Category Archives: New York Mets

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Questions, Scott

Scott from the Scooter Chronicles – GIVE THIS MAN A JOB! – wrote several questions:

Since obtaining your current job, have you ever thought of switching careers?

What, and leave show business? Seriously, not really. I learn something new (and sometimes interesting) every day. I work with smart people, and I provide a valuable service, if I do say so.

Besides which, I came to it so late (library school at 37, librarian at 39), I feel behind the curve compared with people who are my contemporaries agewise but have twice as much experience in the field.

Do you think the Obama administration will be able to make changes to the current health care systems? If so, do you think it will truly change for the better?

It’ll be incremental change, and it’ll be marginally for the better. But it won’t be the sweeping changes you righteously ranted about a few months ago. I knew trouble was brewing when single-payer wasn’t even on the table. I blame Sen. Max Baucus for that. Then the single-payer people were at the table but could not speak. Do not underestimate the power of the insurance lobbies.

Who do you think will be in the World Series, and who will win it?

At the beginning of the season, I picked Mets over Red Sox. Still feel the BoSox will be there. I could/should jump on the Dodgers/Cards/Phillies bandwagon, but heck with it, I’ll stick with the Metropolitans.

Oh, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about “high-leverage” situation hitting versus the two-run homer in the fifth inning when you’re already ahead 11-1.
These are the best and worst, through June 13.
Crucial/non-crucial
Giants .299/.254
Phillies .288/.247
Marlins .263/.231

Nationals .236/.284
Mariners .252/.279
Rays .257/.276

When growing up, did you play in any organized baseball leagues?

No. Tried out for Little League once. I was a middling to poor fielder, but what really made me give up was being at bat. This kid threw a 3-2 pitch for a strike and I never even saw it.

Is so, what position(s) did you play? (If you didn’t, what position would you have liked to play?)

I played a lot of unorganized baseball. I tended to play the right side of the infield, though I’m right-handed, because my arm wasn’t great. I could throw relatively accurately from second to first, but not from shortstop or third base. Also played first, since I was a large target. Actually got better getting throws in the dirt, but not throws that were too wide or too high.

I also caught some games. Didn’t much enjoy it, but I could block the ball if I didn’t catch it.

Who was your favorite baseball player while growing up?

Clearly, Willie Mays. He could hit for average and power, he could run and he could field well. That said, I always had an affection for National League outfielders such as Vada Pinson (Reds), Lou Brock (Cards), Billy Williams (Cubs), Hank Aaron (Braves), the Alou Brothers (Giants), Frank Robinson (Reds/Orioles), and Roberto Clemente (Pirates); I had a Clemente card that referred to him as “Bob”, but he was no “Bob”.

Do you have a favorite baseball player now? If so, who and why?

Albert Pujois (Cards). Seems like a decent guy and he’s very good.

Any big travel plans for the summer months?

At this very moment, we were supposed to be in Williamsburg, VA with my parents-in-law, my two brothers-in-law, their wives and collectively, their three daughters. But my wife Carol has so much school work to do in preparation for going away to college for 17 days in a row later this summer that we bailed. During that 17-day run, I’ll be doing the solo parenting thing. Having my wife back will be like a vacation; we did this last summer as well, so I know of what I speak.

There’s talk about going somewhere in August, but so far, I’m not feeling it. I don’t know about your experiences with Nigel, but my experience with Lydia is that vacation away from home is more taxing than just staying in the routine. I AM basing that on our vacation when she was three, and she’s more self-sufficient now.


ROG

The Year in Review: Politics, Sports

2008 was only the second time in ten attempts I’ve voted for a successful Presidential candidate – any guesses to the other time?

I also voted for Obama in the New York state primary. My, that was SO long ago, back in early February. Like many people, I suffered from election fatigue. So silliness such as the Barack the Magic Negro song kerfluffle, played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, doesn’t even register.

But here’s a terrible thought: perhaps the Republicans were (gulp) right in in their winner-take-all primaries. In the same vein, I have also finally figured out what’s so very RIGHT with the Electoral College. People say, correctly, that it’s undemocratic. EXACTLY! It wasn’t designed to be democratic, it was meant to be definitive. Obama won with about a 53-47% vote. BUT he also won with a landslide ELECTORAL vote. The results of the election were not in question. And the system works most of the time. OK, not in 2000. Or 1888. Or 1876. Or 1824. But most of the time.

Imagine a close election, say 1968. Nixon and Humphrey were virtually tied in the popular vote. But Nixon’s Electoral College victory codified the race. Let’s say there were no Electoral College. There would have been canvassing of votes all over the country. Or even 2000, where the canvassing was limited to Florida.

There’s some merit, though, in doing what Maine and Nebraska have done; allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, with two votes going to the winner statewide. This would put more conservative parts of “blue” states and more liberal parts of “red” states in play, and that we in upstate New York would be barraged with the same campaign of ads that the folks in Ohio and Florida get. Wait, I said there was merit to this? Well, for the local media bottom line, for sure.

Caroline Kennedy for Senate? Don’t much care. Whoever is elected would have to run in both 2010 AND 2012. But she’s getting killed in the “vetting” process. There’s also the more parochial issue that upstaters in New York want an upstate Senator, since there hasn’t been one since Charles Goodall finished the term of Bobby Kennedy. An AP story this week suggested that some “caretaker” take the seat now, someone with no desire to run in 2010, like Bill Clinton, or Mario Cuomo, or Eliot Spitzer. OK, not Eliot Spitzer; seeing if you were paying attention. But Governor David Paterson does not want a caretaker candidate; he wants whoever he appoints in 2009 to be on the ballot in 2010, possibly, one could speculate, to enhance his own chances for being elected governor in hios own right.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with the Constitution this year. Do you know which Amendment took 203 years to be passed?

BASEBALL

Congrats to the Phillies and the Devil Rays. What a difference a season, and a name change, makes.

I started reading a Bob Costas book from 2000, which I seemed to have misplaced. Regardless, the points he made helped me realize that interleague play, as it’s currently constructed, is fatally flawed. Where in the NFL, all the teams in a division play common opponents (the NFL East playing the AFC North in 2008, e.g.), Major League Baseball has this romanticized notion of Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, etc. Nice, but When getting into the playoffs is determined by this, it’s not particularly workable. Let’s say the White Sox had a weak team, and the Yankees a strong one. This is advantageous to the Cubs and problematic for the Mets.

Also, how is it that the AL West has only four teams, while the NL Central has six? This is competitively unfair. Short of expanding MLB to 32 (four 4-team divisions in each league a la the NFL) or contracting two teams to 28 (two 7-team divisions, maybe with two wild cards, in each league), I don’t know how to make the system more equitable.

I’m also distressed that the Yankees can afford to get two front-line pitchers in the offseason (LHP CC Sabathia’s seven-year contract; RHP A.J. Burnett’s five-year contract). They are playing by the rules; it’s the rules that have to be fixed, with a greater amount of profit-sharing than the “luxury tax” has created. (Oh, and why isn’t the Mark Teixeira deal showing up on the MLB transaction list?

Will Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) be the end of late-season collapses for the Mets?

FOOTBALL
There’s a bowl game today at noon on ESPN2 that I never even heard of, the International Bowl, played in Toronto, ON CANADA, but I have a rooting interest: the Buffalo Bulks, which had been a terrible team, but won some incredible games down the stretch this season. Not only is it an upstate team, it’s a SUNY school (as is U Albany and SUC New Paltz, my alma maters), the school declined its only other chance to go to a bowl game 50 years ago.

On the pro level – Go, Big Blue! (That’s the defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, to the uninitiated.)

ROG

Brian Wilson's Route 66

Brian Wilson is 66 today.

Here’s a link to the Coverville tribute to Pet Sounds.

A link to a guy who has put a bunch of a cappella takes of the Beach Boys’ versions of the songs from Pet Sounds on YouTube.

My second favorite song from Pet Sounds:

Brian from SMiLE:

Brian from a 1967 performance of a song from what would have been SMiLE:

A Neil Young song that namechecks the Beach Boys and a song from Pet Sounds. The studio version (which I can’t find) is even more evocative.

A John Hiatt song which has what I think are lovely harmonies – inspired by the Beach Boys?

***
And on another matter, the New York Daily News cover from Wednesday, June 18:


ROG

Macca's Route 66

I saw this PETA ad in some magazine recently.

Made me at least think about my carnivore ways.

I love this old piece on Paul McCartney and Jack Kirby.

Paul’s still out there playing. Recently he did a benefit concert in Ukraine. One of the songs he sang in Ukraine, of course, was Back in the USSR. Here’s an interesting cover:

One of my favorite Paul songs with his first group:

Paul turns 66 today. Happy birthday.

I remember seeing her well past her prime, probably on some awards program, and she STILL had great legs.

ROG

Very short takes

Today is the day folks go to the polls in many locations in New York State, everywhere except in the largest cities and vote for the school budget and the school board members. For some reason, the city of Albany only votes for the budget now, and the school board in November. More on that and Rex Smith speaking at the Friends of the Albany Public Library annual meeting this eveninghere.
***
Don’t care about Dancing with the Stars, but I do care about my wife, and SHE cares about DWTS. So I got the phone number from the end of the taped performance and tried to call in a number of times, but kept getting a busy signal. Then I went online to do so, but it required to be registered with ABC.com. Lo and behold, I WAS registered with ABC.com, though I don’t recall why. Five votes for Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas, who got 60 out of 60 points from the judges (the competition got 51 and 52 votes.)
***
I haven’t sent out my mixed CDs yet because I saved them to the drive, then the burner failed to put the data on the disc. I have figured out a workaround, but can’t get to until this weekend; sorry. It is sequenced and I do like it; Gordon will recognize the inspiration immediately. So far got mine from Gordon (like it), Tosy (listened to about half), and Lefty (haven’t played yet). Details to follow.
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Best wishes to Edward Kennedy after his medical episode. I was looking at my Bushisms calendar, where W. referred to him as Theodore, one of the more understandable mistakes in the gaffe-filled daily.
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The Subway series played out this past weekend. For me, the excitement is tempered, maybe because they are, at least so far, two mediocre teams, though the Mets, who swept, less mediocre than the Yankees.
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The only parts of the NBA playoffs I have watched has been when I’ve taped ABC World News and the game has run over. For instance, I saw the last 18 seconds of the Celtics Game-Seven win over Cleveland, which took about 10 minutes, with all the fouls and timeouts.
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Happy birthday, PixieNona!Are you sure it was a cold and not allergies? Your symptoms were very similar to mine last week.
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In answer to a comment to this story DNA cleared them, but they’ll never feel free and some of the comments: “There’s particular disdain for the prosecutors of these crimes because, often, the prosecution withheld evidence that could have exonerated the defendant, esp. in Dallas County, TX. At least some of these people were home and with their families or at work; the assertion that ‘people doing the right thing don’t get mixed up in this stuff’ is simply inaccurate much of the time. There is also mistaken identity by witnesses far more often than most people realize. With all that, there’s no way to blame the juries, who can only weigh the evidence presented.”

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and GayProf

Happy Easter! Appropriately, I’m answering questions from a couple of good eggs.

Scott, who I recently offered a few questions to, has responded in kind.

1. Who do you think will win the NL East this year?

Why, the M-M-M-M-Meh-Meh-Meh-Meh. I’d rather not say; I don’t want to jinx them. They have a new front-line pitcher which should avoid that near-record collapse from last year.

2. Who is your favorite singer?

Gee, that’s hard. I like lots of different singers for a lot of different moods. People such as Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke certainly would be on the list, but so would a lot of rockers. I find it difficult to separate the vocal from the material. Mike Love of the Beach Boys has a bit of a nasally sound to his voice, yet those BB songs on which he sings lead work for me. Other living singers? Cassandra Wilson immediately comes to mind.

3. Who is your favorite comic book hero? (Gay Prof adds: “I hope the answer to question number 3 from Scott is Wonder Woman.”)

Oh, GP, I so do hate disappointing you. Let me explain how I got into comics in college. A new friend of mine collected them. I thought he was crazy, then I started looking at them. The first one I bought was Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1. I thought he was pretty cool. (Later, he decided to change his name to the boring Power Man, and my interest waned.)
Luke Cage appeared in the shadows of Amazing Spider-Man #122 and was on the cover of #123, which got me interested in the webslinger. At about the same time, I was interested in Sub-Mariner #50 (or so) at a point when Bill Everett, the golden age artist who had created Namor, returned to the book. In fact, Sub-Mariner was the first book I sought out back issues of. I got into the Defenders because Namor was in it, then the Avengers because of the Defenders-Avengers war. So I was a Marvel zombie. I’d say my favorites are Spider-Man, Namor and Luke Cage, but I discount anything that might have happened in the last decade or so.
Conversely, I really wasn’t interested in the mainline DC superheroes that eventually bored me in my childhood (Superman, Batman, Flash). By the time I DID look at Wonder Woman, she wasn’t even wearing the star-spangelled garb. These stories were so damn EARNEST – they marketed some of them as “Women’s Lib” issues – their term, not mine. I owned this particular issue, maybe my first, but didn’t stay with it long, I’m afraid, GP.

4. What was your favorite subject in school?

Spelling. Eye wuz allwayz a gud speler. And math. I always liked arithmetic and algebra. I like how if you have a long number and the digit adds up to nine, then it’s divisible by nine. Numbers are magic. I’m more likely to remember someone’s phone number than someone’s name.

5. What was the toughest subject for you in school?

Shop. I had it in seventh and eighth grade – wood, ceramics and something else. The wood items never came out evenly; the ceramic things kept blowing up in the kiln. Strangely, ninth grade metal shop wasn’t so bad, maybe because the tools were more precise so I couldn’t muck things up so much.

GayProf: My question would be what food is your ultimate “comfort food?”

Mac and cheese. My wife makes it, grating the cheese. We’re not talking blue boxes of Kraft here.

Scott, I’ll answer your other question soon; it’s tied into Nik’s, and should best be answered together.

ROG

Another Busy Weekend


Here are my wife and daughter frolicking at a MidSummer’s gathering this past Saturday. On Sunday, it was on to the Hembeck/Moss residence. More on these in the coming days.
***
Hey, Fred: NBC is rerunning that Jerry Lewis episode of Law & Order: SVU tonight at 10 pm EDT.
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I love those synchronistic stories: Fred Glavine used to tell his son Tom how his favorite pitcher, the great Boston/Milwaukee Braves left-handed pitcher Warren Spahn, would have handled a situation. Warren Spahn, who had 363 wins, finished his career with the New York Mets.
Now Tom Glavine, the great left-handed pitcher, long with the Atlanta Braves, won his 300th game Sunday night, playing for the New York Mets.
I also learned that Spahn, Glavine and Early Wynn are the only three pitchers to win 300 games without having a 20-win season.
***
I don’t know if you bugged them about it, as I did, but Dead or Alive HAS added Doug Marlette to its list, only a couple weeks after the fact.
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I’ll probably be mentioning this at least once a month until February: the 7th Annual Underground Railroad Conference, Friday-Sunday, February 22-24, 2008, primarily at the College of St. Rose in Albany. Save the date.
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A couple suggested readings: ADD interviews James Howard Kunstler about the state of the nation, Kunstler’s writing career and other stuff. It’s long, but interesting, and an audio is available as well. A much shorter piece is the Brad Blog piece about the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen requiring paper ballots to be counted, “not invisible electronic bits and bites from computers run by private corporations using secret machines and secret software.”
***
My sister Leslie flew in from San Diego last night; actually she arrived about 12:30 this morning and is still still asleep. I, on the other hand, am (allegedly) awake.
***
Finally, a quiz I found on the site of Kelly Brown. FWIW, I think it’s incredibly accurate.

You Should Rule Saturn

Saturn is a mysterious planet that can rarely be seen with the naked eye.

You are perfect to rule Saturn because like its rings, you don’t always follow the rules of nature.
And like Saturn, to really be able to understand you, someone delve beyond your appearance.

You are not an easy person to befriend. However, once you enter a friendship, you’ll be a friend for life.
You think slowly but deeply. You only gain great understanding after a situation has past.


ROG

Let's Get National

I was watching the New York Mets play the Washington Nationals in DC on the 4th of July on one of the ESPN channels. Ostensibly, I was rooting for the Metropolitans, the New York team and all. Yet I developed a certain affection for the team from our nation’s capital because of its long history of adversity.

The city of Washington had a team, first named the Nationals, then the Senators, since the creation of the American League in 1901. The team won a World Series in 1924, and the league pennant in 1925 and 1933, but soon was dubbed as a loser: “First in war, first in peace, last in the American League.” The team in the musical “Damn Yankees” that was dealing with the devil in order to try to overtake the title team was the Washington Senators.

Then in 1961, the American League expanded from 8 to 10 teams, in Minnesota and Southern California, but of the two, only Los Angeles got a new team; the Twin Cities got the old Senators and were re-dubbed the Minnesota Twins. And wouldn’t you know it, this team, now in the Midwest, actually became competitive, winning the American League crown in 1965. Meanwhile, the expansion Senators were pretty bad, drew poorly, and moved to Arlington, TX to become the Texas Rangers in 1972, leaving DC with no team at all for over three decades.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos were formed in 1969. The team never won a pennant, but they looked to have a lock on the National League crown in 1994 when the baseball strike eliminated the remainder of the season. I went to one home Expos game back in 1992, and I found the stadium forbidding and cold.

Later, the Expos, along with the Twins, were slated for elimination. This does not happen, but the Expos ended up under the operational control of Major League Baseball, which created an awkward situation in that MLB, which regulates the other teams, also OWNS a team. Worse, because they were drawing so poorly in Montreal, they played nearly a third of their “home games” in San Juan, PR for the last couple seasons, which was very difficult for the players.
(Imagine that you have a 6-month job and could be home half the time. That’s much easier than being on the road two-thirds of the time.)
The attendance of 748,550 in 2004 was over 500,000 less than the next lowest team, Tampa Bay.

Then, the team was scheduled to move to DC, but a last-minute move by some members of the Washington city council over funding for a stadium nearly upended the deal.

So, these Washington Nats, 50-32, even after their 5-2 loss to the Mets on Independence Day, lead their division by about 5 games, after being a losing team (67-95) as the Expos last year.

One important factor in the Washington team’s success is manager Frank Robinson. He was a big star for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he was Rookie of the Year in 1956 and Most Valuable Player in 1961. The Reds thought Robinson was worn out and traded him to the Baltimore Orioles after the 1965 season; apparently he wasn’t, for he won MVP honors for the season AND for the World Series in 1966. He is one of a handful of players to win the season MVP award in both leagues. Most people don’t realize that he is one of the top half dozen home run hitters of all time, at 586, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays. (Sammy Sosa may overtake him, as he’s at 583 as of July 4. Many folks thought that Mark McGuire would overtake Aaron, but actually he came up three shy of Frank Robinson’s total, also at 583.)

Robinson became the first black manager in Major League history in 1975 with the Cleveland Indians. (The Indians had the first black ballplayer in the American League, Larry Doby, in 1947, a few weeks after the Dodgers played another Robinson, Jackie, in the National League.) He also managed the Giants and the Orioles before eventually working in the Baseball Commissioner’s office. When MLB took over the Expos for the 2002 season, it asked Frank to manage the team.

So, if the Mets are unable to make up that 9-game deficit and pass every other team in their division, I’ll be rooting for the Washington Nationals, even though I barely know the players, and most of those I know from other teams they played for other than the Expos: Livan Hernandez, Carlos Baerga, Wil Cordero, Junior Spivey, Cristian Guzman and Vinny Castilla. Better them than the tomahawk-choppin’, division-always-winnin’, “America’s-Team”-self-proclaimin’, Turner cable-advantaged Atlanta Braves.