Friday, October 30, 2009

A Programming Note

In scanning the TV listings for Classic MLB Baseball, I saw that MLB Network will be showing the 1969 World Series this weekend.

Sat (10/31) 10am - Game 1 (the Mets first World Series game)
Sat (10/31) 12:30pm - Game 2 (the Mets first World Series game win)
Sat (10/31) 3pm - Game 3 (the first World Series game at Shea)
Sun (11/1) 9:30am - Game 4
Sun (11/1) 12pm - Game 5 (the Mets win their first World Series)

and with a few replays
Sun (11/1) 7:30pm - Game 4
Mon (11/2) 3pm - Game 5
Sun (11/8) 7:30pm - Game 5
Sun (11/8) 10pm - Game 4
Mon (11/9) 8:30am - Game 2
Mon (11/9) 11am - Game 3


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It is 3-3 in this madhouse called Shea

I have 2 distinct sets of memories of Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, which took place 23 years ago today. The first is of the first 7 innings, give or take a few pitches. It was the first time I sat down to watch a Mets game with an interest in watching it. The second is of the last 1 1/2 innings and some of the postgame show. I can almost recite that part of the TV broadcast word for word.

The first 7 innings I watched on TV live. I don't remember much about it since I haven't watched the replay/tape/DVD that often. I watched it for the first time about 10 years ago on Classic Sports or ESPN Classic or whatever it was called at the time. Watching the game then, there were a lot of little things that I remembered from the live broadcast (I couldn't even tell you what they were now). Things like Keith Hernandez shaking his head at the airplane flying overhead during his at bat in the 1st (I'm cheating and watching the DVD now). Lots of those "I remember that" moments for whatever portion of the game they showed then. It really was a good game, and not just a Mets romp, which I tend to forget.

Boy Shea got loud when the Mets woke up to tie the game in the 6th. Seemed to fit in with the 1986 Mets season. Mets fans really are the best, or were 23 years ago.

By my calculations, if the game started at 8pm (probably a few minutes after), then the end of the 7th was around 10:30pm. That would make sense. At 8 years old, on a school night, my bedtime was probably 10:30pm, and this baseball/Mets thing was a bit new and my parents didn't know what to do. My dad set up a tape in the VCR at some point before I had to go to bed, and the rest of the game I know from watching that tape over and over and over again.

I probably wore out that tape watching it so much. I probably memorized most of the spoken words from that part of the broadcast. You could feel the excitement in the air from watching on TV. The Mets had it in hand. Vin Scully was a poet at the microphone.
It's so noisy at Shea that you can't hear the airplanes.

High drive into deep right field. Evans back, at the wall. GONE!

Joe, you just lost your house.

And the Sox are down to their last strike, and this crowd is really ready to reach the heavens now.

A sidebar - the video tape, which is probably long gone, had the markings of a tape that had taped over, in that my dad may have taped the whole game, and taped something over the first about 2 1/2 hours. the tape did that speed-up thing that our VHS tapes did when coming out of a newer recording to the older recording on the tape. it did that just as Carter was grounding out to Spike Owen to end the 7th after the pitching change. I told you I memorized many things from the broadcast. I'll swear that it was Back to the Future taped over the first 7 innings, or however it was arranged, and I'll also swear that the same tape, after whatever post-game show NBC had that we taped was the Opening Day festivities from WOR. I do remember running home from school on Opening Day in 1987...oh hell, I'll save that one for next Opening Day. The tape is probably long gone to prove/disprove what I remember, but I have the important parts (Back to the Future, Game 7, and the Opening Day ceremony) on DVD.


When they get through the 9th, even though I've seen this at least 100 times in the past 23 years, I still feel the anticipation (not the type that I would have felt watching live or not knowing the outcome) of the Mets winning and the final out.

It's a bit weird for me to see Shea before the blue makeover was complete (it finished somewhere around 1987 or 1988, along with the new RF scoreboard screens). It's not quite the weirdly-colored Shea of the 60s and 70s, and not the all blue Shea with orange/blue/green/red seats that I knew for about 20 years. It's something in between.


Mets World Series Trivia - who were the 3 people in uniform for BOTH of the Mets World championships?

More trivia - 2 of the quotes are calls from the game (where a play was made). Can you put them both in context?


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The game that got me started

Well, 23 years ago today was the day that started it all for me. I'm talking about one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history. Game 6 of the '86 'Series. I have no recollection of any games from 1986 or before, except for the one I attended as a clueless kid in mid-September, before this game. I really don't remember anything from the first 9 1/2+ innings of the game either, aside from the video tape and DVD in much much later years. That bottom of the 10th is engrained in my memory though.

As an 8 1/2 year old with a future closer to the sciences than the arts, I remember that night as being the night we changed the clocks back to end Daylight Savings Time, and that I was even allowed to stay up well past midnight as my parents had friends over to watch the game. In fact, the nights of Game 6 of the World Series and ending DST coincided up until a couple years ago when both were pushed back. I thought I might get to be up to see 1am twice. I almost saw it once that night. Instead (and staying up that late at that time in my life was a pipe dream), I saw something much bigger and much more memorable.

I saw the greatest comeback in baseball history and it made me a fan forver. It made me a Mets fan forever. The bottom of the 10th is my flagship baseball moment. I have the audio of the bottom of the 10th from WHN (Mets) radio with Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne. Bob Murphy, forever the voice of the Mets, captured the hope and joy perfectly on radio. I'm listening now, with the DVD cued up for later today. An abbreviated transcript from Bob Murphy (in blue) and Gary Thorne (in orange):
Veteran relief right-hander Bob Stanley being brought on now by John McNamara. Stanley has pitched effectively in this World Series. He'll be pitching to Mookie Wilson. The Mets were down to their final strike. Ray Knight kept it going with a base hit.
...
Boston 5, New York 4. The first two batters up in the home 10th inning were retired. Three hits in a row. Gary Carter, a single to left. Kevin Mitchell, a single to left. Ray Knight with a two strike count, a single into Centerfield, scoring Gary Carter. Now, one more hit and the Mets, for the third time tonight, would have come from behind and tied this ballgame.
...
Bottom half of the 10th inning. Red Sox, one out away from a World's Championship. Stanley in the set position, the pitch. Foul ball, skidding off the bat handle, and again, the Mets are down to their last strike.
...
Stanley really anxious to get it overwith. He's getting the ball back and almost quick pitching. So Mookie will step out on him to slow him down a little bit. 2 balls and 2 strikes. Mets have only one strike left.
Stanley is ready. The pitch. Gets away! Gets away! Here comes Mitchell! Here comes Mitchell! Tie game! Tie game!

Unbelieveable, a wild pitch!
The game is tied 5 to 5. Mitchell comes in to score. Knight, the winning run is on second.
...
Mookie Wilson, still hoping to win it for New York. 3 and 2 the count. And the pitch by Stanley, and a ground ball trickling, it is a fair ball. Gets by Buckner. Rounding 3rd, Knight. The Mets will win the ballgame. The Mets win! They win!
Unbelieveable, the Red Sox in stunned disbelief!
A slow ground ball went right through the legs of Buckner, down the rightfield line. The Mets have won the ballgame. 3 runs in the bottom half of the 10th inning. 3 runs in the 10th inning. They were down to their final strike twice, in the bottom half of the 10th inning. They win the ballgame!



I won't go into the "why's", which are really from Boston's side. Or the "what if's". I just enjoy it. Bob Murphy's call of the 10th which I probably recorded one Christmas Day from WFAN when they would play the tape rather than have someone on air. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he was the guy hired to call Mets games 25 years earlier to work with the Hall of Fame player and Network-caliber broadcaster, getting his first chance in the World Series. Vin Scully's priceless work on NBC. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he used to call games in New York for a team that left nearly 30 years before. Or that he was a Hall of Famer who would still be going strong on a reduced schedule 23 years later. Or that Boston hadn't won in 67 years (at the time), and in numeric synergy, would win 18 years later breaking their drought of 86 years. It was just a magic moment that would make me a fan.

The story continues in 2 days (remember that the Mets only won Game 6 to tie the series, winning the right to play one more game, and that game would be rained out the next night).

Never Forget '69 has the transcript of the entire bottom of the 10th inning.


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Today was a very special day

Reposting with more links:
I wasn't alive on this date 40 years ago, so I won't attempt to remember myself what happened on this date 40 years ago. So I'll defer to two other blogs who are good with this sort of thing.

On CenterfieldMaz, The Amazing Mets Win the 1969 World Series.

On Never Forget 69, 40 Years Ago Today.

And of course, on Faith and Fear's Flashback Friday, Greg remembers his first.

Of course, today is the 40th anniversary of the Mets winning their first world series. What a day it must have been. Tom Seaver should crack open a bottle of his finest vintage today to celebrate. I'm sure Mets Fan #1 Howie Rose is a bit misty eyed thinking about this day too.

Update: Several more blogs have checked in with their posts on the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.

Mets Walk-Offs And Minutiae wishes Happy Anniversary, 1969 Mets.

The Eddie Kranepool Society asks Where were you on October 16, 1969?

Blogging's own Dana Brand is quoted in an article by Mark Herrmann in Newsday talking about the 1969 championship, along with Al Weis from that team.

Much to my pleasure, we hear from Howie Rose writing on MLB.com about the 1969 championship.

Marty Noble also penned an article on MLB.com for the event with quotes from Davey Johnson. More on Davey in about 10 days.

Sadly, The Real Dirty Mets Blog in their daily This Day In Infamy With Rusty post did not include the 1969 World Championship. But from them, I do know to wish a happy 50th birthday to former Mets LF Kevin McReynolds.

Also, I received an email from reader Angelo Fusaro, who was at Shea 40 years ago today on a $10 ticket (and collected a patch of grass), said that the NY Daily News ran a list of "This Day In Sports History" itemizing 15 events of October 16 that did NOT include the Mets championship. I don't have access to the print edition (page 94) and the online edition doesn't show this list. Thanks Angelo and shame on the NY Daily News for excluding a very big moment in Sports History from This Day In Sports History.


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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bad Call Down the Line

After watching highlightes of the Yankees-Twins game from last night with the very badly blown call on the LF line, I decided to repost something funny I wrote back in July. If you didn't see the play, a ball bounced a few inches on the fair side of the LF line, there was an umpire right there (they have LF and RF line umps in the playoffs), and the ball bounced up into the crowd. It was called foul. TBS had a camera on the foul poll clearly showing it was fair. The ump and camera were both about the same distance from the bouncing ball. It may have cost the Twins a chance to re-take the lead in the 11th. Anyway, back to something somewhat related that I wrote back in July.

I like watching the big Tennis tournaments, so here's a thought with that in mind.

Imagine baseball's replay system (or even football's) if they used the technology and speed used for replays at Wimbledon & the US Open?

(Gary) "A pop up down the line. Sheffield over. It falls in fair territory. Utley to second standing. And Sheffield raises his hands asking for a review. Let's take a look Keith."
(replay system shows the ball landing just outside from the line, in foul territory, calling it "FOUL".)
(Keith) "It's called out, Gar. Good eyes by Sheffield out there in left."
(Gary) "So they'll replay the pitch."
(Keith) "Mets caught a break there, Gar. They didn't have that in my day."
(Gary) "Ronnie, as a pitcher, how does that affect you?"
(Ron) "Uh.... Just treat it like you would if it were called foul in the first place."

A few nights later, Gary and Ronnie on SNY had a play in a game against the Dodgers at was a candidate for this type of replay. Without mentioning this blog, or the specific (joking) example noted here, they did bring up the idea of the tennis replay in passing before having the thought put to bed by the showing of their sponsored replay.


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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What a Weekend - Part 2

What a weekend indeed. Saturday was the GKR Main Event at Citi Field. Sunday was the Mets season finale and the drive for 70 wins. I'll reserve comment on the 70 wins for another day. Sunday really wasn't bad. I was considering in the morning not going. My friend that I was planning on going with decided Saturday night not to go. We each had an extra ticket that we couldn't get rid of. So I went alone. I wasn't letting the pre-paid parking pass go to waste either, so I drove to the ballpark (something I don't like doing). I did find it was exactly 40.0 miles from my apartment building to the parking space in Citi Field's lot, somewhere in what was left field at Shea.

Sunday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A beautiful day for baseball. A bit of sadness that the season was coming to an end, but good riddance to it. No batting practice after Saturday's long day. No real need at this point. Still, the fans came out, pushed to the outfield sections along the foul line to try to get players' attention (the relief corps went out for some stretching and throwing, which was the only action on the field), and a few of those guys stayed for a long time to sign. Lots of kids down there too. I've started to think it's better for autographs when there is no BP and just the relievers because there's less going on at field level and less people from the club watching and possibly discouraging positive fan interaction (and yes, going back to the Willie Randolph days, I do feel that to a degree. Just come out to Spring Training at Tradition Field with me and tell me there's good player-fan interaction before a game).

I did get to meet fellow blogger Ed Leyro of Studious Metsimus. We really should have a bloggers day/night at the ballpark to get to know one another.

I decided just to try out the new fad of not sitting in your seat and wandering around the ballpark to watch the game from the open concourses. It's a different experience. First, I felt no real reason to stay in my seats. They suck. I said that from day one. But I got a chance to see the imagery that's been added since the last time I was there in August. What they added was nice. I'm glad they did it. It would have been nice to see "space reserved" back on Opening Day to show the promise and forward thinking of images to come rather than doing this based on complaints. I see a real black-and-white theme to the images. And they're sponsored, which for a photo company is a good opportunity but for a fan, it shows no real investment by the club (this wasn't exactly prime advertising space they gave up). Maybe if Kodak sponsored it, the images would be in color.

I really don't like walking around during the game. I never did. I miss so much. I had a walkman, which helped, but still. I find it more enjoyable sitting and watching from one location. That's just me.

It was a good game. Maybe one of the best all year. Weekend sweep. Got to 70 wins. And the complete game shutout by Nelson Figueroa. What a game. What a story Figueroa was. And he's a good guy, always signing autographs. A model player from that respect. We need a person like that on the Mets, and we need a guy like that either as the number 5 or long man/spot starter. Remember that roster debacle back in April. We almost lost him. We did lost him and were damn lucky to get him back. A few moves where we were damn lucky to get someone just to fill a position for the final quarter of the season.

After the game, not well publicized or known to some stadium staff was a DynaMet Dash with Mr. Met (run the bases). This one was set up for all fans. I had heard something during the week about it being only for season ticket holders. Lots of kids went. I asked a security guard and he said everyone. Even the guy on the street could get in since nobody checked tickets. They lined us up after the game on 126th Street from the bullpen gate back to the subway tracks (breaking at walkways and driveways). The line even turned the corner on Roosevelt Ave. They brought us in through the bullpen entrance to the warning track (almost picking up where I had left off from Saturday), down the RF line to first base, and over the grass onto the infield (they had a tarp down to protect the grass). Around the infield with the customary security telling us to keep on moving, and down to home plate, and back under the tunnel under the stadium and out to the LF VIP entrance. That was good, right by my car.

And that was it. 2009 was over. A few photos now.


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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

F-You, F. Wilpon

If I had seen Fred Wilpon greeting fans at either Saturday's or Sunday's game, this is what I would have said to him (somewhat of an assumption is that he's thanking fans for coming out to see the Mets and that he doesn't apologize for anything).
Mr. Wilpon, I think you owe me more than a "thanks for coming". I think you owe me an apology. You owe all fans an apology. You should step up to the microphone and say to the fans and media, "I'm sorry for the way things turned out. I'm sorry for all the injuries. I'm sorry for the bad play. I'm sorry for what happened with Adam Rubin and Tony Bernazard. I'm sorry for 2009. The buck stops here, and I accept full responsibility."

OK, that last line is a bit corny and dripping with a punchline.
Mr. Wilpon, even with that, I can't accept your apology. I'm not sure why, but I can't. But it's good that you said it. It was a start. But you owe us more. You owe me more.

What about (the absurdly high) ticket prices? What about (deceptive) ticket packages? Why so expensive to park your car at the ballpark? Where are the Mets colors? Where is the Mets Hall Of Fame? Why did we have to force you to put up the Mets (championship outfield wall) banners? Why did we have to force you to put up Mets photos and "imagery"? Why is it all black-and-white? Why are there no statues (like of Tom Seaver, "The Franchise")? Why were so many photos and banners sold (online and then at auction). Why haven't more numbers been retired? Why couldn't you have fixed/renovated Shea?

That's worked in other ballparks.
Why not (formally call it) the "Gil Hodges Bridge", and in front of it, "The (Mike) Piazza"? Why not "Casey Stengel Plaza" (behind the Promenade Club over the Rotunda)? Why not allow us to congregate at a bar called "The Happy Recap"? Why are the pieces of Shea (scoreboard skyline and home run apple) hidden (behind the big scoreboard and behind the bullpens respectively)? Why have so many restricted areas? Why focus on suites and corporate instead of the fans?

I think they'll learn the hard way what happens when the fans stop showing up.
Why didn't you have the banners out where everyone could see them? Why did you get away from the familiar names of "Loge", "Mezzanine", and "Upper Deck" and their familiar colors in favor of country club names and a generic color? Why didn't you see the (seating) obstructions?

Why didn't you stop and review medical practice and procedure when players started dropping like flies? Why were so many players trying to rest an injury only to end up on the DL? Why were we strung along to think there was real hope for all these guys? Why was there no depth in the farm system? Why were we made to believe that the core group was a winning group? Who is supposed to be accountable for the endings of the past 4 seasons? Why do we continue to build the team up only to see it fall down again after a few years?


Other bloggers have written their own letters or purging their ill will, and I'll go read them now. I purposely didn't want those opinions to get in the way of my own.


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Sunday, October 4, 2009

What a Weekend

Yes, what a weekend indeed. The Mets swept the Astros, limped to the 70 win mark, and finished the season. I got 2 more wins under my "witness" belt, and finished the season at Citi Field at 7-0 (with one loss that I never actually saw). I got to go on the field twice. I got to meet/see a few of my fellow bloggers.

Let me give a shout out to Dana Brand, Greg Prince and Jason Fry, Steve Keane, Zoe Rice, Lynn Cohen, and from Sunday, Ed Leyro.

Lynn Cohen did a great job setting up the GKR event. We were a bit cramped down in the Citi Field party area. A lot of GKR supporters came out despite the weather. A lot of GKR supporters came out despite the Mets. That's a big outfield. In some of the photos, you can get an appreciation of how many of us there were on the warning track. We came in from left field near the foul line, and a single line wound all the way to the right field foul line and then down the LF foul line towards 3B. I was somewhere in right centerfield just before the bullpen. That outfield wall is big, almost like you can't even see up into the crowd from the field. It looks big on TV, but seeing it in person from that level you really can see just how big it is.

They had t-shirts (some cool new designs and some other ones that I remember seeing earlier in the year. My collection is now up to 7 (and I do wear them a lot). And raffles. I won a pin from an instant winner scratch off. And I won one of the raffle prize baskets (on a single ticket even). That was really cool. Mine had a GKR hat, a t-shirt (one that I wanted but didn't buy because they didn't have my size), a pen and circular key chain (I guess) medallion with the circular Mets logo on one side and the Citi Field Ceremonial Groundbreaking logo and date on the other side. That's pretty cool to add to the collection.

Thank you to Lynn and the GKR "elfs" for all of their hard work putting Saturday together, bringing all of us together, and getting us onto the field. I've already seen on the GKR site that they did better than last year in raising money, so job well done! And thanks to Gary Cohen and Ron Darling for coming down, hanging out with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Keith, we missed you down there.

I did end up staying through most of the rain delay, towards the end just hanging out in the party area talking to people (mostly Dana Brand), staying that long mostly because my plans at night weren't until later (no stopping at home in between) and I would rather wait at Citi Field (under cover) than in outside in Newark in case the rain didn't go away. I ended up leaving just as the skies cleared and the train left the station just a minute or so before the first pitch of the resumed game. Oh well. 5 innings with a lead counts towards my overall record (since they held the lead, much like the rules for a pitcher getting a win).

In no particular order, photos from the GKR portion of the day and a short video from walking onto the field.



It's late and I'm tired, and the GKR event really deserves its own post, so Sunday's game will be posted tomorrow.


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Put It In The Books

It's over! Finally! This season of misery is finally over. We can officially transition into winter baseball mode, counting down to Spring Training.


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Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Almost Over

I'm tired. I need a watchdog. When the time comes to plan my Spring Training trip, and I start talking about doubleheaders (which are really day-night split-stadium doubleheaders), talk me out of it. I left the Mets game today during the rain delay and heard the resumption of the game on the radio on the train just after it left the ballpark, got to the Devils game, and was tired before it even started. Left that game early too as a matter of being tired and not having to wait in Newark for an extra 45 minutes.

I'll do a writeup on the GKR day and other thoughts after I get home from tomorrow's game. I couldn't shake my extra seat. My friend and ticket-partner who had the other 2 seats couldn't shake his and decided it wasn't worth it for himself. So I have 4 seats to myself in Section 405. Come say hi. I'm pretty sure I won't back out, but I don't know.

It makes me think of this. These days, late in the season, is it worth it to go to a game that you've already paid for (and in my case for Sunday, pre-paid for the parking) when there's very little enjoyment, plus tolls (from NJ) and food costs? Or is it just better to cut the losses, consider the ticket and parking a donation to a Madoff victim (if that makes you feel better), and do other things (or nothing at all) instead? I committed to this game back in March and I hate backing out of a game once it's been purchased.

Remember this thought when the time comes to buy your season or partial ticket packages.


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Friday, October 2, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

The Mets put out a press release and an email announcing that season ticket prices will be reduced by 10% to 20% for next season. I'm still trying to process that thought. Studious Metsimus, MetsPolice, MetsPolice again, and again, Loge13, and Citi Field of Dreams among others have this one covered.

There's a lot of ill will from Mets fans towards Fred and Jeff Wilpon and the rest of the Mets ownership. I fell it too. I have a post that I wanted to have ready now but expect it to be next week where I address Fred Wilpon directly. My Summer Family, and Faith and Fear In Flushing have that sentiment covered too.

Meanwhile, The Daily Stache looks at the big question what if bloggers ran the Mets?

I'll get to reading all of these posts soon, along with others soon. I'll be at the final 2 games of the season. And on Monday, we'll be in off season mode. Spring Training games start on March 2 against the Braves (thanks to Gary Cohen for saying that on air tonight).


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A few programming notes

A few items of note while I try to figure out what to write here on the Mets ticket prices for next year (to which, I may hold my final word until I see a pricing chart)...

SNY's own Ron Darling will be working the Yankees playoff series for TBS. That's a battle for my senses - the most evil baseball team and the best analyst in the game. Ronnie will be paired with Chip Caray on TBS's lead team for the Division Series and NLCS. (Thanks to Neil Best for that tip). No word if anyone of note will be on ESPN Radio, but Neil has all 4 pairings on TBS.

NHL Center Ice has a free 3 week preview to start the season. On most cable companies (primarily those with inDemand programming), that also means a bonus free preview of MLB Extra Innings for the last 4 days of the season (started last night). So in most cases, check out the channels before spending the $69 for the pennant race package. Schedules for both are available on their respective websites.

I'll be out in the crowd with the GKR group on Saturday and then back in the worst seasts in the house, section 405, on Sunday to serenade the Mets.


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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mr. Met

Yesterday we received word that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring in addition to the tendon problem he's had all summer. I'm just thinking that whoever it is sticking pins in the Mr. Met voodoo doll, STOP! It's not funny anymore. Well, at least nobody was killed.


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