Tag: mike piazza

Link Roundup: Now with 20% More Deer Antler Spray

I call him "Rob."

I call him “Rob.”

More PED news impacted Major League Baseball this week, as several players were linked to a dodgy anti-aging clinic in Miami.  Among the players were OF Nelson Cruz, LHP Gio Gonzalez, 3B Alex Rodriguez, OF Melky Cabrera, and RHP Bartolo Colon.  A-Rod, Cabrera, and Colon have all been linked to/suspended for using PEDs in the past, so this isn’t much of a surprise.  But Cruz and Gonzalez are under suspicion for the first time.  Naturally, they issued denials, but it’s so hard not to be skeptical if you are a baseball fan these days.

The good news is, they are under investigation.  The bad news is, PED use is still happening.  Perhaps stiffer penalties are the answer, as Matt Holiday suggested.

Contrary to popular belief, PED use happens in other sports, as evidenced by the alleged use of deer antler spray by Ray Lewis.  If true, that would explain why he came back from his injury so soon, and why he always freezes when he sees headlights.  The media is actually paying attention to this story, but he’ll eventually get a pass (no pun intended), as most NFL players do.

Even golfer Vijay Singh is facing PED accusations!

Sandy Alderson didn’t need PEDs when he talked to season ticket holders on Wednesday night.  During this time he said, “The reason we haven’t spent the money is not because of Fred Wilpon,” he said. “It’s because of me.”  I wonder how much he’s getting paid to throw himself under the bus?  In this blogger’s opinion, he’s covering for the Wilpons, whose ongoing financial catastrophe has been well documented.

In other news, Wilmer Flores had a breakout season in 2012, but where will he ultimately end up in the field?

Bloggers are still buzzing about Banner Day, which has now been moved to May 11, Mike Piazza, and the World Baseball Classic.  Here’s a nice take on all of these subjects by Kerel Cooper.

Pitchers and catchers report in only 12 days, and hope will spring eternal once again.

 

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The Mets: Opening Day High and Low Lights

Excited about the 2012 baseball season? Me neither. With one exception, about which you will read below, I have never paid less attention to the start of the season as I have with this one. Regardless of how I/we feel, The Season That Somebody Else’s Favorite Team Wins The World Series is about to begin.

Every year at this time some hapless writer or blogger will do a piece on past Opening Day highlights. At Mets Today, we pride ourselves on being the first to give you these types of insights, remember, I called the opening day roster back in January!

So without further ado, here we go with a glance at some Opening Day Met Memories.

1969: In the first game ever for that franchise, the Coco LaBoy-led Expos beat Tom Seaver and the Mets 11-10. The Mets miss the opportunity to have the first winning record in franchise history. A much bigger prize awaited them later this season. I was not following baseball at that time; my awakening would occur about a year and a half in the future.

1975: Seaver outduels Steve Carlton as the new-look Mets top the Phillies 2-1. Both future Hall of Famers hurl complete games. Joe Torre, Gene Clines and Del Unser make their Met debuts. Torre drives in the winning run, as the cameras find sign guy Karl Ehrhardt displaying a “Torre, Torre, Halleluiah” banner. That was about the highlight of Joe’s Met career.

1983: Tom Seaver returns to the Shea mound for the first time since the infamous 1977 Midnight Massacre. Turning the clock back even further, Tom’s mound opponent is Carlton. The Mets win, 2-0. Seaver hurls six innings with five strikeouts. Doug Sisk, another Met immortal (but for different reasons), gets the three inning save.

1984: The Davey Johnson-era begins with an 8-1 shellacking at the hands of the Reds. Mike Torrez lasts only an inning and a third. Johnson didn’t want any of the veteran pitchers (Torrez, Dick Tidrow and Craig Swan) on his roster. He would get his way with all three. This season was baseball’s only attempt to avoid cold-weather starts by having the Eastern Division teams all begin either on the West Coast or in the Astrodome. The Mets where the only Eastern Division team to draw a cold-weather city. Ron Hodges is the opening day catcher. What a difference a year will make.

1985: Gary Carter’s 10-inning homer off Neil Allen gives the Mets a 6-5 win. An inauspicious start for Doc Gooden, as he surrenders four runs in six innings. He would rebound.

1987: With Gooden in drug rehab, the Mets begin their defense of the 1986 World Championship by defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1. Bob Ojeda starts in Doc’s spot. Interestingly enough, the Bucs’ leadoff hitter is Barry Bonds.

1988: Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds each hit a pair of homers, while Kevin Elster and Lenny Dykstra both hit one, as the Mets beat Dennis Martinez and the Expos 10-6. It was a big start to good years for Straw and K-Mac. Showing how deep the Mets staff was that year, David Cone and Randy Myers both pitch in relief. Unfortunately, the year will end with heartbreak.

1991: In the first game of the post-Straw era, Gooden beats the Phils 2-1. One of Straw’s replacements, Hubie Brooks, steals home for the decisive run. The Vince Coleman+ Hubie Brooks >Darryl Strawberry equation proves to be incorrect, which will lead to the Mets to abandon the build from within philosophy in the coming winter. I was at this game (to date the only opener I have attended). On the way home, it only took three callers to the WFAN post-game show for the carping about the batting order to begin.

1992: Bobby Bonilla hits two home runs including a two-run tiebreaker in the 10th as the Mets beat the Cardinals. It was a nice start for the revamped Mets, who had added Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Bret Saberhagen to their roster the previous winter. Despite all of the hoopla, the Mets where headed for a bad season and then a disaster the following year. But for one night at least, it all came together.

1997: The Bobby Valentine era begins with a 12-5 loss in San Diego. Pete Harnisch goes five innings and leaves with a 4-3 lead. Showing signs of the eccentricities that would become more apparent later, Harnisch had given up chewing tobacco a few days before the game and was undergoing withdrawal come game time. After Pete gave up back to back homeruns to future and past Mets Rickey Henderson and Quilvio Veras, Valentine handed the ball over to his bullpen. Yorkis Perez, Toby Borland and Barry Manuel got torched for 11 runs in one inning. Despite the rough beginning, the Mets finished the year with their first winning record since 1990.

1998: Alberto (Babe) Castillo drives in the winning run with a 14th-inning single as the Mets top the Phils and Curt Schilling 1-0. The Mets begin the year with a desperate catching situation: Todd Hundley is hurt so the light-hitting Tim Spehr and Castillo are assigned the duties. A Memorial Day deal for Mike Piazza would alter the course of the franchise.

2000: The Mets begin the season in Japan with a 5-3 loss to the Cubs. I was traveling on business that week and the game started at about 4AM, so I missed it. If I recall correctly, newcomer Mike Hampton was the starter and loser. Mike got off to a slow start but finished the season as the NLCS MVP.

2003: The Cubs hammer hired gun Tommy Glavine and the Mets 15-2. Roger Cedeno misplays several balls in center field, to the disgust of both Glavine and the hometown crowd. My wife had suffered a near fatal brain aneurysm three weeks earlier, so this season got started without me paying much attention. Both she and the Mets would recover, she faster than them.

2005: The Pedro, Carlos and Omar era begins with a loss in Cincinnati. Braden Looper gives up consecutive inning home runs to blow the lead and then lose the game. It took the Mets five tries that year to get Willie Randolph his first major league win as a manager.

So there you have it. I do think it is worth noting that several good or great seasons (1969, 1984, 1997 and 2005) began with low expectations and a loss, but that year’s edition eventually surprised nearly everyone with how they finished. Only 1985, 1986 and perhaps 2000 came close to living up to the pre-season expectations. My sense is that while all of the gloom and doom about the 2012 season will prove to be well-founded, I am hopeful that some continued development from the young players and perhaps a good deadline deal or two will keep the Mets from being boring, which is a fate even worse than losing.

Do you have a favorite Opening Day memory? Share it below.

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Piazza Enjoying Retirement

Mike Piazza managed the U.S team to a 6-4 victory over the World Team in the annual Futures Game at Chase Field on Sunday.

When asked about the Roger Clemens steroids trial Piazza replied with a smile:

“I really don’t want to say anything on that, I just want to enjoy the day. It’s about the kids today.”

Having landed the coaching gig a few days prior — Piazza was already headed there to participate in the Celebrity Softball Game — Piazza’s responsibilities included pre-game and post-game interviews, waving at the crowd when his name was announced and offering pointers to players.

Piazza’s work also includes being the batting coach for Team Italy. He worked with the team during Spring Training and will travel to Panama in late September for the Word Championship.

The beloved Met catcher sporting a Mets cap during the game said that he “loves the game but doesn’t want to work every day and is discussing options with people, nothing real concrete.”

As a Mets catcher for 8 seasons, Piazza seems the next most likely player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame as a New York Met.

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Mike Piazza and the Steroid Issue

If you missed it, loyal MetsToday commenter “Walnutz15” unearthed a New York Times article from 2002 that collected responses from New York baseball players regarding the then-recently published Sports Illustrated story focused on Ken Caminiti and steroids in MLB.

To refresh your memory (or add to it, depending on your age), SI published a controversial story about steroids in baseball (written by Tom Verducci), based primarily on conversations with Caminiti, Jose Canseco, and other admitted steroid users. If you haven’t read it, you should — and you should read it once a year, right around this time, while considering whether certain players from a certain era should or shouldn’t be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Why? Because it paints a very clear picture of what was happening in baseball (MLB, minors, college, and yes, high school) at that time. I can confidently support the article because I speak from personal experience; I played with and against young men who “juiced” — at the high school, college, semipro and pro levels — and I can tell you that at least a few of them went from marginal amateur prospects to #1 draft picks and/or MLB players as a direct result of taking steroids. No, I’m not naming names; but as an example, I watched one individual go from throwing 84 MPH as a high school senior to 97 MPH as a college junior — and not because he hit a natural growth spurt or learned better mechanics. So anyone who claims that steroids can’t artificially improve a baseball player’s skill set, probably has never stepped foot on a regulation baseball field and seen the effects first-hand (and that would account for about 90% of all beat writers/bloggers/broadcasters/pundits and 99% of all BBWAA HOF voters).

Now, back to the NY Times article, which is still compelling as we review it almost ten years later. Among the players quoted — who expressed their anger over Caminiti’s expose and steadfastly denied using steroids themselves — included (among others) Jason Giambi, Mo Vaughn, Mike Stanton, and Mike Piazza. Interesting group, eh?

Just for kicks, let’s look at a few of those quotes.

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Who Should Really Be Auditioning at 1B

1b-teeAfter 65 games at first base, Dan Murphy has shown he can be defensively adequate at the position. Other than a few brain farts and errors due to inexperience, Murphy is, right now, better than Mike Piazza ever was at the position.

If the Mets are serious about going into 2010 with Murphy penciled in as the starting first baseman — or even if they’re not — there is another player who should be getting reps at first base:

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C.C. Sabathia vs. the Mets

cc-sabathia-indiansTonight, the Yankees send C.C. Sabathia to the mound at Citi Field against the Mets. It’s been a long time since Sabathia started against the Mets, and the last time didn’t go so well for our hometown favorites.

On June 16, 2004, Sabathia threw 8 solid innings of six-hit, one-run ball, as the Indians molested the Mets 9-1 at Shea Stadium in front of a paltry crowd of 29,512.

How long ago was that game? The Mets’ starter was Matt Ginter, Gerald “Ice” Williams was the leadoff hitter, Mike Piazza was the first baseman, Jason Phillips was behind the plate, and Art Howe was the manager.

Here is the entire Mets starting lineup on that ugly night:

Gerald Williams CF
ice-williamsKaz Matsui SS
Mike Piazza 1B
Cliff Floyd LF
Todd Zeile 3B
Ty Wigginton 2B
Jason Phillips C
Mike Cameron CF
Matt Ginter P

Makes one wonder: how much different will tonight’s lineup look five years from now?

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