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Come On Dude

10 Aug

According to the Associated Press, James G. Falzon is suing the New York Mets, Major League Baseball, Jarden Coorperation (Rawlings brand bat maker), Luis Castillo, and Ramon Castro.

Why?

He suffered multiple face lacerations including a broken palate at Shea Stadium in 2007 because he was struck in the face by a shattered bat while his son was looking on.

Don’t get me wrong, it stinks that he was struck in the face and I completely sympathize with how that ruined his day. No one wants to see that happen.

However, go to any Major League or Minor League park and you’ll find very clear signage that warn you to beware of flying objects.

There is some inherent risk when going to a baseball game and forking over the big bucks for a nice seat. Flying objects like baseballs and broken bats is one example. Sitting around a bunch of people jibber-jabbering on their cell phones not paying any attention to the game is another.

Call me old-fashioned, but this situation strikes me as an unfortunate accident. Nothing more, nothing less. As my parents used to tell me when I was growing up, “That’s life kid. Sometimes life is unfair.”

Suing a bunch of people over an unfortunate accident and wasting a lot of people’s time and money is not the answer. This injury is exactly what health insurance is for.

What does this teach his kid? Something unfortunate happens so look for a pay day?

Ramon Castro being named in the lawsuit is the funniest (probably not to Ramon) thing about this ridiculous situation. He wasn’t even at the plate. He is being sued because Luis Castillo was using his bat.

I’ve got ten bucks that says Luis accidentally grabbed Ramon’s bat. Castro…..Castillo, who’s betting against me?

Oh well, another day, another frivolous lawsuit.

The Effectiveness of Team Meetings

21 Jul

Before tonight’s game, New York Mets Manger, Jerry Manuel held a fifteen minute team meeting. I really can’t blame Manuel for making this decision.

He is in a tough spot. Some of his critics would murder him for not holding a meeting to try to clear the air for his team.

As reported by Wendy Adair, there was a bit of an issue in the clubhouse last night that needed to be addressed.

I’m sure Jerry also wanted to take an opportunity to try to motivate his team into playing better baseball.

The problem with the motivational team meeting is it doesn’t really accomplish much. What could Jerry Manuel possibly say that the players don’t already know?

Here’s how I envisioned the way things went.

Jerry Manuel (JM): Well guys. We’re not playing that well right now. But I really believe we’ll be fine. We’ve got a good lineup, now that everyone’s back. Alex. What happened last night?

Alex Cora (AC): I was upset after we lost….AGAIN….and didn’t like the fact that the reporters were laughing in the clubhouse after the game.

JM: What were they laughing about?

AC
: I don’t know. Why does it matter?

JM: Was it funny? You know I like a good laugh.

AC: Ask Pelf. He was talking to them.

Mike Pelfrey: Yeah, it was pretty funny skip. We were quoting movie lines from A League Of Their Own. Mike Puma does a great Tom Hanks.

JM: Yeah? Which part?

MP: He does the standard “There’s no crying in baseball” bit. But he really has the part nailed when Tom Hanks is complaining to the team owner about having girls instead of ball players. You know? The part where he goes: “BALL PLAYERS?! I don’t have ball players. I’ve got girls! Girls are what you sleep with after the game, not, not what you coach during the game.”

JM: Hahahaha. That’s great Pelf! You’ve got that down pretty well. I love that part.

MP:
Thanks skip.

JM: Oh yeah…almost forgot about the meeting. Listen up everybody. We’re fine. I really believe we’re going to turn this thing around. Luis you’re gonna get some rest tonight. Rod, you’re catching Niese. Go get em fellas!

Well. I guess we’ll see if this works.

This post was originally written for Mets Gazette.

Making A Deal With The Devil

19 Jul

When I was a kid I remember hearing the term “cheaters never win”.   As I grew into adulthood (it can be debated that I’ve actually reached adulthood), I discovered that statement isn’t true.  Cheaters win somewhat often.

Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record, Roger Clemens won several Cy Young Awards, and Floyd Landis won the Tour de France.  Okay, the last example may been a poor one because Landis was stripped of his title so eventually he didn’t win.

My point is, cheaters do win.  It is unfair, but that is the reality of the world we live in.

However, I remember another thing I was told growing up that is actually a bit more accurate.  It wasn’t a saying or lecture as much as it was a story told in different ways.

I am referring to the countless stories/plots out there in books and movies that involve a theme centered around making a deal with the devil and the eventual repercussions of doing so.

This lesson actually bares truth in the adult world, especially in the sports world.  Check out these stories in sports lore that support my claim:

Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire hit 50 or more home runs four seasons in a row (1996-1999).  He and Sammy Sosa (we’ll talk about him in a second) are famous for their chase and eventual destruction of Roger Maris’ single season home run record.

Big Mac was one of the most popular players in Major League Baseball in the late nineties.  He could do no wrong, until……..

In 2005 McGwire was asked to testify to Congress about the use of performance enhancing drugs (peds) in baseball.  He continually repeated the now infamous phrase, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”, when asked if he took any peds.

He was lambasted by the press and pretty much exiled from baseball for several years.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa’s story is very similar to McGwire’s.  He finished second in the home run chase with 66 bombs, still four more than Maris’ 62.


Sosa was also asked to testify to Congress in 2005.  He comically forgot how to speak English, so he wasn’t central figure in that proceeding.This enabled him to miss out on much of the public disdain that McGwire endured.

However, Sosa soon started struggling on the diamond.  Coincidentally, MLB started testing for peds around the same time.

Sammy found himself out of baseball and his last splash in the media is when he lightened his skin for the Latin Grammys.

Barry Bonds

To be fair to Mr. Bonds, it has never been proven in the court of law that he took any peds.  However, there is a mountain of evidence that has been released to the public that he has.

It is rumored that after the home run chase in 1998, Bonds decided he wasn’t happy that McGwire and Sosa got all of the attention so he decided to go down the peds path.

Bonds eventually broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record to little fan fare, considering how monumental Aaron’s record was.

After his contract expired with the Giants there wasn’t a single MLB team that wanted his services, even though he still had quite a lot to offer.  Everyone in the baseball industry acts (or attempts to act) as if Barry doesn’t exist.

There is very little said about him these days.

Roger Clemens

For years people marveled at how Roger Clemens was able to be one of the top pitchers in baseball as an older player.  There was even an humorous ESPN commercial devoted to it.


His ability to be a top tier pitcher was attributed to his grueling work ethic.  His grueling work ethic can not be disputed.  However, Clemens had his fame and fortune questioned like the others mentioned in this post.

Reports surfaced that he and Andy Petite were given peds by their trainer Brian McNamee.  Clemens vehemently denied these allegations.   Over time, evidence of these reports started to mount and seems pretty clear Clemens certainly had some extra help.  He is now facing possible trials for perjury based on statements he gave congress about his use of peds.


Tiger Woods

I am not going to get into Tiger’s story too much as I have written about it in the past.  I just wanted to mention it because he has fallen somewhat due to another form of cheating, adultery.

Once on top of the world, he became a punch line over night.

Is Lance Next?

The next athlete to join this list may very well be Lance Armstrong.

Back in May I wrote about Floyd Landis and how he had decided to rat out Armstrong.  I never thought I would come back to this topic.

This weekend I read an article from the Washington Post about a federal investigation that involves Armstrong.  It appears it is possible that he may be heading down the same road as Clemens.

One interesting point to this investigation is that the same federal agent that was responsible for breaking the BALCO case, Jeff Novitzky, is a part of this current cycling investigation.

Only time will tell if Lance made a deal or not.

Ant Division First Half Summary

14 Jul

We are on the brink of the second half of the baseball season.  What a perfect time to take a look at each team from the Ant Division and talk about how they are doing at the midway point.

Cincinnati Reds

It would only be appropriate to talk about the team leading the division to kick things off.  They also happen to be the most surprising team out of the bunch.

The Reds have snuck up on all of Major League Baseball with their 49-41 record.  How did they accomplish this, you ask?

Offensively, they have a legitimate high powered offense.  Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Scott Rolen are no joke.  They absolutely give opposing pitchers fits.

Their starting pitching has been the biggest surprise of all.  Rookie Mike Leake has a 6-1 record and Bronson Arroyo had a good first half as well.

They are a good enough team to avoid a complete melt down, but they still have to prove themselves through the dog days of summer.

New York Mets

The Mets are a bit of a surprise as well.  They started the season still dealing with lingering injuries to key players as well as a very suspect starting rotation.


Thanks to “injuries” to Oliver Perez and John Maine, they were forced to go to their farm system where they found diamond in the rough, R.A. Dickey.  Dickey is a knuckleballer that has pitched extremely well for the Mets.

Another minor league call up has earned a full time job with the Mets.  Ike Davis is a promising young first basemen with a slick glove.  He also doesn’t seem to be phased by he New York media.

More importantly for the Metropolitans, David Wright has returned to form.

Carlos Beltran also returns in the second half so time will tell if the Mets are for real.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are right in the hunt for the division crown.  Their starting rotation has been solid all year despite injuries to Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny.  Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia are a combined 30-12.

Albert Puljols and Matt Holiday have contributed as advertised.  Colby Rasmus has been a bright spot that has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals.  I still think they need another bat to be a real contender.

Although they have not played the greatest baseball so far, they are still a team to look out for and my favorite to take this division.

Chicago Cubs

If I may quote David Spade in Tommy Boy, the Cubs have “de-railed”.  Offensively they are a joke.  Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have been no where to be found.   Marlon Byrd has been their only bright spot on the season so far.

As far as pitching is concerned, Carlos Zambrano has appeared to wear out his welcome in Chicago.  His recent suspension for behaving like a petulant child in the dugout may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

There really isn’t much to write about this team from a positive perspective.  They appear to be going down the fire sale path.  The second half of their season will probably consist of them trying to dump payroll as best as they can.

Facing The Man In the Mirror?

7 Jul

Originally posted on Mets Gazette.

Being the multi-level thinker that I am, I thought this would be a good sample, based on the fact that it is about two teams from the Ant Division!

During his pre-game interview, Dusty Baker made the statement that the Reds and Mets are very similar ball clubs.

He elaborated by saying both clubs have the ability to score a lot of runs in a hurry.

They also play “all 27 outs”. This took me a second to realize he was actually speaking about an entire series, which I felt was a nice compliment.

I can’t believe I am actually going to write this, but Dusty actually made me stop and think for a second.

He makes a valid point. Both teams had huge question marks to start the season and still have to convince most people that they are real contenders.  I imagine this is part of the reason these clubs seem to never quit in games or in a series.

There is another similarity that Baker failed to mention. Both he and Jerry Manuel started the season with little support from their respective fan base. They both also have the reputation to make questionable decisions in terms of bullpen use and game strategy.

Say what you want about these often beleaguered managers, you can’t argue that they are getting the most out of their respective lineups up to this point.

The Johan Santana Question No One Wants To Ask

27 Jun

This is a piece I originally wrote and posted on my New York Mets blog called Midwestroplitan.

I feel it is an interesting enough question to pass along to the Ants as well. 

Yesterday, Johan Santana had another rough outing, giving up five runs on eight hits in six innings pitched.
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His recent “struggles” have been explained away as one of two things.

1.  He is a second half pitcher, he will be fine later in the season.

2.  This could be a physical issue involving his recovery from surgery last year or simply him getting older.

Should we be adding a third item to this list?

Normally, I am not the type of person to dig into an athlete’s personal life.  It is completely clear to me that they are human beings and suffer from the same faults and problems that you and I do.

Therefore, you won’t be reading about my judgments on what they do outside of the ballpark unless I feel it affects their play.

That being said, I think it is prudent to wonder if the recent issues with Santana’s personal life are effecting his ability to get hitter’s out.

Hear me out for a second.  Even accountants, teachers, lawyers, and police officers will tell you that their work can be affected if they are going through something stressful at home.

Baseball players are no different.

One of the thing’s that makes Johan so effective on the mound is his ability to focus.  You can see his intense concentration on every pitch.

If there is something going on that is making it difficult for him to have this intense concentration, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that this could be affecting his play?

Think about all of the times you have heard Ron Darling or any other baseball analyst talk about the complicated mechanics involved in being a big league pitcher?

The exact science involved in ensuring all of those moving parts operate in a manner optimal for success is astounding.  This concentration isn’t only needed in games.  Practice makes perfect, right?  So he needs this extreme focus when he does all of his side work as well.

Anything that deters him from this focus can be detrimental.

Maybe the recent outing of this issue is a necessary step for Johan to put this part of his life behind him so he can regain his focus.

Little League Legacy

7 Apr

I think I have established that I fashion myself as an average guy.  In case you haven’t bought in yet, let me add that I coach little league baseball.  Practices have just begun and the first “controversy” is upon us.

The rosters have been established and it appears that we came up a bit short in terms of the number of league all-stars assigned to our team.  The friends I coach with are ready to riot and have already combed through the league rule book to see if we could get away with  giving Danny Almonte a call.

As far as I am concerned, this gives me an opportunity to re-create history.  You guessed it, the Georgetown Little League, Cinderella story, of Speedway Auto Sales.

It was 1985.  Back to The Future was atop the box office, the Chicago Bears were doing the Super Bowl Shuffle, and the original We Are The World was recorded.

Life was good.  I was eight years old and ready for my first year of Little League Baseball. Unbeknown to me, Little League was going to teach me a bit of a life lesson.

We were scheduled to play 18 regular season games and then play in a season ending tournament.  My twin brother and I dominated tee-ball, so we both figured baseball would be easy.  The regular season did not go as we expected.

Loss after loss began to pile up.  My dad, who was the coach, quickly discovered that I didn’t take losing very well.  I am positive that I still hold the Georgetown Little League record for consecutive game crying fits in one season.

I don’t recall how my dad dealt with my melt downs, but I am amazed to this day that he didn’t drive me to the nearest orphanage and leave me in the driveway.  Had he had access to the internet, I’m sure he would have shown me this classic speech:


Tom Hanks’ work in this movie is one of the most under rated performances in a baseball movie ever. 

“Avoid the clap, Jimmy Dugon.  Gee Thanks!”  “That’s good advice!”

Upon the completion of the regular season, our record was 0-18.  In this day and age, “concerned” parents would have pulled their kids out of the tournament to protect their fragile self-esteem.  Not our parents. We were expected to finish the season and play in the tournament.

Our first game was against the Water Bed Experience.  

By the way, whatever happened to water beds?  I don’t think I have seen one in ages.  Obviously in the 80’s they were pretty popular because there were stores that specialized in them.

I don’t remember much about this team except for the fact that they had extremely bright orange jerseys and hats.  We took the field ready for our drubbing and sub sequential bounce out of the tournament.  However, something crazy happened.  We managed to make the game competitive.

As the game continued, our little minds started to believe we had a chance at winning.  The game drew near a conclusion and we took the lead in the last inning.  It was a miracle.  All that we needed were three outs and we would have our first win.

Fate would have it, there would be no come back for The Water Bed Experience.  We secured the victory and proceeded to run around the field like we had just won the seventh game of the World Series.

We were on top of the world.  My post game Pepsi with crushed ice never tasted sweeter.

At this point, we had nothing to lose.  We had already won more game in the tournament than the entire league expected.  Our next opponent was the first place team in the regular season, Fort Wayne National Bank.

They had quite the stellar lineup, including a fireball throwing righty named Shawn, who happened to be a girl.  We were a completely different team, playing in a game that we never thought we would be in.  This one was a close contest as well.

Speedway could not be denied!  We put away the regular season champs granting us a birth in the championship game against Roth Werley Realtors.

There are a couple of details that stick out in my mind about the championship game.  The Roth Werley coach had one of the coolest jackets ever.  It was a replica New York Knights jacket from the movie The Natural.   The second detail is that the game was held on the major league field, the home of the 10-12 year olds that played in the league above us.

This game was similar in the fact that it was close.  Both teams battled back and forth in an epic battle of David versus Goliath.  We took a 7-6 lead into the last inning.

I have a vividly clear memory of the last out of the game.  I was playing third base and the batter hit a towering pop fly to our shortstop.   In my memory, it seems as though the ball hung up in the air long enough for he and I to have a lengthy conversation.

Eventually, the ball came down into his glove and we were improbable minor league champions.  The rest is a blur.  We ran around the field like maniacs once again and I am pretty sure there was a pizza party at some point afterward.

The icing on the cake came later that night.  My dad sat us down and made sure we watched the local news.  At the end of the telecast, our local sports anchor shared with the city our fairy tale ending, pointing out our 0-18 record.  He even gave us a “heck, heck of a job out there guys” to sign off.

There you have it.  The tale of Speedway Auto Sales.  A child hood memory that serves as motivation for me, as my friends and I try to shock the local sports world at the little league field.