Musings

Thank You Tom Coughlin 

I’ve always joked that it’s the New York Giants that keep me sane. Never was this more true than on September 30, 2007. If you’re a Mets fan, you know that as the day the Mets completed a historic collapse. I was devastated even if Tom Glavine wasn’t. 

I remember leaving Shea and heading to the Meadowlands as that year I had the Sunday Plan and Giants season tickets. Note, I was unmarried with no children back then. Initially, I was less than enthused going to the Giants game. The Giants started the year a very unimpressive 0-2. Furthermore, the Giants were playing the Eagles. I knew I was going to have to hear it from Eagles fans who the Phillies beat the Mets and how the Mets choked. I was stewing on my drive from Queens to Jersey. The rage just kept building and building. 

As I entered the lot, I slipped off my David Wright jersey, which I never wore again, and I slipped on my Shaun O’Hara jersey. With some heckling from the lowlife Eagles fans, I was ready for the game. What ensued was the most cathartic three hours of my life. Not only did the Giants win, they pummeled the Eagles. Osi Umenyiora had six sacks. The Giants set an NFL single game sack record with 12 in total. It was a joy to see all those Eagles fans quiet and leaving early. It was a magical night that let me get some sleep that night. 

Actually, it was a magical season. As we know, the Giants would win Super Bowl XLII that year. They upset the undefeated Patriots in what would go down as one of the greatest Super Bowls, if not the greatest Super Bowl, ever. It was made possible by Tom Coughlin. 

Going into 2007, Coughlin was on the hot seat. In response, he became more open and accessible to his players. He formed the Leadership Council. Generally speaking, he found a way to be a coach that demands discipline while at the same time allowing his players to have a voice. You know what happened?  Everyone was able to get on the same page. It allowed him just to be a great football coach, which he was. Coughlin was once seen as an impediment to winning a Super Bowl. He now was a reason why they could and did win one. 

In 2007, things changed, and the Giants became champions. They won with the quarterback he developed. They won as a team. It’s because Coughlin changed. No, he didn’t change as a person. He was always a good person. Now, he showed that side to his team. They loved him for it. Looking at everything today, they still love him.

The fans do as well. He was the coach that developed Eli Manning. He was the coach that led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins. Both runs were improbable and thrilling. I loved both titles. However, I’ll always cherish Super Bowl XLII a little more. The Mets fan in me thought I was going to see a championship season in 2007. At that time, I just didn’t realize the season was going to carry into 2008. Trust me, it was worth the wait. 

Through all these years, this Mets fan has kept sane because I was also a Giants fan, at least the Giants won championships. Tom Coughlin has a lot to do with that having earned three rings with the Giants. As a fan, I will always be grateful he coached my team. I’ll always be grateful he brought class and dignity to an organization renown for class and dignity. While I’m curious as to what’s next, I do admit some trepidation. 

Your team is always worse when it loses a Hall of Famer. It’s even worse off when it loses a human being the caliber of Tom Coughlin. Whatever he does next, I wish him the best of luck. 

Thank you for everything Tom Coughlin. 

Leave Murray Chass Alone

We all have that uncle. He’s annoying and self righteous. He’s bombastic and knows more than you. He doesn’t like new things. So what happens is when he’s confronted with new ideas, he comes an angry old man, who may not always make sense. 

That was Murray Chase again. It’s the same person who created the rumors that Mike Piazza used steroids. He did it on his blog, and not the New York Times. The reason?  Well, presumably, the Times won’t let anyone published an unfounded rumor. To him, backne means steroids regardless of his lack of citing any medical proof. 

I digress. Reading the column, I thought the only thing fair was him going after Dan Szymborski (I seriously apologize if this is misspelled). I’m not saying his criticisms are fair or even cogent. I’m just saying it was fair to attack him because in the past Murray Chass was attacked by Dan Szymborski. However, there were two things that struck me on these attacks.  First, there was a time a Spink Award Winner would’ve ignored such attacks because responding in kind is to put that person on your level. Second, Murray Chass isn’t attacking Dan Szymborski. He’s attacking everyone who disagrees with him. 

He has a problem that things are changing. Frankly, times have already left him behind (pun somewhat intended). People disagree with him, and they now have a forum to voice that opinion. In fact, the Dan Syzmborski’s of the world have a greater platform than he does. It’s not just that people disagree with Murray Chass. No, it’s that the world is changing, and it’s not consulting with people like him. He has years of experience we don’t. We have new ideas and theories we just can’t prove because he doesn’t understand them. 

Admittedly, I read his column (I’ll respect him not calling it a blog), and I was going to take issue. Specifically, I was going to address why he could vote for Jack Morris based upon one game, one incredible game that’s in the pantheon of the greatest games of all time, but not voting for Curt Schilling and his more dominant postseason career. I stopped when I saw this:

I stopped when reading that. I remembered talking to my uncle. I know deep down he wants to hoot and holler about how things are different, and how we doesn’t like it. Admittedly, it would amuse me at times. Now that I’m older, when we broach the topics that get him angry, I decide to move on to a new topic. There’s no point anymore. He has nothing new to say about those topics. He’s not going to listen to anything I have to say. What’s the point? 

My uncle just wants to be heard. He wants to feel like he’s part of the conversation. He wants to know he’s not being ignored. That’s Murray Chass, and his actions. He wants you to know what he thinks. He’s telling you how it is and/or should be. It’s why he may or may not get his Hall of Fame ballot in time. It’s tertiary to everything.  He wants to be heard. 

Honestly, I’d rather Chass talked about things he’s seen, rather than judging others based upon what he’s seen. The man is in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his fine reporting. He was one of the few, according to him, that truly covered baseball’s labor strife throughout the years. Chass has been a champion of Marvin Miller’s inclusion into the Hall of Fame. Chass is correct in his assertions about the impact Miller had on the game. 

Overall, that’s what I want to hear from Murray Chass. There are great stories he had told and can re-tell. He has genuine, singular knowledge of baseball’s labor history. Chass should be included in baseball discussions frequently as, yes, he knows a lot more than we do. It doesn’t mean he’s always right. It doesn’t mean he won’t go on an eye rolling rant. It just means the man has value. 

I honestly wish I could nudge Murray Chass in that direction as I do my uncle at the dinner table during holidays. I hope someone can. I’d love to read Chass again and feel informed. I don’t like reading his columns and feeling sad for him. He and his readers deserve better than that. 

Keith Coming Back Isn’t a Foregone Conclusion

Perhaps, the Mets biggest free agent remains unsigned. No, not Yoenis Cespedes. I’m of course referring to Keith Hernandez. As Adam Rubin reported, Keith remains unsigned.  Most people expect him to return. I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t. 

We know this isn’t the first time it was rumored that Keith was leaving SNY. There was his infamous 2009 sign-off where he hinted he may not return.  As we know, Keith returned, and he has been a part of the Gary, Keith, and Ron (GKR) booth ever since. So, why is this time any different?  

For starters, we had the Bobby Ojeda situation last year. Every Mets fan seemed to enjoy his work. I believe that was because Ojeda didn’t mince words. He called it as he saw it. Mets fans appreciated it regardless of whether we agreed with him or not. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the issue was money. Ojeda was replaced with Nelson Figueroa, who was presumably cheaper and definitively less critical. 

We don’t currently know what the reason why Keith’s deal hasn’t been completed. We also know this isn’t the first time this offseason it was rumored the GKR booth was breaking up. There were the rumors Ron Darling may be poached by NESN to call Red Sox games. It turns out there was nothing to the rumors as Ron never had any conversations with NESN. I still question how those rumors arose. 

What we do know is the Mets have been penny pinching this offseason. Instead of $12.5 million a year for Daniel Murphy, it’s around $9 million for Neil Walker. Instead of $9 million for Jon Niese, it’s $7.25 million for Bartolo Colon. Free agent Tyler Clippard earned $8.3 million last year, but the Mets did bring back Jerry Blevins for $4 million. Then there’s every Mets fans’ favorite, Cespedes was paid $10.5 million last year, and he remains unsigned (he seems to want double that). In his stead is the $5.75 million Alejandro De Aza. The total savings of those moves is $14.3 million. 

Sure, I didn’t include the $8.25 million to Asdrubal Cabrera. That would reduce savings to $6.05 million. However, I also didn’t include the retirement of Michael Cuddyer, which took $12.5 million off the books. In total, that’s $18.55 million in savings. The Mets have increased revenues and attendance, and yet, they’re still cutting corners. Put aside your feelings on the wisdom of these moves, it’s fair to say the Mets saved money in each mechanation. 

With that in mind, why should we feel the Wilpons will act differently with SNY?  They already did it with Ojeda. Is Keith really immune to cost cutting measures?  I’d argue no, and admittedly fans are partially to blame.

Be honest with yourself. If Keith is gone, will you stop watching Mets games in 2016? Of course not. You’re watching them to see if they can go back to the World Series. As we all know, there is higher attendance figures and higher ratings when a team is good. The Mets could hire Joe Buck and Bobby Bonilla to call the games, and you’d still watch. It may be on mute, but you’d still watch. 

That’s the reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith wasn’t re-signed. The Mets are good again. SNY doesn’t need GKR to help drive ratings. They have a good team to do that.  With all that said, I still believe Keith will be back next year. 

However, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he wasn’t. 

Would You Miss the World Series?

Happy New Year!  When I think of New Year’s now, I think of college. It’s probably because even the most responsible of adults revert back to their college behavior in celebrating the new year. 

Speaking of college, I went to school with a lot of Buffalo fans. My roommate was a huge Bills and Sabres fan. As a Giants fan, I used to set his VCR around Super Bowl time to record Super Bowl XXV highlights. He got me back in 2000. Between 2000 and the Sabres losing the Stanley Cup on a garbage no-call, we were convinced we would never see our teams win a championship. I was waiting since 1986 for the Mets, and Buffalo has never win anything. 

One night, my roommate and I had a discussion. After the way the Mets lost the 2015 World Series and the Mets less than spectacular offseason, I thought it was time to bring it up here. What would you be willing to do for the Mets to win the World Series?  We didn’t talk about absurd things like giving up our first born or losing a limb. We talked about the one thing that would give even the biggest of fans pause. 

Would you be willing to miss each and every game of a season, including the postseason, if it meant the Mets would win the World Series?  No watching games on tape delay. No listening to games on the radio. No following the games on the Internet or Twitter updates. None of that. You can only find out about the games after they’re over by reading what happened in a newspaper or on some website. Also, don’t be smart, you wo t get the benefit of laying a bet down in Vegas. 

Would you be willing to do it?  There are times I thought I might. However, at the end of the day, I love baseball too. I would miss the games too much.  Part of my joy is seeing it happen. Part of what makes it all great is that tension you feel followed by the rush that follows after a big hit or out.  I wouldn’t miss out on any of that even if it meant I would never see a World Series in my lifetime. I’m still not sure if that makes me a better or worse fan. I’m not sure it matters. 

However, I am curious. Who would be willing to miss it all?  

2015 Year in Review

Back in July, I began this blog at the suggestion of my wife. It was her idea to create a site not only to talk about the Mets, but also to discuss how our son is becoming a Mets fan. My wife has been and continues to be my biggest supporter. I couldn’t do this site, or really anything, without her. 

At the core of this site is my son becoming more and more of a Mets fan. It began with him screaming and cheering “Duda!” in response to Gary Cohen Spring Training call for a Lucas Duda RBI double. From that point forward, our evening ritual was my son and I watching the Mets games together until he fell asleep. 

I used that time to tell him what was happening and about all the players. I’d say he learned a thing or two:

  
  
    

Whether, it was because of his “Mets Daddy” or just his own watching the Mets games, his favorite player became Daniel Murphy. I think it is a reason why he likes hitting lefty:
  

    
 
There’s no convincing him to hit righty. He wants to hit homeruns like Murphy. We were all enamored with Murphy during October, sorry, Murphtober. My son was enamored with him long before that. He was a fan during the season. He was a Mets fan. In fact, he became a bigger Mets fan than even I knew. 

After agonizing over the decision, I left my son home during Game 3 of the World Series. It was tough, but I was thrilled to go with my Dad and brother:

 

While I was at the game, my son told my wife to turn on the game. Here was his reaction when Curtis Granderson hit a go-ahead homer:

 

My Dad shows this video to everyone. At my cousin’s wedding, he played that for each and every relative. I don’t blame him. I’m still amazed by it. Even though I was to there when it happened, it’ll be one of the things I take away from this season. It shows me, he is a big Mets fan, and he is understanding the game. I love that. 

Below are some images of some of my favorite moments with him at Citi Field:

   
    
    
    
    
 
   
    
 

As 2015 draws to a close, I have to say it was a good year.  I’m married to a woman who still hasn’t figured out she’s too good for me. I have a brilliant son, who makes me proud each and everyday.  As you can also see he’s a good looking kid (he turned two recently -it’s kid, not baby now, right). He clearly gets his looks from his mother.  I’m thankful each and everyday I’m with them. 

I’m also thankful for my parents. This includes my Dad, who made me a Mets fan, and my mother, who doesn’t get nearly as many mentions on the blog as she should. Luckily, they’re in goodish health right now. I’m thankful for my brother, who’s always been by my side whether it was a Mets game, my Best Man, or my son’s “Mets Godfather.”  I keep telling him to create that site. 

I appreciate all of my readers, especially my cousins. 

Lastly, I wanted to take time to acknowledge those who provided assistance along the way, a retweet, or a link my to site. If I omitted anyone, I’m truly sorry as my phone is acting up, and there are many to thank.  With that said, I wanted to acknowledge the following:

  1. The Oh Murph guys Harry & Keith
  2. Joe D., Michael Mayer, and the Mets Mezmerized crew
  3. Keith Law
  4. Mark Simon
  5. Greg Prince and his standard bearer Faith and Fear in Flushing
  6. Justin Weiss
  7. Danny and all involved at Rising Apple podcast
  8. Studious Mets 
  9. Sons of Sam Horn
  10. Again all of my readers including George and TP Survey

Everyone have a happy, healthy, and safe New Years, and remember . . . 

LETS GO METS!

Irish Guilt and Jeff McKnight

If you’ve been married long enough (one day), your wife tells you the things about you that are crazy, and in turn, drives her crazy. For me, it’s the overwhelming feeling of guilt I get for reasons no one would bat an eye over. It’s my Irish Guilt. It happened for me again today when I saw this tweet:

You see in September, I was having fun with the Mets Magic Number to clinch the division. I was seeking to name the worst player I ever saw wear that particular number. As it so happens, I selected Jeff McKnight for the number 17. When I did that, I had no idea Jeff McKnight had died months earlier of leukemia. Had I known, I wouldn’t have said anything. I know better to speak ill of the dead, even when it is good natured fun. 

Reading this, I felt horrible. I felt even worse after learning he succumbed to this disease after battling it for 10 years. Sadly, there’s not much out there on him other than the fact his father also played in the big leagues. What we do know is he was a Met, and he played with them during the tough times. We do know that on “The Worst Team Money Can Buy,” McKnight was probably the lone Met that acquitted himself well. His play did help him earn a role on the 1993 team. In 1993, he had his best year. 

Very few of us make it to the big leagues. It is a major accomplishment no matter how you fare. I hope Jeff McKnight is proud of what he achieved. Even as I poked fun, I do remember those days at Shea rooting for him and the Mets when there was not much to root for. 

With that said, may Jeff McKnight rest in peace. 

Mo Vaughn Deal Was Good for the Mets

One of the biggest punchlines about Steve Phillips tenure as the Mets GM  has been this:

Not his personal conduct. No, he’s routinely mocked for the Mo Vaughn trade.  To this day, I do not understand the vitriol over the deal. I guess it’s because Mets fans do not realize the Mets won that trade. Seriously. 

First, keep in mind the Mets gave up Kevin Appier. That’s it. Yes, the same Kevin Appier the Mets signed after they lost the World Series instead of making big moves to improve the team. Yes, I’m talking about the 2000 offseason, not this one. Appier signed a four year $42 million contract with the Mets. 

In his only year with the Mets, Appier was decent going 11-10 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP.  He would then be traded for Mo Vaughn. Appier was good again in 2002. He has a ring despite having a historically bad World Series start. Appier was bad, really bad, in 2003. Despite being owed over $15 million on his deal, he was released. Appier would go back to Kansas City, where he would pitch only 23 innings more between 2003 and 2004 before retiring and putting an end to a very good big league career. 

In exchange, the Mets got the impressive batting practice hitter Mo Vaughn (the last Met to wear 42). Say what you will about Mo Vaughn. You’re probably right. His 2002 wasn’t as bad as people remember with Vaughn hitting .259/.349/.456 with 26 homers and 72 RBI. It was good for an OPS+ of 115. It’s more impressive when you consider he missed the 2001 season due to injury. Like Appier, his 2003 was a nightmare. Like Appier, his career was effectively over after the 2003 season.  

So why did the Mets win the trade?  No, it was not because of this homer:

I was at that game. It was awesome. However, this was Vaughn’s line highlight.  In reality, Vaughn’s play had nothing to do with the Mets winning this trade.  

No, the Mets won the trade due to Vaughn’s insurance policy. Vaughn’s arthritic knee prevented him from playing again. Like Appier, Vaughn was terrible in 2003, and his career was effectively over. The Angels paid Appier $12 million in 2004 alone to go away. The Mets only owed Vaughn $4.25 million over the next two years. The remainder of the $17 million owed was paid by insurance. 

The Mets didn’t do anything with the money found that offseason, but they would invest it the next offseason when they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. So overall, the Mo Vaughn deal was really beneficial to the Mets regardless of whether or not anyone wants to recognize it. 

There are still reasons to mock Steve Phillips, but this trade wasn’t one them. 

Mr. Met Should be on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

My mother-in-law lives in an area that does not have SNY. As a result, unless the Mets are on the WB or are playing a nationally televised game, I can’t watch the game. When there are no Mets, we usually watch Family Feud on the Game Show Network. 

The show works because of Steve Harvey. There are people in this world who are just funny. He’s one of them. I was forever sold on him when I saw him on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. On that show, he said something to the effect of that comedians brains are wired differently, that when something bad happens the comedians are writing the jokes that night. Well something bad happened to him:

He handled the situation with class, but man is that a tough one to live down. However, I’m sure a comedian like himself could appreciate Mr. Met’s Tweet:

I think it’s time noted Mets fan and friend of Steve Harvey, Jerry Seinfeld, gets Mr. Met on his show. 

Mets Star Wars Alter Egos

It’s been an incredible year. The Mets played in the World Series. There was a Rocky sequel. Starting tonight, there’s going to be a Star Wars sequel. My son really is a good luck charm. 

Speaking of which, I was reminded of the first real time in my life when the Mets and Star Wars intersected. It was this Halloween when the Mets played a World Series game and my son went as Yoda for Halloween:

  
Today, I thought it would be fun to compare current Mets to Star Wars characters:

Noah Syndergaard – Luke Skywalker

  • Both were raw until there were leaders who showed him how to harness that potential. Both eventually became leaders themselves helping bring everyone to the promised land. Also, let’s face it, both can get a little cocky. 

Matt Harvey – Han Solo

  • Mets fans still question if he’s truly on their side, but when the chips are down he comes through. 

Bartolo Colon – Jabba the Hut

  • Both are large and in charge 

Curtis Granderson – Lando Calrissian

  • I know what you’re thinking.  It’s lazy to compare the Mets lone black player to one of the few black Star Wars characters. However, consider that Lando initially aided the Evil Empire only to later join the good guys and blow up the second Death Star. If that’s not Granderson leaving the Yankees to join the Mets to have an incredible postseason, I don’t know what is. 

Jenrry Mejia – Jar Jar Binks

  • They’re supposed to be on your side, but all they do is just ruin everything. You just want them to go away before they do something else stupid. 

David Wright – C3PO

  • Both have been there through everything. Both seemingly fall apart a little too often. Both have helped in more ways than you can count. 

Terry Collins – Obi Wan Kenobi

  • Both were exiled.  Both were called upon to mentor and protect young prospects. Both found redemption in this role. 

Lucas Duda – Wedge Antilles

  • Both survived battles no one expected them to survive. For Duda, it was first base.  For Wedge, it was blowing up the Death Star. Both have seen their roles and contributions to their causes being overlooked and disregarded even if both were vital to the cause. 

Jacob deGrom – Princess Leia

  • Both are rocking the long locks. Both had their abilities overlooked for another. Both were instrumental in all that was accomplished. I just don’t want to see deGrom in the golden bikini. 

Jeurys Familia – Mace Windu

  • Mace Windu constantly appeared in dangerous situations in order to save everyone, much like Familia did this year. Both were successful against all odds until their last chapter. Also, when you’re played by Samuel L. Jackson, you’re just awesome. Familia is awesome.

Wally Backman – Uncle Owen

  • Both are entrusted with the future, but both ultimately will not be the ones that bring everyone to the next level.

Wilmer Flores – R2D2

  • Overall, there’s no getting rid of either. They’re indestructible. They’re in the center of everything. They’re also fan favorites. 

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Chewbacca
  
As I think of more, I’ll add to the list or amend the existing list. I didn’t add a Yoda because as you see above, you’re not doing better than that Yoda. If you have a suggestion, I’ll be happy to add it to the list giving you full credit.  For example, here’s Jason Fry’s point-of-view:

Yes, this is the same Jason Fry who wrote The Weapon of a Jedi, which is available for sale now. 

By the way, don’t be that guy.  Keep the spoilers to yourself. Don’t ruin the movie for everyone. 

The Santa Curse

I’d like to think of myself as a smart and logical person. However, I’m no different than anyone else. Sometimes however, two separate and distinct events become so intertwined that you begin to believe there’s a cause and effect relationship. 

That’s the Mets Santa Claus Curse. We’re lead to believe that something bad will happen to the Met player who plays Santa at the Holiday Christmas Party. Thanks to Jared Diamond, we have the list:

This year it was Steven Matz. The same Matz who had two injuries last season. He’s had Tommy John surgery already in his young career. It’s like the Mets are tempting fate here. The Mets chances hinge on their young rotation. How could the Mets risk their chances by having Matz play Santa?

Part of me thinks this curse idea is silly. Another part of me is nervous. However, both sides of me agree Steven Matz shouldn’t have been playing Santa Claus. 

The main reason is you could literally get anyone to play Santa. I see it with my son. Santa is a rockstar. A kid doesn’t care if Santa is played by Matz or Eric Campbell. They just care that it’s Santa. However, they missed an opportunity to meet Matz. It’s a shame because Matz has quickly become one of the more popular Mets in a very short time. 

I would’ve liked to see a less popular player or one of the Mets front office staff play Santa. This way a kid could’ve met both Santa and Matz. And, oh yeah, there’s that whole other reason why Matz shouldn’t have been Santa too. 

Hopefully, the Mets will let Matz introduce himself to the kids next year. Hopefully, Matz will be able to introduce himself to the entire National League next year. Hopefully, he will be as dominant as we all believe he can be. 

That would be the best Christmas gift of all.