Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

The beauty and ugliness of baseball

BaseballThe Opening Night curtain is about to go up on the 2015 Major League Baseball season, and we’ll have six months of pennant races, record chases and amazing achievements to enjoy.

For the first time in a generation, there is more excitement about the New York Mets than the New York Yankees. (For posterity, I will note that the Mets had the best record in the Grapefruit League this year at 19-12… since we are already sensibly forgetting about exhibition game wins and losses.)

And it’s a good thing that the games will be underway soon, because we badly need something to talk about besides the ugly stories that have dominated the baseball discussion for the past week.

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Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Ex-Mets update

Eric Young Jr. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Eric Young Jr. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Former Mets OF Eric Young Jr. will get a chance to compete for a job on the Atlanta Braves this spring. He will be battling Trenton Thunder alumni Zoilo Almonte for the chance to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field.

Young, 29, managed to steal 30 bases for the Mets  last year despite a dreadful .229 batting average and .299 on-base percentage.

I’m not sure that Young will make the team, but if he’s wearing an Atlanta Braves uniform when they play the Mets I bet Young will haunt his old club.

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Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Somerset Patriots, Uncategorized

Autograph of the Week: Lou Montanez

Autograph 2010 Upper Deck Luis Montanez baseball card from my collection
Autographed 2010 Upper Deck Luis Montanez baseball card from my collection

Today I’m sharing what might be the final baseball card I got signed during the 2014 season: Lou Montanez‘s 2010 Upper Deck card.

Montanez and the rest of his Somerset Patriots teammates opened their first-round Atlantic League playoff series against the Lancaster Barnstormers.

Montanez, 32, had a solid season for the Patriots – in 130 games, he hit .289 with an .821 OPS, 17 home runs and 74 RBI.

A one-time top prospect, Montanez was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the third overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft. It would be years before he ever played for them. After leaving the Cubs’ organization as a free agent in 2006, Montanez signed with the Baltimore Orioles. He finally made his major league debut in 2008 as a defensive replacement for Luke Scott in a 3-0 Orioles victory over the Angels.

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Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

A last-minute reprieve

When I tuned in today’s Mets game and saw that they’d managed just one hit off of Matt Garza in the first four innings and the Cubs had a 1-0 lead, I expected to be writing about another loss today.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, seen here taking a lead off third base in Saturday's game, got to be the hero on Father's Day with a walk-off home run (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, seen here taking a lead off third base in Saturday’s game, got to be the hero on Father’s Day with a walk-off home run (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

This Keystone Cops routine in the fifth by the Mets’ infield did little to change that impression.

Zero runs on three hits after eight innings? Well, at least the Mets are a reassuring  constant that you can depend on.

But that script went out the window in the bottom of the ninth inning, thanks to Dale Sveum’s decision to bring Carlos Marmol into the game.

Marlon Byrd homered, and I texted my friend that it would have been nice if he did that back in the sixth inning when he came up with two men on base.

Lucas Duda walked for the 9000th time this year.

John Buck singled, his second hit of the game.

I thought the Mets might have a shot, until I remembered that Omar Quintanilla, Kirk Niewenhuis and the pitcher’s spot were due up next.

When Terry Collins wasted an out by having Quintanilla bunt for Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill, I figured this was probably going to be a “too little, too late” rally.

I underestimated Marmol.

Maybe they can build on this victory and put together a mini winning streak with Dillon Gee on the mound tomorrow in Atlanta – he did win both of the Mets’ previous June victories. Maybe not.

But today’s game was a reminder that anything can happen and sometimes a team that looked horrible for eight innings can pull things together in the ninth.