Monthly Archives: March 2012

I Am on Here

In case you’re interested: I’ll be joining the boys over at RtU Sports tonight around 10 p.m., presumably to talk about the Mets and other things. You can listen live here.

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Mostly Mets Podcast, 3/29/12

Last show before Opening Day. We make our final predictions about the NL East, guess the Mets’ leaders in various categories, and briefly discuss the merits of our fantasy baseball league. iTunes link for subscribing can be found here.

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Things to Read

Some links for late Tuesday night:

This happened with some frequency, and often we could use the bat to poke the ball out through the other side of the bush. This time, though, our efforts just pushed the ball deeper into the weave of thorns until finally it became stuck between branches, firmly entrenched. We stood there staring at it until my mom spotted us from inside the house. She stepped out, walked over, and without hesitation jammed her arm deep into the bush, grabbed the ball, pulled it out, handed it to me and walked back inside. Some badass mom stuff, and pretty indicative of my family’s approach to pain. More on that in a bit.

- Ted Berg, “St. Lucie and the sticker bush”
TedQuarters

Lots in there about St. Lucie and pain and Johan Santana and how it all relates together. Also, Johan Santana is exactly as cool as Ted explains in there: Santana is the only person I’ve seen who commands everyone’s attention when he enters a room. Which is a cliche and one that I thought was hyperbole, until I saw it actually happen with Santana in PSL. He walked to his locker one morning, and everyone, every single person in the room, including me, was looking at him, at least out of the corner of their eye. He told some jokes, simulated his pitching motion with a towel as everyone stared, and actually gave a teammate a little speech about confidence that ended with Santana pointing at/poking the teammate in the chest with his (Santana’s) finger. And the little speech wasn’t corny at all. It was well done, not embarrassing for the teammate but definitely gave him something to think about in terms of confidence.

Adam Rubin reports on the Mets’ roster:

Lefty-hitting backup outfielder Mike Baxter, catcher Mike Nickeas and left-hander Daniel Herrera are clear-cut frontrunners for Opening Day roster spots, organization sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

- Adam Rubin, ESPN New York

No real surprises here, right? Nickeas, Baxter, Justin Turner, Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeno make up the bench. Herrera, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell, and . . . someone, Miguel Batista maybe, make up the bullpen. Which is what everyone was guessing before Spring Training started, only with Tim Byrdak in place of Danny Ray Herrera (who, contrary to rumor, does not share a name with the protagonist in any Cormac McCarthy novels, but really probably should).

Extending the thought: Herrera is a 5’6″ long-haired kid from Texas. And he throws screwballs, a fact that pretty much writes itself in terms of unsubtle literary devices. There’s some serious Mets fanfiction dying to be written here:

Herrera threw the pitch, the pitch his father taught him so many years ago in the dry Texas summer, throwing the ball against the wall of his grandfather’s barn over and over, the sun rising over the feeding cattle far out on the range, the father giving advice, the boy listening.

Turn your thumb towards the ground more
Like this?
No. Further. It will seem like your wrist might rip off. It won’t. Your arm will follow your hand.
It’s hard. It feels so different.
Different is hard. But it’s also good. It’s okay to be different.
Okay.
Okay.

Herrera remembered all this as he looked to Thole for the sign. It is now dusk. They decide on a screwball.

And so on.

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Muddled Notes and Thoughts from Port St. Lucie

“You do realize it’s a spring training game, right? Like, it’s a meaningless game. Half the players aren’t really trying. They’re just working on stuff, their pitches, throwing strikes, watching the baseball. That kind of stuff.”

“Yeah. I know. But they’re all meaningless games, when you think about it.”

* * *

Here are the privileges of having a press pass in the Mets’ spring training complex: Continue reading

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Mostly Mets Podcast, 3/22/12

With Ted and Toby, as always. iTunes link for free subscription, if you’re into downloading that way, is here.

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Things to Read

Passing along some links while I work on a Spring Training writeup. First, Bill James:

Which is an unfair thing to say; they have complex political philosophies, both of them, and they have microphones because somebody figured out that you could make a lot of money by combining a sophisticated political philosophy with oral flatulence. But I was reminiscing about the good old days, when men were men and high school girls didn’t have nipple rings, and you knew who the heavyweight boxing champion of the world was — even the high school girls did — because there was only one at a time and he was a big deal.

- Bill James, “Prisoner’s Dilemma”
Grantland

Bill James is kind of a weird guy, right?

Looking for an idea, Mets training staff? Put your players in a freezing chamber:

Players, while standing, rotate every 30 seconds. Bursts of gas blow from the interior sides of the unit to surround the player’s body, starting out at minus-166 degrees and quickly cooling to between minus-256 and minus-274. The machine is capable of dipping to minus-320.

The hyper-cold temperature shocks the body, sending it into “survival mode,” Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson said. The immune system prompts blood to rush away from the extremities to protect the vital organs in the player’s core, where the blood is oxygen- and nutrient-enriched. Once the three minutes in the chamber ends, the body relaxes from the stress and sends the enriched blood to areas it is needed, such as fatigued muscles.

- Paul Coro, “Phoenix Suns Love a Big Chill in Cryosauna”
The Arizona Republic

Cool. The Phoenix Suns’ training staff is supposedly the best in the business, so if they like something, it’s probably worth checking out. Good article, but I have many unanswered questions. What happens if you get stuck in the chamber? Do the players mess around with the cryosauna, flash freezing food and liquids when no one else is around? If you microwaved a Hot Pocket then stuck it in the cryosauna, would the middle of the Hot Pocket still be the surface temperature of the sun even if the outside gets refrozen? I need a follow-up report on this.

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Phone Calling from Spring Training

One correction: I confused Garrett Olson (who is still in big league camp, which is the opposite of what I said) with Jeremy Hefner (who has been optioned to Triple-A). Olson is still in the lefty reliever runnings, as far as I know.

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Things to Read

Still in Florida, but it’s an off-day for everyone today, Mets major leaguers and MiLBers, everyone is off. So here are some links.

What makes Harper far more anticipated than your typical phenom is a sense that he not only recognizes the vastness of his potential but also feels plenty comfortable telling you about it. One minute he informs me that “baseball needs more superstars.” The next, while discussing Albert Pujols signing with the Angels, he offers thoughtlessly, “Albert and I know each other and respect each other.” In a sport in which “paying your dues” is practically in the job description—an institution that once made Michael Jordan ride around in a bus for five months—Harper seems to have emerged fully formed to piss off the baseball establishment.

- Will Leitch, “Is Baseball Ready for Bryce?”
GQ

NSFW language from Bryce in that piece, by the by. The guy’s got a figurative mouth. But oh my, am I now a Bryce Harper fan. Baseball doesn’t have a dominant, showcase figure right now — the way the NBA has Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and football has Tom Brady and his Uggs — and Leitch captures how much fun it’d be if Harper became that guy. I hope Harper is even better and even more of a jerk than we can imagine. I want dozens of surly writers penning columns on how awful Harper is for baseball, how he’s the anti-Jeter, and every other predictable angle. As a Mets fan, I want him to be a great villain for the next dozen seasons, because he might just be the best villain ever. Give me Bryce Harper in all his insolent glory, and give him to me soon.

Hey, has anyone heard about this yet?

The $162 million, which includes the $83 million that the Mets owners had already been ordered to pay the trustee, is to be paid out of money Wilpon and Katz expect to recover as a “net loser” of the Madoff scheme. Recovery chances are good, said David J. Sheehan, counsel to Picard.

- Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson, “Mets’ Owners Pay $162 Million to Settle Madoff Suit”
New York Times

And Mets fans never heard anything bad from the Wilpons ever again, and we all lived happily ever after, the end.

More from Spring Training over the next couple of days.

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Impromptu Notes from Friday

First day in PSL. I promise (read: hope) to put together a cohesive piece at some point, but for now, here’s an assorted list of unorganized and relatively unedited thoughts and observations from Port St. Lucie.

- I watched David Wright play catch this morning, working up to about 60 feet. He spent the afternoon with ice wrapped around his abdom . . . belly. He had an iced belly.

- The Mets’ infielders, pitchers and catchers worked on defending double steals in the morning, over on the Citi-Field-like field. Minor league conscripts served as base runners. Ike Davis’ sole role, the whole time, was to shout “GOING” when the runner on first took off. Backup catcher Mike Nickeas decided to show off and, instead of throwing to second, picked a runner off third base at one point.

- People I saw in golf carts today: Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese with Niese driving. A random 12-year-old, driving a cart solo. A security guard, holding out my windbreaker that I had dropped on the ground. Terry Collins and Jim Leyland standing on the back of a cart, making laps on the warning track of various back fields, chauffeured by two members of the grounds crew. (Thought: IS JIM LEYLAND THE FRIEND WITH THE BEAR?) The same 12-year-old, again, this time with a compatriot — driving on a back field, the original 12-year-old convinced his friend to pick up a stray water bottle, and once the friend was out of the cart, drove away. Friend threw waterbottle at original 12-year-old, missing long, but causing original 12-year-old to throw the golf cart into reverse and attempt to back down friend, making friend for dive for safety.

- I saw Brandon Nimmo triple in one minor league intersquad game, and Jeurys Familia pitch in another simultaneous game. Nimmo is evidently a member of the David Wright “look as silly as possible while running” school of locomotion. His arms flail, but he’s fast. Which is surprising when you think about wind resistance involved in concurrent running and flailing. MiLB players not in the game sit in the metal bleachers surrounding the minor league fields and talk about Call of Duty.

- From the xeroxed game notes I got while typing this: The Mets, as a team, have scored 45 runs in 13 games this spring, or 3.5 runs per game. They’re batting .238/.317/.318 and have hit three home runs. As a team. Three home runs in 13 Spring Training games.

- A .318 slugging percentage

-  The major league game was packed, but mostly with Tigers fans. I saw persons wearing: A #1 Detroit Pistons Chauncey Billups jersey; a tee shirt with a large picture of Eminem wearing a Tigers cap; a sleeveless polyester Tigers shirt warm-up shirt with the collar cut out, like the guy’s neck was too big to fit into the shirt or something, only his neck was normal-sized; a Turk Wendell #99 shirt, that looked as if its owner put the shirt on a decade ago and hasn’t removed it since; and one kid with no shirt. It’s hard to pull over shirtless anywhere but the beach.

- Anthem singer Michael McGoory — and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone do this — warmed up the crowd before singing the National Anthem. “Three things,” he said after the PA told us to rise and remove our hats, which was jarring because I’ve never seen anyone do anything but sing the anthem after being announced. Mr. McGoory had long curly hair, the style favored by aging rockers, and wore an over-sized Hawaiian shirt that was pale red. “First, I want to thank all my fans for coming out here.” *Pause for confused applause* “Second, I want to thank our troops.” *Pause for rowdy applause* Then he sang the National Anthem, which I suppose was the third thing unless I missed the real third thing or Mr. McGoory struggles with numbers. The anthem went normal enough until Mr. McGoory demonstrated his lung capacity for an uncomfortable length of time with the FREEEEEEEE in land of the FREEEEEEEE.

- The PA announcer introduced the Mets with the hip-hop trumpet-heavy WWE hype music, and read their names in a matching fashion. DAN-YEL MURPH-EEEEEEEEEE. By the way, these games are mostly attended by senior citizens.

- The Mets lost the game 9-0. Everyone played terrible; there were no survivors. Johan Santana’s velocity and still-attached limbs were the only positive, but they were the most important positive to take away from today. No more about Santana for now, as that will be the cohesive thoughts for later.

- That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with further disjointed thoughts.

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Programming Note

Hey y’all. I’m in Jensen Beach, Florida, as of a few hours ago. I’ll be checking out the Mets’ spring training activities starting tomorrow through Tuesday. And probably writing about such activities in the form of posts to this blog. I think. That’s how blogging, works, right?

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