Memories

Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox Have Won World Series This Decade

The year my son was born, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. 

Today, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. 

People waited their whole lifetimes for each of these things to happen, and they never did. He’s three this month, and he’s around for both.

In an odd twist of fate, he has never seen a Yankees World Series. 

It was strange typing it. It’s weirder re-reading it. 

He was up for the last out, and he went right back to sleep. He has no idea how incredible he got to see something no one on this planet has ever seen. 

I just hope he doesn’t have to wait long for a Mets World Series victory. 

Happy Anniversary Endy Chavez

Ten years ago today, Scott Rolen what appeared to be a home run off Oliver Perez, and then Endy Chavez did this:

Impressively, like Willie Mays after “The Catch”, Chavez was aware of the game situation, he made a strong relay to Jose Valentin, who then got it over to a fired up Carlos Delgado to nail Jim Edmonds at first to complete the inning ending double play.

As we know with the American League having won the All Star Game, the Mets wouldn’t have a home game until Game 3 of the World Series.  In his first World Series at bat at home, David Wright, the same man who had an RBI single to open the scoring in Game 7 of the NLCS, would do this:

Yes, those events happened in the same October. You cannot convince me otherwise.

Carlos Beltran Adam Wainwright

Carlos Beltran Still the Best of the 2006 Mets

Initially during the rain out, I was watching Amazin’ Finishes featuring either the 2007 or 2008 season. In other words, two years that decidedly didn’t have amazing finishes. I decided to turn it off. 

Then something struck me. It’s been 10 years since 2006. Looking back at that roster, only five of the 49 players who appeared in a game for that team are still in the majors. Seeing how most of those players have retired and the changes roles of the other five, it’s really shows you how much things have changed. 

David Wright – he was the young star then, but now with the spinal stenosis and herniated disc in his neck, you wonder how much longer he has. 
Jose Reyes – back then he was charmingly seen as Wright’s partner in crime. There’s no charm in that anymore with the allegations against him that never went to trial. His future is uncertain now that rookie Trevor Story has claimed the shortstop position for the Rockies. 
 Oliver Perez – there was a time during Game 7, that you thought you would he would’ve been forever loved. Problem is he stayed too long. He eventually became an effective relief pitcher, and now, he’s helping the Nationals try to get to the World Series. 
Mike Pelfrey – Pelfrey was the rookie pressed into action due to a number of injuries. He struggled as he wasn’t ready, and he was sent back to the minors. Now, he’s a 32 year old veteran starter for the Tigers who is struggling. 
Carlos Beltran – he was the best player on the planet in 2006. He is on his way to the Hall of Fame. He’s also still a very productive player:

It is amazing to look back and see how much has changed. It’s even more amazing to see that Beltran is still the best of this group. He was a special player, and Mets fans were lucky to see him play everyday for seven years. 

Wishing Murphy Was Here Today

When I woke up this morning and went to my car to head to work, I noticed some droplets of rain on my car. Last night, there was rain that fall from the very heavens where Bob Murphy now resides. 

It reminded me of those days growing up listening to Murphy call a game on the radio as my family was in the car, or when we had a barbeque and listened to the game during those hot summer days and nights. Undoubtedly, when there were clouds in the sky, Murphy would describe the high cumulonimbuses in the sky. On a day like today, he would say, “The sun is shining. The sky is blue. It’s a beautiful day for baseball.”  It always was a beautiful day for baseball when you got to hear Murphy call a game. 

The Mets and their fans were blessed to have Murphy call games beginning in their first season all the way until 2003. 

His retirement would begin a three year stretch with no Murphys in the Mets organization. It lasted until 2006 when Daniel Murphy was drafted by the team. Like his predecessor, he left his own indelible mark on the franchise, but his stay was not as long nor was it as impactful. As the Mets play their home opener today, it’s just strange to think the Mets won’t have a Murphy there at Citi Field. 

However, Bob Murphy’s spirit lives on. He lives in the unparalleled Mets radio and television play-by-play of Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. He lives on with his name on the radio booth at Citi Field. He lives on with every cumulonimbus that hovers over Citi Field during a Mets game.  He lives on after every single Mets win when a fan looks forward to “The Happy Recap.”

The Easter Tiger

I know it’s called the “Terrible Twos,” but it’s also a fun age where your kid has an active imagination. It especially comes out at bedtime when they don’t want to go to sleep. 

Tonight, my son told me the story of the Easter Tiger. He’s apparently orange and black and hops like a bunny. 

The Easter Tiger comes out after everyone else. You see Santa Claus first comes at Christmas, says “Ho! Ho! Ho!” and then he delivers Christmas gifts. After you’re done playing with your new toys it’s Easter. The Easter Bunny comes first. He hops along to put Easter Eggs in everyone’s Easter baskets. It’s very important to remember that, “the Easter Bunny works alone.”

After the Easter Bunny comes along, the Easter Tiger arrives. He hops along looking for Easter Eggs. If an Easter Egg is not in a basket, he eats the Easter Egg with a fork. After he’s done eating the extra Easter Eggs, Easter is over. 

These are the wonderful, sweet things that only a two year old can think of as he’s trying to not fall asleep. It’s a wonderful age. 

Having Your Baby Pick the Brackets

Last year, there was a surprise winner in the NCAA pool. It was my one year old son. 

That’s right. Last year, I had a one year old fill out the brackets.  I had him pick each and every game. Even better, he best everyone. His bracket was strengthened by him picking Duke to win it all last year. Here’s how I did it. 

I went online and printed the logos for each of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament. I made sure each logo was if equal size. I then printed them out, in color, and I put them in front of him. I always put the higher seed on top because that is how it appears in the bracket. I then asked him to pick one. 

So, I did this starting on Monday and ending Wednesday evening. If he wasn’t interested, I moved in to something else. If he was, I went through as many as I possibly could. 

So, in the end, he picked Duke, and he won the pool. Like in everything else he does, he showed why he’s smarter than Daddy He showed he’s a genius. I’m hoping he can repeat this performance each and every year. If he does it enough times, he can pay for his own college with his winnings. 

Mets Closing the Doors on the Expos Again

You cannot tell the story of the New York Mets franchise without the Montreal Expos. 

The Expos first ever game was against the Mets on April 8, 1969 at Shea Stadium. It was not only the first game in Expos’ history, it was also the first game in what was the Mets path to winning the 1969 World Series. On October 3, 2004, the Expos would play their final game in their history at Shea Stadium. Between those two days on time so much had transpired. 

The first major trade between the two franchises was the Don Clendenon trade. Clendenon would become the power hitting first baseman the ’69 Mets needed to put them over the top. More importantly, Clendenon would go on to become the 1969 World Series MVP. 

After a few disappointing years, the Mets made a trade with the Expos again. The time the Mets obtained Le Grande Orange, Rusty Staub. Staub was a part of the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets. Staub had an incredible postseason that year. He hit three homers in the NLCS when the Mets upset the Big Red Machine. He hit .423/.464/.615 in the World Series. Bum shoulder and all, he had a great World Series for a Mets team that came so close to upsetting the Athletics in the World Series. 

The Mets would not make the playoffs again until 1986. The missing piece to that team was Gary Carter, who the Mets obtained in a trade with the Expos. Carter was everything the Mets thought they were getting and more. He continued putting up Hall of Fame numbers while nurturing a young Mets pitching staff. However, what Mets fans will remember him most for was getting the two out rally started in Game Six. 

The Mets would not acquire anything of value from the Expos until right after the Expos were no more. The Mets hired Expos GM Omar Minaya. Minaya would assemble the 2006 team that nearly went to the World Series. He also built a strong farm system that would eventually help the Mets return to the World Series. 

It’s funny to think that Minaya’s big move with the Expos was trading for Bartolo Colon. With Macier Izturis announcing his retirement, Colon is now the last player to ever wear a Montreal Expos uniform to be active in the Major Leagues.  Colon, who was a key member of last year’s pennant winning team, returned to the Mets. With Colon turning 43 this year, it’s possible he can end his career with the Mets. It would be fitting that the Mets once again close the door on the Expos franchise. 

When that door is finally closed, both fan bases will have shared memories of players like Staub and Carter. Both players were beloved by both franchises. It was players like this that will forever link both franchises.  Unfortunately, the Expos are gone to the detriment of Expos fans, Mets fans, and all of baseball. 

Cespedes Is a Prince

Before my son was born, my wife and I used to like to take trips for New Year’s. Our favorite trip was in 2012 when we went to Côte d’Azur. 

Part of Côte d’Azur is the principality of Monaco. To gain citizenship in Monaco, you have to be the richest of the rich.  You have to keep more than €1 million in a Monaco bank at all times, and while there is no income tax, there is a VAT tax. Citizens are required to establish they spent so much money a year. Monaco will find out because they require you providing access to your personal and financial information. 

None of these requirments are particularly onerous for people who wish to apply. These are the people that buy yachts because they have money to burn. 

  

You quickly learn in Monaco the uber rich find interesting ways to flaunt how rich they are. For example, Prince Albert has his private collection of cars on display at the Exposition De Voitres Anciennes de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco. Loosely translated, this means, “Hey!  I’m so rich that I have more expensive cars than I know what to do with, so come here and look at them.”  There is a notice posted that the cars are a collection and not a museum. Here are some:

   
   
I was reminded of this collection seeing Yoenis Cespedes, who is making $27 million this year, showing off his car collection:

By the way, in addition to these cars, Cespedes has an expensive car on loan to Wilmer Flores during Spring Training:

It’s now apparent that Cespedes is the Prince of Citi Field, and he’s using the Port St. Lucie parking lot as his exhibition of rich and expensive cars. 

RIP Tony Phillips

One of my favorite movies is Big Fish. One of the story lines in the movie is the relationship between Edward Bloom and the town of Ashton. I found myself thinking about that today when I learned about the passing of Tony Phillips

When Edward Bloom first happens upon Ashton, he’s described as having arrived at the most beautiful town there is.  Like a baseball field, Ashton was covered in impeccably manicured green grass.  However, he’s arrived too soon. It wasn’t his time to be there yet. He should not have arrived until a different time. He moved on. When he returned, everything was different. The town was dilapidated. He stuck around for a while to help reinvigorate the town, but he had to eventually move on. He got back there too late. 

Tony Phillips played 18 seasons hitting .266/.374/.389. In an average season, he hit 12 homers and 67 RBI. He put up these numbers while primarily playing the middle infield. In his career, he twice led the league in walks. He made no All Star teams in his career. He played for six teams. He retired in 1999 at the age of 40. Not too long thereafter, the A’s would revolutionize baseball by focusing on stats like OBP. Players like Tony Phillips would become coveted instead of being a nice player on your team. 

Simply put, Tony Phillips played baseball before players of Phillips own skill set were appreciated. Right at the time when the Tony Phillipses of the world were seen as the very good ball players they were, it was his time to leave the green grass fields of Ashton. His skill set was recognized too late. 

As for the Mets, Tony Phillips acquired him in a trade deadline deal in 1998. He played outfield on a team that needed corner outfielders. He played relatively effectively in his 52 games as a Met. Unfortunately, he and the Mets fell just short. Unsurprisingly, Phillips would finish his career with Billy Beane’s Athletics. He was where we all thought he belonged. He just got there too late. 

Worse than that, Phillips has died too young at the age of 53. Hopefully, he’s now at the right place at the right time. 

Rest in peace Tony Phillips. 

The Highs and Lows of 1986

How you view a particular year or period of time completely depends on your perspective. When you bring up 1986 in the New York Metropolitan area, the first thing that comes to mind is the ’86 Mets. As a diehard Mets fan, 1986 should’ve been the greatest year ever.  

I became a Mets fan because my Dad saw to it. He did what all Dad’s do to make our sons love the sports teams we love. Basically, he used everything at his disposal. What gave him the most leverage was my love of strawberry ice cream. He used that information to tell me the Mets had this player named Darryl Strawberry who was going to play for the Mets. When Strawberry first got called up in 1983, he brought me to see him play. I was immediately hooked. Right now, I’m using the same tactics with my son to much success even if I have to find him a new favorite player

Now, I was young when 1986 happened. When I think back to it, I really have one memory from that entire season:

The reason why I remember that moment was my family was hosting an engagement party for my aunt, who lived with us. Instead of this being the families getting to know each other type of party, it turned into everyone watching Game Six of the World Series. I still remember the way everyone celebrated when that “little roller up the first base line” went through Buckner’s legs. I just remember the sheer joy and elation. That moment as much as anything else may be the reason I’m such a huge Mets fan. 

It was a moment I remembered when I was watching the 1999 NLCS with my Dad. We just watched John Olerud hit a game-winning single off the hated John Rocker for what we hoped would be the Mets climb to be the first ever team to to come back from an 0-3 deficit. I thought to take the opportunity to talk to my Dad about that 1986 season. I could’ve said a million different things. I could’ve asked about his memories of the season. I could’ve asked how the Mets coming back from an 0-3 deficit would compare to that Game Six rally. I didn’t. Instead, I said to my Dad, “Watching this just reminds you that 1986 was a great year!”

Without skipping a beat, my Dad replied, “Yeah, except for your grandfather dying.”  

I was five at the time.  While I only had one memory from the entire 1986 season, I can tell you everything about walking into Nana and Grandpa’s house the day my beloved Grandfather died of throat cancer on a beautiful April day. It was a day in which everyone else was thinking about baseball and a soon to start Mets championship season. It was the beginning of a great year for Mets fans. However, for my family, 1986 was decidedly not a good year. We lost a loved one to cancer. 

Now, 30 years later the Mets are primed and ready to win another World Series. Over the course of the 2016 season, there will be deaths to mourn, weddings to celebrate, and births that will forever change our lives for the better. 

Throughout all of it, baseball is there. Baseball is there to help us to get through the tough times. It’s there to share with our children when they are born, and they become Mets fans of their own. It’s part of what makes baseball great. It’s always there for you. So yes, 1986 was a terrible year for my family. However, the ’86 Mets were a reminder that even it times of sorrow, there is still room for joy, for celebration. 

Lets Go Mets!

This article will be run as part of the Baseball Continuum Blogathon. The Blogathon is raising money for the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.