September 2013

Mike Piazza’s memorable Mets moments

In honor of today’s Mike Piazza Mets Hall of Fame induction, the Mets compiled a list of some of his greatest moments with the team:

May 22, 1998: Acquired from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.

May 23, 1998: Goes 1-for-4 with an RBI double in his Mets debut, at Shea Stadium against the Brewers.

June 1, 1998: Homers for the first time as a Met, against Pittsburgh’s Jason Schmidt.

Sept. 14, 1998: Hits the longest estimated homer in Astrodome history, against Houston’s Jose Lima.

April 28, 1999: Takes Trevor Hoffman deep for his first walk-off homer as a Met.

Oct. 2, 1999: Hits his 40th homer of the season, against Pittsburgh’s Mike Williams.

Oct. 19, 1999: Belts two-run homer in Game 6 of the NLCS against John Smoltz to even the score at 6.

June 14-July 2, 2000: Sets a franchise record with RBIs in 15 straight games, the second-longest streak in MLB history.

June 30, 2000: Hits a three-run homer to cap a 10-run inning in a comeback win against Atlanta.

Sept. 21, 2001: Homers against Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York after 9/11 to uplift the city’s spirits.

May 17, 2002: Belts a grand slam against San Diego’s Jason Boyd to reach 1,000 career RBIs.

May 5, 2004: Hits career homer No. 352 as a catcher, passing Carlton Fisk for the all-time lead at that position.

June 18, 2004: Is joined by the four living Hall of Fame catchers — Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Johnny Bench — for Mike Piazza Night at Shea Stadium.

Sept. 29, 2005: Hits his final homer as a Met, his 220th with the ballclub, in an 11-0 win against Colorado.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Wright dishes on Mets’ offseason plans

In today’s Mets notebook, I talked to David Wright about his thoughts on the upcoming offseason. Here are Wright’s comments in full:

MLB.com: What do you expect out of this offseason?
DW: “We need to improve. Whether that’s through free agency or whether that’s through trades, I don’t think there’s any question that we need to get better. And that’s not just all on free agents and trades. It’s also on the players who are coming back next year to continue to improve, because there’s only so much you can do in those aspects of the game, at least in my opinion. The potential for extended success is to build from within, and we’re on our way to doing that. But I don’t think there’s any question whether it’s trades or free agents, that we have to try to make this team better.”

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MLB.com: What is your ideal offseason plan?
DW: “Whether we get better in pitching aspects, whether we get better in hitting aspects, I don’t care. To me, there’s obviously some holes that we need to fill, and whatever we do to fill those holes, I’m OK with. It’s not like there’s one glaring weakness that we need that trumps another weakness. There’s a couple holes that we need filled, and whichever way we fill them is fine by me. Everybody’s been saying that this is the year with the money coming off the books, with some of the free agents that are out there, with some of the possible trade candidates given some of the younger pitchers and players we’ve developed. It seems like it’s all kind of culminating into this offseason to try to go out there and make this team better.”

MLB.com: Would you be OK with another quiet offseason?
DW: “Whatever way gets us the best the fastest is what I want. And that’s not to say that I want to trade away every single young player that we have for a veteran-type guy, because I want sustained success also. But I think we’ve gotten to the point now where the rebuilding project is coming to an end, and we need to start winning, and taking that next step to becoming that playoff-contending team. The last few years have been tough. This year’s been tough. But I think that we have an opportunity to go out there and really make this team better this offseason with the money that we have and some of the pieces that we have. I’m expecting this team to be much better next year than it is this year.”

MLB.com: So when do your recruiting calls start?
DW: “How do you know they haven’t already started?”

MLB.com: I think that would be tampering.
DW: [Laughing] “Not by me, is it? I don’t know the rules.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

On the Matt Harvey injury era: “I’m certain we’re going to look back on what we did here in 2012, 2013 … and think it was really primitive.”

jamesandrews

Orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, courtesy andrewscenters.com.

Check out this piece from colleague Anthony Castrovince on the present and future of arm injuries, diagnoses and repairs. The title quote to this post is from Dr. Marcus Elliott, a Harvard-trained physician serving in Seattle as the first-ever director of sports science and performance for a Major League team.

Elliott’s take is that while modern science has progressed markedly in the areas of injury diagnosis and repair, teams do not yet understand what pitchers must do with their mechanics to avoid injuries altogether.

“There are reasons guys end up tearing their ulnar collateral ligament or end up with repetitive trauma to a rotator cuff,” Elliott said. “There are mechanical explanations for all these things. And we haven’t spent a whole lot of time trying to understand what those reasons are.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Class A Savannah Sand Gnats are South Atlantic League champions

Congratulations to the Sand Gnats, who rode former top pick Steven Matz’s strong start to a Sally League championship. Here’s the MiLB.com recap. Photo courtesy the Sand Gnats.

sandgnatschampsFollow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets visit Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9

Twelve years minus one day after terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center, the Mets again paid tribute.

firehouse

To learn more about Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, check out this Eyewitness News piece from two years ago.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Gary, Keith and Ron: Not all “sunshine and lollipops”

In case you missed it, check out last week’s feature on Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, and how they’ve become widely recognized as one of the best — if not the best — broadcasting crew in baseball.

In reporting the story, I found the following interview with Sports Illustrated media critic Richard Deitsch particularly enlightening, so I’ve transcribed it in its entirety below. (All photographs are courtesy SNY.)

1 - Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez 2013

MLB.com: How does a team-owned network get away with being so critical?
Richard Deitsch: “Well I think you make a decision, or management makes a decision somewhere along the line, that we’re either going to call games straight and we’re going to be honest with viewers, or we’re going to do nothing more than fill a public relations arm of the team and essentially shield the product on a daily basis. I think viewers are smart enough to know which announcers from team-owned networks are working on behalf of viewers, or which announcers are really working on behalf of the team.

“There are certainly some viewers who really don’t mind if it’s all sort of sunshine and lollipops, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you enjoy a broadcast where everything is sort of given in a positive light, that’s cool. You’re definitely entitled to that. I happen to be someone who prefers a more independent broadcast, and those broadcasters who tell me in as best objective terms as they can what’s going on in the field. You ultimately gain more respect by being a little bit independent, as opposed to always being tied to the team’s storyline.”

4 - Pepsi Porch pic 2

MLB.com: Do you consider Gary, Keith and Ron among those upper-tier broadcast teams?
RD: “For sure. I’m probably biased because I hear Gary, Keith and Ron and Kevin Burkhardt far more than I do the other teams outside of New York. But not only do I think they’re top-tier, I think they’re top three. Not only are they entertaining and smart, but they are honest with the viewer. Everybody has to pull a little bit of punches if they’re working for a team-owned network, but within that paradigm and framework, I think these guys are honest and I think these guys have the viewer in mind. And as a viewer who wants something close to reality and something close to the truth, I really appreciate that.

“If a team isn’t playing well, I think you should say it. If a team is in turmoil behind the scenes, there should be some sort of acknowledgement of that on the network. If Alex Rodriguez gets booed by 50,000 people in the stadium, I want to know that as a viewer. I don’t want this, ‘Oh Alex is getting cheered and booed…” I thought the Yankees broadcasters might as well be putting Ruth and Gehrig jerseys on. I feel like the Mets broadcasters always have me in mind first and foremost, knowing that they’re paid by the Wilpons and that they’re Met employees. But I think they deal for the most part straight with the audience, and I have a lot of respect for that. And I also think that’s how you get to be known as a national broadcast even if you’re local. Very rarely do we see the cheerleaders get the national reputation of being the best in the business. There’s a reason why Vin Scully is thought of as he is, and I think there’s a reason why the Met broadcast is thought of at it is. And I think a lot of that reason is that viewers believe these guys are dealing straight.”

5 - Jerry Seinfeld telecast

MLB.com: Who else is currently in that upper tier of broadcasters?
RD: “I’d have to think about that. Obviously I’d put Scully there. I’d put the Giants broadcasters there. I think [Duane] Kuiper, Jon Miller, [Mike] Krukow, those guys are absolutely top three. I think [Marty] Brennaman and [Jeff] Brantley are generally in the top five. I think the Mets guys are a little more straight than them. That’s not to say Marty and Jeff Brantley are sort of ‘on the take’ there, but it’s a different city, Cincinnati than New York. But I would say the Giants, the Dodgers and the Mets off the top of my head. I think the Tigers broadcasters are really good too for that. I feel like they’re pretty realistic, too. You almost have to sort of eliminate Scully because he’s so legendary and in his own place. But the Met TV broadcast is as good a TV local broadcast in baseball as you will hear. They have absolutely earned that right to be called that.

“I also really respect the fact that SNY’s management has allowed Kevin Burkhardt to have a true roving reporter role. He’s not just sort of there as fluff, basically walking around the stadium doing fluff. He’s a reporter with some interesting insights, and that to me adds to the journalism and editorial product of a broadcast. So even in Burkhardt’s role, SNY I feel like is interested in providing some kind of — I don’t know if you want to call it journalism — but adding some kind of editorial smarts to the product. So I really appreciate how SNY does the Mets games. Listen, nothing is 100-percent objective, and I think there’s no doubt that even the guys in the booth would like to see the Mets do well. I think we all understand that. But for a team-owned network, I think they go about as far to objectivity as they can, and as a viewer, I appreciate that and I respect that.”

3 - Burkhardt high res mic

MLB.com: In what ways is New York City maybe uniquely suited to that type of broadcast?
RD: “Maybe the Yankees can get away with it a little bit with [John] Sterling and [Suzyn] Waldman, just because they’re the Yankees and people are going to listen regardless, but I think if you’re in a hyper media-competitive town with a lot of very bright people and a lot of smart viewers, I think you have to have a broadcast with some elements of truth, as opposed to a smaller town where there’s much more sort of camaraderie to a broadcast. I think people there are more used to having their broadcasters kind of rooting for the home team, as opposed to telling you objectively what’s on the field. Everything gets heightened in New York. Part of that is because there’s so much press around the Mets and Yankees that if you’re a broadcasters and you’re saying one thing and every other media source is saying something different, you’re going to look and get embarrassed quickly.

“The other thing is there are three daily newspapers in New York. All three have media critics. So I think it’s beholden on broadcasters to play it straight that way, because clearly they’ll be called out otherwise. The New York Post, Phil Mushnick, has been calling out the Yankees broadcasters for 20 years. There’s no doubt that he goes over the line a little bit, but the fact is that there’s a watchdog there. So I think New York is one of those places, Boston too, where you do have to have a different kind of broadcast. The broadcast in Milwaukee would never be able to be the same as the broadcast in New York.”

6 - SNY Mets Announcers Shea upper deck

MLB.com: Any surprise at the chemistry that has formed between Gary, Keith and Ron?
RD: “I don’t remember what the vibe was when they were hired. The only thing I can say is that chemistry is very hard to find either on the radio or on TV, and for whatever reason these three guys work. They like each other, they play off each other and it doesn’t always happen. SNY also got lucky. Not only do I think they have three interesting broadcasters, they got incredibly lucky in that they work chemistry-wise. It’s all a roll of the dice, but in this case the roll of the dice worked out.”

MLB.com: Is there anything they don’t do well?
RD: “Um…

I think Keith takes too many vacations to the Hamptons. That’s probably about it.”

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Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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