Thursday, June 11, 2015

My day seeing Buster Posey, Matt Harvey, and some other assorted shenanigans

I had kind of a busy day yesterday, so I am going to write about it in two very long Squawks. This one will be about the crazy fun and weird stuff of the day, including meeting and interviewing Buster Posey and watching Matt Harvey warm up for the game from about 10-15 feet away, something that got me called a jinx yet again! A later Squawk will be about the honor of attending the Mets' 31st Annual New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund Game and Family Day at Citi Field. Let's get started!

My day started out in a very weird way, when I saw the following headline from the Staten Island Advance: "Great Kills dentist accused of exposing self to teen employee." It was my former dentist! Fortunately, I only went to Dr. Alan M. Kratenstein briefly last year. But, as somebody else pointed out to me, this dentist's hand was in my mouth, which made me feel sick for the rest of the morning. Oy.

Buster Posey: more charismatic
than Derek Jeter
After a few hours at work, I headed to Topps headquarters to see superstar San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey in the flesh. (Thanks to my friend Joe Favorito for the invite!) Posey appeared at a presser there for bloggers to promote the fact that he is the baseball card company's new brand ambassador. And talk about perfect timing, given that he just caught a no-hitter the night before!

You hear a lot about how Posey, who has three World Series rings in five years and an NL MVP award, and who has been voted the new Face of Baseball, is the new Derek Jeter. I actually think Posey is much more charming than Jeter, who too often seemed to talk in a monotone with dealing with the media, as if he were at a dentist visit!

Posey has real star quality. Even if you knew nothing about baseball, you would know that he was somebody, the way he carries himself. Very charismatic.

Posey opens up the Topps baseball card box set.
First card he sees? Ervin Santana. Heh.
Anyhow, he talked about why he signed up to promote Topps. He said it was "really special" to represent the brand. Posey said that baseball cards are "something the younger generation can and should get excited about." He also noted that his grandfather is a big card collector.

Someone asked Posey about what it was like to see himself on a baseball card for the first time. He called it a "cool moment" and "a little bit surreal," and said he would always remember that day. He also talked about how his three-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, act about seeing their father on a baseball card!

Of course, many of the questions were about Chris Heston's no-hitter from the night before, and for what it is like in general to catch no-hitters (Posey has caught three, one away from tying Jason Varitek, something somebody pointed out.)

Posey said that while a no-hitter is a "rare feat" is is "unique in its own way," there is also a "commonality in no-hitters" -- that the pitcher and catcher "are able to get on same page" and "keep that rhythm." Posey said the challenge was to be efficient. He also had a lot of praise for Chris Heston. Somebody asked him if he felt bad that he didn't catch one of Tim Lincecum's two no-hitters Posey had a very humble response, saying that there was no guarantee that Lincecum would have had a no-hitter that day with Posey as catcher!

This is the Ervin Santana card that
Posey touched. I took it home with me.
I got the opportunity to ask Posey a question. I asked what it was about the Giants having so many more no-hitters than other franchises, and noted that they had four no-hitters in four years, and 17 no-hitters in all.  Posey first responded by pointing out that the team has had five no-hitters in seven seasons. Heh! (I didn't even think of Jonathan Sanchez's in 2009 because that was the pre-Posey era!)

My fellow Yankee fans will appreciate who Posey said "gets a ton of credit" for the team having so many no-hitters. That would be pitching coach Dave Righetti, who had a no-hitter of his own with the Yankees in 1983.  He also credited Righetti as being "instrumental" in his progress as a catcher.

Posey was also asked about Matt Harvey, who he called a "great pitcher" with "great stuff," and said that "we know we have our hands full" facing him last night. (Well, that didn't really happen, as you will hear shortly!)

Posey said he is passionate about baseball and said that he has no specific goals, other than to "just win." Although he did then say that he would like to set the record for catcher with most rings. (Yogi Berra has 10, though, so Posey's got a way to go on that!)

A young reporter from SI for Kids then asked him a lot of questions. The best one was what superhero power Posey would want. He said to fly, as he doesn't like to sit in traffic! He also said his favorite move was Dumb and Dumber.

Then Posey did a ceremonial opening of the new Topps Series 2 set for 2015. The very first card he saw? Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins, who is currently serving an 80-game suspension for PEDs. Everybody laughed over this. There should have also been sad trombone music!

Here is the front of the card.
What is on the back?
We also got to hear about Topps' new Series 2 line of baseball cards for 2015, which include Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant's rookie card. They also have some new First Pitch cards, featuring people who have thrown out first pitches at baseball games. This includes "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead. Talk about cards that were tailor-made for yours truly! (But where was the card for 50 Cent's first pitch?)

I got a picture of the Dead baseball card, but it only showed the front side of the card. So what was on the back of the card? Someone I work with wondered: "Does the back of the card list different drugs (think LSD instead of RBI) and quantities per season?"

So I threw the question out to my Facebook friends, and received responses like: "Number of insufferable drum solos by tour," as well as "Road Trips (not W-L columns, in this case it's Good and Bad), visits to Dock Ellis' house, Toking Average, Bong Hits, Lyric Errors, etc." Other responses included "Number of times hallucinations involving fabulous furry freak brothers" and "Most joints rolled during one tour." Squawker Jon thought the Dead cards should be scratch and sniff.

When I was at Topps headquarters, I also got to say hello to Topps staffer Chris Vaccaro, who I knew from our days at the Daily News. And I got to talk to Steve Keane, my fellow Staten Islander and blogger at the Eddie Kranepool Society. Also made a new friend -- a young woman named Brandon from My phone's camera went out of whack during part of the event, so she was nice enough to share some of her Buster Posey photos with me!

Anyhow, I went back to work after this, and then headed to Citi Field in the late afternoon to go to the Answer the Call benefit game (details on that in a future Squawk.) I got to the media check-in at 5:15 p.m., as I was supposed to, but there was a snafu. Even though I had RSVPed, and gotten written confirmation on the RSVP, my name was not on the list. This could have been fixed in two minutes if the Mets' young receptionist hadn't been a (rhymes with witch). Even though I showed her this RSVP information, she simply would not listen to me or do anything about it. I wasn't surprised at how rude and unprofessional she was, given that her tank top and miniskirt getup was a very unprofessional workplace outfit, unless your workplace is on the pole!

Because of her incompetence, I had to wait 45 minutes in the media check-in area until the Mets PR person I was dealing with contacted the Mets communications director -- the same person who got us access to Citi Field for our Guideposts Spartan Race photo shoot -- to get the situation fixed, and get me into the ballpark.

Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, and I was able to get some very moving quotes from people at the picnic, including getting to talk to Rusty Staub, the founder of the benefit fund. More on that later today.

Something funny happened, though, while I was cooling my heels waiting. I saw an older gentleman with a baseball cap on his head come up to the receptionist and say that he was picking up tickets for himself, Tommy Lasorda, and Joe Torre. He then smiled at me while I was waiting -- he must have noticed how stressed I looked. His smile made me relax a little and feel better. I smiled back.

Anyhow, I saw Lasorda come in after that, and I said hello. Was glad I didn't see Joe Torre, because I would have asked him things like "Why didn't you bunt on Curt Schilling?" and "Why did you pitch Jeff Weaver in the World Series?" and "Why did you hate A-Rod so much?" and it wouldn't have ended well!

Anyhow, later on that night, I saw that same smiling, kindly man talking on the Mets broadcast with Torre during the game, talking about  prostate cancer awareness. The man was billionaire Michael Milken. How funny is that?

Matt Harvey, future Yankee
As for the game itself, I got to see Matt Harvey warm up and was about 10-15 feet behind him -- the picnic area was right behind the bullpen. He has a real swagger to him. Like Posey, Harvey has true star quality. But while Posey has an aw-shucks demeanor, Harvey is all strut.

I joked on Facebook that I was scouting him for the Yankees, since we all know he will be in pinstripes at some point!

Of course, seeing him in the flesh, and staying for the game, meant that I got the blame for being a jinx to Matt Harvey and the Mets. Squawker Jon pointed out that Harvey had never lost a game in which the Mets had scored four runs or more. That is, until now!

Me at the game, with a bad selfie.
Jon said I look very startled!
I only stayed until the middle of the sixth inning for the game, but the damage was done. Squawker Jon (and others!) blame me for Harvey's poor performance!

During the game, I walked around the park, and also had a fabulous Patron margarita, as well as some carnitas tacos (without eating the shells.) Also got to meet Facebook friend Brad Kurtzberg at the game. Nice guy!

As for Harvey, it does make me laugh how irate Jon was. He texted me: "What did u do to Harvey?" Hey, don't blame me!

In all, it was a very busy day! Will write about the second half of the day later on this Thursday.

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