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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Remembering Gary Carter

I remember how excited I was when the Mets traded for Gary Carter. After years of misery, the team was finally a contender again, but catcher was a weak spot. Then Mike Fitzgerald was replaced by a future Hall of Famer still in the prime of his career. Fitzgerald hit 48 homers in ten seasons. Carter hit more in his first two years on the Mets.

As promising as the Mets looked before Carter, his acquisition moved them toward the stratosphere. He really did turn out to be the missing piece. The Mets were middle in the pack in runs and ERA in 1984. But with a new cleanup hitter and handler for the young pitching staff, they were toward the top of the league in both categories in 1985.

Of course, your team ERA is bound to go down when your ace has a 1.53 ERA, but Dwight Gooden was not the only Met starter to show big improvement in 1985. Ron Darling went from 3.81 in 1984 to 2.90 in 1985 and Sid Fernandez went from 3.50 to 2.80.

Yes, these were all young pitchers on an upward curve at the start of their careers, but having the superstar veteran behind the plate must have helped. On SNY earlier today, Gooden gave Carter lots of credit for his career year.

Of all the tributes on SNY, those from Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and a broken-up Keith Hernandez really stood out. We've heard a lot about how the rowdier members of the team had problems with Carter, but over and over you heard how he was a leader, a gamer and a role model. Maybe some of the Mets didn't appreciate him as a role model until later, but he eventually had that effect on them.

This is going to be a very bad year for the Mets and their fans. Even on a sad day like this, it's hard not to start to get angry over the fact that the Mets never retired Gary's number while he was around to enjoy it. And to realize that if the current Mets are involved in any trades in which a pennant contender gets that last piece, it's going to be the Mets supplying the piece to the other team.

But today is not for that. Today is for remembering one of the greatest Mets, a critical part of the 1986 team and, by all accounts, a role model on and off the field. Rest in peace, Gary. Thanks for giving Mets fans so many memories we still cherish. Lisa and I send our condolences to the Carter family and to the Mets family.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Giants got a ring; Patriots got Gisele and Gronkowski making fools of themselves

So, I was very happy to see the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. And what's happened since then has been even more delicious.

First of, there was Gisele Bundchen having a hissy fit because Giant fans were mocking her husband, Tom Brady, saying that Eli Manning owns him. So a woman who is used to cameras following her every move 24/7 thought it was a great idea to say to her companions that it was his teammates' fault, not him. She said, “You [have] to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [bleeping] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.” She later told Brady, "You played the best game of your life ... you were amazing,” showing that she is as ignorant on sports as she is classless.

Gisele has a history of saying dumb things -- she once said that there should be a law requiring all women to breastfeed, and also described women who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy as "garbage disposals" -- but this takes the cake.  She is another woman with Megan Fox Syndrome, who thinks that because she won the looks lottery, she is also naturally really, really smart. But she's not. Why would a Giant fan yelling about Eli make her throw Patriots players like Wes Welker under the bus? It does not compute.

Somebody asked online whether Brady would say anything to her. Come on now. He wore that dopey Justin Bieber hairstyle last year that she liked, even though it looked so bad on him, even Bieber himself mocked Brady for it. The chances he will chastise Gisele about this are pretty slim.

* * *

Then there is the disaster that was the Patriots' would-be victory party after the loss. Robert Kraft went all-out, having LMFAO, Earth, Wind and Fire, Maroon 5 and DJ Pauly D as entertainment, and inviting Donnie Wahlberg and Steven Tyler as VIPs. Um, did it ever occur to the powers that be that this wouldn't be much of a party if the Patriots lost? This ranks up there with count-your-chickens-before-they're-hatched moves with that 19-0 book ready to go after Super Bowl XLII. To put the Patriots' extravagance in perspective, the Giants had what sounds like a relatively low-key party in a hotel ballroom that only featured a cover band. And they won the game!

While a lot of the big-name Patriots names, including Brady, Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, and Vince Wilfork skipped the soiree, Rob Gronkowski didn't. He, who had a "high ankle strain" that may have contributed to the Patriots losing, danced up a storm and took his shirt off at the party, while bopping around to LMFAO. (And what's up with him taking his top off, anyway? It's not Jersey Shore, after all, even if Pauly was in the house!) Looks like he made a miraculous recovery from that bad ankle, huh?

As Boston blogger Obnoxious Boston Fan put it, he "can only imagine what [Gronk] would have done if they had won." Good question. Sorry, but if athletes want fans to care about their teams, they have to act like they care a bit about what happens, too. Is it really too much to think that dancing around on stage a few hours after your team lost in the Super Bowl isn't quite the best idea ever? Especially when you are supposed to be rehabbing your bad ankle?

I've heard people say that this is a job for the players, so just like in the real world, they're letting off steam. Nonsense. Tell me how it would go over in your workplace if you were seen celebrating without a care in the world right after you helped lose a big account. Heck, Casey Anthony's defense attorneys got (deserved) grief for celebrating after they *won* the case.

I have no problem if Gronkowski et al were drowning their sorrows after the game. The dancing, not so much. But really, the Patriots should have shown some sense in the first place and not arranged such a big party. What is it with New England athletes and inappropriate partying? Between this, and the fried chicken and beer contingent on the Red Sox, all too many of them act like clowns. (Shocking, I know.)

In closing, I will give a little credit to Tom Brady, my least favorite Patriot. At least he actually had the good sense to seem more than a little upset after the loss. As much as I despise him, I can at least respect that. That's more than I can say for Gronkowski.

What do you think? Tell us about it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Please, Giants! Smash Tom Brady, Bill Belicheat, and the Patriots for Good!

I can't claim to be a real Giants fanatic -- I am basically a free agent football fan -- but I am rooting for them to destroy the Patriots today, like I rooted for Big Blue in Super Bowl XLII. As longtime Squawkers readers know, I can't stand Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots. Chad Ochocinco, somebody I used to root for, became dead to me because he joined their team. The Giants have to win, with their ELIte quarterback. Because I cannot deal with hearing about Brady's four rings and all that. I want to hear that the curse of Gisele remains in effect.

It's very exciting in New York today -- my deli even had blue bagels in honor of Big Blue! People are buzzing about the game. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago, Eli Manning was getting ripped to shreds for calling himself an elite quarterback, and Tom Coughlin looked like he could be forced out. Now they're 60 minutes away from a possible fourth Super Bowl for the franchise.

Squawker Jon is all about the curtains in his piece on the game. The thing with the Jets doing the curtains tweak reminded me a little of when the Yanks thought it was a great idea to bring in Bucky Dent to throw out the first pitch in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. And how did that work out? Not so well.

Speaking of which, my Red Sox fan friend/longtime Squawker reader Joe had this to say about the media hype:
it was bothering me what the lead up for this game was reminding me of and i couldnt recall - the total piling on of one team, the anointing of one team as totally superior, the massive sense of unfounded entitlement of one team's players and fan base, the utter lack of respect for the opponent when colin cowherd nailed it and it crystallized for me today...this game reminds me of usc vs texas when vince young had his coming out party....admit it.

Yikes!  Funny thing is, I had a similar comparison before Super Bowl XLII, predicting that the Giants would win!

But I do not think the hype is as one-sided as my Patriots fan friend has been saying. I've been hearing a lot of the usual "Brady is a god! Belichick is a genius" nonsense this week, too.

I'm a little nervous, waiting for the game to begin. Please, Giants, New York is counting on you to destroy those beaneaters!

Super Bowl Sunday: Black Curtains for Jet Fans

Nothing will be as bad for me as the Yankees-Phillies World Series in 2009, but I've been avoiding dealing with this Super Bowl as much as possible. And it's not because I can't stomach the thought of either team's fans celebrating and laughing at the Jets. It's because those other teams and their fans have good reason to lord it over Gang Green.

After three years of Rex Ryan guaranteeing that a Super Bowl team would come out of the Meadowlands, he turns out to be right, except that it's not his team. But Ryan's big mouth isn't the worst thing about a potential Giants title. It's the Jets staff's classless covering up the Giants' Super Bowl logos outside their locker room with black curtains before their December game.

Hard to believe that just a few months ago, the Jets seemed to be the local team on the rise. Everyone wanted to play for Ryan, while Tom Coughlin's job looked to be in jeopardy. Jets' GM Mike Tannenbaum was the aggressive wheeler-dealer who quickly built a contender, while Giants GM Jerry Reese was too passive in the wake of the lockout.

Now nobody seems to enjoy being in the Jets' poisonous clubhouse. And players Tannenbaum got rid of for nothing (Steve Weatherford, Danny Woodhead, James Inhedigo, Shaun Ellis) are now contributing to Super Bowl teams. It's particularly frustrating when legendary Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff goes out of his way to criticize Weatherford, who ends up being a key part of the Giants' playoff run.

At least it figures to be a good game, and now that Super Bowl Sunday is here, I'm actually looking forward to it.

Because once the football season is over, it's almost time for the unveiling of the 2012 Mets.

Now there's somethning that should be covered in black curtains.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brian Cashman Claims He Never Wanted to Be GM of the Yankees

Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein did one of those "A Conversation With..." blah blah blah type things in Connecticut the other day. And to my complete lack of surprise, Cashman kept up his record about complaining about his job more than anybody in the history of the world, griping about how difficult George Steinbrenner was, and even claiming that Cashman didn't ever really want to be GM of the Yanks. (Really?)

"I never wanted to be the general manager of the New York Yankees," Brian Cashman said, according to Yahoo Sports. "I still don't." Dylan Stableford, the writer of the article, said, "You would think he was joking, but he said it twice."

Brian is babbling sheer nonsense. Why does Cashman say this type of hokum? What is his point, exactly? It's about as believable of the Southern woman who spends days and dollars buying the right dress, then says, "Oh, this old thing" when complimented on it. Fiddle-dee-dee!

The thing is, you don't work your way up the food chain, putting in the crazy, long hours that MLB front office people do, if you don't have your eye on some kind of prize at the end. I interviewed some MLB staffers for an upcoming magazine article, and every single person said how long the hours were. Every day. All year. So why did Cashman put in those sort of hours? Because it was all so he could one day have the honor of being a celebrity bartender at Foley's?
  
And why did Cash not just stay as general manager since 1998, but just sign a new contract with the Yankees, if he really didn't want to be the GM? Because he just wanted to get a chance to rappel down Yankee Stadium in the future?

Here's more from the event. George Steinbrenner "would overreact in every inning. Every inning of every game was Armageddon. He was that way," Cashman said, according to ESPN New York. "That was tough to work through, it really was because everything was the short term, here and now, there was no long term, it was what are you doing in this moment and how are you doing, if you are doing well in this moment." 

Complaining about Steinbrenner being a tough boss is like somebody dating Kim Kardashian in 2012 and griping that she's more interested in publicity than love. You go to work for Steinbrenner, you can't expect sunshine and lollipops every minute.


But even then, we know that the Boss wasn't as tough in the later years as his reputation, and various health reasons ended the Steinbrenner of old. If he were the same old Steinbrenner, heads would have rolled after 2004, for one thing. Yet everybody in power got to keep their jobs after the worst collapse in MLB history. How did that work?
At any rate, nothing is more tedious than hearing people of privilege like Cashman, who have money and fame and power, gripe about how hard their lives are. He ought to team up with actress Katherine Heigl, who is known to do the same sort of moaning about how brutal her life is. Maybe they can go visit some people struggling right here in the good ol' USA, and see how good they have it. Or maybe they can make their tales of woe into a movie -- "Two for the Money."

What do you think? Tell us about it!