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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ex-Mets are unlikely heroes for Phillies

The Phillies are just a game behind the Mets, thanks to their win over the Reds, which was powered by three-run homers by none other than Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez. What's up with seemingly washed-up ex-Mets finding success in Philadelphia? Last year, it was Pedro Martinez starting in the World Series and Chan Ho Park contributing in the bullpen.

The Mets signed a washed-up ex-Phillie in the offseason, but Chris Coste didn't make it out of spring training.

But Hisanori Takahashi's latest meltdown tonight could increase the odds of a far-from-washed-up ex-Phillie coming to the Mets. The Cliff Lee rumors are reaching fever pitch, with Gary Apple breathlessly reporting on SNY Sportsnite that "the latest has the Mariners interested in a Mets package that includes Angel Pagan, Josh Thole and Jenrry Mejia."

Now that would be a great deal for the Mets. Instead of just mortgaging the future by dealing Mejia, they could also mortgage the present by getting rid of their starting centerfielder and no. 2 hitter.

Carlos Beltran may be back soon, but who knows when - or if - he will be the Beltran of old. And even if Beltran has fully recovered, Pagan could end up replacing Jeff Francoeur in right or at least platooning with him.

It doesn't make sense to rent a player for the stretch run if you give up other players you need for the stretch run. Earlier today, Chris Carlin said that he would give up Jon Niese to get Lee. But that would be filling a hole in the rotation by creating another one.

I hope LeBron James takes his time picking a team. Because once he does, it's going to be all Cliff Lee all the time around here. And the speculation will only get wilder. Why would Seattle even want a package of Pagan, Thole and Mejia when the only healthy player is Thole?

If Seattle is looking for MLB-ready players recovering from injuries, here's a package I'd be happy to send for Lee - Oliver Perez and John Maine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why the Mets should not pursue Cliff Lee

It was only six years ago that the Mets went for it at the trade deadline, acquiring Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson for some prospects. Even at the time, many people questioned the wisdom of dealing one of the prospects, Scott Kazmir. But Kazmir was only 20 - it would be years before he could contribute.

Maybe it's because Kazmir is struggling these days that so many people are clamoring for the Mets to trade their current 20-year-old pitching phenom, Jenrry Mejia, to rent Cliff Lee for two months. But let's not forget that Kazmir has already had a lot more success in the bigs than most of the pitchers that the Mets have acquired since they gave him away. From 2005-8, Kazmir won at least 10 games with an ERA under 3.50 in three of those years and 3.77 the other year. In 2007, Kazmir struck out 239 in 206 2/3 innings. And he did all these in the AL East.

Now with the Angels, Kazmir is struggling to match his early sucesses. But he is still only 26.

Cliff Lee is a drastically better pitcher than Zambrano or Benson and there is no assurance that Mejia will pan out. But with previous top pitching prospect Brad Holt struggling, it's not as if the Mets have a lot of prospects beyond Mejia. And now Mejia is hurt.

One would think that this year's contributions from Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada would prove to Met watchers that the way to build a lasting contender is through a productive farm system. Instead, everyone except Davis appears to be potentially up for grabs.

Niese might be pitching over his head and Tejada may ultimately be a fill-in, but where would the Mets be without them this year? Let's say that Tejada was all that stood in the way of landing Lee. That could be a great deal for the Mets (which is why the Mariners won't do it) but if you're trying to win now, you've just given up the guy who became your second baseman around when the team got hot. Will the Mets play as well when Luis Castillo is back in the lineup?

The last time the Mets traded with the Mariners (for J.J. Putz) one of the seemingly minor pieces they gave up was Jason Vargas, who is 6-3 this year with a 2.80 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Vargas is a 27-year-old lefty. If the Mets still had Vargas, maybe they wouldn't need to be looking for starting pitching now.

But let's say the Mets are able to get Lee without giving up too much. And Lee continues to pitch great. Then, at the end of the year, Lee becomes a free agent - and signs with the Yankees.

The Mets basically rented Mike Hampton for a year and he pitched them into the World Series. Yet Hampton barely registers on any list of popular ex-Mets. When he left, the worst thing he did was talk about the school system in Colorado. Lee, on the other hand, is determined to test free agency, and as a top lefty who proved himself in the World Series - against the Yankees - he will definitely be at the top of the Yankees' list in the offseason with Javier Vazquez and perhaps Andy Pettitte departing.

But if the Mets sign the 32-year-old Lee to a big contract, that could be worse. Do the Mets really want another veteran pitcher on a big contract now that Johan Santana is struggling? Not to mention Oliver Perez and how things turned out for Pedro Martinez.

I'd love to see Lee on the Mets with a three-year deal, but he'll want five and probably get it. And that will leave the Mets as the first team to pay two starters over $20M a year. Both over 30 with injury histories.

At least when the Mets signed Perez and Francisco Rodriguez to big contracts, they were only 27. Santana was not yet 30.

Sure, if Lee wanted to sign with the Mets for $100M over five years, my first instinct would be to be all for it. Just like I was for signing Pedro, Johan and Jason Bay. I haven't given up on Bay, and I still think Carlos Beltran was a good signing. But as of now, the Mets have a lot of big contracts dragging them down.

By constantly going for the short-term fix, the Mets keep entering boom-or-bust cycles. Why not seriously try to build a farm system for a change? That means spending more on the draft, which is still not happening as much as it should. It means not dumping Billy Wagner for Chris Carter, but holding on to him to collect two top draft choices as the Red Sox did.

If the Mets had gotten draft choices for Wagner, they would have a deeper farm system, and would be in a better position to deal for someone like Lee than by potentially sacrificing their top prospects.

And if they still had Kazmir and Vargas, they would be in an even better position.

Shocker! ESPN's Wallace Matthews actually writes something fair on A-Rod!

ESPN New York's Wally Matthews is a huge A-Rod hater. Time after time, he writes columns criticizing Alex Rodriguez on the most petty of issues, so it was a big surprise to see Matthews' name attached to a very good story entitled "A-Rod shows more class than Torre."

For all the talk about A-Rod snubbing Joe Torre, nobody on the Yankee beat seemed to notice that Torre didn't exactly fall over himself approaching Rodriguez, either. Until now. Matthews writes:

All weekend, Torre talked about how he had no hard feelings toward Rodriguez, how he hoped that Rodriguez held none toward him and how he would "certainly go over and shake his hand.''

Torre talked and talked and talked. But Rodriguez was the one who acted.

And whether you think it was staged or not -- Rodriguez was seen huddling with Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo up the right-field line before suddenly turning and bolting with his hand outstretched toward Torre -- the fact is, A-Rod made the first move.

Heck, A-Rod made the only move. And for that, he deserves some credit.
Matthews was just griping this weekend about how A-Rod made this story about himself by not approaching Torre. But the real person who orchestrated this story in the media was Torre himself, by talking about it with reporters constantly. If shaking Joe's hand was so important to him, why didn't he make the first move?

Matthews even sent a little criticism St. Joe's way in his column:
Considering the difference in age and maturity, and the fact that it was Torre who co-wrote the book which contained embarrassing passages about A-Rod, it certainly seemed to be Torre's place to approach Rodriguez, rather than vice versa.

But Torre never did that. And his disclaimer -- "Well, he was busy'' -- to explain why he and A-Rod managed to not cross paths came off as disingenuous and even a little snarky.
Good points, and that's what the media completely missed in this story - that Torre should have been the one to approach him, and not vice versa.

Like Michael Kay, I myself was hoping Rodriguez wouldn't bother talking to Torre at all. But in retrospect, I think what he did worked out fine. A-Rod did look like the bigger person.

As for Torre, I had to laugh when I read that he was ticked off at the Los Angeles Times for not completely writing the party line about him:
Torre was upset with a story in the Sunday edition of The Times in which it was written that Rodriguez was described as "a head case" in "The Yankee Years."

Here are a couple of quotes from the book about Rodriguez that are directly attributed to Torre:

-- "When it comes to a key situation, he can't get himself to concern himself with getting the job done, instead of how it looks."

-- "For me success was still going to be about pitching. But seeing his personality concerned me because you could see his focus was on individual stuff."

Torre later explained that whatever he was quoted as saying in the book, he had already said to Rodriguez directly beforehand. The reason he became upset Sunday, he said, was that he was tired of how the book was portrayed as a hit piece on Rodriguez when it was about the landscape of baseball.

Landscape of baseball, eh? Get over yourself, Joe. Your score-settling hit piece will never be mistaken for "The Glory of Their Times II."

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Roscoe the Bed Bug Dog, Jerry Seinfeld, Lady Gaga, and Carl Pavano

With all the excitement going on in Yankeeland with the Dodgers series this weekend, I haven't had much time to focus on some other big topics. Well, let me start with squawking about that complete game shutout Saturday the Mets faced at the hands of Carl Pavano, ace of the Twins staff! Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire says about the ex-Yankee:
"He's been great," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire echoed. "He's a great teammate, a fun guy to have on the team. He's in the dugout rooting for us all the time."
I guess he was in the Carl Pavano Memorial MRI tube rooting for the Yankees when he was on the team, but I doubt it!

* * *

Last week, I did get to listen to a little of Jerry Seinfeld's play-by-play when he was on the Mets broadcast. He said that he had that Bed Bug Dog sniff out his suite after Lady Gaga's infamous visit to Citi Field. ""We brought the bed-bug dog in, Rusty, what's his name? The beagle and it's all clean," Jerry joked.

Anyhow, Roscoe the Bed Bug Dog, the canine in question, was happy to hear that Seinfeld talked about him on the air, even though he did mistakenly call him "Rusty." Here's what the beagle had to say:

Since last night's Mets game against the Detroit Tigers, in which comedian Jerry Seinfeld made reference to me as part of his burgeoning feud with singer Lady Gaga, I've received many calls and emails from friends, family and fans.  Many were excited that a person of Jerry Seinfeld's stature would mention me on air.  Others, though, were surprised that he thought my name was Rusty.  

I was watching the game, and my initial reaction was: Thanks for the mention, but I'm Roscoe! Between my TV ads, my face on a fleet of Bell vehicles and all the work I do in New York City, I get a lot of recognition. But I understand that Jerry splits his time between the West Coast and New York City, so he doesn't see me as often as most other New Yorkers do.  

Just as the character Jerry was complimented that baseball star Keith Hernandez would recognize him in one of the Seinfeld episodes, I'm flattered that the real life Jerry Seinfeld would remember me from my commercials, or from seeing me on fleet of the Bell Environmental vehicles all over New York City.  I'm in Jerry's neighborhood -- the Upper West Side -- a couple times a week on business, and he may have seen me or even had friends or neighbors use my service.

After meeting with my people at Bell Environmental Services, I'd be more than happy to throw Jerry a bone - that's dog humor -- and inspect his stadium box, office, or home for him.  And that goes for Lady Gaga too.  I like Lady Gaga's outfits -- after all I'm a dog who goes to work wearing just a collar.

When is Roscoe getting his own show? Or at least his own gig in the Mets broadcast booth? Funny stuff! I'm following him on Twitter now!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Joe Torre's bullpen mismanagement, Yankee rally add up to my favorite game of the season

Last night's Yankees-Dodgers game was the best win of the year, even better than seeing Jonathan Papelbon get knocked around in Yankee Stadium last month. What a game!

It was cool to see rookies Colin Curtis and Chad Huffman looking so poised when contributing to that four-run, ninth-inning rally. It was fun to see A-Rod hit his third homer in five games. And it was great to see MVP candidate (there, I said it!) Robinson Cano put the Yankees ahead in the 10th! Then Mariano Rivera continued to flummox Dodgers batters, and LA was left fuming - again - at the end.

I, of course, also really enjoyed seeing Joe Torre's bullpen management helping the Yankees for once. Torre used closer Jonathan Broxton for four outs on Saturday, even though the Dodgers had a five-run lead in that game. He had also used him four times (and had him warm up one time) in the last five days, none of which were save situations. And Torre left Broxton in the game for 48 (!) pitches last night, even though he clearly didn't have it.


Here's the thing. Broxton might be the best closer in the National League. His ERA going into the game was a miniscule 0.83, with him giving up just three runs the entire year. Last night, he gave up four runs, and saw his ERA more than double, shooting up to 1.87. It's not like he's some bum - he just had a bad night, thanks to no small part to misuse by his manager.

Of course, even though I saw plenty of fan comments online last night - from both Yankees and Dodgers fans - about Torre's bullpen mismanagement, the only story I could find in the mainstream media this morning about the issue suggested that the Dodgers need to spend money and buy Torre another bullpen arm. What, so he could ruin that pitcher, too? Good grief.

One other thing - what was up with all the Dodger bunts? Were they trying to test A-Rod's bad hip? Not very classy, Joe. Too bad you never ordered a bunt attempt in Curt Schilling's bloody sock game. 

At any rate, the Yankees looked sooooooo happy in the postgame interviews. That must have been some enjoyable flight home!


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Won't you come back, Dave Eiland? A.J. Burnett needs you!

If Friday night's Yankees-Dodgers game was one of the more exciting ones of the year, Saturday's game was one of the most painful to watch. It wasn't just that A.J. Burnett looked like Dontrelle Willis did against the Yankees last week. (Actually, Burnett was much worse, come to think of it!) It was that the game dragged on, and on, and on. The first inning took forever. Three hours had passed before the fifth inning was over.

I didn't stay up for the whole game - I went to bed when the score was 9-4 Dodgers, and felt like I had watched fifteen innings or something, because what I did see dragged on so long.

A.J. Burnett seems to desperately need pitching coach Dave Eiland back - he's been in a downward spiral ever since Eiland left the team due to some undisclosed personal issue. Please come back soon, Dave! Yankee fans are flipping out over watching A.J. pitch!


And so much for skipping Phil Hughes, eh?

It figures that the Yankees lost, though - it was a FOX game, and the Yankees' record in those games always seems to be bad. And having to hear Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the booth added to my misery. All the effusive, unwarranted praise for Joe Torre was just nauseating. The two of them acted as if "The Yankee Years" book never existed, and that nobody in the world, except for maybe Alex Rodriguez, had anything but positive stuff to say about Teflon Torre.

They went on and on about how Joe increased attendance, and somehow was involved with the YES Network become a success, and stuff that sounded like it came straight from Torre's mouth. Buck even suggested that Torre would make a great MLB Commissioner. Yeah, because somebody who tells private tales about incredible people like Johnny Damon, all the while preaching the sanctity of the clubhouse, is just the guy I want running the game. Good grief.

Billy Crystal and his dopey Switzerland hat were also nauseating. Guess he didn't read "The Yankee Years" either - his "good friend" Torre threw him under the bus in that book, griping about Crystal getting a World Series ring from the Yankees in 2000.

Then there was the train wreck that was Tommy Lasorda and Reggie Jackson in the booth. Actually, Reggie was fine. It was Lasorda who seemed to have had a bellyful of bile and bitterness, showing incredible hostility towards Reggie. He kept on threatening to deck him, and said Reggie would never be able to hit his curve ball. Huh? I guess I missed when Lasorda was a Hall of Fame pitcher. Lasorda also said Jackson was "about as funny as a bloody nose," but it was the Dodgers' old manager, not Mr. October, who made a fool of himself in the booth.


Banter like that needs to be good-natured, or it just comes off like you're stuck in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" or something. FOX owes fans an apology for that nonsense.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shocker! Joe Torre stays awake for the whole Yankees-Dodgers game

One of the more amazing things about last night's New York Yankees/Los Angeles Dodgers matchup was that Joe Torre actually was awake during the game - and standing! And cursing!

It was utterly hilarious to watch him and Don Mattingly throw such uncharacteristic temper tantrums at the end of the game. They're freaking out over a called strike call on a pitch that Mariano Rivera threw? Ha! Gee, Joe, you might have gotten upset over, oh I don't know, the umpires insisting on playing a game despite a swarm of midges. Just saying.

Oh, and does A-Rod's homer against Vicente Padilla - the inning after Padilla got plunked by CC Sabathia in retaliation for the pitcher hitting Robinson Cano- count as "clutch"? Just wondering.

You know, I thought of something this morning regarding the whole Torre/A-Rod issue. How many times did we hear reporters over the years say A-Rod just needs to be himself, and say what he really thinks, instead of the right thing to say? And yet when he does that, not pretending to like Torre, the likes of George King are pushing him to say something fake, just because the Four Rings guys still like Torre. Unreal. It just goes to show that no matter what A-Rod says or does, the media will find a way to rip the guy.

I was reading the comments on Wally Matthews' latest anti-A-Rod piece, and they were better written and more intelligent than Matthews' hack job. Typical.

On another note - I saw that the New York Post changed their headline at the top of the page (the one with a little photo of A-Rod) from "A-Rod ruins reunion" to Love & War." Very interesting. Guess I wasn't the only person who thought that headline was a bad idea for a New York paper to run!

But you know what's been missing this weekend? Brian Cashman is apparently just as tired of Torre's act as A-Rod is, yet the media really hasn't highlighted how he, too, doesn't want to talk about Torre.

Jack Curry put it this way on Twitter (hat tip to reader Riddering):

Asked Brian Cashman about .Joe Torre twice 2day. He went no comment. For usually helpful Cashman to do that shows there's still enmity.

Very interesting!

In addition, somebody in the Yankee front office (and somebody in the Steinbrenner) must have talked with Buster Olney about Torre. He wrote a really interesting piece about how Torre is still despised in those quarters for his book. A few tidbits:
...When Torre took aim at others in his book, selling memories of in-house disagreements that he had always talked about hiding from public view, the collective opinion of him changed forever within the Yankees' organization. They found his portrayal of particular events to be fiction. They thought he unnecessarily demonized the Steinbrenner sons. They were stunned by how he torpedoed general manager Brian Cashman, who had shielded him through the years from the wrath of George Steinbrenner and been his strongest advocate. And they were appalled by what they viewed as cheap shots at the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano; in Pavano's case, Torre was in a unique position to know that all of his injuries were legitimate. In short, they came to view him as a hypocrite.

Torre has sometimes hid behind his co-author on the book, Tom Verducci, saying that Verducci learned a lot of the details contained within the book. But the people he left behind in the Bronx will never accept that excuse; Torre's name is on the cover, and it was his choice whether to include the passages that painted A-Rod, Pavano, Cashman and others in a negative light.
Olney seems to think that the only way Torre will ever repair things is to get in touch with Hal Steinbrenner to ask for a reconciliation -- without any financial strings attached. I think that sounds about right.

The writer also reveals:
For Torre, the anger and fury goes far beyond just one person, which will complicate any attempt at reconciliation. Even if one of the Steinbrenner sons and daughters ever thought about reaching out to Torre -- and to this point, there is no sign of that happening -- they would also know that those around them would not want to have anything to do with Torre if he came back, and they would probably refuse to welcome him back, or shake his hand.

To me, one of the worst things in the book was the way he trashed Steinbrenner - the person who catapulted him into legendary status - at a time The Boss when he was no longer able to defend himself. And to reveal personal details about Steinbrenner's health to sell books was just unspeakable. No wonder he's still persona non grata in Yankeeland.


What do you think? Tell us about it!

A-Rod ruins the media's Joe Torre lovefest

What an exciting game last night! Between CC Sabathia getting Yankee payback by plunking Vicente Padilla (an action Joe Torre frowned upon as not being classy back when he was Yankee manager) and Alex Rodriguez getting some big payback of his own against Joe Torre, it was a great win. We even had Manny Ramirez muffing the ball!

So this morning, when I got online to read about the game, I was annoyed to see the negative tone of some of the stories I saw. A-Rod ruins reunion: that's the headline I saw this morning when I logged onto the New York Post's web site. Huh?

George King's lede was this: "Alex Rodriguez made no effort to find Joe Torre and possibly talk about what is chapping him about his former manager." Please. This is the third time this week King is playing so dumb about why A-Rod despises St. Joe. The writer even made himself part of the story the other day, confronting Alex about St. Joe after he had already been asked three separate times by reporters about Torre:
Asked by The Post at the indoor batting cage why he answered the questions the way he did, Rodriguez refused to elaborate. Informed that what he didn’t say was bound to cause a stir considering the God-like status Torre has with Yankees fans and the fact that Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte praised Torre, Rodriguez didn’t react other than to turn and take a hack at a ball on the batting “T.’’
King needs to get out more. Unlike in the press box, where he is still worshipped, Torre no longer holds anything close to "God-like status" among most Yankee fans. And whether the four rings guys like Joe is irrelevant here - Torre didn't bat them eighth and trash them in his book, did he?

Then there's our old buddy Wally Matthews, who gripes that Friday"was supposed to be about the two managers," but A-Rod made it all about him by...not being a phony and going to shake Torre's hand. The ESPN writer sez:

But, A-Rod Being A-Rod, he had already taken steps that not only guaranteed all eyes would be on him Friday night, but throughout the rest of the weekend as well.

He did it by making it clear he would be going out of his way to have no part of his former manager, even as several of his teammates -- including the four most important ones -- were going out of their way to pay tribute to Torre....
There are a few other ballplayers as talented as Rodriguez on the field, a few of whom are even on his team. And yet, none of them are as talented at grabbing the spotlight even when it is trained on someone else.
So Rodriguez grabs the spotlight by...doing nothing? Bad, bad A-Rod!


I, for one, am glad that he didn't put on an act of being glad to see Joe. The media may have the memory skills of Dory in "Finding Nemo," but Rodriguez hasn't forgotten what Torre did to him. As Tim Brown wrote in a great Yahoo Sports column about the situation:
Rodriguez heard and came to believe Torre referred to him as a “pretty boy,” and that Torre had picked a side in the A-Rod-Jeter chill, and in his book fed the “A-Fraud” drama. But, none of it stung quite as much as when he arrived at Detroit’s Comerica Park for a division series game one Saturday afternoon, the Yankees playing to extend their season, to discover Torre had chosen his scapegoat.
When somebody wrongs somebody else, it is up to the person who did the wrongdoing to make the effort to make amends. Especially if that person is supposed to be the legendary paragon of class, and an elder statesman in baseball. That means that if any handshakes were to be initiated, the person doing so needed to be Torre, and not A-Rod. Funny how I haven't seen any stories interrogating St. Joe for not approaching Rodriguez. Gee, I wonder why.

Tim Brown's Yahoo piece concludes with this:
Alex Rodriguez could have gone along, just walked over and extended his hand, pretended everything was OK.

He could have.

But then he would have been everything he’d been accused of. He would have been a fraud.

I agree!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oy! The Joe Torre lovefest is making me sick

Oh great. Don't know how I'm going to be able to handle three days of Joe Torre worship, as the New York media genuflects before the altar of St. Joe this weekend. Good grief.

Anyhow, I wrote a piece for The Faster Times about how Torre has played fast and loose with what he really said about A-Rod in his book. Love the "who, me" act on Joe's part. As if the way he humiliated A-Rod on the team, and in his tell-all, was no big thing. At least A-Rod was honest with the press this week about his feelings on Torre.

Joe, on the other hand, should be called J-Fraud for his phony comments about how he never had a problem with Rodriguez. Don't forget that Torre called A-Rod a p*ssy (his words, not mine) to other people in the organization. There's that class again.

I'm just glad the Yankees have a manager who is interested in winning games in this century, instead of regaling reporters about the good old days.

Sure, Torre is beloved by the Four Rings guys. Of course, he seemed to have forgotten that it takes 25 players, not four, to win it all.

Phil Jackson was able to get Ron Artest on the same page. Same with Dennis Rodman. That's a real leader. Compare and contrast with Torre, who couldn't even accept Johnny Damon, one of the best guys in baseball, because he wasn't Derek Jeter. Good riddance to Torre. I don't miss him one bit.

Here's hoping for a Yankee sweep this weekend. Check out my article on Joe.

Suite Relief: A look at our big day in the sun at the Subway Series

I've been busy all this week studying for a whole heap of Microsoft certified application specialist exams, so I haven't gotten a chance to squawk about our great time at Saturday's Subway Series game. Squawker Jon did a great blog entry on the subject, so let me try to match that.

Thanks to the good folks at Blimpie (with an assist from the YES Network), Jon and I got to sit in the Stadium's Legends Suite seats, right by the third base line, and get all the amenties (unlimited food and soft drinks) included with the tix. So how was it? It was pretty darned awesome, and something we will never forget!

Here's how the day began. When you go into the Stadium (via the Suite entrance by home plate), they give you a wristband to mark your access, and then you head to the restaurant. There are two floors; we ate at the top floor (you can see people eating through the glass if you're on the main level.) It was a nice-looking place, with all sorts of great TVs showing the pre-game (my fave clip was that one of Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher showing kids how to vote in the All-Star Game!)

The food is buffet-style, with stations set in a big square. You go around to whatever you stations you want, and tell the server what you would like.

I didn't eat for most of the day before, just to prepare myself for this lunch. And it was worth it - the food was so much better than the rest of the Stadium fare it's not even funny. Even the soft drinks ruled - I drank San Pellegrino Limonatas with my lunch, and it was both fantastic. I knew it would be the best food I would likely ever get at the Stadium, so I was determined to enjoy it all! Here were some of the standouts:

* Prime rib
* Shrimp tempura sushi roll (it also had tuna in it)
* Rao's seafood salad (with crabmeat, lobster, and shrimp)
* Rao's meatballs and penne
* Haricots verts with crabmeat

I was really excited to meet Frank Pellegrino of Rao's. As we're most likely never going to get into that place, it was awesome to get a taste of it!Make that two tastes - I went for seconds!

I skipped the whole omelet stuff, as I don't eat eggs, and I skipped eating the type of food I would be able to get in the ballpark any other time, like the pretzels. Did get pigs in the blanket, though. Tasty! They should offer that in the stadium.

As if that weren't enough, there's a dessert station set up, with not only ice cream, but all sorts of cool candy treats - gummi bears, sour candies, truffles, and the like. You can get the candy in one of those plastic Yankee helmets. Very cool!

Oh, and the bathrooms are pretty plush - best part are the plasma screen TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors! I wanted to take a picture, but thought better of it. Suffice it to say that the TVs look pretty cool!

Jon and I finally pushed ourselves away from the food table at around 12:55 p.m., only to see that there were even more food items/selections at the restaurant downstairs, including pasta by Fresco by Scotto. We didn't grab anything then, but I went back there later to bring some crawfish and jumbo shrimp (an oxymoron, I know!) back to our seats.

Just before you leave the downstairs restaurant to head to your seats, there is a whole wall of treats, with everything from potato chips to Three Musketeers to Skittles to all sorts of candy available for the taking. And yes, you can take as many as you'd like!

When we got to our seats in front of the moat, we saw that there are big coolers containing soft drinks for the taking - with diet Pepsis, Sierra Mists, San Pellegrinos, and the like. There's also a DKNY Lounge, with private restrooms and stadium-type food and snacks. And you can get free food delivered to your seat as well, although Jon and I were too full to partake in it.

So how was the view at our seats? They were so good that our section was next to the photographers' pit! We would have been close enough to shout to A-Rod - if he had not started the day at DH, that is. Jon snickered over Kevin Russo starting at third over Alex!

I got a little teary-eyed at first when we got to our seats, just taking it all in. The day seemed like a dream - and it still does! It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, from the food to the view to watching the Yankees beat up on the Mets!


Now, I don't know if you can say that seats with a face value of $225 each are a bargain. But considering everything that came with the seats - the great view, the unlimited food and soft drinks, the snacks, the great service, the waiter service at your seats - it's the closest I've ever come in my life to feeling like an VIP. If you ever get the chance to buy such tickets, I would definitely say to do it. It was a simply wonderful experience!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Squawkers vote for our All-Star Game picks

Squawker Jon and I are part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. This year, the BBA is making All-Star Game ballot picks, so we did picks for them to be included with the group.

I voted for the American League; Jon did the National League. So no, I won't get to do my annual Yadier Molina All-Star ballot vote that I do just to tick off Squawker Jon!

Jon and I both looked at the numbers and picked the best candidates, regardless of team affiliation - there are only two Yankees and two Mets on our ballots. And yes, I even voted for a Red Sox player!

Without further ado, here are our picks:

Lisa's American League All-Star Ballot

Catcher: Victor Martinez
First: Miguel Cabrera
Second: Robinson Cano
Third: Evan Longoria
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki, Carl Crawford
DH: Vladimir Guerrero
Starting Pitcher: David Price

Jon's National League All-Star Ballot

Catcher: Miguel Olivo
First: Adrian Gonzalez
Second: Brandon Phillips
Third: David Wright
Short: Jose Reyes
Outfield: Andre Ethier, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart
Starting Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Going Gaga over R.A.

Are the Mets for real? Is R.A. Dickey for real? Maybe they're the same question.

After tonight's win over the Tigers, the Mets are now 41-30, eleven games over .500. With tonight's win, Dickey moves to 6-0. Hisanori Takahashi is 6-2. Without the two big surprises of the Mets' staff, the team would be one game over .500, around what many expected of them this season.

Everyone keeps waiting for Dickey to come back to earth, but he now has wins in six straight starts and an ERA of 2.33. Six of his seven starts have been quality starts. Dickey has given up more than three runs only once, and in that start he gave up four runs in seven innings.

If Dickey keeps up this pace, he'll belong on the All-Star team. I'm not quite ready to go that gaga over him, but it's starting to look as if he's a legitimate part of the rotation.

And he'd better be. Takahashi too. Even if Johan Santana starts pitching like the Santana of old, no sure thing, Mike Pelfrey will probably not continue at his 9-2 pace. The Mets struck gold with Dickey and Takahashi - what are the odds that they can do it again with their farm system?

The Mets just signed Ramon Ortiz after he was released by the Dodgers. Ortiz is 37 with a lifetime ERA of 4.93. He has only had one season with an ERA under 4, back in 2002 for the champion Angels. If the Mets have to turn to Ortiz as a starter, they are in big trouble.

Most of the starters available in trade don't look much better. Jake Westbrook basically has had one good year in his career, and that was back in 2004 when he was 14-9 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. That was his only full season with an ERA under 4. Westbrook also doesn't strike people out; even in 2004, he had just 116 K in 215 2/3 innings.

Kevin Millwood is 1-8 with a 5.12 ERA. He might do better away from the awful Orioles - Millwood has given up 19 homers, 14 at home. Presumably many of those balls might not go out of Citi Field. But on the road, where Millwood has given up five homers in 50 innings, he still has an ERA of 5.04.

If the Mets don't want to give up top prospects - and they shouldn't - they won't get Cliff Lee.

Atlanta just lost, so the Mets are now just a half game out of first. The Mets lead the wild-card race by 1 1/2 games over the Giants, who lost tonight as well. And they wouldn't be in this position without a 35-year-old knuckleballer who started the season in the minors.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Way too soon to bury Johan Santana

Johan Santana's velocity is down and he's not the pitcher he was a few years ago. But he's still pitched well this season, and the Post's Kevin Kernan has no business pointing to Santana's won-loss record to argue that he's no longer an ace:

[CC] Sabathia moved to 8-3. Florida's Josh Johnson upped his record to 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA. Those are ace numbers. If Santana (5-4) and the offense came through yesterday, the Mets would have produced an 8-1 road trip.

Santana has four games this year in which he has pitched at least seven innings and given up no earned runs - and only ended up with a no-decision. Think about that - four games, 29 innings (he went eight innings in one of the games) NO runs and NO wins. If Santana had won three of those games, he would have eight wins, just like Sabathia and Johnson.

Santana's 3.31 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are good numbers, but not quite ace material. But they compare favorably with the numbers so far for two-time defending Cy Young Tim Lincecum (3.11 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and Braves phenom Tommy Hanson (3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).

Santana's numbers are actually pretty good, with one big exception - strikeouts. Santana is striking out only 5.69 batters per nine innings, down from 7.9 in each of his first two seasons in New York, and way down from 9.7 in his last season in Minnesota. Lincecum's 2010 K/9 is 10.29, Hanson's is 9.36 and Sabathia's is 7.36.

In April, Santana struck out 28 in 30 1/3 innings - an ace pace. In May, he struck out 26 in 41 innings, a more mixed result. But in June, Santana has only struck out 8 in 26 2/3 innings, while also walking 12.

Santana had a great month in April but has been mediocre in June, for overall good results. It's way too early to dismiss him for the year, much less for his career.

Will Santana end up being worth his contract? Probably not. But most long-term pitching contracts work out a lot worse than Santana's has so far. In fact, you don't have to look any farther than the two other starting pitchers the Mets gave big contracts to in the last few years in the last few years - Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez.

Something to think about when debating over whether to mortgage the farm system to rent Cliff Lee.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Legend-ary day for Squawkers





Squawker Lisa and I went to the Subway Series Saturday, and in honor of the occasion and that fact that we were getting to sit in unbelievable seats, I decided to get a Mike Pelfrey shirt to wear in place of my usual Jose Reyes shirt. I'm hoping it was just a coincidence that Pelfrey lost only his second game of the year while Reyes hit two homers.

So after going 5-0 in my first five Met games this year, I finally saw a loss. Guess there's no sense in planning your games around who's pitching - the starters in the five wins I saw were John Maine twice, R.A. Dickey twice and Jon Niese. Pelfrey takes the mound at 9-1 and gives up five runs in the first four innings.

But I can't complain too much, not after my experience at last year's Bronx Subway Series visit (the Castillo debacle). And most of all, as Squawker Lisa detailed yesterday, the Squawkers were fortunate enough to sit in the Legends seats, six rows behind third base. Thanks again to the good folks at Blimpie for making it possible.

I'm generally content to sit in the upper regions of Citi Field, especially since the Promenade is the same height as Shea's mezzanine. And for me, field level down the line is a tradeoff from upper deck behind home plate. But six rows behind third base? I could sure get used to that!

The last time we went to a Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium, Lisa couldn't stop laughing after the Castillo play. Now it was my turn to laugh - she finally gets to sit in what she called the "A-Rod seats" and her favorite player is not playing third! And Derek Jeter is not playing short! At least, as the above photo shows, A-Rod made it to third as a runner.

Fortunately for me, David Wright and Jose Reyes were in the field, and Reyes, as already noted, had a great game.

Sitting in these seats included a pregame buffet, which was as spectactular as we had hoped it would be. Actually, the buffet continues into the seventh inning, but we got the bulk of our eating out of the way earlier so we could concentrate on the game. Besides, with options such as sushi, prime rib, omelets to order and much more, it's probably just as well that we needed to get to our seats!

The buffet features a celebrity chef, and on Saturday it was Frank Pellegrino of Rao's, the legendary Italian restaurant that is impossible to get into. The Rao's offerings were penne and meatballs and their special seafood salad. I had seconds.

So we truly had a once-in-a-lifetime day. If only the Mets had won!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We're going to Saturday's Subway Series game - in style!

A few days ago, Squawker Jon and I were resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be going to the Subway Series at all this season, for the first time since we started writing Subway Squawkers.

Well, thanks to the good folks at Blimpie, not only are we going to Saturday's Subway Series game, but we're going to be sitting in the Legends Suite box seats!

We're so excited - and grateful - over this. I'm feeling like one of the women on "Oprah" who just found out that they're part of the "Oprah's Favorite Things" programs!


Here's the deal. Squawker Jon and I ran Blimpie's Subway Series giveaway contest for our readers, but we didn't expect anything out of it (we were just happy to give away a pair of tickets to one of our readers!) In fact, Jon and I joked to each other that this contest was the closest we were going to get to the Subway Series this year.

Then Thursday morning, I came home after running errands to find out literally the best news I've heard all year. There was a FedEx envelope from the YES Network (Blimpie is a sponsor for them) that my landlord had signed for me. Inside were the tickets.

To have something so cool - and so surprising - happen was amazing. But to have them for Saturday's Subway Series game is even more awesome. We can't wait for the game!

Message to Joe Girardi: Just say no to Chan Ho Park

Squawker Jon may be relieved that the Mets won, but I'm, of course, angry that the Yankees lost. And I'm also irate that Joe Girardi chose to use Chan Ho Park in a 1-0 game. Javier Vazquez - who pitched very well last night - may be the person with the L next to his name, but Park is the one who really deserves it.

From ESPN.com:
Friday night's awful outing was just another in a season full of them for the South Korean righty. Park has allowed a run in eight of his 15 appearances this season and given up a glaring 25 hits in just 19 innings.

"He's just not making pitches," manager Joe Girardi said. "He just didn't locate well enough to get people out. When you get behind the leadoff hitter and walk him, you're asking for trouble."
You're also asking for trouble pitching him at all, Joe. And where was Joba, anyway? Off hiding with the Yankee bats these days?

Seeing Chan Ho Park in Friday's game was as inexplicable as seeing Roger Clemens at Fenway Park last night. At least Roger's appearance was funny, in a twisted way - he's trying to clear his name on using steroids, and he shows up to see...Manny Ramirez? Heh!


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Lady Gaga shows up at Yankees-Mets game, forgets pants

As I correctly guessed, singer Lady Gaga couldn't resist being at the Subway Series last night. But this time around, she remembered that she is really a Yankee fan, wearing a Bombers jersey. And she seemed to behave herself this time around. But Lady Gaga still forgot about a little invention called pants.

Gaga showed up in a slightly more appropriate outfit at Friday's Yankees-Mets game than the one she wore at Citi Field last week. Last night, the Madonna wannabe kept her Yankees jersey on, and wore what looked like a black bikini under it, with fishnet stockings on her legs. And a leopard beret on her head that reminded me of Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" for some reason. Ms. Gaga didn't flip anybody the bird this time. But still, no pants. What's up with that?

According to the New York Post, Lady Gaga met with Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez after the game. Wonder what those conversations were like!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Ghost of Castillo play hangs over Met win

Last year's Bronx Subway Series opener ended in the ultimate nightmare for the Mets when Luis Castillo's drop turned victory into defeat. This year, two of Jerry Manuel's moves almost caused the same result.

Things could hardly be going better for the Mets right now, so I hate to harp on the few negatives. And Manuel did manage the bullpen well in the seventh and eighth. But when the Mets tacked on runs in both the eighth and ninth, this should have been a routine victory, not one in which future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter got to bat in the ninth as the tying run.

Manuel brought in Elmer Dessens to start the seventh, then pulled him after Dessens gave up a double to Francisco Cervelli. Pedro Feliciano entered, got all three outs in the seventh, then pitched the eighth as well. So far, so good. Manuel managed the bullpen aggressively, pulling Dessens quickly, then letting Feliciano go an extra inning. Thanks to the tack-on runs, the Mets led, 4-0, going into the bottom of the ninth.

With a four-run lead, it makes sense to at least start the ninth with someone besides Francisco Rodriguez. Granted, with Feliciano and Dessens already used, there was no clearly good option. But Raul Valdes, who had pitched only once since June 2? And there was a reason he has pitched so infrequently - his meltdown in San Diego when he allowed eight earned runs in two appearances while getting only one out.

Bringing in Valdes to start the ninth was a mistake. But leaving Valdes in after he gave up a single to Cervelli was a bigger mistake. You want to give him a chance with a four-run lead? Fine. But when Dessens, who is pitching a lot better than Valdes, gave up a hit to Cervelli in the seventh, Dessens was out. So why should Valdes get another chance?

Once Valdes gave up a hit to Curtis Granderson, Manuel finally brought in Rodriguez. After a 12-pitch at-bat, Brett Gardner walked. Suddenly, the bases were loaded with one out and the top of the Yankee order was coming up.

I was watching in a bar that was showing the YES broadcast, and they decided this was a good time to show the Castillo play. (I'm guessing SNY did not make the same decision.) But the Yankees were suddenly in a position to pull out what looked to be a hopelessly lost game. And once again, the culprit was Manuel's book.

In the postgame, Manuel admitted that he was not going to bring in K-Rod until it was a save situation. Manuel manages by the book way too often, without considering other factors. Here's a thought - a four-run lead against the Yankees, in their ballpark, is not as safe as most other four-run leads. Manuel didn't need to wait for the second baserunner to consider it a save situation.

I know the Yankee bats are slumping right now, but it's still a great lineup, and they bombed Roy Halladay just three days ago.

Fortunately, it all worked out. The Mets have won eight in a row, are 7-0 on the road trip, and have clinched at least a tie in this year's Subway Series.

The ghosts may have come out at the old Yankee Stadium, but the closest we came to the ghost of the Castillo play came when tonight's Met second baseman, Ruben Tejada, dropped a ball in the eighth, allowing Nick Swisher, who had tagged up, to slide safely into second. But Swisher didn't score.

I couldn't help but wince, though, when David Wright caught the game-ending popup with one hand.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Should Manny Ramirez be cheered - or booed - at Fenway?

I wrote a piece for The Faster Times about Manny Ramirez's return to Fenway Park tonight, saying that I thought most fans would cheer him in his first at-bat.

So I'm wondering what our Red Sox fan readers think. What say you, Boston fans?

As for myself, I do kind of miss seeing Manny 19 games a year - at least the personality part. I found "Manny being Manny" pretty darn entertaining over the years. Don't miss him killing the Yankees at every turn, though!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Ron Artest, Oliver Perez and the Mets' amazing turnaround

On June 5, Oliver Perez was put on the DL. Since then, the Mets are 10-1. Much of the rise of the Mets has come from addition by subtraction.

The Mets started their season with several players who did not belong on a major-league roster. The Angels were willing to eat $20 million just to get rid of Gary Matthews Jr. The lowly Royals released Mike Jacobs.

Omar Minaya gave Jerry Manuel a problematic roster, but Manuel made it worse. On Opening Day, he started Matthews in center over Angel Pagan and batted Jacobs cleanup. John Maine and Perez were not only in the rotation without earning spots, but starting ahead of Mike Pelfrey, who had been demoted to fourth starter.

By the time the Mets admitted that Jacobs had to go and Ike Davis should be promoted, they were 4-8. Since then, the Mets are 34-20.

It took longer to get rid of Gary Matthews Jr. and Frank Catalanotto, but at least the Mets have the makings of a bench now with Chris Carter and Jesus Feliciano.

But when Perez refused to be demoted, the Mets faced a crisis. Lots of people wanted the Mets to cut Ollie, but it would have been a mistake to release Perez outright with a year and a half left on his contract. After being dumped by Detroit, Dontrelle Willis has a 1.80 ERA in two starts for Arizona. Jeff Suppan was awful with Milwuakee, but after the Brewers got rid of him, he was reunited with Dave Duncan in St. Louis and pitched well in his first start for the Cardinals.

If the Mets cut Ollie, you just know that someone would pick him up, straighten him out, at least briefly, and at the end of the season, Ollie would be pulling a Ron Artest and thanking his psychiatrist for helping him contribute to a title.

But when Ollie refused to go the minors, the Mets were stuck. They needed to clear a roster spot to activate Jon Niese from the DL. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say that they would have found a good way to get Niese back on the team, such as sending Jenrry Mejia to the minors. But with the kind of moves this team makes, who knows. Maybe Niese would not have been brought back right away.

Finally getting Ollie on the DL showed that the team wanted to win by getting rid of someone who was not putting the team first. And it opened up a spot for Niese, who has gone 3-0 since his return, sparking the 10-1 run.

Minaya has made some good moves, notably acquiring R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. The combination of Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco is a huge upgrade at catcher.

Manuel is a dubious strategist, but under his leadership, the Mets are now half a game out of first, so he's got to get credit for that.

When the Mets first played the Yankees this year less than a month ago, I predicted a Yankee sweep and hoped the Mets could take a game. A lot has changed in a short time. I'm still going to have to with the Yankees since the Mets won't have their Citi Field advantage, but I expect the Mets to win at least one game and be competitive throughout the series.

Last year's trip to Yankee Stadium sparked the collapse of the season, thanks to Luis Castillo's drop and Johan Santana's implosion. Let's hope things are a lot better this time around!

If you can't get to the Subway Series, check out Madison Square Park this weekend

Delta Airlines is sponsoring a whole bunch of cool Subway Series-related events this weekend, with baseball stars, giveaways, and food! Go to Madison Square Park (where Shake Shake is located) in Manhattan to get in on the Delta Dugout fun - there's even going to be a special Subway Series hotdog this weekend at Shake Shack! Here's the info, courtesy of Delta:

Friday, June 18, 10AM – 10PM: Opening Day

11am: Delta’s Madison Square 2nd Annual “Fan Flair” Challenge, judged by New York Yankee Pitcher Joba Chamberlain and New York Met Pitcher Mike Pelfrey. Yankees and Mets fans are invited to dress in their best team-themed attire for a chance to win tickets to future Mets and Yankees games.

10am-7PM: interactive baseball experience, including games, entertainment, giveaways, food

7:10pm: Live viewing of Interleague Game One with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games.

Saturday, June 19, 10AM – 6PM: Yankees Day

10am-6pm: interactive baseball experience, including games, entertainment, giveaways, food

Noon: Pre-game concert by New York Yankees’ veteran Bernie Williams

Noon-1pm: Yankees Alumni Meet-and-Greet

1pm: Live viewing of Interleague Game Two with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games.

Sunday, June 20, 10AM – 4PM: Mets Day

10am-4pm: interactive baseball experience, including games, entertainment, giveaways, prizes, food

11am-12 Noon: Fast Pitch contest where fans have the chance to win an opportunity to throw the first pitch at a future Mets’ game at Citi Field; they will also throw the first pitch to Mets’ veteran pitcher Jesse Orosco (of the `86 World Series Mets), on-site at The Delta Dugout.

12:30: Mets Make a Deal with trivia, giveaways and special guest appearances

1pm: Live viewing of Interleague Game Three with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games.

Will Met 'fan' Lady Gaga show up at the Subway Series?

Uh-oh. I managed to tick off a ton of Madonna wannabe Lady Gaga's "Little Monsters" (as she calls her fans) because I criticized the singer for the way she acted at a Mets game last week.

I did a piece for The Faster Times on how Lady Gaga did this whole "look at me, look at me" act at Citi Field. She showed up in the fifth inning wearing nothing more than a leather jacket, fishnets, and a studded bra and panties, then was all shocked that photographers wanted to take her picture. So she demanded that her seat be changed, then flipped the bird and stripped down to her underwear. Classy!

The most delicious part of the story is that even though she showed up at Citi Field, she told MTV last year that she's a Yankee fan, and had the nerve to compare herself to Mariano Rivera. Good grief.

Anyhow, I'm wondering if Met fan/Yankee fan Lady Gaga is going to try to show up at the Subway Series this weekend. And if she does, what she will do to make a spectacle of herself this time? I hope she wears the Kermit the Frog getup again!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Did the Phillies get their binoculars - um, I mean groove - back against the Yankees?

Oh great. The Philadelphia Phillies - who had been floundering since getting caught using binoculars in the bullpen last month - looked like worldbeaters against the Yankees this week.

I had a lot going on in my personal life this week, so I didn't get to watch as much of these games as I had hoped, although I did enjoy watching the Yankees knock around Roy Halladay Tuesday!

Squawker Jon and I had a great night seeing "The Winter's Tale" in Shakespeare in the Park on Wednesday, and I was flipping back and forth between the Yankees and Game 7 of the NBA Finals last night. (My pro-Kobe Bryant Pilgrim's Progress campaign worked, with the Los Angeles Lakers beating the hated Boston Celtics!)

An aside on the play we saw - I recognized the shepherd's voice right away as being a character actor I knew on TV. It was Max Wright, the dad on "Alf"! I may not know classical theater very well, but I do know my silly sitcoms!

Anyhow, maybe it was fortunate I didn't get to see much of these games, given that the Phillies won two of three. Or hey, maybe Philly got to see better - did they get their binoculars back or something?

At least I did get to see Ron Artest thank his psychiatrist after the Lakers'
victory last night. And promote his new single!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We have a winner in our Blimpie Subway Series contest!

Thanks to all the many readers who entered to win our Subway Series ticket contest, courtesy of Blimpie Sub Sandwiches. And thanks to Blimpie for sponsoring the contest!

Anyhow, without further ado, here is our winner - Peter Pak of Leonia, NJ! Peter, a Yankee fan, was of course very excited to win tickets to Friday night's Yankees-Mets matchup in the Bronx. He also received a Blimpie gift certificate. Cool stuff!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Last chance to win Subway Series tickets - Blimpie contest ends Monday at midnight

The good folks at Blimpie are offering one of our readers the chance to win tickets for Friday, June 18's Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium. But you've got to get your entry in by midnight tonight, June 14.

To enter, follow the instructions here.

Good luck!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Squawker Media Alert: I will be on the radio tonight

I'm going to be on the Met radio show Stache Radio tonight with Daily Stache Co-Creator Matt Falkenbury. I'm scheduled to appear at 11:35 p.m. tonight. Click here to listen.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Squawker Road Trip Part. 2: Mets at Camden Yards

After watching the Yankees lose Thursday, the Squawkers completed their Camden Yards road trip with Friday night's Met game. There were almost as many Met fans in attendance as there were Yankee fans the previous night. Some were posing for photos with Boog Powell, who was signing autographs in front of Boog's BBQ. Others were wearing the floppy Orioles hats that were being given out that evening. The hats are reversible, orange side and white side, and the orange side matches the orange Met shirts some fans were wearing.

It was great to finally visit the ballpark that started the retro trend, and Camden Yards is a nice place, but I prefer Citi Field, especially the food. We were not overwhelmed by the beef sandwiches we had at Boog's. The boardwalk fries were regular fries with self-serve Old Bay seasoning. I did enjoy my crab cake Friday night, as well as some local Heavy Seas beer. Lisa liked her grill dog and frozen margarita, which she was able to buy from a vendor in the stands.

We were sitting in the lower level with a mix of Met and Oriole fans. The most fervent Oriole fan was wearing, of all things, an Albert Belle shirt. The Orioles have a proud history, but aside from some Cal Ripken shirts, I only saw a couple of Jim Palmer shirts. No Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson or Boog. Met fans were wearing Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza and we even saw a Bud Harrelson.

It is still hard for me to get used to the idea that the Orioles' manager is Juan Samuel, part of one of the worst trades in Met history. The Mets traded Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Phillies almost exactly 21 years ago (June 18, 1989) for Samuel. What is it about players the Mets get in horrible trades ending up managers? First Jim Fregosi and now Samuel. Samuel is only interim, but now the Orioles are said to be interviewing Bobby Valentine.

As for the game, I was at first disappointed to be seeing R.A. Dickey again. I had seen him shut down the Phillies a couple of weeks ago and figured that his luck was bound to run out. Jon Niese was originally scheduled to pitch Friday night before he switched spots with Dickey, and Niese was almost unhittable Thursday night. Who knows, if Niese had pitched Friday night, maybe I would have gotten to see the elusive Met no-hitter.

But as it turned out, Dickey nearly completed another no-run performance, finally giving up a run with two outs in the seventh.

In the only other Met game Squawker Lisa has attended this season, Ike Davis hit his first major-league homer. Tonight, Chris Carter did the same. Jesus Feliciano will want to be in the lineup for Lisa's next Met game.

Saturday night is Orioles/Ravens Rally Cap Night, and there was an announcement that the caps had not yet arrived, and if they didn't make it by gametime, fans would get vouchers. This really is some franchise.

But they do have a nice ballpark, and now the Mets actually have a chance to win a series on the road.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Did Squawker Jon and I jinx A-Rod and the Yankees?

Road trip! Squawker Jon and I are in Baltimore right now. We saw the Yankees lose for the first time in eons to the Orioles last night, and we'll be in the house at Camden Yards tonight to see the Mets go up against Baltimore.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards should really be called "Yankee Park at Camden Yards" when the Bombers are in town. I've never seen a game where the home crowd is in the minority. I knew a lot of Yankees fans came down for the games, but it really is Yankee Stadium South here. And what I didn't know is how the vendors outside cater to the Yankee fans, with tons of Yankee hats, t-shirts, and other memorabilia items outside the park. Even in the ballpark you can buy a Yankee hat and a Derek Jeter t-shirt. (You can't buy any Nationals gear, though. Forget getting a Stephen Strasburg shirt)

We're staying at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront (got a sweet deal on Priceline!) and many of our fellow hotel guests are rocking the Yankee gear.

Squawker Jon was obviously more excited than I was that Baltimore rookie Jake Arrieta was making his major league debut, and the pitcher's victory put a smile on Jon's face.

We both really enjoyed the look and feel of the ballpark. But the game - not so much for me, especially with A-Rod being taken out before his first at-bat due to what we later learned was a groin injury.When you see Rodriguez being pinch-hit for by Ramiro Pena, it's not good. (I see that Wally Matthews is having a field day with the whole thing, with this practically gleeful column on it. Good grief.)

Only downfall on the trip so far was me hitting into the pothole from hell on I-95 - it was like a crater from the moon or something, right in the middle of the highway. Did my best to avoid it, but still destroyed a tire - and a rim! So, after we got a spare tire "donut" put on the car, we had to spend a bunch of time trying to find a replacement tire and rim. Fortunately, everything is all fixed now.

More details later about our trip - I want to go swim in the hotel pool before we go sightseeing today! But in the meantime, please enter our contests to win Subway Series tickets courtesy of Blimpie and a Strat-O-Matic game!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here's your chance to win Subway Series tickets, courtesy of Blimpie

Cool news - the good folks at Blimpie are offering one of our readers the chance to win tickets for Friday, June 18's Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium. (I'm a big fan of Blimpie sandwiches and much prefer them to that other sandwich chain. Just wish Blimpie would open on Staten Island!

So here's the deal. If you want to win a set of two tickets, here's what you need to do. First is to leave a comment in this blog entry about Blimpie, and include an email address that we can reach you at.

Then, if you want additional entries, you can do any of the following things for Extra Credit Entries (don't forget, you must do main entry first, and post a separate comment for each extra credit entry)

* Subscribe to Subway Squawkers
* Follow Subway Squawkers on Twitter, and leave a note saying you want to enter the Blimpie contest (if you already follow us, just leave the note)
* Subscribe to Subway Squawkers' Networked Blogs page on Facebook, and leave us a note about the contest
* Fan/Like Blimpie on Facebook
* Follow Blimpie on Twitter

The contest will end at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 14. If you have any questions, please email me at subwaysquawkers@gmail.com .

Squawker Media Alert: I will be on the radio today

I'm going to be on Gotham Baseball Live's Blog Talk Radio show today at 2 p.m. Click here to listen to me squawk baseball with Jay Ferraro & Dan "Hawk" Drobnis. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Add Ike Davis to NL East's night of the rookies

On a night when two highly-touted rookies made great MLB debuts for NL East rivals, the Mets won on a walkoff homer by their own rookie star.

Ike Davis may not have the impact of the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, who had a first game for the ages, striking out 14 Pirates in seven innings. 20-year-old Marlins phenom Mike Stanton, with 21 homers already this year in the minors, went 3 for 5 in his debut. But if the Mets are going to keep pace with their division rivals (the other highly-hyped rookie this year, Jason Heyward, is on the Braves) they need their own young stars. Tonight, Davis delivered.

Mike Pelfrey, another Met first-round amateur draft choice, also came through, going nine innings, but leaving in a 1-1 tie.

Mike and Ike's performances tonight make you wonder about the wisdom of signing free agents when it makes you lose your first-round picks. The Mets had no first-rounder in 2006, 2007 and 2009 as a result of signing Billy Wagner, Moises Alou and Francisco Rodriguez. This picks would have been in the lower half of the first round, but Davis was picked 18th.

At the time, I thought the signings of Wagner and K-Rod were good ones, since the Mets appeared to be a closer away from contending for the World Series. But after two volatile free-agent closers in four seasons, I really hope the Mets can figure out the closing situation in-house next time.

There was never a justification for signing the aging, injury-prone Alou.

This year, the Mets kept their first-rounder despite signing Jason Bay because the pick was protected due to their poor record in 2009. The Mets lost their second-rounder instead.

The Boston Red Sox had the 20th and 39th picks for losing Type A free agent Wagner, who was with the Red Sox for only a few games. The Mets traded Wagner to save money, so instead of those picks, they ended up with Chris Carter.

At least the Mets were willing to go over slot in drafting Matt Harvey, a Scott Boras client, with their first 2010 pick. Let's hope that they did not cut corners on their other picks, unlike in recent years.

I watched some of the Strasburg game, and I'm afraid the NL East just got a lot tougher, and for the long term. The Mets' priority needs to be developing their own young talent, not sacrificing it for short-term fixes.

How many of you are going to watch Stephen Strasburg's first game?

Was planning on watching Stephen Strasburg's major league debut tonight in lieu of watching the Yankee game. I'll have the Bombers in the picture-in-picture thingy, so I can check out anything exciting that happens.

So, I was just wondering if any of our readers were going to do the same thing, catching this moment of MLB history.(Then again, I remember thinking I was watching history when I saw Hideki Irabu's Yankee debut!)

What are you going to watch tonight? Strasburg? Yankees? Mets? The NBA finals? The season finale of "Glee"? Tell us about it!

Pilgrim's Progress: Why I'm supporting the Lakers

I'm making it official - I'm rooting for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Easy decision.

Normally, I would never root for the Lakers, but this is an extreme circumstance - keeping Boston fans from celebrating! Squawker readers know how much I hate pretty much anything Boston-related, and the Celtics are no exception.

And don't forget - ever since I threw my support behind the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins, Philly has been unstoppable. Now they're in the Stanley Cup Finals. Coincidence?


I'm even thinking of dressing like Kobe Bryant to cheer the Lakers on. But forget team gear - I'm thinking of wearing something from his infamous fashion spread. Should I go for the Pilgrim look, or the scarf style? Decisions, decisions! 


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Contest: Win a Strat-o-Matic game!

Remember the Strat-O-Matic baseball game from back in the day? Squawker Jon was a huge fan. Well, the game is still around - there's now a computer version - and here's your chance to check it out.

Just send an email with your name, address, and phone number with the subject line Strat-O-Matic to subwaysquawkers@gmail.com. If you're the lucky winner, you'll get a brand-new Strat-O-Matic computer game to play around with.

Please send your email no later than Wednesday, June 22. Thanks!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Columnist blames lack of amphetamines for lack of power in baseball

New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden has a theory for why there has been great pitching - and some lackluster hitting this year. He blames it on the greenies - or, more to their point, their absence from baseball.

I'm not buying that theory at all. It's been five years since MLB banned amphetamines from the game. Talk about a delayed reaction!

Anyhow, I wrote a piece for The Faster Times giving my opinion on the issue. Check it out.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

What's wrong with Mark Teixeira?

Why do MLB managers insist on walking Mark Teixeira to face Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded, like Blue Jays skipper Cito Gaston did Sunday? Don't these managers ever look at stat sheets these days?

Besides the obvious - that A-Rod has hit three grand slams and driven in 18 runs when put in this situation - the fact is that Teixeria is still slumping. He got the platinum sombrero just the day before. He's off to another bad month. And he's only hitting .211 on the year. Heck, even Ramiro Pena, at .227, is hitting better than Tex is!

I'm officially concerned about Teixeira. The brief time in May where he was hitting again seems to be the aberration, rather than portending him turning it all around.

And I like Tex, but him characterizing Saturday as just "one bad day" is a lot, um, off the mark!

If he doesn't pick up soon, I think he needs to be moved down the batting order, until he turns it around.

But what do you think? Leave us a comment!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Met home win is in the bag

I went to my fourth game at Citi Field this year, and saw my fourth Met victory. None of the games was even close: 5-2 over the Braves, 7-3 over the Dodgers, 8-0 over the Phillies and now 6-1 over the Marlins. The starting pitchers for the four victories: John Maine twice, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese. How can this be happening?

After seeing Ike Davis' first home run a few weeks ago, I got to see him go 4-for-4 today. Ruben Tejada hit a double high off the left field wall and David Wright homered.

But the biggest news was Jon Niese, both for what he accomplished and who he replaced on the roster. When Niese is healthy and pitching well, the Met rotation looks a whole lot stronger.

And when Oliver Perez is off the active roster, the whole team looks a lot stronger.

Though I must admit I even more pleased to see Gary Matthews Jr. gone, since Jerry Manuel was actually using Matthews in important spots, while Perez was safely tucked away in the bullpen.

I watched the postgame later and heard that three teams supposedly have asked MLB to look into whether or not Perez has a real injury. So baseball looked the other way on steroids for years, tolerates huge mistakes by umpires rather than expand instant replay, and more than one team actually complains about whether or not an injury was faked? Crazy. But if the Mets can't produce a physical injury, they'll just have to go the mental route.

My friend David and I are 0-2 when watching the Mets this year in a sports bar, but we did a lot better in person. David's friend Susan met up with us at the game. I had met Susan at a game last year and it was great to see her again. David and Susan also went to Opening Day together, which means that Wright has homered in every home game they've attended this year.

On our way into the stadium, we ran into Met bloggers (and newlyweds) Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus), Taryn "Coop" Cooper (My Summer Family) with, of course, Joey. Squawker Lisa and I had the pleasure of meeting Ed and Joey last year at a Met game, and now I was meeting Taryn for the first time.

With all these nice people at the game, free Mets sports bags, and a sunny day after dire weather forecasts a couple of days ago, everything was in place for a great afternoon. And the team with the best home record in baseball didn't let us down.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I saw the end of the Dave Trembley era at Yankee Stadium

I was at my first Yankee game of the season this year yesterday. This was thanks to Squawker reader Barbra getting tickets for us from Jennie, another Squawker reader and partial season ticket holder. We had great seats - upper deck, right behind home plate, last row. The overhang protected us from the sun, and we felt a breeze from the AC compressor thingy.

As for the game itself, it was great to see CC Sabathia get his first win in a month. And to see A-Rod hit a homer. And to see the Yankees win. (And yes, it does count, even it was against the Orioles!)

It also was O's manager Dave Trembley's last game - he was fired today. Wonder what the value is in having a ticket stub is for that historic occasion!

We had a great time at the game except for one thing, which I will write about later today.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If Pine Tar Game call could be overturned, so can Jim Joyce's call

The Yankees may have won last night, but I was paying more attention to the debacle in Detroit than anything else. Squawker Jon and I watched the last inning of what should have been Armando Galarraga's perfect game, only to see it taken away by Jim Joyce's botched call.

I think Bud Selig ought to overturn that call. There is a precedent for this - the Pine Tar Game. I wrote a piece for The Faster Times arguing this. And the thing is, George Brett's bat did violate the rules of the game. Yet AL President Lee MacPhail still overturned the homer, citing the spirit of the game.

Anyhow, please read my article, and tell me what you think.

Also, earlier this week I wrote an article for The Faster Times about the silliness of the Florida Marlins selling Roy Halladay perfect game tickets after the fact. I hope Detroit doesn't do that with Galarraga's game!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Jerry Manuel: Managing without thinking

Football coaches have a two-point conversion chart that tells them under what circumstances they should go for two instead of kicking an extra point. The chart tells them what to do - they don't have to think about the decision.

Kind of like how Jerry Manuel makes many of his decisions.

When Manuel brought Francisco Rodriguez into the game in the eighth, the pitcher's spot was due to bat third in the ninth. The book says to do a double switch with the player who made the last out.

So Manuel followed the book and double-switched Jeff Francoeur out of the game, replacing him with Gary Matthews Jr.

Here's what this move accomplished: With two outs and none on in the top of the ninth, Matthews came up instead of Frankie.

Going into the game, Matthews was hitting .193 with 23 strikeouts in 57 at bats. That's 40% of his at bats. So it's not exactly second-guessing to say I was not surprised when Matthews struck out again.

In return for giving Matthews another chance to strike out, Manuel removed Francoeur, his hottest hitter and a strong defensive right fielder, and replaced him with Matthews, who does not belong in the major leagues.

Fortunately, Matthews did not have a chance to come up again in a big spot or fail to make a throw that Francoeur would have made. Manuel had another plan for blowing the game.

Bringing in Raul Valdes.

Manuel mismanaged Valdes when he stretched him out to be a spot starter, than used Fernando Nieve instead on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Nightly Nieve has been mediocre for weeks since Manuel started burning him out. But Manuel wanted Nieve to start over Valdes because the Brewers had a mostly righthanded lineup.

When you have two journeyman pitchers, you should go with the one who's hot, not by the book of which one is a lefty. But only Manuel would figure that the best use of an overworked reliever would be to give him a start. Not surprising, Nieve did poorly.

Meanwhile, Valdes didn't pitch for six days, then came into the Monday night game and gave up four runs without retiring a batter. He pitched so poorly he looked as if he were injured.

Maybe Valdes was messed up because his perceived role kept changing. Or maybe there was something wrong with him and he would have pitched poorly had he started on Saturday.

But once Valdes had his Monday meltdown, one would think that he would not be used in a big spot just two days later unless there was no alternative. Yet despite having other options, Manuel sent him out tonight for the eleventh.

It was clear from the start that there was still something wrong with Valdes. The only out he got was on a sacrifice bunt.

But Adrian Gonzalez, scheduled to bat fifth in the inning, is a lefty, so the book says to be sure to leave Valdes in.

Going into the game, Gonzalez had nine homers and 23 RBI in 128 AB against righthanders, but no homers and 5 RBI in 58 RBI against lefties.

Make that one homer and 9 RBI.

When Gonzalez came up with one out and the bases loaded, Valdes had only retired one of the nine batters he had faced in his two San Diego appearances, and that was on the sacrifice bunt. The odds of Valdes retiring Gonzalez, who was already 3 for 5 (and by the way, two of those hits were off lefty Johan Santana), were pretty low.

Would Jenrry Mejia have gotten Gonzalez out? Who knows. But it was worth a try, since Valdes was not going to get the job done.

It's a shame that the Mets can't score runs for Johan and that Frankie blew the save. But at least Johan is pitching really well and Frankie still has overall good numbers. Would I trust him in a playoff game? Maybe not, but the Mets aren't likely to have that worry for awhile.

Not when their manager is making moves that make no sense.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Columnist: Javier Vazquez's win doesn't really count because it was against Baltimore

Javier Vazquez had a terrific game in front of the hometown Yankee crowd last night, and got his first Yankee win as a starter since August 2004. But one sports columnist doesn't think he deserves much credit for the victory.

"Keep Javy's performance in perspective: Javier Vazquez looked dominant against the Orioles on Tuesday -- but it's the Orioles" is the headline of Ian O'Connor's ESPN New York's piece on Vazquez. There are lots of times I think O'Connor does a good job in both keeping things in perspective, and writing about the Yankees with passion. Can't say I'm very crazy about this piece, though.

O'Connor takes pains to denigrate Javy's seven inning, four-hit, one-run performance because it was against the lowly O's:
Javy came. Javy saw.

Javy conquered a sorry excuse for a baseball team.

That's the fly ball in the ointment, the annoying burst of rain on this latest Yankees parade.

The Orioles are so dreadful, so painful on the eyes, it was impossible to pronounce Vazquez cured of whatever ills had prevented him from pitching the way he's paid $11.5 million to pitch.

Well, given that Vazquez hasn't pitched well at home at all this year as a starter, and hasn't pitched very well - period - as a Yankee until a few weeks ago, I think it's huge progress. This isn't a AA start, after all. The Orioles might be a lousy team, but you know what? A win is a win. And if Vazquez had lost again at home against the Orioles, things would be a heck of a lot worse for him right now.

What gets me about O'Connor's approach here, repeatedly denigrating and minimizing this victory, is that he never does the flip side. What about the fact that it took a throwing error by Miguel Tejada for the Yankees to take the lead? Going into last night's game, O's pitcher Brian Matusz had a 2-5 record, with a 5.78 ERA. Yet he only allowed one earned run against the vaunted Yankee lineup. Maybe we should denigrate the Bombers' offense for doing so little. Sheesh.

O'Connor continues with the negative tone:
This isn't meant to curb anyone's enthusiasm as a nod to the famous face in the Stadium crowd, Larry David. This is only meant to add perspective to a 24/7 sports culture often starving for it.

"When he's on," Curtis Granderson said of Vazquez, "he can be one of the best pitchers in the game."

Yeah, and if Ollie Perez ever had the chance to be "on" against the Orioles, he'd be Sandy Koufax, too.

Ouch! Why so harsh, dude! Some "perspective"!

As I've written over and over, I was against Brian Cashman trading for Javy in the first place. That being said, I hate the fans booing Vazquez. And I have to give the pitcher credit for hanging in there, and for improving a lot over the past month. Javy's pitching is better, his body language is better, and his confidence is better. Do I still worry about his pitching? Or course. But the more he can have outings last night, the more he can get the fans off his back, and the more he can have some breathing space.

Yet O'Connor keeps on downplaying the win, suggesting it's only the Orioles, saying "Baltimore didn't have the stomach for a fight." But if Vazquez had faced Baltimore earlier in the year, he probably would have been destroyed by them then. This time around, he was dominant. It's not just the opposition - it's him.

O'Connor ends his piece with this straw man notion: "...the angle that anyone can be cured of anything in the presence of these Orioles? That one's for the Birds."

Who said anything about Vazquez being "cured"? All that's being said by the Yankees, most other sportswriters, and many fans, is that Vazquez has improved his game since the disastrous first month of the year. And that him winning his first home start this year was a big step. Does that mean he's out of the water yet? No, but least he can see the shoreline.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day debacle: 'Taps' for Met pitching staff

You know it's a bad day when the Mets use five pitchers and the second-best is Oliver Perez.

You know it's a bad day when the starting pitcher gives up six earned runs in four innings and the lead story on the postgame is how bad the bullpen was.

You know it's a bad day when the punchess Padres, who scored a total of 16 runs in the first six games of their homestand, an average of 2 2/3 runs per game, put up 18 runs, all earned, against the Mets.

Hisanori Takahashi allowed six runs in four innings, raising his ERA from 2.13 to 3.21.

Ryota Igarashi gave up six earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. He has now allowed 11 runs in three innings since his return. That's an ERA of 33.00.

Igarashi, who had an ERA of 1.35 when he went on the DL, now has a season ERA of 11.17.

Raul Valdes gave up four earned runs without getting an out. His ERA jumped from 2.86 to 4.13.

Oliver Perez gave up two runs in 2 2/3 innings. Fortunately for Ollie, his ERA was already so bad that it only went up from 6.25 to 6.28.

The one that really hurts is Takahashi. Nobody thinks R.A. Dickey can keep it up, but Takahashi looked like he could be the real deal after his sensational performances against the Yankees and Phillies. Now it looks as if teams might be figuring him out.

Even if Takahashi just had a bad night and is able to hold down a rotation spot, the Mets still have to rely on Dickey and Jon Niese, while hoping that Pat Misch or Dillon Gee can eventually contribute.

Jerry Manuel has burned out Fernando Nieve. Raul Valdes was stretched out to start, then somehow passed over for Nieve Saturday night. After last night's loss, who knows what t0 expect from Valdes.

The Mets also can't count on anything from John Maine at this point. And there's no need to even mention Oliver Perez when talking about the rotation.

At least last night's quieted the talk about how the Mets are just one starter away and need to give up the likes of Jenrry Mejia for two months of Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt.

Thumbs up on the commemorative Yankee caps

I'm glad that MLB finally mixed up the options a little on those commemorative Stars and Stripes hats, worn to commemorate Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Patriots' Day (September 11.) To wit, instead of the Yankees wearing those red caps, which were very jarring - to say the least- they had a snazzy-looking hats with a white background, and blue brim.

As the daughter of a World War II veteran and a sister of an Iraq War vet, I appreciate the sentiment behind these hats - the sale of the caps benefit Welcome Back Veterans. But now that the caps are white and blue, instead of red, I can appreciate the style behind them as well. (Sorry, just couldn't wear a red hat - ever!)

Anyhow, was wondering what fellow Yankee fans thought of the new hats!

A-Rod, Andy, and a Squawker Beach Day

Squawker Jon and I took advantage of Monday's beautiful weather to head down to Asbury Park for the day. So I missed watching the Yankee game, of course, although we heard the highlights later. (About fifty times, really, given that it took us three and a half hours to get back to Staten Island - everybody in my borough seemed to be coming back from the beach at the very same time!)

Anyhow, bad things happen to other teams when they walk Mark Teixeira to face A-Rod. He's hit three grand slams that way, most recently that monster shot he hit yesterday. Fellow blogger Greg Cohen of Sliding Into Home compiled a list of all the times this has happened, and the results. And guess what? It never really works out well for the opposition - Alex is "5-for-6 with 3 HR and 18 RBI," Cohen notes, in those situations. The blog did a good job noting all the numbers, like the one time when A-Rod should have ended the game by making an out ended up with the infamous Castillo dropped popup play!

Speaking of A-Rod, we heard Lori Rubenson interview Ken Davidoff on WFAN on that long, long drive home. She started by praising Andy Pettitte for being so great this year, then mentioned Alex's grand slam, and criticized A-Rod on the steroid issue. Of course, she never mentioned that Pettitte admitted to using HGH.

This is a real disconnect that I hear a lot, now that A-Rod is heading towards 600 homers, and Pettitte is about to surpass Whitey Ford for most Yankee wins. While I think a lot of the criticism A-Rod gets is silly, I can understand why people might question the validity of his home runs because of steroids. But geez, at least be consistent. As much as I admire Andy Pettitte - he was my favorite player of the late 90s dynasty years - he is just as guilty of PED usage as Rodriguez is. If you're going to knock A-Rod for it, then you have to give Andy the same sort of treatment. Fair is fair.

But too many people don't think that way. It's easier to just pretend that the only juicers in the game were villains like A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez, instead of noting that somebody like Pettitte - one of the classiest, nicest players to ever put on the uniform - also used PEDs. To me, an upstanding citizen like Pettitte being involved makes me think that this problem was even more widespread than has been acknowledged.

Look, I'm not saying Andy should have have to wear scarlet HGH letters on his uniform or anything like that. Just that if you're having a conversation about the Yankees, and you decry No. 13's steroid use, you ought to remember what No. 46 did, too.


What do you think? Tell us about it!