Browsing Archive May, 2012

Thank You, Jerry Coleman

Beyond being a day off of work, Memorial Day honors the men and women who died in battle to preserve the freedom of the United States.

One man who escaped death despite fighting for our country in both World War II and the Korean War was former Yankee infielder and current San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman.

Coleman achieved the rank of LieutenantCohlonel in the United States Marine Corps, and earned numerous honors and medals, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Around this time every year, Coleman appears on various radio and TV shows, and as a result I think the importance of what he did for our country may be slightly diluted. You know, when you hear/see the same person every year at the same time, the effect can be a loss of luster.

To combat (pardon the pun) that possibility, I’m taking the time now to honor him — and all of the men and women who put their life on the line for our freedom. In case you weren’t aware, Jerry Coleman flew 120 combat missions as a USMC aviator. Wow. 120 times, he went into the air with every reason to believe he would not land alive. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine doing that yourself, even once? I can’t. Can you imagine one of today’s MLBers putting his baseball career aside, and hurtling himself into the air to fight for our country?

Mind you, I’m not a fan of war, and not suggesting that every war our country has fought has made sense. Today, I would like to put the politics aside and simply honor those Americans who served — and died — in battle.

Thank you for going to war, so I didn’t have to.


Jon Niese Prefers Daytime TV

With yet another afternoon ballgame, it’s interesting to mention that today’s Mets starter Jonathon Niese has been incredibly effective during daylight.

I have to admit that this came to my attention thanks to MetsToday reader “Dave” (thanks Dave!).

Through five afternoon starts, this is Niese’s line:

33 IP | 0.94 WHIP | 27 K | .179 BAA | 3 Wins

Now, five games is a really small sample size. But, if Niese is aware of how well he does during the daytime, it has to help his confidence, right? And usually, confidence breeds success, so there you go.


Mets Game 45: Loss to Padres

Padres 11 Mets 5

This was supposed to be the beginning of an easy, breezy weekend at home. The Mets were hosting one of MLB’s worst offensive ballclubs — and one that was further decimated by injuries to the few legitimate MLBers on their roster. To boot, the starting pitcher facing them had been released earlier in the year by a team whose staff is below average. However, this “easy” series did not begin as expected — much the opposite, in fact.


The Soft Spot of the Schedule – Calm Before the Storm?

Looking at the Mets schedule, something occurred to me: they’re smack in the middle of one of the softest sections of their season. Three games against the Pirates followed by four games with the lowly Padres — a seven-game span of less than mediocre opponents. What makes it all the more intriguing is that this stretch is “the calm before the storm” in that it comes right before perhaps the toughest section of their season — the next 8 series include facing the Phillies, Cardinals (for four), first-place Nationals, Yankees, Rays, Reds, first-place Orioles, and Yankees again. Whew!

Based on that collection of opponents, we’ll have a good idea of what kind of team these Mets really are by the end of June.

What do you think? Is it vital that the Mets take at least three from the Padres this weekend — both to build their confidence and also beef up their won-loss record as they head into that tough stretch? Or does it not make a difference? In contrast, what if the Mets lose three (or four) to San Diego — can we expect them to fare well against more talented opponents? Or am I making too much of this? Post your thoughts in the comments.


Rusty Staub Talks to Bloggers

Rusty Staub's doppleganger

In honor of his bobblehead day on May 26th, the Mets Media Relations department was kind enough to hold a conference call between the great Rusty Staub and several Mets bloggers.  Rusty was very nice and accomodating.  A range of subjects was covered, from his career, to today’s players, to grilling tips.

Here’s a sampling:

On Pinch Hitting

Rusty kept an eye on the game, and prepared for his late-inning turn at bat. He liked to keep his body temperature up.  He’d run up and down the runway – anything to keep from coming in cold.

He described his approach at the plate in pinch-hit situations as “controlled agression.”  “When I went up, the game was on the line,” he said.

On Being Gary Carter’s Teammate with the Expos and Mets

“Gary never lost that enthusiasm and drive,” Rusty said of Carter.  From his early days with the Expos to his latter days with the Mets, Rusty said Carter kept that enthusiasm throughout his career.  Rusty recalled what a huge piece of the puzzle Carter was when he came to the Mets in a trade prior to the 1985 season.

On His Popularity in Montreal and New York

Rusty was asked why he thought he was so popular in Montreal and New York.  “First of all, you have to play well,” Rusty said.  If you don’t play well, you’re not going to be popular.  He said he never thought of himself as being above the fans.  And in Montreal, his attempts to learn French didn’t hurt!  While he said he was never fluent, the fans appreciated his effort.

On Similarities Between Today’s Mets and His Early ’80s Team

Rusty said comparisons between eras are very difficult.

He did say that the “belittlement” of the Mets before the season was “beyond belief,” and that Mets fans should be proud of the start their team has had so far.

On Playing for Davey Johnson

He recalled that those teams had a total lack of discipline, and could have won more championships than they did, but “he [Johnson] was very very good” on the field.  He was his own guy, and had his own style.  Rusty said he is happy that Johnson has another shot in the big leagues, and sounded impressed with how the Nationals were playing under Davey’s guidance.

On Making His MLB Debut at Age 19

Rusty said he wasn’t overmatched at the plate, but he was overmatched by day-to-day life in the majors.  He said he made some mistakes, but those made him stronger.

He added some advice for today’s players: Don’t listen to the media, and “work your ass off.”  Rusty said some guys get complacent when they start making major league money.

On the Toughest LHP and RHP He Ever Faced

“I always said, if I started a team,” Rusty said, “it would be with Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson.”

On Ike Davis

“Ike is messed up in his head,” Rusty said, “it’s beyond comprehension.”  Rusty suggested that Ike slow it down, be quieter at the plate – cut down on his hand movements.

“He’s gonna get out of this thing,” he said, even if it means taking a couple of weeks in the minors, something Rusty said he did himself, and it wasn’t easy.  He also suggested studying himself when he is going well, so he can see what he is doing well and why.

On the 1973 Season

“It was a tough season,” he said.  A bunch of guys got hurt, and he himself said his hands were in terrible pain every day.  So much so, that the team gave him 3 days off in August.  “A well placed cortisone shot can be effective,” he said.  And during his time off, he got 4 shots in his left hand, and 3 in his right.  When he came back, he was “astounded by the pop in his hands.”

Rusty went on to say that with pitchers like Seaver, Koosman, “and George Stone was pitching terrific,” he felt they were still in it in late August.

On Grilling

“Concentrate,” Rusty said.  You don’t have to stand over the grill all the time, but don’t burn anything.  As far as cooking burgers is concerned, Rusty advocates high heat.

Atta boy.