isn't funny anymore - bad timing on a Michael Jackson reference

I often make comments about being a jinx on sporting events and such, but what happened today is kind of eerie.

I wrote a blog entry about how Brian Bruney is using a hyperbaric chamber on his elbow. That device, of course, is remembered by many, including myself, as being used by Michael Jackson. So I put a photo of the King of Pop in the blog. And not just any photo, but one of him in the hyperbaric chamber. And I made all sorts of awful puns about Wacko Jacko's music.

A few hours later, I'm reading our comments section, and read Uncle Mike's note that Michael had a heart attack and might be dead. It's such an eerie coincidence, I'm kind of shuddering even looking at the photo of Jackson in the hyperbaric chamber (come to think of it, it looks like he's in a coffin. Yikes!)

It's not like Michael Jackson is a big topic of mine; I hadn't thought about him since his 50th birthday last year. And now he's apparently dead. Rest in peace, Michael.

Thriller! Brian Bruney uses hyperbaric chamber

Update: Obviously, I wrote this story before the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Bad luck and bad timing on my part. Best wishes to the Jackson family.

I don't know quite what to make of this story. The New York Post's George King reports that Brian Bruney is using a portable hyperbaric chamber on his elbow.

"I was in it for 1 to 1½ hours today," Bruney said yesterday. "I thought it helped my foot last year."

A hyperbaric chamber? I know it's a real tool in medicine these days (the oxygen helps healing) but what popped into my mind when hearing about Bruney in the hyperbaric chamber was Michael Jackson. Remember how Wacko Jacko got photographed in one of those devices? What's next - is Bruney going to buy up the Elephant Man's bones, too?

Anyhow, Squawker readers gave me grief last week for coming up with only one John Lennon pun for Nationals' pitcher John Lannan. So I wanna be startin' somethin' here about Bruney, no matter how off the wall it sounds!

Is Bruney going to challenge Francisco Rodriguez to a dance-off this wekend? Maybe the pitcher can use a Jackson song as his theme music. How about "Beat It"? Or "I'll Be There"? Let's hope Bruney's just not "Bad"!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Our long national nightmare is over - Yankees finally win!

It took a home run from an unlikely source - Francisco Cervelli, and a meltdown from Yankee manager Joe Girardi, but the Yankees finally won a game. Oh, and Mariano Rivera got to bat. And yes, Alex Rodriguez actually got a hit.

I was out for a walk last night, listening to the game on the radio, when I heard about Brett Gardner breaking up the Braves' perfect game with a walk, and then getting called out on a pickoff. (And yes, it was a bad call - I watched the replay of it.) Then Joe Girardi got ejected. And the momentum changed.

According to mlb.com's Brian Hoch, Joe Girardi apparently did not use any of the magic words managers usually get ejected for. Impressive! I can't get through one inning of attending a game with Squawker Jon without using at least one of those words!

Anyhow, however Girardi did it, the ejection sparked something with the Yankees. And for the first time in what seemed like forever, the Yanks had some watchable moments, from Cervelli's excitement over his first career homer, to A-Rod getting a big hit, to Mariano Rivera stepping up to the plate. Oh, and Joba Chamberlain finally got another win.

I particularly liked seeing Melky Cabrera giving Mo batting tips, and seeing the entire Yankee team intently watching Rivera's at-bat from the top step of the dugout. And seeing Mariano actually hit the ball, despite being told not to by the coaches!

True, it's only one game, but at least it put the wolves at bay for another day. Speaking of which, I don't quite know what to make about Mark Teixeira's postgame quote about Brian Cashman's surprise visit to Atlanta:

“He was a little fired up,” Mark Teixeira said. “There was no yelling, Cash isn’t that kind of guy. But he was here; he wanted to make himself known. … Sometimes the principal needs to show up in the classroom if the teacher’s having trouble with the students.”

What, is releasing Angel Berroa after he took up a roster spot for three months going to make everybody else worry about their job security? Not as long as Brett Tomko is still gainfully employed by this team. Besides, it's not like anybody's lining up to pick up, say, Hideki Matsui's $13 million contract.

But I do wonder about Teixeira's analogy. If Cashman is the principal, and,teacher Girardi is having trouble with the class, who are the students causing the trouble? And when will demerits be handed out?

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Still plenty of good tickets available for Citi Field's Subway Series

For all the hullabaloo and to-do over unsold Yankee tickets at premium games, it looks like their crosstown rivals are having similar problems. Believe it or not, the Mets still have Subway Series tickets for sale.

Here's the story. If you'll remember, for most of the season, the only way to get guaranteed Subway Series tickets for Citi Field this year was either to buy some partial season ticket plan or pack or whatever they call it in Metsland.

And a few weeks ago, Mets.com had their annual drawing for the opportunity to buy Subway Series tickets. Squawker Jon and I both registered for it, as we've done each year.

But this is the first year one of us actually got chosen. Jon's name was drawn last week, so he had the opportunity to buy four tickets. He got ducats for us for Friday and Sunday.

Jon and I were all pleased with our luck. Then a few days later, I was surprised when I got picked for the second chance ticket-buying opportunity. I passed on it, as I was out of town for the weekend. But I wondered why the tickets weren't sold.

Then this morning, I see in my email yet another ticket-buying opportunity - this one for the general public - for this weekend's series. Granted, all the cheap seats are gone. But there are still other seats available. I was offered Caesars Club Bronze tickets for each of the game. At $161 a ducat, they're too rich for my blood, but they're a bargain compared to the $900 tickets the Yanks still have available for Yankees-Red Sox.

The Mets, of course, still have some of their most expensive tickets - the Delta Club Gold ones - available. They will set you back $525 a piece. Again, compared to Yankee tickets, they are a bargain.

Granted, the Mets are drawing just under 39,000 a game, in a 44,000 or so capacity stadium (42,000 seats plus standing room.) But, much like Yankee Stadium, they appear to also be having a problem selling the most expensive seats. No surprise there. What is surprising to me are all those $161 seats available - I found them for each day. At Yankee Stadium, those type of tickets were long gone before their own Subway Series weekend.

At any rate, Squawker Jon and I, for the first time ever, will be going to two Subway Series games in the same weekend. I'm going to be sure and cheer a lot for my man Luis Castillo!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Ya Gotta Nieve!

Who are these guys? Eleven runs against the first-place Cardinals? Fernando Nieve winning his third game in three starts, all against top teams, with an ERA of 1.31?

On Tuesday, we saw what looked like the "true Met offense" - a depleted lineup mustering only two hits while being shut out by Joel Pineiro. But while tonight's win did feature half a dozen infield hits and shoddy defense by the Cardinals, maybe the Mets are not so punchless after all. They did get six runs on Monday as well.

Maybe Daniel Murphy, Ryan Church, Fernando Tatis and Nick Evans are not bad players, but slumping players who can still make a contribution.

As for Nieve, the Mets have only five wins in the last fourteen games, and Nieve now has three of them. The assumption is that he can't be for real because why would the Astros just release him. But it's not as if the Astros always make good decisions regarding pitchers - a few years back, they let another Venezuelan pitcher go - guy named Johan Santana.

Nieve may not be Santana, but he also may not be Alay Soler. As a rotation fill-in in 2006, Soler pitched a complete-game shutout in his fourth start to improve his record to 2-1 and drop his ERA to .333. Four starts later, he was off the Mets for good and has not pitched in the majors since.

Omar Minaya deserves criticism for assembling a flawed team with no depth, but he deserves praise for patching together the rotation with Nieve, Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding.

Dan Warthen keeps a much lower profile than predecessor Rick Peterson, but he must be doing something right with the unexpected success of Nieve and Livan.

With the Mets scheduled to face Chris Carpenter and CC Sabathia in the next two games, they will be lucky to get eleven hits over both games, much less eleven runs.

But whenever you count this Met team out, they seem to rise to the occasion, even as the injuries mount. And despite it all, the Mets are only a game and a half out of first.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Luis Ayala blows save - of his job

It could be worse for the Mets - at least none of their slumping players are demanding larger roles.

Last year's fill-in closer, Luis Ayala, signed with the Twins this year for $1.3 million. After struggling in the seventh inning, Ayala confronted manager Ron Gardenhire and asked to be traded if he were not going to be used in the eighth inning.

The Twins responded by designating Ayala for assignment.

Gardenhire explained:

"He wanted an eighth-inning role; that's why he signed here," Gardenhire said. "His thoughts were if we gave him the ball in that eighth inning, he'd be able to do the job. My thoughts are, 'If you're not getting them out, you're not going to pitch in the eighth inning.' We're trying to win, so there's your difference."

The story was originally linked in Buster Olney's blog.

The Pirates are said to be interested in Ayala. As long as it's not the Mets!

MMMBop! Hanson stifles Yankee batters


Can't anyone here play this game? Or at least play it with some energy? When Chien-Ming Wang's pitching is perhaps the only highlight of yesterday's loss, that's a bad game. And when the Yankees struggle - again - against another rookie pitcher, it's depressing. And that wasn't even the worst part of the game.

No, the moment that infuriated me the most was what happened after Jorge Posada struck out for the fourth time. The ball got away from Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, but Posada didn't even walk, let alone run, towards first. Unacceptable. If a rookie did what Posada did, there would be a whole to-do over his lack of hustle. But Posada does it, and it's okay? Unreal.

Joe Girardi said after the game he was pleased with the Yankees' effort. Are you kidding me? This team has been batting like they all want to get the game over with for a hot date with Kate Hudson, and Joe's praising the effort? Good grief. My cat C.C. is more motivated, and she sleeps 20 hours a day!

At least Tommy Hanson is a highly touted player (he's even on Squawker Jon's fantasy team) and not a no-name. But still. The Yankees went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position last night. Between A-Rod striking out or feebly popping up, and either Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano seeming to hit into a double play at least once a game, their hitting is terrible.

As Squawker Jon noted, A-Rod's slugging stats are similar to Gary Sheffield's this year, with Sheff's batting average 60 points higher. The numbers, going into Tuesday's game:

Sheffield : 156 AB, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 33 R, .276 BA, .389 OBP, .487 SLG
Rodriguez: 136 AB, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 18 R, .213 BA, .371 OBP, .456 SLG

So the Mets, paying the major league minimum, are getting A-Rod-like production that costs the Yankees $26 million more. Oh great.

Fellow blogger J-Boogie of Baseball and the Boogie Down suggested that it's time for the Yankees to fire hitting coach Kevin Long. It's an interesting thought. And it's amazing to me that we're talking about whether Joe Girardi will lose his job, yet Long's job doesn't appear to be in jeopardy. Perhaps it should be.

I don't know if it's the advance scouting or Long or a combination of both, but the Yankees' approach against pitchers they don't know is terrible. How is it that other teams - like the Red Sox - are able to figure out these pitchers, and the Yankees aren't?

Check out this stat from the New York Times' Tyler Kepner:
In their last nine games, the Yankees faced eight starters they had never faced before. Those pitchers have a combined earned run average of 2.54, and only one allowed more than three earned runs against the Yankees.
The Bergen Record's Pete Caldera has even more depressing numbers. On June 9, the Yanks were in first place, and had won 19 of 25:

Since then, they've been swept (again) by the Sox. They've been shut out three times. They've lost 9 of 13, lost six games in the standings, and they've lost six games since June 13 to starters they'd never previously seen.

Time for the Yankees to start hitting - or for somebody's head to roll.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Cleanup debate: Gary Sheffield vs. A-Rod

Not long ago, I was criticizing Jerry Manuel for batting Gary Sheffield cleanup. But that was in the days before Fernando Tatis batted cleanup.

Now the Mets desperately need Sheffield to be able to play the field and return to the cleanup spot.

Believe it or not, with Sheffield batting fourth, the Mets and Yankees will have cleanup hitters with comparable stats:

Sheffield : 156 AB, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 33 R, .276 BA, .389 OBP, .487 SLG
Rodriguez: 136 AB, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 18 R, .213 BA, .371 OBP, .456 SLG

(number going into tonight's games)

A-Rod has more homers and RBI in fewer at bats, but Sheffield is doing better overall.

Sheffield's numbers won't mean anything if he can't play the field. It's hard to believe that the Mets' injury situation could get worse. But in this case, if you sign a 40-year-old DH, you have to be prepared for him to have trouble playing the field.

Before too long, A-Rod will likely snap out of his slump. Still, at least as of today, the Mets are paying Sheffield the major league minimum to get similar production to that of the highest-paid player in history.

***

In the offseason, J.J. Putz was pleased to be traded from the Mariners, who lost 101 games last year, to the contending Mets.

After tonight's loss, the Mets are 35-34. Going into tonight's game, the Mariners are 35-34.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Red Sox co-owner John Henry is a Twittering twit

The Yankees may be in the tank these days, but Red Sox co-owner John W. Henry just can't stop Twittering about them - and their payroll.

The Boston gazillionaire, who raised eyebrows a few weeks ago when he wrote on Twitter that the Yankees might be suffering from the curse of "MT" - aka Mark Teixeira, is still yakking online about New York's team.

In an Internet conversation this evening with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David about the HBO star's program, Henry tweeted about David's show, "And you didn't spend $400m during the offseason!"
Happy Fathers Day to all dads. Awful wet for a knuckler. 3 ahead of $400m offseason." Get over it, dude.

I'm guessing that $400m offseason figure is in every conversation Henry has. It really has nothing to do with Larry David's part of the discussion, but Henry can't resist tweeting the figure.

You'd think somebody worth $800 million or so would have better things to do than air their petty gripes on the Internet for the world to see, particularly when teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals would love to have the Sox's $120 million payroll.

Then again, you would think that Mark (aka MT) Teixeira saying about Henry that "there's no reason to get into a war of words with a 70-year-old man" would have shut up the co-owner's tweeting. No such luck.

I'm just glad George Steinbrenner wasn't actively running the Yankees in the Internet era. Can you imagine what mayhem he could have caused with a Twitter account? Sheesh.

Subway Squawkers are also on Twitter, causing our own form of mayhem. Follow us here.

What do you think of John Henry? Leave us a comment.

Met memories at Hall of Fame game

I'll never forget the time I saw the great Bob Feller pitch. Though the legendary Cleveland pitcher retired in 1956, it seems like only a couple of days ago.

Actually, it was only a couple of days ago. As Squawker Lisa wrote, we attended the first Baseball Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday. The 90-year-old Feller started the game and, as Lisa noted, even threw inside to Bobby Grich.

When Feller was removed from the game before the end of the first inning, I suspected he had been called up by the Mets. We know how much Omar Minaya loves those veteran pitchers!

While Feller as of yet has not arrived in Flushing, three of the other Hall of Famers in the game had a direct connection to the 1969 Mets:
  • Ferguson Jenkins was the ace of the staff for the 1969 Cubs, who were beaten out by the Mets for the division title.
  • Phil Niekro was the ace of the staff for the 1969 Braves, who lost to the Mets in the NLCS.
  • Brooks Robinson was the star third baseman for the 1969 Orioles, who lost to the Mets in the World Series.
The other Hall of Famer in the game was Paul Molitor.

Oddly enough, the Mets had as many name players in the Hall of Fame Classic as the Yankees did. And the Met names spent more time on the Mets than the Yankee names did. While Jeff Kent and George Foster are best known for their exploits on other teams, they did spend several years in Queens.

The Yankees can claim Niekro, though he did not pitch in the Bronx until he was 45. Jim Kaat played part of two seasons in the Bronx but is probably better known there as an announcer. The other former Yankees in the game were Mike Pagliarulo and Kevin Maas.

It was great to see the Hall of Famers and other great players such as Lee Smith, but some of the participants were, shall we say, not quite as accomplished, such as Jon Warden and Fred Cambria, who each pitched only one season in the majors.

The last time I was in Cooperstown was in July 1994, only a month before the strike that canceled the World Series. And this latest visit came only a day before Don Fehr announced he was stepping down as head of the Players' Union. Maybe my next visit can coincide with the resignation of Bud Selig.

Lisa and I have now attended several "firsts" this year. Along with the first Hall of Fame Classic, we went to the first Met loss at Citi Field (if you count exhibition games), the first night game at the new Yankee Stadium, A-Rod's first game back after his surgery and steroid admission and (alas) the first Subway Series game at the new Yankee Stadium.

This Friday, we will be at the first Subway Series game at Citi Field. Maybe Omar will have Feller in the fold by then.

Is Joe Girardi's job in trouble? One columnist seems to think so

There's a whole to-do in Yankeeland over Bob Klapisch's Bergen Record column suggesting that Joe Girardi is "managing for his job."

Klapisch's main points:
  • Girardi has a "history of putting his foot on the gas," like with the 2006 Marlins pitching staff: "Three of the five starters — Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez – all suffered injuries the following season. And another, Dontrelle Willis, has never been the same." And now, the writer charges, Girardi is doing the same with CC Sabathia.
  • The Yankee manager is too "tight," as one veteran describes him. Klapisch writes that "Girardi’s confidence has turned to a square-jawed form of desperation."
  • Girardi used a "strategy of fear" in bringing in Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning of the Mets game, and "almost got burned."
  • Why is Joe so tight? Because, the columnist charges, "Girardi knows his managerial career will be over if he gets fired by the Yankees."
  • It's also because Girardi is under a lot of "pressure" due to declining ticket sales. Klapisch says that the Yankees' have much "angst over ticket sales — they failed to sell out the Subway Series and are urgently reminding fans that seats are available for the Red Sox series in August." The writer says "that pressure trickles down to Cashman, then to Girardi and, ultimately, to the players."
My own thoughts? Girardi should lose his job if the Yankees don't make the playoffs this year. But Brian Cashman ought to lose his job as well. And Lonn Trost and Randy Levine ought to have lost their jobs already over the new stadium debacle.

Speaking of which, this article makes it sound like there were plenty of seats available for the Subway Series and Yankees-Red Sox games. Sure, there are a plethora of seats - if you don't mind spending $900 a ticket. Otherwise, there is nothing available. We were at the Friday Subway Series game, and it was packed, as were the other games in the series.

I spent some time this morning looking at Ticketmaster to see what is still unsold for the Yanks-Sox. There is literally nothing available in the grandstand, bleachers, terrace, or even the main section. The only tix still not sold are the still-overpriced Legends Suite ones - the seats Trost is responsible for overpricing in the first place. Just because one Record reader complained to Klapisch about getting emails about ticket sales, doesn't mean that there are Yanks-Red Sox tickets available.

Besides, how exactly is Girardi responsible for that sales problem? And if, as Klapisch suggests, the pressure to sell these tickets is ultimately trickling down to management and to the players, then some heads need to roll. But it shouldn't be Joe Girardi's; it should be Trost's - and Levine's.

The columnist also writes that A-Rod can't handle this pressure. Yet he seems to blame Girardi for Alex's slumping state now by not giving him a day off. Which one is it? (I agree that Girardi mismanaged giving Rodriguez rest. But to suggest, as Klapisch seems to, that declining ticket sales are ultimately causing negative pressure on A-Rod is just laughable.)

As for Klapisch's disapproval of Girardi bringing in Mariano in the eighth inning against the Mets, Joe got grief for being too inflexible not bringing him in for the Red Sox game the night before. Which one is it?

Also, was it a "strategy of fear," as Klapisch calls it with Girardi, when Joe Torre used Mo in the eighth inning in big games for both the Red Sox and Mets so many times? Also, as Squawker Jon noted, the heart of the Mets lineup was coming up then. It's also curious how Klapisch assigns blame to Girardi, not Rivera, for the Mets scoring in the eighth.

I do think Girardi mismanaged A-Rod's rest and recovery. And even though I wanted Girardi to replace Joe Torre, I also think Girardi deserves to lose his job if the Yanks don't make the playoffs this year. But I disagree with the other complaints against Girardi listed in this column.

What do you think about Joe Girardi? Tell us about it!

No core, no problem for Mets

It's bad enough that the Mets are so riddled with injuries that Jose Reyes and trainer Ray Ramirez can get in an auto accident ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

But as the Star-Ledger reports, the Mets couldn't even give a straightforward account of this non-injury story. Tim Redding apparently "spilled the beans" in the postgame news conference after the Mets kept quiet about it all day.

We know that the Mets have trouble giving straight answers on injuries. But what is there to hide about about a minor traffic accident? Was Reyes really looking for a late-night snack? Was Kate Hudson in the car?

I would like to believe that Carlos Beltran will be back as soon as he is eligible to return in two weeks. But who knows with the Mets. Let's hope it's really just his knee and that he can recover quickly from his bone bruise.

One thing I will predict for two weeks from now is that the Mets will still be close to a playoff spot. Nothing seems to stop this team from staying in contention. And it's not just that the Phillies are struggling - if the Mets were in the Central, they would be only 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Except for the Dodgers, no NL team has a significantly better record than the Mets.

It was great to see the Mets get six runs and 14 hits tonight, but two of the runs scored on plays in which the ball clearly beat the runner to the plate.

In the fourth inning, Luis Castillo doubled and Omir Santos tried to score from first. The throw beat him by a wide margin, but the ball skipped past catcher Yadier Molina. In the eighth, the umpire ruled that Castillo avoided Molina's tag, though replays suggested he might have been out.

The Mets lineup only had 16 homers going into the game. Nineteen players on other teams have 16 homers. So it could be argued that they need to gamble for every run they get. But if Razor Shines is allowed to send most runners, it will not end up well. It worked out tonight, but the Mets could have ended up with only four runs on those 14 hits, and perhaps a 5-4 loss.

Still, a win is a win, and now the Mets have another shot at winning a series for the first time since early June.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Cooperstown baseball game is a classic

While I missed most of what was happening in Yankeeland this weekend, we did get to see some baseball Sunday. We went to the Hall of Fame Classic game in Cooperstown, featuring MLB Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Brooks Robinson, and Phil Niekro, and dozens of other former players.

This Old Timers' Day for Major League Baseball replaces the Hall of Fame game. What a great idea, and what great fun it was to see it in person. Bob Feller may be 90 years old, but he can still pitch. He started the game, and even threw inside to Bobby Grich!

Former Met George Foster was there (albeit in Reds gear.) Former Yankees in the game included Mike Pagliarulo, Kevin Maas, Jim Kaat, and Lee Smith.

Since there were a ton of pitchers participating, some of them played in the field instead of pitching. So Squawker Jon and I got to see retired Red Sox Bill Lee and Mike Timlin play right field, near where we were sitting.

One of the cooler things about seeing a game like this is watching the way players interact with the fans. And I have to say I was impressed with the players we saw up close.

We saw Bob Feller up close after he had just signed autographs for fans, and he has such an iconic presence I was in awe. Jeff Kent, believe it or not, was very friendly to fans.

Mike Timlin was totally into the whole experience - he had all the other players sign his shirt, and he also signed autographed baseballs for fans who tossed him balls during the game.

We saw Bill Lee - who was wearing such an old-school Red Sox uniform it didn't have a name or a number on the back! - after the game on Main Street. He was signing autographs on the street and talking animatedly to somebody he knew. I was going to ask him if there were going to be any more 70s Yankees-Red Sox reunion games - he participated in one in Scranton last year - but he had to leave before I got the chance to talk to him.

I'll have to go back to Cooperstown later this year - we didn't get the chance to tour the Hall of Fame itself - but the day was still a lot of fun.

After a relaxing weekend in upstate New York, we headed back to the city this afternoon. To get caught up on what's been going on with the Yankees while I was away this weekend, I put on sports radio. Big mistake. Was A-Rod out late with Kate Hudson Friday night? Did he beg out of the game? Was there friction between him and Joe Girardi? A little of this talk goes a long way; when I heard Steve Phillips opine on the situation, it was time to turn the radio off for the day!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Happy Fathers' Day. Greetings from upstate New York. Will be headed to Cooperstown soon to - weather permitting - see that Hall of Fame Classic game.

A few quick notes before hitting the road:

Love the Jimmy Buffett reference with the name of Florida's stadium. Land Shark Stadium is named after his Margaritaville-brand beer. Did you know that he also has an album called Now Yer Squawkin'? Imagine if they named the ballpark after that!

Depending on which Florida paper you read, either A-Rod turned his back on the city of Miami and selfishly demanded Friday and Saturday off, or the Yankee higher-ups demanded he be benched, saying "you're hurting the team." Color me confused!

Hopefully, we will get to see baseball - and not just rain - this afternoon. And that goes for South Florida, too!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The dog days of June wear down the Squawkers

I told Squawker Jon last night I was bone-tired and running on empty. I said I needed a break from this relentless pace of Squawking. "I've written every day this season," I told him. "Give me a day off now."

But Jon insisted upon putting me into the Squawker lineup. "Better keep on writing," he demanded. "We have fans expecting to read you."

There were rumors that we spoke sharply to each other and needed a conference call with Yankee higherups to work things out. At any rate, I got a little more than 24 hours away from Squawking, before having to pinch-Squawk tonight. I feel like A-Rod or something!

Here's the real story. One of my brothers was in New York State this weekend for a basenji convention, of all things. Basenjis are dogs that don't bark - they kind of howl and yodel!

So Squawker Jon came along with me to keep me company on the drive upstate. We're in Syracuse now with a whole mess of hounds. It's kind of how what it would be like to put Met fans, Yankee fans, and Red Sox fans in the same room. They might get along, but there could also be some howling!

Anyhow, I missed seeing most of last night's game, and also missed much of tonight's game. I think A-Rod's time off was long overdue, and I'm glad to see good pitching performances out of Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett. Just wish the Yankee bats would wake up a little more.

Tomorrow afternoon, we're going to Cooperstown on the way back to the city to see the Hall of Fame Classic. It's the Old Timers' Day featuring five Hall of Famers and 20 other retired big leaguers. We're looking forward to seeing the 90-year-old Bob Feller start the game!

What do you think of the state of the Yankees? Leave us a comment!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Modell's Fan Contest winners announced

Two fellow Met bloggers, Matthew Artus from Always Amazin' and Adam Salazar from Brooklyn MetFan.com, along with the Cow-Bell Man himself, Eddie Boison, picked the winners of Modell's Mets Fan Contest Tuesday night at Queens Center Mall. They are Sal Candiano (orange cap) of Freeport, NY, and Roger Kowalski of Maspeth, NY.

Sal and Roger are die-hard Mets fans who met up at the Modell's Sporting Goods store and entered into the Mets fan duo contest. They will be at Met games throughout the year in the Mo's Zone section leading the crowd in cheers.

Let's hope they have something to cheer about!

Washington Nationals bring the pain to the Yankees

A woeful Washington team beats the mighty Yankees? As my writing partner noted, are we watching a real-life revival of "Damn Yankees" or what!

It was bad enough watching John Lannan play mind games on the Yanks in person Wednesday night. But I can only imagine how miserable it must have been to be at Thursday's game. Waiting for 5 1/2 hours through the rain, only to see such uninspired baseball? Getting shut down by Craig Stammen, a pitcher whose name sounds like a flower part? Even getting to sit in the lower level seats and getting a raincheck for a future game wouldn't have made up for that misery. Come to think of it, if the fans had known exactly how uninspired the game would be, maybe they would have rushed for the exits instead of down to the field level seats!

To top it all off, Brett Gardner had to be carted off the field after hitting his head against the left field plexiglass while making a play. What a nightmare.

The saddest thing about this series is that I'm not the least bit surprised at how the games turned out, partly because I still have bad memories about witnessing the Nationals getting two walkoff wins in a row against the Yanks in 2006. Here's what I wrote before this week's series:

I am not as confident as some other Yankee fans that the Bombers will kill the Washington Nationals this week. Yes, the Nats are the worst team in baseball. But they have three pitchers the Yankees don't know, and they have a bunch of guys, like Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman, who could very well hit an awful lot of homers in the new Yankee Stadium.....

So, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Yanks lose a game or two (or, heaven forbid, three!) to the Nationals. Well, they probably won't lose three. But two isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The Yanks can't even blame the long ball on the loss - it was the first homerless game of the year.

I was also peeved by the postgame. There was way too much praise of the Nationals, instead of self-criticism, going on, most notably when Joba Chamberlain seemed way too pleased with his efforts:

"They had some good at-bats," he said. "It's not always me. They do a great job of knowing their plans."

Good grief.

Joe Girardi ticked me off as well. He was asked when Alex Rodriguez would be getting a game off, and he didn't seem interested in doing so any time soon, suggesting that he would just have to play through this.

What planet is Girardi on? A-Rod is coming off major surgery, yet he hasn't gotten a single game off in the 38 games since returning to the lineup. He's only gotten to DH once since coming back. And his numbers are tumbling - he's gotten exactly three hits in his last 10 games, something he himself has blamed on "fatigue more than anything."

So why in the world hasn't Joe given him a day off? Heck, since the Yankees mailed it in for the Nationals series anyway, they might as well have rested A-Rod then!

Now the Yankees are off to Land Shark Stadium (yes, that is the park's new name!) to play the Florida Marlins. Why am I thinking there's fins to the left, fins to the right, and the Yanks are the only bait in town?

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts - and gripes - about the Yankees!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not so fast on Aubrey Huff

It's been almost a week since the Mets had a heartbreaking loss, so you had to figure they were due.

It figures that on the night when Francisco Rodriguez blew a save for real and not just in the stats, Luis Castillo would make two great plays in the field.

But you can't save them all, not when Aubrey Huff is putting on a show for the Mets, going 6 for 12 with 4 RBI, 2 runs, a homer, and a double. Whether or not he ends up a Met, he has already had an impact on their playoff chances, with two game-winning hits on consecutive nights.

Huff now has nine homers and 45 RBI. Both numbers top anyone on the Mets.

So the Mets should do whatever they can to get Huff, right?

Maybe not.

Huff's numbers are much better at Camden Yards than on the road. Seven of his nine homers have come at home, where he has a slugging percentage of .500 and an OPS of .855. On the road, he slugs .371 with a mediocre OPS of .667.

The lefthanded Huff has even worse lefty-righty splits, batting .297 against righties but only .209 against lefties (all percentages going into tonight's game).

Huff has not played the outfield since 2006. This year he has only appeared at first base and DH. So if he came to the Mets, he would probably play first, unless the Mets wanted to have a second DH type out there along with Gary Sheffield.

But Huff playing first would probably put an end to Daniel Murphy's contributions to the Mets for this year at least, since it does not seem likely that the Mets would return him to the outfield.

Murphy ended up with a pretty good series himself, going 4 for 12 with 3 RBI, 2 runs and a double. Murphy doubled in the run that put the Mets ahead, 3-2, before Francisco Rodriguez went on to blow the lead and the game.

Murphy and Ryan Church have not had a chance to stay in the lineup when they are going well. When Gary Sheffield came in, Jerry Manuel kept jerking Murphy and Church in and out of the lineup, which could not have been a good thing for their confidence.

If the Mets could get Aubrey Huff without giving up anything, that would be one thing. But it would be a shame to further deplete the farm system and possibly jerk Murphy around again and Church as well, only to find Huff does not hit so well outside of Camden Yards.

***

Squawker Lisa saw the musical "Damn Yankees" last year. In the show, a member of the lowly Washington team sells his soul to the Devil so he can lead Washington to victory over the Yankees. This year, Lisa, you got to see the revival in the Bronx!

Jonathan Papelbon says 'of course' he would consider being a Yankee one day

Think having Pedro Martinez as a Yankee would be a hard sell? Well, how about Jonathan Papelbon in pinstripes?

The Red Sox reliever, who is eligible for free agency in 2011, talked on SIRIUS XM Radio's MLB Home Plate channel today about whether he ever would consider switching sides and becoming a Yankee:

Host, Jody McDonald: “If you couldn’t work out a contract with the Red Sox before free agency comes up and you eventually become a free agent, is the Bronx ever a possibility?”

Jonathan Papelbon: “Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’t come to terms with you they’re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else.’ And I think it’s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’ll can’t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’ Not only in the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career.’ Because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted and play on a team where I’m wanted and that’s all I can really say about that, you know?”

Quotes courtesy of Sirius/XM Radio

Good answer, Jonathan! We all know how live-and-let-live Boston fans are! I'm sure they'll understand you considering to be a Yankee if it were best for you (Translation - if the Steinbrenner family backs up the Brinks truck to the Papelbon home.) The Red Sox fans will be cool with you playing in the Bronx. Just as long as you're happy, dude!

And I'm sure Yankee fans will have no hard feelings about the way you wanted to be the closer instead of Mariano Rivera in last year's All-Star Game. Or how you taunted fans with your ring at the All-Star Parade. Not to mention all the big games you closed against the Yanks.

Besides, your mature and thoughtful actions have endeared you to me and to our readers. From your lovely dance steps to your demure post-game celebrations, you've been a real class act. Why, if you become a Yankee, we'll call you Cinco Dopo with affection!

Okay, now we will enter the sarcasm-free portion of this blog entry. In this radio interview, Papelbon showed why I call him Cinco Dopo. Here's how the closer should have answered that question about free agency:

"Jody, I'm just playing them one game at a time and focusing on doing whatever I can to help the Red Sox win a few more World Championships. Love that dirty water!"

Instead, Papelbon was honest that he is going to do what's best for him. Which is the way nearly all of these guys feel. Most of them know enough not to say that, though.

But he's not going to get any points for candor. Boston fans will be displeased with him even considering putting on the pinstripes, and Yankee fans don't want to imagine what it would be like if Papelbon turned sides.

So yeah, my Yankees may have just suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the lowly Washington Nationals, but at least I know that Boston fans will feel a little hot under the collar over what Papeblbon said. And another closer, the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez, just got beaten by the Orioles. Thank goodness for small favors!

What do you think of what Jonathan Papelbon said? Leave us a comment!