Mr. Met gave me a Minaya fortune cookie the other day. He told me that following the Angels ouster from the ALCS, Omar didn’t waste any time in contacting the New York Mets’ future catcher. Then he instructed me to crack open the cookie to find out who that’s going to be.
And The Catcher Is….
The Metropolitans have the makings of a future all-star infield. It’s all but official that Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya will give hot prospect Mike Jacobs a real look as the starting first baseman next season. If they forge ahead with their plan to go hard after former american league all-star catcher, Benji Molina of the Anaheim Angels then they would have only one piece left, to complete the makings of a young and formidable infield.
After a season covering second base with a potpourri of career backups and failed Japanese import, Kaz Matsui- the Mets should have no second thoughts about securing the services of Atlanta Brave free agent shortstop, Rafael Furcal. Furcal has made it known that he would accept a switch to second base if the Mets were to sign him over the winter. Jose Reyes and Rafael Furcal at the top of the batting order would give the Mets the most dynamic duo of table setters since Vince Coleman and Willie Mcgee sat a top Whitey Herzog’s "running" Red Birds in the mid and late eighties. Together this past season, Reyes and Furcal swiped 106 bases in 131 attempts (81%).
Theo Epstein has very quietly created an interesting two-sided monster in the Bosox bullpen. Some time in the not so distant past, the spirit of Dan Quisenberry entered Epstein’s soul. Here’s what happened— lefty-sidearmer, Mike Myers was acquired from Seattle in the summer of 2004 for basically nothing (cash considerations). And then in a last minute change of heart Epstein traded a couple of prospects to get Myers back in March 2005 after he let the Cardinals sign him away in the offseason. This is where I believe the spirit of Quiz entered into Mr. Epstein and he hatched the idea of the two-sided monster. Shortly after the Myers trade, Epstein began talking with Billy Beane about the availability of righty-sidearmer, Chad Bradford. Then in July, just before the deadline, an unhappy Jay Payton helped Epstein revive talks with the A’s. On July 13th, Payton was shipped to Oakland for Bradford and Boston had the right-left submarine combo for the bullpen that Epstein had envisioned.
It was very evident in last night’s Yankee-Red Sox game that Myers and Bradford can be an effective late-inning change-up against this Yankee lineup. In the eighth inning, with his long, languid windup- Bradford caught Gary Sheffield completely off-balance and got him to ground weekly to shortstop. The flip-side, Mike Myers then entered. Hideki Matsui made a valiant attempt with one foul ball after another, but eventually Myers got a very awkward Hideki Matsui to strikeout.
With Knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield pitching tomorrow and the flip-side
bridging the gap to Mike Timlin, the Yankees might not get good wood on many
balls. Yes, first there was the Curse of Babe Ruth and now there is the Spirit of Quiz. Nice job Theo—you done good!
Carl the Cabbie
While watching the NY Giants this past Monday, I was alarmed that the Jints couldn’t handle a fella in the Chargers’ back field. No, it wasn’t a surprise that Ladainian Tomlinson jitter-bugged his way around would be tacklers, what was alarming to me was how many Giant defenders fullback Lorenzo Neal was hammering, sometimes swatting them away like flies. When I think of great fullbacks in the history of the NFL, I think of Larry Csonka, Rocky Blier, Darryl "Moose" Johnston… but how about adding Lorenzo Neal to that group. For eight consecutive years now Lorenzo has cleared the way for his tailbacks to have 1000 Yard seasons. And over the past six they have had no fewer than 1300 Yards a season. Yes, a couple of the tailbacks Lorenzo has paired with over the streak have been top flight rushers—Ladainian Tomlinson and Corey Dillon probably would have rushed for 1000 Yards no matter who was blocking for them— but, what about Adrian Murrell and Warrick Dunn? Eddie George had the best season of his career (2000) with Lorenzo leveling some of the toughest linebackers and safeties in the league. It may be no coincidence that the year after Neal left Tennessee Eddie George failed to reach the grand mark.
Entering his 13th season Lorenzo has appeared in 179 straight games (as of week three-2005). More impressive, is the fact that Lorenzo seems to limit the wear and tear on his tailbacks- since beginning his games played streak, all tailbacks who have teamed with him also have played in every game.
Neal was actually the number two all-time rusher in Fresno State history when he left after the 1992 season. But, at 5’11 and 255 lbs. Neal was a ready-made fullback when he entered the NFL with the Saints, who grabbed him with the 4th round pick of the 1993 draft. Lorenzo probably would have 11 consecutive seasons with a 1000 yard backfield mate if the Saints hadn’t decided to split carries between Mario Bates, Ray Zellers and Derek Brown during his four years with the club. Lorenzo appeared in his only Super Bowl for the Tennessee Titans in 2000 and made his first Pro-Bowl in 2002 with the Cincinnati Bengals. When asked recently who he thought was the best fullback in NFL history and who was the greatest tailback he has ever blocked for, Neal replied, "I’m blocking for a great running back now. Corey Dillon and Eddie George were great, too… They’re all amazing in my eyes. As far as the best fullback… I used to love watching Larry Csonka. I think the best fullback that I really emulated my play after was Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston…". So, without further ado I give the Cabbie Shout-Out of the week to Lorenzo Neal, "LORENZOooooooooo!!"
The Running Backs Lorenzo Neal Has Blocked For Over The Past 8 Seasons:
Year G R YDS TDS Team
2004 Ladainian Tomlinson 16 339 1335 17 Chargers
2003 Ladianian Tomlinson 16 313 1645 13 Chargers
2002 Corey Dillon 16 340 1315 10 Bengals
2001 Corey Dillon 16 314 1311 7 Bengals
2000 Eddie George 16 403 1509 14 Titans
1999 Eddie George 16 320 1304 9 Titans
1998 Warrick Dunn 16 245 1026 2 Buccaneers
1997 Adrian Murrell 16 300 1086 7 Jets
Carl the Cabbie
For all you young Met fans who have never heard of Donn Clendenon:
First Baseman, Donn Clendenon came over to the Mets in a trade with Montreal about 40 games into the 1969 season and played a major part in the Mets winning the NL Pennant. But, his greatest glory was to come in the World Series. In what would turn out to be Clendenon’s only Postseason opportunity, he hit .357 with 3 HRs and helped create the "Miracle in New York" as the Mets shocked the Country by beating Earl Weaver’s heavily favored Orioles in 5 games (4-1). Clendenon at age 33 and in his 9th season in the majors was named World Series MVP.
The next season might have been Clendenon’s best as he hit .288 with 22 HRs and 97 RBIs in only 396 ABs. He would end his career two years later in a reduced role for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. In 12 seasons with the Pirates, Mets and Cardinals, Clendenon hit .274 with 159 HRs and 682 RBIs.
We will always remember you Donn as one of the heroes of the "Miracle Mets" team of 1969.
Rest In Peace
Quick NFL Note:
I haven’t been this excited to see a guy punt since, well, since… Never! I’ve never been excited to see someone punt, until now. I cannot wait to see the first Punt Returner who gets into the open field with only Ben Graham between him and the End Zone. If any Jet fans were asleep during the pre-season Graham is the new Jets’ Punter and a former Aussie Rules Football Star. Big Ben is 6′ 4" 220 Lbs and fairly fleet of foot. He has also gained a reputation during Jet practices for putting strange footy* spins on his kicks that make his punts difficult to catch.
So, Dante- Please be very careful, or you just might be the first to have your clock cleaned by Big Ben Graham.
Recently I had the pleasure of being contacted by famed Sports Astrologer, Andrea Mallis. She’s been a Metropolitan fan for over 30 years, since the "Ya Gotta Believe" Mets of 1973. For all Met fans still suffering from Looper’s bloopers after last night’s disaster in Atlanta, I would like to share with you a reading of Braden Looper’s astrological chart from 8/26/05. Maybe Willie should be conferring with Andrea instead of Rick Peterson the next time he makes a call to the bullpen.
Braden Looper (Intense Scorpio)
October 28, 1974 Weatherford, Oklahoma
The end of August through mid-September looks like an endurance test for closer Braden Looper. Difficult Saturn aspects create heavy, internal pressure and inhibition—clearly not the best traits for a closer down the stretch. It’s a tedious time of burdensome responsibilities, testing of character, and hard work. Physical energy is at an all time low, and he should get as much rest as possible. His health is at risk, in many cases as a direct result of a depressed or somber mental outlook. Ambitions are thwarted or delayed, and he may receive criticism and disapproval. He may have difficulties with his spine, lower back, or heart. Problems with those in authority can also occur during this time.
For anyone who would like to read more about the Mets chances under the Stars, check out Andrea Mallis’ article from 8/26/05:
Famous Sports Astrologer Andrea Mallis Discusses The Mets