Author Archive

New York Mets All 50th Anniversary Team

In honor of the New York Mets 50th season and the 25th anniversary of the last Mets World Championship team, I bring you the All-50th Anniversary team.

Fifty years have brought many great memories and even more not so great ones for Mets fans like me. There was Ron Swoboda making “the catch” in the 1969 World Series. There was the “black cat” game against the Cubs in ’69. Davey Johnson flying out, touching off the wild celebration after winning the World Series against the Orioles.

There was also beating the powerful Reds in 1973 to win the National League pennant. Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose duking it out at second base.

There was the day Tom Seaver was traded to the Reds in 1977.

Then there was watching a championship team start to take shape in 1984. Watching the rookie phenom Dwight Gooden make NL hitters look silly.

There was the huge disappointment of 1985, losing to St. Louis on the last weekend of the season and missing the playoffs.

Then there was 1986. The 16-inning game against the Astros to clinch the pennant and the miracle rally in Game 6 against the Red Sox. The ball going through Buckner’s legs. The wild celebration at home plate. Another wild celebration two nights later after Jesse Orosco struck out Spike Owen and left Wade Boggs crying in the dugout.

There was Davey Johnson leaving Gooden in one inning too long against the Dodgers in the 1988 NLCS. There was Scioscia’s homer. There was Gibson’s catch.

There was Robin Ventura’s ‘grand slam single” in the 1999 NLCS. There was Pratt’s walk-off HR to beat Arizona in the Division Series. There was the amazing comeback from being down 3-0 to the Braves and nearly forcing a Game 7 after being down 6-0 in Game 6, rallying to take the lead.

There was Beating the hated Cardinals in 2000. There was losing to the hated Yankees in 2000.

There was Mike Piazza hitting a walk off to beat the Braves the game after 9-11.

There was Endy’s catch in Game 7 in 2006. There was Beltran watching strike three with the bases loaded to end Game 7.

These are the greatest players at each position in New York Mets history in this Mets fan’s opinion. Hope you enjoy.

Begin Slideshow

Chicago Cubs Fans: Good News, Help is on the Way

For those of you Cubs fans who don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the Cubs’ farm sysyem, you may want to start. because there is some real talent there.

I take you to Daytona Beach. Right now the Daytona Cubs are 37-12. Yes, that is correct, 37-12. That is an outstanding record in any league. Currently the Cubs have won 10 straight. In many of those game they have come from behind late. Tuesday they trailed 7-4 with two out in the seventh. Three home runs later they won 9-7. Tonight they were down 5-0 in the sixth. They won 9-5.

In Double-A, the Tennessee Smokies are 32-17. Many of the players there now are guys from the last two Daytona teams. The ’09 team won the Florida State League title. They came in a close second in ’10.

Remember these names. You’ll be seeing them at Wrigley in the near future.

Robert Whitenack: This guy throws heat! He was 3-0 in Daytona before being called up to Tennessee, where he is now 4-0.

Rebel Ridling. One of two good-looking power-hitting first basemen. He has 9 HRs for Tennessee so far this year.

Justin Bour. Absolutely crushes the ball. And can hit it the other way with pop. Left-handed bat. He his hitting .332 with 13 HRs at Daytona.

Jae-Hoon Ha: Was hitting .311 at Daytona, called up to Tennessee, where he is hitting .267.

DJ LeMaheiu: second baseman at Tennessee hitting .360

Junior Lake: Infielder with some power. Batting .314 with 10 doubles and six HRs.

Michael Burgess: Not a good average at .202, but a ton of power. If he can cut down on his Ks he has a lot of potential. When he hit’s one it is usually crushed.

The Florida State League is typically not a power hitter’s league. The ballparks are usually large and the humidity in Florida is stifling. So when you see balls flying out of the park like I have this year, you notice. There are some guys hammering balls out of Jackie Robinson Ballpark this year. When Bour, Ridling and Burgess get to Wrigley with the wind blowing out, look out.

The most encouraging is these guys know how to win. When they get to Chicago, they won’t be going there expecting to lose. So get ready Cubs fans. Help is on the way.

Read more MLB news on

Baseball Playoffs: Top 5 Game 6s of All Time

Game 6. It sort of takes a backseat to Game 7.

But it shouldn’t. Game 6 has often been the most memorable in many great playoff series. As Jerry Seinfeld said, “I made wisecracks in a nightclub. HE PLAYED IN GAME 6!!”

With two Game 6s on tap for this weekend, I thought this would be time to revisit the five greatest Game 6s of all time.

Here they are in reverse order.

Begin Slideshow

For Chicago Cubs Fans: There Is Your Proof It Was Not Bartman’s Fault

The score was 3-2 in favor of the Yankees. There were two on and two out for one of the most feared hitters in the game today, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers led the series two games to one, so this was a critical at-bat for the Yankees and their underachieving pitcher A.J. Burnett.

Hamilton hit a pop foul down the left field line—and then it happened.

As Yankee left fielder Brett Gardner closed on the ball, he was quickly running out of room. As he got to the wall and was reaching up to make the catch, a fan reached up to make the catch also and got his hands on the ball. A disgusted Gardner glared into the stands, and Hamilton was given a reprieve.

Sound familiar, Cubs fans?

This was Steve Bartman all over again. It was a similar play that kept an at-bat alive for the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. The Marlins then went on to score eight runs in the eighth inning and forced a Game 7. They eventually won the World Series and kept the Cubs’ title-less streak alive at 95 years and still counting.

Bartman was immediately declared Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago. He was escorted from Wrigley Field before the game ended for his own safety. He was then forced to become a recluse. He still has not been heard from since. The man’s life was forever changed.

But here is the thing: It was not his fault. It never was. And now we have proof. Burnett, undaunted, got Hamilton out. The inning ended, and the Yankees then went on to lose the game anyway. The play had no effect on the game—and in reality, neither did Bartman’s. It was a foul ball in the stands, which every baseball player knows is not fan interference.

If there are any fans that should be postseason-savvy enough to know to let the player make a play in that situation, it would be Yankee fans. After all, no fans have had more practice at the postseason than they have. Yet here they were going after the ball. Why? Because instinct takes over.

Part of being a fan at a baseball game is trying to catch a foul ball. It’s what keeps fans attentive. Without being allowed to keep baseballs, fans might not keep their eyes on the ball at all times, and there would be more fan injuries as a result. We are trained to try to catch foul balls as a youngster. It’s why kids bring their gloves to the game with them.

When Bartman and that Yankee fan reached for the ball, they were doing what any fan would do. You see the ball coming at you, you catch it. No fan should be punished for that.

Early last season on TV I saw a fan at a Tampa Bay Rays game get in Evan Longoria’s way on a similar play. Longoria yelled at him and then glared at him. The poor fan was mortified. If there is any team that cannot afford to alienate fans, it’s the Rays. I hope they apologized to him.

The Cubs need to reach out to Steve Bartman too. He did nothing wrong and has had to pay a steep price. The Cubs owe him an apology. Cubs fans owe him an apology. Baseball owes him an apology.

Read more MLB news on

Tampa Bay Rays Need To Start Using Their Heads If They Want To Win

The Tampa Bay Rays are one of baseball’s most talented teams. They have it all. They have very good defense, very good pitching, pretty good power, and above-average speed. They could very well go all the way. Except for one thing: They sometimes are not very smart.

I watch the Rays three to four times a week. I cannot count how many times I have said during a game, “What was the point of that?” Sometimes it’s Joe Maddon giving a key player the day off while playing the Red Sox or Yankees, with an off day or the Orioles coming up. Really Joe? You couldn’t wait one more day to sit Carl Crawford? Or Carlos Pena?

Sometimes it’s strategy. Like having success with the squeeze bunt in certain situations, and then not using it when that same situation comes up again a week later. Or being 114 games into the season but still not settling on a leadoff hitter or a DH.

But most irritating of all are just the boneheaded plays that seem to go unnoticed. At least the announcers don’t seem to notice. In Wednesday’s game against Detroit, a game that the Rays lost by one run that would have put them back in first place had they won, there were several.

No. 9 hitter Kelly Shoppach drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Leadoff man Dan Johnson had a 2-0 count, then swung at a high fastball and popped it up. Why swing at that? He’s thrown six straight balls. Take a strike. Unless it’s served up on a tee, let that one go.

Then there was a situation with runners on first and second with one out. The Rays had just tied the game and were finally starting to hit Justin Verlander. Jason Bartlett hit a line drive to right that looked like a sure hit. But the right fielder made a great diving catch. Matt Joyce had already rounded third, so he was easily doubled off. There was only one out. Make sure the ball is going to drop before you take off. This is high school stuff.

But THE most galling play of the day came in the ninth. B.J Upton led off with a walk with the Rays down, 3-1. The tying run came to the plate. And this genius steals. What? Why? Your run is MEANINGLESS! If it’s the eighth inning, that’s a good play. In the ninth, it’s stupid. You should be standing on first base. It’s not worth the risk of getting thrown out and losing a precious out and not having the tying run up.

Oh sure, he would say “I’m trying to stay out of the double play.” Then break it up when that situation comes up. That’s not worth the risk. How would he feel if he got thrown out and then the next pitch got blasted into the upper deck?

Later in the inning, he scored on a groundout. He went into the dugout and everybody is giving him a high-five. Really? You congratulate him for being stupid? A play that dumb should get him chewed out just like loafing after a ball did. He should be fined for that, not congratulated.

Someday, one of your players is going to do something like that it in a postseason game. And it will cost you a game and maybe a title. And the poor guy who does it will be this century’s Fred Merkle. Unless Maddon starts doing something about it now, this will happen. It’s baseball karma. You keep tempting it, it has a way of getting you in the end.

Read more MLB news on

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays This Weekend Is Your ALCS Preview

The two best teams in baseball will meet this weekend in the Dome in St Pete. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays will get it on for perhaps the upper hand going down the stretch.

August is upon us.

This is when baseball really gets interesting.

The cream will rise to the top and the pretenders will start to fold. The winner of this series will be cream. The loser will still be cream too. This is the type of series that, if you’re a baseball fan, you have to watch.

The Yanks and Rays both have it all.

They have great pitching. The Yanks can throw C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and when healthy, Andy Pettitte at you. The Rays counter with All-Star starter David Price, recent no-hit hurler Matt Garza, and Jeff Niemann. The bullpens have those lock-down closers with maybe the best ever in the Yanks’ Mariano Rivera and the Rays closer extraordinaire, Rafael Soriano.

Both teams have speed and power in the lineups too. The Rays can hit you with speedsters like B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford or they can go deep on you with Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, or Ben Zobrist. The Yanks have great hitters in veterans Derek Jeter, Mark Texeira, and Alex Rodriguez. And they can play the speed game with Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, and Curtis Granderson.

If you cannot get excited about this series, then you are not a baseball fan. This is going to be great stuff.

The Yanks are coming in hot. They have the best record in baseball at 64-36. That is a .640 win percentage. The only other team in baseball playing at .600? You guessed it. Tampa Bay. They are 62-38, a .620 percentage. 

What you will be watching here is most likely a preview of this year’s ALCS.

The winner will most likely win this year’s World Series.

I know, I know, there is still a lot of baseball to be played still. If I were a betting man, I’d be putting my money on one of these two teams to win it all. This weekend might tell me which one that would be.

Read more MLB news on

Tampa Bays’ Rays Can Start Printing Their Playoff Tickets

Go ahead and make your plans. The Tampa Bay Rays are a playoff lock.

I know there is still three-fourths of the season left. It doesn’t matter. The Rays are going to the post season.

Let’s run some numbers. Tampa Bay has a record of 30-11 at the one quarter mark. That’s a pace to win 120 games. Win 100 games and you are a lock to not only make the postseason, but have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So the Rays can slack off 20 wins from their current pace and still be looking at home field advantage.

That means that the Rays can lose approximately seven more games per 40-game stretch than they did to start the season. That is a record of about 23-17. Who thinks the Rays can’t go 23-17 with this pitching staff, this defense and this offense? Anybody?

23-17 three more times gives the Rays 99 wins going into the season’s final game. 22-18 gives the Rays 96 wins. Anybody remember when the last time a team won 96 and missed the playoffs? I don’t.

21-19 three more times puts the Rays at 93 wins. For them to miss the playoffs, both Detroit and Minnesota would have to go 70-51 the rest of the way. Either that or a sub .500 Boston or Oakland would really have to catch fire. 21-19 is barely playing .500 ball.

Now I know the Rays are not going to win 120 games. They won’t have another 29-11 record across 40 games. But how bad of a slump can we expect them to have? These guys have lost two series thus far. TWO! They have not been swept, not even in a two game series. They are an eye popping 17-4 on the road. They are 6-0 combined at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

So what happens when the bats go cold? Well, it already has. They had a perfect game thrown against them in Oakland on a Sunday. This was after losing a low scoring game the night before. They went to Anaheim from there and were shut out for the first seven innings, and lost in extra for the only three-game losing streak of the year.

They bounced back from there to win the last two games in Los Angeles, then came home to play three games against Seattle. They lost on Friday night 4-3, and trailed 2-0 after seven on Saturday before a two-run rally in the eighth and a walk-off homer from Willy Aybar in the ninth gave them the win. On Sunday, the Rays won another pitcher’s duel against Cliff Lee, 2-1.

Then the Indians came in for two games. On Monday, the game went 11 innings with the Rays pulling it out to win 4-3 on a squeeze bunt. In that game, the Rays went hitless from the second until the seventh. The following day the score was 1-1 going into the sixth before the Rays put four on the board.

So that’s a 10 game stretch with the bats being cold, where they went 6-4. If the Rays play at a 6-4 pace the rest of the year, they will win 102 games.

The Rays play the Astros in a three game series this weekend. If they sweep the lowly ‘Stros, they will be 33-11. That’s .750 ball. In other words, the Rays will have won three out of every four games this year. If that pace dips down the rest of the year and they end up at a two of three pace, that’s a record of 108-54.

Print the playoff tickets.

Read more MLB news on

Whatever Happened To Playing Baseball the Right Way?

When I was growing up, I learned everything I know about baseball from watching TV. My dad was more of a football guy. He still is.

He knows the basics when it comes to baseball, how to throw, catch, camp under a fly ball, etc. But baseball has a lot of little things in it that can really make the difference between winning and losing. Things that are not really obvious, but make a lot of sense once you learn them. When these situations came up, the TV announcers knew them, and would always point them out.

Professional baseball players used to always follow these little guidelines. It was probably taught to them way before reaching the big leagues. If not, surely it was taught then.

Things like not swinging at the first pitch after the batter before you just walked on four pitches

Or how about taking a strike when your team is trailing in the late innings?

There is also advice that you don’t steal when down in the late innings, especially with fewer than two outs, and ESPECIALLY with your big hitters coming up.

Or from the defensive side, when leading by more than one run late in the game, move your outfielders back a few steps to prevent extra base hits.

Then there is when leading by more than one late in the game, on a grounder make sure you get an out, not necessarily the lead runner.

Don’t let a throw from the outfield go all the way to home plate when you have no shot at the runner, allowing other runners to get in scoring position.

These are little things, but in the old days, these were followed or players got fined. Teams would hold “Kangaroo Courts” and put offenders “on trial” for committing these offenses and dish out fines. This was in the day when not every player made millions of dollars, so it didn’t take long before guys figured out that you don’t break these rules.

Nowadays, these rules get broken all the time, even by the best teams and players in the game. You see guys make plays that just make no sense. Announcers will sometimes get on them for it, but now it’s become so commonplace, it even goes unnoticed by them.

For example, Rays-Angels, Monday night, May 10. A game between two of baseball’s best. It’s 4-0 Angels in the eighth inning. Carl Crawford reaches first with nobody out. He takes off from first and the ball is bounced up the middle. A sure base hit turns into a double play because the shortstop is now covering second. He catches the ball, steps on second to get Crawford and throws on to first. So instead of two men on and the tying run coming to the on deck circle, which was Carlos Pena by the way, it is now two outs and Evan Longoria up, with the tying run nowhere near coming up.

Longoria of course, hits a double and later scores the Rays first run. But what might’ve been in that inning had Longoria’s double been with no outs and two runners on. What are the Rays thinking having Crawford steal four runs down in the eight, with no outs and the meat of the order up?

Then in the ninth, more of these little rules get broken. First, and this may be nit picking, but it’s something that used to be taught, when you are not the tying run in the ninth, get on base. You are not up there to hit a home run. Shorten your swing, make contact, get on base, and stay put.

With the score still 4-1 and one out, bases empty, Willie Aybar hits a home run. That’s great. Except it now makes it a 4-2 game, and you still need base runners. What if he had struck out while swinging for the fence? The next batter, Jason Bartlett, reaches on an infield hit. Then Crawford hits the first pitch to right field, where it is caught for the second out. Ben Zobrist then beautifully works a walk to get the tying run to the plate.

Not to be outdone, the Angels for whatever reason, do not have the outfielders backed up to prevent an extra-base hit with Longoria up. He hits one in the left-center field gap for a double which ties the game.

If teams such as the Angels and Rays,who are blessed with loads of talent, would start paying attention to details like these, the sky is the limit. But baseball seems to have a way of punishing these misdeeds. How often do you see a team get a base hit following a guy getting picked off? Or how often do you see a guy walk after someone gets caught stealing second? It seems to happen all the time.

It’s really simple. Don’t do things to get yourself beat. If your team is down in the ninth inning and you are on second base, with first base open, stand on the bag. Your run means nothing. The ONLY way you can hurt your team is to get picked off. Why take a lead?

Don’t swing the bat late in the game early in the count when you are behind. You need baserunners. Hitting a home run does not do you that much good. It doesn’t put the pitcher in the stretch. It doesn’t get a rally started. A walk does.

When you are on defense, with a lead late in the game of two or more runs, get the sure out. If the ball is hit to first base with a runner on first, just step on the bag. That lead run is meaningless. Get the sure out. I saw Carlos Pena commit this sin earlier this week. His throw was wide and instead of getting an out, there were now two men on and nobody out. This is how late inning leads get blown.

Know your situations. If you are on first base late in the game, and your team is down, why steal? This is especially true when you have a lefty at bat. If the first baseman is holding you on, he has a huge hole to hit the ball through. If you steal, that hole is shrunk considerably. Which begs the question, should the defense be holding the runner on?

A lot of times, if you do steal and make it, all you’ve done is taken the bat out of one of your best hitter’s hands. Because the next move is to now walk him since first base is open.

Or here’s another one that nobody seems to follow anymore. NEVER swing at the first pitch when the first two hitters did just that and made outs. Under no circumstances should a pitcher have a three-pitch inning. But now it seems if the scouting report says “get to this guy early in the count”, they all just jump on the first pitch automatically.

Or how about when the pitcher is hitting and he makes the second out, the leadoff hitter used to ALWAYS take a strike, maybe even two to let the pitcher catch his breath after running the bases? The hitter would take his time getting in the box, whatever it took to prolong his at bat. Now that guy is likely to swing at the first pitch if he likes it.

It’s all about common sense. Don’t give the other team extra outs on defense. Don’t take the bat out of your good hitter’s hands on offense. When did these “rules” need writing down? Big League players should know them already.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress