Hey Chan Ho Park, why'd you crap the bed during that April 4 game versus Boston?
Oh, well... that explains why you were so shitty. You were actually feeling shitty. So you say; I smell a goof. Chan Ho may have had diarrhea, but he gives Yankees fans everywhere heartburn every time he steps up onto the rubber.
There reaches a point where as a fan, reality's too much to ignore. I sat in the barber shop yesterday and I read an article about the Amazins' of 1969. Growing up, Nolan Ryan was one of my favorite pitchers and this was before I even knew that 20 years beforehand, he was a Met. My lasting image of him throwing the headlock on Robin Ventura while rabbit punching him...priceless. Still, they just don't build em' like that anymore. The 1986 Mets, well, I was 6 at the time but they were juggernauts. I imagine by the time I turned 6, they were plotting out their playoff rotation and gearing up for the NLCS. Oh and that rotation I spoke of? Not one pitcher averaged LESS than 10 wins. Not one pitcher didn't have a K total that required anything less than a number in the hundreds column.
The bullpen was solid, with the dualheaded monster of Orosco and McDowell closing games. 43 saves between the two of them. So yeah, those weren't the "good ole days". Those were the "hot damn it's great to be a Mets fan" days. Those days continued on through the late 80s, unti 1990. Then, came the Mutts era...which went from my 6th grade year (probably 5th actually) until my Junior year of high school, which is when Bobby Valentine showed up. From 1997 on, the Mutts started showing signs of life. Finishing 2nd and averaging about 85 wins a season. Then, the breakthrough comes in 1999. After blowing the playoffs in 1998, they make it in 1999, losing to the Bravos in 6.
Then, 2000 hits. That team does the unthinkable, getting the Wild Card and making an improbable run. The rotatio wasn't as awe inspiring as 1986, but it was good. No starter finished with fewer than 11 wins, only Bobby J. Jones didn't strike out more than 100 batters. The lineup was formidable, only Mike Bordick didn't hit more than 10 homers. I'm thinking "title" after they win the NLCS. That was until the Yanks won the ALCS and then, reality hit HARD. The core of the team left and it went back to status schmoe mode, with Bobby V being exiled and the Mets went back to being the Mutts. Then comes Willie and 2006, breakthrough. First division crown in years, World Series is in sight. All they had to do was beat Saint Louis...
Which they don't do. Then, as if the Mutts weren't bad enough to sit through, the Mets go another way. They go into what I call "Chernobyl" mode. They start imploding after running away with the division for most of the year. They allow Philly to overtake them, twice in the last two seasons. While 2007 was grueling to watch, last season was just...ugh. I felt like Jigsaw was hosting the last 10 days or so, because it was rough to watch. If there wasn't a 9th inning, the Mets steamroll to the NL East. Alas, they couldn't even hold off the damn Brew Crew for the Wild Card. Which brings us to this year.
It is a sad day in baseball: a legendary voice has been silenced, and a great character from days past dies unexpectedly.
First came the news that Harry Kalas, legendary Phillies broadcaster and the voice of NFL Films since 1975, had died at the age of 73 after passing out in the broadcast booth while preparing for today's Phillies-Nationals game. If you aren't familiar with the name, you do know the voice:
Then the breaking news, just as the word of Kalas' passing was being broadcast; former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych had been found dead under his truck in an apparent accident at his farm in Massachusetts at the age of 54:
Younger fans may not remember Fidrych, but in 1976, he was a baseball phenomenon and national celebrity, known as much for his skill as for his bizarre behavior on the mound. No one knew what to make of him; he talked to the ball, got on his hands and knees to clear cleat marks off the mound, he believed that some balls had hits in them and would throw those balls back. But damn, could he pitch. His career, like his life, was over far too soon; injuries killed his career after only four years, but he did enough in those four years to cement his name among those of us old enough to remember those days. As someone put it earlier, "He was the Bird before there was a Larry Bird."
Rest in peace, gentlemen. Your time with us was over far too soon, and we will cherish the time we had with you.
Well, it looks like Jose Canseco was right. Again. Christ, could it be that the guy who wrote the modern-day Ball Four is also the same asshole who took pictures in a fishnet shirt, was on The Surreal Life, and boxed with Danny Bonaduce?
I think I just had a brain hemorrhage.
You know what? I'm fine with this. (I mean the message, not the messenger. Jose Canseco? Really? Who knew he could even read, let alone have someone ghost-write a book for him!) So A-Rod did steroids; big fucking deal. When it comes to baseball, and evaluations, I'm done worrying about who did what and when, or who tested positive for what and when. Barry Bonds? McGuire? Sosa? A-Rod? Brady Anderson? Hulk Hogan? Fuck it, let them all into the Hall of Fame. The notion of purity in baseball is as antiquated as the usage of stirrups.
As of right now I'm going to operate on the suspicion that everyone in baseball has done performance enhancing drugs. Everyone in baseball history, that is. In 1807, endurance racers used opium. The Tour De France has a long history of riders using every type of drug available. Dock Ellis did pitch a no-hitter out of his mind on LSD. David Wells pitched one drunk. For all I know, Hank Aaron ate greenies every game and Willie Mays ran through more grass than a lawnmower at a golf course.
You can't look back at someone and say that they did this or they did that without proof. Even if there is proof, what about all those cheaters who do it for months or years and escape notice by the pee cup brigade? Or what about the fact that everyone who played in baseball from 1980-2004 probably did steroids or some kind of performance enhancer?
Baseball has the dead ball era and the live ball era. We may as well go ahead and accept the steroids era and let those who deserve to go into Cooperstown go into the Hall based on their merits against their peers. When everyone's on steroids, nobody has an unfair advantage.
Leave it to A-Rod to be involved in the first use of instant replay in MLB history; a home-run-or-foul-ball case against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The resulting HR call gave the Yankees 2 more runs, and a little extra padding in their 8-3 win. (God knows we've needed all the padding we can get these days.)
Time needed for review and call: 2:15
Time most likely saved when you consider manager/umpire arguments, player/umpire arguments, umpire conference resulting in possibly another round of manager/umpire arguments: 5:00+.
Considering the myriad of catwalks, lighting, flotsam and jetsam that constitute the roof of The Trop, I'm thinking this certainly won't be the last time it ever happens there. In fact, I'm guessing it'll probably become a nightly event--or even a between-innings audience participation event:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the "Guess Which Inning the Instant Replay Happens" contest is...Mrs. Irving Squat of Boynton Beach!"
Ahh, the pine tar incident never ceases to get a laugh out of me. One of Bobby Murcer's most famous calls came 25 years ago yesterday (because I fell asleep and didn't post this on the right day), when George Brett absolutely lost his mind in one of the best-known baseball incidents of the last quarter-century.
The Yankees universe is a little smaller today: Bobby Murcer, former Yankees player and longtime broadcaster, lost his battle with cancer today at the age of 62. A five-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner, he played a total of 12 1/2 seasons with the Yankees between 1965 and 1983, with time in the military, the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs along the way. His final game was as a member of the Yankees on June 11, 1983. He became a broadcaster for the Yankees after his retirement from baseball, winning three Emmys for his stellar work. He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on Christmas Eve, 2006. Surgery to remove it was successful, and a subsequent biopsy in 2008 revealed only scar tissue. At the time of his passing, he was resting up for an expected return to broadcasting for spring training of 2009.
Thoughts and prayers go out to his wife (and high-school sweetheart) of 42 years, Diana Kay Murcer and his family. Bobby Murcer was a class act, and I was one of the privileged many who got to enjoy listening to his broadcasts and share with him his great love for the Yankees. His autobiography, recently released, is entitiled, "Yankee for Life", and that pretty much sums him up to a certain extent. Despite his cancer, his death comes as a bit of a shock because it appeared after the results of his biopsy were announced that he had managed to beat the disease. It saddens me to no end to know that I will never get to hear him call another Yankees game again. Somewhere, I'm hoping he and Phil Rizzuto can find a good game to call.
Woke Up This Mornin'...And Willie Randolph Is Gone!
I should note for the record that I'm an insomniac. I don't sleep all that well and that's why news of this comes of a shock to me. Not that more than 80% of Met fans were asleep when this happened, but even the 20% that were up for it, weren't even aware it happened. The Mets just six hours ago, after defeating the AL West leading Halos sent underachieving Willie Randolph and a few dunderheads packing for a permanent vacation. The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro seems to think that this was "cowardly" by Minaya and the Wilpons. That allowing Willie to fly cross country just to be fired, was rather sad and lowball. No Mikey, allowing Willie and his flat out incompetent nature after last October come INTO THE YEAR when he should've been gone after last, was the 'cowardly act'. Better late then never best covers this, the team needed to get this done a little more than half a year ago, in October or November when a more suitable man could've been named to the position so that the rest of this year (especially after the binge that the Mets went on in the Winter) isn't considered a total throwaway. But wait Len, you should be happy that he's finally gone, right? Well, I am. However, unless Jerry Manuel can reach down in his back pocket and find a way to get the Mets back on top of the heap and get the first pennant for the Amazins in 8 years...the season's effectively a bust and management waited eight months too long to finally do something about it.
Lenstradamus Called It Last October...They Should've Listened.
A funny story before I get into this. A short time after the Mets got Johan, I had a column ready to roll, singing the praises of the Mets and all but having them headed for the Show. I stopped just cause I'm a notorious procrastinator and I never came back to it. Looking at how they've started this year, I'm glad I didn't. Conversely, a year ago after the worst collapse in sports history, I wrote a column while righteously pissed saying they should've canned Randolph. There was just way too much that jumped out at me then, that I felt could become a bigger problem now if they went unchecked. They should've listened. I'm not one to say 'I told you so', but damnit, they should've listened. To Omar Minaya and the Wilpons, I should've printed a copy of my 'Open Letter To Willie Randolph' and sent it to them. Maybe if they acted then, they wouldn't be reading the stuff they're reading now questioning the team's lackluster effort given against the dregs of the Senior Circuit. For those of you uninitiated, let's recap shall we?
Apparently no one seems to have noticed, but Julio Franco retired yesterday after a 23-year career in baseball.
How this news hasn't even registered as a blip on the MLB radar boggles my mind. In this day and age when so many athletes who "retire" get a send-off of obscene proportions (only to unretire less than a year later), the end of a career that spans decades should get some kind of an honorable mention, yet no one seems to give a damn. No, Julio Franco was not a superstar, but the fact that he was still playing effectively after over 20 years should be worth something. There are major league players who weren't even BORN when the man started his career. He holds the record for being the oldest ballplayer in the major leagues to hit a home run, which he achieved at the age of 48. How many 48-year-old men do you see still hitting home runs these days? Hell, how many 48-year-old men are still playing baseball, period?
His final stats: .298 average, 2,586 hits and 173 home runs in 23 seasons in the majors with eight teams. All of it steroid-free, too--that alone should earn him a year-long party.
Cal Ripken can get put on a pedestal for playing a lot of baseball games in a row. Barry Bonds can get a paper crown on his ginormous head for hitting a bunch of home runs. How come Julio Franco can play baseball and play it well for 23 years and no one seems to feel it's worth even mentioning?
Somebody had better be coming up with a Julio Franco Day pretty damn soon, that's all I can say.
To be filed under "Just how stupid Red Sox fans can be": a construction worker buried a David Ortiz jersey under the new Yankee Stadium in the hopes of putting a curse on the Yankees.
What's potentially sadder is that Yankees management actually had the damn thing dug up once they found out about it. In some ways, I can see a minute amount of logic in that decision, since the last thing anyone needs is to give Sux fans something they can cling to on days when Manny's being Manny in a bad way, Josh Beckett's clutching at his back and Julian Tavares is warming up in the bullpen. Then again, why spend the money to give any kind of credence to a numbnut Sux fan's superstitious lunacy? If anything, it appears to have backfired on him; Big Papi's only batting .070 so far. I would have left the shirt there at least until Ortiz's BA went over .200.
They're considering pressing charges against Gino Castignoli, the moron responsible. I'd simply hand him the bill for the shirt removal--and have him SuperGlued to one of the nosebleed seats in the new Yankee Stadium. That apparently would be punishment enough.
Now we know why Fenway Park has remained in place for all these years; because the idiot Sux fans are terrified that if they build a new park, someone might bury a Babe Ruth shirt under it and they'll be doomed again for all time.
Yankees fans aren't that stupid...we wouldn't bury a SHIRT under their park. *evil grin*
One has to feel a wee bit sorry for Curt Schilling (but only a wee bit; after all, I am a Yankees fan, so you know I'm also sitting here snickering like mad). Here he is, hoping to be able to squeeze out one more year of glory in Boston, and now he's found himself in a hole of immense proportions. His shoulder, depending on who you listen to, is either not good or seriously fucked up, and no one can seem to agree on the best way to treat it. Two doctors have strongly recommended surgery, which could either take him out of action through the All-Star break or kill his entire season. The Red Sox medical staff, however, insist that all he needs is some rest and rehab and he'll be fine in no time--or the All-Star break, which ever comes first. The Red Sox front office is already sniffing around Curt's 2008 contract to see if they can come out of this without having to pay him. Looks like not even the bloody sock is going to save him this time.
Curt's already read the writing on the wall and says he's going to go along with the recommendation of the Red Sox staff. I'm guessing that this is the best way for him to proceed and still keep his paycheck in his pocket. Personally, though, I'd take a long hard look at the situation before I caved in on something like that. You've had two doctors who don't get their paychecks from the same people you do telling you that your shoulder is a mess. You saw what "rest and rehab" did for Pedro Martinez during his time with the Red Sox. You've had a great career already; one more year, especially if it's going to be a year spent on the DL, isn't going to do you any favors, and it certainly isn't going to guarantee you any more years with any team, never mind Boston, who will most likely kick your ass to the curb and sic lawyers on you to try to get your salary back in their pockets. Maybe it's time to look a little further into the future than "When am I going to be able to pitch again?". Maybe it's time to look into "If I follow this path, am I going to be able to use my arm for something other than a sleeve-filler in a few years?".
Surgery saved your ass in 2004, Curt. There's no guarantee it'll do the same for you now, but "rest and rehab" is just going to postpone the inevitable, and very possibly do you more harm than good. Go with the surgery.
Then again, I am a Yankees fan--go ahead, "rest and rehab". See you in 2009--maybe. *evil grin*
Please come to America, win Gold gloves, and wear things like this. You'd be exactly what American baseball needs to distract from Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and the trackmarks in Lenny Dykstra's mullet region.
You're the man. Seriously, don't let anyone change you. Continue to be as crazy as you want to be. Wear stilts, wear that Conehead hat, and continue to dress as Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z. Better yet, do all these things at the same time! You're like a funnier Chad Johnson or a less-creepy Carrot Top.