I will be heading down to Port St. Lucie this afternoon for a few days of Mets spring training action. For anyone that has never done this before, you’re missing out. First off, the 75-80 degree weather sure beats the hell out of what we have been seeing here in NY. Secondly, it’s just a pleasant atmosphere to watch a spring training baseball game.
The results don’t matter, you simply can sit back enjoy the games. There isn’t as much noise or distraction, you can really hear the crack of the bat, infield chatter and words of encouragement coming from the bench. You don’t really deal with the unruly fans yelling obscenities or with the guy who feels the need to start “The Wave” every other inning. Plus, you can watch all the action from a Tiki Bar, it doesn’t get much better than that.
I was disappointed in the news that Noah Syndergarrd will be throwing today, since I will miss that game, but I’m excited to see the other young arms in camp. Hopefully Wilmer Flores will play some shortstop for one of these games, as I’m anxious to see if he’s up for the task. David Wright and Daniel Murphy have begun to play again, which is always a plus to see my two favorite players in action. Ike David and Lucas Duda should both be returning as well, I expect to see maximum effort out of these two as there are only a few short weeks left in this first base competition.
I don’t think I will be really blogging while I am down there, but I will be tweeting during Sunday, Monday and Tuesday’s games. Follow along with me for my game observations and mildly amusing humor @NyBaseballBlog
The Yankees have plenty of outfielders heading into this season, but one thing they don’t have on this roster is backup infielders. Alfonso Soriano, who is penciled in as the team DH, could help fill one of those voids as the backup first baseman.
“We have kicked it around a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Soriano, who came up a second baseman with the Yankees, have been an outfielder for the majority of his career. With the additions of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury this off-season, Soriano was left as the odd man out. However, Soriano still possesses a valuable right-handed bat for this team and Girardi has to find ways to keep him in the lineup.
The Yankees have an aging roster, meaning the DH spot will have to be shifted around throughout the season. While I expect Soriano to see the majority of his time there, he will still see the occasional action in the outfield to give guys a day off. Mark Teixeira will be the everyday first baseman, but will still need to be rested, coming off a season in which he only played 15 games due to injury.
Kelly Johnson was originally thought to the backup corner infielder/bat off the bench, but with the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, he has found himself as the Yankees starting third baseman. This could open up a spot for Alfonso Soriano to slide in and spell Tex sparingly on his off days.
Soriano has been reluctant to the idea of an everyday DH, as he prefers to play both sides of the game. If he really means that, he will have to prove his is capable to Girardi this spring and put the work in to return to his infield roots. Soriano has never been known for his glove, but first base is a position you can give up some defense in order for offensive production. While he would never match the gold glove abilities of Teixeira, it’s an interesting thought in an effort to maximize the versatility of this roster.
Michael Pineda has finally showed the Yankees some signs of the former All-Star they traded for. Pineda, is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation and has been hampered by injuries since coming over from Seattle. He has yet to throw a pitch for the Yankees on the big league level, but that could change quickly if he continues to throw like this.
The most impressive feat of Pineda’s performance was his strikeout of Miguel Cabrera. Widely considered the best hitter in the game today, Cabrera was sent down swinging and looked clueless as to what was coming. Pineda used a mixture of sliders and curveballs to put the Triple Crown winner away, raising eyebrows from the crown along the way.
One of the biggest concerns since his acquisition was his issues returning to his former velocity. But on Friday, his fastball was clocked in the 91-93 mph range and his slider 79-82 mph, a near perfect 10 mph difference that you look for. All signs point to the return to Pineda’s earlier success if he can continue to throw like this. The Yankees just might walk away with a steal of a trade after all, considering what a bust Jesus Montero has become.
The Yankees want Pineda to win this job, as he has the greatest upside among his competition. He is up against David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno…not exactly Cy Young candidates in their own right. If he is able to win the job, this would also help the Yankees bullpen as some of these arms could be shifted over to add depth to the pen.
When asked about his performance Pineda was quoted as saying: “I showed Michael Pineda” Well, who doesn’t love an athlete that talks in the third person? He could prove to be a must hear interview if he keeps that talk up. Anyways, the Yankees and their fans hope he can keep this up the rest of the way.
Terry Collins spoke with Joel Sherman of the NY Post about the possibility of batting the pitcher in the eighth slot this season. This move was made famous by Tony La Russa, who used to bat Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols third and his pitcher eighth. The idea was to assure his best hitter of batting in the first inning and increase RBI opportunities as the game went on. But this never really caught on around the league and is still looked at as an oddity when a manager does attempt this. But Terry Collins believes he has a player in David Wright that may incline him to try the same thing with this Mets lineup.
“I think both [Wright and Granderson are RBI guys,” Collins told Sherman. “My thought is: How do we get them more RBI chances and also give David, in particular, chances to drive in runs. It is a possibility I might try. I don’t know that I will, but I might.”
La Russa said regarding this possibility: “When you have a guy like David Wright, it is worth considering. I liked it. You want to protect your best hitter as best as possible, and this is a way.”
The Mets offense has been anemic for the last few seasons and that’s putting it kindly. David Wright has been one of the few bright spots and is clearly the best all-around hitter on this team. Wright isn’t your traditional cleanup hitter, as he isn’t going to put up 40 homeruns for you. The 3 slot is where his offensive game is best suited, a typical David Wright season should have him hovering around .300 with 25 homeruns and 100 RBI. However, those numbers haven’t been easy to obtain with the talent that has been surrounding him. There has been little, to no, protection hitting behind him and no one getting on base in front of him.
With the signing of Curtis Granderson, that should give Wright some formidable protection that he hasn’t had since the departure of Carlos Beltran. Daniel Murphy, who has consistently put up solid offensive numbers, has been shifted around the lineup his entire career. It appears now he will finally have a full-time home batting second. Giving Wright at least one valuable piece batting in front of him and should help increase Murphy’s production as well.
It does sound somewhat logical, but the negative is that this does shorten your lineup significantly. Now the back-end of your lineup has become much weaker because of this and could adversely end rallies earlier started by the middle of the order. Who knows if Collins will ever end up even trying this out, I guess it wouldn’t bother me to see it attempted, but I don’t really like the idea of seeing Bartolo Colon batting eighth either. Interesting thought, but I do prefer to see a more traditional lineup put out there. Crazy thought, we could just sign or trade for more quality players? But I guess that would be asking too much.
Comedian and late night talk show host Chelsea Handler made headlines by ripping apart Alex Rodriguez on the Howard Stern show yesterday. I’m not really sure how this all came about, but it has caused quite a stir.
Handler, was presumably on the Stern show to promote her new book, her E! television show or something else that I care very little about, but instead AROD became the focal point of conversation. I guess he was used as a punching bag on her show for plenty of easy laughs, just like every other comedian has been doing for the last several years. There isn’t a much easier target than Rodriguez these days, who has provided us all with endless opportunities to put him on the butt end of our jokes.
Apparently AROD took it upon himself to approach Handler in an attempt to smooth things over at a party they both were attending.
In which she allegedly responded with “Get away, you’re disgusting,” Handler said “You’re gross.”
Rodriguez, according to Handler, responded, “Why am I gross? We got off on the wrong foot. I read all of your books. I’m a big fan.”
Handler claims she replied, “I don’t know why you’re a big fan. I think you’re a fucking asshole.“ Handler added that she doesn’t like the way Rodriguez conducts himself, saying he is “a buffoon.” She also said a personal assistant to A-Rod e-mailed her to set up a meeting between the two, and she replied, “Pass.”
I mean, alright, good for her. I guess. But does anyone truly care about this confrontation? She is well-known for her outspoken personality and no holds barred comedy routines, but not very much for her coverage of the sporting world. AROD has been taking blows from seemingly everybody these days, from the commissioner’s office, his fellow players, comedians and just about every other media outlet in this country, I don’t see why this is so special.
If this helps Handler sell more books or increase her ratings, more power to her, but unless you have a whole chapter in your new book about AROD, who cares? Maybe she could give us her fantasy baseball thoughts while she’s at it. As much as I dislike him, these remarks and stories have grown old on me. I’m glad we can both agree on our hatred of Rodriguez, but find something new to talk about. You’re only helping to keep him in the spotlight by mentioning his name on a show as powerful as Howard Sterns, the world’s a better place without AROD in the headlines.
Stephen Strasburg advises Matt Harvey to take it slow. Fair, but I hope he remembers Harvey’s better…
Stephen Strasburg has offered up some advice for the rehabbing Matt Harvey: Take it slow. Strasburg, was in Harvey’s same position just a few years ago. He took the league by storm upon his arrival in 2010, but it was short-lived by season ending surgery that cost him a full year. Strasburg’s situation is eerily similar to Harvey, whose domination was abruptly ended by an elbow injury last season.
Strasburg shared these words from his experiences “It can flip on you,’’ He said of the rehab process. “You’ll feel great one day and the next day it’s terrible. The best advice I got was, ‘Look where you were at the start of the month and then at the end of the month. Don’t look at where you were yesterday.’ ”
Harvey and Strasburg are each represented by super agent Scott Boras, Strasburg offered to help out the fellow Boras client if he needs it “I told Scott, if Matt ever needs anything, call me,’’ Strasburg said. “I’ve been through it. I know by judging how hard he works he should be, hopefully, fine.’’
Unfortunately, Harvey initially opted to rest his elbow in hopes of recovering the natural way. After a few months of deliberating and receiving some further medical opinions, he opted for Tommy John surgery in October. Despite Harvey’s mindset on returning in late 2014, that goal seems unlikely as the Mets will be cautious with their young ace.
In any case, I can’t wait to watch these two go head-to-head next season. I was fortunate enough to be at the game last year when a “Harvey’s better” chant broke out as he out-dueled Strasburg in Citi Field. Don’t remember? Here’s a reminder of how awesome that night was.
Fox Sports made an announcement earlier today that Mets sideline reporter, Kevin Burkhardt, will officially be joining the Fox Sports MLB team. It has been rumored for some time now that this was the likely move for the rising star that is Burkhardt. After joining the Fox football team this fall to high praise, this was the right move for both parties.
Burkhardt will be the host for the Fox, Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 MLB pregame show that will run during the regular season, All-Star game and the World Series. Newly elected Hall of Famer, Frank Thomas, will be joining him in the booth alongside Gabe Kapler and other revolving guests.
2014 marks the end of Burkhardt’s contract with SNY, meaning this will most likely be his final season with the Mets. His role is sure to only grow once he is relieved of his Mets duties. This is bittersweet news, no Mets fan wants to see him go but we are all happy for him and will enjoy seeing one of our own apart of a nationally broadcast team. I expect Burkhardt to become a very focal figure across all Fox Sports activities in the years to come. We can only hope to see him hosting a World Series pregame show from Citi Field in the near future.
To read that I previously wrote about Kevin Burkhardt and what he has meant to Mets fans, click here: http://bigapplebaseballblog.com/2013/12/12/mets-fans-lets-enjoy-kevin-burkhardt-while-we-still-can/
Budweiser, the self-proclaimed King of Beers and official sponsor of MLB, has started a campaign to make Opening Day a National Holiday. Here is part of the rationale Budweiser is using in justifying their efforts.
“MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It’s a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America’s national pastime. It’s a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air… It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday.”
This is such a great idea, and an even better marketing plan on Budweiser’s behalf. The campaign reaches out to the most casual of fan, who might sign this in hopes of simply getting another day off from work. But to us die-hard baseball fans, I would love nothing more than to see Opening Day embraced as an American holiday. Football may have surprised baseball in popularity, but there is something about baseball that will remain ingrained in the American culture forever. This memorable exert from James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams” sums it up nicely:
“…The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again…”
To be clear, this isn’t a gimmick, there is a legitimate petition going around that Budweiser has started. As is typical for any government petition, 100,000 signatures (electronic in this case) are needed to be considered. The deadline they have set is March 26th, do something meaningful with your day and sign here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/declare-major-league-baseball-opening-day-national-holiday/3XNmgfBb
Is this a reality to actually happen? Probably not. But who cares? The thought of this alone has me on board. Here is the tremendous video that Budweiser put together to help promote their campaign with the help of Ozzie Smith. Enjoy!
Well, it’s almost March and it appears the Mets are unsure of who their opening day short stop will be. Ruben Tejada was the “penciled in” candidate for the job, but reports have begun to surface that the Mets are once again disappointed in him, leaving the position in question once again.
Besides just the Tejada reports, we also have news that Wilmer Flores will spend time this spring back at his original position. Then there is Stephen Drew, who is still available and has been mentioned as a Mets target for months. More recently, we have the Seattle Mariners shopping Nick Franklin, who has also become a potential candidate via trade.
Here is a breakdown of the potential candidates:
Ruben Tejada (The Favorite):
The 24-years-old was/is the favorite to win the job. When the Mets allowed Jose Reyes to leave in free agency, it was believed that they had his replacement already in Tejada. Initially it looked like they might have been right. In 2012, he hit .289 with a .333 OBP while playing a solid short stop at just 22-years-old. But things quickly began to change in 2013. Tejada showed up to camp late (Not entirely true, but he wasn’t early) and out of shape. Things got worse from there, he was plagued by injuries and put up a .202 avg/.259 OBP/0 HR/10 RBI in just 57 games.
This is what ultimately led the Mets to send Tejada to their off-season conditioning program, where he has since returned to mixed results. Although the club appears to be unhappy with him, until a viable option is brought in, this is clearly still his job to lose. I’m not sure if he deserves all of these opportunities, but if Tejada does end up losing this position, he has no one to blame but himself.
This could be his last chance to be an everyday player with the Mets, I would live to see him revert back to the promise he showed in 2012, if not, Tejada could be looking at a future as a utility infielder.
Stephen Drew (Free Agent Option):
Then there’s the mystery of Stephen Drew. No one seems to be able to pin point exactly he is asking for. He clearly made a mistake in turning down the $14 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox. Because of that offer, a team would have to sacrifice a draft pick in exchange for signing him. In the Mets case, that would mean a third round pick (First pick is protected and second was given up in exchange for Granderson). There doesn’t exactly sound to be teams bidding on Drew and the Mets are really the only team you hear that has showed continued interest.
I know the majority of fans have been screaming to just sign Drew and get it over with already. I don’t think they are wrong, but I want it to be at our price. Drew is a proven player, at this point in his career, we have a good idea what it is we would be getting out of him. He is a good defensive player with a good bat for the position. The 30-year-old, soon to be 31, produced a season of .253 avg/.333 OBP/13 HR/67 RBI last season. Those are certainly upgrades from the production we have been getting since the Reyes departure, no doubt about it.
The biggest concern I have is Drew’s health. He has only played over 100 games once since 2010 and that was last season at only 124. That would make me weary about any sort of lengthy deal. If drew would sign for a 1-year or 2-year $20 million kind of deal, than I would say go for it. Anything more than 2 and I’m out. I know some people like to hold on to draft picks for dear life, but it is a third round pick and the draft is always a crap shoot after all.
Drew would bring instant credibility to the position, but don’t look at him as the savior. IF the Mets do bring him in, are they serious contenders to win the division? Probably not. But he does solidify this team more than where it stands today.
Wilmer Flores (The Experiment):
Flores is an interesting case, whose name has only come up for this job in the past few weeks. Like Tejada, Flores was sent to the off-season conditioning program. But, unlike Tejada, the Mets seem rather pleased with his results. The claim is that Flores is in the best shape of his life, quicker and more agile than he has ever been before.
The 22-years-old came into the Mets farm system as a short stop, but was later moved due to his inability to play the position. He has spent most his time playing second and third base. His offense is what has made him a touted prospect in the organization. In 107 games at AAA he posted a .321 avg/.357 OBP/ 15 HR/86 RBI, although he didn’t fair quite as well when he was promoted to the majors. In 27 games he hit only .211 with 1 HR and 13 RBI, all while playing third base.
There is no question that Flores is a better offensive option compared to Tejada, the only concern with him is his defense. Can a man who was known to have no real position the last few years suddenly emerge as a real candidate to play SS in the majors? It’s hard for me to imagine him being a serviceable defender to justify giving him the job. He has always looked stiff in the field and doesn’t appear to be athletic enough to handle this role.
But, if he really shows he can hold his own, and at least make the plays he is supposed to, I would like to see him given a real chance. We know at this point he will never play third base for this team, second base is blocked by Daniel Murphy, for now, and first base, who knows? Let’s wait and see how he looks this spring, he certainly would be a nice surprise if he could somehow earn the job.
Nick Franklin (Trade Option):
Franklin’s named has come up with the news that the Mariners are shopping around the 22, soon to be 23-year-old. He was considered one of the Mariner’s top prospect over the last few seasons but has been squeezed out with the emergence of Brad Miller at SS and the signing of Robinson Cano to play second base.
In his rookie campaign, his stat line read .225 avg/.303 OBP/12 HR/45 RBI. While those numbers don’t exactly scream wow, he was just a rookie. Franklin has been known to have some pop in his bat but questions remain as to whether he should be playing short stop or second base. Last year he spent the majority of his time at second, but in the minors he has played 261 games at SS compared to 122 at 2B.
I do like that Franklin is young, leaving it unknown as to what his ceiling could be. Hitting 12 HR and 45 RBI in only 103 games last season is respectable for a middle infielder in his first season. If the Mets think he is capable of playing short stop, then he is worth seriously looking into. But, I wouldn’t trade one of our pitching prospects for him either.
I understand you have to give to get in this game, but the Mets have spent the last few years stacking up their chips and I am not sold that he is worth one of our valuable pieces. Eventually some of our prospects will have to go, it’s a numbers game, but we should be saving our stockpile of arms to make that big splash somewhere down the line. If he is available for the right price, than I believe Sandy will jump on it, he has done quite well for us in his previous trades.
Honestly, the only one that would really shock me to be the opening day SS on this list is Flores. However, anything is possible. If Stephen Drew drops his asking price, I believe the Mets will ultimately sign him. If not, I’m sure Sandy will explore all other options before giving Tejada another opportunity. And if Tejada does end up winning this job, he will be on a very, very short leash.
With the way the off-season started, it appeared Brett Gardner’s future was bleak with the Yankees. Brian Cashman spent like a mad man, with a lot of that money going towards the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran were acquired to play CF and RF respectively, leaving Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro and Gardner vying for that third outfield spot. But with this extension, it seems the Yankees feel Gardner is a valuable piece of their future and seemingly handed him the job. One shocking fact about Brett Gardner, on opening day in 2015, he will be the longest tenured Yankee on the roster.
When reports first came out, many people, myself included, felt Gardner was heavily overpaid. I have always liked Gardner as a player, but never thought of him as worthy of a 4 year $52 million dollar contract. The most recent free agent that I could compare him to was Michael Bourn, who signed a 4 year deal for $48 million just last season. I went back to compare their numbers before receiving their deals:
2013 Brett Gardner (30 years old): .273 avg /.344 OBP/8 HR/52 RBI /24 SB
2012 Michael Bourn (30 years old): .274 avg /.348 OBP/9 HR/57 RBI /42 SB
As you can clearly see, their numbers are eerily similar. What isn’t shown here is their defense, but the two are both above average defenders who play on a similar level. The only difference that really stands out is the stolen base total. Bourn had far more success on the base path and has been a better base stealer throughout his whole career. Gardner may not be quite at his level, but he isn’t too far behind, as he did lead the AL in 2011 with 49 SB. Overall, you can definitely argue that Gardner didn’t deserve a contract greater than Bourn’s and I won’t disagree with you. My point is that their production levels aren’t that far off, making Gardner’s deal on point with market value.
I know the traditional feeling is you don’t pay players whose game revolves around their legs well into their 30′s, so only time will tell how this will play out for the Yankees. Gardner is a gritty type of player, who very rarely walks away from a game with a clean jersey. It’s important to have a few of these guys on your team, the combination of him alongside Jacoby Ellsbury will give the Yankees a very formidable defensive outfield. I don’t think this contract will be an issue for at least the first few seasons, but for a player like Gardner, that is only slow step away from changing.
One last thing, I hope Gardner has put this “glove” or whatever you want to call it, that he used on the bases in 2013 into retirement.
Mets ace Matt Harvey was cleared today by his medical team to begin throwing a baseball. Harvey is only four months removed from Tommy John surgery, but this news marks the first step in his goal of returning to the mound. This is great news for both Harvey and the Mets, now we have to be patient with our 24-year-old.
“Since it is four months out, the process is going to be slow. I have to not push things.” Harvey said, regarding his discussion with his doctor “He just wanted to make sure I knew that and I was clear with that. Obviously we’re not going to push things early. But, for me, being able to wear my glove and pick up a ball again is a good sign.”
Harvey has publicly stated his desire to do his rehab work in NY, most rehabbing players spend their time in Port St. Lucie, but he would like to be closer to his home. This would also allow him to be with the team during home stands, where he could bond with his younger teammates and continue to learn the league from the bench. Everything about that sounds great, but will this ultimately turn into a distraction?
In only a short amount of time, Harvey has taken this city by storm. When he emerged late in the 2012 season, he quickly caught the eye of Mets fans and the rest of baseball. But it was his 2013 campaign really put him on the map as a star in the making. He was featured in a Jimmy Fallon show skit, could be seen on celebrity row for countless Rangers games, did a tabloid grabbing interview for GQ Magazine, dated Super-Model Anne V and oh yeah, was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Harvey became one of the hottest athletes in NYC, everyone wanted a piece of him.
Personally, I don’t care what Harvey does off the field, as long as it doesn’t affect his performance on the mound. I only raise this questions because I know there will be certain media outlets and reporters who will make it their mission to question his work ethic this season. Last season was different, you could find him on the mound every 5th day, no matter what else he did that week. Now, he won’t be throwing off the mound in Citi Field, and many will be ready to jump at the opportunity to question his lifestyle during his rehab process.
Harvey does seem to be very mature for his age, just watch one interview and you will be shocked by his poise at such a young age. But every once in a while he surprises me with his actions, for example his GQ interview last season. Whether he was misquoted or thought he was speaking off the record, you have to be smarter than that. These guys are not your friend, they are using you to make a name for themselves. Or more recently, when WFAN’s Joe Benigo expressed his concerns for Harvey’s off the field headlines on air, Harvey became defensive and attacked these remarks via twitter while on vacation in Thailand. The only reason this story gathered any buzz was because of Harvey’s response. If something like that can trigger him while he is on vacation, imagine what it will be like when he is dealing with these questions in New York.
No one should question Harvey’s desire and determination to get back on the mound to help the Mets win. He has already thrown around the idea of trying to pitch down the stretch this season. Although this doesn’t sound to be a plausible plan, it’s that kind of attitude that has won over the fans. If I’m the Mets, I would be playing up his rehab throughout the season. Maybe have a crew monitoring his workouts and make it a feature on Mets Weekly. When the team is on road trips, I would throw him in the study and let him give insight on the games. Things like this will help keep him both in the spotlight and mentally focused on his return.
“I’d always love to pitch and get back out there, but I don’t make those decisions,” Harvey said regarding a return in 2014. “I can only stay with the doctors and prepare to the best of my ability. If things can work out quicker than normal, then we’ll see. But I can’t make that call. … I haven’t really talked to them in-depth about that. I know they don’t want me to push, and I’m definitely not going to force things to happen earlier. If they happen to come quicker, then that’s where we’re going to go.”
As Jerry Seinfeld recently stated, the Mets finally have a “cool guy”. Harvey has all the intangibles to be a star both on and off the field, he just has to remain committed to what got him there in the first place. I don’t foresee Harvey doing anything personally to make his rehab a distraction, I worry more about his reaction to the media that will be out to get him. If he is able to go about his business and keep reporters out of his mind, Harvey should be just fine.
But please, stop teasing us with these pitching in 2014 remarks. You’re surgery broke our hearts enough, don’t tease us like that.
Derek Jeter announced yesterday, via Facebook, that he will retire after this season. Jeter’s retirement will mark the end of an era, as he is the last man standing from “The Core Four” dynasty. As much as there is a Love/Hate relationship with the Yankees across the country, Jeter has always garnered the utmost respect from all fan bases.
Jeter’s all-time great career has been unlike any other I have ever seen, whenever an anonymous poll would come out listing “the games most overrated players”, you would quite often find Jeter’s name at the top. Say what you will about his talent level, but his statistics speak for themselves. Jeter has a career .312 batting average, 3,316 hits, 348 stolen bases and 256 home runs. Keep in mind those numbers have come entirely while playing shortstop, a historically weak hitting position. Not impressed yet? Okay, well he was also named the 1996 Rookie of the Year, went to 13 All-Star teams (Game MVP in 2000), won 5 gold glove awards, honored as a silver slugger winner 5 times and won 5 World Series titles (Series MVP in 2000). If you ask me, I think those polls spoke more about who the most envied player in the game is.
Notable Yankee Team Records:
- Games Played (2,602)
- Hits (3,316)
- Stolen Bases (348)
Aside from all those accolades, what has really made Jeter an all-time great is his ability to rise to the occasion. His postseason statistics measure up to his career numbers, he has a .308 batting average, 20 home runs, 61 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 158 games. However, it’s difficult to measure Jeter’s postseason success on his numbers alone, there are so many defining moments that have cemented his place in baseball lore for years to come. Whenever there was a key moment in a game, he would somehow find a way to be involved. This isn’t basketball, you can’t always get the ball in your hands, in baseball, you are on the field with 8 other guys and have to wait your turn at bat, but Jeter always found the spotlight.
Notable Postseason Records:
- Games played (158)
- Hits (200)
- Run Scored (111)
- Total Bases (302)
Most players would die to have one historic moment to be remembered by, in Jeter’s case, it’s impossible to single out just one. You have his memorable “home run” caught by Jeffrey Maier, which swung the momentum in the 1996 ALCS. During the 6th inning of game 1 in the 2000 World Series, he gunned down Timo Perez at the plate to preserve a tie game that would ultimately lead to a victory. Who would have thought a relay play would become the defining play of that series? But that wouldn’t be the only one in his career, there was the improbable “Flip play” in game 3 of the 2001 ALDS, a play that jump started the Yankees who were trailing the series 2-0. Maybe the most famous of them all, his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series which earned him the “Mr. November” nickname. The list is seemingly endless, these are just a small glimpse at what Jeter has accomplished on the grandest of stage of them all.
The best part about Derek Jeter is how he has handled himself both on and off the field. You will never read a negative tabloid regarding Jeter, maybe the occasional dating speculation, but he has even kept that under control despite his playboy status. There is no better role model for young players in the game today than Jeter. Everything he has done both on and off the field has reflected positively on the game of baseball.
Some guys would have let all that early success get to their head, but not Jeter, to this day you will still see him running full steam down that first base line, no matter the score. He is a dying breed among athletes, a throwback if you will, but there is a new wave of promising young stars in the game today. Hopefully they rise to the occasion and play the game that way it’s suppose to be played, embracing the Derek Jeter way. I may not have always rooted for him, as I seldom ever have, but I have admired Jeter as much as any other athlete I have ever seen. It has been a joy to watch his career in its entirety, he will be sorely missed.
Last night Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy on Modern Family) visited Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. While he was on the show to discuss his newest movie, the two spent the majority of the time sharing their feelings about being Mets fans. You could tell Stewart would have talked baseball the whole time with Burrell if given the choice, but that’s not exactly his target audience.
The majority of these celebrities aren’t true fans, they usually show up during meaningful games or are there to promote a new project up in the broadcast booth. We are accustomed to seeing these celebrities up on the big screen in attempt to get a “Let’s Go Mets” chant started during key moments of a game. But these two are real passionate fans, Stewart’s love for the Mets has been well-known for years and is a season ticket holder. It’s common for Stewart to talk about the Mets during his show, mostly to do some venting.
Burrell on the other hand, I only became aware of last season when he threw out a first pitch at a game. He became a fan while living in queens in the early 2000′s, just after the successful Piazza years. He stuck with the team and even shares his greatest moment of anguish, when the Mets squandered The Endy Chavez catch made in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS during the interview. Granted, that game has haunted us but you can tell his love for this team is real throughout the interview.
I know it doesn’t help your team win or anything along those lines when you have famous people rooting for your team. It really does mean anything, their cheers won’t make this team win any more than mine will. But we do live in a world where celebrities are revered for every move they make. So for better or worse, celebrity fans do help bring the spotlight onto your team.
You can watch Ty Burrell sit down with Jon Stewart here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-10-2014/ty-burrell
I was deeply saddened by the news of Ralph Kiners passing yesterday. It had me thinking, here I am a 27-year-old Mets fan, yet I was emotionally struck by the death of a man who I had spent little time watching and listening to on TV. That speaks volumes to Kiner’s ability to leave a lasting memory on any Mets fan who was blessed to watch him in the broadcast booth.
Kiner was the last living member of the original Mets broadcasting crew, consisting of Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and himself. The three of them stayed together from the Mets inaugural season in 1962 to the 1978 season. At that point Nelson moved on to other endeavors, Murphy went on to take control of the Mets Radio play-by-play duties and Kiner continued to be a stable on the television broadcast through this past season.
My earliest memories watching the Mets in the early-to-mid 90′s consisted of watching the Mets on channel 9 and Fox Sports, until the arrival of SNY. No matter the channel, Kiner would be calling games with the likes of Tim McCarver, Tom Seaver, Gary Thorne and Fran Healy. I would sit down with my Kahn’s hot dogs (Because they were the team sponsor at the time) sit back and enjoy the games. But the Mets weren’t exactly the greatest team in the world in those years, or for much of this team’s existence for that matter. The stories that Ralph Kiner shared would bring me back the next day as much as my love for the team did.
When you look back on Kiner’s life, it reads something similar to the script of Forest Gump. When you put together all of the historical events he lived through and people he dealt with over the years, it’s simply amazing. We are talking about a man who was a part of “The Greatest Generation”, a group that is quickly disappearing, this generation has lived through some of the most extraordinary years in American history. Kiner spent his childhood through The Great Depression, he grew up going to ball games and watching, yes physically watching, Babe Ruth and talked baseball with Ty Cobb. While in high school, he hit a homerun off of Satchel Paige in a pickup game. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kiner quickly joined the Navy, where he served as a pilot throughout WWII. Upon his return, Kiner went on to become one baseball’s greatest power hitters. He put together a Hall of Fame career, playing in the same era as Ted Williams, Bob Feller and stepped into the batter’s box opposite Warren Spahn. His social group consisted of hanging out with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. He even took Elizabeth Taylor out on a date! I mean, WOW.
Now it has been quite some time since Kiner has been a regular calling games. The last several years he has made appearances, mostly during day games, joining Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling in the booth for a few innings. His speech had been slowed due to a stroke he suffered, but we were all more than willing to be patient with him in anticipation of hearing one more story. The way Gary, Keith and Ron treated him showed you just how much respect this man earned when he walked into a room. The 3 of them would turn their seats and face Ralph, waiting on his every word, you could see the smile on their faces just to be talking baseball with this all-time great. These 3 are arguably the best broadcasting team in the game today and yet if it were up to them, they would sit there and listen to Ralph all day.
Simply put, Ralph Kiner got the most out of his 91 years of life. You will be missed Ralph, I will be forever grateful that I was able to listen to you call a ball game and share some of the most fascinating stories that I will ever hear.