Tag: new york mets

RIP Ralph Kiner


The picture tweeted by the official Mets Twitter account.

Long time Mets broadcaster and Hall of Fame outfielder Ralph Kiner has passed away at the age of 91 due to natural causes.

Mets chairman Fred Wilpon reased a statement:

“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman. After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit and charm entertained generations of Mets fans.

“Like his stories, he was one of a kind. We send our deepest condolences to Ralph’s five children and 12 grandchildren. Our sport and society today lost one of the all-time greats.”

There are no words I can put together to pay proper tribute to the man. He was the voice of my summers growing up, along with Bob Murphy. When I heard their voices in March, I knew baseball was back.

He taught me the basics of how to play the game, and opened my eyes to the techniques of hitting that I’d never considered before. He also taught me about the history of the game. I learned of the likes of 3 Finger Mordecai Brown, Heinie Manush, and other colorful characters from the past (or at least the ones with colorful names), and got an idea of what baseball was like long before there was such a thing as Shea Stadium or the Mets.

When I worked for WWOR, the Mets production staff always had good things to say about Ralph. They saw him as a genuine, warm, and kind individual. They weren’t just saying that – believe me, they didn’t always have the same things to say about other broadcasters who passed through the booth.

He was one of the premier power hitters of his time when he played with the Pirates. Like most players from his generation, he served in WWII as a pilot, and oh yeah, he also dated Elizabeth Taylor.

The Mets community and major league baseball lost a great one today. Thanks for everything you did, Ralph.

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section (as always).


Projections vs. Reality

I love stats. I’ve been a baseball stathead since I was a kid. I kept track of my own batting average in Little League as well as walks, extra base hits (those were easy – there weren’t many of them), and RBIs. I used to check the box scores in The Record every morning to see what the Mets’ updated stats looked like after the previous night’s game (Unless the game was on the west coast – ahhh, the dark ages), and I’ve continued that habit into the present day.

Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve been familiarizing myself with sabermetrics. I like them. I find them useful. Especially the ones I can understand. Advanced metrics have given me a whole new perspective on the careers of baseball players today, and a renewed appreciation of players from the past.

The one relatively new development I haven’t gotten on board with is the concept of statistical projections.


Mets were in on Grant Balfour

After the Tampa Bay Rays reportedly inked relief ace Grant Balfour, baseball insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted this:

So, Sandy Alderson was interested in bolstering his bullpen with a veteran arm – we knew that. We just thought it would be someone like a David Aardsma or Joel Hanrahan, not an established closer like Balfour.

Speaking of closing, would Balfour have closed for the Mets or set up Bobby Parnell? Seems like the team would have wanted him as insurance in case Parnell wasn’t ready for Opening Day. And if Parnell was, Balfour would have handled the eighth inning.

I wonder if Balfour also took that into account when making his decision – I’m sure he wants to remain a closer.

It’s also interesting that the Mets were willing to spend more than $6 million AAV on a two-year deal. That suggests that they still have money to spend, despite the fact that they appear to be at or nearing their rumored payroll limit.

Perhaps they’ll spend that money on another reliever or two, or maybe (dare I say) Stephen Drew. The free agent shortstop seems to be less and less in demand, which should drive down his price. If he and his agent, Scott Boras, get desperate enough, they may even settle for a one-year deal.

Regardless, it sounds like the Mets are not done spending just yet.


Mets Will Have to Make the Most of Ike Davis

Ike Davis must prove himself.

Ike Davis must prove himself.

The Milwaukee Brewers reached a minor league agreement with Mark Reynolds this morning. Milwaukee has been searching for a first baseman all winter long, and it appears they’re looking towards Reynolds as their solution.

The Brewers have flirted with the Mets this offseason regarding a trade for Ike Davis. The Mets wanted RHP Tyler Thornburg, a top pitching prospect whom the Brewers have penciled into their fifth starting slot going into Spring Training. Milwaukee deemed that price too high.


Bobby Parnell Cleared to Pitch

According to Adam Rubin, Mets closer Bobby Parnell has been cleared to pitch:

New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell, who underwent Sept. 10 surgery in California for a herniated disk in his neck, has been fully cleared for baseball activities.

After attending David Wright‘s wedding, Parnell stayed on the West Coast to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, who had performed the procedure.

Watkins cleared Parnell for full baseball activities. Parnell is expected to resume closing games for the Mets this season. He converted 22 of 26 chances last season.

“He looked terrific — toned, strong, limber,” said one person who recently saw Parnell.

Parnell had lost roughly 30 pounds while dealing with the herniated disk.

This is a key development for the Mets bullpen. The back end of the bullpen would be a huge question mark if Parnell were not ready for Opening Day. They’d have to figure out who would close, and who would handle the eighth inning. If Parnell is ready, the concern then shifts to who sets him up, which is less of a problem – but still an important one.

Right now, Vic Black, who has 18 major league appearances under his belt, looks like the front runner for the eighth inning role. The team is also looking to acquire a veteran to possibly fill that role (someone like LaTroy Hawkins – but he’s in Denver now).

LHP Josh Edgin, LHP Scott Rice, RHP Carlos Torres, RHP Jeurys Familia, and RHP Gonzalez Germen are leading candidates to round out the bullpen in 2014. Newly acquired RHP Ryan Reid may also be in the conversation along with minor league lefty Jack Leathersitch and RHP Jeff Walters.


THE Date in Mets History: October 16

Whew…got this in just under the wire. October 16 is arguably the seminal date in Met history. It also has some personal significance as it is my late father’s birthday. More on him in a moment.

Some of the biggest moments in Met history have occurred on this date. For example:

1969: The Miracle culminates with a 5-3 win over the Orioles. Take your pick from this game: Swoboda’s catch, Jones kneeling in the outfield, the wild celebration on the field, in the clubhouse and in the streets. If you look closely at the footage of Koosman jumping into Grote’s arms at the end of the game, one of the fans with his arms up in the air is holding a copy of that month’s Mad Magazine! I was only nine years old at the time and my baseball awakening was still a year or two away.

1973: The Mets lose 3-2 to Oakland on a dropped third strike in the 10th. This was, I believe, one of the first ever World Series games to occur at night. As I was still in grade school and this was a school night, I was only allowed to watch the first few innings. It was Willie Mays’ last appearance in a World Series game. In my mind, Yogi Berra will forever be the goat for losing this series, bypassing the 12-3 George Stone entirely and pitching Tom Seaver on three days rest in Game 6, then forcing Jon Matlack to pitch on short rest in Game 7.

1986: Technically no game today, but a time to stop shaking after what is possibly The Greatest Game Ever, the 16-inning marathon with the Astros that resulted in the Mets clinching the National League pennant. I still have the back page of the 10/16/86 Daily News with “WE WIN” in large block letters.

1999: John Olerud leads the Mets to a 3-2 win over Atlanta at Shea, helping the Mets avoid a sweep and setting the stage for an incredible game the next day. I was at this game with my brother and nephew, but I don’t remember much about it other than yelling at Larry “Chipper” Jones and John Rocker. My dad had died two months before and I was still grieving his loss, which was made more poignant by the date. That 1999 Mets team was perhaps my favorite Met team of all time. Check the box score for this game, that was an awesome team.

2000: In what is probably the most-overlooked pitching feat in Met history, Mike Hampton twirls a three-hitter as the Mets blank the Cardinals 7-0 to clinch their fourth NL pennant. I was at this game as well. Remember the fight at the end of the game after Jay Payton was hit? Every once in a while a radio station within earshot or a restaurant I am in will cue up the Venga Boys “We Like To Party” and I always think about the celebration that erupted after Todd Ziele’s big hit to put the Mets comfortably ahead in that game.

If you haven’t noticed, there are some wide gaps in the years between the games. Oh well, Happy Birthday Dad and Lets Go Mets!