Monday, April 27, 2015

Subway Series Game 3: The 659th Home Run Song (Feelin' Petty)

It's nights like this that I want to be like Eric Campbell when it comes to numbers. I want to forget how many errors the Mets made (four), how many runs Jon Niese gave up (six, four earned) and how many games the Mets lost to the Yankees (two).

However, Squawker Lisa, there is one number I am quite pleased to remember, and that is 659. I wanted A-Rod to get just shy of 660 while the Yankees were at home so media and fan attention would mushroom. After all, what else do Yankee fans have to focus on - whether Nathan Eovaldi can complete five innings with a lead?

I especially did not want to see A-Rod get to 660 on an ESPN broadcast, not just because it would have been against the Mets, but because I want to hear the Yankee broadcasters stumble through the call. Ideally, Yankee fans would demand a curtain call, leaving Michael Kay struggling to explain why the fans are cheering so much ("Kenny, I think they just announced that all concession stands will no longer have condiments!").

Best of all would be if John Sterling couldn't help spewing home run calls for A-Rod's milestone-that-must-not-be-named,  why Suzyn Waldman desperately tried to stop him:

John:It is high! It is far! It is gone! He did it! A-Rod is A-MAYS-ing!
Suzyn: You know, John, Stephen Drew is closing in on the 500-50 club - 500 RBI and 50 steals for his career.

John: Say Hey-Rod!
Suzyn: John, the Yankees sure have a lot of pitchers with two first names: Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, Chris Martin, even Esmil Rogers if you consider Rogers Hornsby.

John: A-Rod tuned his radio to 660!
Suzyn: Goodness gracious, John, give it a rest!

John: A-Rod's the Six Million Dollar Man!

Subway Series Game 3: A-Rod hits #659, Yankees win, mayhem ensues

How are you feeling, Squawker Jon? Are you sore like Mr. Met, now that your team has lost two out of three to the Yankees? Did you forget how many outs there were, like Met Eric Campbell did tonight?

Boy, that was a sloppy, messy game. Bad pitching, lots of bad plays. Not exactly one for the highlight reels. But ultimately, the Yankees won, and they (and I) have the bragging rights. Sorry, Jon!

As for the ESPN broadcasters, It was funny hearing John Kruk talking about A-Rod guessing on pitches, and then get to see A-Rod "guess" his way to home run #659.  I also had to laugh about them second-guessing on the A-Rod milestone thing, suggesting that they weren't going to tell him what to do, and then doing just that.

Sorry, folks, but I don't care if Alex wants to spend his $6 million on portraits of himself as great men in history. A-Rod as Napoleon! A-Rod as Patton! A-Rod as Einstein! It's his money. He doesn't need to promise to give it to charity or anything else.

Show A-Rod the money!
The Yankees signed the A-Rod contract in December 2007, the exact date that the Mitchell Report was released, and four months after Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record. They could have put contingencies in there. They didn't. Am I supposed to feel sorry that a $4 billion team is going to have to pay $6 million -- pocket change for them -- for a contract they signed? No way.

My friend Joe had this great comment on Facebook tonight:

When A-Rod hits his next home run I want him to cross home plate, point to the owners box, and do the Johnny Manziel money sign. The back page of the NY Post needs this to happen.
I agree, Joe! 


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Subway Series Game 2: Call it a 'Lisaography' -- Let's pretend this game didn't happen

A toast -- to myself! -- after a grueling obstacle race.
So much for my predictions about A-Rod hitting No. 660 off Matt Harvey. So much for the Yankees' hitting off Matt Harvey. So much for CC Sabathia being an effective major league pitcher! Oy, what a nightmare. Game 2 of the Subway Series was not fun.

Squawker Jon, I actually did have an excuse as to why I hadn't written about yesterday's game, aside from it being my version of "Yankeeography." In the "Lisaography," I wish we could pretend Saturday's game didn't happen!

The state of my trail shoes -- and my socks! -- after the race.
As for my valid excuse, this morning I was at the High Rock Solo, an obstacle race on Staten Island. It is the local version of a Spartan Race. Our readers may remember that when I did the Spartan Race last April, I couldn't do the
climbing obstacles, so I had to do 90 burpees in a row. (Click here if you haven't read my Guideposts article.) Anyhow, one year later, guess what? I still can't do the climby things. (Even if I had wanted to try, my arm is still messed up and sore from the chafing from my half-marathon, so I wasn't going to try! Maybe next year.) So I had to do a lot of jumping jacks -- 25 for each obstacle I missed!

Ranger Ropes: one of the obstacles at
the High Rock Solo. Courtesy
of Run & Shoot Photography
This race was four miles of trail running and over 25 obstacles, including a mud challenge that my shoes got stuck in -- what a nightmare! I had one shoe get stuck so badly that I had to take my foot out in order to get my shoe out. Then it happened with the other shoe. And that was before the first mile was done!

There were a lot of hurdles -- as in literal hurdles -- to do in the race. We also had a slip 'n' slide type thing, which was great fun. Also, my trail running was more like trail walking, as I was very careful not to slip 'n' fall and hurt myself.

My biggest obstacle was the Ranger Ropes shortly before the end of the race.  This consisted of two metal cables strung over a pond. One cable you hang onto with your hands, and one cable you hang onto with your feet. It looked horrible! I was about to skip it and just do the jumping jacks, as I figured I would fall off and end up in the water. But my friend Brian from the running club I belong to suggested I just try it for a few steps. Once I was on, I was hooked, so to speak, and ended up going further! I was scared the whole time, and was sure I was going to fall. But somehow, I ended up finishing -- without falling in! It was a miracle!

After finishing the race, I got a medal and also got to relax with an adult beverage. Squawker Jon, they have a High Rock Challenge for duos. Whaddaya say we do it together next year?

As for Saturday's game, I leave you with this: Matt Harvey's comments about him showing up for Derek Jeter's last home game -- the Yankees were his childhood fave team. Jeremy Schaap recently asked him about that, and why Mets fans were bent out of shape over it. He said (emphasis added):
“I definitely see that side of it,” Harvey answered. “I completely understand. But the other side is that I have bled in a Mets uniform. I’ve definitely sweat in a Mets uniform. And that’s my life. Right now, that’s who I play for.
Right now, he's a Met. In 2019 (or 2024 or something!), I fully expect Harvey to be wearing pinstripes!

Editorial note: As I wrote this Squawk, A-Rod hit No. 659. Gentlemen, start your lawsuits!

Subway Series Game 2: Dark Knight rises, CC not even so-so

The Mets walloped the Yankees, 8-2, on Saturday, but Squawker Lisa has somehow only gotten around to writing about Game 1, which reminds me of the Yankeeography retelling of the 2001 World Series, which conveniently ended after Game 5. While we're waiting for Lisa's game 2 wrapup this afternoon, here are some thoughts from the game:

Matt Harvey is great. You want your ace to the a stopper. Granted, it was only a one-game losing streak, but a loss yesterday would have given the Yankees the Subway Series and could have started the Mets on a downward trend. And Lisa would have had to write about the game.

CC Sabathia is no longer great. Sabathia is now 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA. He gave up three home runs to the Mets, who had hit ten homers all season before Saturday.  Two of the homers were hit by Kevin Plawecki and Eric Campbell, who were both in the minors until recent callups as injury replacements.

I do concede that the seven-year contract the Yankees gave Sabathia before the 2009 season has turned out to be one of the better long-term deals for ace pitchers, even if this final season turns out as poorly as it appears it's going to be.

Oh, wait, the Yankees gave CC an extension - $25 million for 2016, with a $25M option for 2017 that will vest as long as Sabathia:

1) does not end 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, 2) does not spend more than 45 days in 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury or 3) does not make more than six relief appearances in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury

Sabathia's 2014 season ended in July when he underwent knee surgery.  Adam Wainwright stumbled coming out of the batter's box yesterday and may have torn his Achilles.  Every pitcher these days seems to be at risk for Tommy John surgery. But fear not, Yankee fans - none of those injuries would prevent Sabathia's $25M option from vesting for 2017.

So Harvey is 4-0 (as is Bartolo Colon), while Sabathia is 0-4. The Mets are 14-4 (still the best record in baseball) while the Yankees are 10-8.  Take away Harvey's record and Sabathia's record and both teams are 10-4.  The way Sabathia currently looks, he's the reverse stopper - every fifth day, he gives his team a great chance to lose.

Kevin Plawecki hit his first major-league home run.  The Mets announcers mentioned this fact on the telecast. On our side of town, we are allowed to acknowledge home run milestones.

Subway Series Game 1: Squawking Mets fans get their comeuppance



Yes, I know I am writing my Game 1 wrapup after Game 2. So sue me!

Anyhow, Squawker Jon and I didn't buy Subway Series tickets months ago, as we should have. And because this series has been a hot ticket, with even standing room only tickets going for $80 and up on the secondary market for Friday's game, and Harvey Day tix going for $150 and up, it wasn't looking good for the Subway Squawkers to get Subway Series tickets.

The 7 Line is in the top left part of the picture.
The seats in this picture were more full
than the expensive seats.
However, I threw out to the universe that we needed tickets. (Although, not in this blog -- Squawker Jon made me take out my line about needing Subway Series tickets. He thought it was too "beggy"!) My request finally worked, though. On Friday afternoon, one of the directors at my day job came through with free two tickets for us, courtesy of a certain TV network, in the main level of Yankee Stadium. This included access to the Audi Club and the Mohegan Sun Club, both places I had never gotten to visit! I was so happy to get these tickets!

This was great -- not only to get to see Friday's game, and see it in good seats, but to give Jon a bit of comeuppance, after his mocking my throwing our ticket request out to the universe! (Incidentally, after all this, Jon "joked" to me during Saturday's game that I should have gotten us tickets for *that* game! Sheesh.)

The tickets Jon thought I would never get!
Anyhow, before the game, we checked out both clubs to see what was what. In retrospect, given how much Squawker Jon griped about the weather (you can read him whining about the cold and the price of hot chocolate here), we probably should have gone to one of the clubs later on in the game. But then Jon probably would have found something else to whine about, like Yankee fans!

As expected, Yankee Stadium food choices were awful. We were sitting near the Papa John's pizza stand. Most popular pizza city in the world, and your pizza choice is Papa John? Really? Before the game, Jon found the Parm stand, which is hidden in a different place it was hidden in from last year. I tried the fried chicken and waffles stand, sponsored by Aunt Jemima. It is a sorry commentary on the food at Yankee Stadium that my chicken and waffle sliders meal, with the waffle courtesy of a corporate food company, was one of the only edible things I have ever eaten at the ballpark!

Yes, that is an A-Rod shirt!
When looking online for a photo of the sliders, I found this quote last year from the person in charge of cuisine at Yankee Stadium:
"We are always trying to push the culinary envelope, making sure that we align ourselves with current culinary trends and our guests' expectations," said Yankee Stadium Executive Chef, Matt Gibson. "For us, it is important to make sure that everyone who walks through the gates of Yankee Stadium has a memorable food experience."
Yeah, nothing says pushing the culinary envelope like the Johnny Rockets' stand. And I guess the time I got food poisoning after eating the Yankee Stadium sushi was memorable. As was seeing how the once expensive but delicious Lobel's prime rib sandwich is now expensive and disgusting (and not delicious.) C'mon, Yankees -- step up your food game already!

Subway Series t-shirt in the Yankees clubhouse shop.
Anyhow, the game itself was perfect for Yankee fans. Even though there were four (!) sections of the 7 Line Army at the game, the Met fans didn't really have much to cheer about, as the Yankees started mauling on Jacob DeGrom right from the beginning. Some Rookie of the Year! And as Jon noted, we had a great view of all of the homers flying out of the ballpark, including Mark Teixeira's two homers!

I do think the entertainment between innings is pretty lame. You have Alex Rodriguez, the most charismatic player on the team, but you don't use him in your skits, in favor of an assortment of indistinguishable, unmemorable players? Not to mention Brian Cashman inserting himself into a skit. Good grief. 

But the game was great for Yankee fans, shutting up most Met fans pretty early. However, when I went to go use the restroom during the game when the score was 6-0 Yankees, I heard some Met fan yelling "Yankees suck" over and over. I took the bait and yelled back, "Scoreboard!" The fan busted out laughing and said that he was looking for a reaction, but everybody else was ignoring him. We talked a little and laughed a little, and he ended up hugging me!  This is the Mets' "Army" for you -- even the trash talkers aren't very fierce!

At about the sixth inning or so, two knuckleheaded Yankee fans -- a young woman and a young man -- sat right behind us, as the people behind us had either left for the night, or gone into one of the clubs to warm up. (Incidentally, the game's official attendance was 45,310, but the stands were more empty than you would think for such a Subway Series game. Many of the people in the expensive seats either didn't show up, or were in the clubs all evening.)

Anyhow, this twosome, especially the woman, were foulmouthed, even by ballpark standards. This woman, who was more than a little wasted, screamed at her companion for at least two minutes straight, unleashing epithets that would make a drunken sailor blush. And she wouldn't shut up. I told Jon by the eighth inning that if we didn't move elsewhere, I was going to say something to her, and it wasn't going to end well! So we moved a level down, and watched the rest of the game from the back of the field level.

I had noticed that at that the t-shirt stand near us didn't have any A-Rod stuff. So at the end of the game, I went to the official Yankees clubhouse store, and did find some A-Rod shirts. But no dirt capsules!

I am off to the solo version of the High Rock Challenge (click to see what madness I am doing today!), so my Game 2 report will not be written until this afternoon. So sue me!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Subway Series Game 1: Winter is coming

The good news is that Squawker Lisa was able to score us some decent seats just hours before the game. As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty much where the good news ends. By the third inning, it was 6-0 Yankees, and since we were sitting in the 200 level toward the right field corner, we had a good view of all the Yankee homers sailing over the short right field porch. And the weather was even colder than the Mets' bats against Michael Pineda.

Lisa is a big fan of the Christmas special featuring Heat Miser and Cold Miser, and while I was feeling like a cold miser, shivering in my seat and grumbling at the $10 the vendor was asking for hot chocolate, heat miser Lisa was glowing as the Yankees stomped on the previously hot Mets. "Some Rookie of the Year, " Lisa smirked about Jacob deGrom.

But Lisa never pointed out how much better the Yankees' 26-year-old rising star Pineda was doing than the Mets' 26-year-old rising star deGrom.  To do so would mean she would have to give Brian Cashman credit for making a good trade when he sent Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Pineda. For Lisa, acknowledging a good move by the man she calls Fredo would be like the Yankees acknowledging a milestone by A-Rod.

The Yankees did, however, see fit to again acknowledge Mark Teixeira's 350th homer from last May, complete with John Sterling's call, in which he happily goes through all of his little sayings for Teixeira before Suzyn Waldman interrupts his reverie with actual news about Teixeira's milestone.

Yankee fans frustrated at their inability to purchase memorabilia for A-Rod's upcoming 660th homer can take solace in the fact there were frequent ads at the stadium last night for something called the "Derek Jeter Dirt Capsule." It turns out that this is a "game-used dirt capsule" from Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. That implies to me that it was the capsule that was used in the game and not the dirt, but who cares about grammar when it's only $9.99 - cheaper than Yankee Stadium hot chocolate!

Bernie Williams threw out the first pitch last night in honor of the fact that he finally officially retired. (At age 46, he probably figured that he could at least DH for the current Yankee team.) Seeing Williams reminded me again at how ridiculous it is that Jorge Posada is part of the "Core Four" and not Williams.  During the Yankees' 1996-2000 dynasty, Williams had a WAR of 25.3, while Posada's was 9.8 (numbers from Baseball Reference). For their careers, Williams outdid Posada, 49.4-42.7.

I can only assume that Williams had a clause in his contract awarding him $6 million if the Yankees acknowledge that he belongs in the Core Four. 

The Yankees had a lot of dumb ads on the big video screen in which members of the team attempted to be humorous.  Even Brian Cashman tried to get into the act.  What's next - some standup from Randy Levine and Lonn Trost?

One of the ads featured Didi Gregorius trying to teach his teammates to say "inside out" in Dutch.  Not sure why that phrase was chosen, unless the Yankees were trying to claim that Gregorius' .204 batting average was somehow "inside out."  Looks like Sir Didi won't be getting his dirt capsule anytime soon.

At least we got to see the major-league debut of Mets pitcher Hansel Robles.  His name sounds like character out of "Game of Thrones."  (Arya, when you meet a man named Hansel Robles, show him this coin and say, "Nieuwenhuis.")

Unfortunately, winter returned for the Mets last night. Today, it's time for Matt Harvey to bring back the sunshine.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Subway Squawkers Preview: How the 2009 Subway Series sent the Mets on a downward spiral

Squawker Jon and I have been to many Yankees and Mets games together over the years, but two games stand out as being the top ones we attended together. Warning: Mets fans will not like these happy recaps!

The first was on Friday, June 12, 2009. The Mets were about to beat the Yankees, 8-7. Alex Rodriguez was up at bat with two men on and two out, and Francisco Rodriguez on the mound. I had told Jon in the previous inning that the game would come down to A-Rod, and I was right. Alex pops up to Luis Castillo, and A-Rod-hating Yankee fans are in mid-boo when Castillo drops the ball. Let me refresh you memory with this clip:

Here is what I had to say in 2009 in the blog after the game:

After I screamed "Holy Bleep" a whole bunch of times, I literally couldn't stop laughing, especially when the Yanks kept on showing the play over and over again on that gigantic video screen. I also clapped my hands so hard I thought I broke a blood vessel in my finger! ....
I wasn't taunting Jon - I was cackling while looking towards home plate, which was in the opposite direction of Jon. He was very quiet right after the play. It took him a few minutes to speak. When he did finally speak, he was about as devastated as I've ever heard him after a loss.  
Here is what Jon wrote then:
 The worst thing about being at Friday night's horrendous Met loss to the Yankees was Squawker Lisa's reaction. She couldn't stop laughing. 
 I say New York is a two-team town. Lisa says the Mets are the little brother. I want my team to show Lisa that she is wrong. That the Mets are just as good, if not better than, the Yankees. Just as deserving of respect. 
 But after tonight's debacle, even I cannot respect the Mets.
In another blog entry, he said this, about the Yankees' rallying clips before the dropped ball:
Apparently it takes a lot to rally the Yankees. You would think a clip from "Rocky" would suffice, given that the Yankees were only one run down to the Mets and playing in a bandbox where the ball could go flying out at any moment. But no, the sluggish Bombers and their fans apparently also required clips from "300" and "We Are Marshall." How desperate must you be to look for inspiration from Matthew McConaughey?

Ahem. That's now Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, Squawker Jon!

Later on that month, we showed up at Citi Field for the first Subway Series in that ballpark. And wouldn't you know it? There was another memorable game! Mariano Rivera got his 500th save -- and his first career RBI, thanks to Francisco Rodriguez walking him with the bases loaded!

Jon was so depressed after that game, which capped a sweep for the Yanks in Citi Field, that he said the loss was even worse than the Castillo game! He talked about the freeze-frame at the end of the movie "The Wrestler," and had a new wish for the way the series ended:
My highlight show of this year's Subway Series would end with a freeze frame of A-Rod's popup still in the air, A-Rod's bat slamming to the ground, K-Rod starting to pump his fist, Yankee fans starting to boo A-Rod, and Met fans starting to cheer.
If there was any moment to point when the Mets went down the drain, it was right then at the Castillo game! And we were there to see it! Isn't that cool, Squawker Jon?

Subway Series Preview: Why the Mets' winning streak is good for Subway Squawkers!

Here is a "Behind the Squawkers" look at this blog: Way back in early 2006, when Squawker Jon and I worked together at the web department of the New York Daily News, we used to trash talk each other on our respective teams. That winter, it looked like both the Yankees and Mets would be playoff-worthy for the first time since the Subway Series year of 2000. So Squawker Jon suggested we do this thing called a "blog" together, our boss Kevin gave us permission, and we started writing Subway Squawkers (Jon came up with the name) on March 1, 2006.

In our first season, we didn't even have blog software! Instead, it was just one long article entry each month on the Daily News website. And Jon was right -- both the Yankees and Mets would make the playoffs that year, with the Yankees losing to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS (and Joe Torre batting A-Rod eighth!) and the Mets going further, getting all the way to Game 7 of the NLCS. Then Carlos Beltran took that called third strike, and the Mets went on a downward spiral, choking in 2007 and 2008 without making the playoffs, and not even having a winning record since 2008.

The Mets' losing ways changed the state of this blog a lot, taking away much of the trash talk. It was one thing for me to mock the Mets when they were actually a decent team. But mocking Jon and his team when the Mets were in last place didn't have the same cachet. I just looked kinda mean doing so. That meant I had to pull my punches a lot over the last few years.

So now that the magic is back in Citi Field, I can go back to insulting Squawker Jon and the Mets! Yippee! Let me get started with that:

  • I see that Jon brought up 1986 in the very first sentence of this morning's Squawk. If we did a drinking game based on how often Mets fans (and their broadcasters) bring up 1986 during a typical game, this photo is what we would all look like by the second inning.
  • If you go to the Mets' franchise page on Baseball-Reference.com, you will see pictures of the top 20 Mets, according to their WAR numbers. No. 3 is Dwight Gooden, who pitched a no-hitter for my Yankees. No. 5 is Darryl Strawberry, who has three rings as a Yankee. No. 6 is Carlos Beltran, who has (oh, wait, there is no Beltran highlight as a Yankee! Never mind!) Anyhow, No. 11 and No. 16 are Al Leiter and David Cone. Cone has four rings as a Yankee, none as a Met. And both Leiter and Cone are Yankee broadcasters. Tell me, Jon, how many franchises have five of their top 20 players with such connections to their biggest rivals? 
  • Then there is the great Chris Young. When he was a Met, your fans all hated him. Now that he is a Yankee, he is a star! Must be that being in our team's pinstripes worked some magic on him!

So Squawker Jon and Mets fans, watch out!  Now that your team is good again, I am free to bring the pain!

Third time's a charm: Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden - and Matt Harvey?

The Mets' 11-game winning streak has brought up memories of two other seasons in which they had such a streak - 1969 and 1986.  But it's still hard to compare the 2015 Mets with the legends of the past.  The Mets' 13-3 record ties the '86 Mets for the best Mets start ever.  But when the '86 Mets beat Atlanta on April 30, 1986 to reach 13-3, here was their lineup, along with their batting averages at the time:

Lenny Dykstra .327
Wally Backman .371
Keith Hernandez .303
Darryl Strawberry .313
Gary Carter .281
Danny Heep .368
Ray Knight  .306
Howard Johnson .357

Pitching that day was Dwight Gooden, and even he was hitting .214.

When this year's Mets went to 11-3, the only hitter in the lineup batting over .273 was Lucas Duda. Leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson is hitting .200 and number five hitter Daniel Murphy is at .170

Of course, this year's Mets are built around pitching, but you'd still take the '86 Mets' foursome of Gooden, Bob Ojeda, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez or the Miracle Mets staff led by Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman that also included Nolan Ryan and Tug McGraw.

But it turns out this year's Mets do have something in common with the champions of the past. 1969 was Seaver's third season. 1986 was Gooden's third season. And 2015 is Matt Harvey's third season on the field.

Gooden was just one of several strong pitchers on the Mets that year. Harvey so far is statistically the fourth-best Met starter. But Seaver's presence turned perennial losers into winners, and the 1986 Gooden still carried the aura of his unbelievable 1985. Already Harvey has made every fifth day an event and brought excitement to a ballpark that has not had enough of it. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the park is now buzzing on days when Harvey isn't pitching. It wasn't long ago that the Mets had a better record on the road than at home. And now they have a perfect 10-0 homestand.

It's still early to be thinking about the World Series, but it's not too early to think that the Mets have another ace coming into his prime who can spark the Mets to great heights.

But for now, I'll be happy with beating the Yankees, and leaving Squawker Lisa with nothing to root for except seeing A-Rod reach 660 at home and getting a curtain call.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I'm calling it now: A-Rod will hit HR No. 660 against Matt Harvey and the Mets this weekend!

Squawker Jon and I were getting a bite to eat on Friday night when we heard that Alex Rodriguez had hit home run No. 657. It was almost as if the homer were a statement against Joe Girardi batting him sixth (!) that night, even though Alex was the hottest hitter on the team. I quickly did the math in my head and declared: "A-Rod's gonna hit 660 off Matt Harvey!" in the Subway Series next weekend. I also posted my declaration on social media for posterity.

Later on that evening, A-Rod hit No. 658, and it seemed, given him hitting four home runs in 10 days, as if he could get two more homers this weekend. No matter. Given how much A-Rod has a flair for the dramatic, I just couldn't see him matching Willie Mays when the Yankees were on the road. No, I think he is going to do it at home, most likely in the Subway Series, and most likely against Matt Harvey, the biggest name on the New York Mets. And now that the Mets are the hottest team in baseball, with 10 wins in a row, this will make him setting the record even sweeter! Of course, I could be wrong, and A-Rod could go hitless for the weekend (and Squawker Jon could mock me mercilessly!), but I am still sticking to my prediction!

In this morning's New York Post, Ken Davidoff had some conflicting "inside details" about what will happen when Alex hits 660.
According to two sources familiar with the situation, when Rodriguez goes deep with number 660, the Yankees will have a precise period of time — two weeks, as per one of the sources — to declare this as a marketable milestone. If they were to do this, then Rodriguez would sign over the rights to his image and associated branding for the price of $6 million. 
I don't buy this, and here's why: If you were to be selling branded stuff revolving around this, you would need it ready to go at the time that people would buy the items. That would mean having it made up at the time A-Rod hits #660. Remember how Derek Jeter wore a hat and t-shirt with a logo of himself honoring his hitting #3000 in the post-game press conference after he got his 3000th hit? Remember how Steiner Sports was selling autographed merchandise before that milestone, which Jeter signed when he skipped the All-Star Game? Two weeks after #660 is ancient history.

Brian Cashman (l.) and Randy Levine spotted
visiting their attorney to discuss the
A-Rod milestone controversy.
Davidoff also writes that "another person involved in the dispute claims Rodriguez is entitled to his $6 million bonus money immediately upon hitting home run 660." This seems much more likely. The rest of this stuff is Yankee spin, like the way that they think that not mentioning the home run milestone in their press materials will keep it from being a milestone. Who is advising the Yankees -- Lionel Hutz?

Another leak to Davidoff concerns the idea that the Yankees could bring up in the arbitration hearing "past transgressions, including some that have yet to be affirmed," like A-Rod's relationship with Anthony Galea. But couldn't A-Rod's people bring up stuff on the Yankees, like the likelihood that they knew that he (and other players) were juicing? Or bring up the fact that the Yankees are marketing Andy Pettitte, an admitted PED user, even giving him a retired number, a plaque in Monument Park, and his own day?

Aside from A-Rod's flair for the dramatic, I think Alex will hit 660 at home, whether against Matt Harvey or some other pitcher, because of the fact that he will get a huge ovation and a curtain call when he does so. And it is going to be hard for the Yankees to claim that they cannot market his home run milestone if a big crowd, many of them wearing A-Rod shirts, roar in approval of his achievement! Not to mention if A-Rod's teammates celebrate it on the field.

But then again, the leadership of this team is known to talk out of both sides of their mouth. Like this gem in today's paper from Girardi to George King of the Post about A-Rod's steroid suspension: "He paid the consequences and we had to struggle through it because we didn’t have him."

Let me get this straight: Girardi and Cashman and Levine and Hal Steinbrenner have been trying to marginalize A-Rod and get him off the team for years now, but they are somehow the victims here, struggling through the 2014 season without Rodriguez? The same A-Rod that Girardi has had bat sixth and seventh this season, while he had the washed-up Carlos Beltran bat third? Really? Good grief.

In other news, did you see ESPN's Andrew Marchand's entertaining recap of A-Rod sparring with an out-of-town writer? The reporter kept on asking Alex over and over about A-Rod being a "villain" and being booed on the road, to which he finally responded:
A-Rod: I've been booed for 15 years, buddy. I don't know if you haven't been around. It's been one long boo for 15 years.
Love it -- especially his use of "buddy." I do the same thing! If I have called you "buddy" or dude" when I'm talking to you, it is not a compliment!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Now it can be told: How Subway Squawkers invaded Citi Field in February for a magazine article!

This looks like a bright summer day, but it was
 actually 13 degrees in February! 
Big news: I wrote a first-person article for Guideposts magazine that is being featured in the May issue! The magazine, which runs true stories of hope and inspiration, has around two million subscribers, so this is a big deal for me! Click here to read the article. Go here to guideposts.org/lisaswan -- love the URL name! -- to see me being interviewed about the piece. And read on to see how this all ties in with baseball,

In case you are not familiar with Guideposts, they are a faith-based publication founded by Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking. Every other year, Guideposts has a writers' contest, in which they choose 12 people to send to an all-expenses-paid writers' workshop for a week in October, where they learn how to write for their magazines. Previous winners of this contest include best-selling author Debbie Macomber and New York Times columnist Rosie Schaap.

Here I am at Citi Field after the Spartan Race.
Last summer, over 4000 people entered the contest. I did so, too, submitting a story on how I finished a Spartan Race. It tells the story about how I was a mess physically, but I decided to ramp up working out after getting free admission to compete in last year's Spartan Race in Citi Field. While I had already started on the road to fitness, the Spartan Race spurred me to make more signifcant hanges in my life, with working out and watching what I ate. And I ended up finishing the race, despite being much older and much less fit than the buff twentysomethings doing the competition. I really left it on the field, so to speak, in the article.

I am not sure if it was hubris or wishful thinking or what, but after I submitted my article, I marked the week of the workshop in my calendar. I just had a good feeling about it. Then I found out that I was one of the 12 winners. When I got the call telling me that, I somehow knew what it was before answering the phone, even though my caller ID didn't show who the number was from. I just had a good feeling about it!

Since then, I have written a slew of stories for the Guideposts website, on everything from an interview with career expert Jon Acuff to a review of Laura Ingalls Wilder's previously unpublished book Pioneer Girl. Of course, I have written on sports-related topics as well.  (Click here to see all the articles I have written so far.) This opportunity has really expanded my world and brought a lot of joy to my life. Now my revised Spartan Race article is running in the May issue.

Here I am with my fellow 2014 Guideposts Workshoppers,
 along with some of the magazine's staffers.
Since I did the Spartan Sprint, I have run in over 40 road races, and I just completed a half-marathon this Sunday for the first time! I am thinner and more fit than when I started, but I realize I still have a ways to go. However, instead of waiting until I was the perfect weight or at the perfect physical condition to get out there and do stuff, I decided to get out there now. I joined a local running club -- the Staten Island Athletic Club -- and learned a lot. I even won their Female Rookie of the Year award last year -- I think they appreciated the effort I have put into trying to change my life. I am slow and steady, like a turtle! Running is another new joy in my life that I never had before, and I pretty much spend every weekend doing at least one race!

So how does this tie into being in Citi Field in February, as per the title of this article? Well, I was somehow able to talk the Mets into letting us do a photo shoot at their ballpark for the piece, since the article takes place at Citi Field. Squawker Jon would be in the photos as well, as he is a part of my story. We did the photo shoot in February (you can see the Shea Bridge in the video below) when it was 13 degrees out. A Met PR person escorted us to the outfield. I had to demonstrate how to do a burpee -- a critical part of my article -- so there I was, running around in the freezing cold like a maniac, doing burpees on the very cold concrete. Meanwhile, Squawker Jon stayed warm and snickered while I did all the work. We then posed for photos on the Shea Bridge, as well as outside, with me wearing a Yankee cap, and Jon a Mets cap.

Thanks to the Mets staff for putting up with us -- they went above and beyond, which was great. Even though I am a lifelong Yankee fan, I know that the Yanks would never have allowed us to do such a photo shoot there!

We kept our photo shoot day a secret from most people -- and completely off the Internet -- for two months. Now that the magazine is out, I can tell you how it came about that we were in Citi Field for this photo shoot!

Anyhow, click here to read the article. If you don't, you may have to do some burpees!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Injuries not stopping Mets

Even with the best record in the National League, Met fans aren't doing much celebrating what with two more significant injuries to Travis d'Arnaud and Jerry Blevins. But winning teams can overcome injuries, and so far at least, the Mets have done just that. 

The Mets have had so many injuries lately that some articles about them don't even mention Zack Wheeler. For a team built on young pitching, the loss of Wheeler could have been devastating. And it's not as if his replacement in the rotation, Dillon Gee, is doing well - he might soon be replaced himself by Rafael Montero. But Bartolo Colon has stepped up with a 3-0 record and 2.25 ERA, while Jon Niese's ERA is 1.59.

David Wright was hitting .333 when he went on the disabled list. But Michael Cuddyer is now also hitting .333, along with an .899 OPS. I was skeptical of the Cuddyer signing, but so far, so good.

Jenrry Mejia is gone for 80 games, but all Jeurys Familia has done is to be tied for the major league lead in saves with six.

The injuries to d'Arnaud and Blevins would seem to be devastating, and may yet turn out to be. But Kevin Plawecki is a great prospect, while many Met fans had not even heard of Blevins a month ago. If one lefty reliever can come out of nowhere to help the team, surely another could.

The Mets have given us good reason to be skeptical in the past. And I'm writing this before timetables are set for the returns of d'Arnaud and Blevins, so I can continue to hope that they won't be out too long and the fact that Blevins broke his pitching arm and d'Arnaud his throwing hand will not prevent them from returning to form in a reasonable time.  But the 2015 Mets have shown a resilience that recent Met teams have lacked. This team has inspired an unfamilar feeling - optimism. Even after yesterday, I'm still thinking more about the Dark Knight than the dark cloud of injuries.  And having Harvey and deGrom lined up to face the Yankees next weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2015

You're wrong, Michael Kay: Why the Yankees' struggles are not just about this year

Here we are, nine games into the season. The Yankees have gone 1-2 in each of its first three series of the year, putting them at 3-6 -- and in last place. Meanwhile, the Red Sox (6-3) and the Mets (7-3) are in first place. Yikes!

So Yankee GM Brian Cashman was doing damage control yesterday, giving multiple interviews to the media to set the subject of the reporters' off-day articles. I noticed in particular this comment to Newsday's Erik Boland:
 "We have fumbled, whether it's running the bases, defense, starting pitching, the bullpen," he said by phone. "All of it in some form or fashion has factored in the six losses."
How about hitting, Bri? Maybe the lack of hitting might have something to do with the sorry state of the team? You know, the thing that was an issue *last* year?

I also do find it hilarious that Cashman, who has used Alex Rodriguez as the bright shiny object to distract the media for years, is now doing his best to distract the media from bringing up the obvious: that the team's best all-around hitter is the 39-year-old DH with two bad hips who Cashman didn't want on the roster!

Then there is Michael Kay, who was battling with Yankee fans yesterday on Twitter, defending the team that he ultimately draws a paycheck from:
A Yankee fan who pointed out that the money for Robinson Cano could have easily been found by not signing Stephen Drew, Chris Capuano, and Chase Headley got this response:


To which I said:

Kay also criticized Yankee fans for being upset with the state of the team, since they won a World Series six years ago. He even brought up the Cubs in his argument!



Of course, Kay is framing this in the best possible way for the Yankees. One World Series championship in 14 years, with sky-high payroll and ticket prices, and the so-called Core Four in their prime. One World Series appearance in the last decade, the same as the Houston Astros. I broke down the numbers a few months ago, and they are not pretty.

Yes, it's only nine games this year. (But you know darn well that the Yankees were 8-1, Kay and Cashman would be crowing about it!)  However, this team was not improved from last year, with the exception of A-Rod's bat being back in the lineup. And last year's team was worse than the 2013 team, which also didn't make the playoffs. But if we groan about the Yankees, the team's TV broadcaster brings up numbers from the 1990s and the Cubs to try to shut people up, and sez Yankee fans are "disgraceful" for being concerned. Oh, please.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Same old, same old: Brian Cashman looks silly after getting ripped off (again) by Dave Dombrowski

The New York Post's Joel Sherman wrote an excellent column yesterday about how it looks like Yankees GM Brian (Fredo) Cashman was again "fleeced" by Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski. I have been banging this drum for years, and now Sherman is making his own noise in his Post column. He went through all the times that Dombrowski has gotten the better of Cashman, going back to when the Tigers GM was GM for the Florida Marlins, Here are the dopey things Cashman has done with Dombrowski as a trading partner:

  • Traded Mike Lowell to Florida and got nothing good in return.
  • Gave up Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver.
  • Traded Gary Sheffield to Detroit and got nothing good in return.
  • Traded Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson in a three-way deal. Detroit got Jackson and Max Scherzer in that deal. Granderson was good, but ultimately, the trade still favored Detroit.
  • Traded Shane Greene in a three-way deal for the immortal Didi Gregorius. 
Sherman points out that Greene has been great with Detroit -- in his first two starts, he went eight innings each time and has yet to give up an earned run. Meanwhile, Gregorius has been notorious -- notoriously awful, that is. Between the bad hitting, worse fielding, and dumb baserunning, he is a hot mess so far.

Also, as Sherman writes, Greene was very poised as a Yankee pitcher last year, while Didi seems overwhelmed by the New York spotlight. (And those knuckleheaded Yankee fans chanting "Der-ek Jet-er" at him aren't exactly helping!)

Granted, as Sherman notes, it is still very early. But geez, at a certain point, when does Cashman realize that Dombrowski owns him? Even fantasy baseball players eventually figure out which competitors will outsmart them!

I really hope Sherman's column is a sign of things to come with the New York media when it comes to Brian Cashman. They can't blame this season on injuries, and everybody important is healthy -- but just not very good. Except for Alex Rodriguez, that is. You know, they player they have tried to marginalize, ignore, and treat shoddily all year! So much for Cashman's baseball acumen. He really is the Fredo of GMs -- thinks he's smart, but isn't.




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Here's how you can run in remembrance of a fallen firefighter -- and fellow Yankee fan

Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas
Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas was a New York City firefighter who lived in my Staten Island neighborhood. While I didn't know him personally, my friend Margaret did. In fact, she introduced him to his wife, Nanette. Margaret's husband is also a firefighter, and knew Matt from work. Margaret knew Nanette at the hospital the two women both worked at -- Margaret as a nurse, and Nanette as an ultrasound technician. Anyhow, Margaret played matchmaker, and Matt and Nanette fell in love, got married, and had two daughters. 

Sadly, Lt. Ambelas died in the line of duty on July 5, 2014 when searching for victims in a Coney Island apartment fire. (The apartment was inhabited by a hoarder who wasn't at home at the time, and apparently the place was piled so high with junk that it was hard to see if anyone was in there.)

Lt. Ambelas was a real hero. He worked at Ground Zero after 9/11, and he had also participated in multiple rescues over the years. In fact, he had recently been honored for saving a young boy's life who was trapped in a metal gate. 

He was also a family man who cherished his wife and children. And in his spare time, he was a big Yankees and Jets fan.

In honor of Lt. Ambelas' life, Margaret has organized Matt's Race, a 5K in honor of his life. The race is happening this Sunday, April 19 at 10 a.m. in Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island. 

The Staten Island Athletic Club -- the running club Margaret and I belong to -- is co-sponsoring the event, along with the FDNY's Engine 161/Ladder 81 and Engine 211/Ladder 119. The pre-entry race fee is $20. It is $25 if you pay on the day of the race. And the money raised from Matt's Race will go to help the FDNY Widows and Children Fund. Also, there will be awards given to runners in a variety of age categories. Click here for a race application. 

Anyhow, I don't know how many of our readers are runners, but it would be great if some fellow Yankee fans could run the race Sunday in honor of our fellow Yankee fan. If you can't run, walk the race! Also, I would appreciate it if you could please share this post with your friends, to let them know about the race.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back in the New York Groove: Trying out the Verizon Ellipsis 8 tablet at the Mets' Opening Day


Last week, Squawker Jon and I received an invitation from the good folks at Verizon for one of us to attend the Mets home opener at Citi Field, and try out one of their new products -- a tablet computer.  But since Jon was unable to attend, I went behind enemy lines to go to the game! I got to sit in one of the ballpark's suites, had free food and adult beverages, and got to watch baseball on a beautiful day. I also am getting to try out Verizon's Ellipsis 8 tablet for the next few weeks, which is pretty cool in and of itself.
We were in Verizon's suite, which is one of the swanky Sterling Suites. 

The ballpark at about noon.
So I put on my Citi Field All-Star Game shirt (I bought it after that game in honor of Mariano Rivera's farewell at the event!) and showed up at Shea Citi Field. I wanted to pull a Superman and wear a Yankee shirt under a buttoned shirt, but Squawker Jon thought that would be bad form!

Also, I have Verizon FIOS at home, and am very happy with them, so I was eager to try this tablet. And I used the tablet to take these pictures during the game, and I also have some observations about the Mets (and the Ellipsis 8) to share:

Best gift bag gift ever!
And yes, that is Matt Harvey's autograph!
Given that the Mets' seasons for this decade have been like this famous Family Guy joke -- "Here's the first pitch/And the season's over" -- today's game has to be a thrill for Mets fans. They drew their biggest crowd ever at Citi Field.

And even this Yankee fan can notice that there is a real buzz going on with the Mets this year. I remember what it was like in the mid 1980s, when the Yankees were on the decline, and the Mets were on the rise. History may be repeating itself. Mets fans are getting their swagger back.

Anyhow, I joined bloggers from Mets Chronicle and Mets Merized Online at the game, and we met some very nice people from Verizon, who showed me cool features on the tablet.

The suite was just to the left of home plate, and was pretty plush. Being in a suite really is the sweet life. There is a Mets employee who waits on you hand and foot, bringing you your drinks and catering to your needs.

The food was pretty tasty -- Pat LaFrieda's grilled skirt steak with salsa verde, chicken tenders with dipping sauce, Pat LaFrieda cheeseburger sliders, and two types of French fries. We also got cookies for dessert.

And we each got a Verizon backpack, which contained a Mets cap, some Verizon promotional items, Big League Chew, and an autographed Matt Harvey baseball! I couldn't believe it when I saw that in the bag! (Squawker Jon has already claimed the Harvey ball as his price for letting me have the ticket.)

The weather was beautiful, and it was exciting to see all the Opening Day to-do. We got to see the new big screen scoreboard, and watch and hear all the intros. The Phillies who got the loudest boos were Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon (I joined in the boos for him!)
Pat LaFrieda cheeseburger sliders and fries
The seat I had was phenomenal!



The Grandyman is one of the photos on the walls outside the suite.


Matt Harvey, of course, was the Met who got the biggest ovation, with David Wright a close second. Harvey, of course, is full of swagger, and makes the Mets more exciting than they have been in years. Jacob deGrom showed why he won Rookie of the Year with his excellent pitching.

The 7 Line Army was out in full force in center field, and they even did a roll call for Mets players! (Speaking of them, do you know they have bought three sections of seats in Yankee Stadium for the Subway Series? Crazy!)

There was also a touching tribute before the game to the two NYPD officers who were slain, which had me teary-eyed. Very moving.

I hadn't been to an Opening Day for any team in many years. The last time I tried to go, in April 2004, for the Yankees home opener, I got stuck in traffic so bad that I literally never got to the game! So it was fun to be at an Opening Day, even if it wasn't for my team!

During the game, Edgardo Alfonzo came by to say hello and pose for pictures. So I met him and got an autographed baseball from him. Very nice guy -- looks like he is still young enough to play!

Shocker! I was caught hobnobbing with Mr. Met!
But don't worry. I am still a Yankee fan!
I also got to hang out with  Mr. Met. Longtime Squawkers fans know about the soft spot I have for mascots -- when I ran the All-Star 5K, I made sure I high-fived the mascots when I saw them at the starting line. And I once jumped off a food line at Shea Stadium when I spotted Mr. Met, so I was very excited to see him today, and to get my picture taken with him (and shake his hand!) Don't judge. (Although some of my Facebook friends have!)

The crowd stayed to the end, and seemed pretty excited. It seemed like people were even singing for Billy Joel's "Piano Man." After the Mets won, the PA system played "Back in the New York Groove" song.

After the game, I saw the SNY booth, and fans standing around and watching the broadcasters. I also spotted Coffee the dog again, posing for photos with Mets fans.

Throughout the game, I used the tablet to take pictures. The Verizon Ellipsis 8 is a pretty cool tablet. I am a power user of portable electronics, and I have at least a 90-minute commute each way to and from Manhattan for my day job. So I have used an iPhone, and iPad, and a Kindle to kill time. I have to say that I think the Ellipsis 8 tablet is perfect for commuting. It is a good size -- bigger than a smartphone, but smaller than an iPad.

The Verizon Ellipsis 8 --
it is an ideal tablet for surfing the web
during a long commute!
The Verizon 4G LTE is pretty fast, and you can connect almost anywhere. Also, the battery life is much better than my iPhone, which can run out of juice just going from Manhattan to Staten Island! I get to use the tablet on loan for the next few weeks, and I am really going to be sad to see it go -- it is very easy to figure out how to use, even without reading the directions!

In all, it was a pretty cool day. Thanks to Verizon for a memorable time! There is a real feel of what Pat Riley calls "the innocent climb" -- you can feel that this Mets team is getting fans excited, and could be really something. When Mets fans become completely insufferable again, though, I will know that the Mets are for real! (Although Squawker Jon is always kind of insufferable!)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pay the man: Why the Yankees will have to pay out A-Rod's milestones

I think it is hilarious, in a way, that the Yankees are so dead set against paying out Alex Rodriguez's milestones in the contract that they signed, that they don't want to see that he is about the only interesting thing going in Yankeeland these days. Oh, and by the way, he can still play well, which is more than I say for some of their other high-paid players.

Five games in, not only have the 2015 Yankees been playing miserably so far (so much for that great defense, eh?) but they are a snoozer of a team, especially against the Red Sox. Yes, I know it's early, and perhaps their bats will get better, but they just aren't very compelling to watch. Brett Gardner -- nice player. Very good player. Not a superstar, as Fred Wilpon would say. A-Rod is pretty much their only compelling personality.

Anyhow, the New York Daily News' Bill Madden, the court stenographer for the Yankee front office, announced the other day that the Yankees still intend on fighting paying him any of the $30 million in milestone money that they owe him. Not the $6M for tying Willie Mays, nothing -- they intend on fighting all of it.

Madden, who once claimed that A-Rod would never play again (click for a list of his many wrong-headed predictions), writes:
According to a source familiar with the agreement, signed in 2007 after Rodriguez agreed to re-up with the Yankees, it is up to the club to declare A-Rod’s accomplishments “milestones,” which they will not do. “They say the records are tainted,” the source said, “and therefore they’re not milestones that can be marketed.”
Madden then writes about how A-Rod could take the issue to arbitration, but thinks he would not want to:
According to the source, the Yankees would then have to show an arbitrator they acted in good faith in declining to pay the bonuses. The timing of a hearing would be up to Rodriguez and the union, although it is unlikely they would want to schedule it in the middle of the season. “The steroids stuff will all come up again,” said the source. “It’s doubtful he wants that.”
First of all, I would like to see the actual wording of this contract. I don't think the Yankees can unilaterally decide something is or isn't a milestone. After all, MLB, unlike college football, doesn't erase milestones. Whatever you think of Barry Bonds, he holds the all-time home run record.

Second, the players' union will fight hard here, due to the precedent involved. Look at how Angels' owner Arte Moreno is licking his chops, hoping to void Josh Hamilton's contract because the most famous MLB recovering drug addict of all time had a relapse. Think the players' union wants to have the Yankees win here? No way.

Third, about the person who told Madden: “The steroids stuff will all come up again,” said the source. “It’s doubtful he wants that.” If Madden actually were still a journalist, and not that court stenographer for the Yankees, he would think about who has more to lose here: A-Rod or the Yankees.

Everybody knows what A-Rod did. Heck, his steroid habits have been written endlessly in books and newspapers. But what we still don't know for sure is how much the Yankees knew about Rodriguez juicing. What if Rodriguez has evidence that they knew (and given that his alleged nickname in early years was b*tch t*ts, and given how many juicers the team had over the years, it's pretty clear they knew the signs of a PED user)? How are they going to explain that?

Fourth, I would like to know what the t-shirt sales for A-Rod are like. How does he rank this year compared to the rest of the team? How many of the #Forg1v3 shirts has Bald Vinny sold? When Rodriguez gets close to 660, will ticket sales and ratings increase? All of these things can and will be used when it comes to talking about how the Yankees can market A-Rod's homer milestones.

I noticed that the New York Times wrote a less inflammatory article on the issue, issuing what appeared to be a trial balloon of having MLB step in and negotiate a settlement, with having A-Rod make some sort of donation to charity with at least some of the money. To which I say, it's Alex's money, fair and square. Pay the man, Yankees, and be done with it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Boston strong: My thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing verdict


Two years ago this month, Squawker Jon and I were at Citi Field to see Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg face off (read Jon's recap here.) During the game, the ballpark was abuzz not just by Harvey dominating the game, but by the news that the second Boston Marathon suspect had been caught. We chanted "USA! USA!" along with the crowd over the news.

The Mets' PA system played Boston-themed songs between innings, which I was fine with but I drew the line at the "Sweet Caroline" singalong! Here's a clip from MLB.com of the reactions around MLB ballparks to the news:

At that game, Mets fans also chanted "Harvey's better" after he beat Strasburg. Two years later, in his first MLB game after Tommy John surgery, Harvey beat Strabsurg again, and Mets fans in Washington got to chant "Harvey's better" one more time.

And two years later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect caught that night, was found guilty of all 30 charges against him related to his part in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Despite my hatred for the Red Sox and the Patriots, I am totally Boston strong when it comes to this issue. The one time in my life I ever cheered for David Ortiz was when he gave the "this is our bleeping city" speech.

Also, the summer after the 2013 marathon, I got into running, so I feel even more solidarity on this. I never experienced road races before this bombing, so I am only used to the security measures in place now at New York Road Runners races and elsewhere -- the clear bags for personal possessions, the barriers at the finish line, etc. Jon was waiting for me at the end of a Central Park road race, and when he went to talk to me, security kept him away. That is the world we live in, thanks to this terrorist's mayhem.

And I am very much in favor of Tsaranev paying the ultimate price -- the death penalty -- for his monstrous act. After moving to the U.S. when he was a child, the murderer and his family received six figures worth of public assistance. And this is how he repaid the country and city that gave him all that, and let him become a U.S. citizen. He killed four and maimed over 250 people, and he needs to pay for what he did.

I really don't care whether his older brother did more planning or not. Dzhokhar is just as guilty, in my mind. They say that with Columbine, one of the killers was more of the mastermind than the other. But they both fully participated in mass murder, so they were both equally culpable.

Some well-meaning people say that keeping Dzhokhar alive, with the knowledge of what he did, is more punishment. I completely disagree. Somebody with a conscience may be burdened by this horrific acts. But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a sociopath. Not only did he plant a bomb at the marathon site where he knew little children were -- look at this photo of where he was in relation to the Richard family, but 23 minutes after the bombing, the biggest thought in his mind was not the magnitude of the Boston Marathon bombing, but what type of milk to buy at Whole Foods. Watch this video and tell me that this is somebody who would care about the suffering he caused.

I believe the death penalty should be reserved for truly monstrous acts, and I think what Tsaranev did at the Boston Marathon fits the bill. Also, if he lives, not only will he be in protective custody, but he will have his Free Jahar groupies as comfort to send him money and presents and treat him like a rock star. That can't be allowed to happen.

In closing, let me tip my Yankee cap to the people of Boston, and send my best wishes to those still suffering aftereffects from the bombing. As a Red Sox fan told me earlier this week, "Let's hope the only violence our cities see is the Sox and Yanks battling on the field!"

Contest: Rabble.TV giving you free jersey, alternative to Joe Buck

Squawker readers know how much certain baseball broadcasters drive me nuts. Now there is a solution to this issue: Rabble.TV. And to let our readers know about their new service, where you can mute the broadcasters and do your own squawking instead. Read on to learn about Rabble.TV and how you can win a free Yankees or Mets jersey!

 Know what’s pretty annoying? When the Yankees or Mets are the Fox National Game of the Week and we’re stuck with Joe Buck.

No more, baseball fans! Rabble.TV just launched its live audio streaming service and iOS app to give you alternative ways to listen to Yankees and Mets games this year. The games are broadcast by fellow passionate and (gasp!) knowledgeable fans just like you.

What’s even better is you can finally prove you’re better than Mr. Buck by broadcasting and commenting on games yourself. Having friends over during the games? Rabble.TV lets all of you comment, joke, jeer, and jest (think Mystery Science Theater 3000 for baseball).

So to celebrate Rabble’s launch and another season of Yanks and Mets baseball, we’re partnering with them to give one lucky fan a sweet jersey. The winner will get to choose any jersey priced at $79.95 or lower, including this sweet Doc Gooden throwback. (Jersey and sizes subject to availability on Fanatics.)

Here’s How to Enter to Win Your Free Jersey:

·         In the comments section below, give us your favorite, funniest, or most memorable Yankees or Mets opening day memory
·         We’ll select the best comment and contact the winner after Monday, April 13
·         Comments must be submitted by 11:59 ET on Sunday, April 12th

About Rabble.TV
·         Broadcast live Yankees and Mets games to listeners all over the world
·         Listen to passionate and humorous fan-created commentary on any TV show or sporting event
·         iOS mobile companion app lets baseball fans listen to games from anywhere, including those typically blacked out in your local market

·         You don’t need to audition for a broadcasting spot – just sign up and start Rabbling today

Is Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay the most picky eater of all time?

ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike were talking yesterday about people with weird eating habits. For example, when Mel Kiper Jr. eats pizza, he takes the cheese off it. So naturally, they had to bring Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay, a notoriously picky eater, into the discussion.

One of my brothers is a picky eater as well. He is a meat and potatoes (and barbecue) kind of guy, and won't eat much of anything else. But he looks like Anthony Bourdain compared to Michael Kay!

We have discussed Kay's limited palate here before. In fact, my most-read Subway Squawkers blog post ever is about Kay's food weirdness. One example from that article: when Kay and his wife Jodi Applegate went on a trip to Italy, they went on a hunt for chicken parmigiana, one of the few foods Kay will eat. (Chicken parm is not an authentic Italian meal; it is an Americanized version of Italian food.) Kay ended up losing weight on the trip, making him pretty much the only person to come home thinner after a trip to Italy. (An aside: my picky eater brother pretty much only ate pizza when he visited Italy!)

But that is just the beginning of Kay's food weirdness. As he told Mike and Mike, Kay has never eaten a condiment, or a banana, or fish, or an egg. (I hate eggs myself -- I find the smell and taste nauseating. But at least I have tried them!) He mostly eats steak and chicken, and will also eat bacon. He has never had a cup of coffee, although he does like the smell.

Kay will not eat salad dressing, or tomatoes, but will eat plain iceberg lettuce. (Boring!) If he eats a caprese salad, we will not eat the tomatoes, so he is basically eating a mozzarella salad. Since he is avoiding carbs, if he eats pizza, he skips the bread, and only eats the cheese, making him a perfect person to hang out with Kiper!

When Mike and Mike asked him why he wouldn't even try these things, he responded: "I've never really tried dog poop, and I know I won't like that." Huh? Not even the same thing at all. Except for eggs. Eggs are awful.

Also, while wife Jodi is a bit of a foodie and likes to try new restaurants, Kay doesn't. However, he does claim he can find food at any eatery, since "every restaurant has steak." First of all, that isn't really true. Second, steak at a diner or at one of those all-you-can eat buffet steakhouses is not exactly the same as steak at Peter Luger or at Smith and Wollensky. Quality counts, too!

After hearing all these food rules, Mike Greenberg dubbed Kay “the Babe Ruth of eating quirkiness.” And that was without even hearing about how Kay won't eat soup. He hates the slurping sound. Kay insisted that he wasn't OCD, though; just "quirky" about food.

Hmmmm. Given Kay's food hangups,  I wonder if he is the one behind the lousy food choices at Yankee Stadium. Would make about as much sense as anything else!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Generation BC: Bartolo Colon aces the opener

The Yankees are supposed to be the old team (first eight players in yesterday’s lineup were over 30), while the Mets have been rebuilding around young pitching. But it was soon to be 42-year-old Bartolo Colon who justified the Mets' controversial choice to make him the Opening Day starter.  Colon allowed three hits and one run in six innings, striking out eight, to lead the Mets over $210 million Max Scherzer and the heavy division favorite Nationals, 3-1.

In the sixth inning, it looked as if it might be an inauspicious opening day, since Scherzer had a no-hitter going. Imagine how Texas Ranger fans feel today, with Oakland's Sonny Gray taking a no-hitter into the eighth yesterday and winning, 8-0. But the Mets had Colon, and the Nationals had shortstop Ian Desmond making two errors that led to three unearned runs.

Imagine that - a shortstop helps blow the game with two errors and it wasn't Wilmer Flores. 

Adding to the age theme, the second-oldest pitcher on the Mets' roster, 37-year-old Buddy Carlyle, got the save. But Carlyle was only pressed into action because Jenrry Mejia was unavailable after feeling tightness in his right elbow. Mejia is getting an MRI today.  

Last year, Bobby Parnell blew the save on Opening Day, then was found to need Tommy John surgery and was done for the year.  Let's hope losing your closer to TJ on Opening Day is not becoming a new Mets' trend.  And considering that Mejia already had the surgery in 2011, the odds of him making a Harvey-like return would not be so good. 

At least the Mets' bullpen is in much better shape than it was a year ago. Last year, when the Mets lost their closer, they had to turn to Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth.

Speaking of the Mets' revamped bullpen, new Met Jerry Blevins pitched against the Mets in last year's opener and gave up a home run to David Wright.

Yesterday was a great day, but the Mejia situation puts a cloud over it. And if the worst fears are confirmed, the Mets will need to start trying to figure out why, even though TJ surgery is widespread these days, the Mets have far more cases than most other teams.

At least, Squawker Lisa, the Mets were not trotting out an Opening Day starter with a partially torn UCL who admits to reduced velocity.  What could possibly go wrong?

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