Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, April 17, 2004
 
I guess a .500 team is up and down, but this is nuts... Tom Glavine threw 78 pitches in 7 innings, giving up no runs, and was taken out of the game. He apparently had shoulder stiffness and it was apparently Peterson's decision and not Art's, but either way, that's not the point. He said he could gut it out and it seems like a very big precaution and I would have sent him out there with someone warming up. But all the blame doesn't go on our coaches. 7 runs! This bullpen really does stink... And Mike Stanton after Moreno! We talk about Roberts not coming into games, this guy should just be cut...

But the bright side is Glavine... 78 pitches! 1 hit ball! In Shea! It was the Pirates, but positives are positives. And Eric Valent hit a homerun, proving he can either get out or hit homeruns at the major league level. Yay.

I wasn't home last night for that debacle (thank god) or the Yankees game, but catching part of the highlights, I saw A-Rod's absurd attempt to steal third down three with runners on first and second with Sheff up. He is 79% on stolen base attempts, but it was a terrible move at that point. But here is what Harold Reynolds said (or something to the effect)...

"I like the aggressiveness and trying to make something happen. The offense is struggling. The right idea, it just didn't work."

He does realize that the risk is higher than the reward. What do you want? 1st and 2nd with 1 out or 1st with 2 outs. The former. Now 1st and 3rd are better, but I would tend to believe less attempts to steal third are successful than second... and anyway, A-Rod should score on most singles hit to the outfield... and I don't think they are playing for the sac fly... right?

Finally, slipping under the radar, Chad Harville traded to the Astros for Kirk Saarloos. Harville was going to be DFAed by the A's, so Houston must have been really desperate to get him to give up Saarloos. Harville, a hard thrower, looks like he has a future in middle relief while Saarloos, whose HR and BB rates in the minors are amazing, is a control artist whose upside is Greg Maddux, but will probably be a solid 2 or 3 starter. He has struggled at the major league level, but I don't think he was ready. He'll be in AAA in Oakland and I expect him to take one of the places of the big three when they leave (I've always thought Justin D was a fringe starter/long man).

Trachsel vs. Oliver Perez today. Should be fun...

Thursday, April 15, 2004
 
Forgot something about yesterday... before I go away for the night (not catching the games tonight or tomorrow night)...

Lineup Construction. Valent 2nd? Spencer 3rd? Phillips 6th? Cameron 5th? If its me, I go Matsui/Phillips/Piazza/Cameron/stack the crap... but if Howe is uncomfortable with good OBP and no speed at the top, switch Cameron and Phillips. Either way, your four best hitters are at the top... not a good hitter, two pieces of crap and then 3 good hitters. Most AB's to best players!

And by the way, you realize all Eric Valent has done at the plate in his major league career with the Mets was hit a slow hanging curveball. That is all.

 
Last night sucked (Good analysis, huh?). I'm still trying to figure out why Jae Seo threw three innings and whether or not he'll still start on Sunday and spending more time trying to figure out why Art Howe used 4 relievers last night... and we wonder why the pen is overworked (I would have given the ball to Grant Roberts, let him pitch 5 innings and see what happens)...

Other than that, I don't have much for today or tomorrow. I'm really busy and my computer is running slower than Jason Phillips at this point... so see ya Saturday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
 
Just a few things to talk about...

Alex Belth, who has done more than a few fine interviews himself, mentions my interview with Jeff Pearlman and comes up with this question after quoting Pearlman's response on the '86 Mets place in history as one of the best teams ever...

Were the 1986 Mets better than the 1998 Yankees?

It's a very interesting question. For me, I don't have an answer. I wasn't alive in '86, so I can't speak much for the Mets. As for the '98 Yankees though... that is the best team I've ever seen in my short time watching baseball. From what I know, I would pick the '98 Yankees...

Tyler Yates makes his Shea Stadium debut tonight (you know, if it stops raining by next Tuesday...) against the Braves. He'll be facing John Thomson, a guy who I've always liked (resisting tangent into the Steve Trachsel extension... don't ask, it makes sense in my mind). I think it should go well for us.

Going on a tangent... is there optimism in the air or is it just me? Look at that last sentence in the last paragraph... I'm optimistic about this team... I don't think they'll make the playoffs, but they have me believing they can be damn close if a few things break right. Key guys are injured and they are staying afloat... maybe I'm just a little too happy a little too early in the season...

I'll watch most of the game tonight (I won't be home for the first hour or so), which I haven't been doing a lot lately (listening on the radio and hanging out at the game chatter... I don't like watching games by myself and hate watching them with my parents more (when my brother gets home from school I'll be OK)... I don't watch there, but I do get a few laughs with some very smart fans). I'll have some little report tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
 
Jeff Pearlman interview at MOFO Sports- Some similar stuff to mine, but they get a little more into the book. It's worth a look.

 
Posting, for me at least, is going to be a bi... hard thing for the rest of the week. I'll probably make it here everyday, but with how much... I don't know. For today, not much...

Norm's analysis hits the Mets perfectly right now

Analysis
Mets starting pitching continues to sparkle, only giving up 1 ER in the previous 24 innings pitched.
The offense, even the depleted offense that took the field today, continues to hit and hit often.
The bullpen blows.


Word.

The bullpen doesn't completely blow, thanks to the efforts of Looper and Moreno, but its been real bad. The offense just seems to hit no matter what permutation you throw out there and the pitchers are red hot. Optimism in the middle of April is fun (plus sticking it in my friend's faces who are all basically Yankees fans. Childish? Yes... but they always start it).

Studes discusses Jae Seo over at THT. Interesting article and well worth a look.

Finally, if you didn't catch it, here is my interview with Jeff Pearlman. I'd just like to thank him for doing it and for being so nice and cool during the process. He really is an awesome guy.

Monday, April 12, 2004
 
Jeff Pearlman Interview

I recently had the chance to interview Jeff Pearlman, a columnist for Newsday and author of a new book on the '86 Mets, The Bad Guys Won, due out later this month. Enjoy.

Jeremy Heit: At what age did you first become a Mets fan?

Jeff Pearlman: To say I was/am a Mets fan would be misleading. First and foremost, I was a baseball fan. In fact, as a youngster the team I really rooted for was the Seattle Mariners. They were so terrible, so I felt bad for them and kinda pulled for guys like Julio Cruz, Richie Zisk and Floyd Bannister. But in the mid-80s, when the Mets started making noise, I used to walk up the street to the house of my neighbor, Dennis Gargano. His dad, Vinny, was a great guy, and a HUGE Mets fan. So he really got me into the excitement of the Mets, and a lot of '86 games were taken in in front of his television.

JH: Who was your favorite Met growing up. How about on the team now? And your favorite baseball player of all time? Why?

JP: As a kid, my favorite Met was Rafael Santana. I loved his arching throws from shortstop, and I thought he had a cool name. I knew he wasn't much of a hitter, but he had style. Now, from covering baseball, I'd say my two favorites are Joe McEwing and Todd Zeile. Both very nice guys; very decent human beings. My favorite all-time player is, hands-down, Ken Griffey, Sr. When I was a little kid, I had a baseball card of him with the Reds, and he wore his hat really cool. Back in that age, I think that's how a lot of us picked our favorites. It's why I also dug Garry Templeton and J.R. Richard. They just looked cool. And then, earning honorable mention, is Dave Fleming, the former Seattle lefty who grew up the street from me in Mahopac, N.Y. To me, he's the pride of my hometown.

JH: How did you get the idea for your new book?

JP: I wanted to write a book, and probably a sports book. I knew nostalgia was big, and that people-like myself-always long for yesteryear. So you start running through your head: Who'd be good to write about? Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente-all done countless times. Roy Campanella, Elston Howard-probably not enough interest. Then someone suggested the '86 Mets, and it was an automatic buzz. Great team, beloved by many (including me), wacky cast of characters. Perfect.

JH: Is the 1986 Met team your favorite Mets team ever?

JP: Without question. It's a combination of the personalities with the pizzazz with the attitude with the success.

JH: Which player's character surprised you the least? The most?

JP: Well, I wasn't surprised much by Darryl Strawberry. I'd been told on countless occasions that he was an unpleasant fellow in '86, and it was 100% true. Just not a nice guy back in the day. Full of himself; held nothing back, when it came to dogging teammates. Just your classic arrogant ballplayer. The guy who definitely surprised me was Kevin Mitchell. Back then, and I think this had as much to do with race as anything, he was always grouped with Strawberry and Gooden as problem guys. And while Mitchell had his issues, he was absolutely beloved in that clubhouse. He was the team barber. Players made fun of him mercilessly, and he took it. They burned his hat and cut up his clothes. But he had a teddy bear way about him.

JH: The '86 team has been called one of the top 10 teams of all time by some... Do you agree? If not, in what range would you put them?

JP: I agree. I've been saying for several years now that the '86 Mets were a much more complete team that the current Yankee dynasty. Their starting pitching was so deep, and they were very well balanced all the way around. I think they'd really give a lot of teams trouble at the top of the lineup. With the exception of the Marlins, who today has three guys like Dykstra, Backman and Mookie-guys who can get on and really mess with a pitcher's head.

What hurts the Mets, dynasty-wise, is that they only really lasted one year. So it's a poor comparison to, say, the Big Red Machine or the A's of the 70s. But for one season, one game, you've gotta like that '86 team.

JH: Who was your favorite player to do research on?

JP: I found Gary Carter fascinating, because he was really a loved/hated guy. To many, he was this hard-nosed, all-out, love-the-game-to-death sort of hero. And to many others, he was a corporate phony, more interested in that next advertisement than winning games. In the book, Hernandez sort of rips him as a me-first player, and I think that's justified.

JH: Which player ended up being the least interesting to research?

JP: Tim Corcoran. Although his Met legend grows with each passing day, his seven at-bats that season just didn't add much to the book.

JH: Which part of the outtakes did you have the hardest time taking out?

JP: Truthfully, all of them. Getting edited was, by far, the most difficult part of the entire process. You hand in 130,000+ words, thinking each one of a nugget of gold, and the first thing you hear is, 'We've gotta cut 30,000.' Uhg. But I think, in the end, the editors were mostly right. The book lost a lot of excess fat.

JH: You covered baseball at Sports Illustrated for 6 years... who was the best player/manager to interview? Who was the worst? Why?

JP: Well, my all-time favorite was probably Torii Hunter. Just a sweet guy with a nice disposition. I also really liked Gerald Williams, Mike Sweeney, Lenny Harris, Jim Edmonds, Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green, Brian Lesher, McEwing, and J.D. Drew. I'm basing this more on decency than anything else. One of the things that really dried me up on baseball was the lack of decency. I got tired of interviewing men who could care less, so when people actually stopped and gave their attention, I took notice.

JH: What was the most interesting story you did while at SI? Which was the least interesting?

JP: Most interesting was a profile I did several years ago on a boxer named Billy Collins. He was this up-and-coming kid from Nashville, and his career was ruined when he fought a man who (illegally) removed the padding from his gloves, pre-fight. Devastated, Collins died in a drunk-driving accident a few years later. Just very sad. Least interesting? There were a few Royals-Tigers games that I probably could've done without.

JH: You were in the middle of the John Rocker story... how was it to be in the middle of what became a massive media story?

JP: Sucky-good. Sucky at the time, because I've always tried to uphold a certain journalistic integrity. I've never, ever been a fan of journalists who enter this profession to become celebrities. So when all of a sudden I'm on, say, SportsCenter, it makes me look like one of those dweebs. In hindsight, however, it was a really surreal time of my life. I had just started dating my wife, and she was just so intrigued by the whole spectacle. My brother, who has devoted much of his life to making fun of me, had a field day. My parents thought it was the coolest thing ever. Just ... weird. Just last night someone asked me about it, which happens every two weeks or so. So it hasn't entirely gone away.

JH: You left SI for Newsday, where you don't write about baseball... Do you miss writing about baseball at all?

JP: I missed Spring Training, because I love the renewal of it all. I was lucky that SI sent me for a week to do some freelance work, and that was great. But do I miss being blown off by Tim Worrell so he can pick the lint out of his bellybutton? Not especially.

JH: Why did you become so disenchanted with the game?

JP: So many reasons. Money. Steroids. Big heads. Buster Olney, the awesome ESPN The Magazine writer, told me something very wise while he was covering the Yankees a few years back. It was along the lines of, "There is no unhealthier human relationship than baseball writer-player. We hang on their every word, on their every movement. And they don't even know our names." It was very true. I don't care if Luis Castillo remembers who I am. But I got tired of the ritual: Ask player for interview. He tells me, "Gimme 45 minutes." I stand around for 45 minutes, watching as he reads the latest issues of JUGS, peels an orange, talks on his cell phone, picks his nose. Then, after 45 minutes, he says, "Well, how much time do you need?"
"Oh, 20 minutes."
"TWENTY MINUTES!!?"
The whole thing is why the '86 Mets were such a perfect topic. They were a different era, when players were accessible; when steroids didn't exist in the game; when the salaries weren't quite as outrageous; when you could go out and actually see these guys eating a hamburger-and talk to them like human beings.

JH: You mentioned steriods as something that turned you off to the game... What percent of players do you truly believe are on steriods?

JP: I'd say 50% of offensive players, 20% of pitchers. But that's just a guess.

JH: Do you agree with Dusty Baker's take that the steriod contreversy is starting to become McCarthyism with the focus on guys like Giambi and Bonds?

JP: Not at all. I love Dusty Baker, but on this issue he's something of a fraud. Baker is no dummy. In fact, he's very intelligent. He knows what's going on in the game, and he's a powerful enough figure to actually make an impact. Surely, he looks at some of his players and smells BS. But instead of taking a stand; of saying, "This is a terrible problem, and I'm sick and tired of players disrespecting the game by cheating," he blames the messengers.

JH: What is your take on the 2004 Mets? How good will they be?

JP: Best possible scenario: 75 wins.

JH: As a former writer, what do you think of the baseball blogging trend? How many do you read and how often do you read them?

JP: Well, when I was covering baseball I'd scan a lot of blogs. It's a good way to read the thoughts of fans, see what they're thinking and what they're hoping for. It was also a good source of story ideas. Now, with the book coming out, I've reintroduced myself to blogs as a way to reach potential readers. So I've been reading every Met blog I can find. And there are a lot.

JH: Do you think blogging has any future other than for a hobby for fans?

JP: To me, this sentence makes blogging as a hobby seem somewhat weak. To me, the future is as a hobby, and that's great. Underground media is what the internet is about, and blogs are a very powerful messenger. I know, for a fact, that many GMs check the blogs out, and I'm sure some managers and players do, too. So don't sell it short. It's a mighty sword.

JH: Many bloggers follow sabermetrics... what is your take on the "sabermetric revolution"? How much do you follow it?

JP: It's my least favorite part of baseball. At SI, I always tried to stay away from stuff like sabermetrics. I'm a traditionalist-give me juicy profiles, fun stories, a fast leadoff guy and pop in the middle of the order. That's enough for me.

JH: Finally, I can't let you get away without asking... what is your World Series prediction?

JP: Astros over Twins, 4 games to 2. But don't quote me on it...

Sunday, April 11, 2004
 
Today was a day of highs and lows. Let's look at the positives and negatives...

Positives
-The Mets won 4-1. That's always a positive. Back to .500
-Glavine pitched 7 very good innings. Very good for Glavine, though Shea will be the true test of just how good he'll be this year. That's 3 straight good starts. And our bullpen didn't blow it!
-Eric Valent went deep. Hell, Valent got a hit.

Negatives
-Yeah, the offense wasn't great and Art Howe still doesn't know what he's doing, but the only negative is injuries. And that outweights the positives. Cliff looks like he's going on the DL (hello Raul Gonzalez) and Karim Garcia's finger is now fractured. He pinch ran today, but that doesn't mean much. It looks like a Spencer-Cameron-Valent OF tomorrow.

But for now, we'll focus on the positives. The Mets are back to .500 with good starting pitching this weekend. Home opener tomorrow, hopefully Trachsel will be a little better than his first start.

 
Our outfield is now Spencer-Cameron-Valent. Yes, Cliff Floyd pulled up lame running out a groundball and is probably going on the DL. Say hello to Raul Gonzalez. Karim is also DTD after hurting his ring finger last night. Great. And who the hell knows when Reyes will be back...

And yes, I've stopped watching. I still got the radio on, I'm hanging out at the game chatter and I'll be watching the Masters a little... this is just too much for me at the moment.

UPDATE: WFAN is reporting that Karim Garcia's finger is fractured and he will be re-evaluated tomorrow. So now the Mets might possibly need two OFs from the organization... things just keep getting better. Oh yeah, Valent just went deep for a 2 run HR. I take back all the bad things I've said about him...

 
To be honest, there's not much to talk about from yesterday. I listened on the radio and participated in the Game Chatter. Basically, The offense didn't hit and Jae Seo gave up the only run. That's sorta sad because he pitched fairly well, even if his velocity was down. The Mets have to win games where they give up 1 run.

The other interesting note is that while flipping around MLB Extra Innings last night, you want to know who I found starting for the D'Backs? Steve Sparks... why did they let go of John Patterson?

In somewhat related Mets news (at least to me), the D-Rays gave Bubba Trammell a minor league deal. You are telling me the Mets couldn't do this? Have you seen Eric Valent? I don't care if he's the only lefty, Bubba could hit better than him with one hand behind his back...

In blogging news, what do you know... a new Mets blog! Welcome Max from Mets Forever and tell him I sent ya...

Today's game is Tom Glavine vs. Livan Hernandez. The big story of course is Piazza playing his first game at first. I should (nothing is ever definite) be watching, so I'll have a report after the game...


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